Christian Churches of God

No. 013

 

 

 

The Sign of Jonah

and the History of the

Reconstruction of the Temple

(Edition 5.0 19940402-19980822-20071211-20080106-20110910-20011127)

One of the most misunderstood concepts is that of the Sign of Jonah. This was to be the only sign given for the ministry of Messiah. The sign relates to the reconstruction of the Temple and that of the seventy weeks of years. The sign extends on to and has relevance for our days. The prophecy is still in operation and ends in the near future. The understanding of the correct timing of the reconstruction of the Temple is vital. This paper interrelates the Gospels and Christ’s mission with the Books of Jonah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and others.

 

Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright ©  1994, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2011  Wade Cox)

 

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The Sign of Jonah and the History of the

Reconstruction of the Temple

 


The Reconstruction of the Temple

There are three versions concerning the reconstruction of the Temple: the first is the Bible, the second is the Apocrypha at 1 Esdras, and the third is by Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, Chapters I to IV.

 

All are agreed that Cyrus delivered up the artefacts of the Temple to Sheshbazzar, the Prince (Ezra 1:8) or Governor (Ezra 5:15 or 1 Esdras) of Judea for safekeeping until the construction of the Temple was effected, and they were carried back with the returning exiles. Except for Josephus (The Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. XI, Ch. III, see note on Reign of the Magi), Zerubbabel is recorded as Governor later during the reign of Darius (at the relaying of the foundations), and the Apocryphal legend of the three guards, as also found in Josephus, which is set in this reign (Zerubbabel may have returned with others in the time of Darius I, but this is speculation).

 

The altar of the Lord was built in the Seventh month of the first year of their return. Most of the exiles went to their towns and not to Jerusalem (if not all the exiles in accordance with the prophecy; Ezra 3:1-3). The foundation of the Temple was not yet laid (v. 6). Work was begun in the second year with the foundation laid (v. 10). From this time onward, the Jews were frustrated in their attempts by the inhabitants of the area, the latter-day Samaritans, who were not Israelites but Cutheans and Medes, who were resettled in Israel after the Ten Tribes had been taken away as a deliberate policy by Esarhaddon, King of Assyria. Josephus says that they were transplanted from Cuthah and Media by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria. The policy of deliberate resettlement was a characteristic of all the Tigris-Euphrates Empires and affected countries as far removed as Ethiopia and Libya that were removed as far as the Indus Basin. Israel was resettled north of the Araxes. Remnants of Israel in the later years moved into hovels along the Euphrates and are found amongst Judah, giving rise to the assertion that Israel is scattered amongst Judah. This fallacy has been supported by some of the most eminent Rabbis of the East.

 

The Cutheans and Medes or ‘latter-day Samaritans’ adopted the Jewish religion, and in later years they established a city, Shechem, below Mt Gerizim, which was peopled by apostate Jews, i.e. those who were in fear of judgment for infringements of the Law in relation to the Sabbath and meats etc. (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. XI, Ch. VII:2 and VIII:6-7; and Ezra 4:2).

 

The following table depicts the sequence of events according to the Bible, using currently accepted dates, although Josephus may differ significantly.

 

There was a Temple constructed in the middle of the fifth century BCE by the Samaritans. The foundations have been found to resemble the foundations at Jerusalem, which were laid on the return but not completed until the reign of Darius II a century later, and after the structure at Gerizim.

 

Josephus has been proven wrong on his dates about the works on Mt. Gerizim. Dr. Yitzhak Magen has excavated the original Temple and dated it to the mid-fifth century BCE. 13,000 Persian coins were found in the tithe area. There were 68 different coins, the earliest dated to 480 BCE. The pottery was fifth century through the fourth century. The bones of the sacrifices are dated to the fifth century. At the archaeology conference in Copenhagen in 2006, it was announced that Josephus was wrong with his dating (cf. Y. Magen, Mt Gerizim Excavations, Vol. I, Judea and Samaria Publications, JSP II, Israel Antiquities Authority 2004 ISBN 965-406-160-0 ISBN 13: 978-965-406-160-5).  The details indicate a temple and priesthood active at Gerizim from the middle of the fifth century (say up to 343 years) prior to Hircanus's destruction, from 113 BCE. That is why the construction at Jerusalem was opposed so vehemently by these people, as the Bible states.


 


DATE

EVENT

 

539 BCE

 

Conquest of Babylon by Cyrus and Darius the Mede, son of Astyages (called Xerxes by Daniel), uncle of Cyrus and first regent, ruling from Babylon and Media, to where he took Daniel (Josephus, Antiq. of the Jews, Bk. X, Ch. XI:4).

 

 

538/7 BCE

Edict of Cyrus.

Return of the exiles (date uncertain). They returned to the towns of Israel, but not to Jerusalem.

 

 

?

Sheshbazzar lays the foundation of the Temple (Ezra 5:16). The foundations may have had to be relaid by Zerubbabel when he commenced construction after constructing the altar (Ezra 3:2). It is probable that Sheshbazzar is the Shenazzar at 1Chronicles 3:17-19, son of Shealtiel and brother to Pediah, father of Zerubbabel. It is probable that Zerubbabel succeeded Sheshbazzar as Governor while still a young man. Matthew 1:12 records Zerubbabel as the son of Shealtiel, indicating that Pediah would have died young and Shenazzar or Sheshbazzar succeeded Shealtiel as Prince Regent of Judah and was in turn succeeded by Zerubbabel, either when he came of age or on the death of his uncle.

 

 

530-522 BCE

Reign of Cambyses. He reigned for one year jointly with Cyrus, his father. Josephus refers to a letter of complaint written to this king, but no record is found in the Bible. Attempts have been made to link him with the letter to Ahasuerus, but this is the Persian rendering of Xerxes and is rendered as such by Moffatt, NIV and others. Herodotus records that this King was mad.

 

 

525 BCE

Completion of the riddle of the prophecy of Pharaoh's broken arms in its first stage by Cambyses' occupation of Egypt (Ezek. Chs. 29-30 et seq.), i.e. eighty years from 605 BCE.

 

 

522 BCE

Reign of the Magi (Josephus records). The Magi were slaughtered after one year’s reign and Darius, son of Hystaspes, was elected as king by the seven principle Persian families. Zerubbabel returned from Judea for the vessels of God that were still at Babylon (possibly a contradiction). Smerdis, the Magus, was substituted for Smerdis, son of Cyrus, murdered at the order of Cambyses.

