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Recently, I have spent some time trying to better understand the Messianic prophecy given in Dan. 9:24-27, which begins with ``Seventy weeks are decreed ....

It seems that many English translations begin 9:24 as such, albeit the Hebrew "shavuim", which I understand is given in the Hebrew test, means sevens.

Based on what Daniel was thinking about when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, it is clear enough that the prophecy pertains to seventy sevens (or 490) years, the last seven of which still seems to be in the future.

However, it has been interpreted that the Messiah must have come (before the completion of the first sixty-nine sevens of years) AND must have been "cut off" AFTER the completion of those years.

Furthermore, the beginning of those seventy sevens of years must have occurred ``from the utterance of the word that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt ..."

Now, chronology from that time is not a clear as we would like to have it, but it does seem to be the case that there are four possibilities for the decree that the prophecy refers to; and in particular, when the countdown of seventy sevens began---The very latest being the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem in 444 B.C.

Thus, at the very latest, the countdown of the seventy sevens of years began no later than this date.

Now,

WHAT LENGTH OF A YEAR IS LIKELY BEING ALLUDED TO?

If we take the year to be a solar year, then -444 + 483 = 39; and so, simply speaking, the Messiah must have been cut off (killed) around 39 A.D., or later---which seems to be too late.

And if we use the dates of the other three possibilities (that I am not listing here)---the Messiah would then have had to have been born much too early, since according to Daniel's prophecy, He had to have been on earth before the expiration of the sixty-nine sevens. This, in some cases, would have placed His birth in near the second century B.C.

QUESTION:

Hence, with the thought that the Jewish calendar neither is, nor was, a solar calendar---is it possible that the elapse of 483 years prior to the Messiah being cut off refers to "years" on the order of 360 days? I ask, because roughly speaking, this would have the Messiah being cut off in or after the early 30s A.D. which agrees more closely with current calculations as to the year in which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Can someone add light to (or correct) these thoughts on calculating a lower bound for when "the Anointed One" had to have been cut off according to Daniel's prophecy? Thank you.

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  • Prophecy is not an exact science. Years can be rounded off as well as months. We can even coin terms like a Prophetic Year to make our point of view better understood. But in the end are really all that sure!
    – Ken Graham
    May 15, 2022 at 14:54
  • It makes no sense to say that prophecy is not an exact science - especially since this is apocalyptic prophecy where the very purpose is to predict the future with pinpoint accuracy. I would rather have said that people just don't know how to go about interpreting prophecy in a clear, logical way that explains all parts of a given prophecy without running into themselves.
    – user58803
    May 15, 2022 at 16:43
  • 1
    -458 + 490 + 1 (because there was no year zero, after 1 BC comes immediately AD 1) gives AD 33 the year "there was darkness the space of three hours" "at the time of the full moon" according to multiple ancient sources, ie the year of crucifixion. The decree is dated from the decree to restore Jerusalem to Jewish control (Ezra 7:13 and 7:25). It is 490 years to the exact day from Ezra 7:9 to the Resurrecton. Sep 12, 2022 at 16:50

6 Answers 6

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To your question, “what length of a year is likely being alluded to?” There have been three proposals.

• First, was the early church historian, Africanus, who used a lunar year (354 days)

• Secondly, there are several count systems using solar years. (365.25 days)

• Thirdly, there is Sir Robert Anderson’s ‘prophetic’ year. (360 days)

It needs to be understood that the Jewish calendar is actually a ‘luni-solar’ calendar which is given a 13th month every three years approximately. Therefore, any count of Daniel’s seventy weeks will average out to our solar cycle. Moreover, the ‘weeks’ were synonymous with the ancient Hebrew Sabbatical cycle.

I believe that the terminus a quo was 457 BC (Artaxerxes 7th year) and the terminus a quem was 34 AD. Jesus was crucified in the midst of the 70th week, 30 AD.

Timeline below.

Daniel's 70 weeks

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  • Most logical Hermeneutic! This chart reflects most accurately the span of the 70 Weeks (luni-solar years), and it focuses on the main topic of this prophecy: the redemptive work of the Messiah (Prince, Anointed One) by His death on the cross (cutting off for the many. (Mark 14:24). Based on faithful exegesis, there can be no gap or postponement in this timeline. This amazing prophecy unmistakably shows Jesus to be the Answer for the world today! Good job Christian Gedge!
    – ray grant
    Sep 29, 2023 at 21:11
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The year being alluded to is the solar year of 365.24219 days.

