A critique of Sir Robert Anderson’s interpretation in: ‘The Coming Prince’ and Harold Hoehner’s revision in ‘Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ.’
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks is a vital foundational Bible prophecy that requires careful study to understand properly, as Jesus said when commenting upon it, “let those who read it understand” (Matthew 24:15). This chronological prophecy predicts the time of the Coming of Christ and should be fulfilled exactly (to the day). The correct interpretation sheds much light on the rest of Bible Prophecy, so it is important that we seek to find it.
In this book, I have presented what I am sure is the right interpretation which was first discerned by Sir Edward Denney, which leads to an exact fulfillment to the day, as I shall show. But unfortunately sometimes the greatest barrier to the truth is something close to the truth which satisfies us, so that we fail to dig deeper. In the case of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks those who look for a literal and exact fulfillment think they have already found it in the well-known work of Sir Robert Anderson’s The Coming Prince, revised and updated by Harold Hoehner who changed Anderson’s starting and finishing years by a year. This interpretation has encouraged many who believe in the literal fulfillment of prophecy and so it is with reluctance that in the interests of truth I have to reveal that it is undeniably incorrect in a number of ways.
The Anderson interpretation claims to provide an accurate fulfillment to the very day. As a result people think it can’t possibly be wrong. Moreover they are unable to check the validity of the calculation due to the large number (173,880) of days involved (however with calendar software available on the internet it is now fairly straightforward to do this) Unfortunately, when the calculation is checked it does not work as claimed. It is better that people realise this, rather than be misled by an incorrect and inferior interpretation which only has an apparent accuracy. Their heart will then be open to hear and receive the true literal fulfillment of the 70 Weeks. If they remain attached to Anderson’s interpretation they will fail to find the full understanding of Daniel’s 70 Weeks.
So, the following critique is written for those who find it hard to receive the interpretation in this book, because of their commitment to Anderson’s more well-known interpretation. My reason in pulling it down is only to put something much better in its place, for if we do not have an accurate understanding of the Seventy Weeks our grasp of Bible Prophecy and Chronology will be greatly hindered.
The 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27).
v24: “70 weeks (490 years) are determined
for your people (Israel) and for your holy city (Jerusalem),
(1) To finish the transgression, (2) to make an end of sins,
(3) To make reconciliation (atonement) for iniquity (fulfilled at the Cross in AD33),
(4) To bring in (the kingdom of) everlasting righteousness,
(5) To seal up (fulfil) vision and prophecy,
(6) and to anoint the Most Holy (Temple) (Yet to be fulfilled).”
v25: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the (Divine) command (‘dabar’) to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be 7 weeks (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years); (making a total of 483 years).
The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times (fulfilled in the time of Ezra-Nehemiah).”
v26: “And after the 62 weeks (after 483 years) the Messiah shall be cut off (by capital punishment), but not for Himself (or: ‘but He shall have nothing, His kingdom will be unrealised’); and the people (Romans) of the prince who is to come (antichrist) shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple) the end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined (fulfilled AD 66-73).”
v27 The future Tribulation: “Then he (the antichrist, the prince who is to come) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week (7 years); but in the middle of the week (after 3.5 yrs) he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate (he will set up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple) even until the consummation which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (he will be destroyed at the end of the 7 years).”
Firstly I should point out that as far as the substance of Anderson’s dispensational interpretation is concerned, I am in agreement. What is under discussion here is the chronology- the detailed timing of how it was and will be fulfilled. This is a chronological prophecy and so to interpret it properly we must understand its time measurements accurately. Key questions are: (1) When do the 490 years start and end?, and (2) What kind of year is being used?
1. I will first summarise Anderson’s interpretation.
2. Then I will reveal its errors.
3. Then I will summarise Hoehner’s improved version.
4. Then I will show how this also is fatally flawed.
5. Finally I will show that although these both fail to give an exact fulfillment to the day, the true interpretation succeeds.
1. Anderson claims to have found the exact fulfillment (to the very day) of Daniel’s 70 Weeks. Anderson noticed that the 70th Week has yet to be fulfilled (Daniel 9:27), so he divided the first 69 weeks (483 years) from the 70th week (7 years), even though Daniel 9:24 considers them as a continuous unbroken series of 490 years. To make his calculation work he used a year of 360 days which he calls a ‘prophetic year.’
Now 483 ‘prophetic’ years of 360 days makes 173,880 days.
Anderson took as his starting point Artaxerxes' 20th year of reign, when Nehemiah requested and received permission from the King to continue the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. His date for 20th Artaxerxes was 445 BC. Nehemiah 2:1 says it was in the month Nisan that Nehemiah received his commission from Artaxerxes. Anderson assumed this meant Nisan 1, and then calculated it as March 14th, BC 445 (Julian) based on it being a New Moon. He counted 173,880 days from this date of March 14th. He did this by converting this to 476 (Gregorian) years and 24 days (a Gregorian year is 365.242 days), which the reader can easily verify ends on April 6th AD 32 (Julian), which he claimed was Nisan 10th AD 32, the date of the Triumphal Entry (4 days before the Cross)
Since this was Jesus’ official Presentation of Himself to Israel as the Messiah this seems to be an impressive end-point of the 483 years. At this point God stopped the prophetic clock for Israel, and will only start it again when the Tribulation begins and the last (70th) Week of 7 years will run to complete the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy.
