The Book of Daniel

C.) Daniel 9: The Day and Year of the Messiah’s Coming to Jerusalem under the Romans

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C.) Daniel 9: The Day and Year of the Messiah’s Coming to Jerusalem under the Romans
At the beginning of chapter nine, the prophet 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” (Daniel 9:2; cf. Jeremiah 25:1, 11, 29:10; 2 Chronicles 36:21, Leviticus 26:34-35). Jeremiah had predicted the captivity of Israel for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10), and in the sixty-ninth year of that period16 Daniel received a revelation concerning a further period of seventy times seven years. Daniel anticipated the upcoming end of the seventy years of judgment predicted by Jeremiah and sought the Lord in fasting and prayer. God sent the angel Gabriel to him, who both informed him of a coming “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25), which necessarily involved the conclusion of the time of judgment described by Jeremiah, and outlined the course of future history for the holy city and the world under the rubric of a greater and then future “seventy.” Daniel learned:

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. (Daniel 9:24-27)

Verse twenty-four details the entire course of the seventy weeks. The following verse separates them into an initial division of seven and a second grouping of sixty-two weeks, while the final week is left without further mention until verse twenty-seven, where its events are given in some detail. Verse twenty-six unfolds the events after the sixty-ninth week but before the seventieth week. The first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel have been historically fulfilled—as we shall shortly see—and we are currently in the time period between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week of Daniel. The seventieth week of Daniel 9:27 will cover the period of time described in Revelation 4-19, Daniel 11:36-12:3, and other passages; however, since yet unfulfilled prophecy does not prove the infallibility of Scripture, we will focus on the historical fulfillment of the first sixty-nine weeks.

Before detailed examination of this prophecy in Daniel nine can begin, the nature of the “weeks” must be determined. A variety of factors evidence that the “weeks” of this text are weeks of years, rather than seventy literal weeks, a period of one year and a few months.17 Daniel had just inquired of God about a period of seventy years (9:2), which suggests year-weeks. Furthermore, the events of 9:27 cover the final “week” of the prophecy, but this “week” is really a seven-year period, for half of it is said to be 42 months, or 1,260 days—namely, three and a half years long (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2, 3, 12:6, 14, 13:5).18 Since the seventieth “week” is seven years, it is reasonable to conclude that the other sixty-nine “weeks” represent periods of seven years as well. Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated week is the same word as that for the number seven, so that one could translate Daniel 9:25 as “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven ‘sevens’ and threescore and two ‘sevens.’” Indeed, the Hebrew word translated “week” (sûaœb≈u®a{) in this passage is explicitly used for a seven-year period in the Mishnah.19 Also, Daniel 10:2-3, the only other reference to a “week” in Daniel, immediately after the prophecy we are examining in 9:24-27, specifies in Hebrew a “week of days” (sûaœb≈u{ˆîm yaœmˆîm, KJV, “full weeks,” v. 2, “whole weeks,” v. 3), distinguishing this literal week from the year-weeks of this passage. Finally, seven literal weeks are simply not enough time to rebuild the city of Jerusalem after the issuance of the decree. Nor would one expect that Jerusalem would be rebuilt in the fantastically quick period of seven literal weeks and then destroyed again only a few literal weeks later (Daniel 9:26). Nor would a mere sixty-nine literal weeks suit the time from the issuing of the decree in the era of the second world empire to the coming of the Messiah in the time of the fourth world empire predicted in the earlier chapters of Daniel. Thus, the natural and reasonable interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 in light of its context and word choice is that the passage deals with a period of seventy “sevens” of years—that is, 70 x 7 = 490 years, so that the first sixty-nine “sevens” or “weeks” refers to a period of 483 years.

