Encounter Heading: Skeptic's Guide

3.1




The Time of Messiah

Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
(Could this happen by chance?)


Nothing can be more important than determining if meaning or significance can be found for our lives. Assuming that our lives end at death, philosopher Albert Camus said that the only serious philosophical question is that of suicide. There is ultimately no reason for human existence. Ultimately we are nothing. Beyond our momentary desire and decision, there simply isn't any substantial reason to continue to be than to cease to exist. If there is a reason that we are here and, specifically, if we are here to know God, can anyone seriously pass up the chance to find out if this is true if there is even the slightest chance of finding out?

The evidence we're about to give urges that it is true. We only ask that you think through this evidence with a mind and will open to the evidence and open and searching after God. On nothing more than the possibility that God is there, we ask you to seek God and seek whatever truth God would give you. Of the various possible kinds of evidence available for this claim, we want to focus on one somewhat unique line. This is a study of some of the most forceful evidence available that God exists and that Yeshua (Jesus) is God's promised Messiah. And if this is true, it would follow that his teaching would be true that we need a relationship with God and that we can find it through Yeshua.

We would claim that no honest person can avoid this evidence. It speaks to those who would accept the one the Hebrew prophecies point to as the Messiah as well as those who do not. To the latter, to the honest skeptic and agnostic, it speaks with logic and evidence.
1 (Note: linking to the numbered endnotes will pull up the entire endnote page as a separate page. Thus one need only click on any numbered link once and no more for any later endnotes.) To the former, such as to the orthodox Jew, it speaks with evidence as well, but it also speaks with a special concern. Before getting into our main argument we need to look at this concern. It finds expression in the following scenario which has repeated itself over the past twenty centuries with only minor variations.

From antiquity the Jewish people have anticipated the coming of one from God who would be a deliverer, a specially anointed one who would reign over Israel and the whole earth and who would bring unending peace and prosperity. The Hebrew scripture defines and identifies the promised Messiah.

Jewish men and women have taken the time to search the Hebrew scripture for themselves to determine just how to identify the promised Messiah. Many have looked at the passages that have been argued as applying to the Messiah and especially to those the rabbis had at one time or another considered Messianic. Many have found the picture of a Messiah depicted in endnote
2. Many have concluded that one person and only one person could and did fit the qualifications: a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, or Jesus.

Now because of this conclusion and because of their commitment to Yeshua, they are told by their Jewish community that they are no longer Jews. But isn't there an inconsistency here? What could be more Jewish than to search to discover the identity of the longed for Messiah? And if one Jewish man fits the qualifications, would any Jewish person who is persuaded by this evidence not be obligated to believe that this is the Messiah? Or must this one Messianic candidate be precluded from consideration simply because Gentiles have also followed him as their Messiah, or because some have taken on his name and sewn hatred and death in that name? Can one be considered a "Christian" who acts in contradiction to the very teachings of Yeshua? (Certainly no more than one might think of oneself to be, say, a Marxist who rejects the essential teachings of Marx.)

Neither can one say that because our forefathers have rejected Yeshua, one cannot be a Jew who accepts him. That reasoning won't work because while some of the ancestors rejected him, others followed him as Messiah. What right do we have to choose between them? Furthermore, how do we know they had rejected Yeshua for adequate reasons? To be honest with ourselves we must evaluate their arguments for ourselves.

Indeed, when God spoke through Moses he commanded the people to carefully evaluate the claims of every person who claimed to be a prophet
(Deuteronomy 13 and 18:15–22). If one passes these tests, that prophet must be believed and obeyed. God says that to fail to hear and obey that prophet would bring judgment (18:19). Deuteronomy 18 is being disobeyed when one only listens to the arguments of Yeshua's opponents and not to the arguments of Yeshua's advocates and to Yeshua's own words.

Whatever the reasons others have rejected Yeshua as the Messiah, no honest Jewish person can consider him or herself to be truly Jewish without evaluating the evidence for oneself. The deepest sense of one's Jewishness resides in the most ancient goals and longings and anticipations of Judaism. And there are few things more primal to Judaism than the longing for the coming of the Anointed One.


(Note: For further inquiry we would refer the reader to the endnotes. The topics noted in the endnotes in bold print are provided for easier reference. In this study CE and BCE will be used in place of AD and BC respectively.)

We hope to show that Daniel 9:24–26, Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, demonstrates the existence of the God of the Hebrew scripture who has sent his Messiah and the identity of the Messiah. Indeed, with nothing more than this prophecy and one other we will see that one and only one individual could be the Messiah: Yeshua, Jesus, of Nazareth. Other Messianic prophecies support this claim, some even independently of other prophecies and other historical evidence2. None, we believe, is as difficult to deny as this one. In conjunction with other traditional evidence for Christianity, such as the evidence for the resurrection, this prophecy becomes enormously more powerful for demonstrating the existence of God and the messiahship of Yeshua.
 
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

24 Seventy weeks are decreed
for your people and your holy city:
to finish transgressions,
to put an end to sin,
and to atone for iniquity;
to bring everlasting righteousness
to seal both vision and prophet,
and to anoint a most holy place.

25
Know therefore and understand:
from the time that the word went out
to restore and rebuild Jerusalem
until the time of
an anointed prince,

there shall be seven weeks;

and for sixty-two weeks


[
there will be seven weeks
and sixty-two weeks;]

it shall be built again
with streets and moat,
but in troubled times.

26 After the sixty-two weeks,
an
anointed one shall be cut off
and shall have nothing,
and the troops of
the prince who is to come
shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Its end shall come with a flood,
and to the end there shall be war.
Desolations are decreed.

27 He shall make a strong covenant
with many for one week,

and for half of the week


[but in the middle of the week]

he shall make sacrifice and offering cease;

and in their place shall be
an abomination that desolates,

[and on the wing of abominations
will come one who makes desolate]

until the decreed end
is poured out on the desolator.

Daniel 9:24–27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

(Bold print added to pinpoint important terms and translation differences. New American Standard Bible translation [NASB] is in brackets for the alternate translation of the previous line or lines which are in NRSV. For easier future reference,
link here to this passage and other charts below.)

We will argue the following: Daniel 9:25 states that "from the issuing of a command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be 7 sevens and 62 sevens." This must be the Messiah and not merely "an anointed one" like any normal king, priest, or prophet, as some would argue. This time period ends on 30 March (or 10 Nisan) 33 CE. The origin point of the prophesied time period is at the time of Artaxerxes' command given on 5 March (1 Nisan) of 444 BCE (Nehemiah 2:1–8). The prophesied time period, 7 sevens and 62 sevens, following the ancient 360 day calendars, equals 476 solar years plus 25 days. The terminal point of the prophecy, 476 solar years and 25 days from 5 March 444 BCE is 30 March 33 CE.

Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a donkey to the praise and shouts of the crowds, just as Zechariah had foretold of Messiah (9:9, John 12:13). But this occurred on Monday, 30 March 33 CE, the very day Daniel said the Anointed One would come. This was also the day the Pascal lambs were being selected for slaughter. Again, as Daniel foretold that after that Messiah would be "cut off," so Yeshua was crucified only a few days later on Friday, 3 April (14 Nisan), when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed.

One early account records Yeshua's contemporary, Yohanna (John) the "immerser" or "baptizer," as saying that Yeshua is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Yeshua died on a part of the same mountainous structure which formed the foundation of Jerusalem. Here some twenty centuries earlier "God provided his own sacrifice" (Genesis 22:8, 14) as a substitute for Abraham's commanded and nearly executed sacrifice of his son Isaac. With a dust storm on the day of Yeshua's death and a lunar eclipse that evening, the sun was darkened and the moon had turned to blood: a sign in the heavens which the Hebrew prophets had reserved for the most ominous and spiritually significant events of history. Less than 40 years later, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, again as Daniel had foretold (9:26).

So not only do the prophecies indicate that Yeshua was the promised Messiah, but the events of his life and death perfectly fit his claim to be the one foretold who would die in our place—as our substitute—to remove our sin and bring us back to God.
3

A Prediction of the Coming of Messiah

The anointed prince and the anointed one are the same person who will come at the end of sixty-nine sevens.
Daniel 9:25 and 26 speak of the coming of "an anointed prince" and an "anointed one" respectively. On the basis of what is in essence the Masoretic punctuation of the text, some will argue that these are two distinct individuals appearing at different times. Some will also claim that because the terms have no articles, they must not speak of the Messiah but simply two anointed ones. The above text from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible reflects this view. (Portions of the New American Standard Version is included for an alternate reading of certain important phrases.)

Daniel 9:25 should read, "seven sevens and sixty-two sevens." Thus the time of the anointed prince of v. 25 will be as the NASV indicates, at the end of 7 sevens and 62 sevens, not merely the first 7 sevens. With this, the exact time of the anointed prince can be determined. The anointed prince and the anointed one mentioned in Daniel 9:25–26 respectively are also likely speaking of the same individual. We will argue for these conclusions by considering the following objections and arguments.

A disjunctive punctuation mark indicating a separation between the 7 sevens and the 62 sevens is found in the accepted Masoretic text. As the above NRSV indicates, this would mean that the first mentioned anointed prince would come after only the first 7 sevens. But this punctuation mark, the
athmach, was added in the ninth or tenth century CE and its placement here cannot be shown to reflect the original intent of the author. Furthermore, the athmach is elsewhere placed in passages in which its addition makes no logical sense while it does add to the musical flow of the passage in the Hebrew. It clearly cannot be used to argue for a logical or syntactical separation in the two sets of numbers.4

Another problem with this reading involves the words in v. 25: "it [Jerusalem] shall be built again with streets and moat, but in troubled times." This more likely applies to the time of the first 7 sevens, not a later time. This was the uneasy time of rebuilding after the Exile. After the first 7 sevens there was no significant rebuilding of the city, particularly of its defenses as the passage indicates, during turbulent times. Before the time the first 7 sevens ended the builders worked with sword always near at hand and with watchmen constantly looking for their enemy. But to make this passage place a grammatical separation between the 7 and the 62 sevens would put this rebuilding during the 62 sevens. Note how the NRSV puts it: "until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, . . ." Therefore the better reading would be "until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It shall be built again with streets and moat, but in troubled times." This reading does not force this rebuilding during the second group of sevens, the 62 sevens.