I remember being impressed by the apparent accuracy of fulfillment (to the day) provided by this interpretation. For this reason many who believe in the literal fulfillment of Bible Prophecy accept Anderson’s calculation. However as we shall see, when one looks at the calculation in more detail, one finds it is in error on practically every level.
Anderson explains his calculation: “The Julian date of 1st Nisan 445 was the 14th March. 69 weeks of years (i.e. 173,880 days) reckoned from the 14th March B.C. 445, ended on the 6th April A.D. 32. Now 483 years (69 x 7) of 360 days contain 173,880 days. And a period of 173,880 days, beginning March 14th, B.C. 445, ended upon that Sunday in the week of the crucifixion . . or Palm Sunday. The Julian date of that 10th Nisan was Sunday the 6th April, A.D32. What then was the length of the period intervening between the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the public advent of "Messiah the Prince" — between the 14th March, B.C.445, and the 6th April, AD32? THE INTERVAL CONTAINED EXACTLY and to the VERY DAY 173,880 DAYS, or 7 TIMES 69 PROPHETIC YEARS of 360 DAYS, the first 69 weeks of Gabriel's prophecy.”
2. Sir Robert Anderson's theory doesn't work!
*Wrong Intervening Period. There is a serious calculation error hidden in his mixing of 2 calendars, which by itself invalidates his calculation. There is a confusion between Julian and Gregorian calendars. The Julian calendar is longer than a true solar year (about 3 days in 4 centuries). This error amounted to 11 days in AD. 1752 when our English calendar was corrected by declaring the 3rd September to be the 14th September, and by introducing the Gregorian reform, so that the Gregorian calendar we now use stays in line with the sun.
The problem is that Anderson uses Gregorian years when calculating the number of days between two Julian dates. If we use Julian dates, we must also use Julian years, and if we use Gregorian dates, we must use Gregorian years. We cannot mix the two calendars in the way that he proposes. Anderson was thus 3 days off in his calculation, for there are really 173,883 days inclusive between Friday, March 14, 445 BC and Sunday, April 6, 32AD (Julian). Instead of adding 116 days for leap years, Anderson should have added 119, for that is precisely how many leap years there are in 476 years in the Julian calendar. If he had wanted to use Gregorian years, he should have started and ended with the Gregorian dates of Saturday, March 9, 445 BC, and Sunday, April 4, 32 AD (March 9, 445BC Gregorian = March 14, 445BC Julian; April 4, 32AD Gregorian = April 6, 32AD Julian). But when we add 116 days for leap years to the number of days between these 2 dates, we still end up with 173,883 days. Only by mixing the two calendars does it falsely appear that there are 173,880 days.
*Wrong Day to Start From. Jewish months back then, began when the new moon could just be seen with the naked eye soon after sunset. At sunset on the evening of March 13th the moon would have been only 11 hours old, too young to be seen. Thus the new month could not have begun until the evening of March 14th, making March 15th the first day of the new month, not March 14th as Anderson has it.
*Wrong Month to Start From. March 14th Julian (March 9th Gregorian) is too early in the year to be considered Nisan 1st. We have 2 resources that tell us something about the calendar back in the 5th century BC: Jewish scribal papyri from Elephantine, Egypt and cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia . Both indicate that March 14 is too early in the year to be considered Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year (see Appendix).
Thus in 445 BC, Nisan would have begun after the new moon of April, not after the new moon of March, making April 13 the true Nisan 1, not March 14. It is questionable if the barley could have been ripe enough for the wave sheaf offering on Nisan 16 if Nisan 1 was as early as March 14. That date is just too early in the year.
*Wrong Year to Start From. The main purpose of this article is that Anderson’s calculation is demonstrably wrong from a technical point of view, but it is appropriate to also mention that his candidate for the starting year of Daniel’s 70 Weeks (Nisan 445 BC), the 20th year of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2), does not agree well with the description of Daniel 9:25: “from the going forth of the command (decree of divine origin - ‘dabar’) to restore and build Jerusalem.”
The prophecy should really be tied to Artaxerxes' 7th year -Nisan 458 BC (Ezra 7) not his 20th year. The simple fact is that there is no decree recorded from the 20th year of Artaxerxes in the book of Nehemiah! The earlier decrees of Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-4) and Darius (Ezra 6:1-12) focused on the building of the Temple, but it is only in Artaxerxes' decree in his 7th year, as recorded in Ezra 7, that there is a restoration of the judiciary (self-government). At the start of his reign, Artaxerxes ordered that Jerusalem could not be rebuilt with walls until he gave the command (Ezra 4:21, see also v11-16).
This command was then given in Ezra 7 in his 7th year (458 BC), where the king makes a decree which clearly has divine origin coming directly from God’s throne (v27) as the word ‘dabar’ requires. This decree imparted full authority to Israel for self-government, so that it could function as a city (under the Persian Empire). This command also gave them authority to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem as Ezra 9:9 explicitly tells us.
This is also a logical consequence from the context of the Ezra 7 decree. For it was the reversal of the Ezra 4:21 command made by Artaxerxes in probably his first year, which forbid them rebuilding the city and its wall. Ezra went ahead and developed the spiritual and civil aspects of Israel’s government. However fears due to longstanding implacable local opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem (see Ezra 4) meant that this rebuilding did not take effect for another 13 years when only the arrival of Nehemiah made it possible, who had both great courage and favour with the Persian King. Through the strong leadership of Nehemiah, Israel was able to overcome their fears and enemies, and implement their authority to rebuild the city.