He reigned for seven months until he and his brother, Patizeithes (the author of the substitution), were discovered and beheaded in the night of the slaughter of the Magi (the Magophonia). He was not a king in the true sense of the word and issued only one decree giving a three-year remission of taxes. He was confined to the palace for fear of discovery, which occurred regardless, because Cyrus had earlier cut off the ears of Smerdis the Magus for a serious crime. This pseudo-Smerdis is sometimes used as one of the alleged three kings mentioned in Daniel 11:2-4. The four kings mentioned are more likely to be Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes and Cyrus Artaxerxes. The remaining kings were not as involved although Darius II interfered in Greek affairs by entering into treaty with Sparta (Thucydides The Peloponnesian War, Bk. 8:5,6,36,37,57-59). Herodotus writes of the last three at Histories, Bk. 6, p. 100:

During the three generations comprising the reign of Darius the son of Hystaspes and of his son Xerxes and his grandson Artaxerxes, Greece suffered more misery than in the twenty generations before Darius was born partly from the Persian wars, partly from her own internal struggles for supremacy.

After Cyrus Artaxerxes, Persia was so committed to hostility with Greece that it was inevitable that Greek reaction came as it did in the form of Alexander.

 

 

521 BCE

Darius I (the Great). There was little construction on the Temple (Ezra 4:4-5).

 

 

516 BCE

Prophecy of the seventy years expires (Jer. 25:8-14 and Dan. 9). Jerusalem could not have been inhabited until this date.

 

 

486 BCE

Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), fourth son of Darius I, first grandson of Cyrus. Letter written to him, but no reply is recorded (Ezra 4:6).

 

 

465 BCE

Artaxerxes I (real name is Cyrus, also called Macrocheir or Longimanus). Letter written to him by Bishlam, Mithredath and Tabe-el (Ezra 4:7); the leaders of the anti-Jewish restoration group during this king's reign. (These are different to the leaders mentioned by Nehemiah, further reinforcing the point that two different kings are involved.) Artaxerxes issued a decree ordering construction on the Temple to stop (Ezra 4:7-24). The Athenian invasion of Egypt with the League of Delos would have prompted the harsh control measures to be adopted.

The revolt was put down in 454 BCE in Egypt and in other parts of the Empire. A fortified Jerusalem was obviously not desirable. The Greek war lasted from the burning of Sardis in 501 BCE to the seventeenth year of Artaxerxes in 448 BCE.

 

 

424 BCE

Xerxes II (no biblical record). Assassinated in 424 after 45 days by Sogdianus his illegitimate brother who reigned for 6½ months. He was assassinated by another illegitimate brother, Ochus, who became Darius II in late 424 BCE / early 423 BCE.

 

 

423 BCE

Darius II. Decree issued to commence construction in 422 BCE (Ezra 6:1 and 4:24) (i.e. his second year). 70 weeks of years commences. From Ezra 5 it appears that Haggai and Zechariah prophesy in 423 BCE and 422 BCE. 70 weeks of years commences from 423/22 BCE (i.e. first year of the new Jubilee period). Construction completed in sixth year of Darius the Persian (Ezra 6:15) in 3 Adar, i.e. March 418 BCE. Darius dies in the period end 405 to spring 404. The Temple at Mt. Gerizim may also have been commenced at this time, but probably not before 465 to 448 BCE (see above).

 

 

404 BCE

Artaxerxes II (Arsakes) faces Egyptian rebellion on accession in spring or Nisan 404 BCE.

 

 

402 BCE

Artaxerxes loses Egypt.

 

 

401 BCE

Civil war in Persia. Greeks defeated at Battle of Cunaxa and they retreat to the Black Sea coast.

 

 

398 BCE

Provisioning decree issued for the return of Ezra in seventh year, probably rewarding Jewish loyalty (Ezra 7:1-26).

 

 

387 BCE

Artaxerxes defeats the Spartans and stops their meddling. The king's peace sees Persia re-occupy Ionia.

 

 

385 BCE

Nehemiah is made Governor of Judea from 385-372 BCE when the city and walls were reconstructed (Neh. 5:14). Eliashib is High Priest (Neh. 3:1). This was the second letter or decree of Artaxerxes. This was for the reconstruction of the gates of the fortresses of the Temple and for the walls of the city (the Temple was already constructed - Neh. 6:10-11). The city would appear to have been damaged in the civil war in which the Babylonian and Israelitic Jews obviously supported the king.

 

 

375/4 BCE

This completes the prophecy at Daniel 9:25 of the first Anointed One of the 7 weeks of years, i.e. 49 years from 423/2 BCE - 375/4 BCE.

 

 

374/3 BCE

The Jubilee year commences at 374 BCE in 32nd year of Artaxerxes II. It is unclear whether the restoration of lands by Nehemiah was a Jubilee restoration. It seems likely that this was the case and that this, therefore, was the last known observed Jubilee.

 

 

374/3 BCE

 

 

 

 

 

323 BCE

Thirty-second year of Artaxerxes. Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem from Babylon and finds the Temple in disarray under Eliashib and Tobiah (Neh. 13:6). Nehemiah restores the Temple and provisions the Levites and singers who return to the Temple (Neh. 13:10-11). He re-establishes the tithe and cleanses the Sabbaths (Neh. 13:12-19).

 

Ezra dies in the same year as Alexander the Great (Seder Olam Rabbah 30).

 

 

62/63 CE

End of 62 weeks of years and the effective elimination of the tithe and the reduction of the high priesthood to criminality with the execution of James, Bishop of Jerusalem in 62 CE.

 

 

70 CE

The end of the 70 weeks of years and the destruction of the Temple.

 

 

73 CE

Fall of Judea and the Masada.

 


 

Josephus has Zerubbabel returning immediately after the decree of Cyrus. The letter to Ahasuerus is the letter to Cambyses, and construction is completed in the reign of Darius I – with Ezra and Nehemiah returning in that reign, and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah being raised up in the second year of that reign also. According to him, construction would be completed in 516 BCE. 519-516 BCE was the very earliest time that was allowed for in the prophecy of seventy years made by Jeremiah and repeated by Daniel when giving the time for which Jerusalem would be desolate. The time sequence is too convenient and, had things gone according to the earliest contingency allowed by the prophecy, there would have been no need for the missions of Haggai and, to a lesser extent, Zechariah to order them to get on with the job (Hag. 1:2-15). Ezra 4:23 and 5:1-2 show that Haggai and Zechariah were appointed after the decree of Artaxerxes forced cessation of construction (see also 1Esdras 7:5).

 

Josephus further identifies the provisioning decree for the return of Ezra with Xerxes and the husband of Esther as Artaxerxes I. The problem is that Ahasuerus (or Ahasaerus) is the Persian of Xerxes. Artaxerxes I, who Herodotus states was called Cyrus, was named Artaxerxes by the Greeks (see also Josephus, Antiq. of the Jews, Bk. XI, Ch. VI:l).

 

Further information, which is illuminating, is that there were six generations of Levites involved from the return of Zerubbabel and the commencement until the completion in the reign of Darius the Persian (Neh. 12:1-22). Zerubbabel's life was prolonged by the Lord to oversee the completion (Zech. 4:9) and, after the message of Haggai and Zechariah he arose and completed the Temple with Jeshua son of Jozadak.

