Daniel 9:25 identifies the beginning of the 490 years and the Messiah.

SUMMARY

This article explains verse 25 from a historic-messianic perspective.

THE DECREE

This verse identifies the beginning of the 490 years as “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” The article – Which Decree – identified this decree as Artaxerxes’ first decree in 458/7.

Dispensationalism starts the 490 years with Artaxerxes’ second decree in 445/4. However, that second decree:

(1) Did not “restore” Jerusalem. The word translated “restore” means to give back to the previous owner. Artaxerxes’ first decree already did that.

(2) Is too late to fit the time of Christ. Dispensationalism attempts to solve this by interpreting the 490 years as years of 360 days each. This reduces the 490 years to 483 literal years. However, the article – Extend Covenant – shows that the 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel. Therefore, the “seventy weeks” are weeks of literal years.

(3) Was not the first decree to authorize the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The previous decrees by Cyrus, Darius I, and Artaxerxes I all authorized the rebuilding of the city.

THE MESSIAH

Verse 25 also says that “Messiah the Prince” will appear at the end of “ seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (NASB). In other words, (7+62) x 7 = 483 years after the decree.

However, in the KJV, the “Messiah the Prince” appears after only seven weeks. But the article – When does the Messiah Appear – shows that the NASB is correct and that the KJV follows the punctuation that the Jews, in an attempt to remove Jesus from the prophecy, added to the Hebrew about five centuries after Christ.

The “Messiah the Prince” appeared when Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism (John 1:31). Different chronologists give different years for His baptism; from 26 AD to 29 AD. If we add 483 years to 458/7 BC, we arrive at AD 26/27. Artaxerxes’ first decree, therefore, aligns well with the possible dates of Jesus’ baptism and we can assume 26/27 to be the correct date.

– END OF SUMMARY –


DANIEL 9:25a

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

KNOW AND DISCERN

Decree to restore Jerusalem
Decree to restore Jerusalem

Know and discern” is part of the poetic structure of the prophecy, also reflected in the phrases:

    • restore and rebuild
    • seven weeks and sixty-two weeks

To understand the sequence of events, it is important to analyze this poetic structure. See – Sequence of Events.

RESTORE AND REBUILD

The 490 years began with “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” This decree has been identified in the article, Which Decree. Conclusions from that article include the following:

It is important to distinguish between “restore” and “rebuild”.  The word translated “restore” does not mean to rebuild. It means to give the city back to its previous owner. In Daniel 9:25, “restore” means that Israel will, once again, own the city and be able to govern itself, based on its own laws.

The article Which Decree evaluated several possible “decrees” and concluded as follows: 

Cyrus’ decree in 538/7 BC allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and therefore to rebuild the city, but Israel did not yet own the city; Jerusalem was not yer “restored.”

Darius’ decree in 520 BC simply confirmed Cyrus’ edict.

Artaxerxes I issued two decrees; the first in 458/7 (Ezra 7:1-26) and the second in 445/4 (Neh 1-2). For the following reasons, the first decree was the one identified in Daniel 9:25:

RESTORE

Firstly, Artaxerxes’ first decree “restored” Jerusalem because it granted judicial autonomy to Judah, for the king decreed,Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death …” (Ezra 7:26). With respect to “restoring the city, the second decree added nothing. It only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.

THE TIME OF CHRIST

Secondly, if we add seventy weeks (490 years) to 458/7 BC, we come to the time of Christ. The second decree was also too late to fit the time of Christ.

REBUILD

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. Isa 45:1), implicitly allowed the Jews to rebuild their cities.

DANIEL 9:25b

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 only 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. The article – When does the Messiah Appear – shows 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 Christ. He “appeared” to Israel when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. This was the beginning of His public ministry:

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. Mark 1:11-14; Luke 4:18; Psa 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 give different years for His baptism. 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

If we add 483 years to 458/7 BC, we arrive at AD 26/27.  (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 and we can assume 26/27 to be the correct date.

DANIEL 9:25c

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

TIMES OF DISTRESS

We read about this distress in Nehemiah.


ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

(1) The traditional interpretation of Daniel 9 is Historical-Messianic, in which the 490 years is an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.

(2) Daniel 9:25 – Which decree began the 490 years? When did the Messiah appear?

(3) The Messiah who is cut off is our Lord Jesus Christ.  The people who destroy the city are the Romans. The prince in Daniel 9:26 is a supernatural force controlling that Empire.

(4) The prophecy’s Poetic Pattern alternates between Jerusalem and the Messiah. In this pattern, Jesus confirms the covenant in Daniel 9:27.

(5) Jesus confirmed God’s covenant for the Seven Last Years by His personal preaching and by sending His disciples to Israel ONLY for a few years after His death.

(6) Daniel 9 promises atonement for sin (9:24) through the killing of the messiah (v26), while he will put a stop to sacrifice (9:27).  In light of the New Testament, this messiah is Jesus Christ.

(7) The Poetic Pattern and the repetition of ideas from verse 26 identify the “complete destruction” in Daniel 9:27c as the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

(8) The key message of Daniel 9 is that the Messiah will appear within 500 years after Jerusalem is given back to the Jews; before Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70.

See also, the Summary of all Daniel 9 articles, including the Dispensational Interpretation of Daniel 9.  Another series identifies the Antichrist in the other prophecies of Daniel.

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