Know, therefore, and understand
Take notice and observe, for the clearer understanding of these seventy weeks, and the events to be fulfilled in them, what will be further said concerning them, the beginning of them, their distinct periods, and what shall be accomplished in them: that from the time of the going forth of the commandment to restore and
to build Jerusalem;
this commandment is the beginning of the seventy weeks or four hundred and ninety years, and from it they are to be reckoned; and which designs not the proclamation of Cyrus in the first year of his reign, which was only to rebuild the temple, and not the city of Jerusalem, ( Ezra 1:1-3 ) , nor the decree of Darius Hystaspes, which also only regards the temple, and is only a confirmation of the decree of Cyrus, ( Ezra 6:1 ) and for the same reasons it cannot be the decree in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes; which only confirmed what his predecessors had granted concerning the temple, and provision for sacrifices, and exemption of the priests from toll, tribute, or custom, ( Ezra 7:7 Ezra 7:13 Ezra 7:24 ) , but has not a word of building the wall and streets of Jerusalem, as that has, which was made in the twentieth year of his reign; and seems therefore to be the commandment or decree here referred to, ( Nehemiah 2:1 Nehemiah 2:6-8 ) , and this is the general epoch of the seventy weeks, and where the first seven begin; though Gussetius F1 thinks that the word (rbd) does not signify any edict or decree, but a "thing"; and designs the thing itself, restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem; and that the following date is to be reckoned, not from any order to rebuild that city, but from the thing itself, from the moment when it first began to be rebuilt: and as singular is the notion of Tirinus F2, who is of opinion that this is to be understood of the going out, or the end of the word; not whereby the holy city was ordered to be built, but when it was really built; and so begins the account from the dedication of the new city, in the twenty third year of Artaxerxes, ( Nehemiah 12:27 ) . There are others who suppose that not any human word, decree, commandment, or order, is here meant, but a divine one; either the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, foretelling the seventy years' captivity of the Jews, and their deliverance from it; and reckon these four hundred and ninety years from the destruction of the first temple, to the destruction of the second temple, as Jarchi, Saadiah, Jacchiades, and others; but between these two destructions was a course of six hundred and fifty six or six hundred and fifty seven years: others take the beginning of the seventy weeks to be from the going forth of the commandment to the angel, at the beginning of Daniel's prayers, as Aben Ezra; and to end at the destruction of the second temple; but, for a like reason, this must be rejected as the other; since this space of time will outrun the seventy weeks near one hundred and twenty years: it is best therefore to interpret this of a royal edict, the order or commandment of a king of Persia to rebuild Jerusalem; and it seems correct to reckon the number given, either from the seventh, or rather from the twentieth, of Artaxerxes Longimanus before mentioned; and either these reckonings, as Bishop Chandler F3 observes, are sufficient for our purpose, to show the completion of the prophecy in Christ:
``the commencement of the weeks (as he remarks) must be either from the seventh of Artaxerxes, which falls on 457 B.C. or from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; (add to 457 B.C., twenty six years after Christ, which is the number that four hundred and eighty three years, or sixty nine weeks, exceeds four hundred and fifty seven years); and you are brought to the beginning of John the Baptist's preaching up the advent of the Messiah; add seven years or one week to the former, and you come to the thirty third year of A.D. which was the year of Jesus Christ's death or else compute four hundred and ninety years, the whole seventy weeks, from the seventh of Artaxerxes, by subtracting four hundred and fifty seven years (the space of time between that year and the beginning of A.D.) from four hundred and ninety, and there remains thirty three, the year of our Lord's death. Let the twentieth of Artaxerxes be the date of the seventy weeks, which is 455 B.C. and reckon sixty nine weeks of Chaldean years; seventy Chaldee years being equal to sixty nine Julian; and so four hundred and seventy eight Julian years making four hundred and eighty three Chaldee years, and they end in the thirty third year after Christ, or the passover following F4'';the several particulars into which these seventy weeks are divided: unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and
by whom is meant, not Cyrus, as Jarchi and Jacchiades; who, though called Messiah or anointed, ( Isaiah 44:28 ) ( 45:1 ) , cannot be intended; for this prince was to be cut off after seven, and sixty two weeks, or four hundred and eighty three years; whereas Cyrus died ages before this, and even died before the expiration of the seven weeks, or forty nine years; nor Joshua the high priest, or Zerubbabel, as Ben Gersom and others nor Nehemiah as Aben Ezra; nor Artaxerxes, which R. Azariah
F5 thinks probable; for to none of these will this character agree, which denotes some eminent person known by this name; nor the work ascribed to him, ( Daniel 9:24 ) , nor can it be said of either of them that they were cut off, and much less at such a period as is here fixed: it is right to interpret it of the promised and expected Saviour, whom the Psalmist David had frequently spoken of under the name of the Messiah, and as a King and Prince; see ( Psalms 2:2 Psalms 2:6 Psalms 2:12 ) ( 18:50 ) ( Psalms 89:27 Psalms 89:51 ) ( 132:17 ) and who is David, the Prince Ezekiel before this had prophesied of, ( Ezekiel 34:24 ) ( 37:25 ) , and is the same with the Prince of peace in the famous prophecy of him in ( Isaiah 9:6 ) . The Syriac version, though not a literal one, gives the true sense of the passage, rendering it,
``unto the coming of the King Messiah;''unto which there were to be seven, and sixty two weeks, or sixty nine weeks, which make four hundred and eighty three years; and these being understood of eastern years, used by the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Persians, consisting of three hundred and sixty days, reckoning thirty days to a month, and twelve months to a year, there were just four hundred and eighty three of these from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the thirty third of the vulgar era of Christ, and the nineteenth of Tiberius Caesar, in which he suffered. Sir Isaac Newton F6 thinks the seven weeks unto Messiah, which he detaches from the sixty two, respects the second coming of Christ, when he shall come as a Prince, and destroy antichrist, and that it takes in the compass of a jubilee; but when it will begin and end he does not pretend to say; but the true reason of the sixty nine weeks being divided into seven, and sixty two, is on account of the particular and distinct events assigned to each period, as follows: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times;
that is, within the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, reckoning from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; when the Jews had a grant to rebuild their city and wall, and were furnished with materials for it; and which was done in very troublesome times; Nehemiah, and the Jews with him, met with much trouble from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, while they were setting up the wall of the city, and filling the streets with ranges of houses, Nehemiah chapters four and five for which the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, were cut out and appointed; and that this event belongs solely to this period is clear from the Messiah's coming being appropriated to the period of the sixty two weeks; which leaves this entirely where it is fixed.
F1 Ebr. Comment. p. 177, 329.
F2 Chronolog. Sacr. p. 44.
F3 Answer to the Grounds and Reasons p. 139.
F4 See these seventy weeks more largely considered, in a Treatise of mine, concerning the prophecies of the Old Testament respecting the Messiah p. 64-78.
F5 Meor Enayim, c. 41. fol. 134. 2.
F6 Observations on Daniel, p. 132, 133, 134.