From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem - The foregoing events being all accomplished by Jesus Christ, they of course determine the prophecy to him. And if we reckon back four hundred and ninety years, we shall find the time of the going forth of this command.
Most learned men agree that the death of Christ happened at the passover in the month Nisan, in the four thousand seven hundred and forty-sixth year of the Julian period. Four hundred and ninety years, reckoned back from the above year, leads us directly to the month Nisan in the four thousand two hundred and fifty-sixth year of the same period; the very month and year in which Ezra had his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, (see Ezra 7:9;), to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. See the commission in Ezra 7:11-26 (note), and Prideaux's Connexions, vol. 2 p. 380.
The above seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, are divided, in Ezra 7:25, into three distinct periods, to each of which particular events are assigned. The three periods are: -
II. Sixty-two weeks, that is, four hundred and thirty-four years.
To the first period of seven weeks the restoration and repairing of Jerusalem are referred; and so long were Ezra and Nehemiah employed in restoring the sacred constitutions and civil establishments of the Jews, for this work lasted forty-nine years after the commission was given by Artaxerxes.
From the above seven weeks the second period of sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years more, commences, at the end of which the prophecy says, Messiah the Prince should come, that is, seven weeks, or forty-nine years, should be allowed for the restoration of the Jewish state; from which time till the public entrance of the Messiah on the work of the ministry should be sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years, in all four hundred and eighty-three years.
From the coming of our Lord, the third period is to be dated, viz., "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week," that is seven years, Daniel 9:27.
This confirmation of the covenant must take in the ministry of John the Baptist with that of our Lord, comprehending the term of seven years, during the whole of which he might be well said to confirm or ratify the new covenant with mankind. Our Lord says, "The law was until John;" but from his first public preaching the kingdom of God, or Gospel dispensation, commenced.
These seven years, added to the four hundred and eighty-three, complete the four hundred and ninety years, or seventy prophetic weeks; so that the whole of this prophecy, from the times and corresponding events, has been fulfilled to the very letter.
Some imagine that the half of the last seven years is to be referred to the total destruction of the Jews by Titus, when the daily sacrifice for ever ceased to be offered; and that the intermediate space of thirty-seven years, from our Lord's death till the destruction of the city, is passed over as being of no account in relation to the prophecy, and that it was on this account that the last seven years are divided. But Dean Prideaux thinks that the whole refers to our Lord's preaching connected with that of the Baptist. וחצי vachatsi, says he, signifies in the half part of the week; that is, in the latter three years and a half in which he exercised himself in the public ministry, he caused, by the sacrifice of himself, all other sacrifices and oblations to cease, which were instituted to signify his.
In the latter parts of Daniel 9:26; and Daniel 9:27; we find the Third Part of this great prophecy, which refers to what should be done after the completion of these seventy weeks.
Know, therefore, and understand - Hengstenberg renders this, “and thou wilt know and understand;” and supposes that the design of Gabriel is to awaken the attention and interest of Daniel by the assurance that, if he would give attention, he would understand the subject by the explanation which he was about to give. So also Theodotion renders it in the future tense. The Hebrew is in the future tense, and would probably convey the idea that he might, or would know and understand the matter. So Lengerke renders it, “Und so mogest du wissen,” etc. The object is doubtless to call the attention of Daniel to the subject, with the assurance that he might comprehend the great points of the communication which he was about to make respecting the seventy weeks. In the previous verse, the statement was a general one; in this, the angel states the time when the period of the seventy weeks was to commence, and then that the whole period was to be broken up or divided into three smaller portions or epochs, each evidently marking some important event, or constituting an important era. The first period of seven weeks was evidently to be characterized by something in which it would be different from what would follow, or it would reach to some important epoch, and then would follow a continuous period of sixty-two weeks, after which, during the remaining one week, to complete the whole number of seventy, the Messiah would come and would be cut off, and the series of desolations would commence which would result in the entire destruction of the city.
That from the going forth of the commandment - Hebrew, “of the word” - דבר dâbâr It is used, however, as in Daniel 9:23, in the sense of commandment or order. The expression “gone forth” (מצא môtsâ' ) would properly apply to the “issuing” of an order or decree. So in Daniel 9:23 - דבר יצא yâtsâ' dâbâr - “the commandment went forth.” The word properly means a going forth, and is applied to the rising sun, that goes forth from the east, Psalm 19:6 (7); then a “place” of going forth, as a gate, a fountain of waters, the east, etc., Ezekiel 42:11; Isaiah 41:18; Psalm 75:6 (7). The word here has undoubted reference to the promulgation of a decree or command, but there is nothing in the words to determine “by whom” the command was to be issued. So far as the “language” is concerned, it would apply equally well to a command issued by God, or by the Persian king, and nothing but the circumstances can determine which is referred to. Hengstenberg supposes that it is the former, and that the reference is to the Divine purpose, or the command issued from the “heavenly council” to rebuild Jerusalem. But the more natural and obvious meaning is, to understand it of the command‘ actually issued by the Persian monarch to restore and build the city of Jerusalem. This has been the interpretation given by the great body of expositors, and the reasons for it seem to be perfectly clear:
(a) This would be the interpretation affixed to it naturally, if there were no theory to support, or if it did not open a chronological difficulty not easy to settle.
(b) This is the only interpretation which can give anything like definiteness to the passage. Its purpose is to designate some fixed and certain period from which a reckoning could be made as to the time when the Messiah would come. But, so far as appears, there was no such definite and marked command on the part of God; no period which can be fixed upon when he gave commandment to restore and build Jerusalem; no exact and settled point from which one could reckon as to the period when the Messiah would come. It seems to me, therefore, to be clear, that the allusion is to some order to rebuild the city, and as this order could come only from one who had at that time jurisdiction over Jerusalem, and Judea, and who could command the resources necessary to rebuild the ruined city, that order must be one that would emanate from the reigning power; that is, in fact, the Persian power - for that was the power that had jurisdiction at the close of the seventy years‘ exile. But, as there were several orders or commands in regard to the restoration of the city and the temple, and as there has been much difficulty in ascertaining the exact chronology of the events of that remote period, it has not been easy to determine the precise order referred to, or to relieve the whole subject from perplexity and difficulty. Lengerke supposes that the reference here is the same as in Daniel 9:2, to the promise made to Jeremiah, and that this is the true point from which the reckoning is to be made. The exact edict referred to will be more properly considered at the close of the verse. All that is necessarily implied here is, that the time from which the reckoning is to be commenced is some command or order issued to restore and build Jerusalem.
To restore - Margin, “build again.” The Hebrew is, properly, “to cause to return” - להשׁיב lehâshı̂yb The word might be applied to the return of the captives to their own land, but it is evidently used here with reference to the city of Jerusalem, and the meaning must be, “to restore it to its former condition.” It was evidently the purpose to cause it to return, as it were, to its former spendour; to reinstate it in its former condition as a holy city - the city where the worship of God would be celebrated, and it is this purpose which is referred to here. The word, in Hiphil, is used in this sense of restoring to a former state, or to renew, in the following places: Psalm 80:3, “Turn us again - השׁיבנוּ hăshı̂ybēnû - and cause thy face to shine.” So Psalm 80:7, Psalm 80:19. Isaiah 1:26, “And I will “restore” thy judges as at the first,” etc. The meaning here would be met by the supposition that Jerusalem was to be put into its former condition.
And to build Jerusalem - It was then in ruins. The command, which is referred to here, must be one to build it up again - its houses, temple, walls; and the fair sense is, that some such order would be issued, and the reckoning of the seventy weeks must “begin” at the issuing of this command. The proper interpretation of the prophecy demands that “that” time shall be assumed in endeavoring to ascertain when the seventy weeks would terminate. In doing this, it is evidently required in all fairness that we should not take the time when the Messiah “did” appear - or the birth of the Lord Jesus, assuming that to be the “terminus ad quem ” - the point to which the seventy weeks were to extend - and then reckon “backward” for a space of four hundred and ninety years, to see whether we cannot find some event which by a possible construction would bear to be applied as the “terminus a quo,” the point from which we are to begin to reckon; but we are to ascertain when, in fact, the order was given to rebuild Jerusalem, and to make “that” the “terminus a quo ” - the starting point in the reckoning. The consideration of the fulfillment of this may with propriety be reserved to the close of the verse.
Unto the Messiah - The word Messiah occurs but four times in the common version of the Scriptures: Daniel 9:25-26: John 1:41; John 4:25. It is synonymous in meaning with the word “Christ,” the Anointed. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Messiah is the Hebrew word; Christ the Greek. The Hebrew word (משׁיח mâshı̂yach ) occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and, with the exception of these two places in Daniel, it is uniformly translated “anointed,” and is applied to priests, to prophets, and to kings, as being originally set apart to their offices by solemn acts of anointing. So far as the “language” is concerned here, it might be applied to anyone who sustained these offices, and the proper application is to be determined from the connection. Our translators have introduced the article - “unto the Messiah.” This is wanting in the Hebrew, and should not have been introduced, as it gives a definiteness to the prophecy which the original language does not necessarily demand.
