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Phila delphia > The Coming Prince (3 of 8) by Sir Robert Anderson


The Coming Prince



Sir Robt. Anderson

Chapters 4-6

Sir Robert Anderson
1841-1918



A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified


by Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B., LL.D.

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"THE COMING PRINCE" on 8 html pages-

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Table of Contents
page 3

Reformatted by Katie Stewart

CHAPTER IV. - THE VISION BY THE RIVER OF ULAI

CHAPTER V. - THE ANGEL'S MESSAGE

CHAPTER VI. - THE PROPHETIC YEAR

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CHAPTER IV.

THE VISION BY THE RIVER OF ULAI

"THE times of the Gentiles;" thus it was that Christ Himself described the era of Gentile supremacy. Men have come to regard the earth as their own domain, and to resent the thought of Divine interference in their affairs. But though monarchs seem to owe their thrones to dynastic claims, the sword or the ballot-box, and in their individual capacity their title may rest solely upon these, the power they wield is divinely delegated, for "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." (Daniel 4:25)

In the exercise of this high prerogative He took back the scepter He had entrusted to the house of David, and transferred it to Gentile hands; and the history of that scepter during the entire period, from the epoch to the close of the times of the Gentiles, is the subject of the prophet's earlier visions.

The vision of the eighth chapter of Daniel has a narrower range. It deals only with the two kingdoms which were represented by the middle portion, or arms and body, of the image of the second chapter. The Medo-Persian Empire, and the relative superiority of the younger nation, are represented by a ram with two horns, one of which was higher than the other, though the last to grow. And the rise of the Grecian Empire under Alexander, followed by its division among his four successors, is typified by a goat with a single horn between its eyes, which horn was broken and gave place to four horns that came up instead of it. Out of one of these horns came forth a little horn, representing a king who should become infamous as a blasphemer of God and a persecutor of His people.

That the career of Antiochus Epiphanes was in a special way within the scope and meaning of this prophecy is unquestioned. That its ultimate fulfillment belongs to a future time, though not so generally admitted, is nevertheless sufficiently clear. The proof of it is twofold. First, it cannot but be recognized that its most striking details remain wholly unfulfilled. [1] And secondly, the events described are expressly stated to be "in the last end of the indignation," (Daniel 8:19) which is "the great tribulation" of the last days, (Matthew 24:21) "the time of trouble" which is immediately to precede the complete deliverance of Judah. [2]

It is unnecessary, however, further to embarrass the special subject of these pages by any such discussion. So far as the present inquiry is immediately concerned, this vision of the ram and the he-goat is important mainly as explanatory of the visions which precede it. [3]

One point of contrast with the prophecy of the fourth Gentile kingdom demands a very emphatic notice. The vision of Alexander's reign, followed by the fourfold division of his empire, suggests a rapid sequence of events, and the history of the three-and-thirty years that intervened between the battles of Issus and of Ipsus [4] comprises the full realization of the
prophecy. But the rise of the ten horns upon the fourth beast in the vision of the seventh chapter, appears to lie within as brief a period as was the rise of the four horns upon the goat in the eighth chapter; whereas it is plain upon the pages of history that this tenfold division of the Roman empire has never yet taken place. A definite date may be assigned to the advent of the first three kingdoms of prophecy; and if the date of the battle of Actium be taken as the epoch of the hybrid monster which filled the closing scenes of the prophet's vision and no later date will be assigned to it it follows that in interpreting the prophecy, we may eliminate the history of the world from the time of Augustus to the present hour, without losing the sequence of the vision. [5] Or in other words, the prophet's glance into the future entirely overlooked these nineteen centuries of our era. As when mountain peaks stand out together on the horizon, seeming almost to touch, albeit a wide expanse of river and field and hill may lie between, so there loomed upon the prophet's vision these events of times now long gone by, and times still future.

And with the New Testament in our hands, it would betray strange and willful ignorance if we doubted the deliberate design which has left this long interval of our Christian era a blank in Daniel's prophecies. The more explicit revelation of the ninth chapter, measures out the years before the first advent of Messiah. But if these nineteen centuries had been added to the chronology of the period to intervene before the promised kingdom could be ushered in, how could the Lord have taken up the testimony to the near fulfillment of these very prophecies, and have proclaimed that the kingdom was at hand? [6] He who knows all hearts, knew well the issue; but the thought is impious that the proclamation was not genuine and true in the strictest sense; and it would have been deceptive and untrue had prophecy foretold a long interval of Israel's rejection before the promise could be realized.

