Daniel Chapter 8b | Table of Contents | Daniel Chapter 10

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Daniel Chapter 9

A Prophetic Yardstick
Spans the Centuries

      Verse 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; 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 vision recorded in the preceding chapter was given in the third year of Belshazzar, 538 B.C. The events narrated in this chapter occurred in the first year of Darius. Since Belshazzar was the last ruler of Babylon and Darius the first ruler of Medo-Persia, probably less than one year elapsed between the events of these two chapters.
      Seventy Years of Captivity.—Although Daniel, as prime minister of the foremost kingdom on the earth, was cumbered with cares and burdens, he did not let this deprive him of the privilege of studying into things of higher moment—the purposes of God revealed to His prophets. He understood by books, that is, the writings of Jeremiah, that God would accomplish seventy years in the captivity of His people. This prediction is found in Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10. The knowledge of it, and the use that was made of it, show that Jeremiah was early regarded as a divinely inspired prophet; otherwise his writings would not have been so soon collected, and so extensively copied. Though for a time contemporary with him, Daniel had a copy of his works which he carried with him in his captivity. Though he was so great a prophet himself, he was not above studying carefully what God might reveal to others of His servants.
      The seventy years of captivity must not be confused with the seventy weeks that follow. Dating the period of the seventy years of captivity from 606 B.C., Daniel understood
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that they were now drawing to their close, and that God had even begun the fulfillment of the prophecy by overthrowing the kingdom of Babylon.

      Verse 3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
      Because God has promised, we are not released from the responsibility of beseeching Him for the fulfillment of His word. Daniel might have reasoned in this manner: God has promised to release His people at the end of seventy years, and He will accomplish this promise; I need not therefore concern myself at all in the matter. Daniel did not thus reason; but as the time drew near for the accomplishment of the word of the Lord, he set himself to seek the Lord with all his heart.
      How earnestly he engaged in the work, even with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes! This was probably the year when Daniel was cast into the lions’ den. The reader will recall that the decree approved by the king had forbidden all his subjects to ask any petition of any god except the king, on pain of death. But regardless of the decree, Daniel prayed this prayer three times a day with his windows open toward Jerusalem.

      Verse 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’s Remarkable Prayer.—We here have opening of Daniel’s wonderful prayer, a prayer expressing such humiliation and contrition of heart that one must be without feeling who can read it unmoved. He begins by acknowledging the faithfulness of God, who never fails in any of His engagements with His followers. It was not from any lack on God’s part in defending and upholding them, that the Jews were then in captivity, but only on account of their sins.

      Verse 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: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our
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fathers, and to all the people of the land. 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. 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. 9 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.
      To this point Daniel’s prayer is employed in making a full and heartbroken confession of sin. He vindicates fully the course of the Lord, acknowledging the sins of his people to be the cause of all their calamites, as God had threatened them by the prophet Moses. He does not discriminate in favor of himself. No self-righteousness appears in his petition. Although he had suffered long for others’ sins, enduring seventy years of captivity for the wrongs of his people, he lived a godly life, and received signal honors and blessings from the Lord. He brings no accusations against anyone, pleads no sympathy for himself as a victim of others’ wrongs, but classes himself with the rest, saying We have sinned, and unto us belongs confusion of face. He acknowledges that they had not heeded the lessons God designed to teach them by their afflictions.

      Verse 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:
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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 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. 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.
      The prophet now pleads the honor of the Lord’s name as a reason why he desires his petition to be granted. He refers to the fact of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the great renown that had accrued to the Lord’s name for all His wonderful works manifested among them. All this would be lost, should He now abandon them to perish. Moses used the same argument in pleading for Israel. (Numbers 14.) Not that God is moved with motives of ambition and vainglory; but when His people are jealous for the honor of His name, when they evince their love for Him by pleading with Him to work, not for their own personal benefit, but for His own glory, that His name may not be reproached and blasphemed among the heathen, this is acceptable with Him. Daniel then intercedes for the city of Jerusalem, called by God’s name, and His holy mountain, for which He has had such love, and beseeches Him, for His mercies’ sake, to let His anger be turned away. Finally, his mind centers upon the holy sanctuary, God’s own dwelling place upon this earth, and he pleads that its desolations may be repaired.
      Daniel understood the seventy years of captivity to be near their termination. From his allusion to the sanctuary, it is evident that he so far misunderstood the important vision given him in Daniel 8 as to suppose that the 2300 days expired at the same time. This misapprehension was at once corrected when the angel came to give him further instruction in answer to his prayer.

      Verse 20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication
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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.