Our translators undoubtedly understood it as referring to him who is known as the Messiah, but this is not necessarily implied in the original. All that the language fairly conveys is, “until an anointed one.” Who “that” was to be is to be determined from other circumstances than the mere use of the language, and in the interpretation of the language it should not be assumed that the reference is to any particular individual. That some eminent personage is designated; some one who by way of eminence would be properly regarded as anointed of God; some one who would act so important a part as to characterize the age, or determine the epoch in which he should live; some one so prominent that he could be referred to as “anointed,” with no more definite appellation; some one who would be understood to be referred to by the mere use of this language, may be fairly concluded from the expression used - for the angel clearly meant to imply this, and to direct the mind forward to some one who would have such a prominence in the history of the world.
The object now is merely to ascertain the meaning of the “language.” All that is fairly implied is, that it refers to some one who would have such a prominence as anointed, or set apart to the office of prophet, priest, or king, that it could be understood that he was referred to by the use of this language. The reference is not to the anointed one, as of one who was already known or looked forward to as such - for then the article would have been used; but to some one who, when he appeared, would have such marked characteristics that there would be no difficulty in determining that he was the one intended. Hengstenberg well remarks, “We must, therefore, translate “an anointed one, a prince,” and assume that the prophet, in accordance with the uniform character of his prophecy, chose the more indefinite, instead of the more definite designation, and spoke only of AN anointed one, a prince, instead of the anointed one, the prince - κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν kat' exochēn - and left his hearers to draw a deeper knowledge respecting him, from the prevailing expectations, grounded on earlier prophecies of a future great King, from the remaining declarations of the context, and from the fulfillment, the coincidence of which with the prophecy must here be the more obvious, since an accurate date had been given.” - Christol. ii. 334,335.
The Vulgate renders this, Usque ad Christum ducem - “even to Christ the leader,” or ruler. The Syriac, “to the advent of Christ the king.” Theodotion, ἕως Χριστοῦ ἡγουμένου heōs Christou hēgoumenou - “Christ the leader,” or ruler. The question whether this refers to Christ will be more appropriately considered at the close of the verse. The inquiry will then occur, also, whether this refers to his birth, or to his appearance as the anointed one - his taking upon himself publicly the office. The language would apply to either, though it would perhaps more properly refer to the latter - to the time when he should appear as such - or should be anointed, crowned, or set apart to the office, and be fully instituted in it. It could not be demonstrated that either of these applications would be a departure from the fair interpretation of the words, and the application must be determined by some other circumstances, if any are expressed. What those are in the case will be considered at the close of the verse.
The Prince - נגיד nāgı̂yd This word properly means a leader, a prefect, a prince. It is a word of very general character, and might be applied to any leader or ruler. It is applied to an overseer, or, as we should say, a “secretary” of the treasury, 1 Chronicles 26:24; 2 Chronicles 31:12; an overseer of the temple, 1 Chronicles 9:11; 2 Chronicles 31:13; of the palace, 2 Chronicles 28:7; and of military affairs, 1 Chronicles 13:1; 2 Chronicles 32:21. It is also used absolutely to denote a prince of a people, any one of royal dignity, 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 13:14. - Gesenius. So far as this word, therefore, is concerned, it would apply to any prince or leader, civil or military; any one of royal dignity, or who should distinguish himself, or make himself a leader in civil, ecclesiastical, or military affairs, or who should receive an appointment to any such station. It is a word which would be as applicable to the Messiah as to any other leader, but which has nothing in itself to make it necessary to apply it to him. All that can be fairly deduced from its use here is, that it would be some prominent leader; some one that would be known without anymore definite designation; someone on whom the mind would naturally rest, and someone to whom when he appeared it would be applied without hesitation and without difficulty. There can be no doubt that a Hebrew, in the circumstances of Daniel, and with the known views and expectations of the Hebrew people, would apply such a phrase to the Messiah.
Shall be seven weeks - See the notes at Daniel 9:24. The reason for dividing the whole period into seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week, is not formally stated, and will be considered at the close of the verse. All that is necessary here in order to an explanation of the language, and of what is to be anticipated in the fulfillment, is this:
(a) That, according to the above interpretation Daniel 9:24, the period would be forty-nine years.
(b) That this was to be the “first” portion of the whole time, not time that would be properly taken out of any part of the whole period.
(c) That there was to be some event at the end of the forty-nine years which would designate a period, or a natural division of the time, or that the portion which was designated by the forty-nine years was to be distinctly characterized from the next period referred to as sixty-two weeks, and the next period as one week.
(d) No intimation is given in the words as to the nature of this period, or as to what would distinguish one portion from the others, and what that was to be is to be learned from subsequent explanations, or from the actual course of events. If one period was characterized by war, and another by peace; one in building the city and the walls, and the other by quiet prosperity; one by abundance, and the other by famine; one by sickness, and the other by health - all that is fairly implied by the words would be met. It is foretold only that there would be something that would designate these periods, and serve to distinguish the one from the other.
And threescore and two weeks - Sixty-two weeks; that is, as above explained Daniel 9:24, four hundred and thirty-four years. The fair meaning is, that there would be something which would characterize that long period, and serve to distinguish it from what preceded it. It is not indeed intimated what that would be, and the nature of the case seems to require that we should look to the events - to the facts in the course of the history to determine what that was. Whether it was peace, prosperity, quiet, order, or the prevalence of religion as contrasted with the former period, all that the words fairly imply would be fulfilled in either of them.
The street shall be built again - This is a general assertion or prediction, which does not seem to have any special reference to the “time” when it would be done. The fair interpretation of the expression does not require us to understand that it should be after the united period of the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks, nor during either one of those periods; that is, the language is not such that we are necessarily required to affix it to any one period. It seems to be a general assurance designed to comfort Daniel with the promise that the walls and streets of Jerusalem, now desolate, would be built again, and that this would occur some time during this period. His mind was particularly anxious respecting the desolate condition of the city, and the declaration is here made that it would be restored. So far as the languages - the grammatical construction is concerned, it seems to me that this would be fulfilled if it were done either at the time of the going forth of the commandment, or during either of the periods designated, or even after these periods.
It is, however, most natural, in the connection, to understand it of the “first” period - the seven weeks, or the forty-nine years - since it is said that “the commandment would go forth to restore, and to build Jerusalem;” and since, as the whole subsequent period is divided into three portions, it may be presumed that the thing that would characterize the first portion, or what would first be done, would be to execute the commandment - that is, to restore and build the city. These considerations would lead us, therefore, to suppose that the thing which would characterize the first period - the forty-nine years - would be the rebuilding of the city; and “the time” - a time which, considering the extent and entireness of the ruins, the nature of the opposition that might be encountered, the difficulty of collecting enough from among the exiles to return and do it, the want of means, and the embarrassments which such an undertaking might be supposed to involve, cannot, probably, be regarded as too long.
The word rendered “street” - רחוב rechôb - means a “street,” so called from its “breadth,” and would properly, therefore, be applied to a wide street. Then it denotes a market-place, or a forum - the broad open place at the gates of Oriental cities where public trials were held, and things exposed for sale, 2 Chronicles 32:6. In Ezra 10:9, the word refers to the area or court before the temple: “And all the people sat in the street (ברחוב bı̂rechôb ) of the house of God,” etc. Compare Nehemiah 8:1, Nehemiah 8:3, Nehemiah 8:16. The reference in this place, therefore, may be to that area or court; or it may be to any place of concourse, or any thoroughfare. It is such language as would be naturally used to denote that the city would be restored to its former condition. The phrase “shall be built again” is, in the margin, “return and be builded.” This is in accordance with the Hebrew. That is, it would be restored to its former state; it would, as it were, come back and be built up again. Hengstenberg renders it “a street is restored and built.” The phrase properly implies that it would assume its former condition, the word “built” here being used in the sense of “made,” as we speak of “making a road.” Lengerke renders it, wird wieder hergestellt- “shall be again restored.” Theodotion renders it, ἐπιστρέψει epistrepsei - “it shall return,” understanding it as meaning that there would be a return, to wit, from the exile. But the more correct meaning undoubtedly is, that the street would return to its former state, and be rebuilt.
And the wall - Margin, “ditch.” Hengstenberg renders this, “and firmly is it determined;” maintaining that the word חרוּץ chârûts here means fixed, determined, resolved on, and that the idea is, the purpose that the city should be rebuilt was firmly resolved on in the Divine mind, and that the design of what is here said was to comfort and animate the returned Hebrews in their efforts to rebuild the city, in all the discouragements and troubles which would attend such an undertaking. The common interpretation, however, has been that it refers to a ditch, trench, or wall, that would be constructed at the time of the rebuilding of the city. So the Vulgate, “muri, walls.” So Theodotion, τεῖχος teichos - wall. The Syriac renders it, “Jerusalem, and the villages, and the streets.” Luther, Mauren, walls. Lengerke renders it, as Hengstenberg does, “and it is determined.” Maurer understands the two expressions, “street and wall,” to be equivalent to “within and without” - meaning that the city would be thoroughly and entirely rebuilt.