Daniel 9:25 informs us, then, that “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince” 483 years—the first sixty-nine “weeks,”—shall pass.20 The decree to restore and build Jerusalem, including “the street . . . and the wall” (v. 25), issued by king Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in 444 B. C., is referred to in the book of Nehemiah.21 This decree specifically refers to the restoration of the city (Nehemiah 2:3, 5) and its gates and walls (Nehemiah 2:3, 8). A letter was written to Asaph that provided for material to be used specifically for the walls (Nehemiah 2:8). The book of Nehemiah discusses extensively the names and sections of the wall that various men rebuilt (cf. Nehemiah 3). Furthermore, the various attempts by the idolatrous enemies of Israel to prevent the wall from being built clearly fulfill Daniel 9:25’s statement “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” The book of Nehemiah records trouble from contemptible mocking, to threatening to assassinate Nehemiah, to threatening to attack the city and kill everyone building the wall, until finally “the half [built the wall] . . . and the other half of them held both shields, and spears, and the bows, and the habergeons . . . they which builded the wall . . . every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon . . . for the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side . . . half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared” (Nehemiah 4:16-21). Thus, the decree recorded in Nehemiah fits the specifications of Daniel 9 exactly. No later decrees were issued by Persian kings pertaining to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.22 We see, then, that Daniel predicted that “the Messiah the Prince”23 (v. 25) would present Himself 483 years after the decree of king Artaxerxes “to restore and to build Jerusalem” in 444 B. C.24

The 483 years of Daniel’s prophecy are prophetic, or Biblical, 360-day years, as opposed to modern, solar years of 365 days.25 Several factors demonstrate this. First, a 360-day year is used elsewhere in the Bible. Genesis 7:11 states that the flood of Noah began on the seventeenth day of the second month. Genesis 8:4 declares that the flood ended on the seventeenth day of the seventh month—that is, exactly five months later. Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 indicate that the duration of the flood was 150 days. Therefore, five months equals 150 days; thus, each month is 30 days, and a year is 360 days.26 The New Testament demonstrates that the years of Daniel 9 are 360 days long as a comparison of Revelation 12:6, 7, 14; 11:2, 3; and 13:5 shows. These verses indicate that 1,260 days equals 42 months, which equal three and a half years. Furthermore, since these verses specifically refer to the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9:27), indicating that the seventieth week is reckoned with 360-day years, the other sixty-nine “weeks” are also naturally reckoned with 360-day years. In addition, ancient India, Persia (in whose dominion the decree of Nehemiah 2 was issued), Babylonia and Assyria, Egypt, Central and South America, and China all had 360-day years. Most had twelve 30-day months, and a few had eighteen twenty-day months. They then had a variety of ways to play “catch up” to make these years work out to solar years. It was common, then, in ancient times to think of a 360-day year. The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, then, predicted the Messiah the Prince 483 years (of 360 days each) after the 444 B. C. decree of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem.

To discover what year Daniel predicted “the Messiah the Prince,”27 all that remains is simple calculation:

I.) Convert 483 prophetic (360 day) years to days: 483x360=173,880 days.

II.) Convert to solar years: 173,880 days ÷ c. 365.25 days per solar year = 173,880/365.25=476 solar years.

III.) Move forward 476 years from 444 B.C.: 444–476=-32 (A. D. 32).

IV.) Add one year since there was no year zero: 32+1= A.D. 33.

V.) The Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself” in A. D. 33.

We see that Daniel predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for himself” (9:26) in A. D. 33.28 “Cut off” is a Biblical term for an unnatural and violent death (i. e, Genesis 9:11, Exodus 31:14; Isaiah 53:8) with the implication of the receipt of God’s curse. It was the perfect term to use to predict Jesus Christ’s bearing the curse of God for the sins of the world on the cross (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Galatians 3:10-14). The Messiah would die under God’s curse, but “not for himself” (Daniel 9:26); He would die for the sake of others. The prophet Daniel predicted, over 500 years in advance, that the Messiah would die in A. D. 33, the exact year of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.29

To predict the death of Jesus Christ to the year in this manner constitutes a truly astonishing prophecy. However, Daniel’s prediction goes even beyond this. Artaxerxes’ decree would have been issued on March 5, 444 B. C.30 We proceed to crunch the numbers with precision:

I.) Convert 483 prophetic (360 day) years to days: 483x360=173,880 days.