Therefore it is that the two advents of Christ are brought seemingly together in Old Testament Scriptures. The surface currents of human responsibility and human guilt are unaffected by the changeless and deep-lying tide of the fore-knowledge and sovereignty of God. Their responsibility was real, and their guilt was without excuse, who rejected their long-promised King and Savior. They were not the victims of an inexorable fate which dragged them to their doom, but free agents who used their freedom to crucify the Lord of Glory. "His blood be on us and on our children," was their terrible, impious cry before the judgment-seat of Pilate, and for eighteen centuries their judgment has been meted out to them, to reach its appalling climax on the advent of the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." [7]

These visions were full of mystery to Daniel, and filled the old prophet's mind with troubled thoughts. (Daniel 7:28; 8:27) A long vista of events seemed thus to intervene before the realization of the promised blessings to his nation, and yet these very revelations made those blessings still more sure. Ere long he witnessed the crash of the Babylonian power, and saw a stranger enthroned within the broad-walled city. But the change brought no hope to Judah. Daniel was restored, indeed, to the place of power and dignity which he had held so long under Nebuchadnezzar, (Daniel 2:48; 6:2) but he was none the less an exile; his people were in captivity, their city lay in ruins, and their land was a wilderness. And the mystery was only deepened when he turned to Jeremiah's prophecy, which fixed at seventy years the destined era of "the desolations of Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:2) So "by prayer and supplications, with fastings, and sackcloth and ashes," he cast himself on God; as a prince among his people, confessing their national apostasy, and pleading for their restoration and forgiveness. And who can read that prayer unmoved?

"O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy Sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name" (Daniel 9:26-29.)

While Daniel was thus "speaking in prayer' Gabriel once more appeared to him, (Daniel 9:21, See chap. 8:16.) that same angel messenger who heralded in after times the Savior's birth in Bethlehem, and in answer to his supplication, delivered to the prophet the great prediction of the seventy weeks.

CHAPTER 4 FOOTNOTES

[1] I allude to the 2, 300 days of verse 14, and to the statement of verse 25, "He shall also stand up against the Prince of Princes, but he shall be broken without hand."

[2] "And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered," i. e., the Jews (Daniel 12:1).

[3] The following is the vision of the eighth chapter:
"And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan, in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns. And the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake. How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and' when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face' but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man; for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now, as he was speaking with me I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true; wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days."

[4] It was the battle of Issus in B. C. 333, not the victory of Granicus in the preceding year, which made Alexander master of Palestine. The decisive battle which brought the Persian empire to an end, was at Arbela in B. C. 331. Alexander died B. C. 323, and the definite distribution of his territories among his four chief generals, followed the battle of Ipsus B. C. 301. In this partition Seleucus's share included Syria ("the king of the north"), and Ptolemy held the Holy Land with Egypt ("the king of the south"); but Palestine afterwards was conquered and held by the Seleucidae. Cassander had Macedon and Greece; and Lysimachus had Thrace, part of Bithynia, and the territories intervening between these and the Meander.

[5] The same remark applies to the vision of the second chapter, the rise of the Roman empire, its future division, and its final doom, being presented at a single view.

[6] i. e., the kingdom as Daniel had prophesied of it. On this see Pusey, Daniel, p. 84.

[7] Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21. To discuss what would have been the course of events had the Jews accepted Christ is mere levity. But it is legitimate to inquire how the believing Jew, intelligent in the prophecies, could have expected the kingdom, seeing that the tenfold division of the Roman empire and the rise of the "little horn" had to take place first. The difficulty will disappear if we notice how suddenly the Grecian empire was dismembered on Alexander's death. In like manner, the death of Tiberius might have led to the immediate disruption of the territories of Rome, and the rise of the predicted persecutor. In a word, all that remained unfulfilled of Daniel's prophecy might have been fulfilled in the years which had still to run of the seventy weeks.



CHAPTER V. Back to Top

THE ANGEL' S MESSAGE

"Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, 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. [1] Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment [2] to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the Prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and his end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant [3] with many for one week: and for the half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolator." Daniel 9:24-27. R.V. (See marginal readings.)

SUCH was the message entrusted to the angel in response to the prophet's prayer for mercies upon Judah and Jerusalem.

To whom shall appeal be made for an interpretation of the utterance? Not to the Jew, surely, for though himself the subject of the prophecy, and of all men the most deeply interested in its meaning, he is bound, in rejecting Christianity, to falsify not only history, but his own Scriptures. Nor yet to the theologian who has prophetic theories to vindicate, and who on discovering, perhaps, some era of seven times seventy in Israel's history, concludes that he has solved the problem, ignoring the fact that the strange history of that wonderful people is marked through all its course by chronological cycles of seventy and multiples of seventy. But any man of unprejudiced mind who will read the words with no commentary save that afforded by Scripture itself and the history of the time, will readily admit that on certain leading points their meaning is unequivocal and clear.