Nehemiah was galvanized into action in Nehemiah 1 when he received the report that the King’s earlier decree (458 BC) had not resulted in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. So he sought and received permission to accomplish this neglected task. The important issue is that Nehemiah was simply released by the King to implement an earlier decree. There is no new decree in the book of Nehemiah! This is easily checked by reading Nehemiah.
The dominant decree in Ezra-Nehemiah around which all the action is based is the one in Artaxerxes’ 7th year (Ezra 7). That’s why it is emphasised so strongly and dated so exactly,as if God was underlining it (as anyone can verify by reading it). Thus the only possible start date for the 70 Weeks is 458BC. This agrees with the prophecy itself (Daniel 9:24,25) which says there would be a decree to rebuild Jerusalem and that it would be rebuilt as a fortified city within the first 7 Weeks (49 years) in troublous times (against much opposition). Now while Cyrus’ decree (537 BC) to rebuild the Temple resulted in the resettlement of Jerusalem this prophecy was not fulfilled in the years (537-488 BC). It was however clearly fulfilled in the days of Ezra-Nehemiah (458 - 409 BC).
*Wrong Day to End With. There are major problems with Anderson's ending date of April 6, 32 AD. His theory called for it to be Nisan 10. He explains it this way:
“For example, in A.D. 32, the date of the true new moon, by which the Passover was regulated, was the night (10h 57m) of the 29th March. The ostensible date of the 1st Nisan, therefore, according to the phases, was the 31st March. It may have been delayed, however, till the 1st April; and in that case the 15th Nisan should apparently have fallen on Tuesday the 15th April.” Thus far his explanation proves that he has chosen the wrong date for the 10th of Nisan. If Nisan 15 fell on April 15, then Nisan 10 fell on April 10, not April 6.
He continues: “But the calendar may have been further disturbed by intercalation. According to the scheme of the eight years' cycle, the embolismal month was inserted in the third, sixth, and eighth years, and an examination of the calendars from AD.22 to AD. 45 will show that AD. 32 was the third year of such a cycle. As, therefore, the difference between the solar year and the lunar is 11 days, it would amount in three years to 33 3/4 days, and the intercalation of a thirteenth month (Ve-adar) of thirty days would leave an epact still remaining of 3 3/4 days; and the "ecclesiastical moon" being that much before the real moon, the feast day would have fallen on the Friday (11th April), exactly as the narrative of the Gospels requires.”
If that didn't make sense to you, it's because it doesn't make sense. It is just plain wrong! The Jews would add in a 13th month every 2 or 3 years. Since this 13th month was the length of a lunar month, as Anderson admits above, there was no "epact remaining." Thus Nisan 1 would still have begun with observing the new crescent on the evening of March 31st, making April 1st Nisan 1, and April 10th (not April 6th) Nisan 10. So Nisan 10 occurred at the earliest on April 10, not April 6 as Anderson supposed.
*Wrong Year to End With. No one except those who ascribe to Anderson's theory suggests 32 AD as a possible date for the death of Christ. The simple fact is that Nisan 14 (the Cross) in that year would have been on a Monday or Tuesday! It is simply impossible to reconcile this fact with the Gospel accounts of the death of Christ. This consideration alone invalidates Anderson’s interpretation!
*Wrong kind of year. Anderson's theory relies on using a 360-day year, which he calls a "prophetic year." Now this can’t be right, because this is a prophecy specifically about Israel and would use the kind of year used by Israel, which was a luni-solar year which always stay aligned with the seasons for agricultural and ceremonial reasons (the feasts were connected to their seasons), so that the Passover (14th Nisan) was always kept in the Spring (after the Vernal Equinox on March 20/21st) according to the Biblical requirement (this fact will prove important shortly). Therefore the Jewish year averaged 365.242 days, not 360 days. Anyone reading this prophecy including Daniel would have understood that this kind of year was intended, rather than a 360 day year which Israel never used.
The 360 day year is actually a Babylonian ‘Time’, and it slips over 5 days a year against the solar seasons, and neither is it in phase with the moon. It is certainly not the year used by Israel. It is misleading to argue that this is the year generally used in the Bible. In fact it is used at most on two specific occasions: the 150 days of Noah’s Flood, and the two halves (1260 days each) of the Tribulation. These situations are both special in that they are times of world-wide judgment, and it seems this is when God uses the 360 day year.
That the luni-solar year used by Israel is the year used in the prophecy is confirmed by the fact that the 490 years are described as 70 Weeks (Sevens) of years. This is a clear reference to how God told Israel to count their years in Leviticus 25. They were to mark every 7th year as a Sabbath year when the land was to be rested. Every 7 Sevens of these years was a Jubilee-cycle (49 years), and the 490 years were thought of as 70 Sevens, or 10 Jubilee Cycles of 49 years each on Israel’s calendar. Thus the language used alludes to the Jewish Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles that Israel kept according to the Law. We know that the years Israel used and counted in this manner were luni-solar according to God’s Law, with each month starting with a new moon and each year starting so that Passover in the first month was in the Spring. These years had to be kept in phase with the solar year, both for agricultural reasons and so that the Feasts (which were connected to the harvests) took place in the right season.