 

From the arrival of Jeshua with Zerubbabel until the reign of Darius the Persian, it is recorded at Nehemiah 12:10-11 that Jeshua had a son, Joiakim, a grandson, Eliashib, a great-grandson, Joiada, a great-great-grandson, Jonathan, and a great-great-great-grandson, Jeddua.

 

From Nehemiah 12:22 we see that Jonathan did not succeed Joiada as chief priest, but rather Joiada's brother Johanan. Jonathan had married Sanballat, the Horonite's daughter, and was removed by Nehemiah (Neh. 13:28). However, it is conclusive that there were five generations born to Jeshua prior to the reign of Darius the Persian, who is the king that issued the decree for the construction of the Temple, and in whose reign it was completed. In spite of the fact that Jeshua had a number of sons who were present with him when the foundations of the Temple were laid after the second year (Ezra 3:9), it is unlikely that the Darius of the construction could have been Darius I as he reigned from 521-466 BCE, some 16 years after the return. It must therefore have been Darius II in 423-404 BCE, some 114 years after the return. Allowing 20 years per generation and allowing that Jaddua had himself become a priest prior to this king, Zerubbabel was approximately 120 years old and therefore Jeshua would have been approximately 140 years old at the construction; and they died shortly after. The use of term arose at Ezra 5:2 suggests that Zerubbabel and Jeshua were of great age and retired from onerous duties, as Zechariah 4:9 also indicates.

 

Nehemiah 12:26 shows that Joiakim was chief priest after Jeshua but implies his death well before Nehemiah and Ezra returned. Eliashib was the oldest High Priest alive at Nehemiah's return (Neh. 3:1). Johanan seems to have already exercised the high priesthood by Ezra's return (Ezra 10:6). The priesthood relinquished sacrificial duty at fifty years of age. Nehemiah also verifies Jaddua on the list of High Priests down to Darius the Persian. The Temple, therefore could not have been constructed earlier than 417 BCE.

 

It should also be noted that Iddo returned with Zerubbabel. During the high priesthood of Joiakim, the priesthood had also passed two generations, so we see that Zechariah was named among the Levites, from the time of Iddo. He was in fact Iddo's grandson, the son of Berechiah, and he was a prophet in the second year of Darius. When Zechariah speaks of the plumb bob in the hands of Zerubbabel and of the High Priest Jeshua, it is as a marvel and a sign of God that not only should Zerubbabel lay the foundations but also that he should still hold a line at its completion. We know from Nehemiah 12 that Zechariah was priest under Joiakim. Therefore, the premise of activity from great age seems to stand.

 

The prophecy of Zechariah relates to the significance of the construction of the Temple and the seventy weeks of years from the reign of Darius II in the second year, and its development, completion and restitution.

 

Non-biblical Evidence

A most telling corroboration of the biblical narrative comes from Aramaic Letters, translated by H.L. Ginsberg and published in The Ancient Near East: An anthology of texts and pictures (ed. James B. Pritchard, Princeton, 1958, pp. 278-282), which were letters to and from the Jews at the Fortress of Elephantine. This fortress had been manned by Jews and other non-Jewish Semites since the days of the Egyptian kingdom preceding the invasion of the Medo-Persians.

 

An impressive Temple had been built there and was long standing when Cambyses invaded Egypt.

 

As stated previously, during the reign of Cyrus Macrocheir or Artaxerxes I, the Athenian invasion of Egypt was put down in 454 BCE, and the Satrap left in charge was a Medo-Persian named Arsames, who reigned as Satrap from 455/4 BCE to at least 407 BCE.

 

During at least some of that time the leader of the Jews of the garrison was a Jew by the name of Yedoniah. In the fifth year of Darius II, i.e. 420/419 BCE, Hananiah, a Jewish scribe to Arsames, wrote to Yedoniah at Elephantine informing him that Darius had sent word to Arsames authorising a festival of Unleavened Bread for the Jewish garrison, also giving details of the days of the calculation of the Feast commencing with 14 Nisan as follows:

So do you count from fou[rteen days of the month of Nisan and] obs[erve the passoverl], and from the 15th to the 21st day of [Nisan observe the festival of unleavened bread]. Be (ritually) clean and take heed. [Do n]o work [on the 15th or the 21st day, no]r drink [beer2, nor eat] anything [in] which the[re is] leaven [from the 14th at] sundown until the 21st of Nis[an for seven days it shall not be seen among you. Do not br]ing it into your dwelling but seal (it) up between these date[s. By order of King Darius. To] my brethren Yedoniah and the Jewish garrison, your brother Hanani[ah].

Note 1. psh in two ostraca from Elephantine.

Note 2. The instruction including beer is a construction based on Jewish tradition.

 

This celebration by order of Darius in the fifth year of his reign throughout the Jewish people even into Elephantine is that Passover celebration referred to in Ezra 6:13-22. This celebration took place on the dedication of the Temple, which from the letters at Elephantine would have occurred in 419/8 BCE.

 

The fifth year of Darius II was the year before the completion of the Temple, and it is curious that 123 men and women of the Jewish garrison at Elephantine on the 3rd of Phanenoth (a month in the Egyptian calendar) in year 5 took up a collection of two shekels per head, totalling 12 karash and 6 shekels (at 20 light shekels to the karash, this is 246 shekels). This collection was dedicated to the God, Yaho (Yah[o]weh). It is curious that the non-Jews of the garrison appear to have donated also to the extent of 7 karash for Ishumbethel, the male Aramean divinity, and 12 karash for Anathbethel, the female deity who was synonymous with Anath, wife of Baal.

 

This levy of the fifth year was the equivalent of a special levy and was probably for the decoration of the Temple at Jerusalem. Whether the other contributions went to other areas in the Levant to pagan temples or they were contributions to the Temple construction on behalf of the Aramean cults we can only guess. However, it may be an indication of the extent to which the people had mixed themselves with the Gentile populace, as we know happened from Ezra 9:1-4 and continued until Nehemiah.

 

What we do know is that on the 20th Marheshwan in the 17th year of King Darius, i.e. 408 BCE, a letter was sent to Jerusalem to Bagoas, Governor of Judah, detailing the sequence of events surrounding the return of Arsames, who had returned to Mesopotamia to the king. After Arsames had returned to Darius, the priests of the god, Khnub, in the fortress at Elephantine, conspired with the commander in chief, Vidaranag to wipe out the Temple of Yaho at Elephantine. His son, Nefayan, who was in command of the fortress at Syene, was summoned and ordered to destroy the Temple at Elephantine "in the Fortress of Yeb".