1. It was thus revealed that the full meed of blessing promised to the Jews should be deferred till the close of a period of time, described as "seventy sevens," after which Daniel's city and people [4] are to be established in blessing of the fullest kind.

2. Another period composed of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks is specified with equal certainty.

3. This second era dates from the issuing of an edict to rebuild Jerusalem, not the temple, but the city; for, to remove all doubt, "the street and wall" [5] are emphatically mentioned; and a definite event, described as the cutting off of Messiah, marks the close of it.

4. The beginning of the week required (in addition to the sixty-nine) to complete the seventy, is to be signalized by the making of a covenant or treaty by a personage described as "the Prince that shall come," or "the coming Prince," which covenant he will violate in the middle of the week by the suppression of the Jews' religion. [6]

5. And therefore the complete era of seventy weeks, and the lesser period of sixty-nine weeks, date from the same epoch. [7]

The first question, therefore, which arises is whether history records any event which unmistakably marks the beginning of the era.

Certain writers, both Christian and Jewish, have assumed that the seventy weeks began in the first year of Darius, the date of the prophecy itself; and thus falling into hopeless error at the very threshold of the inquiry, all their conclusions are necessarily erroneous. The words of the angel are unequivocal: "From the issuing of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks." That Jerusalem was in fact rebuilt as a fortified city, is absolutely certain and undoubted; and the only question in the matter is whether history records the edict for its restoration.

When we turn to the book of Ezra, three several decrees of Persian kings claim notice. The opening verses speak of that strange edict by which Cyrus authorized the building of the temple. But here "the house of the Lord God of Israel" is specified with such an exclusive definiteness that it can in no way satisfy the words of Daniel. Indeed the date of that decree affords conclusive proof that it was not the beginning of the seventy weeks. Seventy years was the appointed duration of the servitude to Babylon. (Jeremiah 27:6-17; 28:10; 29:10) But another judgment of seventy years' "desolations" was decreed in Zedekiah's reign, [8] because of continued disobedience and rebellion. As an interval of seventeen years elapsed between the date of the servitude and the epoch of the "desolations," so by seventeen years the second period overlapped the first. The servitude ended with the decree of Cyrus. The desolations continued till the second year of Darius Hystaspes. [9] And it was the era of the desolations, and not of the servitude which Daniel had in view. [10]

The decree of Cyrus was the Divine fulfillment of the promise made to the captivity in the twenty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah, and in accordance with that promise the fullest liberty was granted to the exiles to return to Palestine. But till the era of the desolations had run its course, not one stone was to be set upon another on Mount Moriah. And this explains the seemingly inexplicable fact that the firman to build the temple, granted to eager agents by Cyrus in the zenith of his power, remained in abeyance till his death; for a few refractory Samaritans were allowed to thwart the execution of this the most solemn edict ever issued by an Eastern despot, an edict in respect of which a Divine sanction seemed to confirm the unalterable will of a Medo-Persian king. [11]

When the years of the desolations were expired, a Divine command was promulgated for the building of the sanctuary, and in obedience to that command, without waiting for permission from the capital, the Jews returned to the work in which they had so long been hindered. (Ezra 5:1, 2, 5) The wave of political excitement which had carried Darius to the throne of Persia, was swelled by religious fervor against the Magian idolatry. [12] The moment therefore was auspicious for the Israelites, whose worship of Jehovah commanded the sympathy of the Zoroastrian faith; and when the tidings reached the palace of their seemingly seditious action at Jerusalem, Darius made search among the Babylonian archives of Cyrus, and finding the decree of his predecessor, he issued on his own behalf a firman to give effect to it. (Ezra 6)

And this is the second event which affords a possible beginning for the seventy weeks. [13] But though plausible arguments may be urged to prove that, either regarded as an independent edict, or as giving practical effect to the decree of Cyrus, the act of Darius was the epoch of the prophetic period, the answer is clear and full, that it fails to satisfy the angel's words. However it be accounted for, the fact remains, that though the "desolations" were accomplished, yet neither the scope of the royal edict, nor the action of the Jews in pursuance of that edict, went beyond the building of the Holy Temple, whereas the prophecy foretold a decree for the building of the city; not the street alone, but the fortifications of Jerusalem.

