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the Coming

"Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the mitzvah to restore and to build Yerushalayim to the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times. After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end of it shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined. He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out on the desolate." Daniel 9:24-27

The Coming of Messiah
Part One: Daniel's Prophecy

by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
(Ephesians 2:12)

This discussion will be aimed at the book of Daniel - specifically chapter 9 in which is given a time frame for the coming of the Messiah of Israel. When we consider that every letter of every book in the Book (including all the prophecies of Yeshua) were written by Hebrews from a Hebrew perspective formed out of a Hebrew mindset that was influenced by Hebrew culture and were addressed primarily to a Hebrew audience which understood the nuances of the Hebrew language, then we find these words take on a context different from those of our contemporary culture. Too often we are influenced by factors in current culture in which we reside that are nearly invisible to us that we unknowingly overlay upon the Hebrew scriptures. Unless we take the time to ask deep questions about the culture, we will simply slide along with the masses, never realizing how much of what we think and do is formed by the patterns of this world (to quote Paul). Most are unaware that the "end-time apocalypse" theology currently promoted by Christianity is relatively new - not found in history prior to the early to mid 1800s, spawned by John Nelson Darby (click on highlighted words to view content). The origin of Darby's pretribulational doctrine is fascinating (see Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover-Up Medford, OR: Omega Publications, 1975) but was entirely foreign to the first century Hebrews who wrote the Messianic Writings (NT). This is the teaching proposing that "Christ" may return at any second before "the great Tribulation" (also called "pretribulational dispensationalism") which gave rise to the idea that Christians must act quickly to save as many souls as possible before the world ends. With the founding of the Student Volunteer Movement by John Mott in 1888, a related idea sprang forth: "The evangelization of the world in one generation." The "in one generation" watchword still lives and breathes in what has come to be known as "the church" today. Yet it does not map well with the mind-set of the first-century followers of The Way who did not appear to be pressured into trying to get the entire world saved in one generation. This is how what was given to a culture 2000 years ago becomes extrapolated as having meaning in our culture today when the authors who penned those words had no inclination anyone would even be reading their words 2000 years later. With this information in mind, let us examine what the prophecy in Daniel 9 actually meant to the Hebrew audience to whom these words were directed.

The book of Daniel recounts how Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were brought in exile to Babylon with a Hebrew contingent after King Nebuchadnezzar put down the first Judean revolt in 597 BCE. Chapter 5 relates the story of King Belshazzar, the successive son of Nebuchadnezzar, being killed, and Darius the Mede becoming king of Babylon before Cyrus, King of Persia incorporated it and its Hebrew contingent into the realm of Persia. Contrary to what has been written in some commentaries, there is room in history for Darius the Mede and fits very well with his length of reign mentioned in Daniel 9:1 and his passing off the scene of action by Cyrus' third year (10:1). While the Babylonians ruled the world in the sixth century BCE, in the course of about half a century, they ceased to exist. This is remarkable enough, but it is even more astounding that their successors, the Persians, had not existed before! In 560 BCE, Cyrus the Great became the king of Persia, a small state in the Middle East, and within 30 years had replaced the Babylonian empire with his own. The Hebrew contingent that had been forced into the region by previous empires largely remained in this now Persian empire. We know from Daniel 9:1 that is when at least this particular portion of the book was written. Daniel is in deep, contemplative thought concerning the prophecy of Jeremiah which had predicted this 70 year exile (verse 2) and when it might end or, more importantly to Daniel - when it began. His prayers in the first part of the chapter are a reflection of his desire to hasten the ending of this captivity. His knowledge of the times led him to know those passages applied to his time (Jeremiah 25:11-13 and Jeremiah 29:10). Daniel was undoubtedly also familiar with Isaiah's prophecies concerning Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28, 45:4). He must have been excitedly encouraged to see a man named Cyrus rise in power over Persia. It is important to note that Daniel regarded these as real, literal years. They were in no way understood as "symbolic" years. It is also important to note that Daniel is asking YHVH, in His mercy, to take the earliest of all possible starting points (Daniel's abduction) for determining the beginning of the 70 years as there were three waves of captivity: 605 BCE - Jerusalem was attacked and Daniel and other captives were taken to Babylon; 597 BCE - Jerusalem was attacked and treasure was taken from the temple; and 587 BCE - Jerusalem falls and the nation was exiled. Still three or four years before 70 years had passed from 605 BCE was not too soon for Daniel to begin praying as he wanted to prevail upon YHVH to take the earliest possible starting point to determine the 70 years. He wanted YHVH's mercy to come to Israel earlier rather than later. So, he was understandably seeking an answer to his dilemna when the angel Gabriel appeared with that solution.