 

He and the Egyptians and other troops entered and razed the Temple to the ground and smashed the stone pillars and the five great gateways but leaving the doors standing. They carried off the basins of gold and silver and all the other artefacts.

 

The letter reveals that this Temple was the only one left standing from Cambyses’ invasion. Vidaranag was later killed and eaten by dogs.

 

The letter also reveals that when the disaster occurred a letter was sent to the High Priest in Jerusalem, who was named Johanan, so that we now know that the High Priest in the year 410 BCE was Johanan. This establishes beyond doubt that the Darius the Persian referred to at Nehemiah 12:22 was Darius the Second.

 

The letter also reveals that they wrote to Ostanes, the brother of Anani, and the nobles of the Jews. These gentlemen did not reply ("Never a letter have they sent to us."). The Jews at Elephantine wore sackcloth and fasted from Tammuz of the 14th year of Darius, i.e. 411 BCE, to the date of the letter, i.e. in 408 BCE.

 

They requested assistance to rebuild their Temple in a most appealing manner, and also informed the Governor that they had written to Delaiah and Shelemiah, the sons of Sanballat, the Governor of Samaria. Presumably they wanted them to intercede for them with the Governor. This Sanballat was the Horonite mentioned at Nehemiah 2:10, and his daughter had married the son of Joiada, the son of Eliashib, the High Priest.

 

This had disqualified him from office as High Priest. Eliashib, the High Priest, was still alive at Nehemiah's return (Neh. 3:1), but Johanan had already exercised the position of the high priesthood at Ezra's return and certainly in 410 BCE. It can only be concluded that Eliashib was the oldest of the High Priests left alive at Nehemiah's return and is thus head of the priesthood, but had long since ceded duties to Joiada and then Johanan (replacing his nephew) and later Jaddua, who appears to have succeeded to the high priesthood, according to Nehemiah 12:22, in the reign of Darius the Persian (II).

 

Nehemiah 12:22 appears to divide the five periods into two eras.

 

The first era was of the watches in the days of Joiakim, son of Jeshua, and the current era was referred to as "the days of Nehemiah, the Governor and Ezra the priest, the scribe". This appears to further confirm the division of time around the high priesthood who were dead (i.e. Joiakim was the father of Eliashib), and the current era of the living priesthood, which included Eliashib as the oldest of the living high priesthood.

 

On Ezra's return Jaddua is not mentioned; only Jehohanan is recorded as having a chamber, implying that he was still the High Priest. Jaddua appears to be included at Nehemiah 12:22 as having held the priesthood, which could have been on a temporary basis as Nehemiah included all the priesthood down to the reign of Darius the Persian, who is without doubt Darius II. Ezra writes as though Johanan (or Jehohanan) and Jaddua were absent and that he occupied Johanan's chamber in his absence.

 

The impression from both biblical and non-biblical sources is that the high priesthood deteriorated after the days of Joiakim. Eliashib, Johanan and Jaddua do not appear to have devoted due diligence to their duties. The non-reply to the Jews at Elephantine by Johanan and the lack of participation in the activities of Ezra and Nehemiah indicate that they neglected their duties. The intermarriage, pollution, and desecrations are further substantiated by the letters from Elephantine. A memorandum recorded that Bagoas and Delaiah wrote to the garrison instructing that Arsames be informed that the Temple was to be rebuilt at Elephantine with the meat offering and incense to be made on the altar as it used to be.

 

No mention of sacrifice was made so as not to affect the sensitivities of Arsames, a Mazdean who would have regarded the contact of fire with dead bodies as profane. It is further recorded that the Jews at Elephantine under Yedoniah in the end had to petition Arsames, promising no burnt offerings in the Temple and a payment of a thousand ardabs of barley (texts in Pritchard, ibid.).

 

It seems as though the Temple was finished in 417 BCE. The elders of the high priesthood died and some form of lack of direction occurred, with Eliashib, Johanan and Jaddua inactive to some degree.

 

What is important about these texts is that they provide corroborative texts of biblical information, and they demonstrate the literal accuracy of the Bible. They also demonstrate that the tradition of the 516 BCE construction date is an impossibility.

 

Another important corroboration of the biblical text is found in the Aramaic Letters. Mibtahiah, daughter of Mahseiah, son of Yedoniah, had married Pi, son of Pahi (Phy), the builder of the fortress of Syene where Mahseiah was serving in Varizata's detachment. This demonstrates the extent of intermarriage occurring up to Ezra and Nehemiah.

 

In the 25th year of Artaxerxes, the couple were divorced and the agreement is preserved among the Aramaic Letters. Mibtahiah was even forced to make oath by an Egyptian goddess (Sati) for the dissolution, and the split of her dowry is recorded.

 

The destruction of the Temple at Elephantine was the start of a series of anti-Semitic Egyptian uprisings, which commenced in 410 BCE and continued until the reign of Artaxerxes II, who faced an Egyptian rebellion on his ascension in 404 BCE; and in 402 BCE he lost Egypt. In 401 BCE he fought a civil war in Persia and, throughout this, the Jews remained loyal, accounting for their favourable treatment.

 

The Myth of the Decree of Artaxerxes

The Bible at no stage mentions any decree by Artaxerxes that was related to the construction of the Temple except to cease construction, as related in Ezra 4:23. When the provisioning decree was issued, the Temple had already been constructed, regardless of whether the decree was issued by Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I or II. In no version known to ancient history, either biblical or non-biblical, is Artaxerxes I credited with any decree favourable to the construction of the Temple or provisioning the Levites. This is a more modern invention.

 

Theologians who make claim for Artaxerxes I, especially in relation to the 2,300 days or to the seventy weeks of years at Daniel 9:25 (which contains a mistranslation in the King James and others, but is rendered correctly in the RSV), are in error.

Where the Bible differs from historical sources it is consistently being proved more correct as knowledge increases.

 

Seventy Weeks of Years

The significance of the prophecy of the seventy weeks of years at Daniel 9:25-27 is that, when taken from the decree of Darius II, it ends in 70 CE, commencing from the surrounding of Jerusalem by Titus’ army on 1 Nisan, and continues to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE – the same day, tradition has it, that it fell to the Babylonians (see Moffatt's translation). The matter ends with the closure of the Temple at Leontopolis in Egypt (see below).

 

The first Anointed One is Nehemiah, who re-established the Temple priesthood by 372 BCE (7 weeks of years) and cleansed the Sabbaths and re-instituted the tithe. He completed the walls of the fortress of the Temple and the walls of the city and reorganised Jerusalem.

 

The second Anointed One is of Messiah's ministry. However, the prophecy refers to Jerusalem and to the function of the Temple, not to the times of Messiah's ministry. Atonement for sin and everlasting righteousness could not be deemed to have been brought in or completed while the ceremonial law was still being enacted. The completion of the prophecy, therefore, was dependent upon removal or elimination of the place of sacrifice.

