When I was researching about the deuterocanon (or the apocrypha, as most Protestants call them) I stumbled upon the notion that God was silent during a period of 400 years between the end of the Old Testament (after the Prophet Malachi) and the beginning of New Testament time (namely the appereance of John the baptist).

From a Protestant point of view where the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books are not considered scripture, there is indeed a 400 year gap in revelation -- no prophets, no inspired writings, nothing.

From a Catholic (or Orthodox) point of view however there is scripture written and inspiration taking place during that period and there is no gap (at least not that long) in in Gods revelation.

Now, when looking for reasons why christians consider the deuterocanon/apocrypha inspired or not I am sometimes told that those writings originated in a period where God was silent and thus cannot be considered scripture (like here, here or here).

To me this is:

  1. A circular argument (apocrypha are not scriptural -> God was silent 400 years -> in those 400 years no inspired scripture was written -> apocrypha are not scriptural) or
  2. There must be another reason to believe God was silent for that period. This reason would break the circle in (1) and make the stated argument valid.

My Question: What biblical basis give adherents of a large time of Gods silence between the Prophet Malachi and John the Baptist beside the (perceived) fact of missing inspired scripture in that period?

A best answer could simply cite the prophet X in saying: "Listen, God will be silent for 400 years before the fulfillment of time." and then stating that this fulfillment of time has come with Christ. But there may be more to say to that matter ...

  • 13
    There's no argument, simply an observation from the Protestant perspective that there were no inspired writings during that time. No one claims there was a prophecy, or that the 400 years was necessary. There's no real question here.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 12:46
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    1 Maccabees 9 27 refers to the worst famine since prophets ceased to appear in Israel. That seems to imply prophets had ceased to appear. But if Maccabees is not canonical ,,,
    – davidlol
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 19:39
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    Have you read the Book of Malachi? It's basically God getting angry at the Hebrews and going "Screw you, I'm taking my ball and going home," with a side of "I'm going to get a new people, and they're going to treat me properly!"
    – nick012000
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:37
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    Methinks you and the RC church might be engaged in circular thinking too: A circular argument (apocrypha is Scripture -> God was not silent 400 years -> in those 400 years inspired scripture was written -> apocrypha is Scripture. Presuppositions work that way. Call them assumptions, first principles, argument by definition, or even non-negotiables. For the RC church, another complicating factor is tradition. I do not know how far back the RC church started assuming the Apocrypha was inspired, or how they determined it to be Scripture, but te Protestants, otoh, had no such tradition. Commented May 29, 2019 at 12:34
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    The Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years before being brought out of Egypt (Exodus 12:40). So there is the historical precedent of a 400+ year silence between the events of Genesis and God bring His people out of Egypt. Commented May 29, 2019 at 18:35

6 Answers 6


In Amos 8, the prophet declares (NIV trans.):

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.

13 “In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.

14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria— who say, ‘As surely as your god lives, Dan,’ or, ‘As surely as the god of Beersheba lives’— they will fall, never to rise again.”

I have on several occasions heard Baptist preachers cite this passage as a prophecy fulfilled by the 400 year gap in divine revelation.

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    See also Micah 3:4, 7- the seers/prophets will cover their faces because there is no answer from God. See also the NIV Study Bible section "The Time Between The Testaments".
    – Lesley
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 16:37
  • There's some punctuation errors here. There's an extra double quote in v. 13, and v. 14 contains a footnote artifact (the lone "b" before "of Beersheba").
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 11:12
  • See also Psalm 74:8 and Lamentations 2:9 - The time period these passages are referring to is not necessarily the '400 year gap', and could easily be referring to numerous times throughout OT history.
    – emeth
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 13:39
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    The Book of Amos, penned in the mid-eighth century BC, seems to allude to the upcoming Babylonian Captivity.
    – user46876
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 3:20

When Jesus said that the scribes and Pharisees would be charged for the murder of all the prophets, that is, from Abel to Zechariah, he indicated what he considered to be the Hebrew canon. He was speaking according to the traditional Jewish canon, in which Chronicles is listed as the last book and in which Zechariah is killed at 2 Chronicles 24:20, 21.

Luke 11:49-51 (NWT)

That is why the wisdom of God also said: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, and they will kill and persecute some of them, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets spilled from the founding of the world may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zech·a·riʹah, who was killed between the altar and the house.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.

(A parallel account of this is found at Matthew 23:34-36)

This traditional Hebrew canon that Jesus was alluding to does not contain any new inspired writings from those previous 4 centuries.

