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Daniel 9

God’s Mathematical Addition

536 B.C

 

IN the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;

     In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

     And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

     And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

     We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:

     Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

     O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

     O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.

     To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

  10   Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

  11   Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

  12   And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.

  13   As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

  14   Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

  15   And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

  16   O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

  17   O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

  18   O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.

  19   O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

  20   And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;

  21   Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

  22   And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

  23   At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

  24   Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

  25   Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

  26   And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

  27   And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Somewhere hidden in the archives of Babylon was a copy of Jeremiah’s scroll.  This scroll was probably sixty feet long, rolled on a cylinder and stored in a round elongated wooden or pottery cylinder and protected for safekeeping.  Daniel’s eyes came to rest on the twelfth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter.  Now he knows for sure that all the exiles (war prisoners children and grand children) will return to Jerusalem.  Insomuch as time is drawing close when will it happen?  After all God could rescind the agreement on the basis that Israel had not fulfilled their end of the bargain (Covenant).  It is amazing that Daniel gets all that he prayed for and more than he bargained for.  First Gabriel tells Daniel that he came to give him skill and understanding.  Here is the sum of that understanding:  From the Persian decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the  rebuilding of the  temple will be forty nine years, then four hundred and thirty four years later the Messiah will come, then three and one half years later he will be crucified and three and one half years later the Gentiles will be called to the kingdom.  This commentary will give you all the details.

EXPOSITION

 

      1    In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;

Daniel  makes it clear that the Darius that he is talking about is the son of Ahasuerus.  This Darius succeeded Belshazzar, and was the immediate predecessor of Cyrus.  The prophet is very precise in pinpointing the date in which he was privileged to read a copy of Jeremiah’s book. There were fourteen Monarchs who reigned 207 years till Alexander the Great subdued the last prince in 331 B.C.  Here is the list of the Kings and the amount of years and or months they reigned.

538 BC   Cyaxares II reigned 2 years.

536 BC   Cyrus reigned 7 years

529 BC   Cambyses reigned 7 years and 5 months

522 BC   Smerdis reigned 7 months

521 BC   Darius Hystaspis reigned 36 years

485 BC   Xerxes I reigned 21 years

464 BC   Artaxerxes Longimanus reigned 40 years & 3 Months.

424 BC   Xerxes II reigned 2 months

424 BC   Sogdianus reigned 7 months

423 BC   Darius Nothus reigned 19 years

404 BC   Artaxerxes Mnemon reigned 46 years

358 BC   Darius Ocius reigned 21 years  (Took the name of Artaxerxes)

337 BC   Arses reigned 2 months

335 BC   Darius Codomanus reigned 4 months

It was during the reign of this last king that Alexander the Great  conquered the Persian Empire.

      2    In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

The Jews were forbidden to practice their religion in Babylon, however there must have been a private collection of the scrolls hid somewhere, anyway Daniel has the privilege of reading from Jeremiah’s scroll.  Daniel knew that the captivity had started in 606 B. C. he subtracts 70 years from that date and arrives with the year of 536 B.C.

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.  Jer. 25:12

      3    And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Both Nehemiah and Job do a similar thing.

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,  Neh. 1:4

To set ones face unto the Lord is equal to saying that he made a firm resolution, or commitment.  Daniel is requesting God’s grace, he will go without food, dressed in a hair cloth garment, this piece of cloth was woven from course animal hair and usually used for sacks, he would wrap a piece of it around himself and tie it with leather throngs.  Then he put ashes on his head.

And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.  Job 2:8 

      4    And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

Daniel pleaded with the Great and dreadful God, his plea was like a lawyer in the court room who cites a precedent in order to get a similar ruling from the judge.  He pleads with the God who keeps the covenant and mercy to them that love him.  He is pleading that somehow God will not rescind the seventy year agreement on the basis that his people have not keep their end of the agreement.  Remember that agreements are between two parties, therefore if the party of the second part does not live up to the agreement then the party of the first part will not be obligated to keep his part of the bargain.  Therefore, Daniel is going to plead the case in prayer and fasting and sackcloth and ashes that God will bring the people of Israel back to their homeland and restore the former things, although Israel has not done its part and is not worthy of being restored.

      5    We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:  

Daniel confessed that he and his people had swerved from God’s injunctions and regulations, that they had rebelled, transgressed, back-slid, apostatized, and turned from Gods ordinances.

      6    Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Listen to the testimony of scriptures.

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:  Ex. 32:9

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;  I Sam. 8:19

Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.  2 Ch. 24:19.   .

