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The remarkable prophecy about the seventy weeks that was given to DaniEl at Daniel 9:24-27 is apparently the one that many faithful Jews were looking to at the start of the First Century CE in order to determine the time for the coming of the Messiah. For that prophecy hadn’t been fulfilled during a period of seventy literal weeks from the time that word had been sent to rebuild the Temple in JeruSalem.
We know that the Jews were expecting the ‘Messiah’ to come at that time, for we read at Luke 3:15 concerning John the Baptist: ‘Since the people had been looking for [the coming of the Messiah] at the time, everyone was wondering in their hearts whether John was the Anointed One.’
So it appears as though the faithful had concluded that the prophecy in Daniel 9 was speaking of a period of seventy weeks of years (or four hundred and ninety years) that would lead up to the coming of Jesus and of the things that would happen to him. And since ‘the Anointed One’ and ‘Leader’ was to arrive at the end of seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks (or 483 years), many Jews seem to have been looking for the coming of an anointed king at the time when Jesus actually started his ministry.
When was the word first sent to rebuild the Temple in JeruSalem? According to several Bible accounts and one historical account, the order was given by Cyrus the Great in the first year of his reign, which most sources say happened in 559-BCE. However, there is no question that the decree by Cyrus isn’t what the prophecy in Daniel is talking about…
Since that decree didn’t result in the completion of the Temple construction.
For notice what we are told at Ezra 4:24:
‘So, construction on the Temple of God in JeruSalem stopped, and it remained unfinished until the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of Persia’ (600 to 576-BCE).
But then, according to Ezra chapter 7, it was ArthaSastha (most likely ArtaXerxes I – 465-BCE to 424-BCE) that gave the final order to finish the Temple. For that’s when he told the people to return to Jerusalem and when he authorized the Priest and Scribe Ezra to carry people, treasures, and cattle back to the Promised Land, so as to complete the Temple construction.
It is said that that this decree came in the year 455-BCE, which if it is true;
We must assume that secular historians have the dates for the reign of ArtaXerxes ten years too late (and we do suspect this to be true), because the account at Nehemiah 2:1 tells us that the command to rebuild the Temple came in the twentieth year of the reign of ArthaSastha.
Why do we believe that there is a mistake in the historical record?
Well, there are many reasons (see the linked document, ‘The Problem with Setting Bible Historical Dates‘). But this prophecy of the seventy weeks clearly does speak of the coming of the Messiah. And from the history of the things that were happening in JeruSalem at the time, it appears as though many 1st Century Jews were in fact expecting the arrival of the Messiah four hundred and eighty-three years after 455-BCE, or in the year that Jesus started his ministry, 29-CE. Isn’t it interesting that this mistake in the chronology (either by the prophecy or by secular historians) is off by an even ten years?
As for the last ‘week’ (the last seven years);
The prophecy says:
‘In half of the period of seven [days], sacrifices and drink offerings will be lifted away.’
So this is saying that something momentous would happen then (in early 33-CE), which would bring an end to the Jewish form of worship at the Temple and its sacrificial offerings…
And that proved to be the death (or ultimate sacrifice) of Jesus.
Then, what was to end when the full seventy weeks reached their conclusion?
That period (late in 36-CE) is thought to be the time when the New Sacred Agreement was no longer offered just to the Jews, but also to the gentiles. And then (sometime after the seventy weeks of years had ended), the Prophecy at Daniel 9:26 goes on to say that this would happen:
‘Then the Holy Place and the city
Will be corrupted by a leader who’ll come
And cut them off by a downpour.
Yes, he’ll order an extinction upon them
Until the end of his war.’
And thereafter, verse 27 goes on to tell us:
‘Then to the Temple will come the disgusting destroyer (the armies of Rome).
And until that time has reached its conclusion,
There’ll be just complete desolation.’
So we might ask:
Since many Jews started returning to their homeland after 1948, is this when ‘that time has reached its conclusion’ and the ‘complete desolation’ of JeruSalem has reached its end?
Well, our job as Bible translators isn’t to be speculators…
We’ll leave that to religions.
What we do know is that where God’s Temple once stood, there is now a Moslem mosque.
Also, since there are no genealogical records, there is no valid Jewish Priesthood today.
So the entire arrangement for the worship of God as it was given to Moses is forever gone…
And this provides mute and undeniable testimony to the accuracy of the prophecy in DaniEl and to Jesus’ prophecies concerning the destruction of JeruSalem, its Temple, and the final rejection of the unfaithful Jews as being God’s chosen people.