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    In Matthew 23:35, he refers to the prophet Zechariah who was the "son of Berechiah" and writer of the second to last book of the Old Testament (see Zech. 1:1), not Zechariah the son of Jehoiada who was killed in 2 Chronicles. The death of the first Zechariah is not recorded in the Bible. Commented May 29, 2019 at 19:55
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    @CaseyPerkins One common explanation is that Jehoiada and Berechiah are different names for the same person, or that Jehoiada is an ancestor of the same Zechariah. It would not make sense for the Pharisees to be held guilty for "Zechariah, son of Berechiah" if there is no record that that Zechariah was killed.
    – user32540
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 20:23
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    There is no record available to us, but it could have been common knowledge to them at that time. In any event, Christ knew it. But your explanation cuts both ways, because there is no record that the prophet Zechariah in Chronicles was the son of Berechiah. (Rather, he is expressly said to be son of Jehoiada). Christ's hearers would be more likely to understand "Zechariah son of Berechiah" as indicating the more famous prophet. Commented May 29, 2019 at 20:29
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    @CaseyPerkins There is a difference between Barachiah (Mt 23:35) and Berechiah (Zeph. 1:1). One is spelled with "a" and the other is spelled with "e". Jesus wasn't talking about the Zephaniah who wrote the book bearing his name.
    – user32540
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 22:30
  • The names are spelled identically in my Greek Septuagint and my Greek New Testament. Besides, the Zechariah in Chronicles was killed in the "court" while the one mentioned in Matthew was killed between the (inner) "temple and the altar". I provide a link to a diagram below so you can see the intent. The case is conclusive; the son of Jehoaida was not referred to by the Lord. i.pinimg.com/originals/a2/36/15/… Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 1:19

Is there any Biblical Basis for 400 years of silence between Old and New Testament?


Johanan was High Priest until at least 411 BC, according to the Elephantine Papyrus "Cowley 30", or "B19". Jaddua was High Priest after Johanan (Nehemiah 12:22) and during the reign of Darius II. The Persian King Darius II died in 404 BC (Parker & Dubberstein). These two dates, 411 BC and 404 BC, mark the two bookends of the period during which the Old Testament was completed.

The date of Ezra leaving Babylon in Ezra 7:9 was 3rd April 458 BC, Gregorian ("Babylonian Chronology - 626 BC to AD 75" by Parker & Dubberstein). The date of the Resurrection of our Lord was 3rd April AD 33, Gregorian, seventy sevens, 490 years, later to the exact day (Daniel 9:24). (Over merely 500 years the number of days in the Gregorian Calendar is exactly the same as the number of days in the actual Solar Year.) The seven sevens (49 years) (Daniel 9:25) marks the time from 458 BC until the completion of the Old Testament, with the completion of Ezra/Nehemiah in very close to 408 BC. The sixty two weeks (434 years) (Daniel 9:25) is the time from the completion of the Old Testament until the commencement of the Word of the Lord coming to John the Baptist at the start of his ministry (Luke 3:1).

Hence, the Bible itself gives evidence in a cryptic prophecy, of approximately 400 years of prophetic silence between the Old and New Testaments.

Finally, Josephus speaks of the attitude of the Jews regarding the writings between the Testaments such as Maccabees, etc: see the postscript.

Finally, this amazing evidence tells one important truth: The Lord Reigns! See the Post postscript.

May God bless the reader!!

The details of the evidence

The apocryphal writings were written during what Protestants call "the inter-Testament years". This is because the Protestant view is that the apocryphal writings are not inspired. This view has been taken from the Jews. It was the Jews who did not recognise the apocryphal writings as inspired. See post script at end, a quote from "Against Apion" book 1, section 8 by the 1st century historian Josephus.

A personal view is that the 62 weeks in Daniel 9:25 is 434 years of prophetic silence from the end of the OT (with the completion of Nehemiah) in 408 BC, to the start of the ministry of John the Baptist. This is based on a crucifixion date of 3rd April 33 AD (Julian Date), the decree of Artaxerxes I given to Ezra (Ezra 7:12,13) which was obeyed by Ezra "on the first day of the first month" (Ezra 7:9) of the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, to return to and to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7), i.e. on the first day of 458 B.C.; and 49 years ("7 weeks") after that is 409 BC.

Now, Nehemiah 12:22 informs us Jaddua has succeeded Johanan as High Priest, whereas Johanan was High Priest in about 410 BC according to the Elephantine Papyri letter named "Rowley 30" or "B19" see https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/479859 pages 437-438, line 4-5, and note 7 on p437 shows the year, and page 438, line 18, refers to a previous letter, shortly after the time of the destruction sent to the High Priest Jehohanan.

Nehemiah 12:22 also tells us the list of High Priests is given "to the reign of Darius the Persian". This would be Darius II, who died 404 BC. I think it reasonable to assume that the list of priests are given up to the time of writing, and that, therefore, the book of Nehemiah was finished during the reign of Darius. (If the book had been written later then the giving of the list of priests only up to the time of Darius would require some explanation: on the face of it, it would seem to have been a peculiarly arbitrary decision.)