      Daniel’s Prayer Is Answered.—We here have the result of Daniel’s supplication. He is suddenly interrupted by a heavenly messenger. The angel Gabriel, appearing again as he had before in the form of a man, whom Daniel had seen in the vision at the beginning, touched him. An important question is at this point to be determined, namely, Has the vision of Daniel 8 ever been explained, and can it ever be understood? To what vision does Daniel refer by the expression, “the vision at the beginning?” It will be conceded by all that it is a vision of which we have some previous record, and that in that vision we shall find some mention of Gabriel. We must go back beyond this ninth chapter, for all that we have in this chapter previous to this appearance of Gabriel, is simply a record of Daniel’s prayer. Looking back, then, through previous chapters, we find mention of only three vision given to Daniel. The interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar was given in a night vision. (Daniel 2:19.) But there is no record of any angelic agency in the matter. The vision of Daniel 7 was explained to Daniel by “one of them that stood by,” probably an angel, nor is there anything in that vision which needed further explanation. The vision of Daniel 8 gives some particulars which show this to be the vision referred to. Gabriel is there introduced by name. Daniel had said that he did not understand it, showing that Gabriel, at the conclusion of Daniel 8, had not completed his mission. There is no place in all the Bible where this instruction is continued, if it is not in Daniel 9. If therefore the vision of Daniel 8 is not the one referred to, we have no record that Gabriel ever complied fully with the instructions given him, or that the vision has ever been explained. The instruction which the angel now
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gives to Daniel, as we shall see from the following verses, does exactly complete what was lacking in Daniel 8. These considerations prove beyond a doubt the connection between Daniel 8 and 9, and this conclusion will be still further strengthened by a consideration of the angel’s instructions.

      Verse 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 show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
      Gabriel’s Mission.—The manner in which Gabriel introduces himself on this occasion shows that he has come to complete some unfinished mission. This can be nothing less than to carry out the instruction to make this man “understand the vision,” as recorded in Daniel 8. He says, “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” As the charge still rested upon him to make Daniel understand, and as he had explained to Daniel in chapter 8 all that he could then bear, and yet he did not understand the vision, he now comes to resume his work and complete his mission. As soon as Daniel began his fervent supplication, the commandment came forth; for Gabriel received instruction to visit Daniel, and impart to him the requisite information.
      From the time it takes to read Daniel’s prayer down to the point at which Gabriel made his appearance upon the scene, the reader can judge of the speed with which this messenger was dispatched from the court of heaven to this servant of God. no wonder that Daniel says he was caused to fly swiftly, or that Ezekiel compares the movements of these celestial beings to a flash of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:14.)
      “Understand the matter,” he says to Daniel. What matter? Evidently that which he did not before understand, as stated in the last verse of Daniel 8. “Consider the vision.” What vision? Not the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, nor the vision of Daniel 7, for there was no difficulty with either of these; but the vision of Daniel 8, in reference to which his
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mind was filled with astonishment and lack of understanding. “I am come to show thee,” also said the angel.
      Daniel had no difficulty in understanding what the angel told him about the ram, the he-goat, and the little horn, symbolizing the kingdoms of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Nor was he mistaken in regard to the ending of the seventy years’ captivity. But the burden of his petition was in respect to the repairing of the desolations of the sanctuary, which lay in ruins. He had undoubtedly drawn the conclusion that the time when the end of the seventy years’ captivity came was the time for the fulfillment of what the angel had said in regard to the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of the 2300 days. Now he must be set right. This explains why at this particular time, so soon after the previous vision, instruction was sent to him.
      The seventy years of captivity were drawing to their close. Daniel was acting upon a misunderstanding. He must not be suffered longer to remain ignorant of the true import of the former vision. “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding,” said the angel. How could the connection between the former visit of the angel and this one be more distinctly shown than by such words at such a time from such a person?
      Daniel Greatly Beloved.—One expression seems worthy of notice before we leave verse 23. It is the declaration of the angel to Daniel, “For thou art greatly beloved.” The angel brought this declaration direct from the courts of heaven. It expressed the state of feeling that existed there in regard to Daniel.
      Think of celestial beings, the highest in the universe,—the Father, the Son, the holy angels,—having such esteem for a mortal man here upon earth as to authorize an angel to bear the message to him that he is greatly beloved! This is one of the highest pinnacles of glory to which mortals can attain. Abraham reached another, when it could be said of him that he was the “friend of God;” and Enoch another, when it could
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      This great span of years, the longest prophetic period in the Bible, was to reach, according to Daniel’s prophecy, "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem," to the time for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The command to rebuild Jerusalem was given in 457 B.C. Seventy weeks (490 years) were cutoff for the Jews, and it was at the end of that period, in A.D. 34, that the gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles. From the beginning of the period to Messiah the Prince was to be sixty-nine weeks (483 years). Precisely at the time foretold, in the autumn of A.D. 27, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist; and being anointed by the Holy Spirit, He began His public ministry. "In the midst of the week" (three and one half years later) Messiah was cut off. The entire period of 2300 years reached from 457 B.C. to A.D. 1844, at which time the investigative judgment began in heaven.
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be said of him that he “walked with God.” Can we arrive at any such attainments? God is no respecter of persons; but He is a respecter of character. If in virtue and godliness we could equal these eminent men, we could move the divine love to equal depths. We, too, could be greatly beloved—could be friends of God, and could walk with Him. We must be in our generation what they were in theirs.
