One of the greatest proofs of the existence of God is the record of the passage of time documented in the Scriptures. The Bible's historical data as well as its time-related prophecies demonstrate abundant evidence of design. Bible chronology shows the amazing ways in which God has been directing man's path from the beginning, and has had His hand in many major events in man's history.
However, one of the most baffling things believed by many in this end time, regarding Bible chronology, is that we have supposedly gone past the 6000th year since Creation. The Creation account in the first chapter of Genesis foretells that God is working out a 7000 year plan here on Earth, with the final 1000 years being allocated to Christ's rule. The most well known chronologists, whose dating is generally accepted and used by many of the Churches of God, place Creation at or around the year 4004BC. Since we are now in the year 2023, we appear to have gone well past the year 6000 since Creation, and still Satan rules this world.
How is this possible?
Let me say right from the start that the term "Bible chronology" is, in most cases where it is used, a misnomer. What do I mean by that? Simply that most chronologists have not used the Bible as the foundation of their work. Although they normally begin working with Biblical data, they will state that at some point the Biblical information ceases, and therefore they need to resort to non-Biblical sources.
However, this doesn't make sense.
The great Author of Scripture has told us that it is His glory to conceal matters, and ours to search them out (Pr 25:2). He has also told us that if we "seek", we shall "find" (Mat 7:7). By this, God can't mean seeking and finding among the records of this world, some of which will be accurate, while others will be inaccurate or even falsified. He must be referring to His own perfect writings. They must contain all the information that we need.
One clear sign that chronologists have not used the Bible as their main authority is when all the numbers on their chart or timeline, prior to the time of Christ, are listed as BC years. The Bible doesn't count backwards from Christ, nor does it command us to do so. Rather, the Bible counts forward from Adam's creation.
A chronology created by counting backwards will contain dates like 538BC, or thereabouts, for the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, and 587BC, or something similar, for the date of the fall of Jerusalem. There is no way that such dates are arrived at from Biblical information.
Rather, when using Biblical information, and therefore counting from Creation, Cyrus' first year would be somewhere around 3470 to 3480AM (AM meaning "Anno Mundi", or "year of the world"). The famous 17th century chronologist, James Ussher, placed Cyrus' first year at 3468AM. Personally, I believe it is 3482AM. Analysing the given Biblical data is in some places very complex, and therefore different interpretations are arrived at by different researchers. The main difficulties involve co-regencies of a number of the kings of Judah.
However, by using the method of counting from the beginning of Creation, to the best of one's ability, one is using the data provided by God in His Word.
Using solely the BC method, on the other hand, is the mark of those who assume that the Biblical text alone is not sufficient to work out Bible chronology.
I will state unequivocally that by giving us the number of years that the patriarchs lived, the years that the kings ruled, and a range of prophetic timelines, God has, in His Word, given us all the pieces of the chronological puzzle required. In addition to these pieces, He has also provided us with the framework of the puzzle in Genesis 1 and 2, namely, seven days picturing seven one thousand year periods, each foretelling specific events.
For instance, on the fourth day of Creation God made the sun and the moon. These two heavenly bodies correspond to the first coming of Christ and the creation of the Church, in the fourth millennium. If, when putting the pieces of the chronological puzzle together, we find we have placed these events in the fifth millennium, we have failed to adhere to the given framework and therefore need to go back and investigate where we went wrong.
Almost all Bible chronologies put forward by scholars neglect the Creation account's "seven day blueprint", which foreshadows seven thousand years of God's work with mankind.
Please see the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT" for more information.
In addition to the seven day blueprint and all the specific chronological information provided in the Biblical text, God gives us long term, time-related prophecies, which serve as checks and balances to ensure we have put the data together correctly. Most of these time spans involve Israel, Jerusalem and the Jews. The chart on the "HOME" page shows these prophecies in columns.
Here are two key examples, both fulfilled in the 20th century:
1) In Leviticus 26, God said that He would punish the Israelites for "seven times" if they disobeyed Him, which is equal to 2520 years. This included Jerusalem being occupied and influenced by Gentile powers for this duration, a period described by Christ as "the times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24. From Jerusalem's capture by Nebuchadnezzar in 3395, until the end of WW2 in 5914 (which equates to 1945AD), there are 2520 inclusive years. At the end of WW2 a wave of Jews returned en masse from Europe to the Holy Land. This specifically completed the "seven times" period of Leviticus 26:24.