Letter "B19"

"TAD A4.7 - Cowley 30 - (Sachua Plates 1-2)"

"Date [of letter]: 25th November 407 BCE"

"Place: Elephantine"

"Parties: From Jedaniah and his colleagues the priests [at Elephantine] to Bagavahya, governor of Judah"

"Purpose: Reconstruction of the Temple" [at Elephantine; request for help]

"In the month of Tammuz, year 14 of Darius the king..." [between 14th July and 12th August 410 BCE] .... summary: ... the enemies of the Jews at Elephantine conspired together and said let the Temple of the Jews at Elephantine be plundered and destroyed.

"Moreover, from the month of Tammuz, year 14 of Darius the king, and un(til) this day, we sackcloth are wearing and are fasting,..."

"Moreover, from that time and until this day, year 17 of Darius the king,"... summary: ... there has been no Temple worship.

"Moreover, before this, at the time this ev(il) was done to us, a letter we sent to our lord, and to Jehohanan the High Priest and his colleagues the priests who are in Jerusalem, and to Ostares (the) brother of Anani and the nobles of the Jews. A letter they did not send us." ["A letter" is emphatic i.e. "Not a single letter of reply did they send back to us"].

(For the name "Anani", see 1 Chronicles 3:24. It is very likely the same Anani: a descendant of King David, and thus a leader of the people. The genealogy in 1 Chron 3 from David down to Anani. Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was born between Mar 617 and Mar 616: Anani was the 8th generation after Jeconiah; assuming 20 years for each generation would mean Anani was born 456 BC. There are no gaps in the genealogy of 1 Chron 3; every generation is included.)


Please note I have merely interpreted and changed the values "70 weeks", "7 weeks" and "62 weeks" into years in the following passage from Daniel 9:24-25:-

490 years are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be 49 years, and 434 years: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Daniel 9:24,25.

(Why does the prophecy give "70 sevens", "7 sevens", and "62 sevens"? Why not just give 490 years, 49 years and 434 years? Possibly because 7 sevens is a bit more vague - and it is not literally exactly 49 years, but close to 49, eg 50 years; and not exactly 434 years, but 435 years.

Secondly, there was a way to measure time over multiple years during the Old Testament period: every 7 years there was a year of Sabbath (when the ground was allowed to remain unseeded, and debts were cancelled between Jews (cf Exodus 23:10,11; Leviticus 25:3-7; Deut 15:1-18; Neh 10:31). Then every 7 sabbatical years there was the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-9; Ezekiel 40:1). The priests were required to record these years in order to keep the law of Moses. 7 sevens could simply be meaning there will be 7 sabbatical years, or between 49 and 55 years duration, and 62 sevens, between 434 years and 440 years duration.)

Some additional notes on this:

  1. For the dates for the reign of Artaxerxes I, I have taken as 464-424 BC, as per Richard Parker & Waldo Dubberstein's "Babylonian Chronology- 626 BC to AD 75".

  2. The dates for the reign of Darius II 423-404 BC has been taken, (again as per Parker & Dubberstein).

  3. Ezra 7:9 tells us Ezra began the journey to return to Jerusalem the first day of the 7th year of Artaxerxes, which was 458 BC. In AD 1956 Richard Anthony Parker and Waldo Dubberstein produced their (2nd, updated edition) book "Babylonian Chronology 626 BC to AD 75". This contains all the new moons for the period, i.e. the first day of each month for the period. Ezra 7:9 happened on 8th April 458 BC.

About 2006 Pastor Derek Walker of Oxford Bible Church realized 8th April 458 BC in the Julian Calendar is 3rd April 458 BC in the Gregorian Calendar, and 3rd April AD 33 (Julian), one of the prime candidates for the crucifixion, is 1st April AD 33 (Gregorian), and thus the Resurrection would have been on the 3rd April AD 33. From this it follows that, if the crucifixion was on 3rd April AD 33 (Julian) then the day of Ezra 7:9, the day the decree of Artaxerxes I to rebuild Jerusalem was obeyed by Ezra is 490 years to the Resurrection (3rd April AD 33, Gregorian) to the exact day according to the exact Solar Year.

This was later independently realized by Pastor Steve Rudd of Hamilton, Canada and Rodger C. Young, the Bible chronologist.

In summary, it is 490 years according to the Gregorian calendar (which is the same as the astronomical Solar Year for this length of time - it differs from the Solar Year by only one day every 3100 years or so) from the obedience to the decree to rebuild Jerusalem described in Ezra 7:9 to the Day of Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus to the exact day.

I stress that this observation only became known about 2006, and couldn't have been known until the length of the Solar Year was more accurately known, the Venerable Bede being the first according to Wikipedia to write of dissatisfaction with the length of the year of the Julian Calendar in the 8th century AD.

  1. Nehemiah 12:22 reads

"The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, ..." -

This is the list of High Priests for the period. Obviously, then, the book of Nehemiah was written after Johanan (also called Jonathan (Neh 12:11) & Jehohanan) had ceased to be High Priest.