It was a common idiom to use the word "after" to mean "at the same time."
For example, in Jesus' time it was said that he would rise from the dead "after three days" and also that it would be "on the third day." These expressions meant the same thing.

If the anointed one of v. 26 is the same person as the anointed ruler of v. 25, then the time sequence makes sense. There will be 69 weeks until the anointed ruler comes and then after or at the time of the 69th week he will be cut off. If the time of this individual's coming can thus be determined, more information might be discovered about him that would shed light on the significance of his death. 

If Daniel is here speaking of two anointed ones, so long as the 7 and 62 seven are followed consecutively, as would be the most natural reading of the MT, we would still end with 69 weeks until the second anointed one, who turns out to be Jesus. We reach this conclusion if Artaxerxes’ commissioning of Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem is the word to rebuild spoken of in Daniel 9:25. In that case, however, there would be no anointed one appearing on the first 7 sevens. If the word to rebuild is Jeremiah’s prophecy that it will be rebuilt spoken a year before the city’s destruction, then the first anointed one could be Cyrus but we end with no anointed one appearing after the 69th seven.

Of course some will say that this just shows that this was a false prophecy, miscalculated and made up to encourage the beleaguered Jews under Greek oppression. Still, if a feasible alternative works, the failed alternative does not disprove the working one. If we have an anointed one/Messiah only appearing at the end of the 69th seven under one starting date and only one appearing after the first 7 sevens under another, the better understanding of the passage is that no Messiah/anointed one was actually predicted to appear after the first 7 sevens and that the MT misreads the text. The anointed one/Messiah of v. 25 is likely identical with the anointed one of v. 26.

Consider the dates that have been variously offered for the decree which would originate the seventy weeks period (9:25):

(1.1) 605, 597 BCE
Jeremiah's prophecies of the Jewish people’s future restoration after an exile of 70 years
(Jeremiah 25:11–12, and 29:10).

(1.2) 587 BCE
Jerusalem’s rebuilding prophesied
by Jeremiah a year before it was destroyed
(Jeremiah 30:18).

(1.3) 539/538 BCE
King Cyrus' decree to rebuild the Temple
and for the first return of the exiles
(2 Chronicles 36:22–23, Ezra 1:1–4).

This was almost exactly the same date
Daniel was given his prophecy. So if
Daniel’s prophecy itself is taken as the
decree to rebuild, we would use this date.

(1.4) 521 BCE
Darius' decree to rebuilt the Temple
after finding Cyrus’ earlier decree.
(Ezra 6:1–12).
 
(1.5) 457 BCE
Artaxerxes I decreed the financing of the rebuilding of the Temple
(Ezra 7:12–26).
 
(1.6) 444 BCE
Artaxerxes I commanded Nehemiah to
lead the rebuilding of Jerusalem
(Nehemiah 2:5–8).

(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this list is available
here for easier future reference.)
 
Jeremiah's prophecies (1.1) speak of only the return of the exiles after seventy years. Jeremiah’s oracle that the city will be rebuilt (1.2) could also be the decree, in this case a divine word, that it will be rebuilt. The others only speak of rebuilding the Temple.

Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus would say “let [Jerusalem] be rebuilt” (44:28) and that he would rebuild it (45:13). He explicitly decreed only the rebuilding of the Temple and return of the exiles (1.3). Some rebuilding would have been necessary for the returning exiles to live and have businesses and this is what Isaiah’s prophecies my have been alluding to. But Cyrus did not command the kind of full rebuilding of the city that Daniel 9:25 indicates: “to restore and rebuild . . . with streets and moat,” so this is not likely the decree of Daniel 9:25. Isaiah’s recording of Cyrus’ statement cannot be dated except to assume that it could be close to or an unrecorded part of the command in Ezra 1:1–4.

The prophecy of Daniel 9 is not itself likely to be the word/command since the angel seems to be speaking of a distinct word to rebuild in v. 25. The prophecy involves several issues but it says little about the rebuilding. It says it will be fully rebuilt “with street and moat” in difficult times and the end of the first 7 sevens likely indicates when it will be finished, but otherwise this is a minor part of the prophecy.

Darius’ decree to rebuild the Temple (1.4) was a reaffirmation of Cyrus’ decree but given years later after some had come to question the work that was being done in Jerusalem.

The decree of Artaxerxes I in 457 (Ezra 7:12–26; 1.5 above) is sometimes claimed to be the command mentioned in Daniel 9:25. The passage in Ezra states that of the funds to be used for rebuilding the Temple, Ezra may use whatever might be in excess as it would seem good to him (7:18). It is possible that Ezra took this to mean he could use some of it to start to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls (9:9). Upon receiving a complaint that the city was being rebuilt, Artaxerxes decreed that the city not be rebuilt unless or until he would say it should be (4:11). Possibly Artaxerxes' decree in chapter 4 forbidding rebuilding the city followed his decree recorded in chapter 7 financing the building of the Temple. Whether given before of after, Artaxerxes was very clear that he did not intend the city to be rebuilt via his financing decree. No mention of rebuilding the city is found in the Temple financing decree of chapter 7. So the financing decree cannot be used as the origin point of Daniel's prophesied time table.

Of these several possible reconstruction decrees or words before, during, and after the exile, only Artaxerxes' commissioning of Nehemiah 2:5–6 (1.6 above) best depicts a command to fully rebuild Jerusalem.
5 Artaxerxes was ruler over the dominant Persian empire after Babylon's destruction. Nehemiah 2:1–8 records that in the month of Nisan in Artaxerxes' 20th year, Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, was given permission to go to Jerusalem and conduct its rebuilding.

Assuming that any of the above seven possible decrees and words (1.3 is the date of two possible decrees) might be the origin point of the prophesied time period (the
terminus a quo), we reach something close to the following dates for the 49th year (the 7th seven).

 
The date of the 7th seven.

(2.1) 556, 548 BCE
(2.2) 538 BCE
(2.3) 490/89 BCE
(2.4) 472 BCE
(2.5) 408 BCE
(2.6) 395 BCE


(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this list is available
here for easier future reference.)

Possible candidates for the first anointed ruler are the Persian king, Cyrus; Jeshua, the post-exilic high priest; and Zerubbabel, the postexilic governor of Judah. Cyrus' date would be 539; Jeshua and Zerubbabel's would be about 537 or slightly later.

One argument claiming that there must be two different anointed ones spoken of in these two verses would say that if there were only one, then v. 25 would say, "from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be sixty-nine weeks." It would not say, as it does, "seven weeks and sixty-two weeks" (whatever the punctuation). There would be no reason to distinguish between the two groups of sevens unless they pinpointed two different anointed ones.

But by this same reasoning we might think that it should not even say sixty-nine sevens; why doesn't it just say that there will be 493 years or units of time? Why should there even be a distinction between the "sixty-nine" and the "sevens"? The answer is that just as the units of weeks of years were significant earlier in the chapter, so they are still prophetically significant here. Likewise there is a prophetic significance in the first 7 weeks just as there is in the second unit of weeks, the 62 weeks. There is a prophetic significance in the distinction between the two. The first unit of time brings us to the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem; the second unit brings us to the time of an anointed one who will be killed. So the distinction between the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks gives us no reason to see two anointed ones.

The anointed one of Daniel 9:25 and 26 is the Messiah, and he is Yeshua, Jesus. First of all, we do have to admit that merely because Daniel 9:25 and 26 say that this is an anointed ruler and anointed one respectively does not in itself mean these two must refer to the Messiah. No article is present before the anointed prince of v. 25 or the anointed one of v. 26. So v. 26 should read "an anointed one" rather than "the anointed one" just as v. 25 should read "an anointed ruler." Priests, prophets, and kings were specially anointed of God for their roles. Obviously, that does not mean that just any priest or king could be the Messiah. Some patriarchs were also spoken of as anointed.

However, this does not prove that either the anointed one of v. 26 or the anointed prince of v. 25 cannot be the Messiah. Michael Brown points out that "the Hebrew language can sometimes specify a particular person or event without using the definite article, as recognized by the standard grammars and, in certain phrases, in virtually all translations."
6 This is much like the modern Jewish usage of the term. Jewish people have for many centuries now omitted any definite article before the word; they have spoken of the Messiah as simply "Maschiach." Daniel 9:25 was taken by many before the time of Jesus to be speaking of the Messiah.7

Secondly, we need to recognize that no claimed Messianic prophecy is definitely Messianic. They will speak of "the Lord," "the branch," "a son of David," a "root of Jesse," "a ruler," "a star," etc. Only by analyzing the text and the context can we determine if the prophecy is speaking of the Messiah. Indeed, Daniel 9:25–26 comes closest to explicitly identifying this prophesied individual with the word used for the Messiah.

The reason Daniel 9 must be speaking of the Messiah is as follows: First of all, we have seen that it is most likely that the anointed ruler of v. 25 appears at the end of the 69th week. Vs. 25 and 26 are speaking of only one individual. The anointed one is the same as the anointed ruler.

