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Whilst there are other questions i have found similar to this one, they do not specifically seem to explain the exact start date for the 70 week prophecy in Daniel regarding the command to rebuild Jerusalem.

If we read the Daniel 9:25 prophecy, verse 25 talks about "restore and rebuild Jerusalem".

Cyrus decrees in Ezra 1 to Return to Jerusalem and Build the Temple

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah, the LORD stirred the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to send a proclamation throughout his kingdom and to put it in writing as follows:

2“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

‘The LORD, the God of heaven, who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has appointed me to build a house for Him at Jerusalem in Judah.

Zerubbabel is among those who return to carry out this decree.

Enemies of the tribes obtain a decree to stop construction

King Artaxerxes, in the first year of his reign, after being told by the "enemies of Judah and Ephraim" and also consulting the original decree given by Cyrus, believes the Israelites are in breach of said decree (in that only the Temple may be built) and stops the entire process.

Ezra 4 12 "Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came from you to us have returned to Jerusalem. And they are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city, restoring its walls, and repairing its foundations." 21 Now, therefore, issue an order for these men to stop, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.

We obviously know that he was told a falsehood by the enemies of Judah and Ephraim about what was actually going on in Jerusalem in that they were not rebuilding city walls as Artaxerxes was led to believe, however, he stopped the process nonetheless.

Moving forward in history...we know in Ezra 6, after the death of Artaxerxes, construction restarted by Zerubbabel, and that King Darius was approached by Tattenai the governor of the region west of the Euphrates to confirm the decree to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The response from Darius:

Exra 6:1 Thus King Darius ordered a search of the archives stored in the treasury of Babylon. 2And a scroll was found in the fortress of Ecbatana, in the province of Media, with the following written on it:

Memorandum:

3In the first year of King Cyrus, he issued a decree concerning the house of God in Jerusalem:

Let the house be rebuilt as a place for offering sacrifices, and let its foundations be firmly laid. It is to be sixty cubits high and sixty cubits wide,a 4with three layers of cut stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid from the royal treasury.

5Furthermore, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and carried to Babylon, must also be returned to the temple in Jerusalem and deposited in the house of God.

6Therefore Darius decreed:

To Tattenai governor of the region west of the Euphrates,b Shethar-bozenai, and your associates and officials in the region:

You must stay away from that place! 7Leave this work on the house of God alone. Let the governor and elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its original site.

Ezra obtains letters from Artaxerxes and returns from Babylon

Ezra is granted authority by king Artaxerxes in the 7th year of his reign. However, it appears to me that the letter given to Ezra by the kind at that time is still only for Temple, its services, and for the self governance of Judah. It does not appear to make any reference to the rebuilding of the city itself.

Ezra 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings.

To Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven:

Greetings.d

13I hereby decree that any volunteers among the Israelites in my kingdom, including the priests and Levites, may go up with you to Jerusalem. 14You are sent by the king and his seven counselors to evaluate Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand. Ezra7: 23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven must be done diligently for His house.

12 or 13 years later, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes reign, Nehemiah the cupbearer asks the king for permission to rebuild the walls and gates of the city

Nehemiah 2:4 “...If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city where my fathers are buried, so that I may rebuild it.” 7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may letters be given to me for the governors west of the Euphrates,b so that they will grant me safe passage until I reach Judah. 8And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house I will occupy.”

My point of interest is the original prophecy in Daniel 9 stating restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The decree given by Cyrus is only for the Temple, then Nehemiah is given authority to build the city walls and gates.

Finally, remember the prophecy given in Isaiah 44)

26 who confirms the message of His servant and fulfills the counsel of His messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt, and I will restore their ruins,’ 27who says to the depths of the sea, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your currents,’ 28who says of Cyrus, ‘My shepherd will fulfill all that I desire,’ who says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundation be laid.’

Which of the above is the official decree that fulfills the explanation of the prophecy by the angel Gabriel in Daniel 9:25?

  1. The first decree given to build the Temple by Cyrus in 539 B.C and overseen by Zerubbabel (Cyrus lived 600-530 B.C)
  2. the second decree given by Darius the Great 522-486 B.C (what year was this decree given... 521 B.C?)
  3. The authority given to Ezra by Artaxerxes in 7th year of his reign (457 B.C)
  4. or the letters given to Nehemiah by Artexerxes to build the city walls and gates? (445 B.C)

dates for the above are based on Wikipedia (Cyrus The Great , Darius The Great or Hystaspes, Artaxerxes I)

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OP: Which of the above is the official decree that fulfills the explanation of the prophecy by the angel Gabriel in Daniel 9:25?