2) From Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 3407, until the final year of the Suez Crisis in 5926 (which equates to 1957AD), there are also 2520 inclusive years. At the end of the Suez Crisis, the Jews were expelled from all Arab countries, and again hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to Israel. This specifically completed the "seven times" period of Leviticus 26:28.
These two prophecies are absolutely crucial, as they provide dated anchor points both at their beginning, in the Old Testament Scriptures, and at their conclusion, in modern times. These periods begin with the captivity and removal of the Jews from their country, and conclude with their release and return to their country.
This shows that no extra-Biblical information is necessary to obtain a correct chronology.
Let me try to explain where chronologists usually go wrong:
The Year Jerusalem Fell to the Babylonians
Most of us will have seen the date 587BC, or something close to it, given as the year that Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. It might also be given as 586BC or 588BC, but almost always one of these three. Now, how are these dates arrived at?
The Greeks under Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire under Darius III around the year 333BC. History does not seem to dispute this date. The books of the Maccabees, which use dating according to the age of the Seleucid Empire, are very helpful in establishing this date.
The commencement of the Persian Empire, on the other hand, is cloaked in uncertainty. The one historical source invariably quoted to determine the duration of the Persian Empire is Claudius Ptolemy, who lived in the second century after Christ. Ptolemy documented a complete list of rulers of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, all the way down to his own time. This is where chronologists get their information from, which they generally accept without question.
This identifies one of the main problems of Bible chronology: it is through the use of Ptolemy's Canon that researchers almost always depart from the Biblical data, and instead switch to using non-Biblical data. For all practical purposes, their findings at this point cease to be a Bible chronology.
For the duration of the Persian Empire, from Cyrus the Great until Darius III, Ptolemy lists 10 successive Persian rulers, the total of their individual reigns adding up to 205 years. For this reason we commonly see the year 538BC given for the start of the rule of Cyrus, the first king of the Persian Empire, because 333 + 205 = 538.
In Jeremiah 29:10 God says that Judah would spend 70 years in Babylonian captivity before being set free (by Cyrus' decree) and allowed to return to their homeland. If, as determined above, Cyrus' first year was 538BC, then going back 70 years would take us to 608BC for the beginning of the captivity.
Although one might think that the 70 year captivity started from the destruction of Jerusalem at the end of Zedekiah's reign, this is not how chronologists have generally interpreted the data.
In Daniel 1:1-6 it is related that Nebuchadnezzar took some Jewish captives, including Daniel, back to Babylon in the third year of Jehoiakim. This is when the 70 year captivity has generally been taken to commence, and it is this third year of Jehoiakim that is equated to 608BC. Jehoiakim reigned 11 years, nine of which (the 3rd till the 11th) are counted as part of the 70 years of captivity, along with the 11 years of Zedekiah's reign. Since there was also one year in between these two kings, before the Babylonians installed Zedekiah, a total of 21 years of captivity are counted up between Daniel's removal to Babylon, and the destruction of Jerusalem.
Therefore, moving forward 21 years from 608BC takes the calculation to the year 587BC, or thereabouts, for the supposed year of the destruction of Jerusalem.
The reason that chronologists resort to the above "solution" is because the 70 years don't fit with Ptolemy's Canon, which only allows about 47 years from the destruction of Jerusalem to the first year of Cyrus!! Even then, the extra 21 years, when added to the 47 years, still don't produce 70 years, so the numbers are massaged somewhat further by those that adhere to this interpretation, to make them into 70 years.
This is how the supposed year of the destruction of Jerusalem is arrived at. It is a combination of extra-Biblical data (Ptolemy's Canon) and certain assumptions about when to begin counting the 70 year captivity.
However, as will be explained further below, these 70 years are also designated by God as Land Sabbaths (II Chron 36:21, Jer 25:10-12), which means that the land would have been completely at rest during this time. This could not have occurred in the scenario described above.