Secondly, we can identify only one person who appeared on the very day Daniel said the anointed ruler of v. 25 would appear after the 69 weeks because he fulfilled another Messianic prophecy on that day. Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a donkey to the acclaim of the crowds thus fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. Because he fulfilled Daniel 9:25 so precisely, Jesus must be the anointed one of v. 26.

Thirdly, because this was one who was specially anointed of God, we should accept any claims he would make and especially the claims he would make for himself. If there could be a deceiving or evil anointed one, we would expect that the prophet Daniel would have mentioned this. If this anointed one should claim to be the Messiah and be lying, wouldn't Daniel give some hint of his clearly and uniquely evil nature?

Next, the king in Zechariah 9:9 is normally taken to be the Messiah. Now it may be difficult but it is not necessarily miraculous for someone to enter Jerusalem on a donkey and for him to get crowds of people to acclaim him as Messiah—as happened to Jesus. So certainly even a false Messiah might be able to fulfill Zechariah 9:9 alone. But if a particular man does fulfill this prophecy of the coming Messiah and does so on the very day Daniel said an anointed one would come, this anointed one must be the true Messiah. In this case the "anointed one" of Daniel 9:25 and 26 must mean
Messiah. To be able to fulfill such a prophecy to the very day requires greater than normal human power and/or intelligence, so this is not something a normal charlatan could do to persuade the people that he is the Messiah. Also, one prophecy tells us the individual is the Messiah but he is identified by fulfilling another prophecy which says when the anointed one will appear. If one says Messiah will do X and another says when an anointed one will appear and if both occur on the same day, this must be the Messiah. At least this must be the conclusion of anyone who accepts the authority of the Hebrew scripture. And from the fact that Jesus fulfilled both prophecies to the very day one of the prophecies predicted, even those who do not accept the authority of the Hebrew scripture would have to admit that this is very likely the work of a superintelligent power.

We have claimed earlier that no purported Messianic prophecy is necessarily Messianic. So if it is questioned whether Zechariah 9:9 does truly speak of the Messiah, let's assume for the sake of the argument that it does not. Because this anointed one of Daniel 9:26 has also fulfilled Zechariah 9:9, and because Zechariah here speaks of a worthy, just, and anticipated king of Judah, we should expect that this is not an evil king. If this king who is specially anointed of God claims to be the Messiah, we should accept that this claim is true.

Finally, we have good reason to believe that Yeshua, the one who fulfilled Zechariah 9:9 on the day Daniel said an anointed one would appear, did claim to be the Messiah. At his trial he admitted upon direct questioning that he was the Messiah and said that they would see him, the Son of Man, coming on the clouds—a direct allusion to the superhuman heavenly figure of Daniel 7. All of the Synoptic Gospels claim this (Matthew 26:63–65, Mark 14:61–63, Luke 22:69–71). He also claimed to be the Son of God. To call oneself the Son of God and the Son of man of Daniel 7 was taken as blaspheme and this is most likely the reason he was condemned. He was not necessarily claiming to be equal with God, however. Nevertheless, by claiming to be the Son of man, he was likely claiming to be more than a normal human.
8 We would refer the reader to the writings of scholars like Bruce, Guthrie, Blumberg, and Bauckham among others for the evidence that these writing are basically reliable historically (see bibliography).

If we were to exclude any statements from the Gospels that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, we should recognize that his followers definitely claimed this of him. From writings dating less than twenty years after Jesus' death and from historical accounts describing events almost immediately after his death, we have his direct followers (those who knew Jesus while he was alive on earth) and nearly direct followers claiming this: e.g., Peter (Acts 2:31–32), Paul (1 Thessalonians 1:1, Galatians. 1:1). Always his followers call him the Messiah (or in Greek, the Christ). If they claimed this so adamantly and consistently and so early on, is it conceivable that Jesus did not claim this of himself?

Non-biblical sources as well indicate that Jesus was regarded as the Messiah by his followers from the earliest indications that we have. Josephus in the
Jewish Antiquities, written in the 90's, says this. Tacitus (110) and Suetonius (120) do so as well.9 Tacitus says that a large multitude of Christians was arrested in Rome. Historians say this would be about 64 CE. Tacitus says they were named after their leader, whom he called Christus (or Christ) and who was executed in Judaea under Pilate during Tiberius' reign. Suetonius tells of the Jews being expelled from Rome because of disturbances at the instigation of one “Chrestus.” This would have been in 49. Most historians take this as indicating some of the early conflicts between the Christian and non-Christian Jews—conflicts because of one who was called Christ. The first Christians were exclusively Jewish and, until Paul’s missionary work, only slowly allowed in Gentiles. The book of Acts describes similar early intra-Jewish conflicts.

The basic logic of this argument may be summarized as follows:

1) On the very day Daniel's prophecy of a coming anointed ruler was fulfilled, Zechariah's prophecy of a coming king was also fulfilled (9:9). It was Yeshua who fulfilled both prophecies on this day. Yeshua was thus the predicted specially anointed ruler. Such an event is far too unlikely to have occurred by chance.

2) Daniel's prophecy gives no indication that this is an evil king or anointed one. Such a specially prophesied individual would have been depicted as evil or a deceiver if he truly was. Zechariah depicts him as a good and trustworthy king.

3) Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.

4) Because Yeshua is demonstrated to be this trustworthy king and anointed one and because he claimed to be the Messiah, Daniel 9's 'anointed one' must mean Messiah and Yeshua must be the Messiah.

Another argument can be given that "an anointed one" of v. 26 must be Yeshua. First of all, this anointed one will be cut off or killed the text says. The death of Yeshua had been ascribed very great spiritual significance both by his followers and by himself.
10

Secondly, Yeshua can arguably be claimed to fulfill all six of the infinitives of v. 24, the events that must occur by the time all seventy weeks are fulfilled. Only the application of the last infinitive to Yeshua—“to anoint the most holy”—might be more questioned than the others. The word "place" is not found in the original text. So it could apply to the anointing of Yeshua which may have occurred at his baptism. But if the text cannot refer to the anointing of Yeshua and it must refer to a place—as some would argue—then it likely refers to the anointing of the holy place when the second Temple was completed. One could also argue that his death fulfills one or even several of these infinitives.
11

Thirdly, the time of Yeshua's death fits the time Daniel said this anointed one's death would occur (v. 26). Yeshua's death was four days "after" the day the 69th seven was fulfilled. We have pointed out earlier that "after" might indicate some indeterminate time after an event. But it could and often does indicate a short time after the event or even the same time as the event. So Jesus' death four days after the end of the 69th week does fit the prediction of v. 26.

Fourthly, no other Messianic or non-Messianic candidate who might be claimed to fit the identity of the anointed one of v. 26 had a death that can be ascribed any spiritual significance at all (other than the obvious significance their deaths would have to themselves and those close to them). Why would Daniel's prophecy mention this anointed one's death if that death had no significance? Would it not apply to one whose death is at least claimed to have had enormous significance; enough significance that one or more of the infinitives of v. 24 have been applied to him?

To look at this argument a little more closely, consider the other possible candidates who are sometimes claimed to be the anointed one, the one who would be cut off after the 69th week:

1) The high priest Onias III, who very possibly was killed in 171 BCE. (Josephus contests that he was murdered at this time.)

2) King Agrippa I, d. 44 CE. This is the usual traditional Jewish candidate.

3) Alexander Yani, an evil high priest, 103–76 BCE
12

Considering the possible dates claimed for the origin point of this prophecy which we had mentioned earlier, we can determine the end of the 69 weeks. The date calculated using normal solar years is given first; the date calculated using the ancient 360 day calendars is to the right of the double slash signs. Numbers 3.1–3.6 below correspond to the listed numbers given earlier (1.1–1.6 and 2.1–2.6).

The date of the 69th seven.

(3.1) 122 or 114 BCE // 129 or 121 BCE
(3.2) 104 BCE
// 111 BCE
(3.3) 56/55 BCE
// 63/62 BCE
(3.4) 38 BCE
// 45 BCE
(3.5) 27 CE
// 20 CE
(3.6) 40 CE
// 33 CE

(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this list is available
here for easier reference.)

None of the individuals listed above (1–3) had a death that was of any spiritual significance or any significance for the history of the Jewish people. Only Yeshua could claim that. And we have argued earlier that only the origin point corresponding to list item 3.6 above is likely. Only the one who came and died in 33 CE could be the Messiah. (For other arguments that Daniel 9 predicts the time of Messiah's coming see note
13.)

Argument in Detail: The Date of the Prophecies Fulfillment.
We now need to consider in greater detail the evidence that Yeshua appeared in history at the end of the 69th week, the date Daniel predicted the anointed one would appear. First we need to consider in more detail the date of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9. We will first look at the evidence that the decree or command of which this prophecy speaks was given by Artaxerxes on 5 March 444 BCE.

Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon in 586 BCE (Figure 1). Most of Jerusalem's inhabitants were taken into exile at that time and many were taken earlier. About 48 years after the initial occupation, around 538, Daniel, one of the exiles, is purportedly given a visitation by the angel Gabriel and is given this prophecy. Now the book of Daniel is often considered to have been written much later, around 160 BCE, largely because of the very accurate predictions of the history of this period. But the late dating is not likely; the evidence for a sixth century BCE date is difficult to refute if considered honestly and rigorously. However, either date could be admitted for our study. This issue makes no difference to the coming arguments since the events would in either case be far beyond the control of any normal human power.
14

Terminus A Quo.
The prophecy speaks of a decree or command to rebuild Jerusalem. Of several possible reconstruction decrees or commands of this period (1.1–1.6) only the one given by Artaxerxes in 444 refers to rebuilding Jerusalem and not the Temple. We have pointed out earlier that the reconstruction depicted in verse 25, "it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress," portrays the situation of Nehemiah's reconstruction under Artaxerxes' order. We have seen that other possible words/decrees to rebuild in this list are also less likely than Artaxerxes’ commissioning.