It is 490 solar years to the exact day from 8th April 458 BC (Julian), the date being referred to in Ezra 7:9 and the date of the Resurrection on 5th April AD 33 (Julian). The Gregorian dates for both these events was 3rd April. So the Resurrection was exactly 490 solar years after the event of Ezra 7:9. On 8th April 458 BC Ezra and the Jews with him began their journey back to Jerusalem to have the city restored to Jewish control, and to rebuild the city walls. There is no decree at all in the book of Nehemiah.. it doesn't exist. The decree being put into effect in Nehemiah is the one Ezra obeyed in 458 BC.

The fudge of 360 days ("prophetic" days in a year) of Anderson doesn't even work "to the exact day" which was Anderson's claim. (Neither does it work for Hoehner's amended dates.)

See the following linked answer: What arguments are there against the 69 week periods of Anderson and Hoehner?

The Seventh Day Adventist claim that the decree in Ezra chapter 7 was in 457 BC is not correct, in fact they seem to contradict themselves in the article referred to by a previous answer. In the article https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/when-did-the-seventy-weeks-of-daniel-924-begin/ and in the section under "Chronology, regnal years of Artaxerxes, section A5 - "Babylonian Historical sources" it is stated about the historical records:-

They do, however, abundantly confirm the previously established pattern which indicates that 465 B.C. was the twenty-first year of Xerxes and that Artaxerxes I’s first full regnal year began on Nisanu 1 in the spring of 464 B.C.

Quite so! Therefore Nisanu 1 of of the 7th year of Artaxerxes I (Ezra 7:7-9) was 458 BC, not 457 BC, which is exactly the claim of Richard A. Parker and Dubberstein in their standard work "Babylonian Chronology - 626 BC to AD 75".

Though, contra the SDA article, Xerxes I was killed between 14th Abu and 18th Abu of 465 BC. The 1st Abu was on 22nd July so this equates to sometime between the 4th and the 8th August... "the day number is imperfectly preserved and all numbers between 14th and 18th [of Abu] are possible" - Professor Abraham J. Sachs (Parker & Dubberstein, page 17).

Those scholars who assert Xerxes was killed later in the year (of 465) rely on the historical data from Egypt, such as Manetho's record. But it is better to take the historical data from Babylon itself which was right on top of the scene of the crime. The data is much more likely to be reliable.

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  • To be clear, my use of the term 'prophetic year' differs from Anderson. I am not saying that somehow 360 days for a year will get you from point A To point B in the literal time that elapses (from the decree to the Messiah in this case). What I am saying is that a prophetic year is comprised of 360 prophetic days and each one of those prophetic days are counted as a literal (solar) year.
    – user58803
    May 15, 2022 at 17:09
  • @AndriesStander - I fail to see why any such thing is needed when there is an answer to the exact day already fully established. May 15, 2022 at 17:11
  • I failed to see this too but it is when you start analysing and comparing the relevant verses in both Daniel and Revelation that it becomes clear what the angel was saying to Daniel and John about prophetic time.
    – user58803
    May 15, 2022 at 17:53
  • Many of these issues are resolved when we realise that Daniels ‘weeks’ are one and the same as the continuous count of Sabbatical cycles which were taking place during Inter-testament period. May 15, 2022 at 21:31
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Dan 12:11-12, which I quote below, provides the basis for inferring the calendar system used in the book of Daniel.

From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!” (Dan 12:11-12)

Clearly "the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished" in Dan 12:11 refers to "the middle of the week" when "sacrifice and grain offering" will be "put a stop" in Dan 9:27, within the prophecy of the 70 weeks previously revealed to Daniel by the angel Gabriel:

“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (Dan 9:27)

There is one calendar system in which, if the first half of a week of years is reckoned to have lasted 1260 days, the second half of that week of years can last from 1,290 to 1,335 days, and it consists of 30-days months in which an additional month is added every 6 years and a further additional half-month is added every 60 years, so that the average year length is 365.25 days.

This calendar system was never actually used, but was only a theoretical construct [1] devised either by the Jewish Priestly (P) authorial school or by a Babylonian astronomer ca. 450 BC at P's request for the purpose of its use in the biblical text.

The construction of this calendar by Babylonian astronomers ca. 450 BC is wholly plausible because by that time they had already reckoned that the length of the solar year was between 365.25 and 365.24 days [2].

Choosing the first value, since 365.25 is 6,5;15 in sexagesimal notation, it is immediately evident for anyone using a base-60 numerical system that achieving an average year length of 6,5;15 days requires adding 15 additional days every 60 years. Thus, a 60-year intercalation cycle comprises:

  • 50 regular 360-day years, totalling 18000 days,
  • 9 leap 390-day years, totalling 3510 days, and
  • 1 extra-leap 405-day year (the 60th)

for a total of 21915 days and average year length = 21915 / 60 = 365.25 days.