But let's return to the supposed first year of Cyrus, 538BC, because this error is pivotal.
Incorrectly establishing 538BC, or something close, as the first year of Cyrus' rule, has created a chronological dilemma of which the average Bible reader is totally unaware.
For, using both AM counting from Creation, and BC reckoning by Ptolemy's Canon, Ussher, who is considered the greatest authority on Bible chronology, designates both 3468AM and 536BC as the first year of Cyrus. This means that he equates 4004AM (3468+536) with 1 AD, and therefore gives the year of Creation as 4004BC. As a result, many a Bible has been printed with chronological annotations that start with 4004BC as the year of Creation. As we are now in the year 2023AD, the reader can see that this would place us well into the seventh millennium, which would violate the 7000 year blueprint found in Genesis 1 and 2.
It is only when we realise that this fundamental error has been made in conventional Bible chronology, that we can rectify the calculations.
The simple answer to the problem is that the reigns of the kings of Ptolemy's Canon ought not to be taken as successive in every case. The list of Persian rulers may well be accurate in regard to the names of the rulers, and even their lengths of reign, but must have included some co-regencies, thereby shortening the overall timeline of the Persian Empire.
To solve the chronological puzzle of seemingly having too many years, all one needs to do is rely on the Word of God as the sole authority.
Using solely the Bible, the equation from Creation until the year of Christ's death and the commencement of the Church, is as simple as:
1) Tally all chronological data from Creation until the removal of all the Jews to Babylon
2) 70 years of Land Sabbaths (II Chron 36:21, Jer 25:11-12) until Cyrus' decree (Ez 1:1)
3) 483 years from Cyrus' decree until the birth of Christ (Dan 9:25)
4) 35 years until Christ's death (Lk 3:23, Dan 9:27)
I arrive at the age of 35 for Christ's death because I believe that He lived fully 30 years before beginning His ministry halfway through His 31st year. If this is so, Christ preached for half of His 31st year, all of His 32nd, 33rd and 34th year, dying at the very start of His 35th year, at Passover.
As point 2 is given, and points 3 and 4 add up to 518 lineal years, which equates to 519 inclusive years, the total of points 2, 3 and 4 is 589 inclusive years. Therefore, only point 1 remains to be determined. By my reckoning, all the point 1 information adds up to 3411 inclusive years (see the chart on the "HOME" page). Therefore, the equation is 3411 + 589 = 4000, meaning that Christ died, by my reckoning, in the 4000th year, i.e. the last year of the fourth millennium, which is also the 80th Jubilee year since Creation.
I believe that Christ died in the Roman year 31AD, so we can see that in 2023, in the month of Abib or Nisan, 1992 years have passed since then, which means that the 5992nd year since Creation commences at that time.
Supposed Solutions by the Churches of God
Probably the most well known chronologist of the 20th century was a Seventh Day Adventist scholar by the name of Edwin Thiele, whose findings are published in many Bible dictionaries. SDA founder Ellen G White had originally thought that Ussher's chronology was mostly right, but, as we've seen, it can't be. Thiele's chronology on the other hand places us today around the year 5975.
How did Thiele achieve this reduction of years? Did he revert to strictly using Biblical data? No! One of the main things he did was to shorten the overall reigns of the kings of Judah by about 35 years, through the process of assigning additional co-regencies where they don't exist.
The problem with this is that it violates internal Biblical timelines. When God sent Judah into Babylonian captivity, He said that the land would rest for 70 years, because the commanded Land Sabbath had not been kept during all the years that the kings ruled. The Land Sabbath occurs every seven years, and so every 50 year period contains seven Land Sabbaths, with a Jubilee year in the 50th year. Therefore, to obtain 70 unkept Land Sabbaths, a total of at least 499 years is required, but no more than 506 years. Nine of the 50 year periods provide seven Land Sabbaths each, and the seventh Land Sabbath of the tenth 50 year period is reached in its 49th year. Hence 499 years yield 70 Land Sabbaths. In the 507th year one would reach 71 Land Sabbaths, which is too many.