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(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this chart is available here for easier reference.)
 
The first year of Artaxerxes' reign was 1 Tishri (September/October) 464–1 Tishri 463 by the Jewish reckoning. His 20th year then was September/October 445 to September/October 444.15 The asterisks (*) on the graph in figure 2 indicate the beginning of Artaxerxes' first year and the beginning of his twentieth year. Nisan (March/April) of Artaxerxes' twentieth year would then be in 444. Using astronomical calculations, the first day of Nisan for that year can be determined to be 5 March.16 Though Nehemiah 2 does not specify the exact day of the month, there is some good reason to believe that these events occurred on the first.17

 
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(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this chart is available here for easier reference.)

Length of Prophesied Period of Time. We have determined the time at which this prophecy was to begin. We now need to ask what the predicted period of time to be covered would be. The passage states that from the time of the command "until Messiah the Prince are seven sevens and sixty-two sevens." We will see that these are sevens of years of 360 days each. We have argued earlier that it should not read that Messiah will come only after the first seven sevens.

"Weeks" literally means "sevens." Usually it means seven days but the context indicates that units of seven years are intended.
18 The years considered were 360 days long as this reflects some of the dominant calendar systems of the time as well as the most ancient known calendar of Hebrew or pre-Hebrew history.19 Using these sevens to indicate a period of years of any other feasible length, we would reach or come close to Yeshua's lifetime.20 Following some possible starting dates but we would not come close to any possible Messianic contender. In some other instances we do come close to possible contenders for an anointed one or a Messiah, but only when accept an unfeasible starting date.

The 7 sevens and 62 sevens of 360 day years equal 476 solar years plus 25 days. Add 7 and 62 to get 69. Then 69 sevens is 483. So we have a total of 483 years of 360 days each. The total number of days would then be 173,880. A solar year has 356.2422 days. The total number of days, 173,880, divided by 365.2422 would give us the number of solar years, which would be 476.06767. The final fraction of years, 0.06767, is 24.719539 days or (rounded off) 25 days (.06767 years times 365.2422 days per year). So we have 476 solar years plus 25 days.

Terminus Ad Quem. We have determined the origin point of this prophecy and the amount of time to be covered. At what point in time does the prophesied time period end? With 476 solar years plus 25 days after 5 March (1 Nisan) 444 BCE we reach 30 March (10 Nisan) 33 CE. To get this we first do simple subtraction: 476-444=32. We then add one year to 32 to get 33 since there is no year "0." For example, 5 years after 3 BCE is 3 CE: (5-3=2)+1=3. If it would help to visualize this, consider the diagram in Figure 3.
 
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(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this diagram is available here for easier reference.) 

So exactly 476 years after 5 March 444 BCE would put us at 5 March 33 CE. Add the extra 25 days on to that and we arrive at 30 March 33 CE. This was on Monday, the date of Yeshua's triumphal entry into Jerusalem a few days before his death on Friday (See Figure 1).

Yeshua’s Appearance: Triumphal Entry on Monday, 30 Mar 33 C.E.

Triumphal entry on a Monday on the week prior to Passover. The first question we will ask is, What is the evidence that the triumphal entry occurred on a Monday? If we accept a Friday crucifixion (which we will give evidence for shortly) the following considerations make a Monday entry most likely.

Sunday is traditionally accepted as the day Yeshua entered Jerusalem. But Monday better fits the chronology of events as depicted in the earliest surviving biographies, the Gospel accounts. Assuming a Sunday entry, we have one day, Wednesday, unaccounted for. This is unlikely because the account is so detailed for this week that it is improbable that the events of any particular day would be left out.

Furthermore, since the Gospels indicate that these events occurred on the week prior to Passover, Monday would have been the day the Pascal lambs were selected for their slaughter on Friday and Yeshua was killed on Friday.

Yeshua saw himself as the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, the lamb which would die as a substitute for the people (see again endnote
3). Daniel 9:26 begins by saying that after the last 62 weeks (the last of the 69 sevens) Messiah will be "cut off." The term implies a sudden, violent end such as we would find in a death by execution.

Until Rashi in the eleventh century, the rabbis almost without exception accepted that Isaiah 53 spoke of an individual person, and very often the Messiah. Until then no authoritative rabbinical traditions accepted that it spoke of Israel or a righteous remnant of Israel. Some thought only the specific statements concerning the Servant of the Lord's suffering and death didn't apply to Messiah. Some sought to reconcile the statements of the Servant's death with other prophecies of Messiah's eternal reign by positing two Messiahs: a Messiah ben Joseph who would die and a Messiah ben David who would reign forever. Sometimes even the Davidic Messiah would be said to suffer (though not die).
21 Yeshua reconciled the prophecies by claiming that he would die, rise from the dead, reign in the presence of God in heaven, and return to the earth in the clouds. He would then reign of the Son of Man of Daniel 7.

Believing himself to be the one who would fulfill the typology of the sacrificial lamb, it would not at all be a problem for him, as it is for that segment of Judaism which rejects his teaching, to know that the Temple sacrifices would cease with the destruction of the Temple. The Torah, the Law of Moses, is quite clear that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood: "for it is the blood that makes atonement," the Lord says (Leviticus 17:11).
22

The suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 depicted one who would fulfill the symbol of the sacrificial lamb (as was the Passover lamb) whose life would be given as a substitute for the people. He would bear the sins of the people to bring them back to God. Yeshua died as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. If this was something he had arranged, he would probably have also planned his entry into Jerusalem—when he would be "selected" and acclaimed king—to be on Monday when the Pascal lambs were selected.

Of course it may be questioned whether any normal person could so arrange the timing and the occurrence of such historic events. If so, then the fact that Yeshua died when the lambs were slain may give us reason to think that a power greater than any normal human power had arranged these events. Wouldn't this "power" have also arranged Yeshua's triumphal entry to occur on that almost equally significant Monday? So if the crucifixion occurred on Friday, the triumphal entry would have occurred on the previous Monday.

Yeshua crucified on a Friday. What, then, is the evidence that Yeshua died on Friday? The historical accounts all indicate that the crucifixion was on the day of preparation, which normally meant Friday, the day of preparation for the Sabbath.23 Mark 15:42 specifically states that this was the day before the Sabbath.24

Yeshua crucified on 14 or 15 Nisan, Passover eve or Passover day. I will argue that the crucifixion occurred on 14 Nisan, the eve of the official Passover and the date the lambs were being sacrificed. (This we will call a harmonizing view, see figure 4, HV A, B, and C. By some technical variations in the dating systems used, certain Jewish parties might have considered the crucifixion to be on the 15th, though by the official Jewish calendar it would have been the 14th. See HV B & C. If either B or C occurred, the differences would have been officially tolerated. HV A indicates an unofficial observance of a Passover meal.) John 18:28 tells of some not wanting to defile themselves on the morning of Yeshua's trial and crucifixion in order that they might eat the Passover that evening. The Passover meal and seder occurred that evening, the lambs having been slain in the afternoon. Because the Passover was seen as beginning with the Passover seder and because a new day began at sunset in Jewish reckoning, Passover day, 15 Nisan, began at sunset with the seder. The Babylonian Talmud would confirm this dating when it says that "On the eve of Passover, Yeshua (ms. M: the Nazarene) was hanged."25

There is some evidence that Yeshua was killed on the following day, on 15 Nisan by official dating, Passover day, instead of 14 Nisan (this we will call the traditional view; see figure 4, TV). At any rate, we do know that many Jews did observe Passover a day early and with that I would claim that the evidence most adequately points to a crucifixion on 14 Nisan (Passover eve) which is also 15 Nisan (Passover day) by an officially tolerated but unofficial calendar variation which Jesus followed.
26 To be certain of our date we will include the possibility of both an official 14 and a 15 Nisan crucifixion date. So we will be looking for a Thursday and a Friday 14 Nisan.
 
 
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(Unless you have already pulled up the list and charts as a separate page, this diagram is available here for easier reference. Note: the above figure 4 refers in error to fn. 24, 25, and 28 for further explanation and discussion of this figure. Go instead to fn. 26, 27, and 30.)
 
Yeshua died in 33 CE. We can first set the limits between 26 and 36 CE. We know that Pilate, the appointed governor who tried Yeshua, began his office in 26 CE at the earliest. Josephus states that Pilate governed 10 years and that Tiberius died (which was in 37) before Pilate reached Rome.27 So it is most likely that he began his reign in 26 and left Judaea in the winter of 36/37. Caiaphas, the high priest at Yeshua's trial, was deposed on the Passover of 37.28 So the latest Yeshua could have died would have been on the Passover of 36.

If we should go no further in determining the exact date of Yeshua's death, we should recognize that we have here a prophecy of the appearance of the Messiah whose fulfillment occurs well within the time of Yeshua's life. This is so even in some cases in which the 360 day years are not followed.

Daniel 9:26 continues by saying that after Messiah is killed, "the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Though the term for
destroy could indicate a weaker defilement or partial destruction, the more likely meaning describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Malachi 3:1 also confirms that Messiah will come before the Temple is destroyed: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. (New International Version, NIV)

Moishe Rosen comments that, "Even if one were to totally avoid the startling evidence of those computations, one fact stands crystal-clear in this passage—the Messiah had to come before the destruction of the Temple and the holy city. If Jesus is not the Messiah, what figure in his generation was?"
29

We now need to determine the exact year of Yeshua's death. (For the following it may be helpful to refer to the previous
chart in Figure 4.) The 14th of Nisan fell on a Friday in 33 as well as, very likely, 30 CE. However, there is also a good possibility that it instead fell on Thursday in 30. It fell on Thursday in 27 unless atmospheric conditions were very poor at the beginning of that month, in which case it would have fallen on Friday. With unusually bad weather conditions in 34, 14 Nisan could have fallen on Thursday.30 With this the following lines of evidence point to 33 CE as the year Yeshua died.

