Bible Question:

Please reconcile your date analysis to that of Sir Robert Anderson in his book The Coming Prince? I enjoyed your analysis at Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks. I would appreciate more detail of your references to the early church fathers.

Bible Answer:

Two notable books have been published on Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks and the death of the Messiah predicted in Daniel 9:24-26. The first important book is The Coming Prince, authored by Sir Robert Anderson. The second notable book is The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, authored by Harold Hoehner.  The calculations given by both men and the calculations presented in my document titled, Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks are similar. There are three parts to their date calculations: 1) the end date or the fulfillment date of the prophecy, 2) the length of time predicted between the start and 3) end dates and then the start date of the prophecy.

Differences Between Three Publications

Before we analyze the three steps, it is important to state that there are differences between the calculations found in The Coming Prince, The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and my article Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks. We will demonstrate that the start and end dates of Sir Robert Anderson’s calculations are not valid. Sir Robert Anderson’s start and end dates are inconsistent with historic customs, scripture, and the Jewish practice of holding Passover during a full moon. We will also show that Harold Hoehner’s start date is the correct date, but he then makes an error converting into the Gregorian calendar where he does the rest of his calculations.  Consequently, his end dates in the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars are wrong. The length-of-time-predicted-between-the-start-and-end-date calculations in all three articles are correct. The Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks is an independent calculation providing corrections to both documents.

End Date of the Prophecy

Both John 19:13-17 and Luke 23:44-54 reveal that Jesus died on a day before the Sabbath which started at 6:00 pm on Friday. That is, Jesus died on a Passover Eve. The gospel of John called this a “high day” for it was both a Sabbath and also the Passover. This means that Jesus died on the eve of Passover, Nisan 14, and on a Friday afternoon before the Sabbath, which started at 6:00 p.m.

Now the end date of the prophecy is easily determined by using either sophisticated astronomy software[1] or a quality Hebrew/Gregorian calendar converter[2] to determine when Nisan 14 occurred on a Friday during a full moon between the years of A.D. 26 to A.D. 36. A Hebrew-Gregorian calendar converter reveals that Nisan 14 occurred on a Friday in only the years of A.D. 26, A.D. 33 and 36. The astronomy software confirms that a full moon did occur on those dates on a Friday. Thus Nisan 14, A.D. 26, A.D. 33 or A.D. 36 are the only potential end dates for the prophetic fulfillment between the years of A.D. 26 and A.D. 36.

Historical and gospel records strongly suggest that Jesus was born approximately 2-1 B.C.[3] and not the customary dates of 6-4 B.C. Luke 3:21-22 tells us that Jesus started His ministry about the age of thirty. Thus adding approximately thirty years to 2-1 B.C. and subtracting one year since 1 B.C. to A.D.1 is one year, and adding 3.5-4.5 years for Jesus’ ministry, the only possible dates for Jesus’ death to occur is Friday A.D. 33 or A.D. 36. We will show later that A.D. 33 is the year in which Jesus died. We will conclude that the end of the prophecy occurred before 14 Nisan in the year A.D. 33.

Time Predicted Between the Start and End Dates

The timeline calculations of Sir Robert Anderson and Harold Hoehner are almost identical. The prophecy under consideration is given in Daniel 9:24-26.

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. Daniel 9:24-26 (NASB)

483 Biblical Years

The passage states that the time from the start date of the prophecy, “the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem,” to the end date, “Messiah will be cut off,” is “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” or sixty-nine weeks total. This is equal to 483 biblical years (69 x 7 years) since Daniel’s weeks should be understood as ‘seven” (see Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks for details). A correct calculation of the timeline is essential to determining the week in which Messiah would die. The timeline calculations found in The Coming Prince, The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks interpret the 483 biblical years as being 173,880 days (483 biblical years x 360 days/biblical year) since the biblical calendar is 360 days per year. The rationale for the biblical calendar being 360 days per year can be found in Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks or by comparing Genesis 7:11, 24 and Genesis 8:4.

476+ Gregorian Years

When the 483 biblical years or 173,880 days are converted from the biblical calendar into the Gregorian calendar, all three documents conclude that the days correspond to 476 Gregorian years plus some additional days.

The Coming Prince states that the additional days are 24 days. Consequently, Sir Robert Anderson concludes that Daniel’s prophecy of 483 biblical years is 476 years and 24 days in the Gregorian calendar.[4]

In The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Harold Hoehner concludes that the additional number of days is 25 days.[5] Professor Hoehner assumed 365.24219879 days per solar year in the Gregorian calendar for his calculation. His estimate of the number of days in the Gregorian calendar is closer to the solar calendar than that used by Sir Robert Anderson. Consequently, his estimate is more accurate and equals 476 years and 25 days.

In Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks, we increased the precision of the number days in the solar year or tropical year to 365.242190419 days. Therefore, the timeline from the start to the end date is 476 years plus 24.717 days in the Gregorian calendar.

In short, all three calculations are within one day of each other. The differences are inconsequential over a 476 year period.