If you look at the chart on the "HOME" page, you will see that there are 499 inclusive years from the first year of Saul's reign, 2909AM, until the last year of Zedekiah, 3407AM. Edwin Thiele's chronology, however, only has 464 years between these two points, which is 35 too few.
This isn't the only problem Thiele created. In Ezekiel 4, the prophet Ezekiel is told to lie on one of his sides for 390 days, picturing 390 years of sin of the whole house of Israel. This should be taken from the time when Solomon began his descent into idolatry, until the destruction of Jerusalem in Zedekiah's time. On my chronology chart you can see that I place the commencement of Solomon's idolatry in his 30th regnal year, which is 3018. From this year until Zedekiah's final year, in 3407, there are 390 inclusive years of sin, as predicted by Ezekiel.
By slicing 35 years off the reigns of the kings, Thiele has left only 355 years for this span of time. As Solomon hadn't entered into idolatry yet in his 24th regnal year, when God appeared to him after he had completed his building works (I Kings 9:1-10), not many years could be added by going further back from Solomon's 30th year, to start the 390 years. As Zedekiah was the last king, no time at all could be added after he had been taken away into captivity. Therefore, the 390 years of sin don't fit in Thiele's model.
The Philadelphia Church of God recently put out a revised chronology stating that we are probably somewhere between the years 5950 and 5960. Unfortunately, the author of the piece had relied mainly on Jewish data, and, following the Jews, said that Abraham's father Terah was 70 years old when Abraham was born. This would cut sixty years out of the Bible's chronology. The New Testament, however, makes clear that Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born. All this can be gathered by comparing Genesis 11:26, 11:32, 12:4 and Acts 7:4. So the net result is that the new PCG chronology, which was supposed to put us well back before the year 6000, in actual fact would have us today in about the year 6010 to 6020.
The United Church of God's Bible chronology, which can be gathered from graphs in the booklet "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy", incorporates Ptolemy's years without question. To compress the number of years in order to make them fit the 7000 year plan, they, like Thiele, also reduce the period of the Kings to a duration that doesn't fit with Ezekiel's 390 years. Additionally, they make other incorrect adaptations, so that in 2007, when this booklet was last edited, it placed us in the year 5990AM. Sixteen years have passed since then, so we are, in 2023, according to this scenario, in the year 6006AM. Quite obviously, to a Bible believer, these numbers are problematic.
I hope the reader can see what I'm trying to get across. God says that the Scripture can't be broken. That includes its numbers. If the numbers aren't adding up, we need to first and foremost make sure we're interpreting the Biblical text correctly. What we certainly must not do is make extra-Biblical data override the Biblical data.
The Starting Point of the Seventy Week Prophecy
Now we come to another crucial error found in most Bible chronologies.
Daniel 9:25 foretells the well-known decree regarding “the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” as the starting point of the Seventy Week Prophecy (Dan 9:24-27). This decree has long been mistakenly regarded, by many scholars, as having been issued by the Persian ruler Artaxerxes Longimanus, interpreting Nehemiah 2, Ezra 7 and other Scriptures as referring to him. The difficulty arises because Nehemiah (in Nehemiah 2) had petitioned an "Artaxerxes" (whom they identify incorrectly as Longimanus) to allow him to rebuild Jerusalem, as Daniel 9:25 requires, whereas the decree of Cyrus (Ez 1), on the other hand, refers to rebuilding the Temple and so is considered by many scholars to be disqualified from fulfilling the Daniel 9:25 requirement.
The Scriptures, however, emphatically state that Cyrus would cause the city to be reconstructed. Isaiah 44:28 reads "That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid". Additionally, Isaiah 45:13 also says that Cyrus will command the city to be built: "I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts".
Also, Dan 9:1-2 states (citing understanding Daniel would have gathered from Jer 29:1,10) that "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem". The NIV reads "that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years". If the edict of Cyrus did not include the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the "desolation" of the city would have continued for longer than 70 years.
Thinking about this logically, how is a command to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem not a command to rebuild Jerusalem? The Temple was the most important feature of that city!