  1. The English translation of the Elephantine Papyrus letter B19 (Rowley 30) can be seen at the link provided. Letter B19 is dated 25th November 407 BC (p139).

  2. A summary of events surrounding B19 letter is this: the Jews in southern Egypt on the River Nile were so far from Jerusalem that they built themselves a Temple, with the approval of those in authority. This Temple was destroyed by enemies in July/August 410 BC. Soon after this (410 BC, September?) the Jews wrote to Jerusalem to ask for financial help to rebuild this Temple. One of the people they wrote to was "Jehohanan the High Priest" (see "Appeal" section of letter, line 2, on p142).

  3. The book of Malachi contains no dates as to when it was written, but the sins it condemns fit in well with the situation described in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra. Ezra returned to Jerusalem 458 BC (Ezra 7:7); Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem the first time 445 BC (Nehemiah 1:1), and the second time 433 BC (Nehemiah 13:6). Sometime during this period 458 to 433 seems to be the best time to place the book of Malachi. This would mean it was not the last book of the Old Testament to be written, because Nehemiah 12:22, and thus the book of Nehemiah, was clearly written later.

  4. It is often thought that the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem would be the thing spoken of as happening 7 sevens (49 years) after a decree. So Daniel 9:25 says "the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times". The problem with such an interpretation is that you can never say when a city has been completely rebuilt. You cannot say in what year London was rebuilt after being bombed during WWII, or Hamburg, or Dresden. If it is referring to the date when the wall was rebuilt then that was 445 BC. But it is possible to say what year the book was written in which the rebuilding of the wall is described (i.e. the book of Nehemiah). It is possible then that the above quotation from Daniel 9:25 is referring to the time of the writing of the book of Nehemiah itself, and by extension, when the Old Testament was completed.

  5. The Angel Gabriel appears just four times in the Bible. He is first mentioned in the Bible in Daniel 8:16. Gabriel then gives Daniel the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 (Daniel 9:21). The next appearing of Gabriel is for the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19) and thereafter of our Lord (Luke 1:26). The appearances of Gabriel seem to be making a connection between the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 and the birth of John the Baptist, and of our Lord.

  6. Jesus rose again on a Sunday and thus was crucified on a Friday (Luke 13:32). There are only a few Fridays possible: April 7th AD 30, April 3rd AD 33, or April 23rd AD 34. (23rd April AD 34 was Friday 15th Nisan: however it is possible there was cloud cover at the end of the previous month which would have made it Friday 14th Nisan.)

  7. Luke 3:23 tells us "Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age". If Jesus was born about 5 BC and he died 33 AD and his ministry was 3 years long then there is a problem!

  8. Luke 3:1 tells us John the Baptist's ministry began in the 15th of Tiberius Caesar which, if I am understanding Alex Frazier's answer correctly, must have been 28 AD. Caesar Augustus died 19th August AD 14. Alex says there is no example anywhere of a Roman Emperor dating his reign from the beginning of a co-regency. If Jesus was born late 5 BC, and John the Baptist began his ministry in AD 28, then our Lord could only have been baptised at 34 years of age at the earliest. See Stack Exchange, Biblical Hermeneutics, question "Luke 3:1-3 was Luke mistaken about the year in which John the Baptist's preaching began?" - Scroll down to the answer by Alex Frazier.

  9. Furthermore, if our Lord Jesus was born late 5 BC and crucified in 30 AD then he must have begun his ministry very soon after John began his ministry. There is hardly any time for the ministry of John the Baptist.

  10. Until 1896 it was believed that Herod died about 1 or 2 BC (and Christ was born shortly before Herod's death). In 1896 Emil Schurer published his 5 volume work "A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ" where he argued Herod died 4 BC (and so Christ was born 4 or 5 BC). Josephus relates Herod died after a lunar eclipse. Schurer believed the eclipse being referred to happened on 13th March 4 BC. For a number of important reasons Andrew Steinmann in "From Abraham to Paul - a Biblical Chronology" argues the eclipse being referred to happened on 10th January 1 BC, meaning Jesus was born late 2 BC. This would mean (because there is no year zero) that in April 33 AD Jesus would have been 33 years and a few months old.

  11. For me, the most important reason is thus: the 1st century historian Josephus relates many, many events between the lunar eclipse which began Herod the Great's rapid decline in health and the following Passover, by which time Herod had died. The Consensus View is that the lunar eclipse being referred to by Josephus happened on 13th March, 4 BC. This was only a partial eclipse. The Passover was 29 days after this lunar eclipse. The problem is that, also according to Josephus, there were a large number of events recorded between the eclipse (spoken of by Josephus) and the following Passover: estimating the total time taken for all the events recorded by Josephus require of an absolute minimum of 41 days.