      There is a figure used in reference to the last church which denotes the closest union with God: “If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. To sup with the Lord denotes an intimacy equal to being greatly beloved by Him, walking with Him, or being His friend. How desirable a position! Alas for the evils of our nature, which cut us from this communion! O for grace to overcome these, that we may enjoy this spiritual union here, and finally enter the glories of His presence at the marriage supper of the Lamb!

      Verse 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.
      Seventy Weeks. —These are the first words the angel uttered to Daniel in imparting to him that instruction which he came to give. Why did he thus abruptly introduce a period of time? We must again refer to the vision of Daniel 8. We have seen that Daniel, at the close of that chapter, says that he did not understand the vision. Some parts of that vision were at the time clearly explained. It could not have been these parts which he did not understand. We therefore inquire what it was that Daniel did not understand, or what part of the vision was left unexplained.
      In that vision four prominent things are brought to view: the ram, the he-goat, the little horn, and the period of 2300 days. The symbols of the ram, the he-goat, and the little horn were explained, but nothing was said respecting the period of
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time. This must therefore have been the point that he did not understand. The other parts of the vision were of no avail while the application of this period of 2300 days was left in obscurity.
      Says the learned Dr. Hales, in commenting upon the seventy weeks, “This chronological prophecy . . . was evidently designed to explain the foregoing vision, especially in its chronological part of the 2300 days.” [1]
      If this view of the subject is correct, we should naturally expect the angel to begin with the point which had been omitted, namely, the time. This we find to be true in fact. After citing Daniel’s attention to the former vision in the most direct and emphatic manner, and assuring him that he had now come forth to give him understanding, he begins with the very point there omitted: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.”
      Cut Off From the 2300 Days. —But how does this language show any connection with the 2300 days, or throw any light upon that period? We answer: The language cannot be intelligently referred to anything else. The word here rendered “determined” signifies “cut off,” and no other period is given in the vision here referred to from which the seventy weeks could be cut off, except the 2300 days. How direct and natural, then, is the connection. “Seventy weeks are cut off.” Cut off from what? —The 2300 days, most assuredly.
      The word “determined” in this clause is a translation of the Hebrew {Hebrew- RH^h]g]} nechtak, based on a primitive root defined by Strong as meaning “to cut off, (i.e., fig.) to decree —determine” (the latter by implication). The Authorized Version employs the remoter definition, and makes it read, “seventy weeks are decreed [i.e., allotted] upon thy people.” Taking the basic and simpler definition, we have “seventy weeks are cut off for thy people.”
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If cut off, it must be from some whole larger than itself —in this case from the twenty-three hundred years of prophecy heretofore discussed. It may be added that Gesenius gives the same definition as Strong: “to cut off, . . . to divide, and so to determine, to decree.” He then refers to Daniel 9:24, and translates the phrase, “are decreed upon thy people.” Davidson also gives exactly the same definition, and refers likewise to Daniel 9:24 as an example.
      Why, then, it may be asked, did our translators render the word “determined,” when it so obviously means “cut off?” The answer is, They doubtless overlooked the connection between the eighth and ninth chapters, and considering it improper to render it “cut off,” when nothing was given from which the seventy weeks could be cut off, they gave the word its figurative instead of its literal meaning. But, as we have seen, the definition and context require the literal meaning, and render any other inadmissible.
      Seventy weeks, then, or 490 days of the 2300, were allotted to Jerusalem and the Jews. The events which were to be consummated within that period are briefly state. The transgression was to be finished, that is, the Jewish people were to fill up the cup of their iniquity, which they did in the rejection and crucifixion of Christ. An end of sins, or of sin offerings, [*] was to be made. This took place when the great offering was made on Calvary. Reconciliation for iniquity was to be provided. This was accomplished by the sacrificial death of the Son of God. Everlasting righteousness was to be brought in, the righteousness which our Lord manifested in His sinless life. The vision and prophecy were to be sealed, or made sure.
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      By the events which were to occur in the seventy weeks, the prophecy is tested. By this the application of the whole vision is determined. If the events of this period are accurately fulfilled, the prophecy is of God, and will be accomplished. If these seventy weeks are fulfilled as weeks of years, then the 2300 days, of which these are a part, are so many years.
      Day for a Year in Prophecy. —As we enter upon the study of the seventy weeks, or 490 days, it will be well to remind ourselves of the fact that in Scripture prophecy a day represents a year. On page 144 we have already submitted evidence of the acceptance of the year-day principle; however for the benefit of the reader, we present two further quotations as follows:
      “In the same way it was opened up to Daniel in what way the last reviling would be after the sanctuary shall have been cleansed and the vision shall have been fulfilled; and this after 2300 days from the hour of the going forth of the commandment, . . . according to the predicted number by resolving a day into a year, according to the unfolding made to Ezekiel.” [2]
      “It is a singular fact that the great mass of interpreters in the English and American world have, for many years, been wont to understand the days designated in Daniel and in the Apocalypse, as the representatives or symbols of years. I have found it difficult to trace the origin of this general, I might say almost universal, custom.” [3]
      The year-day principle numbers among its supporters such names as Augustine, Tichonius, Primasius, Andreas, the Venerable Bede, Ambrosius, Ansbertus, Berengaud, and Bruno Astensis, besides the leading modern expositors. [4] But what is more conclusive than all else is the fact that the prophecies have been fulfilled on this principle —a demonstration of its correctness from which there is no appeal. This will be found in the prophecy of the seventy weeks throughout, and
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all the prophetic periods of Daniel 7 and 12, and Revelation 9, 12, and 13.