  1. The first decree given to build the Temple by Cyrus in 539 B.C and overseen by Zerubbabel (Cryus lived 600-530 B.C)
  2. the second decree given by Darius the Great 522-486 B.C (what year was this decree given... 521 B.C?)
  3. The authority given to Ezra by Artaxerxes in 7th year of his reign (457 B.C)
  4. or the letters given to Nehemiah by Artexerxes to build the city walls and gates? (445 B.C)

The answer is #3 because it is the only one to line up with Daniel’s prophecy of 490 years (70 weeks of 7) to Messiah and the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

1 CYRUS

If we start with the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, then to Christ’s death (the cutting off) at either of the years 30 or 33 AD, we are at plus 80 weeks (560 years). If we start at 535, then we’re still at plus 80 weeks. Or even if only to Christ’s birth, we are still looking at plus 70 weeks.

Besides, this command is only to build a house in Jerusalem.

This decree does not work.

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2

2 DARIUS

This decree takes place in 520 BC. It is basically a reiteration of Cyrus’ decree. It also has the same problems as the decree of Cyrus. It takes too much time to Christ and the decree is not about rebuilding Jerusalem, but only the temple (house of God).

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; Ezra 6:1-3

4 ARTAXERXES to NEHEMIAH

This decree begins to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy, but has a timing problem. The decree was given in 445/4 BC. Counting to Christ’s death in 30 or 33 AD, we get to 68 weeks. This is too short given Daniel’s timeline.

Some have adjusted the timeline to make the count a prophetic year (360 days), rather than a solar year (365 days). This “adds” time (14 years). If I make the adjustment, I end at the same year of baptism of Christ in 26 AD and death/burial/resurrection in 30 AD. This ties to the next decree that works.

My notes on this suggest Africanus and Sir Robert Anderson attempt the same prophetic year calculations, though they arrive at different end points. I assume the number of intercalary years accounts for a difference.

Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. Neh 2:7-8

3 ARTAXERXES to EZRA

The year given for Nehemiah’s first arrival is accurate at 445 BC, but using the same starting point, the year of the decree to Ezra would be 458 BC, not 457. This decree actually is the valid starting decree. It is based on a “normal” solar year from 458 BC and ends at 69 ½ weeks of the 70 at Christ’s death in 30 AD. If we use Christ’s death in 33 AD, then the full 70 weeks have been fulfilled, though “alignment” questions linger.

Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. Ezra 7:11-13

The decree is to go to Jerusalem and to do what?

And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 7:16-17

Take money and make vessels and offerings, but notice the next verse of the decree.

And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. Ezra 7:18

What would that open-ended decree provide? What was the will of their God? What did Ezra do or at least begin?

In the next chapter 8, Ezra catalogues the people who come with him, sends for Levites (priests), rebuilds the temple and altar, and stores the excess gold and silver.

But then surfaces a conflict about mixed marriages. Ezra is beside himself. He does not want the nail already established to be removed, to return to being slaves. He prays to God. During this prayer, Ezra mentions this.

For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. Ezra 9:9

This is a reference to the same decree. What was the will of God? Daniel 9:25 is being fulfilled beginning from Artaxerxes command to Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem, including setting up judges (theocratic kingdom), building the temple, establishing the priesthood, vessels, and sacrifices, and building a wall.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Daniel 9:25

So, this command is the going forth in the year 458 BC as prophesied by Daniel. 483 years or 69 weeks later John baptizes Christ about Tabernacles. Three and one-half years later Christ is crucified at Passover.

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  • Hi SLM, great answer, i think this clarifies my issues...i had not thought to read Ezra 9:9. Clearly that verse outlines that the 457/8 decree is the one. I will make this as the answer. – Adam Feb 1 at 3:46
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There are quite a number of statements in the OPs question which I think are not correct. It gives the date of the decree of Cyrus to 600 BC. This is one of the supposed dates of Cyrus the First, whereas the decree of Ezra 1:1 was that of Cyrus II better known as Cyrus the Great. Cyrus II ruled Persia from 559 BC. He conquered the Babylonian Empire, which included Judea, when his armies entered the city of Babylon on the night of Oct 12th 539 BC. 539 BC is when he began to be king as far as the Jews were concerned and it is the year from which the decree is derived. (In fact 13th October 539 to (the end of the day before) New Year's Day in the spring of 538 was "the year of his becoming King" and New Year's Day 538 BC was the beginning his "first year".)