The Hebrew word חרוּץ chârûts means, properly, what is cut in, or dug out, from חרץ chârats - to cut in. The word is translated “sharp-pointed things” in Job 41:30; “gold, fine gold, choice gold,” in Psalm 68:13; Proverbs 3:14; Proverbs 8:10, Proverbs 8:19; Proverbs 16:16; Zechariah 9:3; a threshing instrument, Isaiah 28:27; Amos 1:3; sharp (referring to a threshing instrument), Isaiah 41:15; “wall,” Daniel 9:25; and “decision,” Joel 3:14. It does not elsewhere occur in the Scriptures. The notion of “gold” as connected with the word is probably derived from the fact of its being dug for, or eagerly sought by men. That idea is, of course, not applicable here. Gesenius supposes that it here means a “ditch or trench” of a fortified city. This seems to me to be the probable signification. At all events, this has the concurrence of the great body of interpreters; and this accords well with the connection. The word does not properly mean “wall,” and it is never elsewhere so used. It need not be said that it was common, if not universal, in wailed cities to make a deep ditch or trench around them to prevent the approach of an enemy, and such language would naturally be employed in speaking of the rebuilding of a city. Prof. Stuart renders it, “with broad spaces, and narrow limits.”
Even in troublous times - Margin, “strait of.” Hengstenberg, “in a time of distress.” Lengerke, Im Druck der Zeiten- in a pressure of times. Vulgate, In angustia temporum. Theodotion, in the Septuagint, renders it, “And these times shall be emptied out” (Thompson) - καὶ ἐκκενωθήσονται οἱ καιροί kai ekkenōthēsontai hoi kairoi The proper meaning of the Hebrew word (צוק tsôq ) is, distress, trouble, anguish; and the reference is, doubtless. to times that would be characterized by trouble, perplexity, and distress. The allusion is clearly to the rebuilding of the city, and the use of this language would lead us to anticipate that such an enterprise would meet with opposition or embarrasment; that there would be difficulty in accomplishing it; that the work would not be carried on easily, and that a considerable time would be necessary to finish it.
Having gone through with an investigation of the meaning of the words and phrases of this verse, we are now prepared to inquire more particularly what things are referred to, and whether the predictions have been fulfilled. The points which it is necessary to examine are the following: - To whom reference is made by the Messiah the Prince; the time designated by the going forth of the commandment - or the “terminus a quo;” the question whether the whole period extends to the “birth” of him here referred to as the Messiah the Prince, or to his assuming the office or appearing as such; the time embraced in the first seven weeks - and the fulfillment - or the question whether, from the time of the going forth of the commandment to the appearing of the Messiah, the period of the four hundred and ninety years can be fairly made out. These are evidently important points, and it need not be said that a great variety of opinions has prevailed in regard to them, and that they are attended with no little difficulty.
I. To whom reference is made as the Messiah the Prince. In the exposition of the meaning of the words, we have seen that there is nothing in the language itself to determine this. It is applicable to anyone who should be set apart as a ruler or prince, and might be applied to Cyrus, to any anointed king, or to him who is properly designated now as the Messiah - the Lord Jesus. Compare the notes at Isaiah 45:1. It is unnecessary to show that a great variety of opinions has been entertained, both among the Jewish rabbis and among Christian commentators, respecting the question to whom this refers. Among the Jews, Jarchi and Jacchiades supposed that it referred to Cyrus; Ben Gersom, and others, to Zerubbabel; Aben Ezra to Nehemiah; rabbi Azariah to Artaxerxes. Bertholdt, Lengerke, Maurer, and this class of expositors generally, suppose that the reference is to Cyrus, who is called the Messiah, or the “Anointed,” in Isaiah 45:1.
According to this interpretation, it is supposed that the reference is to the seventy years of Jeremiah, and that the meaning is, that “seven weeks,” or forty-nine years, would elapse from the desolation of the city until the time of Cyrus. See Maurer, in loc. Compare also Lengerke, pp. 444,445. As specimens of the views entertained by those who deny the reference of the passage to the Messiah, and of the difculties and absurdities of those views, we may notice those of Etchhorn and Bertholdt. Eichhorn maintains that the numbers referred to are round numbers, and that we are not to expect to be able to make out an exact conformity between those numbers and the events. The “commandment” mentioned in Daniel 9:25 he supposes refers to the order of Cyrus to restore and rebuild the city, which order was given, according to Usher, A.M. 3468. From this point of time must the “sevenweeks,” or the forty-nine years, be reckoned; but, according to his view, the reckoning must be “backward and forward;” that is, it is seven weeks, or forty-nine years, backward to Nebuchadnezzar, who is here called “Messiah the Prince,” who destroyed the temple and city, A.M. 3416 - or about fifty-two years before the going forth of the edict of Cyrus. From that time, the reckoning of the sixty-two weeks must be commenced.
But again, this is not to be computed literally from the time of Nebuchadnezzar; but since the Jews, in accordance with Jeremiah 25:11-12, reckoned seventy years, instead of the true time, the point from which the estimate is to begin is the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, and this occurred, according to Usher, A.M. 3397. Reckoning from this point onward, the sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, would bring us to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (A.M. 3829). At the end of the sixty-two weeks, in the first year of Antiochus Epiphanes, the high priest, Onias III (the Messiah of Daniel 9:26), was displaced - “cut off” - יכרת yı̂kârēth - and Jason was appointed in his place, and Menelaus the year after removed him. Titus Onias had properly no successor, etc. This absurd opinion Bertholdt (p. 605, following) attempts to set aside - a task which is very easily performed, and then proposes his own - a hypothesis not less absurd and improbable. According to his theory (p. 613, following), the seventy years have indeed a historical basis, and the time embraced in them extends from the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. It is divided into three periods:
(a) The seven first hebdomads extend from the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to king, Cyrus, who gave the exiles permission to return to their land. This is the period during which Jerusalem must lie waste Daniel 9:2; and after the close of this, by the favor of Cyrus Daniel 9:25, the promise of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:25 - דבר dâbâr - “commandment”), that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt, goes forth.
(b) The following sixty-two weeks extend from the return of the exiles to the beginning of the troubles and persecutions under Antiochus. This is the period of the rebuilding of Jerusalem Daniel 9:25.
(c) The last period of one week extends from the time of the oppressions and wrongs commenced under Antiochus, to the death of Antiochus. See this view fully explained and illustrated in Bertholdt, “ut supra.” The great mass of Christian interpreters, however, have supposed that the reference is to the Messiah properly so called - the promised Saviour of the world - the Lord Jesus. In support of this opinion, the following considerations may be suggested, which seem to me to be conclusive:
(1) The language itself is such as is properly applicable to him, and such as would naturally suggest him. It is true, as we see in Isaiah 45:1, that the term Messiah may be applied to another, as it is there to Cyrus (see the note at the meaning of the word in that place, and in the exposition of this verse), but it is also true that if the term stands by itself, and with no explanation, it would naturally suggest him who, by way of eminence, is known as the Messiah. In Isaiah 45:1, it is expressly limited to Cyrus, and there can be no danger of mistake. Here there is no such limitation, and it is natural, therefore, to apply it in the sense in which among the Hebrews it would be obviously understood. Even Bertholdt admits the force of this. Thus (p. 563) he says: “That at the words נגיד משׁיח mâshı̂yach nāgı̂yd (Messiah the Prince) we should be led to think of the Messiah, Jesus, and at those, Daniel 9:26, לו ואין משׁיח יכרת yı̂kârēth mâshı̂yach ve'ēyn lô (shall be cut off but not for himself), of his crucifixion, though not absolutely necessary, is still very natural.”
(2) This would be the interpretation which would be given to the words by the Jews. They were so much accustomed to look forward to a great prince and deliverer, who would be by way of eminence the Anointed of the Lord, that, unless there was some special limitation or designation in the language, they would naturally apply it to the Messiah, properly so called. Compare Isaiah 9:6-7. Early in the history of the Jews, the nation had become accustomed to the expectation that such a deliverer would come, and its hopes were centerd on him. In all times of national trouble and calamity; in all their brightest visions of the future, they were accustomed to look to him as one who would deliver them from their troubles, and who would exalt their people to a pitch of glory and of honor, such as they had never known before. Unless, therefore, there was something in the connection which would demand a different interpretation, the language would be of course applied to the Messiah. But it cannot be pretended that there is anything in the connection that demands such a limitation, nor which forbids such an application.
(3) So far as the ancient versions throw any light on the subject, they show that this is the correct interpretation. So the Latin Vulgate, usque ad Christum ducem. So the Syriac, “unto Messiah, the most holy” - literally, “holy of holies.” So Theodotion - ἔως Χριστοῦ heōs Christou - where there can be little doubt that the Messiah was understood to be referred to. The same is found in the Arabic. The Codex Chisianus is in utter confusion on this whole passage, and nothing can be made of it.