Between 26 and 36 CE a lunar eclipse occurred on the Passover of 33 but on none other. We also have some indication that a lunar eclipse occurred, turning the moon blood-red, when Yeshua died. Centuries earlier the Hebrew prophet Joel foretold that the moon would be turned to blood and the sky would be darkened, "before that great and dreadful day of the Lord."
31 Other scriptures indicate that such phenomena in the stars and heavens are reserved for the most prophetically significant events of history.32 The comments of one observer shortly after Yeshua's death indicate that the moon was eclipsed and that this was just such a prophetically significant time.33 Latter tradition, which might have come from much earlier sources, likewise indicates that the moon had turned blood-red at the time of his death.34

One important line of evidence from political history indicates that Yeshua died after 32 CE. From historians such as Philo, Josephus, and Luke we find Pilate depicted as a headstrong, greedy, and vicious governor perfectly fitted for the anti-Semitic goals of Sejanus who appointed him.
35 But the Pilate depicted in the passion narratives was almost a broken man, fearful of the Jewish leaders.36 This gives us reason to believe that Yeshua died after Sejanus was deposed and executed in October of 31. Only then, when Pilate's political future was so tenuous and so much in the hands of the Jewish leaders, could we expect his character to be so changed.37

A crucifixion on the Passover of 32 would have been too soon after Sejanus' death for Pilate to have a complete change of mind. It also would have been too soon if, as was most likely, the votive shields episode intervened. This final insult to the Jewish nation, Pilate's placement of gilded votive shields in Herod's former palace, brought an official complaint from Jewish leaders to Caesar and, in turn, Tiberius' strong reprimand to Pilate.
38 With this incident Pilate had no doubt that he had better not again offend the Jewish leaders.

So the crucifixion would have been between 33 and 36. Between 33 and 36 only 33 and 34 were years 14 Nisan fell on a Friday or Thursday (respectively) and the latter is a possibility only if an extra leap month had been added because of bad weather. Again the evidence points to a 33 crucifixion.

We have more evidence of a 33 execution in that we can pinpoint four Passovers in Yeshua's ministry,
39 the first of which occurred in 29 or 3040 and the last one being at the time of the crucifixion. So exactly three years from the Passover of 29 and of 30 would put us at the death of Yeshua on the Passover of 32 and 33 respectively (and 32 can be excluded because neither Passover eve nor Passover day occurred on Friday in that year).

With this accumulation of evidence, a 33 crucifixion date is certainly the most likely date. This was Friday, the third of April.

Watching for the evening appearance of the full Pascal moon in order that the Passover meal might begin, observers in Jerusalem instead saw rising above the horizon a moon turned blood-red. This was at 6:20 p.m. A dust storm had hidden the sun from noon until 3 p.m. that day. Yeshua was crucified at about 10 a.m.
41 and died around 3 p.m. when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. He died on a part of the same mountainous structure which formed the foundation of Jerusalem. As was earlier pointed out, very possibly this was the same spot on which, twenty centuries earlier, God "provided his own sacrifice”; God provided a ram to be killed in place of Isaac, whom God had earlier commanded Abraham to sacrifice (Genesis 22, especially vs. 8, 13, 14).42

Earlier in the week of the crucifixion, on Monday, 10 Nisan (30 March), Yeshua had entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds acclaimed him as king as he fulfilled the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. He was "selected" on this same day that the Pascal lambs were being selected for their coming slaughter. This was the same day that Daniel foretold Messiah would come, just as "after that" he foretold that Messiah would be "cut off" (9:26). In less than forty years Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, again, as this same prophecy foretold.

The Meaning of the Seventieth Week

 
We cannot ignore the final week spoken of in Daniel 9. We need to see whether the meaning of the last week has any relevance to our interpretation of the rest of the prophecy.

Verse 27 says that he, either the Messiah or the coming prince who will destroy the city and Temple, will make a strong covenant with many for one week and for half of the week will make sacrifice and offering cease.

The most obvious understanding would be that it was the Roman General Titus who made sacrifice to cease and he did so by besieging Jerusalem and destroying the Temple. The meaning of the covenant he confirmed is not as clear. Possibly this speaks of a covenant with Rome or the Gentile world, a reaffirmed promise, to crush rebelling Judaea.

We run into difficulties if we see the Messiah as the one who will make the covenant with the many on the last week and stop sacrifice in the middle of the week. It is difficult to believe that this entire prophecy could speak so much about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, about the war and desolation, and about the desolator and his coming end; that all of this should be interspersed throughout the last verses of this prophecy; and yet these specific statements should have nothing to do with the actual seventy weeks prophecy. But this is what we must conclude if Messiah makes this covenant and stops the sacrifices. For the wars and the destruction of Jerusalem occur about 30 to 40 years after the 70th week in this view and Jesus does not bring about this destruction. He is not the desolator who will be destroyed (v. 27). So again, it appears more likely that the desolator, Titus, is the prince who is to come in v. 26 and that he determines the time of the last week and halts sacrifices in the middle of the week.

Also, the idea of causing sacrifice and offering to cease seems to most appropriately fit the setting of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (see v. 26b, c, d; 27d). The NRSV actually connects the two very directly, apparently claiming that it is the coming desolator who will cause sacrifice to cease, replacing it with the abomination: (v. 27) "He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."

The greatest problem with this view is that it places a near 40 year gap between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. Messiah comes at the end of the 7 and 62 weeks and is cut off shortly "after" that. Over 30 years later the 70th begins with a covenant being confirmed and then in the middle of that week sacrifices cease. If there is no gap between the 69th and 70th week, we see nothing in the seven years following Jesus’ death which would correspond to the claimed events of the 70th week. What covenant does he make which lasts only a week? How does he make sacrifices cease for only half a week of years or in the middle of the week of years? Certainly Jewish and Gentile Christian scholars as well as non-Christian Jewish scholars have conjectured gaps between any or all of the three segments of this prophecy. But why should we imagine a gap at this particular point between the 69th and 70th week?

A gap at this point would not do harm to any calculation of the time of the last week since the identity of the events of this week and their agent (the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus) are easily discerned. But a gap between the first 7 weeks of years and the next 62 weeks, would destroy our ability to determine just who the anointed one might be. Unlike the participants of the last week, we do not know in advance who the anointed one who comes at the end of the 69th week might be. Because the three segments—the 7 weeks, the 62 weeks, and the last week—are clearly distinguished, there might be an indeterminate time separation between any two or even three of them.

The bottom line is that we must assume that there cannot be a separation between the first and second segment of time unless the author (or Author) of this prophecy intended the identity of the Messiah, from this prophecy at least, to be forever unknown. It is very difficult to imagine that God or even a mere human writer would give us this prophecy to tell us virtually nothing about the anointed one. A gap between the second and third segment, on the other hand, would make no difference in this regard.

Updated Oct 2015


References
1. The evidential force of miracles. Events such as the resurrection and the fulfillment of the seventy weeks prophecy would not be within the power or intelligence of any normal person to arrange or control. Neither would they be the kind of phenomena that could occur by chance. At least that possibility would be too unlikely for any rational person to take seriously. It is not unlikely that one with greater than normal human power and/or intelligence (hereafter, superhuman power/intelligence) could effect such an event. And because we have no antecedent reason to believe that there could not be such a being, the most reasonable conclusion would be that a superhuman power did effect this event.

To the degree we accept a person's normal claims to be true without full proof of those claims, so we should accept one's exceptional claims without full proof or verification. However, we would need at least a proportionately greater degree of evidence than we have for the normal claim.


If an acquaintance (say someone whose credibility is neither established nor questionable) says he has just seen a friend who was not known to be in the area, and if little depended upon my believing him, we wouldn't find it necessary to check this claim in order to believe him. We do not need full proof. If, however, someone were to make a claim of much greater significance, he or she would need to supply evidence for the claim, though not absolute point to point verification. We shouldn't need full proof of Yeshua's claim to know one powerful enough to create the universe if he demonstrates the superhuman power or knowledge of predicting and fulfilling a resurrection from the dead. (Yeshua's claim would be vindicated by the One who effected the resurrection.) By a limited demonstration of superhuman power and/or intelligence we thus have evidence of far greater intelligence and power. And because we would then have reason to believe that Yeshua does have knowledge of such a superpowerful/intelligent being, we can accept his word when he tells us other information about this "God." It also follows that we should accept Yeshua's claim to be the promised Messiah, the one sent and specially anointed of God.


For further discussion, see this writer's article: Dennis Jensen, "
The Logic of Miracles," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 33 (March 1981): 145–53. This journal is now entitled Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.
 
2. Messianic prophecy. If one would look at most of the passages that have been argued as applying to the Messiah and especially to those the rabbis had at one time or another considered Messianic, we would find the following picture.

We would find a Messiah who will


(1) suffer humiliation, rejection, and physical pain,
(Isaiah 52:13–15, Zechariah 12:10, Psalms 22:1–18, Isaiah 53) and

(2) die
(Daniel 9:26, Zechariah 12:10, 13:7, Isaiah 53:5, 8–10,12)

(3) and yet live
(Psalms 16:10, Isaiah 53:10–12) and

(4) reign in the coming age
(Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 7:14).