But the 360 day years used by Anderson and Hoehner to make their calculations work neither stay aligned with the seasons, nor the sabbatical cycles. The Passover falls back by 5 days a year and by an entire month every six years. In only 35 years, the Passover would occur in the Fall. Every 70 years, the Passover would have circled all the way through the seasons back to where it started. Thus, there is no possible way to make their calculations align with the years and cycles used by Israel, even though the language used strongly indicates that the prophecy is expressed in terms of these years and cycles. Thus the 360 day calculation is just a hypothetical calculation that bears no resemblence to the years or cycles being used by Israel, and therefore is against the plain meaning of the prophecy. Therefore good Bible interpretation requires us to reject them.
Once we see the 360 day calculation does not work anyway, then all grounds for considering the 360 day year disappear. The only possible way to do justice to the language of the prophecy with the 490 years counted in a way consistent with the Jewish sabbatical system is to use real Jewish luni-solar years that stay aligned with the seasons. Such years must on average be 365.2425 days in length, not 360 days.
Moreover the immediate context of Daniel 9 confirms this. Israel was told that if they did not let the land rest in that 7th year, the land would become desolate and they would be taken captive for a time that would allow the land to have its full quota of rest years that they had not kept (Leviticus 26:34,35). Jeremiah 29:10 later specified that the Jews would be captives in Babylon for 70 years, and this 70 years of desolation is explicitly said to correspond to the number of sabbatical years that had not been kept (2Chron36:21) Thus, Daniel's reference to 70 years of desolation in Daniel 9:2, speaks of a time-period of 490 years during which the land had no sabbaths. So Daniel 9 begins with a reference to a past 490 years or 70 Sevens which had happened, and then ends with a reference to a future period of 490 years or 70 Sevens in the prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27). If the first set of 70x7 years were Jewish luni-solar years then surely the other set of 70x7 years are also to be understood as luni-solar. Thus the context as well as the natural meaning of the language surely tells us that the years in this prophecy are Jewish luni-solar years not Babylonian Times. This is the plain meaning of the prophecy.
3. Dr. Harold Hoehner's Alternative to Anderson's Dates. We’ve seen that Anderson’s calculation is in error on practically every level. Some of these problems are known to dispensational scholars. Dr. H. Hoehner in his book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, presents a different version of Anderson’s calculation that gives alternative dates. This alternative solved some of the difficulties of Anderson’s work and it now become widely accepted in dispensational circles. Hoehner’s work is based on the same principles as Anderson’s, but starts and finishes the 70 Weeks one year later. However we shall see that his calculation does not work either.
The most obvious pointer that Anderson was in error was his year for the crucifixion. Hoehner realised that an AD 32 crucifixion was impossible, for Christ would then have had to die on a Sunday or Monday. Anderson himself realised this dilemma and had to use mental gymnastics to try and get a Friday crucifixion (his attempts to do this are clearly invalid). Hoehner establishes from the criteria that the Crucifixion was on a Friday Nisan 14th that the only possibilities are AD 30 and AD 33. Therefore Hoehner realised the only way to save Anderson’s calculation was to bring it forward a year.
Thus instead of having it run from 445 BC - 32 AD, Hoehner’s 69 Weeks run from 444 BC - 33AD. His 69 Weeks began on Nisan 1 in 444 BC, which fell on March 5 (Julian). The 69 Weeks then ended on Nisan 10, 33 AD, which fell on March 30 that year. So Christ died on Friday April 3rd (Julian) in 33 AD. Insofar as Hoehner now has the correct date for the Cross, he has improved upon Anderson. However in every other respect his calculation has all the same problems as Anderson’s and cannot be correct.
Summary: Hoehner's Four Changes
1. He identified 444 BC as the 20th year of Artaxerxes, however in this respect Anderson was probably right and Hoehner wrong. Both Jewish and Persian practice at that time was to number their years and the years of their kings from Nisan. This gives 445 AD for the 20th year of Artaxerxes which is the generally accepted year (as Anderson used). In order to get 444 BC instead (so that the first 69 Weeks ended in 33AD) he has to argue that the regnal years of Artaxerxes were measured from Tishri on an accession-year system.
2. 33 AD is a much better choice for the year of the crucifixion since it is possible to have Christ die on Friday that year.
3. His starting date, March 5, 444 BC, was the first day of a Jewish month, since the new moon could have first been seen the previous evening. In this respect this is better than Anderson’s first day.
4. His end-date for the first 69 Weeks, March 30, 33 AD, was indeed the tenth day of a Jewish month, since the new crescent moon could have first been seen the evening of March 20. In this respect this is better than Anderson’s last day of the 69 Weeks which as we have seen could not have been the 10th of Nisan despite Anderson’s claims.
4. We now discuss where Hoehner's calculations fall short.
*Wrong Year to Start From. As with Anderson, he starts from 20th Artaxerxes (rather than the 7th of Artaxerxes), but he dates it to 444 rather than 445 BC (Anderson). I have previously explained why this change from Anderson is probably in error.
*Wrong kind of year. Like Anderson Hoehner uses the 360 day year which have previously shown to be in error.
*Wrong Intervening Period. Hoehner is guilty of the same basic calculating error as Anderson through mixing together Julian and Gregorian years in his calculation. Like Anderson, Hoehner converted the 69 Weeks (483 years) of 360 days to days. Multiplying 483 years by 360 days per year gives 173,880 days, which is about 476 of our (Gregorian) years. He then tries to show that March 5, 444 BC and March 30, 33 AD are 173,880 days apart, which would be exactly 69 Weeks of 360 day years. If this was correct it might be impressive. But it is wrong! Instead of there being 173,880 days between the dates in question, there are really 173,885 days! Hoehner was off by 5 days in his calculation! This is an issue of fact not interpretation or opinion.