Seventy weeks are decreed... There is almost universal agreement among Bible scholars and commentators that this refers to seventy sets of seven years, or weeks of years. In Hebrew, weeks simply refers to a unit of seven. The Hebrew word here is often used to mean a unit of seven days, but it may also be used for a unit of seven years. Sabbatical years then simply become those by which their years were divided into weeks of years with each week containing seven years. Genesis 29:15-27 is an example of using this Hebrew word, shabuwa', for both seven days and seven years in the same context. ...on your people and on your holy city... The seventy weeks were focused upon Daniel's people (the Hebrews) and his city he considered holy (Jerusalem). Unless "the church" has become Israel (which has no scriptural foundation), it is not in view here. These seventy weeks are called "YHVH's calendar for Israel" in the sense that it does not focus on some future, foreign institution of Gentiles. finish disobedience, to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity... This is referring directly to the disobedience of the first Hebrew, Adam, which placed YHVH's family into perpetual separation from being echad (Hebrew for "one") with YHVH and necessitating a Kinsman Redeemer as an atonement for that iniquity. Every Hebrew was acquainted with the concept of and was looking forward to the appearance of YHVH's Messiah who would be the instrument for that reconciliation bring in everlasting righteousness.... as a fulfillment of what that atonement would mean for YHVH's family seal up vision and prophecy... setting YHVH's final seal on His Purpose to restore to His family of Israel the Kingdom of YHVH as it was from the beginning and, with that, the finality of the promise made to Abraham that through his seed would come salvation to YHVH's Family of Israel. ...and to anoint the most holy. Taken at its simple, literal meaning, this refers to a place, not a person. There is a most holy place - the most holy place of the temple - that will be anointed and blessed. Taken as a whole, Gabriel made a remarkable announcement to Daniel. He told him that each of these amazing things would happen within the period of seventy weeks. Some believe that these promises were fulfilled generally in the spread of Christianity over the centuries, but looking back in history, denying that these things have already been fulfilled is accomplished only if their plain, literal meaning is ignored and they are given a "spiritualized" meaning that replaces their plain meaning.

"Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the mitzvah to restore and to build Yerushalayim to the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times." Daniel 9:25

...from the going forth of the mitzvah to restore and to build Yerushalayim... Here Gabriel revealed to Daniel the starting point for the seventy-weeks prophecy. There was a command to restore and build Jerusalem in history that started this specific period of time. Scripture presents four possible decrees that might fulfill this description: Cyrus made a decree giving Ezra and the Babylonian captives the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple in 538 BCE (Ezra 1:1-4 and 5:13-17); Darius made a decree giving Ezra the right to rebuild the temple in 517 BCE (Ezra 6:6-12); Artaxerxes made a decree giving Ezra permission, safe passage and supplies to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple in 458 BCE (Ezra 7:11-26); Artaxerxes made a decree giving Nehemiah permission, safe passage and supplies to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the walls in 445 BCE (Nehemiah 2:1-8). Only the last of these four decrees was a command to restore and build Jerusalem. The first three each focused on the temple, not on the street or on the wall. the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks... Gabriel's message to Daniel was simple and striking - 483 years (that is, 69 units of seven years) would pass from the time of the command recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8 until the appearance of Messiah the Prince. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the long period of difficulties met in accomplishing the completion of the city. The 7 weeks or 49 years refer to this period - then the 62 weeks follow, or 434 years of waiting until the appearance of Messiah.

When one investigates the calendars of ancient Persia, Babylonia, Egypt and Assyria, it is interesting to notice that they uniformly had twelve thirty-day months making a total of 360 days for the year with various methods of intercalating days so that the year would come out correctly. Although it may be strange to present-day thinking, it was common in those days to think of a 360-day year. It was also customary for the Hebrews to have twelve months of 360 days each and then to insert a thirteenth month occasionally when necessary to correct the calendar. Sir Robert Anderson’s significant work The Coming Prince followed this time line in great detail. Anderson used a 360-day year (which Israel used in Daniel’s day) to calculate 173,880 days from the decree in Nehemiah to the triumphal entry of Yeshua into Jerusalem - fulfilling this prophecy to the day. There was only one occasion in Yeshua's earthly ministry on which He is depicted as presenting Himself openly as Zion's King - the so-called "Triumphal Entry" recorded in each one of the Gospels and fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. On that day, Yeshua deliberately arranged the event to present Himself as Messiah (Mark 11:1-10). On that day, Yeshua welcomed praise (Luke 19:38-40) instead of quieting it (Luke 5:14 and 8:56). Only on that day did Yeshua make special reference to the importance of that day (Luke 19:41-42). Yeshua knew Who He Was - the embodiment of the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy.