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  • Hi Andrew, thanks for your correction. I have edited the original question fixing the date error for King Cyrus, corrected the mistake concerning Ezra, and i have also added some missing information about King Darius. – Adam Jan 30 at 21:01
  • @Adam - there are still errors in your question's introduction, especially you say Moving forward in history...we know in Ezra 6, after the death of Artaxerxes Ezra 6 is not after the death of Artaxerxes. Also, you say "in the first year of Artaxerxes" - I think there is no evidence it was his 1st year. Also you say 457 BC... it was obeyed in 458 bc by Ezra. (there is no year zero [i.e. the day after 31st Dec 1 BC is 1st Jan AD 1], so it had to be 458, and 458 fits perfectly with the accepted dates of his reign). Once it looks good I can delete my comments. Every blessing. – Andrew Shanks Feb 11 at 10:55
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Here is an interesting take from Stephen E. Jones which I took from this website. The timing is based upon the "sacrifice and oblation" ceasing (from God's perspective) when Jesus presented Himself for baptism in the middle of the 70th week and then being cut off on the cross at the end of that week.

This view necessitates that the "he" of Daniel 9:27 refers to Messiah and not the prince who is to come. See this BH question: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27992/what-is-the-antecedent-of-he-in-daniel-927

The plain fact of history is that Daniel’s 70 weeks (490 years) began in 458 B.C. with the decree of Artaxerxes I, and it ended 490 years later in 33 A.D. with the crucifixion of Jesus. In other words, the crucifixion occurred at the end of the 70 weeks, not in the middle of the final “week,” as I had been taught. So let us take a closer look at Daniel 9:24-27 now in the light of the history already presented.

24 Seventy weeks [i.e., 70 rest year cycles, or 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. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [i.e., 7 rest year cycles, or 49 years] and threescore and two weeks [62 x 7 = 434 years]… 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off. . . 27 And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. . .

It is not our intention to do a complete study on this subject, as that would take an entire book in itself. The question we must resolve here is the meaning of verses 26 and 27. The Messiah was to be “cut off” sometime after the 62-week period. Daniel’s three time periods are as follows:

(1) Seven Weeks 458 B.C. - 409 B.C.

(2) Sixty-Two Weeks 409 B.C. - 26 A.D.

(3) One Week 26 A.D. - 33 A.D.

Daniel’s prophecy tells us that “the sacrifice and the oblation” would cease in the midst of the final week of years (26-33 A.D.). This turns out to be the fall of 29 A.D., specifically, the Day of Atonement of that year, when Jesus presented Himself to John for baptism.

We usually assume that the crucifixion ended the Old Testament sacrificial system, and most certainly, it did mark the full end of sacrifice insofar as the Christian is concerned. The priests continued sacrificing in the Temple for another 40 years, until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Thus, it is obvious that Daniel’s prophecy spoke only from God’s perspective about the efficacy of those sacrifices and oblations. No sacrifice after Jesus’ presentations had any relevance to the sin question. The midst of Daniel’s 70th week marks the time of Jesus’ baptism, when He presented Himself as the true Goat. Jesus later presented Himself as the true Lamb at Passover of 33 A.D., marking the end of Daniel’s 70 weeks.

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  • Your author is wrong about crucifixion date...it IS in the middle of the week...3.5years after Jesus jesus started his ministry. The text your author quotes even says exactly that. Jesus presented himself for baptism in A.D 27. The proof for his death in the middle of the week as fulfilment of Daniels prophecy, is the crucifixion itself. – Adam Jan 31 at 14:26
  • .remember what Jesus said as he died on the Cross..."it is finished". He died, there was a great earthquake, and the temple curtain was torn in two. This is exactly what those events mean...the end of the sacrificial system (ie no need for sacrifices anymore,) Jesus had now become the sacrifice, he paid the price for all sins (which was what sacrificing was all about in the first place). Sacrificing wasnt just some arbitrary Jewish custom, it meant something. Remember Genesis and the fall of man. Why did Cain kill Able...God rejected Cain's sacrificial offering. – Adam Jan 31 at 14:26
  • Daniels end of 70 weeks was based on stoning of Stephen, the conversion of Saul, and the gospel going to the gentiles – Adam Jan 31 at 14:33
  • @Adam do you have research for the end of Daniel's 70 weeks corresponding to stoning of Stephen, converting of Saul, and spreading of gospel to gentiles. (I would also add it was the rejecting of the gospel by Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria area.) IOW, I have come to the same conclusion based on my own research. See my answer. – SLM Jan 31 at 16:16
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    here are some references i got from a quick google search regarding the stoning of Stephen around A.D 33 and its relationship to the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 revelationbyjesuschrist.com/stoning-of-stephen and also its in Wikipedia too... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen. it fits in nicely with the second half of Daniel 9:26 (ie the last half of that prophetic week relating to the messiahs ministry) – Adam Feb 1 at 7:54

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