II.) Convert to solar years: 173,880 days ÷ exactly 365.24219878 days per solar year = 476.06766299 years.

III.) Moving forward 476 years from 444 B. C. brings us to A. D. 33, since there is no year zero, as mentioned before. This leaves us with 0.06766299 of a year, which is 24.713379244 days, since 0.06766299 x 365.24219878 = 24.713379244.

IV.) Rounding off, we have 25 days. Exactly 476 years after March 5, 444 B. C, when the decree was issued, brings us to March 5, A. D. 33. Adding 25 days, one comes to March 30 of A. D. 33 for the exact day the sixty-nine weeks concluded.

The sixty-nine weeks of the Daniel 9 prophecy ended on March 30 of A. D. 33. This is the exact day of Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when He officially presented Himself as the Messiah to Israel.31 Zechariah 9:9 reads, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Christ, proclaiming Himself the King predicted in Zechariah, entered the city on that day, sitting upon a donkey, while great crowds, knowing that He had recently raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11; 12:12), shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David [a Messianic title, Isaiah 11:1ff, 1 Chronicles 17:7-14, etc.]: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). Jesus’ entry in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 asserted that He was the Messiah, and the crowds that came to meet Him recognized and shouted agreement with His claim. Luke 19:41-44 records Christ’s actions on the day Daniel 9:25-26 was fulfilled:

He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the all-knowing God, knew that the sixty-nine weeks His servant Daniel had prophesied about ended that day; He wept that Israel did not recognize it. He spoke of “this thy day” and “the time of thy visitation” because it was the exact day that the sixty-nine weeks of Daniel 9:25-26 were finished. Daniel chapter nine predicted to the exact year and day the presentation of Jesus Christ to Israel as the Messiah.

Daniel predicted that “after” the sixty-nine weeks were over, the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for himself” (Daniel 9:26), referring to His substitutionary death. He then states, “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The “prince that shall come,” whose “people” shall destroy Jerusalem and its sanctuary, is the Antichrist,32 who is spoken of in 9:27, 11:36-45, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13, and other texts. Daniel 2 and 7 predicted that this future world ruler would arise from the fourth world empire Daniel foresaw, Rome. Consequently, the “people of the prince that shall come” are the Romans. Daniel predicted that, after the Messiah was cut off, the Romans would “destroy the city and the sanctuary” (9:26). In A. D. 70 the Romans, responding to a Jewish revolt, invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and leveled the temple. In Luke 19:41-44, immediately after Christ weeps over Jerusalem for not realizing that her “day,” the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel, had arrived, He told the inhabitants of Jerusalem: “Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground,” as judgment upon the city for rejecting Him, and in fulfillment of Daniel 9:26. He predicted that the temple would not have left “one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6), and further warned His disciples to flee from Judea when Jerusalem would be “compassed with armies . . . [for then] the desolation thereof is nigh . . . and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles . . . that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24). This prediction of Daniel, confirmed by Christ33 as He fulfilled the preceding section of the prophecy, took place exactly as stated.

Over five hundred years beforehand, Daniel chapter nine predicted that the Messiah would come in A. D. 33, specifically on March 30. On March 30, A. D. 33, Jesus Christ officially presented Himself as the Messiah to the nation of Israel. Daniel then predicted that the Messiah would die a substitutionary death, which Jesus Christ did four days later. After this, Daniel predicted that the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and the temple. This took place in A. D. 70. These predictions could not have happened by chance. The prophecies of Daniel 9 prove beyond any doubt that the Bible is indeed the Word of the one true God.
III. Has the Text of Daniel been Corrupted?