A second (total) lunar eclipse happened on 10th January 1 BC. The number of days to the Passover from this eclipse was 89 days. This problem to me is alone sufficient to prove King Herod died after 10th January 1 BC, and thus our Lord was born probably late 2 BC or very early 1 BC. (This was a brief summary of one of the reasons for the date of our Lord Jesus's birth being late 2 BC as provided in "From Abraham to Paul - A Biblical Chronology" by Andrew Steinmann, 2011).

People have asked for sources: apart from the above sources, alas, I cannot give any. I cannot remember the order of events precisely but it was something like this:

The interpretation of the 62 weeks dawned on me when reading "Kingdom of Priests" by Eugene Merrill: page 505 says "Furthermore, Johanan appears in the Elephantine papyri as the high priest of Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of Darius II. This would be 410, about 48 years after the traditional date of Ezra's departure from Babylon to return to rebuild Jerusalem." When I read this on 1st September 2017 the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 had been uppermost in my thoughts for quite a while. I had already concluded that the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 was not one which was never going to reveal its secrets: God does not do that sort of thing. When he prophecies he always intends the people of God, sooner or later, to understand his meaning, he always intends that a prophecy be revealed. I also already believed that 458 BC was the starting point when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was obeyed, so about 409 BC was the date which had some major event which needed to be found: this was a long time after the events described in the book of Nehemiah.

At some point it also dawned that 62 weeks was 434 years, which is close to the 400 years which is usually given as the length of time between the Testaments.

Understanding that the beginning of John the Baptist ministry was about AD 26/28 I then had a look at Malachi to see if it could be discovered when it was written, but there was nothing. Then I looked at the book of Nehemiah and found Nehemiah 12:22 and understood its significance.


Josephus writes:

"8. For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from, and contradicting one another: (as the Greeks have:) but only twenty two books: which contain the records of all the past times: which are justly believed to be divine. And of them five belong to Moses: which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind, till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years. But as to the time from the death of Moses, till the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes..

[- Note AS: Josephus means Artaxerxes I who reigned 464 to 424 BC. Though the events of the last inspired OT books happened in Artaxerxes I reign, this history was not committed to Scripture until near the end of the reign of Darius II (423-404 BC) about 408 BC as a comparison of Nehemiah 12:22 with the Elephantine Papyrus referred to above proves -]

the Prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times, in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God; and precepts for the conduct of human life. ’Tis true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes [I] very particularly; but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers; because there hath not been an exact succession of Prophets since that time. And how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation, is evident by what we do. For during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold, as either to add any thing to them; to take any thing from them; or to make any change in them. But it is become natural to all Jews, immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain divine doctrines; and to persist in them: and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them. For ’tis no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure wracks, and deaths of all kinds, upon the theatres; that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws, and the records that contain them. Whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account: no nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed. For they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them. And they have justly the same opinion of the elder writers: since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present; nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them. Examples of which may be had in this late war of ours: where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned; or having been near them when the actions were done: but these men put a few things together, by hearsay; and insolently abuse the world; and call these writings by the name of Histories."

(Against Apion book 1, section 8, by Josephus the first century Jewish historian).

Post postscript

Is it fitting that the date of departure from Babylon spoken of in Ezra 7:9 "upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Jerusalem", on 3rd April 458 BC Gregorian), should be linked by a "70 sevens", 490 year prophecy, to the Day of Resurrection of our Lord Jesus on 3rd April AD 33, Gregorian?

During their Babylonian Captivity there was no nation for the Jews in their land; there was no city of Jerusalem; there was no Temple. In addition, it looks as if the Messianic Line may have been close to extinction ("All the Genealogies of the Bible" by Professor Nancy s. Dawson, 2023).

The return to Judea under Ezra can been seen as pivotal to the revival of Jewish fortunes: Ezra had a decree to follow, which ordered that once again the Jews would have their own courts of law (Ezra 7:25), which really implies the restoration of self government, within the limits of being within the Persian Empire, rather than under the influence of a broader region of the Levant including Samaria, whose Governor was Sanballat; or under the sway of Tobiah, whose main region of governorship lay east of Jordan (google "castle of the servant" tobiah "qasr al-abd"), and of Gesham, probably the King of Kedar. (In the days of Cambyses II a preceding king of Kedar had helped Cambyses in his invasion of Egypt, especially with the provision of drinking water. As a reward Cambyses gave lands in the Levant, near Gaza, together with lands either in, or south of, Judea, to the King of Kedar towards the Mediterranean Sea: the control of these lands, and their land routes, greatly economically assisted Kedar in its part in the trade of spices from southern Arabia.)

The return from Babylon starting with Cyrus's decree, marks a resurrection of the people of Judea from what looked like certain oblivion.

And so it was that the Lord showed Ezekiel a valley of dry bones and asked him "Can these bones live?" (Ezekiel 37:3) To Ezekiel the prospects looked extemely bleak, just as the hopes of Israel looked to be beyond repair. What would be needed would be a mighty work of God. The passage ends with:

"Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." Ezekiel 37:11-14.

