Updated: Jun 28, 2022
There's an interesting prophecy in Daniel chapter 9.
"Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."
But things get pretty hairy. There are so many different interpretations and implications about this prophecy. What is a week? Does it mean a year? If so, how long of a year are we talking about? A Gregorian year? A lunar year? A solar year? A lunar/solar year? A prophetic year? What date are we choosing for the start date? The decree to build the temple? The decree to reinstitute the temple services? The decree to rebuild the wall?
Let's start at the beginning. Week. The original Hebrew word translates as "sevens". Just as the English word dozen can refer to anything, "sevens" can refer to anything as well. Sets of seven years seem to work best with this prophecy as you'll see later on.
The six things are decreed to happen within this seventy sevens: "to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place." Well, it's pretty obvious that Yeshua the Mashiach fulfilled these.
The starting point. "...the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem..." This prophecy was given around 538 B.C. The Jews were exiled to Babylon and Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. There are 3 possible dates:
538 B.C.- Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a decree to Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem: 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3; and Ezra 6:1-5
457 B.C.- Artaxerxes, King of Persia, issued a decree to Ezra authorizing him to reinstitute the Temple services, appoint judges and magistrates, and teach the Law: Ezra 7:11-26
445 B.C.- Artaxerxes issued a decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: Nehemiah 2:1-8
Since the third decree relates more specifically to the reconstruction of the city, that seems to be the most likely starting date, and the most widely accepted start date of this prophecy.
The first person to calculate the 483 years to the "cutting off" of the anointed one, or Mashiach, was Sir Robert Anderson in 1894. Using 445 B.C. as his start date, you count 476 Gregorian years to 32 A.D. which equals 173,740 solar days; from March 14 to April 6 (the date of the decree and the theoretical date of Yeshua’s crucifixion) which is 24 days, then account for 116 leap years, you come to a total of 173,880 days. Divide that number by a "prophetic" 360-day year, you get 483 prophetic years. 69 weeks times 7 is 483 years.
Seems pretty legit right? Well, yeah, in theory. However, there are a couple of problems with this.
The first problem and assumption is that a year is 360 days, a "prophetic" year, based upon Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 where John mentions a total of 2,520 days for the last "week" from this prophecy, the tribulation "week". 2,520 days divided by 7 years is 360 days, so it seems reasonable to assume that the other "weeks" from Daniel's prophecy would be 360-day years, right?
Well, in Daniel's time, they did not think of years as 360 days. The Jews of the time relied upon a lunar/solar calendar. Their year was dependent upon the agricultural cycle because all their celebrations (Passover, Harvest, and Tabernacles) relied upon agriculture. If they relied solely on lunar years, eventually they'd be celebrating harvest during the planting season. That doesn't make sense. All their months are 30 days long, but they insert an extra month every 2-3 years (7 times in a 19-year period) to adjust for a true solar year.
So why would there be a difference between the first 69 sevens and the last one? One possibility could be when in Matthew 24:22, Yeshua states in relation to the tribulation period that it would be "cut short".
Another problem with Anderson's calculations is that he ends in 32 A.D. This can't be right because this would put Yeshua's crucifixion on a Sunday or Monday. 30 or 33 A.D. are the only logical years for Yeshua's crucifixion based on the assumption that Yeshua was crucified on a Friday.
Yeshua's ministry began when he was about 30 years old according to Luke 3:23 and His ministry lasted about 3.5 years. We base that fact off of a few things. According to Luke 3:1, “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…” amongst other supporting data, we find that this is when John the Baptist began his ministry. Well according to history, aka Wikipedia, Tiberius Caesar became emperor in 14 A.D.. This would put John’s ministry starting in 29 A.D., right?
Yes, but also, it should be noted that also according to Wikipedia, in 12 A.D., “the powers held by Tiberius were made equal, rather than second, to Augustus's own powers, he was for all intents and purposes a "co-princeps" with Augustus, and in the event of the latter's passing, would simply continue to rule without an interregnum or possible upheaval.” This would indicate that, technically speaking, Tiberius began his reign in 12 A.D., putting John’s ministry launch in 27 A.D..
This is also the time when Yeshua launched His ministry. John (the gospel writer) also records Yeshuacelebrating three Passovers (John 2:13; 6:4; and 11:55-57). However, this only accounts for about 2 years. Most scholars however believe that Yeshua celebrated another Passover not mentioned in the Gospels based on the amount of things Yeshua accomplished and the places He traveled during His ministry. This would lengthen His ministry another year. There’s no concrete evidence for this though.
We also find in Luke 4:16-21 that when Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61, particularly the line in Luke 4:19, "To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." The year of the Lord's favor and the rest of this passage denotes the year of Jubilee. Josephus calculates that in 27 A.D., the Jews celebrated their last year of Jubilee before their worldwide dispersal in 70 A.D. by the Romans. Thus, He would be fulfilling that prophecy in Isaiah 61 as well.
To add to the confusion, most scholars agree that 30 or 33 A.D. were the most likely years that Yeshua was crucified in because those are the only years in that timeframe that the Passover fell on a Friday.
(For this next section, please reference my post "Good Wednesday - 70x7 Reasons Why" for a more in-depth analysis.)
However, in Mark 15:42, it says that Yeshua was crucified on the “day of Preparation”, which is the day after Passover, also called “High Sabbath” because it marks the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. No matter what day of the week it is, it is considered a Sabbath according to Numbers 28:16-18 “...on the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work.” John 19:31 further confirms this: “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day)...”
Now to get tricky. In Mark 16:1, it says Mary and Mary after the Sabbath had past they brought spices to the tomb so they could anoint Yesha's body. But in Mark 23:56 it says Mary and Mary “...returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” So Mary and Mary brought spices in between Sabbaths. Two Sabbaths in close succession according to cross-referencing the Gospels.