Evidence for the Preservation of Scripture
The astonishingly accurate prophecies contained in Daniel could lead one to question if the book’s text itself has been changed. Is it possible that the prohecies of Daniel were changed after the events took place, so that the book was revised or edited after the fact to make it seem as if predictions were actually present in the book? The answer is an unambiguous “no”! First, Daniel has not been changed, because the Bible as a whole has not been changed. God promised that He would preserve His Word (Psalm 12:6-7; Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 5:18), and history confirms the truth of His promise. The entire Old Testament, including Daniel, contains overwhelming evidence in favor of its freedom from corruption.34 The text-type found in modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible is present in even these most ancient witnesses, and was considered authoritative even at that time.35 The ancient Jewish Targums, Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures, are based upon a text that had “almost complete identity” with the modern printed editions of the Old Testament.36 There is no justification whatever for the idea that the Hebrew text was edited at a later period so that the type of wholesale corruption required to create the prophecies of Daniel could have taken place;37 on the contrary, the text has been preserved intact from the time of its original composition. The very earliest manuscript evidence confirms that the type of Hebrew text found in modern editions of the Bible has always been present in the majority of textual witnesses, and even the “earliest Qumran finds dating from the third pre-Christian century bear evidence . . . of a tradition of the exact copying of texts belonging to the Masoretic family,”38 rather than, say, sloppy copying or deliberate scribal corruption of the text to make allegedly fake prophecies work out correctly. As a result, even secular, anti-supernaturalist scholars admit: “[I]t is not easy to provide convincing proof of . . . errors in M [the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Bible].”39

Furthermore, we possess over 6,000 manuscripts of the Old Testament40 and over 5,500 New Testament manuscripts.41 No other document from antiquity comes close to the number of manuscripts available for the Bible. The closest work, Homer’s Illiad, has fewer than 30% of the number of Old Testament copies. Herodotus’s History is contained in 109 fragments, and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War exists in only 8 manuscripts. Livy’s History of Rome is found in c. 60 copies. The Bible remains “by far the most attested ancient work. . . . if . . . skeptics . . . reject [its] transmissional relability[,] . . . then they must also consider unreliable all other manuscripts of antiquity . . . [and] throw out [their] knowledge of the classical world.”42 If the Bible has not been preserved, then nothing has been preserved. If anything in ancient history is reliable, then the Bible is reliable.

As the Bible as a whole has not been corrupted, similarly, the book of Daniel in particular has not been corrupted or changed. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the extremely early textual witnesses found at Qumran, the only Biblical books found in greater number than Daniel were most of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and the book of Psalms.43 The “Qumran manuscripts of Daniel follow the Massoretic text . . . [and] provide testimony to the faithfulness with which the biblical text was handed down over the centuries.”44 “The Hebrew and Aramaic text of Daniel has been well preserved . . . [t]he Qumran fragments demonstrate the faithfulness with which the biblical text was preserved over the centuries.”45 “The published fragments . . . of Daniel which date to pre-Christian times have substantially the same text as the traditional one preserved in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text from which all of our Bibles are translated. . . . We may have high confidence in the essential accuracy of the preserved text, both Hebrew and Aramaic, of the canonical book of Daniel.”46 The text of Daniel has not been changed or corrupted—its plain prophecies were present in the book from the very time of its composition. The manuscript evidence supplies no outlet for anti-supernaturalist attempts to avoid the plain implications of Daniel’s prophecies.
IV. Did Daniel Write the Book of Daniel? The Authorship of Daniel Defended
A. Introduction
Since the plain predictive prophecies of the Book of Daniel are so astonishingly specific, those who are not willing to admit that God can intervene in history and miraculously predict the future argue that, of necessity, the book of Daniel was written after the time when his prophecies were fulfilled. Someone whose worldview automatically rejects the supernatural as impossible must believe that the book of Daniel contains no genuine predictions, no matter what the evidence is to the contrary. However, in order to stubbornly maintain such an anti-supernatural worldview, the plain evidence of history must be rejected. Many lines of evidence prove that the book of Daniel was indeed composed by its confessed author in the sixth century, rather than by a forger who wrote centuries later and pretended to be Daniel the prophet.
B. The Book of Daniel’s Own Claims and their Reception
There are many and conclusive lines of evidence proving that the prophet Daniel wrote the book of Daniel in the sixth century. The common anti-supernaturalist contention that dates the book no earlier than 165 B. C. in order to reduce the number of predictive prophecies it contains is unsustainable. First, the book clearly claims to have been written by Daniel. The book records that Daniel had the gift of prophecy (1:17) and that the visions of the future recorded in the book were given to him as a real historical person (2:19). Daniel testifies: “I saw . . . my vision . . . a vision appeared to me . . . I Daniel had seen the vision” (Daniel 7:2; 8:1, 15) and such like terminology in the book. At the conclusion of the book an angel tells Daniel: “O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book” (12:4). The idea that Daniel wrote the book bearing his name is not some traditional opinion imposed upon the book without any basis in fact. It is the plain testimony of the work itself.