Ezra 4:12-19 records the Jews’ enemies complaining to "Artaxerxes" (King Darius I) about “this city” (6 times!) and “Jerusalem” being rebuilt, not just the Temple. However, they don’t complain that the city is being built contrary to Cyrus' command. If the Jews were building the city contrary to Cyrus’ command, why did their enemies not make an issue of this? Darius' response in verse 21 also specifically refers to “this city”.
Josephus also states that Cyrus commanded the city to be rebuilt (Ant. 11, Book 3 chapters 1-3)
In addition to this, one has to consider how Cyrus’ decree came into being. Surely someone like Daniel must have shown him the Scriptures of Isaiah 44 and 45, which mention Cyrus by name, and which must have made an enormous impact on Cyrus. The God of Israel had foretold Cyrus’ name and the manner in which he would capture Babylon. Surely then it is extremely implausible that Cyrus would proceed to issue the decree he was prophesied to issue, but neglect to cover all the details!
The prophecies of Isaiah 44:28 and 45:13 say that he would cause “the city” to be rebuilt, but instead Cyrus supposedly decided to issue a decree only covering the Temple?!
When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to repair the city wall and its gates, which had been damaged by the enemies of the Jews after Zerubbabel had completed restoring the Temple, it is clear that the houses in Jerusalem were already occupied. Various wall builders are said to be working “over against their house” or words to that effect (Neh 3:23, 28, 29, 30).
This is exactly in line with all reasonable expectations. If the Temple was going to be rebuilt, surely a lengthy process, the workers would obviously need houses to live in. Seeing the Temple was in Jerusalem and there were unoccupied, broken down houses in Jerusalem, naturally these would be where the builders would be expected to live with their families. If walls of those houses were broken, roofs were leaking etc, these would have needed to be repaired. So, under inspiration, Cyrus in his decree mentions only the Temple, as that was where the focus was meant to be, but implied within that decree is the undeniable fact that those builders would need dwellings to live in. To travel miles in and out of Jerusalem each day for work wouldn’t have made sense.
Thus, when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to repair the city walls, there is no mention that the resettlement of the city following Cyrus' decree, and the undoubted repair work involved, had been done contrary to any Persian command.
However, according to most chronologists, Cyrus, although moved by the Scriptures mentioning himself, issued the decree that he was prophesied to issue, yet somehow failed to include what it was prophesied to include. That beggars belief. Surely Cyrus himself must have believed that his decree fulfilled the prophecies.
So why do chronologists reject Cyrus' decree as having begun the 490 year period leading to Christ? Is it because of genuine Biblical reasons? No!! The real reason they reject Cyrus is because according to Ptolemy's Canon, Cyrus' first year was around 538BC. Therefore, according to them, there are too many years between Cyrus and Christ for the prophecy to be able to fit.
In other words, the extra-biblical data is put ahead of the Scriptures, and the sure word of prophecy is made to play second fiddle to the records of man. This is why I stated at the outset that what is usually presented as "Bible Chronology" is, upon closer inspection, no such thing.
Counting AM years, i.e. counting from Creation and following the Biblical numbers, Cyrus' first year, by my reckoning, is 3482AM. Adding 69 "weeks", or 483 years to this, places Christ's birth in 3965AM. As that takes us into the Roman period, where years can be quite accurately confirmed, 3965AM converts to 5BC for the year of Christ's birth. This means that the real BC year for Cyrus' decree is 488BC.
Therefore the length of the Persian Empire, from Cyrus' first year till its conquest by Alexander in 333BC (3637AM), is about 155 years, not 205 years as suggested by Ptolemy's Canon. This would mean that if Ptolemy's list of Persian rulers is correct as far as the names are concerned (which I believe it is), then there must have been a number of co-regencies between Persian rulers to explain this reduction of regnal years. The reason why I believe that Ptolemy's list is correct in regard to the names of the Persian rulers is because he records a total of ten such rulers which, I believe, corresponds with the ten fingers of silver of the Daniel 2 statue of Gentile powers that rule Jerusalem.
Who is the Biblical Artaxerxes?
