“Daniel’s Seventy Weeks of Years” Dan. 9:25 – Part #2
“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 three score and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” Dan. 9:25
Once Gabriel had given Daniel the general overview of the events of the “seventy weeks,” he elaborated on certain important themes. You may recall that the first statement in Dan. 9:24 concerned the interval of “seventy weeks;” in that verse we were engaged with the events that were to transpire during that time. However, in this verse the question is, “How is that time going to be divided or apportioned?” Will there be different segments into which those “seventy weeks” would be divided? Gabriel exhorted Daniel to “Know and therefore understand or discern” the arrangement of the “seventy weeks.” The next three verses, Dan. 9:25-27, explain the threefold division of the “seventy weeks.” The first part would be “seven weeks” or 49 years, long. The second part would be “sixty-two weeks” or 434 years, long. The third and final part, would be “one week” or seven years, long.
If this timetable is to tell us anything about God’s prophetic calendar, we need to know when this period of “seventy weeks” or 490 years began. If our reckoning is incorrect here, no calculations based on this passage will be worth anything. The beginning of the “seventy weeks” was definitely given as the time of, “the issuing of the decree/commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” The question is, “Which decree was this and when was it given?” So, it is absolutely essential that we identify the exact decree/commandment referred to and when it was issued.
We know first of all, that this decree concerned itself solely with the restoration and reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem, because the latter part of v.25 says; “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” It was in 536 B.C.E. that Cyrus, upon taking the throne of the Medo-Persian Empire, issued a decree that allowed the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem. The record of this edict is found in Ezra 1:1-3, “Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing saying, “Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia; The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has 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.” It is clear from this passage that his commandment included the reconstruction of the house of the LORD God of Israel and intended nothing more. Ezra 6:15 bears this out, “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.” Therefore, that decree, cannot be the decree spoken of in Dan. 9:25.
Another imperial decree was the first decree of Artaxerxes, which authorized Ezra to go up to Jerusalem on important business. According to Ezra 7:8, this decree was issued in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign, “And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month (Av), which was in the seventh year of of the king.” Artaxerxes ruled the Persian Empire from 465 B.C.E. to 424 B.C.E. Therefore, the seventh year of his reign would be around 458 B.C.E. Was that the decree that Gabriel referred to? You must observe that Ezra was solely a scribe of the law of the LORD, instructing the people of Israel in the Law and in the statutes of the LORD. Therefore, his calling would not include rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Also, Ezra 7:13 says, “I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of His priests and Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.” Therefore, Artaxerxes’ decree authorized Ezra only to assemble and conduct to Jerusalem those Jewish people who were minded to go of their own free will, and that whatever offerings were entrusted to him were not for rebuilding the city of Jerusalem, but were to be used to rebuild the house of the LORD and to make an offering once they were there; Ezra 7:15-17 says, “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 you can 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 you may buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, and their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God, which is in Jerusalem.” So, you can see from these verses, that every part of this first decree of Artaxerxes was concerned only with matters relating to the Temple in Jerusalem, and not in any way related to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem.
King Artaxerxes Longimanus issued a second decree in the twentieth year of his reign, 444/445 B.C.E. It was given to Nehemiah and we have a record of it in Neh. 2:4-8, and this undoubtedly was the edict that Dan. 9:25 refers too. In this second edict there was nothing of the exclusively religious nature of the other two decrees. It dealt solely with a matter of political import, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. You only have to read the book of Nehemiah and its account of his works to know that his activity answers exactly to the requirements of the decree in Dan. 9:25. “Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So, I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant has found pleasure in thy sight, that thou would send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it. And the king said unto me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? And when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover, I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may let me pass through till I come unto Judah; And a letter unto Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which is near to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.” Neh. 2:4-8. The word “wall” (koma) appears 34 times in Nehemiah, more than any other book in the Scriptures and means protection, safety and impenetrability. Nehemiah heard, “the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were burned with fire and the remnant was in great reproach and affliction and he wept and mourned and fasted and prayed, Neh. 1:3-4. So, he needed to rebuild the “walls” for protection, to rebuild the people for preservation, to rebuild Israel by re-population.
Thus, the “seventy weeks” of years began in the month of Nisan (March/April) 444/445 B.C.E. We read in Dan. 9:25 that the first division of the “seventy weeks” was a “seven week” or 49-year-long, period. It is stated that the work to be accomplished during this period was the reconstruction of Jerusalem: “The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” This describes the work of Nehemiah and his men who performed their task under very difficult circumstances, with a trowel in one hand and a weapon in the other, Neh. 4:17. That’s exactly what this prophecy said, “They would rebuild their street and wall “again” in troublous, perilous, times.” We will have to stop there, and pick up on the second division of the “seventy weeks of years” next time. Check out our note on (Dr. Charles Feinberg) on our last blog on Dan. 9:24. So, till next time, we’ll see you, “…Between The Lines…”
“Daniel’s Seventy Weeks of Years” Dan. 9:25 – Part #2 – 6/1/13