Furthermore, “within the period covered by the Old Testament no example has so far come to light of a pseudepigraphon which was approved or cherished as an authoritative book . . . there is no clear proof of pseudonymity in the Old Testament and much evidence against it.”47 That is, not only is there no evidence within the Old Testament of it being acceptable for a book to be passed off under a false name,48 but evidence that this was acceptable for authoritative texts is also lacking in the ancient historical context. Both those who falsely claimed to receive revelation from Jehovah and those who claimed to speak from Him but had even one mistake in any prediction were to be executed (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). Israel would have considered worthy of death a person who, centuries after the fact, pretended to be Daniel and put invented prophecies in his mouth. Furthermore, ancient Assyrian and Babylonian texts did not employ pseudonymity. On the contrary, the evidence of a number of authors demonstrates that they “specifically avoided opportunities for pseudepigraphy.”49 The Greeks in that era likewise regarded interpolating an ancient text to be a serious crime for which one might suffer banishment.50 Forging or creating pseudonymous documents of the sort that anti-supernaturalists allege Daniel to be would have been rejected with horror by recipients of the book.

Furthermore, no evidence exists that any Jew denied or even questioned Daniel’s authorship of the book bearing his name from the time of its composition until the beginning of the modern era.51

“The ancient Hebrews never called [Daniel’s] genuineness or authenticity in question,”52 for “the book was always taken by the Jews at its face value . . . [and] had an unchallenged place in the Jewish canon.”53 The earliest Jewish historian in antiquity, Josephus, believed without any question that Daniel authored the book bearing his name.54 Josephus describes Daniel as “one of the greatest of the prophets . . . for he did not only prophecy of future events, as did the other prophets, but he also determined the time of their accomplishment[.] . . . He also wrote and left behind him what made manifest the accuracy and undeniable veracity of his predictions.”55 Josephus even records that the Jews showed Alexander the Great the predictions of the book of Daniel—an event only possible if the book had been composed centuries before the date assigned by anti-supernaturalists—and Alexander showed the Jews favor because he recognized that the book predicted his conquests. The ancient Jewish historian wrote:

And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him: whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired: and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired: and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the law of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars.56

The ancient Jewish historian also records that it was the belief of “all Jews” in his day that the canonical Hebrew Scriptures, including Daniel, were composed in the centuries before the 400s B. C., with the last books being inspired at that time. These canonical books are set in contrast to later writings, which, while interesting, are not the product of “prophets.” Indeed, for the canonical Old Testament, all the Jews would rather “die” than allow anyone “either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them,” even as nobody has since their composition “been so bold as” to do so.57 Ancient Judaism, with a united voice, ascribes the authorship of the Book of Daniel to the sixth-century prophet Daniel.

Likewise, no evidence exists of any Christian questioning Daniel’s authorship until modern times. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself unequivocally ascribed the book to “Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14), as did the early Christian community. The relevant voice of ancient Jewish and Christian historical testimony, by those who lived far closer to the time of its composition than modern skeptics, unequivocally favors Daniel’s authorship of his Book. Modern skeptics who reject Daniel’s authorship have no testimony from the time when the book was composed in their favor—rather, they have centuries of unanimous contrary testimony to overcome.

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