Five years sufficed for the erection of the building which served as a shrine for Judah during the five centuries which followed. [14] But, in striking contrast with the temple they had reared in days when the magnificence of Solomon made gold as cheap as brass in Jerusalem, no costly furniture adorned the second house, until the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, when the Jews obtained a firman "to beautify the house of the Lord." (Ezra 7:19, 27.) This letter further authorized Ezra to return to Jerusalem with such of the Jews as desired to accompany him, and there to restore fully the worship of the temple and the ordinances of their religion. But this third decree makes no reference whatever to building, and it might be passed unnoticed were it not that many writers have fixed on it as the epoch of the prophecy. The temple had been already built long years before, and the city was still in ruins thirteen years afterwards. The book of Ezra therefore will be searched in vain for any mention of a "commandment to restore and build Jerusalem." But we only need to turn to the book which follows it in the canon of Scripture to find the record which we seek.

The book of Nehemiah opens by relating that while at Susa, [15] where he was cup-bearer to the great king, "an honor of no small account in Persia," [16] certain of his brethren arrived from Judea, and he "asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem." The emigrants declared that all were "in great affliction and reproach," "the wall of Jerusalem also was broken down, and the gates thereof were burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:2) The first chapter closes with the record of Nehemiah's supplication to "the God of heaven." The second chapter narrates how "in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes," he was discharging the duties of his office, and as he stood before the king his countenance betrayed his grief, and Artaxerxes called on him to tell his trouble. "Let the king live for ever," Nehemiah answered, "why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire!" "For what dost thou make request?" the king demanded in reply. Thereupon Nehemiah answered thus: "If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto THE CITY of my fathers' sepulchers, THAT I MAY BUILD IT." (Nehemiah 2:5) Artaxerxes fiated the petition, and forthwith issued the necessary orders to give effect to it. Four months later, eager hands were busy upon the ruined walls of Jerusalem, and before the Feast of Tabernacles the city was once more enclosed by gates and a rampart. (Nehemiah 6:15)

But, it has been urged, "The decree of the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is but an enlargement and renewal of his first decree, as the decree of Darius confirmed that of Cyrus." [17] If this assertion had not the sanction of a great name, it would not deserve even a passing notice. If it were maintained that the decree of the seventh year of Artaxerxes was but "an enlargement and renewal" of his predecessors' edicts, the statement would be strictly accurate. That decree was mainly an authority to the Jews "to beautify the House of the Lord. which is in Jerusalem," (Ezra 7:27) in extension of the decrees by which Cyrus and Darius permitted them to build it. The result was to produce a gorgeous shrine in the midst of a ruined city. The movement of the seventh of Artaxerxes was chiefly a religious revival, (Ezra 7:10) sanctioned and subsidized by royal favor; but the event of his twentieth year was nothing less than the restoration of the autonomy of Judah. The execution of the work which Cyrus authorized was stopped on the false charge which the enemies of the Jews carried to the palace, that their object was to build not merely the Temple, but the city. "A rebellious city" it had ever proved to each successive suzerain, "for which cause" they declared with truth, its destruction was decreed. "We certify the king" (they added) "that if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, thou shalt have no portion on this side the river." [18] To allow the building of the temple was merely to accord to a conquered race the right to worship according to the law of their God, for the religion of the Jew knows no worship apart from the hill of Zion. It was a vastly different event when that people were permitted to set up again the far-famed fortifications of their city, and entrenched behind those walls, to restore under Nehemiah the old polity of the Judges. [19] This was a revival of the national existence of Judah, and therefore it is fitly chosen as the epoch of the prophetic period of the seventy weeks.

The doubt which has been raised upon the point may serve as an illustration of the extraordinary bias which seems to govern the interpretation of Scripture, in consequence of which the plain meaning of words is made to give place to the remote and the less probable. And to the same cause must be attributed the doubt which some have suggested as to the identity of the king here spoken of with Artaxerxes Longimanus. [20]

The question remains, whether the date of this edict can be accurately ascertained. And here a most striking fact claims notice. In the sacred narrative the date of the event which marked the beginning of the seventy weeks is fixed only by reference to the regnal era of a Persian king. Therefore we must needs turn to secular history to ascertain the epoch, and history dates from this very period. Herodotus, "the father of history," was the contemporary of Artaxerxes, and visited the Persian court. [21] Thucydides, "the prince of historians," also was his contemporary. In the great battles of Marathon and Salamis, the history of Persia had become interwoven with events in Greece, by which its chronology can be ascertained and tested; and the chief chronological eras of antiquity were current at the time. [22] No element is wanting, therefore, to enable us with accuracy and certainty to fix the date of Nehemiah's edict.