(4) All the circumstances referred to in connection with him who is here called “Messiah the Prince” are such as to be properly applicable to the work which the Lord Jesus came to do, and not to Cyrus, or Antiochus, or any other leader or ruler. See the notes at Daniel 9:24. To no other one, according to the interpretation which the passage in that verse seems to demand, can the expressions there used be applied. In that exposition it was shown that the verse is designed to give a general view of what would be accomplished, or of what is expressed more in detail in the remaining verses of the vision, and that the language there used can be applied properly to the work which the Lord Jesus came to accomplish. Assuredly to no one else can the phrases “to restrain transgression,” “to seal up sins,” “to cover over iniquity,” “to bring in everlasting righteousness,” “to seal up the vision and prophecy,” and “to consecrate the most holy place,” be so well applied. The same is true of the language in the subsequent part of the prophecy, “Messiah shall be cut off,” “not for himself shall confirm the covenant cause the oblation to cease.” Any one may see the perplexities in which they are involved by adopting another interpretation, by consulting Bertholdt, or Lengerke on the passage.
(5) The expression used here (“prince” - נגיד nāgı̂yd - is applied to the Messiah beyond all question in Isaiah 4:4: “I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader - נגיד nāgı̂yd - and a commander to the people.”
(6) The perplexity attending any other interpretation is an additional proof of this point. In full illustration of this, it is necessary only to refer to the views of Bertholdt and Eichhorn as above exhibited. Whatever may be said about the difficulties on the supposition that it refers to the Lord Jesus - the true Messiah - no one can undertake to reconcile the applications which they have proposed with any belief of the inspiration of the passage. These considerations seem to me to make it clear that the prophecy had reference to the Messiah properly so called - the hope and the expectation of the Jewish people. There can be no doubt that Daniel would so understand it; there can be no doubt that it would be so applied by the Jews.
II. The next question is, From what point are we to reckon in computing the time when the Messiah would appear - the “terminus a quo?” It is important to fix this, for the whole question of the fulfillment depends on it, and “honesty” requires that it should be determined without reference to the time to which four hundred and ninety years would reach - or the “terminus ad quem.” It is clearly not proper to do as Prideaux does, to assume that it refers to the birth of Christ, and then to reckon backward to a time which may be made to mean the “going forth of the commandment.” The true method, undoubtedly, would be to fix on a time which would accord with the expression here, with no reference to the question of the fulfillment for in that way only can it be determined to be a true “prophecy,” and in that way only would it be of any use to Daniel, or to those who succeeded him. It need hardly be said, that a great variety of opinions have been maintained in regard to the time designated by the “going forth of the commandment.” Bertholdt (pp. 567,568) mentions no less than thirteen opinions which have been entertained on this point, and in such a variety of sentiment, it seems almost hopeless to be able to ascertain the truth with certainty. Now, in determining this, there are a few points which may be regarded as certain. They are such as these:
(a) That the commandment referred to is one that is issued by some prince or king having authority, and not the purpose of God. See the notes above on the first part of the verse.
(b) That the distinct command would be to “restore and build Jerusalem.” This is specified, and therefore would seem to be distinguished from a command to build the temple, or to restore that from its state of ruin. It is true that the one might appear to be implied in the other, and yet this does not necessarily follow. For various causes it might be permitted to the Jews to rebuild their temple, and there might be a royal ordinance commanding that, while there was no purpose to restore the city to its former power and splendor, and even while there might be strong objections to it. For the use of the Jews who still resided in Palestine, and for those who were about to return, it might be a matter of policy to permit them to rebuild their temple, and even to aid them in it, while yet it might be regarded as perilous to allow them to rebuild the city, and to place it in its former condition of strength and power.
It was a place easily fortified; it had cost the Babylonian monarch much time, and had occasioned him many losses, before he had been able to conquer and subdue it, and, even to Cyrus, it might be a matter of very questionable policy to allow it to be built and fortified again. Accordingly we find that, as a matter of fact, the permission to rebuild the temple, and the permission to rebuild the city, were quite different things, and were separately granted by different sovereigns, and that the work was executed by different persons. The former might, without impropriety, be regarded as the close of the captivity - or the end of the “seventy years” of Jeremiah - for a permission to rebuild the temple was, in fact, a permission to return to their own country, and an implied purpose to aid them in it, while a considerable interval might, and probably would elapse, before a distinct command was issued to restore and rebuild the city itself, and even then a long period might intervene before it would be completed.
Accordingly, in the edict published by Cyrus, the permission to rebuild the temple is the one that is carefully specified: “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. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and “build the house of the Lord God of Israel” (he is the God), which is in Jerusalem,” Ezra 1:2-3. In this order there is nothing said of the restoration of the city, and that in fact occurred at a different time, and under the direction of different leaders. The first enterprise was to rebuild the temple; it was still a question whether it would be a matter of policy to allow the city to be rebuilt, and that was in fact accomplished at a different time. These considerations seem to make it certain that the edict referred to here was not what was issued by “Cyrus,” but must have been a subsequent decree bearing particularly on the rebuilding of the city itself. It is true that the command to rebuild the temple would imply that either there were persons residing amidst the ruins of Jerusalem, or in the land of Palestine, who were to worship there, and that there would be inhabitants in Jerusalem, probably those who would go from Babylon - for otherwise the temple would be of no service, but still this might be, and there be no permission to rebuild the city with any degree of its ancient strength and splendor, and none to surround it with walls - a very material thing in the structure of an ancient city.
(c) This interpretation is confirmed by the latter part of the verse: “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” If the word rendered “wall” means “trench or ditch,” as I have supposed, still it was a trench or ditch which was designed as a “defense” of a city, or which was excavated for making a wall, for the purpose of fortifying a walled city in order to make it stronger, and the expression is one which would not be applied to the mere purpose of rebuilding the temple, nor would it be used except in a command to restore the city itself. We are, then, in the fair interpretation of the passage, required now to show that such a command went forth from the Persian king to “restore and rebuild” the city itself - that is, a permission to put it into such a condition of strength as it was before.
In order to see how this interpretation accords with the facts in the case, and to determine whether such a period can be found as shall properly correspond with this interpretation, and enable us to ascertain the point of time here referred to - the “terminus a quo ” - it is proper to inquire what are the facts which history has preserved. For this purpose, I looked at this point of the investigation into Jahn‘s “Hebrew Commonwealth,” (pp. 160-177), a work not written with any reference to the fulfillment of this prophecy, and which, indeed, in the portion relating to this period of the world, makes no allusion whatever to Daniel. The inquiry which it was necessary to settle was, whether under any of the Persian kings there was any order or command which would properly correspond with what we have ascertained to be the fair meaning of the passage. A very brief synopsis of the principal events recorded by Jahn as bearing on the restoration of the Jews to their own country, will be all that is needful to add to determine the question before us.
The kings of the Persian universal monarchy, according to Ptolemy, were ten, and the whole sum of their reign two hundred and seven years - from the time of Cyaxares II to the time of Alexander the Great. But Ptolemy‘s specific object being chronology, he omitted those who continued not on the throne a full year, and referred the months of their reign, partly to the preceding, and partly to the succeeding monarch. The whole number of sovereigns was in reality fourteen, as appears by the following table:
d 538Cyaxares II reigned
d 521Darius Hystaspis
d 485Xerxes I
d 464Artaxerxes Longimanus
d 424Xerxes II
d 423Darius Nothus
d 404Artaxerxes Mnemon
d 358Darius Ochus
d 335Darius Codomanus
d Under the reign of this last prince, 331 b.c., the kingdom was entirely subdued by Alexander the Great.
In respect to the question whether any order or command was issued pertaining to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem that corresponds with the meaning of the prediction as above explained, the following facts will probably furnish all the knowledge which can be obtained:
(a) Cyaxares II Of course there was nothing in the time of Cyaxares II, the Darius of Daniel Daniel 6:1; Daniel 9:1, as it was under him that Babylon was conquered, and there was no movement toward a restoration of the Jews to their own land commenced by him, the first movement of that kind being under Cyrus.
(b) Cyrus. What was the nature of the order issued by him we have seen above. It was a command to build the temple, and was limited to that, and involved no reference to the city. The command, as we have seen above, did not extend to that, and there were probably good reasons why it was not contemplated that it should be rebuilt in its former strength, and fortified as it was before. The purpose to fortify the city, or to encompass it by a wall or ditch, or even to build it at all, could not have been brought within the order of Cyrus, as recorded in Ezra, and that is the only form of the order which we have. The language of Daniel, therefore, seems to have been chosen of design when he says that the command would be issued to rebuild the city, not the temple. At any rate, such is the language, and such was not the order of Cyrus.
(c) Cambyses. After the death of Cyrus the Samaritans wrote to Cambyses (called, by Ezra, Ahasuerus) against the Jews. We are not informed what effect this letter produced, but we can easily judge from the character of this degenerate son of Cyrus, as it is represented in history. He was a “thoughtless, gluttonous, furious warrior, who was considered as raving mad even by his own subjects.” - Jahn. He madly invaded Egypt, and on his return learned that Smerdis, his brother, had usurped the throne in his absence; and died of a wound received from the falling of his sword from its sheath, as he was mounting his horse. No order is mentioned during his reign pertaining to the rebuilding either of the city or the temple.
(d) Smerdis. He retained the throne about seven months. In the Bible the has the name of Artaxerxes. Compare, respecting him, Ctesias, x.; Justin, i. 9; Herod. iii. 61-67. “To this monarch the Samaritans again addressed themselves, complaining that the Jews were building (that is, fortifying) the city of Jerusalem, which they had never thought of doing; and in consequence of this false accusation, Smerdis issued a positive prohibition of their work.” - Jahn. Two things, therefore, may be remarked respecting this reign:
(1) the order or commandment referred to by Daniel could not have been issued during this reign, since there was an express “prohibition” against the work of building and fortifying the city; and
(2) this confirms what is said above about the improbability that any order would have been issued by Cyrus to rebuild and fortify the city itself.