The return from Babylon was a type of the resurrection. It is hugely appropriate that the departure from Babylon should be a linked to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ by exactly 490 years, 70 * 7 years. And a day is approaching when all the people of God, who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus, will follow after.

If you are willing to believe it, then God ensured that the prophecy of Daniel 9:24 was fulfilled to the exact day:

This emphatically tells us that in the history of mankind, and in all the twists and turns of life, that "he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say to him, what do you think you are doing?" In short, it tells us that


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    This is very interesting, and I hadn't heard that before! Could you cite some sources? Also, is there a difference between how the Jews didn't think the apocrypha was cannon, and how they don't think the New Testament is inspired?
    – Cullub
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 14:19
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    @Cullub I would say the biggest difference is that the apocrypha was written by Jews, whereas the New Testament was written by Christians. :) At any rate, the New Testament writers didn't cite apocrypha often, either. I can only think of one or two references off hand, whereas there are tons of quotes from the law, the prophets, and the psalms.
    – reirab
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 15:53
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    Regarding the part about the 434 years, would 33 AD really be the correct year for the crucifixion, since most scholars believe Jesus was born in the 4-6 BC range?
    – reirab
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:00
  • @reirab Can you expand on your assertion that most scholars believe Jesus was born in the 4-6 BC range?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 23:15
  • @Monomeeth So, Wiki isn't exactly a great source, but it can be a reasonable starting point for research into the topic: Wiki. I'm sure searching around a bit would reveal better sources. Asking on this SE might work, too. :)
    – reirab
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 2:32

There are two considerations. One is to establish the fact of roughly 400 years of silence based on writings of that time area. In other words, this is in fact how those of that time understood that there was silence. Two is to then establish if this is shown in Scripture and specifically the Old Testament. In other words, since we know they believed there was silence, why do they believe as they do? Does God tell them end points or the from to periods during which is silence?

No Succession

Specfically, Josephus circa 97 will write this.

  1. From the time of Artaxerxes to our own day all the events have been recorded, but the accounts are not worthy of the same confidence that we repose in those which preceded them, because there has not been during this time an exact succession of prophets. -source-

The Book of Maccabees will claim the same of itself; that is, during their period, there was no valid prophetic voice, no inspired word from God.

And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them. (1 Maccabees 4:46)

And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel. (1 Maccabees 9:27)

And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince, and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet. (1 Maccabees 14:41)

So, we find the idea of silence is extant at the time. It is due to the silence of the prophetic voice, the stilled guiding word of God as it were speaking through "men of old", as Peter would say.

2 Peter 1:21 (YLT) for not by will of man did ever prophecy come, but by the Holy Spirit borne on holy men of God spake.

Given that this is reasoning is clear to any reader, to what do we refer in the same Scripture to prove this idea? Again, why did they believe there is silence?

Says Scripture

Others have mentioned the possibility of Jesus' defining the bookends of the Old Testament from Abel to Zecharia at Luke 11:49-51 and Matthew 23:34-36 and Amos' quotes, but there are more references to the prophetic voice as it points to Jesus Christ.

Rather than quote from Psalms, Isaiah, and others, we will jump to the end of the valid prophetic voice with Malachi. Malachi is written after the Captivity and is a review of their agreement, their covenant with God. They have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, city, and temple.

Yet, God speaks of how and why their offerings fall short, of how they mumble against the LORD. He then goes directly to the point.

Mal 1:10 (LXX) Because even among you the doors shall be shut, and [one] will not kindle [the fire of] mine altar for nothing, I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands.

The LORD goes on to the priests.

Mal 2:3 (LXX) Behold, I turn my back upon you, and I will scatter dung upon your faces, the dung of your feasts, and I will carry you away at the same time.

Even though they were called to rebuild and did rebuild the Second Temple, it was not enough. From rejection, however, came the restoration possibility.

Mal 3:1 (LXX) Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, saith the Lord Almighty.

With this rejection and promise, God tells us of silence from this time forward until the time of the forerunner who is John the Baptist.

Why 400 years?

To get into this would require much more detail, but again from Josephus we know the period of silence ran from the time of Artaxerxes to his time. Of course, some of the Jews did not realize the forerunner, let alone Messiah, but many did.


We have read from Josephus and Maccabees that say the same thing. There had been no valid prophetic voice since the time of the last prophet in Israel who was Malachi meaning My Messenger. We read where God rejected the priests and offerings, but there was offered hope in Messiah to come.

