Daniel 9:25 identifies the starting point of the 490 years as the decree of Artaxerxes, and the end of the first 483 years as the arrival of the Messiah.

Daniel 9:25 a So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem

Decree to restore Jerusalem
Decree to restore Jerusalem

The phrase “you are to know and discern” is of the many examples of parallelism in the prophecy.  Parallelism is the repeat of similar words or phrases to emphasize a point.

The 490 years commenced with this decree.  To identify this decree, it is important to distinguish between “restore” and “rebuild”.  “Restore”, in the original text, means to give the city back to its previous owner (Israel in this case), to rule itself.  “Restore” does not include the idea of rebuilding.  Jerusalem was the judicial and executive capital of the Israeli people.  To restore Jerusalem means that it will be returned to the Jews to serve as their capital from which they would rule their whole nation, according to their own laws as a theocentric society.

In the article Which decree four decrees by three different Persian kings over a period of about 90 years, are considered.

Cyrus:

The decree by Cyrus in 538/7 BC allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and therefore to rebuild Jerusalem, but it did not restore Jerusalem to the nation to serve as their national capital.

Darius:

The decree by Darius I in 520 BC simply confirmed Cyrus’ edict.    

Artaxerxes in 457 BC (Ezra 7:1-26):

This decree, for the first time, granted autonomy of Judah.  It restored Jerusalem as judicial and executive capital to the nation.  In this decree the king said, “Whoever does not obey the law of your God … must surely be punished by death” The Persian king thereby made the Mosaic Law part of his own law, and granted authority to the Jews to govern themselves on the basis of the law of God.  It provides for a measure of judicial and civil autonomy unknown since the Babylonian desolation of Jerusalem and Judea about 130 years earlier.

A further indication that this is the decree intended by Daniel 9:25 is the fact that, if we add Seventy Weeks (490 years) to 457 BC, we come to the time of Christ.

Artaxerxes in 445/4 BC (Neh. 1-2):

Dispensationalism takes this as the decree that restored Jerusalem.  This decree, however, did not “restore Jerusalem.  This decree only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.  When Nehemiah asked for this decree, he did not even ask to rebuild the city.  He only asked for permission to go to Jerusalem (2:5) and for wood for the walls (2:8).  This decree was also too late to fit the time of Christ.

Dispensationalism claims that the second decree of Artaxerxes I for the first time authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but that is not true.  All four decrees above, by allowing the Jews to return to Judah and to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4; cf. Is. 45:1), implicitly allowed the Jews to rebuild their cities.

The decree which restored Jewish self-rule therefore was Artaxerxes’s first decree of 458/7 BC.

Daniel 9:25 b Until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks

Punctuation

This is quoted from the NASB.  in the KJV the “Messiah the Prince” appears after seven weeks:

unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks

This difference is due to different assumptions about punctuation.  In the article When does the Messiah Appear it is shown that the NASB is correct that the “Messiah the Prince” appears after “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”.  In other words, He appears 483 (7+62)x7 years after the decree.

Baptism

The Messiah the Prince who appears at the end of 483 years, is Jesus; the One that is called Christ.  He appeared and was introduced to Israel when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism.  This was the inauguration of His public ministry (Acts 10:37-38; Mark 1:11-14; Luke 4:18):

John the Baptist said, “so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water” (John 1:31).

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38).

At His baptism, God proclaimed this Anointed One to be His Son or King (Mark 1:9-11; cf. Ps. 2:6, 7).

Date of His baptism

He was baptized in the fif­teenth year of the Roman emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1, 5, 21).  Different chronologists put His baptism in different years.  A quick Google search came up with the following dates:

(1) During the winter solstice in 26 AD
(2) AD 25-28, with the most likely date being AD 27
(3) January 6, 28
(3) About 28–29 AD
(4) The fall of 29

483 years from 458 or 457 BC brings us to AD 26 or 27.  (Remember, no year nil.  From 1 BC to 1 AD is one year, not two.)  Artaxerxes first decree therefore aligns well with the possible dates of Jesus’ baptism.

Daniel 9:25 c It will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress

We read about this distress in Nehemiah.

NEXT: Daniel 9:26 Messiah cut off
TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
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