And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.  Jer. 32:33

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.  Jer. 44:16

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.  Zech. 7:11

      7    O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

We know, that with the Lord there is righteousness and integrity.  But, with us there is a look of shame, Daniel makes it plain that the whole country, including exiles and slaves and war prisoners, all were living a life of shame for their transgressions.  Daniel is not merely confessing the sins of the nation at this moment and time but for eons past.

      8    O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.

Daniel begins at the top of the rung of the ladder and works his way down.  He confesses that sin was not just among the lower class but that it had permeated the whole nation like a malignant cancer.

      9    To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

Although man had been a rebel God had shown mercies and forgiveness.

      10  Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

All of Israel had flouted the laws of God that had been handed down to them by the prophets.

      11  Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

God had rained down on them the curses that they had been warned about in the Law of Moses, which they had ignored.

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:  Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shaltthou be in the field.  Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.  Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.  Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.  The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.  Deut. 28:15-20

The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.  Deut. 28:36

The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;  A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:  Deut. 28: 49,50

      12  And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.

If God had failed to uphold his word then we could not put any reliability in any thing that he might have to say. It was imperative that God corroborate and substantiate what the prophets had uttered.  It is noteworthy to see that everything that happened to Israel was previously forecast by God’s servants.  The curse, embodied in the oath, was written by Moses, which left them with a written record of God’s wrath if they turned from him to the heathen practices.

      13  As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

The misfortune that came upon them was clearly written in the Law of Moses, but this people had ignored the warnings.  They could have prevented the calamity but chose rather to plunge deeper into their iniquity.  The prophets warned of the impending doom and disaster but instead of changing course they chose to kill the messengers.

      14  Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

Because Israel done nothing to appease, nothing to propitiate, no supplication, God brought the evil that the prophets had warned them of upon them.  God had warned them of the time and watched the right moment to bring this disaster upon them.  The fact that God kept his word and brought the calamity upon them proves that he is a righteous God.  Many today decry God bringing disaster upon people and nations saying:  “If God is good and kind he could not punish people with disaster.”  If God had failed to do so then his word would be meaningless.

      15  And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

Daniel in his plea before the Judge of all the earth is offering an impassioned plea reminding God that when He brought Israel out of Egypt He gained renown.  But, the impoverished people in captivity have become a byword and a shame.  Therefore, if God would hear his plea and answer his prayer he could bring the city that lies in ruins back to its former glory and grant favors upon his people.  Daniel is not pleading with God to do this because they deserved to be rewarded but rather to give honor to God.

      16  O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that areabout us.

First, Daniel acknowledges that the problems are their own fault, that they had brought it upon themselves.  However, in view of the mocking from the heathen, the shame they had borne for seventy years, and had been a byword among the nations, he now asks God to remove the reproach.

      17  Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.

Make no mistake about it God was angry and furious about what Israel had done.  I cannot over emphasize the fact that God is righteous, to do less than he done would mean that he was unrighteous.  When judges sentence criminals to the gallows or life in the slammer it is righteous judgment. Daniel is in no way claiming that the punishment was too harsh or unjust.  He now is asking Heavens court to cause “thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.”  This was an earnest plea for God to favorably regard the temple had was in ruins.  And, I hasten to add at this time that before the chapter is ended that Daniel will receive a favorable nod from the Judge of all the earth that he is going to restore the Temple.  (Alleluia)

      18  O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.

This is a passionate plea for God to open his eyes and see the miseries and the state of Jerusalem and then to respond, not because of their good works or holiness but rather out of his great compassion and tender mercy.

      19  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

The plea continues and now he offers a triple request.  First he asks God to hear, second he asks God to pardon, and third he asks God to perform.  Again he asks God to do it because they belong to him and it is his city and they are called by his name.

      20  And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;

Daniel was still occupied with the business of praying and fully aware of the sins of his relatives of past generations and the present, he is presenting a bold plea to the throne of grace.

      21  Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation

The evening sacrifice began at three in the afternoon.  It was one of the stated times of prayer and Daniel according to custom was in prayer when suddenly he is touched by an angel.

      22  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

Gabriel said that the purpose of his appearance was to enlighten, to make Daniel skilful in understanding and to give him discernment.

      23  At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

Gabriel tells Daniel that when he had begun praying about the matter that word was dispatched to him that he was to relay to Daniel.   So Gabriel was now in the presence of Daniel to give him full instruction regarding the events of the future; namely, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, rebuilding of the temple, coming of the Messiah, crucifixion, confirmation of the covenant, reconciliation, bringing in everlasting righteousness, anointing of the Most Holy, causing the sacrifice to cease and the desolation of Jerusalem. The following verses will be what Gabriel was instructed to show Daniel.