  • Thanks for those quotes from 1 Maccabees. Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:35
  • Regarding your "No Succession" section... Josephus has no authority in Christianity, as he denies the New Testament as inspired, and does not recognize John the Baptist as a prophet (Luke 7:26) which would go against his statement you quoted. Your quotes from Book of Maccabees about there being no prophetic voice are correct, but it's noteworthy that Psalm 74:8 and Lamentations 2:9 make the same claim, but we still consider those books inspired.
    – emeth
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 13:47
  • Josephus recognizes Messiah and hence the forerunner (you may search the references). To be sure, not everyone will agree with what he says. Psalm 74:8-9 is a "they" say, not a we say. And ironically enough Jeremiah was a known, recognized, valid prophet of the time as did David operate during a time when prophets were also recognized.
    – SLM
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 22:33
  • Neither Josephus' historical writings, nor the Books of the Maccabees, are part of the Protestant canon of Scripture, which is a Catch 22, considering that the question explicitly asks for a purely Biblical reason for excluding the Apocrypha. The quotations from Malachi mirror many other similar passages from within canonical Scripture (e.g., Isaiah 1:13). Should the Book of Isaiah then also be rejected, since it was clearly penned during similar times ? Furthermore, since when does cessation of sacrifice imply cessation of prophecy ? There were no sacrifices when Daniel wrote his book either.
    – user46876
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 3:18

This period of 'silence' may correspond to the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel. There is a hint in the seventy weeks vision to a coming absence of visions and prophecy:

Seventy weeks are decreed for 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. (Daniel 9:24)

Whether 'seal' means exactly a withdrawal of prophetic revelation, or perhaps something else, I don't know. But this prophetic seventy week period would represent time starting from the appointment of Ezra, with the crucifixion occurring in the middle of the 69th week ("the anointed one is cut off").

Seen as falling in the intermediate years / 'weeks' of time, a scriptural basis for an absence of prophetic outpouring in Judea during the Second Temple period can be identified.

I will point out, though, that while the Tanakh became closed to addition after the time of the Second Temple prophets, even a casual read of Maccabees and even Josephus provide plenty of evidence that God had remained engaged with the Jewish people until Zechariah was made mute. Maccabees may not be considered as scripture, but it is the written basis for the Hannukah feast (called Feast of the Dedication), and the miracle of the oil is remembered to this day.

Also, when Jesus was brought to the temple as an infant, the two prophets there (Simeon and Anna) made their pronouncements (Luke 2). So prophecy and visions were also not entirely absent in this so-called 'silent' period.

  • Your question pre-supposes that a prophet is the only medium of communication between God and His people. But then, see that Jesus considered himself as a prophet: " But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household'” (Matthew 13:57). That, in a way, leads us to another period of `silence' of two millennia ! Commented May 30, 2019 at 9:17
  • 2
    Many Protestants do not see the current age as silent at all, rather the opposite. "And I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh..."
    – wberry
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:29
  • Agreed. But, why the need for a Second Coming of Christ ? Commented May 31, 2019 at 3:35
  • Exodus 25:8 "Let them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them." Christ is not only the sacrifice, and not only the priest (after Malchi-Tzedek) but also the Temple in which the Spirit will dwell and He will live among us. It is not so much that the second coming is needed, although God's Word cannot be false, but that God desires to dwell among us. And, the Malchut Elohim / Kingdom of God is meant quite literally, not only in an abstract spiritual sense. A king dwells among his subjects. (And, as we are made in the image of God, we are also the Temple...)
    – wberry
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 4:25
  • Thanks. I stand enlightened. Commented May 31, 2019 at 8:56

Although the prophet Amos said God would be silent
• Amos 8:11 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. NKJV

there is no direct or indirect reference to any 400 years of silence in the Bible. Interestingly Ezekiel bring an unexpected light on the Amos’ verse. Right from the beginning of his priesthood Ezekiel was given an absolutely clear mandate. He would be sent among his brothers Israelites as a prophet and would have to tell them that their ways were doomed:

• Ezek 2:4 and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' NKJV

• Ezek 2:7 You shall speak My words to them NKJV

• Ezek 3:1 and go, speak to the house of Israel. NKJV

• Ezek 3:4 "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.

• Ezek 3:11 … and speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD NKJV

• Ezek 3:18 When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, NKJV

Ezekiel was not allowed to refuse God’s call. No matter what, he would be accountable should he fail to relay the appropriate warning to the wicked:

• Ezek 3:20 because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. NKJV

As we can see from the previous references, Ezekiel was reminded again and again that he would have to talk to his people. But then, just when Ezekiel should have started to fill his assignment, the most unexpected thing happened. Ezekiel was asked to go and shut himself in his house (Ezek 3:24). And the Spirit deliberately stuck Ezekiel’s tongue to the roof of his mouth to incapacitate the prophet in such a way that it became impossible for him to orally communicate with others:

• Ezek 3:26 I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them

And guess how long the prophet was silent? A total of 430 days (i.e. 390 days while he lie on his left side and 40 more days while he lie on his right side.) This 430 days represents 430 years.

• Ezek 4:6 I have laid on you a day for each year. NKJV

Ezekiel, in his role of a prophet, was a substitute for God therefore one can say that he was portraying a “silent” God for 430 years. If the number is accurate, and there is no raison to doubt it, we should be able to pinpoint when it started and when it ended?

