70 Weeks Decree is Given

The 490-year period of Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy would commence with the issuing of a commandment or decree to rebuild Jerusalem and restore its streets and walls that the Babylonian invasion had destroyed. There are two major decrees given in the Old Testament that concern the restoration of Jerusalem. The first is found in the Book of Ezra where King Cyrus of Persia proclaimed that the house [i.e., Temple] of God was to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. This decree was issued in the year 539 B.C. However, it cannot be the commandment referred to in this prophecy of Daniel's because it does not speak to the rebuilding of the streets and walls of Jerusalem:

"1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah." (Ezra 1:1-2)

The second decree is found in the Book of Nehemiah:

"1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. 6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." (Nehemiah 2:1-8)

King Artaxerxes issued it in the Jewish month of Nisan in the twentieth year of his reign (many biblical passages give the specific numerical day when it lists a Jewish month. In this case, no specific day is mentioned so by default the first day of Nisan is probably what is meant here). This decree specifically mentions that Nehemiah was to receive "timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." Unlike the Ezra decree, this one fulfills precisely the prophecy of Daniel to "restore and to build Jerusalem...the street shall be built again, and the wall". This decree then starts the "seventy weeks" prophecy on March 5, 444 B.C.

The Bible gives the length of a year as consisting of 360 days. (Genesis 7:11,24; 8:3-4; Revelation 13:4-7; 12:13-14 cf. Daniel 7:24-25)  This biblical year was based upon the lunar phases which comprised 30-day time periods. In modern times, our calendar is based upon the solar year which lasts 365 days with an extra "leap" day being added every fourth year. This of course keeps the days of each year occurring at the same time during the seasons. The Jews adjusted their lunar-year calendar by adding an extra month every few years by which to keep their seasons consistent.

To calculate the "69 weeks" until the Messiah came, you multiply the 483 years by 360 days. The result is that the Messiah would appear 173,880 days from March 5, 444 B.C. By converting these days, using the precise length of our solar year, the day the Messiah would appear is the 10th of Nisan or March 30, 33 A.D. This means that according to Daniel's prophecy, any person not proclaimed the Messiah on March 30, 33 A.D. could not in fact be the Messiah.

The final passage of the 69 weeks part of the 70 weeks prophecy concerns the prophetic phrase that states the "Messiah [shall] be cut off, but not for Himself". This of course pertains to the earlier prophecy of Isaiah in which he said: "for He [i.e., the Messiah] was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people was He stricken"." (Isaiah 53:8) Therefore, after the Messiah appeared He would be killed according to this prophecy of Daniel's and the prophecy of Isaiah.

The 70th week of the 70 weeks prophecy will be fulfilled with the Tribulation Period.


Back to Timeline