Now, since the intercalation cycle runs since Creation, unless you know the absolute number of a particular year since Creation, i.e. its AM value, you cannot know whether that year is regular, leap or extra-leap, because you do not know its position in the intercalation cycle. Therefore, if you reckon the middle of a "week of years" on the basis of 3.5 regular years, i.e. on the basis of the first half of that "week of years" comprising 1260 days, there are 4 possible values for the number of days till the end of that "week of years", depending on the respective week's case:

  • 6 regular + 1 leap: 6 · 360 + 390 = 2550 = 1260 + 1290 (Probability 3/4)

  • 6 reg + 1 extra-leap: 6 · 360 + 405 = 2565 = 1260 + 1305 (Probability 1/12)

  • 5 regular + 2 leap: 5 · 360 + 2 · 390 = 2580 = 1260 + 1320 (Probability 2/15)

  • 5 reg + 1 leap + 1 extra-leap: 5 · 360 + 390 + 405 = 2595 = 1260 + 1335 (Probability 1/30)

Therefore, a priori there is a 75 % probability that the time from the middle of the week of years in question - reckoned by counting 1260 days from the week's beginning - to the end of that week will be 1290 days, but there is a 3.33 % probability that it will be 1335 days. (The calculation of the probability of each case is in https://www.academia.edu/44143168/ .)

To sum up, on the basis of Dan 12:11-12 we can infer that the book of Daniel assumes a calendar system with average year length of 365.25 days.

Notes

[1] It was based on the 360-day calendar comprised of 12 30-day months that was used in Mesopotamia for administrative purposes since the early dynastic time ca. 2600 BC until Ur III times ca. 2100 BC and then was used in the training of scribes in an unbroken tradition until it appeared in astronomical tables in the astronomical compendium MUL.APIN, composed sometime before 700 BC, as an "ideal" year, and whose use as an "ideal" year for astronomical purposes is documented until ca. 300 BC. Source:

Brack-Bernsen, Lis, “The 360-Day Year in Mesopotamia”, in Steele, John M. (ed.) Calendars and Years: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient Near East, Oxbow Books, 2007, pp. 83-100.

[2] The 19-year cycle of leap-year intercalations at fixed intervals in the lunisolar calendar was implemented in year 10 of the reign of Xerxes I (486–465 BC), i.e in 476/5 BC, implying that Babylonian astronomy had already discovered the "metonic" cycle by then.

Ossendrijver, Mathieu, “Babylonian Scholarship and the Calendar During the Reign of Xerxes”, in: C. Waerzeggers & M. Seire (eds.), Xerxes and Babylonia: The Cuneiform Evidence (Louvain [etc]: Peeters, 2018 [= Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, nr. 277]), pp. 135-163.

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I agree with your conclusion that a biblical year is 360 days, because it lets the scriptures give the interpretation. You said, “Given the earlier conclusion that a Month = 30 Days--- the necessary conclusion is that "A TIME, AND TIMES, AND HALF A TIME" = 1260 Days = 42 Months…. we may perhaps, consider this as "Seventy sevens" of "time"---which, in light of the above, I dare say, suggests Seventy Sevens (of 360 day periods of time).”

Also considering a month is 30 days, 30 x 12 months = 360 days in a year.

Therefore, a 360 day year is the only calculation that makes biblical prophecy self-consistent.

There’s nothing problematic with the translation of “seventy weeks” since the word translated “sevens” is used 20 times in the KJV and and is translated “week” 19 times. Also, it’s consistent with the whole vision of which the 490 days of the total 2300 evening-mornings were determined for Daniels people (“salvation is of the Jews”)to fulfill all 6 of the covenant conditions. Knowing in advance that they by their own faulty promises could not fulfill God’s covenant (Deut 4:13; Heb 8;6-13), God promised in Isaiah 42:6, “I the LORD have called You in righteousness,and will hold Your hand, I will keep You, and give You as a covenant to the people,” (Some translations read, covenant “of” the people). Jesus fulfilled all 6 of the covenant conditions on behalf of all peoples, and also confirmed these conditions with both believing Jews and Gentiles by sealing them with the gift of His Spirit (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13,30) during the final 70th week portion of the 2300 days/years that were allotted to national Israel to serve as God’s servant to evangelize the surrounding nations. This 490 year (or 490 times) limit was alluded to when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matt 18:21,22). Jesus addressed the National leadership of their predicament by giving them a prophetic parable of the wicked vinedressers in which they unwittingly justified their own National destruction as God’s National servant, and then Jesus reinforced their self-condemnation answering, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Matt 21:33-45).