(5) His death will bear the sins of the world
(Isaiah 53:5, 6, 8,10–12).

(6) A son of David
(Jeremiah 23:5, 6)

(7) whom David, the highest of all human kings
(Psalms 89:27) considered a higher king than himself (Psalms 110:1, 2).

(8) Born in Bethlehem


(9) yet one whose origin was from antiquity, perhaps even from eternity
(Micah 5:2).

(10) One whose suffering closely resembles that of crucifixion
(Psalms 22:1–18) Zechariah 12:10).

(11) One who would appear before the destruction of the second Temple
(Daniel 9:26, Malachi 3:1, 2)

(12) and before certain basic rights of regnal authority would be taken from Judah
(Genesis 49:10) as occurred in the first years of the Common Era (that is, the first years AD). Robert C. Newman, "The Testimony of Messianic Prophecy," in Evidence for Faith, ed. John Warwick Montgomery (Dallas, Tx.: Probe Books, 1991), 208–09. See also Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, Ca.: Here's Life Publishers, Inc., 1979), 168–70.

(13) One who would be a prophet with the authority of Moses
(Deuteronomy. 18:18–19).

(14) One who would save and make followers of people from all nations
(Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 42:4, 49:6, 52:15).

(15) One who would come to the earth in the clouds
(Daniel 7:13–14),

(16) reign over the entire earth and


(17) bring peace to the earth
(Zechariah 9:9–10).

Though one or two of these have yet to be fulfilled, one person and only one person fits the qualifications of fulfilling all the others: a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua.

 

3. Yeshua saw himself as the sacrificial lamb which would die as a substitute for the people.
Isaiah 53 speaks of one who would die as a substitute for the people like a lamb that is led to be sacrificed. Yeshua claimed that the Hebrew scripture indicated that the Messiah must die, clearly referring to Isaiah 53 and similar passages (Luke 24:25–27, 44–46). He earlier said that he would give his life as a substitute or ransom in our place (Matthew 20:28). (Cf. endnote 10.)
 

4.
See Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 1977), 130–31 for further discussion.
 

5.
The prophesied time period began with Artaxerxes' command in Nehemiah 2. Hoehner, Aspects, 119–28; especially 119–21.
 

6.
Michael L Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, 5 vols. (Baker Books, 2003), vol. 3, 91.


7. R. T. Beckwith, “The Significance of the Calendar for Interpreting Essene Chronology and Eschatology” Revue de Qumran 10 (1979–81) 167–202. Cited in John E. Goldingay, Word Biblical Commentary: Daniel, 61 vols. (Dallas: Word, 1989) vol. 30, xxvii. Goldingay even says, “Partly on the basis of Dan 9 the Essenes were actually expecting the messiah between 3 B.C. and A.D. 2.”


8. Was Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin right in condemning Yeshua for blaspheme? There is in fact no law given by Moses which says one cannot claim deity. Only if one cannot prove one’s claims (Deuteronomy 18) would one be condemned as a false prophet, and in this case by extension, a blasphemer. God appeared to Abraham as one man among three walking on a road (Genesis 18). Had they walked into the Sanhedrin in the early first century and one claimed to be God, would the court have condemned him of blaspheme? Clearly they did not have the right to condemn Jesus even if he claimed to be God. Nevertheless, it appears that at his trial, Jesus, though he did likely claim to be more than merely a normal human, did not necessarily claim equality with God.

Daniel 7 speaks of the Son of man as possessing almost if not actually divine attributes. So the promised Messiah could be a supernatural being, perhaps someone like an angel, and possibly even a divine being in some unique relationship with God or possibly even God himself. The Judaism of Jesus’ time certainly did not accept the latter but the idea is not contradictory to the Hebrew scripture. The Son of man of Daniel 7 could also be a normal human figure, however. He comes on the clouds, approaches God, and is given the kingdom of an age (dispensation?) to come. More than likely, the idea of “coming on the clouds” speaks of one who is more than a normal human. But this is not absolutely certain. Clearly all people will be brought to stand before the throne of God (on the day of judgment), so that alone does not require one to be more than a normal human. But again, to approach God on the clouds does more likely indicate at least a supernatural being, perhaps someone like an angelic being, though possibly greater. At one point in the Gospel of John when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he pointed out that the title does not require identification or equality with God (10:34–36) as his opponents claimed. Thus, again, at his trial Jesus did not necessarily claim equality with God though he likely claimed to be more than a mere man.

 

9.
Josephus Jewish Antiquities 20.9.1; 18.3.3 . Tacitus Annals of Imperial Rome 15:44, 2–5. Suetonius Lives of Caesars 5.25.3–5. Robert E. Van Voorst discusses these passages in Jesus Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mi, Eerdmans Pub.: 2000), 29–53, 81–104.
 

10.
See endnote 3. Other sample passages: Luke 9:22, John 18:11, 12:24, Acts 2:23–24, Romans 3:24–25.
 

11.
Brown, Objections, vol. 3, 95–98.
 

12.
Brown, Objections, vol 3, endnote 211, p. 221.
 

13.
Brown, Objections, vol 3, pp. 86–111 (no. 4.18–4.21); Gleason Archer, cited in Brown, endnote 172, p. 217.
 

14.
For arguments for Daniel’s authorship see, for example, Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, Moody Press, 1974), 377–403; International Standard Biblical Encyclopedia, 1979 ed., s.v. “Daniel, Book of" by R. K. Harrison. If a second century date is assumed for this book or merely portions of the book which include chapter 9, this does not mean that the writer was a false prophet, falsely ascribing the writing to Daniel (e.g. Daniel 9:1–2). An unknown second century prophet may have written most of Daniel 9 under divine inspiration whether he or she wrote any other parts of the book. An unknown editor could have found the prophecy and compiled the book ascribing all of it to Daniel.
 

15. Artaxerxes' twentieth year began with Tishri (Sept/Oct) 444 BCE
. Hoehner, Aspects, pp. 127–29. R.A. Parker and W.H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75 (Providence, RI.: Brown University Press, 1956), 32. (A note for the nonspecialist might be helpful for understanding Parker and Dubberstein. Year 20, the 20th year of Artaxerxes I, begins with Nisan in this list because it is the Persian Nisan to Nisan calendar. So the date under Tishri [Tas. on the list for the corresponding Babylonian month of Tashritu] of the 20th year line would be the first day of the first month of the 20th year by the Jewish reckoning. The following Nisan [Nis.] is marked as beginning April 3 [4/3] of 444. Hoehner indicates that this should more likely be the previous month's first day, March 4 [3/4] since Parker and Dubberstein intercalated an extra month one year too soon. Intercalary months had to be added every few years to have the calendar keep up with the solar year.)

For the evidence that Xerxes died in the last half of December of 465 see S. H. Horn and L. H. Wood, "The Fifth-Century Jewish Calendar at Elephantine,"
Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 13 (Jan 1954): 9.

The month of Tishri following Xerxes' death began Artaxerxes' first year, and his 20th year can be determined from that point as Hoehner demonstrates (previous reference 5).

 

16. March 5, 444 BCE was the first day of Nisan of Artaxerxes' twentieth year.
Mathematical calculations indicate that the true new moon (when the moon would be completely invisible) occurred on 2 March. (See Herman Goldstine, New and Full Moons, 1001 B.C. to A.D. 1651 [Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1973], 4 and month number 6891. Note: year 444 BC or BCE is 443 in astronomical years listed here. Also compare Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, 32.) Sighting of the first visible sliver of the new moon determined the beginning of the month. Hoehner comments that "Nisan 1 in 444 B.C. was March 4, or more likely March 5 since the crescent of the new moon would have been first visible so late at night (ca. 10 p.m.) on March 4 and could easily have been missed." Aspects, 138.
 

17. The origin point of the prophesied time period is the first day of Nisan.
The Mishna cites the Jewish practice of having the religious new year of 1 Nisan used as, "a new year for the computation of the reign of kings and for festivals." (Mishna: Rosh ha-Shana 1.1.) This indicates that the prophetic period of the seventy weeks should be computed from 1 Nisan, for surely this is the computation of the reign of a king, indeed, a most important king. We know definitely that the prophecy's origin point was sometime in Nisan and custom indicates that the computation should be dated from the first of that month. We do not know how far back before the Mishnaic period this custom goes. It might be very early. (The above argument is essentially the one given by Sir Robert Anderson in The Coming Prince [London: Pickering and Ingles, 1895], 122.)

There is one other line of evidence this writer has not been able to adequately investigate but which might have potential and should be investigated. This is the fact that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures in the second century BCE) for a particular passage indicates that the first month is intended when the Hebrew text only says the day and year
(Ezekiel 32:17). This might indicate a very early tradition that when a time marker (day, month, etc.) is not mentioned, the first day, month, etc. is intended.

Whether these arguments appear convincing or not we should at least recognize that the first of the month would still be the most plausible date. As in the traditions just cited, so common sense would suggest that when a month is the primary designation for an event, the date selected for that month would most appropriately be the first. Whereas the first is the simplest, most fitting date, any other date would appear gratuitous.

 

18. "Weeks" in Dan 9 indicates units of seven years, not days.
A comparative biblical example is the term normally translated as "ten days." In three cases the context necessitates that it be translated "ten strings" (Hoehner, Aspects, 117). In Daniel 9, "weeks" does not clearly designate any particular unit of time. However, Daniel would have indicated if weeks of days were intended since he elsewhere adds the words "days" when referring to seven days (10:2–3) even though the context alone indicates that seven days is the meaning.