Any reader can verify this by using a calendar program that computes Julian Day (JD) numbers. (The Julian Day number tells us how many days have transpired since January 1, 4713 BC). This gives an accurate method of calculating the exact number of days between two dates 476 years apart. One just converts the dates to Julian Days, and then subtracts one from the other to find the precise number of days between the two. So, March 5, 444 BC (Julian) is JD 1559316, and March 30, 33AD (Julian) is JD 1733200. Thus, by subtraction, reckoning inclusively, there are 173,885 days, NOT 173,880 days. Thus the main strength of this interpretation - its apparent accuracy to the very day - is an illusion. In the next section we will show it is not only innaccurate but impossible.
How was this error made? In order to determine how many days there were between his start date of March 5, 444 BC (Julian), and his end-date of March 30, 33 AD (Julian), he said this is 476 (solar) years plus 25 days. So he multiplied 476 by 365.24219879, the number of days in a solar year to get 173,855 days and then added 25 days to get the 173,880 days. This would slip under the radar of anyone unfamiliar with calendars. The problem is that he is using Julian dates, but true solar years to measure the gap between them. (A Julian year is only approximately solar, but the difference only builds up over centuries). If he used Julian dates he should have used 365.25, the number of days in a Julian year.
Then he would have got the correct answer of 173,885 days between the 2 dates (reckoning inclusively). Or he could have used the Gregorian year with Gregorian dates, but by using the solar 365.24219879 instead of the Julian 365.25 with Julian dates, he introduced confusion resulting in an error of 5 days in his calculation. It is much safer and less confusing to do these calculations with Julian Day (JD) numbers.
*Wrong Month to Start From. The wrong number of days between March 5, 444 BC, and March 30, 33 AD, is not quite fatal to Hoehner's position, since he correctly states that Artaxerxes could have sent Nehemiah off to Jerusalem later than Nisan 1. If the correct starting date is Nisan 6 instead of Nisan 1, then the number of days between the dates could be 173,880 after all. But the difficulty we will consider in this section disqualifies Hoehner's view from further consideration.
He postulates a Nisan 1 date occurring on March 5, 444 BC. This corresponds to a Gregorian date of February 28th. The Gregorian calendar, stays aligned the seasons perpetually. The Jewish calendar never starts Nisan 1 on February 28 as this is much too early in the year! The Passover would then be on March 13 (Gregorian). However, there is absolutely no way that Jews in 444 BC celebrated the Passover 8 days before the Spring Equinox. This is way too early. It contradicts the Jewish practice as required by the Law of Moses that the Passover (14th Nisan) must be after the Spring Equinox (21st March). This means that 1st Nisan (Abib) could not possibly be before 8th March (Gregorian). Moreover if Nisan 1 was on February 28th, then the barley could not possibly be ready for the Firstfruits Offering on Nisan 16th. Thus it is impossible that this could be the starting month for the 70 Weeks, and therefore the whole calculation fails to work, in that it is not just out by a few days, but also by a whole month.
Start a Month Later? We have shown that it is impossible that the New Moon of March 5th (Julian) 444 BC could be Nisan 1 marking the start of the New Year. Therefore Nisan 1 could come no earlier than the next New Moon in 444 BC which was April 3 (Julian). This agrees with today's rabbinical calendar projected back to the 5th century BC. But this is a whole month later than the date postulated by Hoehner. This means the 69 Weeks finish a month later in 33 AD. That would make Nisan 14 (Passover) fall on Saturday, May 2, or perhaps a day later (Sunday). But if Nisan 14 fell on a Saturday or Sunday in 33 AD, how could Christ have died on a Friday if He died in that year? So when we try to start the 483 years a month later in 444 BC (whatever day in Nisan we start with) we end up with the impossiblilty that Christ died on a Saturday or a Sunday, in 33 AD. So whichever way you try to do it, the Anderson style of calculation does not work. So, neither Anderson’s nor Hoehner's reckoning of the 70 Weeks is correct, and so this interpretation is proven false.
5. Is there an interpretation of 70 Weeks that works?
The 70th Week is clearly still in the future (Daniel 9:27) and so seems to be divided off from the other 69 Weeks. However the prophecy implies that all 70 Weeks are all together as one unit (v24) with the Messiah bringing Salvation and the Kingdom at the end of the 70th Week (His time starting after 69 Weeks). The failed attempts to make the first 69 Weeks stand alone in measuring the time up to the Cross, confirm that all 70 Weeks should be kept together as one unit. What we have here is a classic prophetic paradox. On one hand, the 70th Week should run straight after the 69th. On the other hand, it is yet future! How can both be true? Rather than choosing one over the other as most interpretations do, let us proceed on the basis that both are true, even if this initially seems impossible!
As we have shown, the starting date for the 70 Weeks is clearly marked in Ezra 7 as Nisan 1, in the 7th year of Artaxerxes. This was without doubt April 3rd, 458 BC (Gregorian). Measuring forward 69 Weeks (483 Jewish luni-solar years) takes us to the last day of the 69th Week: April 4th 26AD. This means the 70th Week, the Time of Messiah, began on April 5th AD 26 with the ministry of John the Baptist. The seven messianic years are in two halves (3.5 years of John the Baptist followed by 3.5 years of the ministry of Jesus Christ). The 70th Week of Messiah is 7 true solar years which close
on April 3rd, AD 33, the very day of His resurrection! It is also of note that: 490 true solar years from April 3rd, 458BC end on April 1st 33AD, the very day of the Cross!