      Thus the events of the seventy weeks, calculated in this rational way, furnish a key to the whole vision.
      “To Anoint the Most Holy.” —According to the prophecy the “most holy” was to be anointed. The Hebrew phrase {Hebrew- sv]d]q* vd]q} qodesh qadashim, here translated “most holy,” is a term used freely through the Levitical books to characterize things and places, but is nowhere applied to persons, unless by exception in this verse. While it is used in the Old Testament and its Greek equivalent in the New, to distinguish the most holy place in the tabernacle, it is by no means confined to this use. It is employed also to characterize many articles connected with the holy service of the sanctuary, such as the brazen alter, the table, the candlestick, the incense, the unleavened bread, the sin offering, the trepass offering, every devoted thing, and the like, but never to persons connected with that service. (See Exodus 29:37; 30:10, 29, 36; Leviticus 6:17, 29; 7:1; 27:28.)
      On the other hand, in the case of anointing for service, the term is applied to the tabernacle itself, as well as to all its vessels. (Exodus 30:26-29.) In Daniel 9:24, a case of anointing is specified in the prophecy. Consistent with the uses of “most holy” pointed out above, there is every reason to believe that in this verse the anointing of the heavenly tabernacle is predicted. The tabernacle was anointed for the typical service; and true to pattern, it is most appropriate that the heavenly tabernacle should be anointed for the antitypical, or real, service as our High Priest enters upon His gracious work of ministering in behalf of sinners.
      In the examination of the sanctuary in comments on Daniel 8:14, we saw that a time came when the earthly sanctuary gave place to the heavenly, and the priestly ministration was transferred from the one to the other. Before the ministration in the earthly sanctuary began, the tabernacle and all the holy vessels were to be anointed. (Exodus 40:9, 10.)
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The last event of the seventy weeks here brought to view, therefore, is the anointing of the heavenly tabernacle for the opening of the ministration there.

      Verse 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.
      Seventy Weeks Subdivided. —The angel now relates to Daniel the event which is to mark the beginning of the seventy weeks. They were to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. Not only is the event given which determines the time of the commencement of this period, but also those events which take place at its close. Thus a double test is provided by which to try the application of this prophecy. But more than this, the period of seventy weeks is divided into three grand divisions. One of these is again divided, and the intermediate events are given which were to mark the termination of each one of these divisions. If we can find a date which will harmonize with all these events, we have beyond a doubt the true application, for none but that which is correct could meet and fulfill so many conditions.
      Let the reader now take in at one view the points of harmony to be made, that he may be the better prepared to guard against a false application. We are to find at the beginning of the period a commandment going forth to restore and build Jerusalem. To this work of restoration seven weeks are allotted. As we reach the end of this first division, seven weeks from the beginning, we are to find Jerusalem restored in its material aspect, the work of building the street and the
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wall fully accomplished. From this point sixty-two weeks are measured off. As we reach the termination of this division, sixty-nine weeks from the beginning, we are to see the manifestation of Messiah the Prince before the world. One week more is given us, completing the seventy. In the midst of this week the Messiah is to be cut off, and to cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. At the expiration of that period which was allotted to the Jews as the time during which they were to be the special people of God, we naturally look for the going forth of the blessing and work of God to other people.
      Beginning of the Seventy Weeks. —We now inquire for the initial date which will harmonize with all these particulars. The command respecting Jerusalem was to include more than mere building. There was to be restoration. By this we must understand all the forms and regulations of civil, political, and judicial society. When did such a command go forth? At the time these words were spoken to Daniel, Jerusalem lay in utter desolation, and had thus been lying for many years. The restoration pointed to in the future must be its restoration from this desolation. We then inquire, When and how was Jerusalem restored after the seventy years’ captivity?
      There are four events which can be taken as answering to the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. These are:
      1. The decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the house of God, 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4.)
      2. The decree of Darius for the prosecution of that work which had been hindered, 519 B.C. (Ezra 6:1-12.)
      3. The decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, 457 B.C. [**] (Ezra 7.)
      4. The commission to Nehemiah from the same king in his twentieth year, 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 2.)
      Dating from the first two of these decrees, the seventy weeks, or 490 literal years, would fall many years
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short of reaching even to the Christian Era. Besides this, these decrees had reference principally to the restoration of the temple and the temple worship of the Jews, not to the restoration of their civil state and polity, all of which must be included in the expression, “To restore and to build Jerusalem.”