It could not but have been foreseen that such an order would be likely to excite opposition from the Samaritans, and to cause internal dissensions and difficulties in Palestine, and it is not probable that the Persian govenment would allow the rebuilding of a city that would lead to such collisions.
(e) Darius Hystaspis. He reigned thirty-six years. He was a mild and benevolent ruler. “As Smerdis was a mere usurper, his prohibition of rebuilding the temple was of no authority.” - Jahn. In the second year of his reign, Haggai and Zechariah appeared, who plied the governor Zerubbabel, the high priest Joshua, and the whole people, with such powerful appeals to the Divine commands, that the building of the house of God was once more resumed. Upon this, Tatnai, the Persian governor on the west side of the Euphrates, came with his officers to call the Jews to an account, who referred him to the permission of Cyrus, and the Jews were suffered to proceed. The whole matter was, however, made known to Darius, and he caused search to be made among the archives of the state in reference to the alleged decree of Cyrus. The edict of Cyrus was found, which directed that a temple should be built at Jerusalem at the royal expense, and of much larger dimensions than the former. A copy of this was sent to Tatnai, and he was commanded to see that the work should be forwarded, and that the expenses should be defrayed from the royal treasury, and that the priests should be supplied with whatever was necessary to keep up the daily sacrifice. The work was, therefore, pressed on with renewed vigour, and in the sixth year of his reign the temple was completed and consecrated. The remainder of his reign was spent in unnecessary wars with Scythia, Thrace, India, and Greece. He suffered an overthrow at Marathon, and was preparing for a more energetic campaign in Greece when he died, and left his dominion and his wars to Xerxes. No order was issued during his reign for the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. All his edicts pertain to the original grant of Cyrus - the permission to build the temple.
(f) Xerxes I. The career of Xerxes is well known. He was distinguished for gluttony, voluptuousness, and cruelty. He is celebrated for his invasion of Greece, for the check which he met at Thermopylae, and for the overthrow of his naval forces at Salamis by Themistocles. In the twenty-first year of his reign he was murdered by Artabanus, commander of his life-guard. He died in the year 464 b.c. According to Jalm, it is probable that “the Artaxerxes of Ezra, who is mentioned next after Darius Hystaspis, and the Ahasuerus of Esther, are names of Xerxes I.” If so, it was under him that the second caravan of Jews went to Judea, under the direction of Ezra Ezra 7:13-26. This decree, however, relates wholly to the temple - the “house of God.” There was no order for rebuilding the city, and there is no evidence that anything material was done in building the city, or the walls. Respecting this reign, John remarks, “The Hebrew colony in Judea seems never to have been in a very flourishing condition. The administration of justice was particularly defective, and neither civil nor religious institutions were firmly established. Accordingly, the king gave permission anew for all Hebrews to emigrate to Judea,” p. 172. Ezra made the journey with the caravan in three months; deposited the precious gifts in the temple, caused the Scriptures to be read and explained; commenced a moral reformation, but did nothing, so far as appears, in reconstructing the city - for his commission did not extend to that.
(g) Artaxerxes Longimanus. According to Jahn, he began to reign 464 b.c., and reigned forty years and three months. It was during his reign that Nehemiah lived, and that he acted as governor of Judea. The colony in Judea, says Jahn, which had been so flourishing in the time of Ezra, had greatly declined, in consequence of the fact that Syria and Phoenicia had been the rendezvous of the armies of Artaxerxes. “Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of Artaxerxes, learned the unhappy state of the Hebrews, b.c. 444, from a certain Jew named Hanani, who had come from Judea to Shushan with a caravan. Of the regulations introduced by Esra b.c. 478 there was little remaining, and, amid the confusions of war, the condition of the Jews continually grew worse. This information so affected Nehemiah that the king observed his melancholy, and inquiring its cause, he appointed him governor of Judea, “with full power to fortify Jerusalem,” and thus to secure it from the disasters to which unprotected places are always exposed in time of war.
Orders were sent to the royal officers west of the Euphrates to “assist in the fortification of the city,” and to furnish the requisite timber from the king‘s forest; probably on Mount Libanus, near the sources of the river Kadisha, as that was the place celebrated for its cedars. Thus commissioned, Nehemiah journeyed to Judea, accompanied by military officers and cavalry,” pp. 175,176. Jahn further adds, “as soon as Nehemiah, on his arrival in Palestine, had been acknowledged governor of Judea by the royal officers, he made known his preparations for fortifying Jerusalem to the elders who composed the Jewish council. All the heads of houses, and the high priest Eliashib, engaged zealously in the work. The chiefs of the Samaritans, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, endeavored to thwart their undertaking by insults, by malicious insinuations that it was a preparation for revolt, by plots, and by threats of a hostile attack. The Jews, notwithstanding, proceeded earnestly in their business, armed the laborers, protected them still further by a guard of armed citizens, and at length happily completed the walls of their city.”
We have reached a point, then, in the history of the kings of Persia, when there was a distinct order to restore and fortify Jerusalem, and when there was an express expedition undertaken to accomplish this result. In the history of these kings, as reported by Jahn, this is the first order that would seem to correspond with the language of Daniel - “the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem,” and the assertion that “the street should be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” It may be well, therefore, to pause here, and to look more distinctly at this order of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and inquire into its conformity with the language of Daniel. The circumstances, then, as stated in the book of Nehemiah, are these:
(a) Nehemiah learned from Hanani the state of his brethren in Judea, and the fact that the “walls of the city were broken down, and that the gates were burned with fire,” and that the people who were at Jerusalem were in a state of “great affliction and reproach,” and gave himself to weeping, and fasting, and prayer, on that account, Nehemiah 1:1-11.
(b) On coming into the presence of Artaxerxes, to perform the usual duty of presenting the wine to the king, the king saw the sadness and distress of Nehemiah, and inquired the cause, Nehemiah 2:1-2. This, Nehemiah Nehemiah 2:1 is careful to remark occurred in the twentieth year of his reign.
(c) He states distinctly, that it was because Jerusalem was still in ruins: “Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers‘ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” Nehemiah 2:3.
(d) The request of Nehemiah, in accordance with the language in Daniel, was, that he might be permitted to go to Jerusalem and “rebuild the city:” “And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldst send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers‘ sepulchres, that I may build it,” Nehemiah 2:5.
(e) The edict of Artaxerxes contemplated the same thing which is foretold by the angel to Daniel “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 pertained to the house, and for the wall of the city,” etc., Nehemiah 2:8.
(f) The work which Nehemiah did, under this edict, was what is supposed in the prediction in Daniel. His first work was to go forth by night to survey the state of the city: “And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, etc., and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire,” Nehemiah 2:13. His next work was to propose to rebuild these walls again: “Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach,” Nehemiah 2:17. The next work was to rebuild those walls, a full description of which we have in Nehemiah 3:1-32; 4:1-23. The city was thus fortified. It was built again according to the purpose of Nehemiah, and according to the decree of Artaxerxes. It took its place again as a fortified city, and the promised work of restoring and rebuilding it was; complete.
(g) The building of the city and the walls under Nehemiah occurred in just such circumstances as are predicted by Daniel. The angel says, “The wall shall be built again, even in troublous times.” Let anyone read the account of the rebuilding in Nehemiah - the description of the “troubles “which were produced by the opposition of Sanballat and those associated with him Nehemiah 4, and he will see the striking accuracy of this expression - an accuracy as entire as if it had been employed after the event in describing it, instead of having been used before in predicting it.
It may confirm this interpretation to make three remarks:
(1) After this decree of Artaxerxes there was no order issued by Persian kings pertaining to the restoration and rebuilding of the city. Neither Xerxes II, nor Sogdianus, nor Darius Nothus, nor Artaxerxes Mnemon, nor Darius Ochus, nor Arses, nor Darius Codomanus, issued any decree that corresponded at all with this prediction, or any that related to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. There was no occasion for any, for the work was done.
(2) asecond remark is, that, in the language of Hengstenberg, “Until the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the new city of Jerusalem was an open, thinly inhabited village, exposed to all aggressions from its neighbors, sustaining the same relation to the former and the latter city as the huts erected after the burning of a city for the first protection front rain and wind do to those which are still uninjured, or which have been rebuilt.” - Christ. ii. 381. This is quite apparent from the remarks which have been already made respecting the state of the city. The want of any permission to rebuild the city and the walls; the fact that the permission to return extended only to a right-to rebuild the temple; the improbabilities above stated, that the rebuilding of the city in its strength would be allowed when they first returned, and the account which Nehemiah gives of the condition of Jerusalem at the time when he asked leave to go and “build” it, all tend to confirm this supposition. See Hengstenberg, as above, pp. 381-386.
