Category Archives: Daniel’s Seventy Weeks: Part 2 – The 2nd Temple Era

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Fifth Decree – The Word to Return & Build Jerusalem


Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.”
Zechariah 1:16

We started our investigation of Daniel 9:25 and the “commandment to restore and build” in chapter 1 by looking at the Hebrew words dabar and shuwb. These two words offered a different perspective on the verse and allowed us to consider the possibility that this so-called “commandment” might in fact be a dabar or word from YHWH, the living God of the Bible. In the subsequent chapters we looked at Persian chronology in the context of the four Persian decrees that scholars have at various times claimed represented the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25—ultimately concluding that none of these four decrees qualifies to begin our countdown to the Messiah. This review of Persian chronology has been invaluable to our understanding of the events that led to resettlement of Jerusalem and the reestablishment of the temple service. One last time let’s look at these events, but this time let’s consider them with the words of YHWH, the living God of the Bible, as our focus.

YHWH, Nebuchadnezzar, and the 70 Years’ Captivity
I have studied the prophecy of Daniel 9 for years. To this day I’m still struck by how single-mindedly I looked for a secular decree or commandment as the fulfillment of Daniel 9:25 without any consideration for what impact YHWH’s own actions might have in the equation. I still shake my head in wonder at how I ignored Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Queen of 127 Provinces


“Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) . . .”
Esther 1:1

To me one of the coolest statements in the book of Nehemiah is an often overlooked mention of the queen of Persia. It’s a statement that frankly seems out of place unless you understand the chronological context of the Persian era. In the past few chapters, we’ve learned that the Jewish people were shown amazing favor during the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. This king over 127 provinces went out of his way to financially support and encourage the construction of the temple of Jerusalem as well as the city itself. It turns out there is more to the story than most of us have realized, and the book of Nehemiah gives us a clue: Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Nehemiah the Governor


“The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace . . .”
Nehemiah 1:1

In 520 BC, nearly sixteen years after permission to build the temple had been given, the house of YHWH still lay in the initial stages of construction, with only some of the foundation stones to show for over a decade of effort. Seeing this neglect, YHWH stirred up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to tell the people to return and build the temple. Four years later the temple in Jerusalem was completed, but very little progress had been made in building the walls of the ancient citadel. The remnant of people who dwelt there were still being harassed by their enemies.

Years later, back in Shushan, the winter palace of the Persian kings, our hero Nehemiah is the cupbearer to King “Artaxerxes.” Nehemiah hears of the plight of his brethren in Jerusalem and sets out to do something about it. After pouring his heart out to YHWH in prayer, Nehemiah petitions Artaxerxes to allow him to go up and repair the walls of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes grants his request, and we learn later that Nehemiah also becomes governor (Tirshatha) of Jerusalem for twelve years (Nehemiah 5:14).

As we saw in the previous chapter, many scholars today identify the Persian Artaxerxes in both the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as Artaxerxes Longimanus. But if you’ve taken a serious look at the information I’ve provided in the previous chapters on Ezra’s place in the Second Temple era, you have a better perspective on why I say such a conclusion is based upon virtually no biblical evidence. But what about the book of Nehemiah? Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Twentieth Year of Artaxerxes – A Decree to Rebuild the Walls & Gates of Jerusalem


“Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words [dabar] that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”
Nehemiah 2:18

 Nearly thirteen years after Ezra went up to Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes, we learn that Nehemiah, the cupbearer to that same Artaxerxes, received permission to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the city, which were in disrepair. Here is the biblical account:

And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. (Nehemiah 2:1)

And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?

So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; and a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. (Nehemiah 2:5–8)

By far, the decree by this unnamed Persian Artaxerxes—once again presumed to be Longimanus, known to history as Artaxerxes I—is the most popular choice when scholars look for the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem prophesied by Daniel. Sir Robert Anderson, the great Christian writer, popularized this theory in his influential book The Coming Prince. Anderson does indeed make an impressive case, but surprisingly, he fails to address the scriptural basis for his belief that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Longimanus. Instead, Anderson, in one of the most far-reaching eschatological errors of the past two centuries, Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Ezra, the Priest & Scribe – His History & Lineage Relative to the 2nd Temple Era


“Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah . . . This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which YHWH God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of YHWH his God upon him.”
Ezra 7:1–6

During the Second Temple period, few Old Testament characters hold a more prominent position than Ezra. The Bible identifies him as a priest and scribe. It is believed that he was the author of the book of Ezra as well as Chronicles. Both of these accounts provide valuable insights into the triumphs and tragedies of the Judean captives’ efforts in rebuilding the Second Temple and Jerusalem.

As we learned in the previous chapter, after the completion of the temple in the sixth year of Darius, Ezra in the seventh year of the reign of a Persian “Artaxerxes” desired to return to Jerusalem and teach the people the law of YHWH. What is unclear from the text is the precise identity of this Persian Artaxerxes. For well over two centuries, biblical scholars have identified this Artaxerxes as the Persian king Longimanus, circa 464–424 BC. It’s a handy identification, allowing Daniel’s 70 sevens, interpreted as 490 years, to take us straight to the life of Yeshua. Considering the importance of Ezra’s history to our understanding of Daniel 9, you might assume this Old Testament chronology would be well established upon a reasonable biblical basis. Surprisingly, this is not the case. If you find that hard to believe, Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The 7th Year of Artaxerxes – A Decree for Ezra to Beautify the Temple


“Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah . . . This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which YHWH God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of YHWH his God upon him . . . And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.”
Ezra 7:1–7

 So far we’ve looked at two of the four decrees that scholars have postulated might be the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25. Now we turn our attention to the last two. This, unfortunately, is where modern scholarship takes a detour from a reasonable reading of the biblical chronological record. I’ll do my best to explain, but first, let’s take a look at the verses used as the basis for this next decree to be considered the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25. I’ve abridged parts of this passage for clarity’s sake. It’s well worth your time to read the passage in its entirety, for it is the basis for one of the biggest and most influential chronological errors scholars have made about the biblical record. Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes – A Decree to Continue Construction on the Temple


“And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.”
Ezra 6:12

It could be argued that Persia’s power and influence reached its zenith during the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. Darius played a central role in the Jewish people’s reestablishment of Jerusalem and the temple service. By his sixth year of rule the Second Temple, the very heart of Jerusalem, was completed, nearly sixteen years after permission to build it had first been given by Cyrus.

Darius was the third Persian ruler after Cyrus the Great. Cyrus died in 530 BC, and his son Cambyses II ruled for eight years. For a short period after Cambyses’s death, Bardis the Magian usurper (aka Smerdis) ruled. This imposter, by some accounts, was a double for Cambyses II’s murdered brother. When Cambyses died, Bardis, who was already impersonating the brother of Cambyses II, took the game to a whole new level and assumed the throne as Artaxerxes of Persia. After ruling for less than a year, he was deposed by Darius ‘the Great’,  son of Hystaspes, also known historically as Artaxerxes (Ezra 6:14. See also Ussher, Annals of the World, page 126, section 1015.)

Trouble in the Promised Land
To understand the decree given by Darius ‘the Great’,  we need to back up a bit and give a little history of the Jewish people’s efforts to Continue reading

Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Cyrus the Great – A Decree to Rebuild the Temple & Jerusalem

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”
Isaiah 44:28

We begin our search for the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25 with Cyrus the Great of Persia, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. It is believed by some scholars that it was Cyrus’s viceroy or general, Darius the Median, who is mentioned in Daniel 5:31. If you recall, this Darius conquered Babylon on that infamous night when Belshazzar, king of Babylon, asked Daniel to Continue reading