      These two decrees made a beginning of the work. They were preliminary to what was afterward accomplished. But of themselves they were altogether insufficient to meet the requirements of the prophecy, both in their dates and in their nature. Thus falling short, they cannot be brought into the discussion as marking the point from which the seventy weeks are to begin. The only question now lies between the decrees which were granted to Ezra and to Nehemiah respectively.
      The facts between which we are to decide here are briefly these: In 457 B.C., a decree was granted to Ezra by the Persian emperor Artaxerxes Longimanus to go up to Jerusalem with as many of his people as were minded to go with him. The commission granted him an unlimited amount of treasure, to beautify the house of God, to procure offerings for its service, and to whatever else might seem good to him. It empowered him to ordain laws, set magistrates and judges, and execute punishment even unto death; in other words, to restore the Jewish state, civil, and ecclesiastical, according to the law of God and the ancient customs of that people. Inspiration has seen fit to preserve this decree; and a full an accurate copy of it is given in Ezra 7. This decree is recorded not in Hebrew, like the rest of the book of Ezra, but in the official Chaldaic, or Eastern Aramaic. Thus we are referred to the original document by virtue of which Ezra was authorized to restore and build Jerusalem.
      Thirteen years after this, in the twentieth year of the same king, 444 B.C., Nehemiah sought and obtained permission to go up to Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2.) Permission was granted him, but he have no evidence that it was anything more than oral. It pertained to him individually, since nothing was said about others going up with him. The king asked him how long
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a journey he wished to make, and when he would return. He received letters to the governors beyond the river to help him on his way to Judea, and an order to the keeper of the king’s forest for timber.
      When he arrived at Jerusalem, he found rulers and priests, nobles, and people, already engaged in the work of building Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:16.) They were, of course, acting under the decree given to Ezra thirteen years before. Finally, after arriving at Jerusalem, Nehemiah finished in fifty-two days the work he came to accomplish. (Nehemiah 6:15.)
      Now which of these commissions, Ezra’s or Nehemiah’s, constitutes the decree for the restoration of Jerusalem, from which the seventy weeks are to be dated? It hardly seems that there can be any question on this point.
      Reckoning from the commission to Nehemiah, 444 B.C., the date throughout are entirely disarranged; for from that point the troublesome times which were to attend the building of the street and wall did not last seven weeks, or forty-nine years. If we reckon from that date, the sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince would bring us to A.D. 40; but Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring Him His Son, A.D. 27, thirteen years before. [5] According to this calculation, the midst of the last or seventieth week, which is marked by the crucifixion, is placed in A.D. 44, but the crucifixion took place in A.D. 31, thirteen years previous. And lastly, the seventy weeks, or 490 years dating from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, would extend to A.D. 47, with absolutely nothing to mark their termination. Hence if that be the year, and the grant to Nehemiah the event, from which to reckon, the prophecy has proved a failure. As it is, it only proves that the theory to be a failure which dates the seventy weeks from Nehemiah’s commission in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.
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      It is thus evident that the decree granted to Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C., is the point from which to date the seventy weeks. That was the going forth of the decree in the sense of the prophecy. The two previous decrees were preparatory and preliminary to this. Indeed they are regarded by Ezra as parts of it, the tree being taken as one great whole. For in Ezra 6:14 we read: “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,” It will be noticed that the decrees of these kings are spoken of as one,—”the commandment [margin, “decree,” singular number] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes,” showing that they are all reckoned as a unit, the different decrees being but the successive steps by which the work was accomplished. This decree could not be said to have “gone forth” as intended by the prophecy, until the last permission which the prophecy required was embodied in the decree, and clothed with the authority of the empire. This point was reached in the grant given to Ezra, but not before. Here the decree assumed the proportions and covered the ground demanded by the prophecy, and from this point its “going forth” must be dated.
      Harmony of the Subdivision. —Will these dates harmonize if we reckon from the decree to Ezra? Let us see. Our starting point then is 457 B.C. Forty-nine years are allotted to the building of the city and the wall. On this point, Prideaux says: “In the fifteenth year of Darius Nothus ended the first seven weeks of the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. For then the restoration of the church and state of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea was fully finished, in that last act of reformation, which is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah, from the twenty-third verse to the end of the chapter, just forty-nine years after it had been first begun by Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus.” [6] This was 408 B.C.
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      So far we find harmony. Let us apply the measuring rod of the prophecy still further. Sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Dating from 457 B.C., they end in A.D. 27. What event then occurred? [***] Luke thus informs us: “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21, 22. After this, Jesus came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled.” Mark 1:14, 15. The time here mentioned must have been some specific, definite, and predicted period; but no prophetic period can be found terminating then except the sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy of Daniel, which were to extend to Messiah the Prince. The Messiah had now come, and with His own lips He announced the termination of that period which was to be marked by His manifestation. [+]
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      Here, again, is indisputable harmony. But further, the Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many for one week. This would be the last week of the seventy, or the last seven years of the 490. In the midst of the week, the prophecy informs us, He should cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. These Jewish ordinances, pointing to the death of Christ, could cease only at the cross. There they did virtually come to an end when the veil of the temple was rent at the crucifixion of Christ, though the outward observance was kept up until the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. After threescore and two weeks, according to the record, the Messiah was to be cut off. It is the same as if it had read: After threescore and two weeks, in the midst of the seventieth week, shall Messiah be cut off, and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Now, as the word midst here means middle, the crucifixion is definitely located in the middle of the seventieth week.
