New Book: Daniel's 70 Weeks

Appendix 2: Anderson-Hoehner Interpretation (a Critique)

Appendix 2: The Anderson-Hoehner Interpretation

*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 70 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, and so it is important that we seek to find it.

In this book, I have presented and built upon the interpretation first discerned by Sir Edward Denney, which leads to an exact fulfilment to the day. But unfortunately often 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 70 Weeks those who look for a literal and exact fulfilment 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 fulfilment 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. This Appendix is a detailed and somewhat explanation of why the Anderson interpretation clearly fails.

The Anderson interpretation claims to provide an accurate fulfilment to the very day. Therefore 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. As a result they just repeat Anderson’s claims without checking their validity. However with calendar software now available on the internet it is now fairly straightforward to do this. Unfortunately, when the calculation is actually 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 fulfilment 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, and miss some of the revelation it contains.

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).
*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 in the 5th century BC. 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 3 for more on this). 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 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 with a 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 (see Chapter 3 for a full explanation). 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’ indicates. 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 long-standing 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 galvanised 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 is 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 458 BC.

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). However, it was clearly fulfilled in the days of Ezra-Nehemiah (458 - 409 BC).
v24: “70 Weeks (‘70 Sevens’ or 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.”
(All these were fulfilled at the Cross in AD 33)

(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)
(These 3 are yet to be fulfilled at the 2nd Coming of Christ).”


v25: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth
of the Command (‘dabar’) to restore and build Jerusalem until MESSIAH the Prince, there shall be:
7 Weeks (49 years) and 62 Weeks (434 years)
(These make a total of 69 Weeks or ‘Sevens’ = 483 years).

The 7 Weeks: The street (of Jerusalem) shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome (‘narrow’) times (fulfilled in the time of Ezra-Nehemiah).”

v26a: “And after the 62 Weeks (sometime 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’);

v26b: “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 in 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, the 70th Week); but in the middle of the Week (after 3.5 years), 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. Some key questions include: (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 demonstrate that this version is also fatally flawed.

*1. Anderson claims to have found an exact fulfilment (even to the very day) of Daniel’s Prophecy of 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 had to use a year of 360 days (a ‘Time’), which he called 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.

I remember being impressed by the apparent accuracy of fulfilment (to the day) provided by this interpretation. For this reason, many who believe in the literal fulfilment of Bible Prophecy accept Anderson’s calculation, but without checking it.

However, as we will see, when one looks in more detail at the calculation, 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, AD 32. 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, AD 32? 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 does not work!

*Wrong Intervening Period. There is a serious calculation error hidden in his mixing of 2 calendars, which by itself invalidates his calculation. It 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, 32 AD (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, 445 BC Gregorian = March 14, 445 BC Julian; April 4, 32 AD Gregorian = April 6, 32 AD 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 2 Calendars does it falsely appear that there are 173,880 days.

 

"Summary of Anderson's Miscalculation" chart

 

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