Adding to the confusion as to which decree starts the "70 week" period, is the title "Artaxerxes", which loosely translates as "righteous ruler" or "great ruler". In Scripture, this appellation only occurs in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Ptolemy’s list of Persian rulers mentions four men with the title Artaxerxes. The earliest of these is Artaxerxes Longimanus, and so the Biblical references are generally assumed to be to him. However, in Ezra 4:7 and 6:14-15, a different Artaxerxes is mentioned, perhaps half a century before the rule of Longimanus. The Jerusalem Temple is said to have been completed according to the command of, among others, this earlier "Artaxerxes" (Ez 6:14). Clearly, the Temple cannot have been completed according to the command of a king who wouldn't rule until about 50 years after the Temple was built, i.e. Longimanus. Some chronologists, like Sir Isaac Newton and Dr Floyd Nolen Jones, have gone to enormous lengths cutting and pasting God’s Word, in an attempt to create acceptable chronologies to account for these Scriptures.
The incorrect identification of Longimanus as the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah 2 and Ezra 7, apart from pushing us currently past the year 6000, creates the additional problem that Ezra and Nehemiah would need to have lived extraordinarily long lives, or instead, as many sources actually believe, there would need to have been two leaders called Ezra and two leaders called Nehemiah!! (Jamieson Fausset Brown Commentary, Companion Bible, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, etc).
Ezra’s father, Seraiah, was killed at the final capture of Jerusalem (II Kings 25:18-21, Ez 7:1, I Chron 6:1-15), which means that Ezra must have been at least in his mid seventies when first returning with Zerubbabel after the land had rested its 70 years. In the 7th year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7 - Artaxerxes being another name for Darius, the story just continuing from chapter 6), Ezra would have been in his mid to late nineties when returning to establish the law, and in Darius’ 20th year, when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, Ezra would have been around 110. If, however, 60 or so years are inserted between Ezra 6 and 7 to allow for the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 to be Longimanus, Ezra would then have been approximately 170 years of age! This would have been a phenomenal age for that time period.
However, if the Artaxerxes of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is identified as Darius I, then a far more logical flow of events can be established. It actually becomes very plausible that there is only one Biblical Artaxerxes, i.e. Darius I (Darius the Great).
The solution of the Darius/Artaxerxes identification was already put forward in 1913 by chronologist Martin Anstey in "The Romance of Bible Chronology", p244, where he advocates that Ezra 6:14 should be translated “Cyrus and Darius even Artaxerxes king of Persia.”
Again, this would create a very logical flow of events where the opponents of the Jews petitioned the newly installed king, Darius, leading him to bring the work in Jerusalem to a halt, either in his accession or early in his first year of rule. In Darius’ second year both Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy and the work was resumed in the 6th month of that year (Hag 1:1-15).
Apart from the ages of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the fact that we now appear to have gone past the year 6000 by conventional reckoning, there are a number of other Biblical facts that need to be taken into consideration to identify the Biblical Artaxerxes:
1) Among other lists, two specific registers of names are found in Nehemiah, one of which gives the names of the leaders who returned with Zerubbabel after Cyrus’ decree (Neh 12:1-8), the other being a list of those who made a covenant with God, as directed by Nehemiah in his first year of being governor, i.e. Artaxerxes’ 20th year (Neh 10:1-9). If Artaxerxes is Darius, these two events are about 34 years apart, which makes perfect sense, but if 60 years are inserted between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 to identify Artaxerxes as Longimanus, then these events are about 94 years apart.
However, at least 15 or 16 of the leaders mentioned are on both lists.
According to these two lists, as well as the list found in Ezra 2, the names of these men are, apart from Ezra and Nehemiah themselves (Ez 2:2): Seraiah, Jeremiah, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Meremoth, Ginnetho(n), Abijah, Mi(j)amin, Bilgai/Bilgah, Shemaiah, Jeshua, Binnui and Kadmiel. These constitute some 60% of the top leaders of the Priests and Levites at that time (15 or 16 out of the first 25 mentioned in Neh 10:1-9).