      Date of the Crucifixion. —It now becomes an important point to determine in what year the crucifixion took place. It is not to be questioned that our Saviour attended every Passover that occurred during His public ministry, and we have mention of only four such occasions previous to His crucifixion. These are found in the passages: John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1. At the last-mentioned Passover He was crucified. From facts already established, let us then see where this would locate the crucifixion. As He began His ministry in the autumn of A.D. 27, His Passover would occur the following
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spring, A.D. 28; His second, A.D. 29; His third, A.D. 30; and His fourth and last, A.D. 31. This gives us three years and a half for His public ministry, and corresponds exactly to the prophecy that He would be cut off in the midst, or middle of the seventieth week. As that week of years began in the autumn of A.D. 27, the middle of the week would occur three and one half years later, in the spring of 31, when the crucifixion took place. Dr. Hales quotes Eusebius, A.D. 300, as saying: “It is recorded in history that the whole time of our Saviour’s teaching and working miracles was three years and a half, which is the half of a week [of years]. This, John the evangelist will represent to those who critically attend to his Gospel.” [7]
      Of the unnatural darkness which occurred at the crucifixion, Hales thus speaks: “Hence it appears that the darkness which ‘overspread the whole land of Judea’ at the time of our Lord’s crucifixion was preternatural, ‘from the sixth until the ninth hour,’ or from non till three in the afternoon, in its duration, and also in its time, about full moon, when the moon could not possibly eclipse the sun. The time it happened, and the fact itself are recorded in a curious and valuable passage of a respected Roman Consul, Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, about A.D. 514. ‘In the consulate of Tiberius Caesar Aug. V and AElius Sejanus (U.C. 784, A.D. 31), our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, on the 8th of the Calends of April (25th of March), when there happened such an eclipse of the sun as was never before nor since.’
      “In this year, and in this day, agree also the Council of Caesarea, A.D. 196 or 198, the Alexandrian Chronicle, Maximus Monachus, Nicephorus Constantinus, Cedrenus; and in this year, but on different days, concur Eusebius and Epiphanius, followed by Kepler, Bucher, Patinus, and Petavius, some reckoning it the 10th of the Calends of April, others the 13th.” (See comments on Daniel 11:22.) [8]
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      Here, then, are thirteen creditable authorities who locate the crucifixion of Christ in the spring of A.D. 31. We may therefore set this down as a fixed date. This being in the middle of the last week, we have simply to reckon backward three and a half years to find where sixty-nine of the weeks ended, and forward from that point three and a half years to find the termination of the whole seventy weeks. Thus going back three and a half years from the crucifixion in the spring of A.D. 31, we come to the autumn of A.D. 27, when, as we have seen, the sixty-nine weeks ended, and Christ began His public ministry. Going forward from the crucifixion three and a half years, we are brought to the autumn of A.D. 34, as the grand terminating point of the whole period of the seventy weeks. This date is marked by the martyrdom of Stephen, the formal rejection of the gospel of Christ by the Jewish Sanhedrin in the persecution of His disciples, and the turning of the apostles to the Gentiles. These are the events which one would expect to take place when that specified period cut off for the Jews and allotted to them as a peculiar people, should fully expire.
      From the facts above set forth, we see that, reckoning the seventy weeks from the decree given to Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C., there is perfect harmony throughout. The important and definite events of the manifestation of the Messiah at His baptism, the commencement of His public ministry, the crucifixion, and the rejection of the Jews and the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, with the proclamation of the new covenant —all come in in their exact place, sealing the prophecy and making it sure.
      End of the 2300 Days. —With the seventy weeks we are now through; but there remains a longer period, and other important events are to be considered. The seventy weeks are but the first 490 years of the 2300-year period. Take 490 from 2300, and there remains 1810. The 490, as we have seen, ended in the autumn of A.D. 34. If to this date we now add the remaining 1810 years, we shall have the termination of the
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whole period. So to A.D. 34, autumn, add 1810, and we have the autumn of A.D. 1844. Thus speedily and surely do we find the termination of the 2300 days, when once the seventy weeks have been located.