 

For, while sacrifice still continued in the Temple, the Messiah was not yet supreme or his sacrifice could not be said to have truly eliminated the daily sacrifice, even though it was effected by his death. This prophecy has still not ended, and not as a split week as some claim, but in the fact that the decreed end has not yet been poured out upon the desolator, i.e. the Roman system. This will be, as Revelation reveals, when the city is destroyed and the seventh/eighth empire of ten kings is finally destroyed.

 

If the decree was taken from 516 BCE from the reign of Darius 1 to follow on directly from the 70 weeks of years, then the end of the prophecy was in 26 BCE, which seems to relate to nothing. Modern Christianity tries to tie the matter to 27 CE and assert that Christ’s ministry began then, which it did not. Josephus is clearly wrong regarding the commencement, and his extensions of the Chaldean dynasty seem to be aimed at extending their reigns to extend dates of the Persian kings to give the prophecy of 70 weeks of years some meaning from Cyrus. Amongst the Sons of Zadok, the 70 weeks of years had an entirely different meaning related to the ages of men, but that is beyond the scope of this work (see Appendix for an analysis of Josephus).

 

The alteration of the construction of the Temple from Darius II to Darius I appears to be a post-Christian contrivance (adapted by Josephus) which attempts to undermine the significance of the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years, and is probably the intention of the apocryphal 1 Esdras, which is in error.

 

The 70 weeks of years did not commence from the reign of Darius I or from a non-existent decree of Artaxerxes I, but rather from Darius II. It is the positive proof of the Messiahship of Christ and does not require non-scriptural juggling of three-and-a-half or uncompleted seven-year periods.

 

The Sign of Jonah

The Sign of Jonah is the most significant aspect of Messiah’s ministry. Christ stated this at Matthew 12:39-40:

39 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will arise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

 

This was repeated at Luke 11:29-32. From Luke we see that Christ says at verse 30:

For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

 

The Sign of Jonah was not only that he was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, but he also entered Nineveh, which was three days’ journey across and, after one day's journey into the city, he prophesied to Nineveh. It repented after being given 40 days to do so (Jonah 3:3-10).

 

Christ began his ministry after John the Baptist commenced to teach. John commenced teaching in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar. Using the civil year commencing in Tishri (Sept/Oct.) and the date of Tiberius’ reign from the death of Augustus rather than the proclamation of the Senate, the earliest possible date for this would be October 27 CE (see Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)). We know that John had been baptising for some time when Jesus came to be baptised by him. More particularly, we can reconstruct the days from his baptism down to the Passover of 28 CE, which appear to total approximately fifty days. From Matthew 4:17 we know that Jesus did not commence his ministry until John had been placed in prison (Mat. 4:12). From John 3:22 it is evident that, after the Passover of 28 CE, Jesus and his disciples were baptising in Judea (although Christ himself did not baptise (Jn. 4:2)). John had not yet been thrown into prison and was baptising at Aenon near Salim (Jn. 3:23-24). Thus, Christ did not commence his ministry until after the Passover of 28 CE. Christ thus had a ministry of less than two years. Coupled with the ministry of John the Baptist and his baptism and selection of the disciples, the ministry was two-and-one-half years. This was on the year-for-a day principle for the prophecy of Jonah.

 

Some modern churches hold that Christ's ministry was three-and-a-half years and that he was crucified in 31 CE. From the chronology of John and the others, a Passover of 30 CE is indicated (see Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)). His ministry was for two years (or two prophetic days), from Passover 28 CE to Passover 30 CE. There were two wings of some 50 days or more before his baptism until Passover, and some 50 days after his resurrection until Pentecost.

 

When added to that of John the Baptist, a ministry of less than three years (or three prophetic days) is established, on a year-for-a day basis with Jonah. John the Baptist’s ministry equals the day’s march into the city, and the ministry of Christ is the two-day prophecy. From Christ’s baptism we see the trial of Satan over the 40 days in the wilderness, prior to Passover of 28 CE and the commencement of Christ’s ministry. The trial

of Satan over 40 days in the wilderness was in its own way analogous to the period given to Nineveh, and Satan was judged.

 

As positive proof of Christ’s ministry, Jerusalem was given a year-for-a-day compared to Nineveh. The third stage of 40 days for Judah was 40 years ending with the total destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, 40 years from Christ's death, because unlike Nineveh they did not repent – even though a greater sign was given to them than Jonah at Nineveh.

 

The major significance of Jonah's mission was that it was to the Gentiles, and that he alone amongst the Hebrew prophets effected repentance of the Gentiles. This was a prototype of the role of the Messiah as was indicated by Isaiah 53. By suffering, also indicated by Psalm 22, Christ was aware of the application of these Scriptures. He spoke the words of Psalm 22 from the cross and gave notice of his mission to the Gentiles in the Parable of the Husbandman at Mark 12:1-9. The indications of the Synoptic Gospels are made explicit in John's Gospel, showing that Christ looked to the suffering and death which, like a grain of wheat, would bear much fruit and "draw all men unto myself" (Jn. 12:32).

 

If the Pharisees and Sadducees accepted that the Temple construction occurred into the reign of Darius II, then it was inevitable that they stood condemned, and so they contrived erroneous and distorted sequences. Modern Christian distortions of the 70 weeks of years around Artaxerxes I are totally contrary to Ezra and Nehemiah, and because of this are dismissed by Judaism. The 70 weeks of years ended exactly at the completion of the 40-year period given for repentance to Judah and Jerusalem commencing from 1 Nisan 70 CE to 1 Nisan 71 CE, by which time the Temple had been destroyed. Christ’s reference to Nineveh and Solomon demonstrates the significance of the duration of the Temple and the cessation of the sacrifice. Jerusalem was surrounded on 1 Nisan and it was sacked and the Temple destroyed at Atonement 70 CE. There was still part of the sequence uncompleted.

 

The “70 weeks of years” started in the first year of a new Jubilee. That was also in the second year of the reign Darius II. At the end of the Jubilee was the Restoration of Ezra and Nehemiah (see the paper Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250)).

 

What is not generally understood is that the sacrifice still continued in Judah after the destruction of the Temple in completion of a prophecy in Isaiah 19:19.

Isaiah 19:19  In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. (KJV)

 

It is understood that a Temple had been built at Elephantine and the sacrifice had continued there while the Temple at Jerusalem lay in ruins from the sack of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. This Temple continued in full operation until it was sacked after the Jerusalem Temple had been reconstructed in the reign of Darius II. Jerusalem then continued as the centre of Temple worship for almost two centuries until the second century BCE. Isaiah had prophesied that a Temple would be built in Egypt. This prophecy related to Messiah (Isa. 19:20) who would deliver Egypt. They were under Roman power at the time and Messiah was indeed sent to Egypt for safety as a child and to fulfil this prophecy and that in Hosea, so that he might be called out of Egypt as Son of God and the first of Israel.