Although these men were already adult leaders at Zerubbabel’s return, they would have been almost a century older at the making of the covenant mentioned in Nehemiah 9 and 10, if we hold to the belief that the 70 week prophecy began with an edict by Longimanus -- this at a time when a lifespan was comparable to what it is today. Most of the kings of Israel and Judah lived less than 70 years. This point is the main reason why so many Bible dictionaries and commentaries say that there were, during this period, two leaders called Ezra and two leaders called Nehemiah.
2) After Ezra’s journey to Jerusalem in Ezra 7, he was almost immediately confronted with the problem of intermarriage. If this was Darius’ seventh year, it would have been 21 years since Zerubbabel’s return. This would make sense as Ezra 10:44 mentions the taking of foreign wives, “some” of which unions had led to children being born. If, however, 60 years are inserted between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 to allow Longimanus to be the Biblical Artaxerxes, Ezra would far more likely have been dealing with grandchildren, if not great grandchildren, resulting from these unions. Also, far more than “some” of these marriages would by then have led to offspring.
3) If we assume that the length of reigns of the Persian rulers recorded in Ptolemy’s Canon are correct, the only Persian ruler who fits the Biblical parameters for being Artaxerxes is Darius. Nehemiah 5:14 and 13:6 say that Artaxerxes ruled for at least 32 years. According to Ptolemy, Cyrus ruled 8 years, his son Cambyses 7 years, Darius 35 years and his son Xerxes 20 years (Ptolemy actually adds 1 year for each ruler as he includes accession years). If we accept that Longimanus is too late in history to fit the bill, Darius is the only ruler prior to him who ruled for the minimum required number of years.
The Importance of Cyrus
The name Cyrus has prophetic meaning. In the Persian language, Cyrus is Kurash or Kourosh, from which the Greek Kyrios or Kurios is derived, a word that frequently appears in the NT, and is usually translated “LORD” or “lord”, depending on who it applies to. In the NT, Christ is frequently called “Kyrios". In Isaiah 45:1 Cyrus is called “my anointed”. In all this, Cyrus appears to be a type of Christ.
It is therefore very fitting that Cyrus, being the one who initiated the period covered by the 70 Week Prophecy, has a name meaning “lord”, since the prophecy is in part fulfilled by the coming of the one and only true “LORD”, Jesus Christ Himself. All this at the same time explains why Scripture places so much emphasis on Cyrus (e.g. Isa 44-45).
As Chronicles is the last book of the OT, the last recorded words of the OT are Cyrus’ decree. As Matthew is the first book of the NT, the first recorded words of the NT are the genealogy and birth of Jesus Christ.
As shown on my accompanying chart, from Cyrus’ decree until the birth of Christ there are 483 years or “69 weeks”. No wonder Simeon (Lk 2:25-35), the prophetess Anna (Lk 2:36-38), the wise men (Mt 2:1-2), the Jewish rulers (Mt 2:5-6) and even Herod the Great (Mt 2:3-4), knew the timing of the coming of the Messiah. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds in the field - none of them seemed to need a lot of convincing.
The 70 week prophecy perfectly, chronologically, bridges the gap between the OT and the NT, i.e. between the decree of Cyrus and the birth of Jesus Christ.
This explains why Nehemiah repeated Cyrus' decree as the final words of the Book of Chronicles, and therefore the final words of the Old Testament.
If, as I believe, the 70 Week Prophecy began to be fulfilled with Cyrus’ decree, a very interesting explanation becomes apparent for the first "7 weeks" or 49 years, in that this would denote the duration of time from Cyrus' decree until the completion of the Old Testament narrative.
The Biblical information supports the chronology of this theory. Although this is getting quite technical, Nehemiah lists six generations of high priests from Jeshua down to Jaddua in Nehemiah 12:22, which, he explains, takes their genealogy down to “the reign of Darius the Persian” (i.e. Darius the Great), which must mean down to the end of Darius' reign. As Jaddua’s father Johanan is stated to be employed in temple duties (Ez 10:6) and therefore was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jaddua must have been the last person in the high priestly line known to Nehemiah before Nehemiah died. So this was at the time when Darius’ reign came to an end, the OT Scriptures were sealed, and the Ezra and Nehemiah era closed.