I spent years researching the chronology of the Bible and I found that there are only two events that perfectly bookmark the period of silence. The first event is represented by the creation of the Jewish feast of Purim.

In the amazing book of Esther, the author highlighted a string of incredible coincidences whose outcome culminated with the unexpected salvation of the Jewish people at the exact time they were supposed to be slaughtered. Then why, in spite of God’s perceptible involvement in every circumstance or people’s action described in the story, did the author choose to never explicitly mention the Divine name? (Esther is the only book of the Hebrew Bible that doesn’t mention God. According to the Jewish sages there is a play of words using the name Esther in Hebrew that could mean ‘hiding of the face’).

And there is more, the story starts with the king exposing in every possible way the wealth of his kingdom even going so far as ordering his wife to exhibit herself in front of everybody. Later he takes a new wife, Esther, who hides her true identity; finally it is all the Jewish people who will wish to hide because Haman wanted to kill all of them.
Even though the story culminates with the days of triumph it doesn’t stop at that point. The second half of Esther 9 tells us that Mordecai sent letters everywhere in the kingdom asking the Jews to commemorate the days of Purim (14th & 15th Adar) every year. Under Mordecai’s insistence this new festival, featuring a ‘theme’ of concealment, was thus initiated. One tradition that has survived to this day is to disguise and wear a mask. According to the Jewish belief, after the Megillat Esther there were no more prophets, no more miracles, no more communication from God, “only silence”

Could there have been a divine but hidden agenda put in motion at that very same time of that first Purim? I say ‘yes’ to that. Given that the absence of the name of God is a major characteristic of the book of Esther it is not unreasonable to assume that the 430 years of silence portrayed by Ezekiel had its true origin right at the time of the first day of Purim (the turning point of the Megilat Esther story).

And what circumstance brought to an end the 430 years of silence? The start of Yeshua’s ministry of course. I cannot go over all the chronological details to show that the 430 years perfectly fits between Purim and the start of the ministry of Christ but the next few verses show how this ministry, based on teaching, proclaiming the good news and healing, mark a real change in the divine decree.

• Luke 4:18,21 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. ---"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." • Luke 3:22-23 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age.. • Luke 4:24 Then He [Yeshua talking about himself] said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. NKJV

The following verses bookend the First Purim with the start of Ministry.

A) Esther brought Mordecai to the king’s attention. (ref Est 2:22) B) Est 3:2 But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him [Haman] honor. NIV C) Est 3:6 he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people the Jews NIV D) Mord.. a father figure to Esther Est 2:7 D’) God a father figure to Yeshua Matt 3:17 C’) Gal 1:3-4 our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself [died] for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, B’) Matt 4:9 "if you [Yeshua] will bow down and worship me [Satan]." NIV A’) John brought Yeshua to the nation’s attention (ref Luke 3:16, John 1:15).

A last thing, the 62 week of Daniel (62 * 7 = 434 years) goes from First Purim to the crucifixion.

Among many proofs of this affirmation see how these two perfectly complementary periods combine to overlap Daniel 434 years.

430 years of silence (Purim to start of ministry) 4 year of ministry (proclaiming the good news until the crucifixion)

If you are interested to read more, please go to my website EzekielMastrerKey.com and read my book

EZEKIEL 4. The Master key to unlock the Bible's chronology

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  • The Book of Amos, penned in the mid-eighth century BC, seems to allude to the upcoming Babylonian Captivity.
    – user46876
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 3:44
  • It is true that, before the Masoretes added vowel pointing in approx 10th century AD, the Hebrew spelling for "Esther" is the same as for "I will hide", as you can see for yourself online by comparing the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 31:16-18 with Esther 2:7. "Esther" also comes from "Ishtar" the chief Babylonian goddess and also the Persian word for "star". The semitic word for "star" probably originates from the idea of a star hiding during the day & appearing only at night. Thus Esther only revealed her identity as a Jew at the critical moment when the darkness was at its height (Esther 7 & 8). Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 8:46
  • Though the 390 + 40 = 430 years is close to the years of silence between the Testaments according to Protestant understanding, it is hard to be sure that this period is intended in Ezekiel 4:5,6. Also, the Book of Esther falls within the reign of Xerxes I who reigned 486 to 465 BC. The book of Ezra describes events which were later, with Ezra's return to Jerusalem in 458 BC (Ezr ch 7). The book of Nehemiah's events are even later, written about 408 BC. Ch 1v1 opens 445 BC, & Nehemiah going to Artaxerxes I in his 32nd year, 433 BC (Neh 13:6). Purim to crucifixion is not 430 years of silence. Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 11:40
  • Figuring the internal chronology of the Bible requires a lot of effort. Relating to those meaningless BC dates is the easy choice done by most of the people.
    – Kinda1955
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 2:37

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