 

The construction of the last Temple there in Egypt is recorded (at one stage incorrectly dated at 1 BCE) by The Companion Bible at Appendix 81. The construction is recorded by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.3.1-3; 6; The Jewish Wars 7.10,3; and Against Apion 2.5). The summation is that, because of the wars between the Jews and the Syrians, the High Priest, Onias IV, fled to Alexandria. He actively supported Egypt against Syria. He was welcomed there by Ptolemy Philometor because of that fact. He was made prince over the Jews there and made Ethnarch and Alabarch. He asked permission of Ptolemy and Cleopatra to build the Temple there in fulfilment of Isaiah. He asked permission to people it with his own priests and other Levites. The letter he wrote and the reply of the king and queen is recorded in the above Appendix.

 

The Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled by the presence of Greek gods placed there by Antiochus Epiphanes. Jerusalem became highly Hellenised in this period and the system was corrupted.

 

Onias came to Leontopolis in the Heliopolite district or nome. The site of the Temple was the place where Israel had light in their dwellings when Egypt was in darkness. The purpose here was to represent Messiah who would be the light in the darkness. The Temple functioned for more than 200 years from 160 BCE to 71 CE, when it was closed by order of Vespasian. The site was referred to in the LXX as the city of righteousness (ir-ha-zedek). The Jews were intensely jealous of this Temple and altered the letters of the words the city of the sun to read the city of destruction (cheres to heres).

 

The five cities referred to in Isaiah 19:18 are probably Heliopolis, Leontopolis, Daphne, Migdol and Memphis.

 

The closure of the Temple in 71 CE by order of Vespasian ended this phase of the Sign of Jonah. Whereas the sacrifice had been continued at Elephantine during the period that the first Temple lay in ruins, God did not allow this Temple to survive after the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. This time, the new Temple would be made of living stones and the authority had passed from Judah to the Church in the wilderness. This phase of the Sign of Jonah was to judge the nations over 40 Jubilees. The sacrifice was to cease over this entire period of 40 Jubilees. Anyone who attempted to reintroduce the sacrifice has been killed or destroyed.

 

This completed the 70 weeks of years and the allotted duration of the second Temple. The Sign of Jonah was likewise completed, and the third Temple from this date was removed from Jerusalem and scattered.

 

The third Temple, or fourth Tabernacle, was to be built of individual blocks of Spirit-begotten Sons of God. The significance of this is found at Zechariah 3:8-10 and Zechariah 4.

 

From verse 8, the announcement of the coming of the Branch is made and the seven eyes are prophesied (these are the seven stars at Rev. 2:1). From the Advent of Christ, who is to "remove the iniquity of that land in one day", we see the development through Zechariah 4:1-3 of the seven eras of the Church, and the two olive trees. These two olive trees are the two Anointed Ones and apply the oil out of themselves through two golden pipes (Zech. 4:12). Thus the third Temple is of the Spirit of God and, therefore, is to accomplish all things from the oil of the Spirit of God. For grace is given unto it (Zech. 4:7), and from Zechariah 4:6 we see that all things are accomplished from that time onwards, "not by might, not by power, but my spirit says the Lord of Hosts".

 

Because of this the second Temple, or third Tabernacle, was limited in time and had to give way to the third and spiritual Temple, the fourth Tabernacle, of the seven candlesticks which are, as we know from Revelation 2 and 3, the seven eras of the Church. These eras were named for areas separate from Jerusalem and commenced from Ephesus as the Ephesian era.

 

However, from 70 CE Judah's heart was hardened so that they did not understand the significance of it. It is equally possible that the rabbinical authorities of the time saw the full significance of the prophecy and that they stood condemned by it. From then, the fabrication of the story of construction in the reign of Darius I began to obscure the significance of the matter.

 

The last sequence of the Sign of Jonah was to involve forty Jubilees, which we see from the life of Moses was the third and final stage typified by the forty years in the wilderness of Israel before it took up its inheritance. These forty years were the prototype of the forty Jubilees. The first Jubilee was to involve the birth of Christ and the lead-up to his ministry. John the Baptist commenced his ministry in the Jubilee year of 27 CE which, being the fifteenth year of Tiberias, must therefore have been in October. Hence the significance here was that he commenced when the Jubilee was blown. As we have seen, the symbolism of the restoration of Josiah was in the first year of the new Jubilee. This is exactly what Christ did. He commenced his ministry in 28 CE after the Passover. Thus the forty Jubilees take the Sign of Jonah up to the establishment of the Millennium in the first year of the new Jubilee in March/April 2028 CE. The sequence of the thirty years is between 1997 and 2027.

 

The Wrong Track

The pre-occupation of Protestant theologians with the decree of Artaxerxes stems from attempts to relate the prophecy to a mistranslation of Daniel 9:25 in the King James Version. In the late 1830s, William Miller chose this for the commencement date of the prophecy of 2,300 days. Why he and others should have made this error is puzzling. The commencement of the prophecy is stated in Daniel as being from the time when the sanctuary is trampled underfoot and the continual burnt offering in the Temple is taken away. This did not happen from, or coincide with, any of the construction decrees or the provisioning decree. Miller was seriously in error and post-Reformation manipulation of these prophecies has been a source of fascination.

 

Relating the Prophecy of 2,300 Days

The earliest time from which the prophecy can date was the Battle of the Granicus in 334 BCE and then on up to the invasion of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple by Ptolemy (Soter) at the end of 302 BCE. This places the completion of the prophecy, at its earliest date, from 1967 with the unification of Jerusalem and to the end of 1998. Being the most probable date, this means that all will be accomplished from 1999. Some relate the cessation of the daily sacrifice to Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE, which could place the completion at 2133 or 2134, but this would not coincide with Daniel 12 or Revelation. Similarly, a 197 BCE date would produce a date of 2108.

 

In 197 BCE, Judea became a province of the Seleucid Empire, the Eastern successors to Alexander from which Antiochus Epiphanes came. Seleucus IV began the Hellenistic infiltrations resisted by the Zadokite High Priest Onias III.

 

(See the papers Advent of Messiah: Part I (No. 210A) and WWIII parts 1 to IV (P299 series).)

 

End of the 70 Weeks of Years

The end of the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years and the details surrounding the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE require detailed examination to ensure proper understanding.

 

Jewish jurisdiction over the Temple was recognised and endorsed by the Romans. The prohibitions against Gentiles entering the inner courtyards of the Temple were endorsed by the Romans and the punishment was death, even if he were a Roman citizen. The Romans confirmed Jewish capital jurisdiction even over non-Jews. It was for this reason that Paul had to appeal to the Emperor (Acts 25:9-12) and only this prevented Festus from dealing with Paul in accordance with Jewish law.