(3) A third remark is, that a confirmation of this may be found in the book of Ecclesiasticus, showing how Nehemiah was regarded in respect to the rebuilding of the city: “And among the elect was Neemias, whose renown is great, who raised up for us the walls that were fallen, and set up the gates and the bars, and raised up our ruins again,” Sirach 49:13. On the other hand, Joshua and Zerubbabel are extolled only as rebuilders of the temple: “How shall we magnify Zorobabel? even he was as a signet on the right hand:” “so was Jesus the son of Josedec: who in their time builded “the house” and set up a “holy temple” to the Lord,” Sirach 49:11,12. These considerations make the case clear, it seems to me, that the time referred to - the “terminus a quo ” - according to the fair interpretation, was the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. To this we are conducted by the proper and necessary exposition of the language, and by the orders actually issued from the Persian court in regard to the temple and city.
If it should be objected - the only objection of importance that has been alleged against it - that this would not meet the inquiry of Daniel; that he was seeking for the time when the captivity would cease, and looking for its te
The angel now gives to Daniel the event which is to mark the commencement of the seventy weeks. They were to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. And not only is the event given which was to determine the time of the commencement of this period, but those events also which were to transpire at its close. Thus a double test is provided by which to try the application of this prophecy. But more than this, the period of seventy weeks is divided into three grand divisions, and one of these is again divided, and the intermediate events are given which were to mark the termination of each one of these divisions. If, now, we can find a date which will harmonize with all these events, we have, beyond a doubt, the true application; for none but that which is correct could meet and fulfill so many conditions. Let the reader take in at one view the points of harmony to be made, that he may be the better prepared to guard against a false application. First, we are to find, at the commencement of the period, a commandment going forth to restore and build Jerusalem. To this work of restoration seven weeks are allotted. As we reach the end of this first division, seven weeks from the commencement, we are to find, secondly, Jerusalem, in its material aspect, restored, the work of building the street and the wall fully accomplished. From this point sixty-two weeks are measured off; and as we reach the termination of this division, sixty-nine weeks from the beginning, we are to see, thirdly, the manifestation before the world of the Messiah the Prince. One week more is given us, completing the seventy. Fourthly, in the midst of this week the Messiah is to be cut off, and to cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and, fifthly, when the last week of that period which was allotted to the Jews as the time during which they were to be the special people of God expires, we naturally look for the going forth of the blessing and work of God to other people.DAR 196.2
We now inquire for the initial date which will harmonize with all these particulars. The command respecting Jerusalem was to include more than mere building. There was to be restoration; and by this we must understand all the forms and regulations of civil, political, and judicial society. When did such a command go forth? At the time these words were spoken to Daniel, Jerusalem lay in complete and utter desolation, and had thus been lying for seventy years. The restoration, pointed to in the future, must be its restoration from this desolation. We then inquire, When and how was Jerusalem restored after the seventy years' captivity?DAR 197.1
There are but four events which can be taken as answering to the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. These are, (1) The decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the house of God, B. C. 536 (Ezra 1:1-4); (2) The decree of Darius for the prosecution of that work, which had been hindered, B. C. 519 (Ezra 6:1-12); (3) The decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, B. C. 457 (Ezra 7); and (4) The commission to Nehemiah from the same king in his twentieth year, B. C. 444. Nehemiah 2.DAR 197.2
Dating from the first two of these decrees, the seventy weeks, being weeks of years, * 490 years in all, would fall many years short of reaching even to the Christian era; besides, these decrees had reference principally to the restoration of the temple and the temple-worship of the Jews, and not to the restoration of their civil state and polity, all of which must be included in the expression, âTo restore and to build Jerusalem.âDAR 197.3
These made a commencement of the work. They were preliminary to what was afterward accomplished. But of themselves they were altogether insufficient, both in their dates and in their nature, to meet the requirements of the prophecy; and thus failing in every respect, they cannot be brought into the controversy as marking the point from which the seventy weeks are to date. The only question now lies between the decrees which were granted to Ezra and to Nehemiah respectively.DAR 198.1
The facts between which we are to decide here are briefly these: In 457 B. C., a decree was granted to Ezra by the Persian emperor Artaxerxes Longimanus to go up to Jerusalem with as many of his people as were minded to go with him. The commission granted him an unlimited amount of treasure, to beautify the house of God, to procure offerings for its service, and to do whatever else might seem good unto him. It empowered him to ordain laws, set magistrates and judges, and execute punishment even unto death; in other words, to restore the Jewish state, civil and ecclesiastical, according to the law of God and the ancient customs of that people. Inspiration has seen fit to preserve this decree; and a full and accurate copy of it is given in the seventh chapter of the book of Ezra. In the original, this decree is given, not in Hebrew, like the rest of the book of Ezra, but in the Chaldaic (or Eastern Aramaic), the language then used at Babylon; and thus we are furnished with the original document by virtue of which Ezra was authorized to restore and build Jerusalem.DAR 198.2
Thirteen years after this, in the twentieth year of the same king, B. C. 444, Nehemiah sought and obtained permission to go up to Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2. Permission was granted him, but we have no evidence that it was anything more than verbal. It pertained to him individually, nothing being said about others going up with him. The king asked him how long a journey he wished to make, and when he would return. He received letters to the governors beyond the river, to help him on his way to Judea, and an order to the keeper of the king's forest for timber for beams, etc. When he arrived at Jerusalem, he found rulers and priests, nobles and people, already engaged in the work of building Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:16. These were, of course, acting under the decree given to Ezra thirteen years before. And finally, Nehemiah, having arrived at Jerusalem, finished the work he came to accomplish, in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:15.DAR 199.1
Now which of these commissions, Ezra's or Nehemiah's, constitutes the decree for the restoration of Jerusalem, from which the seventy weeks are to be dated? It hardly seems that there can be any question on this point.DAR 199.2
1. The grant to Nehemiah cannot be called a decree. It was necessary that a Persian decree should be put in writing, and signed by the king. Daniel 6:8. Such was the document given to Ezra; but Nehemiah had nothing of the kind, his commission being only verbal. If it be said that the letters given him constituted the decree, then the decree was issued, not to Nehemiah, but to the governors beyond the river; besides, these would constitute a series of decrees, and not one decree, as the prophecy contemplates.DAR 199.3
2. The occasion of Nehemiah's petition to the king for permission to go up to Jerusalem was the report which certain ones, returning, had brought from thence, that those in the province were in great affliction and reproach, also that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates thereof burned with fire. Nehemiah 1. Whose work were these walls and gates that were broken down and burned with fire? â Evidently the work of Ezra and his associates; for it cannot for a moment be supposed that the utter destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, one hundred and forty-four years previous to that time, would have been reported to Nehemiah as a matter of news, nor that he would have considered it, as he evidently did, a fresh misfortune, calling for a fresh expression of grief. A decree, therefore, authorizing the building of these, had gone forth previous to the grant to Nehemiah; and the attempt that had been made to execute the work, had fallen into embarrassment, which Nehemiah wished to relieve.DAR 199.4
3. If any should contend that Nehemiah's commission must be a decree, because the object of his request was that he might build the city, it is sufficient to reply, as shown above, that gates and walls had been built previous to his going up; besides, the work of building which he went to perform was accomplished in fifty-two days; whereas, the prophecy allows for the building of the city, seven weeks, or forty-nine years.DAR 200.1
4. There was nothing granted to Nehemiah which was not embraced in the decree to Ezra; while the latter had all the forms and conditions of a decree, and was vastly more ample in its provisions.DAR 200.2
5. It is evident from the prayer of Ezra, as recorded in chapter 9:9 of his book, that he considered himself fully empowered to proceed with the building of the city and the wall; and it is evident that he understood, further, that the conditional prophecies concerning his people were then fulfilled, from the closing words of that prayer, in which he says, âShould we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldst not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?âDAR 200.3
6. Reckoning from the commission to Nehemiah, B. C. 444, the dates throughout are entirely disarranged; for from that point the troublesome times which were to attend the building of the street and wall, did not last seven weeks, or forty-nine years. Reckoning from that date, the sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince, bring us to A. D. 40; but Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring him his Son, in A. D. 27, thirteen years before. According to this calculation, the midst of the last or seventieth week, which is marked by the crucifixion, is placed in A. D. 44, but the crucifixion took place in A. D. 31, thirteen years previous. And lastly, the seventy weeks, or 490 years, dating from the twentieth of Artaxerxes, extend to A. D. 47, with absolutely nothing to mark their termination. Hence if that be the year, and the grant to Nehemiah the event, from which to reckon, the prophecy has proved a failure. As it is, it only proves that theory a failure which dates the seventy weeks from Nehemiah's commisson in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.DAR 200.4
7. Will these dates harmonize if we reckon from the decree to Ezra? Let us see. In this case, 457 B. C. is our starting-point. Forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the city and the wall. On this point, Prideaux (Connexion, Vol. I, p. 322) says: âIn the fifteenth year of Darius Nothus ended the first seven weeks of Daniel's prophecy. For then the restoration of the church and state of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea was fully finished, in that last act of reformation which is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah, from the twenty-third verse to the end of the chapter, just forty-nine years after it had been commenced by Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus.â This was B. C. 408.DAR 201.1