      Why in 1844? —The query may here arise how the days can be extended to the autumn of 1844 if they began in 457 B.C., as it requires only 1843 years, in addition to the 457, to make the whole number 2300. Attention to one fact will clear this point of all difficulty: It takes 457 full years before Christ, and 1843 full years after, to make 2300; so that if the period began with the very first day of 457, it would not terminate till the very last day of 1843. Now it will be evident to all that if any part of the year 457 passed away before the 2300 days began, just so much of the year 1844 must pass away before they would end. We therefore inquire, From what point in the year 457 are we to begin to reckon? From the fact that the first forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the street and wall, we learn that the period is to be dated not from the starting of Ezra from Babylon, but the actual beginning of the work at Jerusalem. This beginning could hardly be earlier than the seventh month (autumn) of 457, as he did not arrive at Jerusalem until the fifth month of that year. (Ezra 7:9.) The whole period would therefore extend to the seventh month, autumn, Jewish time, of 1844.
      The momentous declaration made by the angel to Daniel, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” is now explained. In our search for the meaning of the sanctuary and it cleansing, and the application of the time, we have found only that this subject can be easily understood, but lo, the event is even now in process of accomplishment. Here we pause a brief moment to reflect upon the solemn position into which we are brought.
      We have seen that the sanctuary of the Christian Era is the tabernacle of God in heaven, the house not made with hands, where our Lord ministers in behalf of penitent sinners, the place where between the great God and His Son Jesus
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Christ the “counsel of peace” prevails in the work of salvation for perishing men. (Zechariah 6:13; Psalm 85:10.) We have seen that the cleansing of the sanctuary consists in the removing of the sins from it, and is the closing act of the ministration performed in it; that the work of salvation now centers in the heavenly sanctuary; and that when the sanctuary is cleansed, the work is done. Then the great plan of salvation devised at the fall of man is brought to its final termination. Mercy no longer pleads, and the great voice is heard from the throne in the temple in heaven, saying, “It is done.” Revelation 16:17. What then? All the righteous have the gift of everlasting life; all the wicked are doomed to everlasting death. Beyond that point, no decision can be changed, no reward can be lost, and no destiny of despair can be averted.
      The Solemn Judgment Hour. —We have seen (and this is what brings the solemnities of the judgment to our own door) that that long prophetic period which was to mark the beginning of the final work in the heavenly sanctuary, has met its termination. In 1844 the days ended. Since that time the final work for man’s salvation has been going forward. This work involves an examination of every man’s character, for it consists in the remission of the sins of those who shall be found worthy to have them remitted, and determines who among the dead shall be raised. It also decides who among the living shall be changed at the coming of the Lord, and who of both dead and living shall be left to have their part in the fearful scenes of the second death. All can see that such a decision as this must be rendered before the Lord appears.
      Every man’s destiny is to be determined by deeds done in the body, and each one is to be rewarded according to his works. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12.) In the books of record kept by the heavenly scribes above, every man’s deeds will be found recorded. (Revelation 20:12.) In the closing sanctuary work these records are examined, and decisions are rendered in accordance with the findings. (Daniel 7:9, 10.) It would be natural to suppose that the work would
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begin with the first members of the human race, that their cases would be first examined, and decision rendered, and so on with all the dead, generation by generation, in chronological succession, until we reach the last generation — the generation of the living, with whose cases the work would close.
      When the cases of all the dead have been examined, and when the cases of the living have been reached, no man can know. But since the year 1844 this solemn work has been going forward. Light from the types, and the very nature of the work, forbid that it should be of long continuance. In his sublime views of the heavenly scenes, John saw millions of attendants and assistants engaged with our Lord in His priestly work. (Revelation 5.) Thus the ministration goes forward. It ceases not, it delays not, and it must soon be forever finished.
      Here we stand then, with the last, the greatest, and the most solemn crisis in the history of our race immediately impending. The plan of salvation is about finished. The last precious years of probation are almost finished. The Lord is about to come to save those who are ready and waiting, and to cut asunder the careless and unbelieving. The world —alas! What shall we say of it? Deceived with error, crazed with cares and business, delirious with pleasure, and paralyzed with vice, the inhabitants have not a moment to spare for listening to solemn truth, nor a thought to bestow upon their eternal interests. Let the people of God, with eternity in view, be careful to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, and prepare to pass the searching test when their cases shall come up for examination at the great tribunal above. Let them be diligent in warning sinners of the wrath to come, and in pointing them to a loving Saviour who intercedes in their behalf.
      To the careful attention of every student of prophecy we commend the subject of the sanctuary and its service. In the sanctuary is seen the ark of God’s testament, containing His
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holy law. This suggests a reform in our obedience to that great standard of morality. The opening of this heavenly temple, or the beginning of the service in its second apartment, marks the commencement of the sounding of the seventh angel. (Revelation 11:15, 19.) The work performed therein is the foundation of the third angel’s message of Revelation 14, —the last message of mercy to a perishing world. This subject of the sanctuary renders harmonious and clear past prophetic fulfillments which are otherwise involved in impenetrable obscurity. It gives a definite idea of the position and work of our great High Priest, and brings out the plan of salvation in its distinctive and beautiful features. It reins us up, as no other subject does, to the realities of the judgment, and shows the preparation we need to be able to stand in the coming day. It shows us that we are in the waiting time, and puts us upon our watch, for we do not know how soon the work will be finished, and our Lord appear. Watch, lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.