True it is that in ordinary history the mention of "the twentieth year of Artaxerxes" would leave in doubt whether the era of his reign were reckoned from his actual accession, or from his father's death; [23] but the narrative of Nehemiah removes all ambiguity upon this score. The murder of Xerxes and the beginning of the usurper Artabanus's seven months' reign was in July B.C. 465; the accession of Artaxerxes was in February B.C. 464; [24] One or other of these dates, therefore, must be the epoch of Artaxerxes' reign. But as Nehemiah mentions the Chisleu (November) of one year, and the following Nisan (March) as being both in the same year of his master's reign, it is obvious that, as might be expected from an official of the court, he reckons from the time of the king's accession de jure, that is from July B.C. 465. The twentieth year of Artaxerxes therefore began in July B.C. 446, and the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem was given in the Nisan following. The epoch of the prophetic cycle is thus definitely fixed as in the Jewish month Nisan of the year B.C. 445. [25]

CHAPTER 5 FOOTNOTES

[1] "The expression does not in a single case apply to any person." TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 98. "These words are applied to the Nazarene, although this expression is never applied to a person throughout the Bible, but invariably denotes part of the temple, the holy of holies" DR. HERMAN ADLER, Sermons (Trubner, 1869).

[2] "From the issuing of the decree." TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 96.

[3] Not the covenant (as in A. V.: see margin). This word is rendered covenant when Divine things are in question, and league when, as here, an ordinary treaty is intended (C. f. ex. gr., Joshua 9:6, 7, 11, 15, 16).

[4] If the words of verses 24 and 25 do not themselves carry conviction that Judah and Jerusalem are the subjects of the prophecy, the reader has but to compare them with the preceding verses, especially 2, 7, 12, 16, 18, and 19.

[5] Literally the "trench" or "scarped rampart." TRECELLES, DanieI, p. 90.

[6] The personage referred to in verse 27 is not the Messiah, but the second prince named in verse 26. The theory which has gained currency, that the Lord made a seven years' compact with the Jews at the beginning of His ministry, would deserve a prominent place in a cyclopaedia of the vagaries of religious thought. We know of the old covenant, which has been abrogated, and of the new covenant, which is everlasting; but the extraordinary idea of a seven years' covenant between God and men has not a shadow of foundation in the letter of Scripture, and is utterly opposed to its spirit.

[7] "The whole period of seventy weeks is divided into three successive periods, seven, sixty-two, one, and the last week is subdivided into two halves. It is self-evident that since these parts, seven, sixty-two, one, are equal to the whole, viz., seventy, it was intended that they should be." PUSEY, Daniel, p. 170.

[8] It was foretold in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i. e., the year after the servitude began (Jeremiah 25:1, 11).

[9] Scripture thus distinguishes three different eras, all in part concurrent, which have come to be spoken of as "the captivity." First, the servitude; second, Jehoiachin's captivity; and third, the desolations. "The servitude" began in the third year of Jehoiakim, i. e., B. C. 606, or before 1st Nisan (April) B. C. 605, and was brought to a close by the decree of Cyrus seventy years later. "The captivity" began in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, according to the Scriptural era of his reign, i. e., in B. C. 598; and the desolations began in his seventeenth year, B. C. 589, and ended in the second year of Darius Hystaspes again a period of seventy years. See App. 1. upon the chronological questions here involved.

[10] Daniel 9:2 is explicit on this point: "I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."

[11] "The law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not" (Daniel 6:12). Canon Rawlinson assumes that the temple was fifteen or sixteen years in building, before the work was stopped by the decree of the Artaxerxes mentioned in Ezra 4. (Five Great Mon., vol. 4, p. 398.) But this is entirely opposed to Scripture. The foundation of the temple was laid in the second year of Cyrus (Ezra 3:8-11), but no progress was made till the second year of Darius, when the foundation was again laid, for not a stone of the house had yet been placed (Haggai 2, 10, 15, 18). The building, once begun, was completed within five years (Ezra 6:15). It must be borne in mind that the altar was set up, and sacrifice was renewed immediately after the return of the exiles (Ezra 3:3, 6).

[12] Five Great Mon., vol. 4., p. 405. But Canon Rawlinson is wholly wrong in inferring that the known religious zeal of Darius was the motive which led to the action of the Jews. See Ezra 5.

[13] This is the epoch fixed upon by Mr. Bosanquet in Messiah the Prince.

[14] The temple was begun in the second, and completed in the sixth year of Darius (Ezra 4:24; 6:15.)

[15] For a description of the ruins of the great palace at Susa, see Mr. Wm. Kennett Loftus's Travels and Researches in Chaldea and Susiana, chap. 28.

[16] Herodotus, 3, 34.