      24  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Remember from verse 2, Daniel was praying that God would fulfill his promise to Jeremiah and end the Babylonian captivity after 70 years–now coming to an end.  Daniel didn’t ask for more, but he sure got it!  After an exhortation that would encourage the fainthearted, Gabriel proceeds not only to affirm that God would fulfill His promise to His people, but also to deliver one of the most miraculous prophecies found in scripture: when the Messiah would come.

The angel Gabriel picks up from the prophecy Daniel was reading in Jeremiah:

And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.  And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.  Jeremiah 25:11,12.

For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.   And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.  Jeremiah 29:10-14.

From these verses, he knew that the 70 years was coming to a close. However, Gabriel revealed additional information regarding the coming of the Messiah.

The seventy weeks that are determined upon Israel is generally understood as seventy weeks of years.  This being true, it would equal 490 years.  These 490 years would bring about what God’s people had longed for from the beginning:  the coming Messiah, the one through whom all nations would be blessed, the one to take away the sin of the world, the righteous one, the anointed…Jesus.

The following note is from the side column in the 1672 edition of the Geneva Bible.  This note shows clearly that the scholars of that era believed that Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks brought us to the Messiah.

He alluded to Jeremiah’s prophesy, who prophesied that their captivity should be seventy years; but now God’s mercy should sevenfold exceed his judgment, which should be four hundred and ninety years, even to the coming of Christ.”  King James Bible with Geneva Bible Notes 1672

This verse gives the whole picture–a summary of the whole 70 weeks, concentrating on the climatic conclusion.  Now the three last verses of this chapter give detail to the prophecy, pinpointing the times and dates important events would happen.  Clearly God wants all men to know that Jesus is Christ, the promised Messiah.  Praise God!

      25  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

The challenge is to know and understand that from the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto the Messiah (Jesus) would be 69 weeks of years (483 years).  The prophecy starts with the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem.  There were four commandments issued by the Persian kings relating to the return and rebuilding of Jerusalem:

1.      Ezra 1:1-14, First year of Cyrus. (537 BC)  Under the leadership of Zurubbabel

2.      Ezra 6:1-12 Second year of Darius (520 BC) Under the leadership of Haggai.

3.      Ezra 7:1-27 Seventh year of Artaxerxes (457 BC)  Under the leadership of Ezra

4.      Neh. 2:1-8 Twentieth year of Artaxerxes (444 BC) Under the leadership of Nehemiah

To understand the prophecy is to understand the commandments and the story behind them.  The return of God’s people began when God moved the heart of the Persian king, Cyrus.  He made the following decree:

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.   Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.   And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.  Ezra 1:2-4  (537 BC)

Only the foundation of the temple was laid, however because of the opposition posed by Rehum and his cohorts.  He wrote a letter to Artaxerxes, the new Persian King, to seek an injunction against the rebuilding of the walls etc.  This letter was written in 529 BC (about 128 years before the 490 year count begins.)  The following is a copy of the letter:

This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.  Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.  Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.  Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;  That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed.  We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. Ezra 4:11-16  (529 BC)

When Artaxerxes read the letter and considered the matter he issued a ‘cease and desist’ order: 

The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.  And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.  There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.  Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.  Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?  Ezra  4: 18-22.  (529 BC)

Armed with the “stop work” order Rehum, and his associates haste to Jerusalem to enforce the order

Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.  Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.  Ezra 4:23,24.  (529 BC)

For the next 16 years the work was halted.  No sooner than the order was issued till there was a shake-up in the Persian line of kings.  Finally Zerubabel and some of the chief fathers decided to re-start the construction project. 

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.  Ezra 5:1-2  (539-521 BC)

Another letter is written (this time to Darius the new King) seeking an enforcement of the former injunction.  Here is a copy of that letter:

The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king:  They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace.  Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands.  Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?  We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief   And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.  But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.  But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.  And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place.  Then came the same Sheshbazzar,and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.  Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.  Ezra 5:6-17.  (539-521 BC)

Wow!  Watch what is going to happen.  The King issues an order to check the archives for the original decree He then, not only issues a decree for the continuation of the construction but that it be paid for by the Persian Government and further issues a “do not interfere” order. 