 

From Emile Schürer's The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, 111.2, T&T Clarke Ltd, Edinburgh, 1973), Jewish worship was not merely tolerated but enjoyed the protection of the Roman State. And State administration of the Temple, especially of its finances, occurred from 6-41 CE (ibid., Vol. 1, pp. 377-379).

 

From 44 CE to 66 CE the administration was transferred to Herod of Chalcis and then Agrippa II (ibid., Vol. l, pp. 377,472). The Emperor's portrait was even removed from the Imperial Standards (ibid., p. 380).

 

Jews were also exempted from military service to prevent conflict with the Feasts and Sabbaths (op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 362-363; Vol. II, pp. 474-475; Vol. III, pp. 22-23,120-121). Judah remained until 70 CE an administrative unit with its own provincial government.

 

Up until the outbreak of the Jewish War in 66 CE, the Roman army in Caesarea consisted mostly of Syrian Caesarean and Sebastene troops. In 66 CE, Vespasian was able to enlist in his army, five cohorts and one ala of cavalry from Caesarea (ibid., vol. I, p.364) the same as those stationed there in 44 CE. The troops at Acts 27:1 at about 60 CE may have been one of the five cohorts mentioned by Josephus at The Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, 8,7, where he holds that the disorder between the Jews and the Syrians finally caused the war.

 

The last construction on the Temple was of a wall on the highest part of the building belonging to the inner court on the western side to prevent Agrippa's view of the inner court during the ceremonies (Schürer, vol. I, p. 475). The destruction of this wall was prevented by appeal to Nero and on intercession of Poppea, Nero's wife. At this time the high priesthood, being appointed by Agrippa, commenced to seize the tithes and the poorer priests died of starvation (ibid., pp. 465, 468-470).

 

By 62 CE, this last construction on the Temple was completed and the removal of the tithes established as the norm by Agrippa's nominees, commencing with Ananus.

 

The imperial rescripts obtained by the Syrians from Nero by bribery of Beryllus, Nero's scribe in charge of Greek correspondence, heavily weighed against the Jews (ibid., p. 467). From 62 CE, under the High Priest Ananus, Agrippa's nominee, many of the priesthood were executed.

 

The High Priest of the fourth Tabernacle or the third Temple, James, Bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of Jesus Christ, was executed (ibid., p. 468). This signified the end of the priesthood of the Temple in Jerusalem and the end of the 62 weeks of years. The new procurator, Albinus (62-64 CE), was extremely evil, plundering both public and private moneys, including the treasury.

 

From this time onward, the high priesthood was a refuge for scoundrels. One High Priest, Jesus son of Damnai, engaged in a pitched street battle with his successor, Jesus son of Gamaliel, because he did not wish to relinquish Holy Office (ibid., p. 469). When Albinus was recalled, he executed the major criminals and then released all the prisoners – leaving the prisons empty and the country full of robbers. His successor, the last of the procurators, Gessius Florus (64-66 CE), was also the worst, being the greatest scoundrel to hold office. He plundered whole cities and allowed banditry to go uninhibited (ibid., p. 470).

 

In 64 CE Nero declared the persecution of Christians in Rome, and tradition has it that Peter and Paul were martyred. The "Pact with many" against Jew and Christian was widespread. In 68 CE the monastery at Qumran was destroyed, and also Nero was deposed.

 

The revolutionaries developed the practice of kidnapping the priesthood for exchange of prisoners, and by 66 CE the authorities, with the Syrians et al., commenced the action that became the Jewish War.

 

From 1 Nisan 70 CE, Jerusalem was surrounded. On the Day of Atonement 70 CE the Temple was destroyed, and from Atonement 70 CE there was no Temple or sacrifice and oblation until the final end of the war in 73 CE with the fall of Masada. This period is that referred to by Daniel 9:27.

 

For a week of years, the main body of the people ceased to practice their religion, i.e. from 63 CE to 70 CE, because of the pollution of the Temple and the thefts of the tithe and the deaths of the priesthood. The term for half of that time sacrifice and offering shall cease is generally taken to refer to half of the week of years, but it probably refers to the time after the destruction from 70-73 CE when the nation fought on but without the Temple or sacrifice. Thus, the 70 weeks of years is clearly a fulfilled prophecy. After the death of James and prior to the destruction in 70 CE, the Church fled Jerusalem to Pella (ibid., p. 498 and note 65) because they knew from prophecy that the end of this period was to occur and the next Temple of the seven churches, the fourth of Ezekiel's Covering Cherubs (Ezek. 1:15), was to commence. From Ecclesiastes 6:6, Solomon had indicated that it might last two thousand years. The Sign of Jonah then went into its next and little understood phase, the Time of the Gentiles. This was to last for forty Jubilees until the return of the Messiah and the start of the Millennium referred to at Revelation 20:4.

 

The Church under Symon, nephew of Messiah, returned to Jerusalem around 72 CE and established the churches of the Desposyni or those belonging to the Lord, and provided bishops to the churches of Asia and Egypt for many decades until Rome replaced them with Greeks.

 

One might well ask the question: “What would have happened had the Jews repented?” The answer is provided by the reference to Israel in the wilderness where the spies or witnesses were sent to spy out the Promised Land. One man from each of the tribes was sent. Hoshea the son of Nun was from Ephraim and was called Joshua by Moses (Num. 13:8,16). They were sent from Zin, returning at the end of forty days (Num. 13:25). They refused to take up their inheritance, witnessing against the productivity of their inheritance – all except for Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:6-7). Not one person over twenty who grumbled against God was allowed to enter the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. The children were given forty years in the wilderness as wandering shepherds paying the penalty of their unfaithfulness. This represented Judah and Levi at the time of Messiah.

 

The forty days of witness became the forty years of the Sign of Jonah from Messiah to the destruction of the Temple. The forty years in the wilderness became the forty Jubilees of the wanderings until the second coming.

 

Judah could have repented and we would have been brought in under their leadership. They did not repent, and God knew they would not repent. We were then called out under different circumstances. However, Judah will be given repentance soon.

 

 


 


 

 

Appendix A

The Decree of Cyrus and the Chaldean Kings according to Josephus

 


Many historians have become preoccupied with proving that the prophecy for the

 

70 weeks of years relates to the ministry of Christ – in some way determining its commencement and in some way leaving 3½ years over for the time of the end. In misguided zeal, some translators have so manipulated Daniel 9:25-27 that the charge of fraud may not be misapplied. Probably the most faithful translation is that of Moffatt.