This means that the 490 years come to a fitting climax at the death and resurrection of Christ. The 490 years of Daniel 9:24 speak of a Great Jubilee Cycle (10 Jubilees) and so it is a great confirmation that the greatest Jubilee of all (even the fulfilment of all Jubilees - the Cross and Resurrection) took place at the end of a Great Jubilee Cycle. Whereas if the Cross was only after 483 years this would not be true. Only the death and resurrection of Christ form a fitting climax to the 70 Weeks and the calculation works to the very day! In fact the first three of the six supreme messianic accomplishments that v24 tells us should be acheived by the end of the 70th Week were fulfilled at the Cross. Thus we see that by letting all 70 Weeks run their course we get an impressive prophecy of what the Messiah would accomplish in His First Coming, at the climax of the 490 years, and it accurately predicts this to the very day! However, we must also admit there is much in the prophecy that has not been fulfilled in the 490 years from 458BC-33AD, and that the events of the 70th Week are still in the future (v27) How can the prophecy of v24 be fulfilled when the 490 years have passed and the Kingdom not yet established?
It was Sir Edward Denney who discerned the brilliant solution. According to v24, Jesus Christ was ready to fulfil the whole prophecy in 490 years which involved purchasing our salvation and establishing His Kingdom of righteousness on earth (the suffering and the glory). However Israel’s rejection of Him as their Messiah-King meant that although He could fulfil the Salvation aspects in His First Coming by His death and resurrection (and did so on time), He was unable to establish His Kingdom at that time. This is indicated in Daniel 9:26: “He shall be cut off but have nothing”, that is, His Kingdom shall be unrealised. Thus He fulfilled the first 3 (Salvation) aspects of v24, but He will only fulfil the second 3 (Kingdom) aspects at His 2nd Coming at the end of the future 70th Week described in v27. How can the 70th Week be past and future, fulfilled and unfulfilled? How can we explain this paradox?
The solution is simple: the 70th Week has come and it will come again. It has run, and it will run again at the end. When Israel rejected the King and Kingdom after 7 years of grace, God chronologically cancelled those 7 years (the 70th Week) in order to rerun them at the end of the age as the 7 year Tribulation. He had given Israel 490 years on her clock to fulfil His purposes, but when she rejected Him at the end of the 70 Weeks, God stopped her clock and rewound it 7 years. Meanwhile He brought in a new Body, the Church, for the Church-Age. When the Church Age is ended by the Rapture, Israel’s final 7 yrs (the 70th Week) will rerun as the Tribulation. Thus the Messianic Kingdom was postponed 2000 years (40 Jubilees) because of Israel’s rejection (just as their entry into the Promised land was postponed 40 years because of unbelief).
These two sets of 7 years concerning Israel are prefigured in Typology by the two periods of 7 years Jacob had to work for a wife and by Joseph’s 7 years of plenty and famine:
*The 7 years of prosperity came first, but Israel did not come to Joseph (Jesus) in that time. The dreams show the 7 lean years that came later as eating up the 7 fat years, a perfect description of the what happened to the 70th Week of Grace being replaced (eaten) by the 7 year Tribulation. It is only in the 7 lean years that Israel comes to Joseph (Jesus) and He is revealed to them, and they find salvation through Him.
*Jacob worked 7 years for His wife (Rachel), but at the close of the 7 years he did not obtain her, but another (Leah) came to Him instead. So He had to fulfil another 7 years for Rachel. When the original 7 years ran without fulfilling his purpose, he did not give up on Rachel, but instead reran the 7 years for her. He gave her another Week (of years) of work in the place of the original Week. The first 7 years were not wasted, but as far as Rachel (Israel) was concerned the first 7 years failed to acheive their purpose and so the 7 years for Rachel were run again. The original 7 years were cancelled (as if they had not run) as far as the reckoning for Rachel was concerned. His love for Rachel meant he was willing to run these 7 years again.
This action of God involved both judgement and mercy:
The judgement was that the Kingdom was taken from one generation of Israel and given to another, so that it was postponed. Moreover in place of 7 years of grace under Christ, Israel will have to suffer 7 years of Tribulation under antichrist (v27), which was prefigured by the 7 years of initial judgement (AD 66-73) that happened to that same generation (v26). The prophecy clearly links these two judgements together as a dual outworking of the rejection of the Messiah in v26. In the Olivet Discourse Jesus interprets Daniel’s prophecy giving more detail about these two judgements that come as a result of their rejection of Him as Messiah (Luke 21, Matthew 24).
The mercy is that God is giving Israel a second chance, and by the end of the 2nd run of Daniel’s 70th Week Israel will repent and Jesus will return to save her and destroy the antichrist on the final day of this 70th Week. As He fulfilled the first set of three Messianic accomplishents at the close of the 70th Week in His First Coming, so He will fulfil the second set of three Messianic accomplishents at the close of the 70th Week in His Second Coming. Therefore Israel’s rejection of Christ resulted in a delay, but not a denial of her final Salvation and Kingdom.
Thus v24 will be perfectly fulfilled at the end of the 70th Week and the detailed way this is accomplished is developed in v25-27. The prophecy describes Christ’s Coming, His Death, and His rejection by Israel resulting in judgement upon her instead of her receiving the promised Kingdom (v25,26). Then it describes the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy at the close of a yet future (repeated ) 70th Week (v27), so that it will ultimately be fulfilled with Israel’s Salvation and Kingdom at the close of 70 Weeks, despite her initial unbelief.