Notice secondly that the context of Daniel 9 is referring to years and multiples of years
(9:1, 2). Because in this context Daniel is specifically considering weeks of years in the past, the seventy weeks of verse 24 would likely be units of years. Daniel had been considering Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10 in the context of Leviticus 26:34–35 (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21) which indicates that seventy sabbatical years have been violated over 490 years or one each seven years. A sabbatical year was each seventh year in which the land was not to be worked. Thus the captivity would last seventy years in compensation. As seventy weeks of years were being considered for the past, so the seventy weeks spoken of by Gabriel in this prophecy (9:24) seem only appropriately applied to units of years.

Finally, the term for "sevens" is used in the Mishna to indicate units of seven years. (Baba Metzia 9. 10; Sanhedrin 5. 1.) Cf. Hoehner,
Aspects, 116–19.
 

19. The years considered were 360 days long.
In ancient times it was not uncommon to use 360 day calendars and to regularly make additions to keep up with the solar year. Egypt and Assyria's calendars would be good examples. The obvious advantage is the simplicity of such systems. Months would have a set number of days (usually 30) and years would have a regular number of months.

Since the length of the years in Daniel 9 is not indicated, we should not assume that these must be solar years or that they must be adjusted to fit solar years. Prima facie, there is no greater likelihood that one length of year would be used than another as long as it is relatively close to a solar year. Ancient calendars were usually intercalated, having extra days added each year or an extra month added every few years, to fit the solar calendar. The people wanted the months of their calendars not to drift from the seasons for which each month was known. But this is not always the case. The Islamic or Hijra Qamari calendar, for example, is a lunar calendar which is never made to fit the solar year.


The 360 day year was used in Babylon and Persia. This prophecy was ostensively given in and it began within the context of the dominion and culture of these empires. Daniel would have been well acquainted with such calendars. The prophecy could be assuming such a calendar which, like the Islamic calendar, was never intended to fit a solar cycle.


Another reason this prophecy might have assumed such a calendar is because the most ancient calendar to be found in scripture had 360 days. This is evident in Noahic times and/or from a subsequent period prior to the time of the Hebrew lunisolar calendar. This can be determined from Genesis 7:11; 8:4; 7:24; and 8:3. We should not consider it unusual that this prophecy should reflect a calendar of such unique credentials and antiquity. The writer or source of the much later New Testament book of Revelation or the Apocalypse definitely held these "sevens" to be units of 360 day years. See Hoehner,
Aspects, 136.

For more information on the 360 day calendars used in so many ancient cultures see Immanuel Velikouski,
Worlds in Collision (Garden City , NY.: Doubleday, 1950), 330–40; Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., s.v. "Calendar," by J. L. A. Filiozat, H. Lewy and M. S. Drower; 15th ed., s.v. "Calendar," by J. A. B. van Buitenen, E. J. Bickerman, J. D. Schmidt, W. Helk, and T. Proskouriakoff; 15th ed., s.v. "Chronology," J. E. S. Thompson.
 

20.
Robert Newman demonstrates that using normal solar years (the Hebrew lunisolar years but considered in cycles of seven years as the text indicates) we arrive at a date anywhere between 28 and 35 CE for the appearance of Messiah (in Evidence for Faith, 210–12).

If by utilizing the ancient 360 day calendar we arrive at such an exact prophetic fulfillment with Yeshua fulfilling Zechariah 9:9, the triumphal entry, on precisely the day Daniel says Messiah will appear, we must consider that this cannot be coincidental. Thus although a less precise computation will work, the nature of the data indicates that the computation of this study is correct as well. It is difficult for this writer to see why both computations cannot be correct. Hoehner's objection that Newman's date does not fit the time of Jesus (
Aspects, 134) is answered by a more precise calculation of the first sabbatical year cycle (Evidence, 211).
 

21.
Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (N.Y.: Avon, 1979), 166. Brown, Objections, vol 3, 57–62 (4.7–4.8); vol. 2, (Baker, 2000), 220–32 (3.23).
 

22.
For a thorough defense of this and similar claims, see Brown, Objections, vol. 2, 69–198 (3.8–3.19.)
 

23.
Matthew 27:62, 28:1, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, 56, John 19:31,42; Josephus Antiquities Judaicae 16.6.2.
 

24.
The evidence for a Friday crucifixion. Hoehner, Aspects, 70–72. (Note: Figure 4 refers to fn.24, 25, and 28 to explain and discuss that figure. Go instead to 26, 27, and 30.)
 

25.
Sanhedrin 43a.
 

26. The crucifixion occurred on Passover eve (14 Nisan) not Passover day (15 Nisan) by official calendar reckoning.
There is some reason to believe that Yeshua's Last Supper, eaten on the evening before the day of his death, was a Passover meal (Mark 14:12, Matthew 26:17, Luke 22:7–8). Thus Yeshua would have eaten the Passover meal in the evening which began 15 Nisan, Passover day, and he would have died the following afternoon, still 15 Nisan (see fig. 4, TV). On the other hand, John's Gospel seems to indicate that he died on Passover eve (14 Nisan) when the lambs were being slain for the Passover meal that evening (fig. 4, HV A). John's use of the term "Passover" in 18:28 must at least mean the Passover seder of Passover day beginning that coming evening after Yeshua's death. See Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 1971), 778–79, F. F. Bruce, gen. ed., The New International Commentary of the New Testament.

The most likely explanation would be that he partook of a Passover meal which did not accord with the official Passover date (HV A, B, or C). We know that some did observe Passover a day earlier than allowed by the official calendar. The Qumran community definitely followed a different calendar for festivals. There might be reason to think that the Passover was reckoned differently by the Galileans or the Pharisees than it was under the official system of the Sadducees (see under HV B & C, though these latter two might have been officially recognized as permissible). The large number of Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem for this feast could very possibly have had much to do with influencing the Sadducees into allowing some of the lambs to be slain a day earlier than on the officially determined Passover eve.


This need not have involved a violation of Mosaic law. The difference may have involved merely a change in the dating of the first day of the month. The law indicates that the lambs must be slain on the 14th of Nisan and that they must be eaten that night (thus beginning the 15th, Passover day). (See Hoehner,
Aspects, 76.) Billerbeck's view, for example, is that disagreement between the Pharisees and Sadducees (fig. 4, HV C) would have resulted in different determination of the first day of the month and that two dates for the Passover would result for each group respectively (Aspects, 83–4). Here HV C allows both systems to be taken together. This would show the dating of the same events as seen by the two groups. Or the new moon might have been observed a day later in Jerusalem because of fog or an overcast sky than in Galilee. Jesus would have followed the system used by the Pharisees (or possibly Galileans) under HV C and the Last Supper is noted there. The official dating determined by the Sadducees in HV C has their Passover meal indicated after the crucifixion.

Again, if there were two systems for reckoning the beginning and end of the day, say sunset to sunset for the Judaeans (under the Sadducees) and sunrise to sunrise for the Galileans (fig. 4, HV B) with Jesus following the Galilean method, this could also allow for two Passover meals and two days for slaying the lambs with no violation of the Mosaic law. Here again, the two views in HV B should be taken together. This would show the dating of the same events as seen by the two groups. There is some but not definite evidence that these two methods of determining the boundaries of the day were used in the first century (
Aspects, 85–90). If any of these various dating methods mentioned above were followed, the records—like so many other records of this time—were lost with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

One of the most damaging lines of evidence against a Passover day crucifixion (by official reckoning) is the fact that it is very difficult to conceive that the Jewish officials would publicly advocate a crucifixion on such a high holy day as Passover. This does not mean that this was not Passover day in some minority views. Indeed, the Jewish officials dare not even arrest Jesus on Passover because of public reaction
(Matthew 26:5). Neither the Gospels nor any other historical accounts indicate any controversy, discontent, or protest from any religious leaders or the population as we would expect had Yeshua been killed on Passover day.

If Yeshua had been arrested on Passover eve, this would in part explain why the religious leaders appeared to carry out an illegal trial at night. They didn't have the time to wait until day if they were to have Yeshua killed before Passover day. And if they were to wait until after the Passover to have him killed, they would have to wait a whole week, enough time for Yeshua's followers to regroup and appeal to Pilate (or so Yeshua’s opponents might have thought). To avoid the accusation of holding an illegal trial at night, they simply unofficially deliberated and questioned the witnesses and Yeshua at night but officially pronounced their decision at dawn
(Mark 14:53–65, 15:1, Luke 22:54, 63–71, 23:1, John 18:13–15, 19–24, 28). Luke’s account could be taken as suggesting that the trial took place early in the morning. But because Yeshua and other witnesses were questioned, this would have required too much time and likely occurred at night as the other Gospels indicate.

We do know that some Jews in Jesus’ time did definitely observe Passover a day early because the reason for the divergence was forgotten by the 90s and we know that the rabbis debated why this occurred. Passover lambs were sacrificed a day early for some. This is likely the calendar Jesus and other Galileans observed. Tosephta Pesachim 4.8; Mishnah Zebachim 1.3. David Instone-Brewer discusses this in
The Jesus Scandals (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2012), 55 and fn. 1.

See Hoehner,
Aspects, 85–90 for more detailed arguments and 81–84 for other possible explanations.
 

27.
Josephus Antiquities 18.4.2.89.
 

28.
Matthew 26:3, 57; Josephus Antiquities 18.4.3.90–95; Harold W. Hoehner, Herod Antiapus (Cambridge, 1972) Appendix 8, 313–116. See also Hoehner, Aspects, 97–99.
 