[17] Pusey, Daniel. p. 171. Dr. Pusey adds, "The little colony which Ezra took with him of 1, 683 males (with women and children some 8, 400 souls) was itself a considerable addition to those who had before returned, and involved a rebuilding of Jerusalem. This rebuilding of the city and reorganization of the polity, begun by Ezra, and carried on and perfected by Nehemiah, corresponds with the words of Daniel, 'From the going forth of a commandment to restore and build Jerusalem'" (p. 172.) This argument is the feeblest imaginable, and indeed this reference to the decree of the seventh year of Artaxerxes is a great blot on Dr. Pusey's book. If an immigration of 8, 400 souls involved a rebuilding of the city, and therefore marked the beginning of the seventy weeks, what shall be said of the immigration of 49, 697 souls seventy-eight years before? (Ezra 2:64, 65.) Did this not involve a rebuilding? But, Dr. Pusey goes on to say, "The term also corresponds," i. e., the 483 years, to the time of Christ. Here is obviously the real ground for his fixing the date B. C. 457, or more properly B. C. 458, as given by Prideaux, whom unfortunately Dr. Pusey has followed at this point. With more naivete the author of the Connection pleads that the years will not tally if any other date be assigned, and therefore the decree of the seventh of Artaxerxes must be right! (Prid., Con., 1., 5, B. C. 458.) Such a system of interpretation has done much to discredit the study of prophecy altogether.

[18] i. e., Euphrates. Ezra 4:16.

[19] "This last is the only decree which we find recorded in Scripture which relates to the restoring and building of the city. It must be borne in mind that the very existence of a place as a city depended upon such a decree; for before that any who returned from the land of captivity went only in the condition of sojourners; it was the decree that gave them a recognized and distinct political existence." TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 98.

"On a sudden, however, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah, a man of Jewish descent, cup-bearer to the king, received a commission to rebuild the city with all possible expedition. The cause of this change in the Persian politics is to be sought, not so much in the personal influence of the Jewish cup-bearer, as in the foreign history of the times. The power of Persia had received a fatal blow in the victory obtained at Cnidos by Conon, the Athenian admiral. The great king was obliged to submit to a humiliating peace, among the articles of which were the abandonment of the maritime towns, and a stipulation that the Persian army should not approach within three days' journey of the sea. Jerusalem, being about this distance from the coast, and standing so near the line of communication with Egypt, became a post of the utmost importance." MILMAN, Hist. Jews (3rd Ed.), 1., 435.

[20] Artaxerxes I. reigned forty years, from 465 to 425. He is mentioned by Herodotus once (6. 98), by Thucydides frequently. Both writers were his contemporaries. There is every reason to believe that he was the king who sent Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem, and sanctioned the restoration of the fortifications." RAWLINSON, Herodotus, vol. 4., p. 217.

[21] The year in which he is said to have recited his writings at the Olympic games, was the very year of Nehemiah's mission.

[22] The era of the Olympiads began B. C. 776; the era of Rome (A. U. C.) B. C. 753; and the era of Nabonassar, B. C. 747.

[23] The seven months of Artabanus were by some added to the last year of Xerxes, and by others were included in the reign of Artaxerxes." CLINTON, Fasti Hellenici, vol. 2., p. 42.

[24] It has been shown already that the accession of Xerxes is determined to the beginning of 485 B. C. His twentieth year was completed in the beginning of 465 B. C., and his death would happen in the beginning of the Archonship of Lysitheus. The seven months of Artabanus, completing the twenty-one years, would bring down the accession of Artaxerxes (after the removal of Artabanus) to the beginning of 464, in the year of Nabonassar 284, where it is placed by the canon. Note b: "We may place the death of Xerxes in the first month of that Archon (i. e., of Lysitheus), July B. C. 465, and the succession of Artaxerxes in the eighth month, February B. C. 464." CLINTON, Fasti Hellenici, vol. 2., p. 380.

[25] See Appendix 2., Note A, on the chronology of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus.



CHAPTER VI. Back to Top

THE PROPHETIC YEAR

IN English ears it must sound pedantic to speak of "weeks" in any other than the familiar acceptation of the term. But with the Jew it was far otherwise. The effect of his laws was fitted "to render the word week capable of meaning a seven of years almost as naturally as a seven of days. Indeed the generality of the word would have this effect at any rate. Hence its use to denote the latter in prophecy is not mere arbitrary symbolism, but the employment of a not unfamiliar and easily understood language." [1]

Daniel's prayer referred to seventy years fulfilled: the prophecy which came in answer to that prayer foretold a period of seven times seventy still to come. But here a question arises which never has received sufficient notice in the consideration of this subject. None will doubt that the era is a period of years; but of what kind of year is it composed? That the Jewish year was lunisolar appears to be reasonably certain. If tradition may be trusted, Abraham preserved in his family the year of 360 days, which he had known in his Chaldean home. [2] The month dates of the flood (150 days being specified as the interval between the seventeenth day of the second month, and the same day of the seventh month) appear to show that this form of year was the earliest known to our race. Sir Isaac Newton states, that "all nations, before the just length of the solar year was known, reckoned months by the course of the moon, and years by the return of winter and summer, spring and autumn; and in making calendars for their festivals, they reckoned thirty days to a lunar month, and twelve lunar months to a year, taking the nearest round numbers, whence came the division of the ecliptic into 360 degrees." And in adopting this statement, Sir G. C. Lewis avers that "all credible testimony and all antecedent probability lead to the result that a solar year containing twelve lunar months, determined within certain limits of error, has been generally recognized by the nations adjoining the Mediterranean, from a remote antiquity." [3]