So how can this be? Well in the year 31 A.D., Passover fell on a Wednesday (Starting Tuesday at sundown until Wednesday at sundown).
In Matthew 26:17-19, and parallel Mark and Luke passages, it says that Yeshua and the disciples prepared for the Passover meal on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which is the day after Passover. However, John says in 19:14... “Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover.” in context of Yeshua's crucifixion. This day would actually be the day of Passover, Nisan 14, and the Passover meal was eaten after sunset, on Nisan 15, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.
Interestingly enough, when Yeshua died at 3 P.M. on Passover, that’s exactly when most Jews would be sacrificing their lambs for Passover. Coincidence? I think not.
“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” -1 Corinthians 5:7
Back in Matthew 12:38-42, the Pharisees asked for a sign from Yeshua, and Yeshua gives them the Sign of Jonah, which says: “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Well if Yeshua was buried on a Friday, that would not fulfill this prophecy, but a Wednesday crucifixion would solve this problem, if the prophecy was taken literally, which I think it should be.
But why would John conflict with the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? My best guess is that when the Synoptic Gospels referred to the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they could have considered the start of it at a different time than what we would consider today.
John also mentions in 18:3"...but you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover.” (Pontius Pilate) Passover could either refer to the whole festival, or the actual day of Passover, Nisan 14. I’m more inclined to say the day of Passover with everything said so far in mind.
So it seems like Yeshua's ministry was launched in the fall of 27 A.D., the year of Jubilee to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61 according to Josephus. Yeshua's ministry lasted 3.5 years according to most scholars, putting Yeshua's crucifixion and resurrection in the Spring of 31 A.D.. Passover fell on a Wednesday that year putting a Festival Sabbath on a Thursday, allowing Mary and Mary to buy spices in between Sabbaths. Yeshua would have been in the tomb 3 full nights (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) and 3 full days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), and rising sometime Saturday night, thus fulfilling the Sign of Jonah.
Now to get back to the Seventy Sevens prophecy. Sorry, got a little sidetracked.
Let’s change the start date from 445 B.C. to 457 B.C.. There are 483 Gregorian (solar) years in between 457 B.C. and 27 A.D. (skipping 0 A.D.). And remember how Daniel divided the prophecy into two segments? First seven sevens and then sixty-two sevens? Well, 49 years (seven sevens) after 457 B.C., there is evidence that Nehemiah finished building the city of Jerusalem:
“According to Barnes and several other trustworthy Bible commentators, the historian Prideaux declared Nehemiah’s last action in rebuilding the city occurred in the 15th year of the Persian ruler Darius Nothus (423-404 B.C.). His 15th year was the 49th year from the 457 B.C. decree. Josephus seems to support this idea in his remarks about the death of Nehemiah.” ("The Daniel Papers” -Herb Vander Lugt)
423 B.C.- 15 years yields a date of 408 B.C.. 457 B.C.- 49 years is 408 B.C.. This is the first seven “sevens” in the prophecy, and then the next 62 “sevens” leads to 27 A.D.. Another coincidence? I think not!
To finish off the prophecy, there’s the last week.
Why is there a gap between the first 69 “sevens” and the seventieth “seven”? It’s not unnatural for there to be “prophetic gaps”. It’s interesting to note that when Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61, He cuts off halfway through a sentence: “...to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor , and the day of vengeance of our God…” and only reads up to “LORD’s favor” intentionally leaving off the rest of the sentence which has to do with His Second Coming.
It’s also interesting to note in Matthew 24:22, Yeshua says: “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
In Revelation 11:1-3, the first part of the Tribulation Period will last 42 months, or 1,260 days. These figure to be 30 month days, 360 day years. Then the last half defined by Revelation 12:6 as another 1,260 days.
So if we’re using 365-day years for the first 69 “sevens”, but 360-day years for the last “seven”, then those days have been cut short in relation to the rest of the prophecy.
It seems to all fit according to the Bible and reliable outside sources, but who’s to say that this is right? Only God knows. If true, this is an amazing piece of evidence for Yeshua being the Mashiach and the authority of the Bible.
T (Nisan 14)
F (Nisan 15)
S (Nisan 16)
Day of Preparation
First Day of Unleavened Bread
(High Sabbath) (John 19:31; Numbers 28:16-18)
Last Supper (Matthew 26:17)
Mary and Mary prepare spices and ointments (Luke 23:54-56)
Chief Priests and Pharisees order Guard at tomb
S (Nisan 17)
Mary and Mary buy spices?
W (Nisan 14)
T (Nisan 15)
F (Nisan 16)
S (Nisan 17)
Passover "Jewish Day of Preparation"
Yeshua's Burial (John 19:31)
First Day of Unleavened Bread
(John 19:31; Numbers 28:16-18)
Day of Preparation (Mark 15:42)
Mary and Mary prepare spices and ointments
Chief Priests and Pharisees order Guard at tomb
S (Nisan 18)
In summary, though it is not perfect, or maybe even exactly correct, the point is that this prophecy is a powerful testament to the validity of Scriptures. We see that a prophecy given to Daniel in the 6th century B.C. was fulfilled centuries later by the first coming of Yeshua, and can be backed up by math (my favorite subject).
It is a fascinating prophecy that is still yet to be completely fulfilled, and a topic that I find very intriguing and worth every believer's time and effort to study in the mindset of the Bereans. We can all agree that Yeshua is coming back in some way, shape, and form, in some manner of timing. And when He does, it will be AWESOME.
Blessings and Marantha,