29.
Moishe Rosen, Y'shua: The Jewish Way to Say Jesus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982) 40.
 

30. The years 27, 30, 33 and 34 were the only possible years in which the death of Yeshua could have occurred.
Between 26 and 36 CE the most certain dates 14 Nisan fell on a Friday were in 30 and 33. However, there is also a good possibility that 14 Nisan instead fell on Thursday in 30. (See Hoehner, Aspects, 100 and cf. footnote 35.) On the possibility that Yeshua died on the 15th (if he followed the officially determined Passover date to eat the Last Supper as a Passover meal) the only year in which the 14th fairly definitely fell on Thursday was 27. The first of Nisan was determined by an official sighting of the first visible sliver of the new moon. Poor atmospheric transparency could thus delay the sighting of the new moon which would delay the first day of Nisan. On this possibility 14 Nisan of 27 could have fallen on a Friday.

Using a lunisolar calendar, the Jewish year had to regularly have a month added to it so it would be adjusted to the solar year and the months would correspond to the proper seasons. We can usually account for such leap months in the astronomical calculations used to determine when such ancient Passover dates occurred. But there is one other possibility which is not so easily accounted for. Sometimes unusually bad weather could delay the time of harvest. Because the first fruits had to be ripe on 16 Nisan and the lambs had to be mature enough for Passover, in such years an intercalary month could be added before Passover to provide the extra needed time. On the possibility that such a leap month was added during one of these years, it can be calculated that 14 Nisan would have fallen on Friday on none of these years and it would have fallen on Thursday only in 34.


See C. J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, "The Date of the Crucifixion,"
Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (March 1985) 3, 4 for the evidence of these computations.
 

31.
Joel 2:31
 

32.
Matthew 24:29, Isaiah 13:10, Ezekial 32:7, 8. Revelation 6:12, 13; 8:12.
 

33.
The moon turned to "blood" on the evening of Yeshua's death. Fifty days after Passover of Yeshua's death, on Shavuot or the day of Pentecost, Yeshua's followers were observed to be speaking in languages they presumably did not know (Acts 2:1–14). Peter explained to those watching that this was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God promised by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:14–21; see Joel 2:28–32). One of the signs of this time would be that the sun would be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (Acts 2:20). It is possible that a Khamsin dust storm turned the sun to darkness from noon until at least 3 p.m. on the day of the crucifixion as the Gospel accounts indicate (Matthew 27:45). (See G. R. Driver, Journal of Theological Studies 16 [1965]: 327 and Sibylline Oracles 3. 800. in R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament [London: Oxford University Press, 1931] for more on this point.) Very possibly Peter is also indicating here that the moon turned to blood on that same day. (See Humphreys and Waddington, "Date" 6–9.)

Supportive evidence of this is found in some early Christian traditions. One New Testament apocryphal fragment, the
Report of Peter, may reflect an early tradition when it says that the moon "appeared like blood" on the day of the crucifixion. (R. M. James, The Apocryphal New Testament [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953], 153.) Again, Cyril the Patriarch of Alexandria in 412 CE cites the tradition that the moon "seemed to be turned to blood" at Yeshua's death. (P. E. Pusey. Cyrilli archiop. Alex. in XII Prophetas, i, p. 341, in Joel 2:30–31.)

Lunar eclipses were so commonly described in medieval annals as "the moon turned to blood" that the two were virtually synonymous. The refraction and scattering of light through the earth's atmosphere onto the moon sometimes causes it to appear deep blood-red.


We have evidence of only one lunar eclipse occurring on a Passover between 26 and 36 CE. On 3 April 33 at 6:20 in the afternoon, the moon rose partially yellow-orange but mostly deep red. A red "bite" soon appeared in the yellow-orange moon as it became more fully visible. This lasted half an hour. Dust still suspended in the atmosphere from the recent storm may have darkened the eclipse even more. (Humprhies and Waddington [in "Date”; see note 30 above] consider the lunar eclipse evidence in much greater detail.)

 

34.
Humphreys and Waddington, "Date."
 

35.
Philo Legatio ad Gaium 301–2; Josephus Antiquities 18.3.1. 55–59., Bellum Judaicum 2.9.2–4. 169–77.; Luke 13:1.
 

36.
John 19
 

37. The evidence that Yeshua died after Sejanus' execution in 31 CE and the question of responsibility for Yeshua's death.
Sejanus was executed in October of 31 after Tiberius finally saw him for what he was: one who would stop at nothing in his climb to become emperor, even though he had virtually the full power of emperor already. The Jewish leaders could make no complaint to Caesar without Sejanus intercepting it. After Sejanus' death, Tiberius ordered local governors not to mistreat the Jewish people (Philo Legatio 159–61). He saw that Sejanus had made them a scapegoat and had falsely accused them. Pilate did take steps to placate the Jewish nation. He made one mistake, however. He set up inscribed gilded votive shields in the former palace of Herod the Great. The inscription possibly referred to the divinity of Caesar. The shields offended the Jewish people and several Jewish leaders protested to Caesar. Why Pilate set up the shields is not entirely clear. Possibly he underestimated the influence the Jewish leaders now had and/or he thought to use this display to promote emperor worship and thus to ingratiate himself to Caesar. In any case, his old anti-Semitic habits didn't die easily. Tiberius ordered the shields removed and expressed strong disapproval (Legatio 229–305). With this incident, Pilate, having finally become fully aware of the power of the Jewish leaders, was all the more cautious not to offend them.

At the time of Yeshua's trial Pilate was threatened with accusations of disloyalty in that he would not be a “friend of Caesar” if he allowed this usurping "king" to live
(John 19:12). Such accusations would not have phased Pilate if they occurred before Sejanus' death. A "friend of Caesar," amici Caesaris, was a technical term indicating the elite of Roman officials loyal to Caesar. Should Caesar be told how Pilate shows himself to still be a friend of usurping kings other than Caesar? At least the Jewish leaders could claim to "have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). So despite Pilate's desire to release Yeshua (Luke 23:1–25; likely more from his antagonism toward the Jewish leaders than from any positive feelings toward Yeshua) he finally yielded to pressure from the Jewish leaders. (For more extensive discussion of the evidence that Yeshua died after Sejanus' execution see Hoehner, Aspects, 105–11.)

Notice that this does not remove Pilate's responsibility. It was ultimately by his choice that Yeshua was killed just as it had been Gentiles who directly took him captive and put him on the cross. Though the mass of Jewish people did not seek his death, the New Testament appears to claim that the Jewish and Gentile leaders, as representative of all Jews and Gentiles by their actions, placed responsibility for his death in the hands of us all
(Acts 4:25–27). But even so, the New Testament claims that Yeshua gave his life on his own accord and that no one took it from him without his allowing it (John 10:17–18).

This is not a paradox. The New Testament claims that we (that is, all people) are responsible for his death because of our sin. Only by his substitution, by his dying in our place, could we be reconciled to God
(cf. Isaiah 53). It was by Yeshua's free choice that he gave his life. Yet God's love for us was so great that he couldn't leave us in this living death of separation from himself. Because Yeshua's will and desire were ultimately one with that of God his Father, he really had no other choice. Perhaps, then, in some sense Yeshua was not really free in this choice; but he was free in the sense that no one took his life from him without his consent.
 

38.
The votive shields incident occurred after Sejanus' execution and before Yeshua's death. (For a description of the votive shields incident, see reference 35 above.) That this occurred after Sejanus' execution is evidenced by the fact that appeal was made directly to Tiberius and the incident contained reference to Pilate's possible impeachment, both of which would not have been possible before Sejanus' death. That it happened before Yeshua's death is evidenced by the fact that the enmity between Pilate and Herod Antiapus before Yeshua's death (Luke 23:12) was likely caused by the shields incident and placated when Pilate sent Yeshua to be tried by Herod.
 

39. Yeshua's ministry was three years long.
From the first Passover of Yeshua's ministry we can determine that there occur three more Passovers traversing a three year period. The first occurred in Judaea (John 2:13). The second is indicated as the Passover season in Galilee (Mark 2:23). The third, the feeding of the five thousand in Galilee in Mark 6:39 is the same event found in John 6:9. The fourth Passover was at the time of the crucifixion (Mark 14:1, John 11:25). (See Hoehner, Aspects, 55–60 for more extensive evidence for this.) This would put his death in 32 or 33 since the first Passover recorded here occurred in 29 or 30 (see below).
 

40. The first Passover of Yeshua's ministry was 29 or 30 CE
. Luke records (3:1, 2) that John the immerser or the baptizer began his public ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius. Writing to a Roman official (Hoehner, Aspects, 36) he most likely used a Regnal or Julian ascension year calendar. Both were in use in Rome and both were particularly used by Roman historians at this time. Luke's habitual use of precise and specialized terminology—according to the historical events at hand and in order to accurately record those events—makes it likely that he would use the dating system most familiar to his reader(s), most used by his contemporary historians, and/or most universally used. Using either system, Tiberius' fifteenth year began at the earliest in 19 August 28 CE and ended at the latest on 31 December 29 (Aspects, 29–37). Since Yeshua's ministry began not very long after John's (see Luke 3) the first Passover of Yeshua's ministry could not have been before that of 29 and it is very unlikely that it could have occurred after the Passover of 30.

We have another line of evidence supporting this date. There is good reason to believe that John 2:20 should be translated as stating that the Temple edifice had stood 46 years at this the time of the first Passover of Yeshua's ministry. From the time Herod the Great finished this central portion of the Temple in 19/18 BCE until 28/29 CE (that is, sometime between September/October 28 and September/October 29) would be 46 years. Depending on whether this 46th anniversary occurred before or after the Passover (mid-April) of 29, the statement in John 2:20 would have been made during the Passover of 29 or 30 CE (see
Aspects, 38–43 for further arguments).
 

41.
Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (IVP, 1987), 179–80.
 

42.
Compare Genesis 22:2 and 2 Chronicles 3:1; New Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Moriah," by T. C. Mitchell.
 
 
 
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