 

Know then, understand, that between the issue of the prophetic command to re-people and rebuild Jerusalem and the consecrating of a supreme high priest, seven weeks of years shall elapse; in the course of sixty-two weeks of years it shall be rebuilt, with its squares and streets; finally, after the sixty-two weeks of years, the consecrated priest shall be cut off, leaving no successor; the city and the sanctuary shall be destroyed along with the consecrated priest, and then ruin shall pour in with a flood of warfare to the very end.

 

For a week of years the main body of the people shall cease to practise their religion; for half of that time sacrifice and offering shall cease, and instead of this there shall be an appalling abomination, till finally the appointed doom falls upon the sacrilegious abomination.

 

Notice that the anointing of the consecrated one seems to be the re-establishment of the priesthood, and then the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the cutting off of the sacrifice.

 

Whilst there is no doubt that it was the crucifixion of Christ that was referred to at verse 24, the prophecy obviously does not concern itself with his ministry but rather with its fulfilment in the destruction of the Temple.

 

The lists of the Chaldean kings down to Cyrus the Persian are reconstructed, and the dates accepted from Ptolemy's Canon are also included for information.

 

Josephus also records that Nehemiah was given his commission by Xerxes in his 25th year and

that the walls were completed in two years and four months and finished in the 28th year of Xerxes.

 

Unfortunately, the dates ascribed to Xerxes using Ptolemy are from 486 to 464 BCE – a period of 22 years. Either the translations are wrong, Josephus is wrong or, more probably, all are wrong. The only kings known to have reigned in excess of 25 years were Darius I and Artaxerxes I and II.

 

A very interesting date emerges, however, if we take the date of Cyrus from the construction from Nebuchadnezzar at the accepted date of 605 BCE and add Josephus' chronology for the Chaldean kings. This produces the decree of Cyrus in the year 464 BCE.

 

Seventy weeks of years from this date is the end of 27 CE. John the Baptist commenced his ministry at the end of this year. A year or two either way from the start date is permissible. The problem with this, however, is that the end-dates for the Persian king using Ptolemy's Canon and the generally accepted dates found in most Bible time-charts is 260 BCE – placing Alexander's conquest 72 years too late. The length of the Persian kings may be too long or, indeed, the start date may be in error by a few years.

 

The fact is that Ptolemy's Canon is demonstrably correct, with the date 605 BCE astronomically fixed. However, the possibility exists that the 70 weeks of years using Josephus' dates for the Chaldean kings ends at the time of Christ. At no stage, using any of the possible permutations does Cyrus Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) possibly feature as the king in the commencement of the dates.

 

The table of dates constructed from Josephus is incorrect and invalidates Bible prophecy. Josephus uses the structure of post-Temple Judaism. According to Josephus, it was 96 years from the action of Nebuchadnezzar against the Jews, which took place in his 23rd year, until the decree of Cyrus. For this reason alone, Josephus must be dismissed and the initial interpretation sustained.

 

Whatever starting point is used there is no period of seven years of which three-and-a-half years are left hanging over to be taken up at some mythical period before the time of Christ's return, nor indeed does Daniel intimate that there would be a split week or a later period of a week. The time-frames do not allow it. Daniel clearly mentions that at the end of the period, for a week of years, the main body of the people would cease to practice their religion and, for half of that time, sacrifice and offering shall cease.

 

A study of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple shows that this prophecy was completed in 70 CE.

 

Some teach that the decreed end will be poured out on the desolator for 3½ years, i.e. the period of the plagues of the wrath of God at Revelation. Whilst the 3½-year period of the plagues of the wrath of God will occur, attempting to relate them to this prophecy is a very dubious argument. Others teach that the period of a week of years is reserved for the time of the end. There is definitely no support for any such contention. If one had been in the middle of Jerusalem for the 3½-year period up to 70 CE, one would probably be more aware of the accuracy of the prophecy and the failing of the above position.

 

(See also the paper War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple (No. 298).)

 

 


 

KINGS

 

YEARS

 

DATES

 

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar (Nabopollassar)

21

622 BCE

(Start date not according to Josephus but years of reign are.)

Nebuchadnezzar

43

605-562 BCE

Evil Morodach

18

562-522 BCE

Neglissor

40

522-482 BCE

Labosordacus

9/12

482- ? BCE

Baltasar (Naboandelus)

17

465- ? BCE

Cyrus (of Darius)

10

465-455 BCE

(Construction of Ptolemy’s Canon)

Cambyses

7

455-448 BCE

Darius I

36

448-414 BCE

Xerxes

22

414-392 BCE

Artaxerxes

41

392-351 BCE

Xerxes II

-

351 BCE

Darius II

19

351-332 BCE

Artaxerxes II

46

332-286 BCE

Artaxerxes III

20

286-266 BCE

Darius III

6

266-260 BCE

 

 

Bibliography

The Common Bible (Revised Standard Version), Collins, 1973.

Herodotus, The Histories, tr. by A. de Selincourt (Burns Rev.), Penguin, 1983.

Josephus, Complete Works, tr. by William Whiston, Kregel Publications, 1981.

Emile Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 BC - 135 AD), Vols. I to III, rev. by Varnes and Millar, T&T Clarke Ltd, 1958.

James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East - An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton, 1958.

 

 

Appendix B



Jerusalem’s Western Wall

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http://articles.cnn.com/images/pixel.gifThe Western Wall, or so-called Wailing Wall, is all that remains of the ancient walls of Herod's Temple today.

 

Newly discovered artifacts dated AD 16 found under Jerusalem's Western Wall indicate it took much longer to build than was previously believed. It was thought that the wall was constructed and completed by King Herod before he died in 4 BCE. However the discovery of these artifacts confirms the writings of a first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, who said that the project was completed decades after Herod's death.

 

Flavius Josephus wrote that Herod began rebuilding and enlarging the Temple Mount area in the 18th year of his reign. Josephus also wrote that it was a very large project and was intended to be an everlasting memorial to Herod (Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, 15,11,1-7;  Wars of the Jews, 5,5,1-8).

 

[It seems that the main part of Herod’s rebuilding was completed before his death in 4 BCE, but work on the project went on much longer. Writing after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., Josephus recorded that work on the Temple Mount was completed by King Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson, two decades before the entire compound was destroyed. When Jesus visited the Temple at the time of the Passover the Jews remarked that the temple had been 46 years under construction at that time (Jn. 2:20).]

 

University of Haifa professor Ronny Reich, an archaeologist working on the site said that this archaeological find shows that the works of the Temple Mount went on for a long time after Herod's death.

 

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/111125012629-israel-western-wall-coins-story-body.jpg

 

These bronze coins found in a ritual bath beneath the Western Wall, are dated A.D. 16.

 

See the article from Izzy Lemberg, CNN

November 25, 2011 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-11-24/middleeast/world_meast_fea-western-wall_1_king-herod-flavius-josephus-jerusalem-s-western-wall?_s=PM:MIDDLEEAST