That new nation is the “Israel of God.” Messiah the Prince is God’s anointed Servant Israel, the Branch (Zec 3:8-10), and those who are His through faith - both Jews and Gentiles United in one body through the the cross (Eph 2:11-22) which is the mystery of God that was hidden, but now is revealed (Eph 3:3-6).

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I appreciate the time that others took to post responses to my questions. Since then, I have considered the question more deeply and would like to put forth the following argument as a basis for a likely conclusion:

It is quite clear that the prophecy is not referring to 70 weeks (of days). Furthermore, based on the thoughts that Daniel was thinking at the time the Angel arrived---a natural assumption would then be to declare that the prophecy refers to seventy weeks (of actual years), which I guess, many have done, including myself.

However, one notices in Rev. 11:2-3 (Douay-Rheims) --- "[2] But exclude the outer court of the temple; do not measure it, for it has been handed over to the Gentiles, who will trample the holy city for forty-two months. [3] I will commission my two witnesses to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth." that 42 months is equivalent to 1260 days.; the conclusion being that ONE MONTH EQUALS 30 DAYS.

Moreover, when we read a little further on in Daniel beyond Chap. 9; specifically, Dan. 12:7 --- "And I heard the man that was clothed in linen, that stood upon the waters of the river: when he had lifted up his right hand, and his left hand to heaven, and had sworn, by him that liveth for ever, that it should be unto a time, and times, and half a time.... "

This phrase, "unto a time, and times, and half a time" is used earlier as well, in Dan. 7:25 --- "And he shall speak words against the High One, and shall crush the saints of the most High: and he shall think himself able to change times and laws, and they shall be delivered into his hand until a times, and times, and half a time.

But also, we find it again in Rev. 12:14 --- "And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." WHICH IS CONNECTED WITH VERSE 6: "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days."

Given the earlier conclusion that a Month = 30 Days--- the necessary conclusion is that "A TIME, AND TIMES, AND HALF A TIME" = 1260 Days = 42 Months.

If I were writing an article, or a chapter in a book, I would likely try to further develop this argument; however, in the interest of brevity, let me jump to the conclusion:

If one considers the Hebrew, the Angel does not say in Daniel 9:24, "Seventy weeks" (which is the conclusion of many English biblical translations); nor does he say "Seventy sevens (of 365.25 or so years)", which is the literal conclusion of many; rather, seemingly, he says "Seventy sevens". And so, I suggest that we may perhaps, consider this as "Seventy sevens" of "time"---which, in light of the above, I dare say, suggests Seventy Sevens (of 360 day periods of time).

Other books in Scripture also make reference to periods of time in which one can make analogous arguments and draw similar conclusions; e.g., Esther, and Genesis.

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  • How long was the Captivity to which Jeremiah speaks? 70 years. Were they solar, annual, lunar, some combination?
    – SLM
    May 16, 2022 at 19:31
  • @SLM I think that would make an interesting question if someone cared to post it. On my part, a guess (not even a conjecture) would be that since Jeremiah was addressing the Jews, who would sometimes add an intercalary month before Nisan (if the barley was not ripe), and since the Babylonian Captivity was a punishment for not observing the Sabbatical years for 70 such years regarding their crops, I suspect that Jeremiah was referring to "actual" years. (I'm not sure of the difference between solar and annual in your question.) A lunar calendar was in use in Babylon at the time.
    – DDS
    May 17, 2022 at 2:03
  • @l.Chekhov. Daniel's 70 weeks were in the context of Jeremiah's 70 years. (See Dan. 9:2) So, they are both speaking of the same kind of years. May 17, 2022 at 3:24
  • yeah i have to dissagree with 70 sevens being 70 x 360 years...that is not the correct understanding of what the angel said. It is 70 weeks of years its part of "a day a year" principle en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-year_principle. This is also why the creation week is a major issue with Theistic Evolution who attempt to claim millions of years of creation. They cannot reconcile the 70 week daniel prophecy because of the evolutionary timeline. It is definitely 490 years. Jesus was cut off in the middle of the 69th and Stephen was stoned 3.5 years after the crucifixion.
    – Adam
    Sep 22, 2022 at 0:55
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Between the 69th week and the 70th week is an undetermined period of time known as the church age. It's referred to as a 'mystery' in the NT. I believe the 70th week is the great tribulation.

7 x 7 = 49 7 x 62 = 434 49 + 434 = 483 483 years x the 360-day lunar year = 173,880 days

173,880 days / the 365.24 day solar year = 476 years in our calendar system

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