Interpretations of the 70 Weeks tend to stumble over the paradox between v24 where everything is fulfilled on time (after 70 Weeks) by the Messiah, and v26,27 where the Time of Messiah comes and goes and instead of the Kingdom being established Israel comes under judgement and the Kingdom is delayed until a future 70th Week of Tribulation has run. We have now resolved this paradox in the only possible way:
The 70th Week is cancelled and repeated again after the Church Age. Whatever was not fulfilled after the first run will be fulfilled after the second run. If Daniel 9:24 stood alone it would be a failed prophecy, but combined with v25-27 we see how it is being perfectly fulfilled, for even the delay and replay of the 70 Week due to Israel’s unbelief is anticipated in the prophecy. When v25-27 is allowed to interpret v24, we see that Messiah will fulfil the prophecy in 2 stages, the Salvation stage and the Kingdom stage, the Sufferings and the Glory, and indeed this dual outworking of God’s Plan is a general characteristic of Messianic Prophecy.
This interpretation accounts for all the aspects of the prophecy:
*It resolves the paradox of the prophecy showing how the Kingdom is established after 70 weeks without dividing the 70th Week off from the 69 weeks.
*The 70 Weeks are seen to run as a unit. All the Messianic acheivements are linked to the end of the 70th Week (v24) and are by nature Jubilee events happening on a Great Jubilee
*The Complexity of the prophecy is due to the fact that God had predetermined a definite period of time to fulfil His purposes for Israel, but that she rejected the Messiah when He came at the close of that time, and God, who knew all this in advance (as revealed by this prophecy), had prepared His response, which was to discipline Israel and give her a second chance later in such a way, that the prophecy would ultimately be fulfilled in the original predetermined time-period for Israel. Within this prophecy is hidden the Mystery of the Church-Age during which time Israel’s clock is stopped.
*Messiah is initially seen in His First Coming as the Prince, not the King (v25). The time of Messiah is defined as starting after the 69th Week and therefore it occupies the 70th Week. He is said to be cut off (killed) after the 69th Week (v26). Why does it not say ‘during the 70th Week’? Because as far as Israel was concerned that 70th Week would be cancelled (blotted out) and rerun again as the future Tribulation (v27).
*The judgements on Israel (past and future) are explained in terms of Israel’s unbelief concerning her Messiah. The Tribulation is the rerun of Daniel’s 70th Week. Israel’s suffering under the antichrist is the result of her rejection of the Christ. Yet He has not rejected her and will save her from antichrist at the end. Overall in this prophecy, God reveals His Sovereignty by declaring His Purposes for Israel and the very Timing of their fulfillment, as well anticipating and describing every obstacle, and then showing how He will fulfil His purpose anyway and in the time-frame He allotted for Israel in the 1st place
*Since the prophecy defines the Tribulation as the Repetition of the original 70th Week (the Time of Messiah), we can account for the timing of the Tribulation. Not only does it explain why it must be 7 years, but why it must be divided into two halves of 3.5 years (see v27, and other references in Daniel and Revelation to 1260 days, 42 months, etc).
In the 7 years of Grace, the first half of 3.5 years (April AD 26 -October 29) was the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist in the spirit and place of Elijah. In the rerun Israel again have a preparatory ministry, this time of Elijah himself (as one of the 2 witneses), possibly countered by the false-prophet. It is impossible to understand the scriptures relating John and Elijah if the cancellation and rerun of the 70th Week is not understood. God promised to send Elijah to Israel just before Messiah set up his Kingdom, but knowing Israel would reject it and that it would not be established at the First Coming, He held Elijah back, and sent John in Elijah’s place to fulfil His ministry.
Instead Moses and Elijah were present on earth to witness the key events of His First Coming (they appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and afterwards also as 2 men in white). This qualifies them to be the 2 witnesses of Revelation 11 for they will be able to give eyewitness testimony to Israel concerning Christ’s First Coming. Therefore Elijah will come to Israel just before the 2nd Coming to fulfil His prophesied ministry to Israel. In the rerun of the 70th Week, he must fulfil a parallel ministry to John’s ministry in the original 70th week, calling people to faith in Christ. In particular his ministry must run for the first half of the Week (3.5 years) and that’s exactly what we read in Revelation 11.
In the 7 years of Grace, the events of the 70th Week come to their climax in second half of 3.5 years (October 29 - April 33) which was the ministry of Jesus Christ himself. This explains why His Ministry was 3.5 years. Likewise in the 7 years of the Tribulation, the events of the re-run 70th Week come to their climax in the second half of the Week, but instead of the 3.5 years of grace under Christ, they must suffer 3.5 years of Great Tribulation under the antichrist (because they rejected Christ). This is why Daniel 9:27 clearly divides the final 70th Week into two halves, with the second half much worse for Israel than the first half, with it being dominated by the antichrist. Moreover in Daniel 9:27 the first half is characterised by the Jews having their Temple, where the prophetic ministry of Moses and Elijah is based for 3.5 years (Revelation 11). So in both runs of the 70th Week, as far as Israel is concerned, the first half is dominated by the prophetic Elijah ministry, and the second half is dominated by the anointed one (either the Christ, anointed by God as the fulfilment of His purposes, or the anti-christ, anointed by satan as the fulfilment of his purposes).