Start Date of the Prophecy

The Coming Prince, The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks[6] all understand that the start date begins with Artaxerxes’ Decree to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 2:1-8 states that the decree occurred in the twentieth year of the king’s reign.[7] However the documents disagree about the actual calendar date of the decree. In The Coming Prince, Sir Robert Anderson states that the date is March 14, 445 B.C. Consequently, when he adds 476 years and 24 days he concludes that the end date is Nisan 14 or April 6, A.D. 32 in the Gregorian calendar. The end date is wrong since Jesus could not have died in the year 32 A.D..

In The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Harold Hoehner states that the date of the decree is Nisan 1, 444 B.C. The year of 444 B.C. is correct since 445 B.C. was actually the king’s ascension year and should not be counted as part of the reign of Artaxerxes, according to Jewish practice of those who had lived in the Kingdom of Judah.[8] The prophet Daniel had lived in Judah before he was taken to Babylon (Daniel 1:6) and he was accustomed to this practice. Consequently, Harold Hoehner states that the start date is the Hebrew date of 1 Nisan 444 B.C. which he states corresponds to 5 March 444 B.C in the Gregorian calendar. Then he concludes that the end date is 30 March A.D. 33 and then converts that date to 10 Nisan A.D. 33 in the Hebrew calendar. Unfortunately, this end date in the Hebrew calendar is in error since the Gregorian date of March 30, A.D. 33 corresponds to Nisan 12, A.D. 33 and not 10 Nisan A.D. 33. This is an error of only two days.

Unfortunately, there is also another error in Hoehner’s calculation that makes the two day error insignificant. The major problem is that 1 Nisan 444 B.C. does not correspond to 5 March 444 B.C. as determined by computerized Hebrew calendar software since the software assumes the Hebrew calendar was correctly updated in ancient times per modern standardized calculations. Consequently, Hoehner reports that the date of 5 March 444 B.C. corresponds to 28 March 444 B.C. in the Gregorian calendar. That is an error of three weeks in his calculations. If Professor Hoehner had taken this three week shift into account, his end date would have shifted to 22 April A.D. 33 or 8 Iyyar  A.D. 33 in the Hebrew calendar. This significant error misses the Passover date of 14 Nisan A.D. 33, by more than three weeks. The date of 8 Iyyar A.D. 33 occurs after the crucifixion of Christ, and does not correspond to Daniel’s 70 week prophecy.

The Hebrew Civil Calendar

Prophecy of Daniels’ 70 Weeks states that 1 Nisan 444 B.C. is the start date of the prophecy and demonstrates that 1 Nisan 444 B.C.. was not a leap year, as is assumed by modern Hebrew computerized calendars. Consequently, modern Hebrew computerized calculations incorrectly assumes that a leap month or the intercalary month of Adar 2 was inserted before 1 Nisan 444 B.C. This shifts the calendar by 29 days. Thus Hebrew calendar calculations need to be manually corrected by removing Adar 2 [9]. When Adar 2 is removed from the computerized calculations, the calendar will shift backward 29 days. That is, 1 Nisan 444 B.C. shifts backward 29 days.

Modern Computerized Hebrew Calendar Is Inconsistent With The Actual Calendar of 444 B.C.

Therefore, correction to computerized Hebrew software calculations requires that 29 days are added, or that we start with the date of 1 Adar 2 444 B.C. in a computerized computer calculation. When we do this we discover that Adar 2 444 B.C. corresponds to 27 February 444 B.C. in the Gregorian calendar. This is the actual start date of the prophecy. Next, we add 476 years to 444 B.C. and obtain February 27, A.D. 33 in the Gregorian calendar. Remember that there is only one year between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1.

Next we add 24.7 days and arrive at March 24, A.D. 33 in the Gregorian calendar, or Nisan 6 in the Jewish year of 3793.[10] Note the month of February in A.D. 33 has only 28 days. The date of Nisan 6, 3793 corresponds to the Thursday before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem which occurred on Monday, Nisan 10. It is also seven days before Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Nisan 6 may correspond to the day the Chief Priest and Pharisees finally gave orders to report Jesus to them so that they could murder Him (John 11:47-53, 57).

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the correct start date is 1 Nisan 444 B.C. and the end date of the prophecy is 6 Nisan A.D. 33, which occurred before Christ’s death on 14 Nisan 33 A.D.

References:

1. Starry Night Pro
2. stevemorse.org/jcal/jcal.html
3. Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Hendrickson Pub., 1998, p. 301-306
4. Sir Robert Anderson. Coming Prince. Cosimo Classics. 2007. P. 128.
5. Harold Hoehner. The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Academie Books. 1977. p. 138.
6. www.neverthirsty.org/pp/bible-studies/daniel/study015/page01-explanation-of-seventy-weeks.html
7. Ibid.
8. Edwin R. Thiele. The Mysterious Numbers of The Hebrew Kings. Kregel. 1983. p. 43-45, 180.
9. www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/bible-book-studies-daniel/prophecy-of-daniels-70-weeks/
10. Note that when 24.7 days are added to February 27, A.D. 33 we obtain March 24, A.D. 33. February in A.D. 33 has only 28 days.

Reference Links:

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Prophecy of Daniel's 70 Weeks