"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 of the war desolations are determined." Daniel 9:26

The key word concerning this verse is After the sixty-two weeks. While many think the time after means consecutively, the actual time frame is not revealed in these words - "after" could mean anytime after the sixty-two weeks were complete. However, there are two separate events described in this verse of which history gives us the time frame they were accomplished in. The first is when Gabriel told Daniel that the Messiah will be ...cut off and shall have nothing.. What a fitting description of the One with nowhere to lay his head during his life on earth; whose clothing was taken to be divided among His tormentors, and was buried in another man's tomb. Interestingly, the Hebrew word translated as the English "cut off", karath, means, "to be cut down; by implication, to destroy or consume; specifically, to covenant" is the same Hebrew word used in Jeremiah 31:33 to describe the better covenant (not "new") YHVH had promised was to come. The second indication of the time frame is, ...shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. After the Messiah would be cut off, Jerusalem and her temple would be destroyed again by an overwhelming army (...with a flood...). Most Bible scholars and commentators agree that this was fulfilled in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. ...the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy...: The destroying army is made up of the people of the prince who is to come. If we know that the prince's people destroyed Jerusalem, then we know this coming prince has his ancestral roots in the soil of the ancient Roman Empire. That prince would be Titus, the son (or prince) of the reigning Roman Emperor Vespasian. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own biological father from 79-81 CE. Titus was the Roman Legion commander tasked to subdue the rebellion in Israel, overseeing this destruction of Jerusalem and because of that victory, became the Roman Emperor. The destruction of the temple came after the 483 years had been completed. The concept is that as a result of the cutting off of the Messiah, the people of the prince will come to destroy the temple that has now been abandoned by YHVH. In that sense it was already desolate when Titus destroyed it in 70 CE. The English words translated "desolate/desolation" both come from the same Hebrew word, shamem, which means, "be deflowered, deserted, stun, stupefy (grow numb)". Titus did not make the temple desolate; Yeshua made it desolate by fulfilling the Covenant YHVH made with His family.

"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 9:27

"He", the Messiah, will confirm the covenant. Not the prince who destroys the city. This latter is the violent method of interpretation offered by premillenial scholars. With their interpretation, the prophecy ceases to be a 490 year prophecy as the seventieth week is yet to come. Incredibly they see the last seven years as the history of the world and antichrist. But this is a 70 week prophecy. The last week refers to the seven years following 33 CE - or it is not a 70 week prophecy. The definition of chetziy, translated as "midst" is used in 1Samuel 20:36-38 as "a dividing" into two parts - two halfs, but not necessarily two equal halfs. 69 units of seven years = 483 years + 1 more unit of 7 years = 490 total years in "70 weeks". 7 years added to the 33 CE of Yeshua's entry into Jerusalem = 40 CE. History tells us that in the midst of those 7 years from 33 to 40 CE, with the happenings on Yom Shavu'ot (day of pentecost), the fulfillment of YHVH's covenant with Abraham was realized - that through his seed would come the redemption for YHVH's family of Israel, the Kinsman Redeemer. The Hebrew word translated as "abomination" is shiqquwts, which means, "detestable thing or idol, as in impure". YHVH's promised fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33 caused the temple without to now become the temple within - rendering the external temple impure and fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 9 to which Yeshua alluded in Matthew 24:15.

temple destruction
Remember, there were no "Christians" around when any of these words were written. That religion did not exist for another nine centuries giving no credence to a fabricated Christian "end-time" theology - in spite of the popularity it has acquired. While the common understanding of that Christian theology is that the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy is reserved for some future date, there is no scriptural support for this reasoning. The Roman Emperor Domitian built the Arch of Titus in Rome in 82 CE to honor his brother Titus’ sack of Jerusalem a dozen years before which contains a relief depicting the Romans stealing the riches of the destroyed Jewish Temple. It still stands in Rome today, featuring the temple menorah which serves as a fitting epitaph to the carrying away of the divine Light of YHVH from the physical temple in Jerusalem.
The Coming of Messiah Series
Part One: Daniel 9
Part Two: Ezekiel's Temple
Part Three: Matthew 24:1-30
Part Four: Matthew 24:30-51
Part Five: Questions and Answers

"Herein (by this) is our love made perfect, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment: because just as He is, even so are we in this world." 1John 4:17

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