Both 70 Weeks close with a climactic Messianic manifestation on the final day of the 490 years (the Great and Manifest Day of the Lord). The first 70th Week closed with the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. The second 70th Week will close with the Second Coming of Christ in power and glory to save Israel, destroy the antichrist, and establish His Kingdom on earth.
Thus we see a perfect parallelism between the initial Time (7 years) of Messiah and the 7 year Tribulation. This confirms that they are connected in both being the 70th Week of Daniel, and that one is a rerun of the other.
Appendix: One decisive argument against the interpretation of Anderson/Hoehner is that it requires the 70 Weeks to start too early in the year. It is agreed that the start point is Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year, but the issue is when can the New Year begin? This Appendix provides extra evidence that both Anderson and Hoehner require the Nisan in their starting years of 445/444 BC to start too early in the year. Once it is realised Nisan had to start a month later than they say, their whole calculation is invalidated.
The Biblical Requirement. Beyond dispute is the Biblical requirement that Passover must be in the Spring (after the Spring Equinox on March 21st Gregorian). This by itself requires Nisan to start after the 8th March (Gregorian). This immediately invalides Hoehner’s date of February 28th!
This requirement is confirmed by the Jewish First Century practice as recorded by Philo and Josephus which Christ endorsed by His keeping of the Feasts. It could also be argued that the Bible also requires tabernacles in the 7th month to be in its season after the Autumnal equinox. If this is true then Nisan must start actually after 16th March (Gregorian) which also invalidates Anderson’s date of 9th March (Gregorian).
*Jewish practice at that time (500-400 BC) was influenced by the Babylonians who started the year even later, based on the rule that the New Year starts after the Spring Equinox (March 21st Gregorian, which was March 26th Julian at that time). On this basis both Anderson’s and Hoehner’s dates for Nisan 1 are invalid.
The evidence for this is clear. We have 2 resources that tell us something about the calendar back in the 5th century BC: Jewish scribal papyri from Elephantine, Egypt and cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia. Both indicate that March 14 is too early in the year to be considered Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year.
At Elephantine, Nisan 1 ranged from March 26 (in 446 and 428 BC) to April 24 (in 465 BC) (Siegfried Horn and Lynn Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7, p. 157-159).
In Babylonia, Nisan 1 ranged from March 26 to April 23 for the years 464 BC to 400 BC (Richard Parker and Waldo Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, p. 32, 33).
Elephantine Results: S. H. Horn and L. H. Wood, published a paper in 1954 in Journal of Near Eastern Studies. This paper is an analysis of fourteen double-dated Jewish papyri from Elephantine, Egypt, which attempts to ascertain the nature of the Jewish calendar in the fifth century BC. Because the papyri were dated in both the Jewish calendar and the Egyptian calendar, and because those double dates can only coincide in particular years and particular months, it is possible to assign definite dates to these documents to within a day. The Julian dates assigned to these papyri in the article, along with the dates of the preceding Nisan 1, appear in the table on the next page:
The Elephantine papyri give us Julian dates for Nisan 1 ranging from March 26 through April 24. Hoehner's proposed date of March 5 (Julian) for Nisan 1 in 444 BC is therefore as much as three weeks earlier than the earliest Nisan 1 in the Jewish colony at Elephantine, Egypt. We can therefore confidentally conclude, based on the very sources that Hoehner cites, that March 5 in 444 BC was actually the first day of Adar (the 12th month). This is confirmed by Richard A.
Parker and Waldo Dubberstein’s Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C-A.D. 75 (2nd ed.; Providence, 1956, p. 32) where we find that March 4/5th marked the first day of Adar, while Nisan 1 fell on April 3rd (Julian). In other words, according to the very source cited by Hoehner to prove that Nisan began in March 444 BC (on the Julian calendar), Nisan did not begin until April.
The same arguments apply to Anderson’s dates for Nisan 1 in 445 BC. The evidence we have from both the Jewish and Babylonian records is that Nisan did not start until a month later. It would have begun after the new moon of April, not after the new moon of March, making April 13 (Julian) the true Nisan 1, not March 14 (Julian), as Anderson has it.Thus in 445 and 444 BC, Nisan would have begun after the new moon of April, not after the new moon of March as Anderson & Hoehner need to make their calculation work.
Jewish Date of Papyrus
Julian Date of Papyrus
Preceding Nisan 1
|Elul 18||Sept. 12, 471 BC||Apr. 1, 471 BC|
|Kisl. 18||Jan. 2, 464 BC||Apr. 24, 465 BC|
|Siv. 20||July 7, 451 BC||Apr. 20, 451 BC|
|Tam. 18||July 13, 449 BC||Mar. 29, 449 BC|
|Kisl. 2||Nov. 19, 446 BC||Mar. 26, 446 BC|
|Ab 14||Aug. 27, 440 BC||Apr. 18, 440 BC|
|Elul 7||Sept. 15, 437 BC||Apr. 14, 437 BC|
|Tish. 25||Oct. 30, 434 BC||Apr. 12, 434 BC|
|Siv. 20||June 12, 427 BC||Mar. 26, 427 BC|
|Tam. 8||July 11, 420 BC||Apr. 7, 420 BC|
|Kisl. 3||Dec. 16, 416 BC||Apr. 23, 416 BC|
|Sheb. 24||Feb. 11, 410 BC||Mar. 28, 411 BC|
|Mar. 24||Nov. 26, 404 BC||Apr. 10, 404 BC|
|Adar 20||Mar. 9, 402 BC||Mar. 30, 403 BC|