But considerations of this kind go no further than to prove how legitimate and important is the question here proposed. The inquiry remains whether any grounds exist for reversing the presumption which obtains in favor of the common civil year. Now the prophetic era is clearly seven times the seventy years of the "desolations" which were before the mind of Daniel when the prophecy was given. Is it possible then to ascertain the character of the years of this lesser era?

One of the characteristic ordinances of the Jewish law was, that every seventh year the land was to lie fallow, and it was in relation to the neglect of this ordinance that the era of the desolations was decreed. It was to last "until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for so long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years." (2 Chronicles 36:21; cf. Leviticus 26:34, 35) The essential element in the judgment was, not a ruined city, but a land laid desolate by the terrible scourge of a hostile invasion, (Compare Jeremiah 27:13; Haggai 2:17) the effects of which were perpetuated by famine and pestilence, the continuing proofs of the Divine displeasure. It is obvious therefore, that the true epoch of the judgment is not, as has been generally assumed, the capture of Jerusalem, but the invasion of Judea. From the time the Babylonian armies entered the land, all agricultural pursuits were suspended, and therefore the desolations may be reckoned from the day the capital was invested, namely, the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year of Zedekiah. This was the epoch as revealed to Ezekiel the prophet in his exile on the banks of the Euphrates, (Ezekiel 24:1, 2) and for twenty-four centuries the day has been observed as a fast by the Jews in every land.

The close of the era is indicated in Scripture with equal definiteness, as "the four-and-twentieth day of the ninth month in the second year of Darius. [4] "Consider now" (the prophetic word declared) "from this day and upward from the four-and- twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid consider it: from this day I will bless you." Now from the tenth day of Tebeth B.C. 589, [5] to the twenty-fourth day of Chisleu B.C. 520, [6] was a period of 25, 202 days; and seventy years of 360 days contain exactly 25, 200 days. We may conclude, therefore, that the era of the "desolations" was a period of seventy years of 360 days, beginning the day after the Babylonian army invested Jerusalem, and ending the day before the foundation of the second temple was laid. [7]

But this inquiry may be pressed still further. As the era of the "desolations" was fixed at seventy years, because of the neglect of the Sabbatic years, (2 Chronicles 36:21; Leviticus 26:34, 35) we might expect to find that a period of seven times seventy years measured back from the close of the seventy years of "indignation against Judah," would bring us to the time when Israel entered into their full national privileges, and thus incurred their full responsibilities. And such in fact will be found upon inquiry to be the case. From the year succeeding the dedication of Solomon's temple, to the year before the foundation of the second temple was laid, was a period of 490 years of 360 days. [8]

It must be admitted, however, that no argument based on calculations of this kind is final. [9] The only data which would warrant our deciding unreservedly that the prophetic year consists of 360 days, would be to find some portion of the era subdivided into the days of which it is composed. No other proof can be wholly satisfactory, but if this be forthcoming, it must be absolute and conclusive. And this is precisely what the book of the Revelation gives us.

As already noticed, the prophetic era is divided into two periods, the one of 7+ 62 heptades, the other of a single heptade. [10] Connected with these eras, two "princes" are prominently mentioned; first, the Messiah, and secondly, a prince of that people by whom Jerusalem was to be destroyed, a personage of such pre-eminence, that on his advent his identity is to be as certain as that of Christ Himself. The first era closes with the "cutting off" of Messiah; the beginning of the second era dates from the signature of a "covenant," or treaty, by this second "prince," with or perhaps in favor of "the many," [11] that is the Jewish nation, as distinguished probably from a section of pious persons among them who will stand aloof. In the middle of the heptade the treaty is to be violated by the suppression of the Jews' religion, and a time of persecution is to follow.