So far we find harmony. Let us apply the measuring-rod of the prophecy still further. Sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Dating from B. C. 457, they end in A. D. 27. And what event then occurred? Luke thus informs us: âNow when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.â Luke 3:21, 22; margin, A. D. 27. After this, Jesus came âpreaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled.â Mark 1:14, 15. The time here mentioned must have been some specific, definite, and predicted period; but no prophetic period can be found then terminating, except the sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy of Daniel, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince. The Messiah had now come; and with his own lips he announced the termination of that period which was to be marked by his manifestation. *DAR 201.2
Here, again, is indisputable harmony. But further, the Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many for one week. This would be the last week of the seventy, or the last seven years of the 490. In the midst of the week, the prophecy informs us, he should cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. These Jewish ordinances, pointing to the death of Christ, could cease only at the cross; and there they did virtually come to an end, though the outward observance was kept up till the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70. After threescore and two weeks, according to the record, the Messiah was to be cut off. It is the same as if it had read: And after threescore and two weeks, in the midst of the seventieth week, shall Messiah be cut off, and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Now, as the word midst here means middle, according to an abundance of authority which we might produce if necessary, the crucifixion is definitely located in the middle of the seventieth week.DAR 202.1
It now becomes an important point to determine in what year the crucifixion took place. The following evidence is sufficient to be considered absolutely decisive on this question.DAR 203.1
It is not to be questioned that our Saviour attended every Passover that occurred during his public ministry; and we have mention of only four such occasions previous to his crucifixion. These are found in the following passages: John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1. At the last-mentioned Passover he was crucified. From facts already established, let us then see where this would locate the crucifixion. As he began his ministry in the autumn of A. D. 27, his first Passover would occur the following spring, A. D. 28; his second, A. D. 29; his third, A. D. 30; and his fourth and last, A. D. 31. This gives us three years and a half for his public ministry, and corresponds exactly to the prophecy that he should be cut off in the midst, or middle, of the seventieth week. As that week of years commenced in the autumn of A. D. 27, the middle of the week would occur three and one-half years later, in the spring of 31, where the crucifixion took place. Dr. Hales quotes Eusebius, A. D. 300, as saying: âIt is recorded in history that the whole time of our Saviour's teaching and working miracles was three years and a half, which is the half of a week [of years]. This, John the evangelist will represent to those who critically attend to his Gospel.âDAR 203.2
Of the unnatural darkness which occurred at the crucifixion, Hales, Vol. I, pp. 69, 70, thus speaks: âHence it appears that the darkness which âoverspread the whole land of Judea' at the time of our Lord's crucifixion was preternatural, âfrom the sixth until the ninth hour,' or from noon till three in the afternoon, in its duration, and also in its time, about full moon, when the moon could not possibly eclipse the sun. The time it happened, and the fact itself, are recorded in a curious and valuable passage of a respectable Roman Consul, Aurelius Cassiodorius Senator, about A. D. 514: âIn the consulate of Tiberius Caesar Aug. V and AElius Sejanus (u. c. 784, A. D. 31), our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, on the 8th of the calends of April (25th of March), when there happened such an eclipse of the sun as was never before nor since.DAR 204.1
âIn this year, and in this day, agree also the Council of Cesarea, A. D. 196 or 198, the Alexandrian Chronicle, Maximus Monachus, Nicephorus Constantinus, Cedrenus; and in this year, but on different days, concur Eusebius and Epiphanius, followed by Kepler, Bucher, Patinus, and Petavius, some reckoning it the 10th of the calends of April, others the 13th.â (See on chapter 11:22.)DAR 204.2
Here, then, are thirteen credible authorities locating the crucifixion of Christ in the spring of A. D. 31. We may therefore set this down as a fixed date, as the most cautious or the most skeptical could require nothing more conclusive. This being in the middle of the last week, we have simply to reckon backward three and a half years to find where sixty-nine of the weeks ended, and forward from that point three and a half years to find the termination of the whole seventy. Thus going back from the crucifixion, A. D. 31, spring, three and a half years, we find ourselves in the autumn of A. D. 27, where, as we have seen, the sixty-nine weeks ended, and Christ commenced his public ministry. And going from the crucifixion forward three and a half years, we are brought to the autumn of A. D. 34, as the grand terminating point of the whole period of the seventy weeks. This date is marked by the martyrdom of Stephen, the formal rejection of the gospel of Christ by the Jewish Sanhedrin in the persecution of his disciples, and the turning of the apostles to the Gentiles. Acts 9:1-18. And these are just the events which one would expect to take place when that specified period which was cut off for the Jews, and allotted to them as a peculiar people, should fully expire.DAR 204.3
A word respecting the date of the seventh of Artaxerxes, when the decree for restoring Jerusalem was given to Ezra, and the array of evidence on this point is complete. Was the seventh of Artaxerxes B. C. 457? For all those who can appreciate the force of facts, the following testimony will be sufficient here: âDAR 205.1
âThe Bible gives the data for a complete system of chronology, extending from the creation to the birth of Cyrus â a clearly ascertained date. From this period downward we have the undisputed canon of Ptolemy, and the undoubted era of Nabonassar, extending below our vulgar era. At the point where inspired chronology leaves us, this canon of undoubted accuracy commences. And thus the whole arch is spanned. It is by the canon of Ptolemy that the great prophetical period of seventy weeks is fixed. This canon places the seventh year of Artaxerxes in the year B. C. 457; and the accuracy of this canon is demonstrated by the concurrent agreement of more than twenty eclipses. This date we cannot change from B. C. 457, without first demonstrating the inaccuracy of Ptolemy's canon. To do this it would be necessary to show that the large number of eclipses by which its accuracy has been repeatedly demonstrated have not been correctly computed; and such a result would unsettle every chronological date, and leave the settlement of epochs and the adjustment of eras entirely at the mercy of every dreamer, so that chronology would be of no more value than mere guesswork. As the seventy weeks must terminate in A. D. 34 unless the seventh of Artaxerxes is wrongly fixed, and as that cannot be changed without some evidence to that effect, we inquire, What evidence marked that termination? The time when the apostles turned to the Gentiles harmonizes with that date better than any other which has been named. And the crucifixion in A. D. 31, in the midst of the last week, is sustained by a mass of testimony which cannot be easily invalidated.â â Advent Herald.DAR 205.2
From the facts above set forth, we see that, reckoning the seventy weeks from the decree given to Ezra in the seventh of Artaxerxes, B. C. 457, there is the most perfect harmony throughout. The important and definite events of the manifestation of the Messiah at his baptism, the commencement of his public ministry, the crucifixion, and the turning away from the Jews to the Gentiles, with the proclamation of the new covenant, all come in in their exact place, and like a bright galaxy of blazing orbs of light, cluster round to set their seal to the prophecy, and make it sure.DAR 206.1
It is thus evident that the decree to Ezra in the seventh of Artaxerxes, B. C. 457, is the point from which to date the seventy weeks. That was the going forth of the decree in the sense of the prophecy. The two previous decrees were preparatory and preliminary to this; and indeed they are regarded by Ezra as parts of it, the three being taken as one great whole. For in Ezra 6:14, we read: âAnd they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia.â It will be noticed that the decrees of these three kings are spoken of as one, â âthe commandmentâ [margin, âdecree,â singular number] of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes,â showing that they are all reckoned as a unit, the different decrees being but the successive steps by which the work was accomplished. And this decree could not be said to have âgone forth,â as intended by the prophecy, till the last permission which the prophecy required was embodied in the decree, and clothed with the authority of the empire. This point was reached in the grant given to Ezra, but not before. Here the decree assumed the proportions, and covered the ground, demanded by the prophecy, and from this point its âgoing forthâ must be dated.DAR 206.2
With the seventy weeks we are now done; but there remain a longer period and other important events to be considered. The seventy weeks are but the first 490 years of the 2300. Take 490 from 2300, and there remain 1810. The 490, as we have seen, ended in the autumn of A. D. 34. If to this date we now add the remaining 1810 years, we shall have the termination of the whole period. Thus, to A. D. 34, autumn, add 1810, and we have the autumn of A. D. 1844. Thus speedily and surely do we find the termination of the 2300 days, when once the seventy weeks have been located.DAR 206.3
One other point should here be noticed. We have seen that the seventy weeks are the first 490 days of the 2300; that these days are prophetic, signifying literal years, according to the Bible rule, a day for a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), as is proved by the fulfillment of the seventy weeks, and as all reliable expositors agree; that they commenced in 457 B. C. and ended in A. D. 1844, provided the number is right, and twenty-three hundred is the correct reading. With this point established, there would seem to be no room for further controversy. On this point Dr. Hales remarks: âDAR 207.1
âThere is no number in the Bible whose genuineness is better ascertained than that of the 2300 days. It is found in all the printed Hebrew editions, in all the MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi's collations, and in all the ancient versions, except the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, which reads 2400, followed by Symmachus; and some copies noticed by Jerome, 2200, both evidently literal errors in excess and defect, which compensate each other and confirm the mean, 2300.â â Chronology, Vol. II, p. 512.DAR 207.2