      After stating the great events connected with our Lord’s mission here upon the earth, the prophet in the last part of Daniel 9:27 speaks of the soon- following destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman power; and finally of the destruction of that power itself, called in the margin “the desolator.”

      [1] William Hales, A New Analysis of Chronology, Vol. II, p. 517.
      [2] Nicholas von Cusa, Conjectures of Cardinal Nicholas von Cusa Concerning the Last Days, p. 934.
      [3] Moses Stuart, Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 74.
      [4] See Edward B. Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. III, p. 234, notes 2-6.
      [5] See S. Bliss, Analysis of Sacred Chronology, pp. 180, 182; Karl Wieseler, A Chronological Synopsis of the Four Gospels, pp. 164-247.
      [6] Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connect in the History of the Jews, Vol. I, p. 322.
      [7] William Hales, A New Analysis of Chronology, Vol. I, p. 94.
      [8] Ibid., pp. 69, 70.
      [*] The Hebrew word, {Hebrew- haf]h]} chattath, translated “sins” in Daniel 9:24, denotes either sin or sin offering. Leviticus 4:3 is an example of its use in both senses in the same verse: “Let him bring for his sin . . . a young bullock . . . for his sin offering,” the same Hebrew word being used in both instances. This is a common usage through the Levitical books including Leviticus 16 and elsewhere in the Old Testament. It can therefore clearly be used in the sense of sin offerings in Daniel 9:24, for an end of sin offerings was actually made at the cross. —Editors.
      [**] The years of Artaxerxes’ reign are among the most easily established dates of history. The Canon of Ptolemy, with its list of kings and astronomical observations, the Greek Olympiads, and allusions in Greek history to Persian affairs all combine to place the seventh year of Artaxerxes at 457 B.C. beyond successful controversion. See Sir Isaac Newton, Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, pp. 154-157. —Editors.
      [***] There is abundance of authority for A.D. 27 as the date of Christ’s baptism. See S. Bliss, Analysis of Sacred Chronology, p. 180; New International Encyclopedia, art. “Jesus Christ;” Karl Wieseler, A Chronological Synopsis of the Four Gospels, pp. 164-247.
      [+] Luke declared that Jesus “began to be about thirty years of age” at the time of His baptism (Luke 3:23); and almost immediately after this He entered upon His ministry. How, then, could His ministry begin in A.D. 27, and He still be the same age named by Luke? The answer to this question is found in the fact that Christ was born between three and four years before the beginning of the Christian Era, that is, before the year called A.D. 1. the mistake of dating the Christian Era somewhat over three years this side of the birth of Christ, instead of dating it from the year of His birth, as it was designed to be, arose on this wise. One of the most important of ancient eras was reckoned from the building of the city of Rome —ab urbe condita— expressed by the abbreviation A.U.C., or more briefly, U.C. In the year which is now numbered A.D. 532, Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian by birth, and a Roman abbot, who flourished in the reign of Justinian, invented the Christian Era. According to the best evidence at his command, he placed the birth of Christ U.C. 753. But Christ was born before the death of Herod; and it was afterward ascertained on the clearest evidence that the death of Herod occurred in April, U.C. 750. Allowing a few months for the events recorded in Christ’s life before the time of Herod’s death, his birth is carried back to the latter part of U.C. 749, a little more than three years before A.D. 1. Christ was therefore thirty years of age in A.D. 27. “The Vulgar [common] era began to prevail in the West about the time of Charles Martel and Pope Gregory II, A.D. 730; but was not sanctioned by any public Acts or Rescripts till the first German Synod, in the time of Carolomannus, Duke of the Franks, which, in the preface, was said to be assembled ‘Anno ab incarnatione Dom. 742, 11 Calendas Maii.’ But it was not established till the time of Pope Eugenius IV, A.D. 1431, who ordered this era to be used in the public Registers: according to Mariana, and others.” —William Hales, “A New Analysis of Chronology,” Vol. I, p. 84. (See also Samuel J. Andrews, Life of Our Lord Upon the Earth, pp. 29, 30.) The Christian Era had become so well established before the mistake above referred to was discovered, that no change in the reckoning has been attempted. It makes no material difference, as ti does not interfere at all with the calculation of dates. If the era began with the actual year of Christ’s birth, the number of years B.C. in any case would be four years less, and the years A.D. four years more. To illustrate: If we have a period of twenty years, on half before and the other half in the Christian Era, we ay that it began 10 B.C. and ended A.D. 10. But if we place the era back to the real point of Christ’s birth there would be no change of either terminus of the period, but we should then say that it began 6 B.C. and ended A.D. 14; that is four years would be taken from the figures B.C. and added to those of A.D. Some have so far misapprehended this subject as to claim that the current year should have four years added to it, to denote the real year of the Christian Era. This would be true, if the reckoning began from the actual date of Christ’s birth. But this is not the case, the starting point being between three and four years later. —Editors.

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