Daniel's vision of the four beasts affords a striking commentary upon this. The identity of the fourth beast with the Roman empire is not doubtful, and we read that a "king" is to arise, territorially connected with that empire, but historically belonging to a later time; he will be a persecutor of "the saints of the Most High," and his fall is to be immediately followed by the fulfillment of Divine blessings upon the favored people the precise event which marks the close of the "seventy weeks." The duration of that persecution, moreover, is stated to be "a time and times, and the dividing of time," a mystical expression, of which the meaning might be doubtful, were it not that it is used again in Scripture as synonymous with three and a half years, or half a prophetic week. (Revelation 12:6, 14) Now there can be no reasonable doubt of the identity of the king of Daniel 7:25 with the first "beast" of the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. In the Revelation he is likened to a leopard, a bear, and a lion, the figures used for Daniel's three first beasts. In Daniel there are ten kingdoms, represented by ten horns. So also in Revelation. According to Daniel, "he shall speak great words against the Most High, and wear out the saints of the Most High:" according to Revelation, "he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God," "and it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them." According to. Daniel, "they shall be given into his hand until a. time and times and the dividing of time," or three and a half years: according to Revelation, "power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."

It is not impossible, of course, that prophecy may foretell the career of two different men, answering the same description, who will pursue a precisely similar course in similar circumstances for a similar period of three and a half years; but the more natural and obvious supposition is that the two are identical. Owing to the very nature of the subject, their identity cannot be logically demonstrated, but it rests upon precisely the same kind of proof upon which juries convict men of crimes, and convicted prisoners are punished.

Now this seventieth week is admittedly a period of seven years, and half of this period is three times described as "a time, times, and half a time," or "the dividing of a time;" (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14) twice as forty-two months; (Revelation 11:2; 13:5) and twice as 1, 260 days. (Revelation 11:3; 12:6) But 1, 260 days are exactly equal to forty-two months of thirty days, or three and a half years of 360 days, whereas three and a half Julian years contain 1, 278 days. It follows therefore that the prophetic year is not the Julian year, but the ancient year of 360 days. [12]

CHAPTER 6 FOOTNOTES

[1] Smith's Bib. Dict., III., 1726, "Week." Greek and Latin philosophers too have known of 'weeks of years. '" PUSEY, Daniel, p. 167.

[2] Encyc. Brit. (6th ed.), title "Chronology." See also Smith's Bib. Dict., title "Chronology," p. 314.

[3] Astronomy of the Ancients, chap. 1 & 7. Are not the hundred and eighty days of the great feast of Xerxes intended to be equivalent to six months? (Esther 1:4.)

[4] Haggai. 2:10, 15-19. The books of Haggai and Zechariah give in full the prophetic utterances which the narrative of Ezra (4:24; 5:1-5) mentions as the sanction and incentive under which the Jews returned to the work of setting up their temple.

[5] The ninth year of Zedekiah. See App. 1. post.

[6] The second year of Darius Hystaspes.

[7] The date of the Paschal new moon, by which the Jewish year is regulated, was the evening of the 14th March in B. C. 589, and about noon on 1st April B. C. 520. According to the phases the 1st Nisan in the former year was probably the 15th or 16th March, and in the latter the 1st or 2nd April.

[8] The temple was dedicated in the eleventh year of Solomon, and the second temple was founded in B. C. 520. The intervening period reckoned exclusively was 483 years = 490 lunisolar years of 360 days. It is noteworthy that the interval between the dedication of Solomon's temple and the dedication of the second temple (B. C. 515) was 490 years. A like period had elapsed between the entrance into Canaan and the foundation of the kingdom under Saul. These cycles of 70, and multiples of 70, in Hebrew history are striking and interesting. See App. 1.

[9] Though it is signally confirmed by the undoubted fact that the Jewish Sabbatical year was conterminous, not with the solar, but with the ecclesiastical year.

[10] The division of the 69 weeks into 7 +62 is accounted for by the fact that the first 49 years, during which the restoration of Jerusalem was completed, ended with a great crisis in Jewish history, the close of the prophetic testimony. Forty-nine years from B. C. 445 brings us to the date of Malachi's prophecy.

[11] "The multitude." TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 97.

[12] It is noteworthy that the prophecy was given at Babylon, and the Babylonian year consisted of twelve months of thirty days. That the prophetic year is not the ordinary year is no new discovery. It was noticed sixteen centuries ago by Julius Africanus in his Chronography, wherein he explains the seventy weeks to be weeks of Jewish (lunar) years, beginning with the twentieth of Artaxerxes, the fourth year of the 83rd Olympiad, and ending in the second year of the 202nd Olympiad; 475 Julian years being equal to 490 lunar years.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTORY on page 1 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 2-3 on page 2 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 4-6 on page 3 (this page)

CHAPTERS 7-9 on page 4 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 10-12 on page 5 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 13-15 on page 6 ---New Window

PREFACES on page 7 ---New Window

APPENDICES on page 8 ---New Window
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For more about the author, read:
Sir Robert Anderson and the Seventy Weeks of Daniel ---New Window



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