Nehemiah was governor in Jerusalem from Darius' 20th to 32nd year, during the last of which Nehemiah traveled to see Darius in Persia (Neh 13:6). After “certain days”, which must mean at least a year or two, judging by the events that had occurred in Jerusalem involving Tobiah and the Levites (Neh 13:6-12), Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem very close to the end of Darius' reign.
As Cyrus ruled 8 years, Cambyses 7 and Darius 35, and Cyrus’ decree was issued in his first year, while Nehemiah's work continued approximately until the end of Darius' reign, we see that a 49 year period fits very well here.
Therefore it is most likely that the combined writings of Ezra and Nehemiah cover exactly 49 years, i.e. the first 7 weeks of the 70 Week Prophecy.
After that, there were 434 years or “62 weeks” until Christ's birth, about which the beginning of the NT informs us in detail.
A few examples of chronological details as seen on the chart on the "HOME" page:
Some of these are stated above using AM years, but are here repeated using BC/AD dates.
*** From the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 575BC, until 1945, the final year of World War II when the Jews were liberated from Nazi concentration camps, there are 2520 inclusive years (of Jewish persecution and Jerusalem being occupied by Gentiles - Lev 26:24, Lk 21:24).
*** From the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 563BC, until 1957, the final year of the Suez Crisis when the Jews were expelled from all Arab countries, there are 2520 inclusive years (Lev 26:28).
*** Daniel 8 gives us a prophecy concerning Gentile forces religiously defiling Jerusalem for a period of 2300 years. This period begins with a "he goat", identified in verse 21 as the Kingdom of Greece, and a "great horn", Alexander the Great, the first Greek ruler to conquer Israel. Josephus states that Alexander personally offered sacrifice in the Temple, which only priests of God were allowed to do (Ant. 11.8.5). From Alexander the Great's 333BC capture of the Persian Empire (including the Holy Land), which commenced the religious defilement of Jerusalem by successive Greek, Roman and Islamic forces, there are exactly 2300 inclusive years until the 1967 Six Day War, when the State of Israel captured all of Jerusalem and drove out the last foreign forces occupying it. Thereby "the sanctuary (was) cleansed" after "2300 days", meaning 2300 years (Dan 8:14).
One of the most momentous prophetic and chronological events was the building of the Dome of the Rock. The prophecies speak about the appearance of an "abomination of desolation", which seems to point to a specific structure, dominating the Holy City for 1335 years. Daniel 12:11 says that it shall be "set up".
The construction of the Dome of the Rock was commenced in 691AD, whereupon it became the dominant feature of Jerusalem's skyline, in the place where the Temple of God had once stood. The year 2023 marks its 1333rd inclusive year. This Islamic building has inscriptions on its interior walls that are blasphemous to Jesus Christ, denying that He is the Son of God. The fact that this edifice is located in the place where Christ once dwelt makes it truly a Satan inspired "abomination of desolation".
*** From the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 691 until the issuing of the "Law of Return" by the Israeli government in 1950, there are 1260 inclusive years ("it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished" Dan 12:7, RSV).
Daniel 12:11 gives the starting point of this prophecy. When the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock, they declared the Temple Mount an Islamic "holy" site and banned non-Muslims, i.e. Jews, from praying there. Jewish morning and evening Temple sacrifices had long since been replaced by prayers at those times of the day. The banning of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount was "the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away" after which "the abomination that maketh desolate", i.e. the Dome of the Rock, was set up.
*** From the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 691AD until 1980, there are 1290 inclusive years, as prophesied in Daniel 12:11, using the Biblical "day for a year" reckoning. In the year 1980 the Jewish government passed the "Jerusalem Law", which declared, among other things, that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel", officially annexing the final ten percent of the city that had been captured in the Six Day War, including, crucially, the Temple Mount. This event fulfilled Daniel 12:11.
Therefore, the 1260 and 1290 day/year markers show the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. The 1335 day/year marker, which we will reach in 2025, must indicate the beginning of Christ's sovereignty over Jerusalem.
"Blessed is he that waits and comes to the 1335 days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days". (Dan 12:12-13). Daniel is told, in the last words of his book, that he will be resurrected when the time indicated by the 1335 days is reached.