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.  And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:  In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; Ezra 6:1-3:  (520 BC)

Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.  Ezra 6:8  (520 BC)

Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.  Ezra. 6:11  (520 BC)

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.  And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.  Eza. 6:14,15.  (520 BC)

Now the temple was rebuilt, but only some of the Israelites had returned to inhabit the broken city of Jerusalem.  That is, until the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC:

 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel.  Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.  I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee, Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counselors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:  That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.  And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.  The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.  And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house.  And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily.”  Ezra 7:11-21

Finally, the Temple is restored (although not in its former glory), and everyone who wanted to return did so.  Jerusalem was rebuilt.  However, the walls were left in ruins.  That is, until Nehamiah heard about it.  With letters from King Artazerxes in hand, he returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls in 444 BC (Neh 2).

Now that we have the background of four decrees relating to the return and rebuilding of Jerusalem, we must analyze to determine which fits the prophecy.  Simply put, here is the essence of the four decrees:

1.      Rebuild the Temple, 537 BC.

2.      Rebuild the Temple, 520 BC.

3.      All the Israelites may return 457 BC.

4.      Rebuild the Walls, 444 BC.

The rebuilding of the Temple and the walls were very important events, but Jerusalem was really rebuilt when the nation was permitted to return (with funds) and rebuilt their homes and livelihood.  A short time later, the walls were built to protect the newly restored city from their enemies. This was done in troublesome times, as their neighbors did everything they could to stop it.

So the decree of 457 BC is the decree referred to by the revelation given to Daniel.  Then he promised that Messiah the Prince would come 483 years later, i.e. 26 AD – the very year Christ, our Savior, was baptized, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and was identified by God the Father when He said “this is my beloved Son.”  John also identified him as the Christ.

We know Jesus was baptized in 26AD because according to Luke 3:23, Jesus was 30 years old at His baptism and it was the 15th Year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1).  It is firmly established in history that this was 26 AD.

One further note, that there seems to be something significant about the first 49 years (seven ‘sevens’) of the 483-year period.  This may refer to the period by which the Lord would still speak through the prophets, Malachi being the last of the old testament prophets, about 450-400 BC.

      26  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Now the time after the 69 weeks is described. Remember that there were 7, then 62 weeks (49+434 years), bringing us to the time after 26 AD.

The interpretation of this verse has led to many diverse explanations of the meaning of the prophecy.  I believe this stems from the view that this is the 70th week. The prophecy says that these events would happen after 26 AD, which would include the 70th week, but also time after that.  The Messiah was cut off when He was crucified 3 ½ years later in 30 AD.

Daniel tells us that the people of the prince shall come and destroy the city.  It is clear from a close analysis of the text that the destruction of Jerusalem is not figured in the 70 times 7 (490years).  This refers to Titus, the Roman Prince, who came one generation later, burned the temple, and destroyed the city.  The city was desolate and there was no Jewish Nation until 1948.  Although there is now a Jewish Nation, the temple has not been rebuilt nor has there been a return to animal sacrifices.  The city was made desolate. The Romans overran the city, destroying all that was in their path.  This has been done.  Here is more historical background:

For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it, and that they were the tyrants among the Jews who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the burning of our holy temple, Titus Caesar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, during the entire war, pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious, and did often voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order to let the authors have opportunity for repentance. [48] Josephus (Wars of the Jews-History of the destruction of Jerusalem) Preface Art. 4 

…they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country; for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots did not [quite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment. [49] Josephus (Wars of the Jews-History of the Destruction of Jerusalem).   Book 4 Ch. 6

      27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The covenant was confirmed  in the midst of the last or 70th week of years.  Jesus, the Messiah, was anointed at the end of the 69th week of years.  3 ½ years later (in the midst of the week) He was crucified.  At the day of Pentecost the new covenant was confirmed and ratified.  The following scriptures will prove that:

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.  Heb. 9:15,17

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.   By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Heb. 10:9,10.   

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Heb. 10:16, 17.

Pentecost confirmed the covenant, but only for the Jews.  The covenant had not yet been confirmed for the many (i.e. the gentile world) until one very important event 3 ½ years later.  Acts 10 records the story of Cornelius–the first gentile converted to the Way.  This event happened just as it did for the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 10:47).  So, the confirmation of the Gentiles at the end of the 70th week brings fulfillment to this prophecy, and to the promise God made to Abraham almost 2000 years earlier.

The overspreading of abominations and making desolate occurred around 70 A.D. when Titus the Roman General invaded the land of Israel and burned the Temple.

Below is a timeline that will help us put this prophecy in historical perspective:

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