The query may here arise how the days can be extended to the autumn of 1844 if they commence 457 B. C., as it requires only 1843 years, in addition to the 457, to make the whole number of 2300. Attention to one fact will clear this point of all difficulty; and that is, that it takes 457 full years before Christ, and 1843 full years after, to make 2300; so that if the period commenced with the very first day of 457, it would not terminate till the very last day of 1843. Now it will be evident to all that if any portion of the year 457 had passed away before the 2300 days commenced, just so much of the year 1844 must pass away before they would end. We therefore inquire, At what point in the year 457 are we to commence to reckon? From the fact that the first forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the street and wall, we learn that the period is to be dated, not from the starting of Ezra from Babylon, but from the actual commencement of the work at Jerusalem; which it is not probable could be earlier than the seventh month (autumn) of 457, as he did not arrive at Jerusalem till the fifth month of that year. Ezra 7:9. The whole period would therefore extend to the seventh month, autumn, Jewish time, of 1844.DAR 207.3
Those who oppose this view of the prophetic periods, have been wont in years past to meet us with this objection: âThe 2300 days have not ended, because the time has passed, and the Lord has not come. Why the time passed in 1844 without the consummation of our hopes, we acknowledge to be a mystery; but the passing of the time is proof that the 2300 days have not ended.âDAR 208.1
Time, however, is no respecter of persons nor of theories; and with the formidable scythe which he is represented as carrying, he sometimes demolishes in the most summary manner the grotesque and gossamer theories of men, however dear they may be to their authors and defenders. It is so here. Heedless of the wild contortions of those who would fain compel him to stop and fulfill their darling predictions, he has kept on the swift but even tenor of his way until â what? every limit is passed to which the 2300 days can be extended; and thus he has demonstrated that those days have passed. Let not this point be overlooked. Setting aside for a moment the arguments by which they are shown to have ended in 1844, and letting them date from any point where the least shadow of reason can be imagined for placing them, or from which the wildest dreamer could date them, it is still true that the utmost limit to which they could extend has gone by. They cannot possibly be dated at any point which would bring their termination so late as the present time. We therefore say again, with not a misgiving as to the truth of the assertion, nor a fear of its successful contradiction, Those days have ended!DAR 208.2
The momentous declaration made by the angel to Daniel, âUnto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,â is now explained. In our search for the meaning of the sanctuary and its cleansing, and the application of the time, we have found not only that this subject can be easily understood; but lo! the event is even now in process of accomplishment, and is almost finished. And here we pause a brief moment to reflect upon the solemn position into which we are brought.DAR 209.1
We have seen that the sanctuary of this dispensation is the tabernacle of God in heaven, the house not made with hands, where our Lord ministers in behalf of penitent sinners, the place where between the great God and his Son Jesus Christ the âcounsel of peaceâ prevails in the work of salvation for perishing men. Zechariah 6:13; Psalms 85:10. We have seen that the cleansing of the sanctuary consists in the removing of the sins from the same, and is the closing act of the ministration performed therein; that the work of salvation now centers in the heavenly sanctuary; and when the sanctuary is cleansed, the work is done, and the plan is finished. Then the great scheme devised at the fall for the salvation of as many of the lost race as would avail themselves of its provisions, and carried forward for six thousand years, is brought to its final termination. Mercy no longer pleads, and the great voice is heard from the throne in the temple in heaven, saying, âIt is done.â Revelation 16:17. And what then? â All the righteous are safe for everlasting life; all the wicked are doomed to everlasting death. No decision can be changed, no reward can be lost, and no destiny of despair can be averted, beyond that point.DAR 209.2
And we have seen (and this is what brings the solemnities of the Judgment to our own door) that that long prophetic period which was to mark the commencement of this final work in the heavenly sanctuary, has met its termination in our own generation. In 1844 the days ended. And since that time the final work for man's salvation has been going forward. This work involves an examination of every man's character; for it consists in the remission of the sins of those who shall be found worthy to have them remitted, and determines who among the dead shall be raised, and who among the living shall be changed, at the coming of the Lord, and who, of both dead and living, shall be left to have their part in the fearful scenes of the second death. And all can see that such a decision as this must be rendered before the Lord appears. Every man's destiny is to be determined by the deeds done in the body, and each one is to be rewarded according to his works. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12. In the books of remembrance kept by the heavenly scribes above, every man's deeds will be found recorded (Revelation 20:12); and in the closing sanctuary work these records are examined, and decision is rendered in accordance therewith. Daniel 7:9, 10. It would be most natural to suppose that the work would commence with the first members of the human race; that their cases would be first examined, and decision rendered, and so on with all the dead, generation by generation, in chronological succession along the stream of time, till we reach the last generation, â the generation of the living with whose cases the work would close. How long it will take to examine the cases of all the dead, how soon the work will reach the cases of the living, no man can know. And as above remarked, since the year 1844, this solemn work has been going forward. The light of the types, and the very nature of the case, forbid that it should be of long continuance. John, in his sublime views of heavenly scenes, saw millions of attendants and assistants engaged with our Lord in his priestly work. Revelation 5. And so the ministration goes forward. It ceases not, it delays not, and it must soon be forever finished.DAR 209.3
And here we stand â the last, the greatest, and the most solemn crisis in the history of our race immediately impending; the great plan of salvation about finished; the last precious years of probation almost ended; the Lord about to come to save those who are ready and waiting, and to cut asunder the careless and unbelieving; and the world â alas! what shall we say of them! â deceived with error, crazed with cares and business, delirious with pleasure, and paralyzed with vice, they have not a moment to spare in listening to solemn truth, nor a thought to bestow upon their eternal interests. Let the people of God, with eternity right in view, be careful to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, and prepare to pass the searching test, when their cases shall come up for examination at the great tribunal above.DAR 210.1
To the careful attention of every student of prophecy we commend the subject of the sanctuary. In the sanctuary is seen the ark of God's testament, containing his holy law; and this suggests a reform in our obedience to that great standard of morality. The opening of this heavenly temple, or the commencement of the service in its second apartment, marks the commencement of the sounding of the seventh angel. Revelation 11:15, 19. The work performed therein is the foundation of the third message of Revelation 14, â the last message of mercy to a perishing world. This subject explains the great disappointment of the Adventists in 1844, by showing that they mistook the event to occur at the end of the 2300 days. It renders harmonious and clear past prophetic fulfilments, which are otherwise involved in impenetrable obscurity. It gives a definite idea of the position and work of our great High Priest, and brings out the plan of salvation in its distinctive and beautiful features. It reins us up, as no other subject does, to the realities of the Judgment, and shows the preparation we need to be able to stand in the coming day. It shows us that we are in the waiting time, and puts us upon our watch; for we know not how soon the work will be finished, and our Lord appear. Watch, lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.DAR 211.1
After stating the great events connected with our Lord's mission here upon the earth, the prophet in the last part of verse 27 speaks of the soon-following destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman power; and finally of the destruction of that power itself, called in the margin âthe desolator.âDAR 211.2
NOTE. â That the expression âto anoint the most holyâ refers, according to remarks on verse 24 of this chapter, to the anointing of the heavenly sanctuary previous to the beginning of Christ's ministry therein, and not to any anointing of the Messiah himself, seems to be susceptible of the clearest proof. The words translated âmost holyâ are ??????? ??????????? (kodesh kodashim), the âholy of holies,â an expression which, according to Gesenius, applies to the most holy place in the sanctuary, and which in no instance is applied to a person, unless this passage be an exception.DAR 212.1
The Advent Shield, No. 1, p. 75, says: âAnd the last event of the seventy weeks, as enumerated in verse 24, was the anointing of the âmost holy,' or âthe holy of holies,' or the âsanctum sanctorum;' not that which was on earth, made with hands, but the true tabernacle, into which Christ, our High Priest, is for us entered. Christ was to do in the true tabernacle in heaven what Moses and Aaron did in its pattern. (See Hebrews, chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9; Exodus 30:22-30; Leviticus 8:10-15.)âDAR 212.2
Dr. Barnes, in his notes on this passage, and particularly on the words âmost holy,â says: âThe phrase properly means âholy of holies,' or most holy; it is applied often in the Scriptures to the inner sanctuary, or the portion of the tabernacle and temple containing the ark of the covenant, the two tables of stone, etc.â âIt is not necessarily limited to the inner sanctuary of the temple, but may be applied to the whole house.â âOthers have supposed that this refers to the Messiah himself, and that the meaning is that he who was most holy would then be consecrated, or anointed, as the Messiah. It is probable, as Hengstenberg (Christology, II, 321, 322) has shown, that the Greek translators thus understood it, but it is a sufficient objection to this that the phrase, though occurring many times in the Scriptures, is never applied to persons, unless this be an instance.â âIt seems to me, therefore, that the obvious and fair interpretation is, to refer it to the temple.âDAR 212.3
An understanding of the subject of the heavenly sanctuary would have relieved this scripture of the perplexity in which, in the minds of some expositors, it seems to be involved.DAR 212.4
“I set my face unto the Lord God,” the prophet declared, “to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” Verses 3, 4. Though Daniel had long been in the service of God, and had been spoken of by heaven as “greatly beloved,” yet he now appeared before God as a sinner, urging the great need of the people he loved. His prayer was eloquent in its simplicity, and intensely earnest. Hear him pleading: PK 555.1
“O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. PK 555.2
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.... PK 555.3Read in context »
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »