by Sir Robert Anderson
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The Coming Prince
Sir Robert Anderson
THE PROPHETIC YEAR
IN English ears it must sound pedantic to speak of "weeks" in any other
than the familiar acceptation of the term. But with the Jew it was far otherwise.
The effect of his laws was fitted "to render the word week capable of
meaning a seven of years almost as naturally as a seven of days. Indeed the generality
of the word would have this effect at any rate. Hence its use to denote the latter
in prophecy is not mere arbitrary symbolism, but the employment of a not unfamiliar
and easily understood language."
Daniel's prayer referred to seventy years fulfilled: the prophecy which came
in answer to that prayer foretold a period of seven times seventy still to come.
But here a question arises which never has received sufficient notice in the consideration
of this subject. None will doubt that the era is a period of years; but of what kind
of year is it composed? That the Jewish year was lunisolar appears to be reasonably
certain. If tradition may be trusted, Abraham preserved in his family the year of
360 days, which he had known in his Chaldean home. The month dates of the flood (150 days being specified as
the interval between the seventeenth day of the second month, and the same day of
the seventh month) appear to show that this form of year was the earliest known to
our race. Sir Isaac Newton states, that "all nations, before the just length
of the solar year was known, reckoned months by the course of the moon, and years
by the return of winter and summer, spring and autumn; and in making calendars for
their festivals, they reckoned thirty days to a lunar month, and twelve lunar months
to a year, taking the nearest round numbers, whence came the division of the ecliptic
into 360 degrees." And in adopting this statement, Sir G. C. Lewis avers that
"all credible testimony and all antecedent probability lead to the result that
a solar year containing twelve lunar months, determined within certain limits of
error, has been generally recognized by the nations adjoining the Mediterranean,
from a remote antiquity."
1. Smith's Bib. Dict.,
III., 1726, "Week." Greek and Latin philosophers too have known of 'weeks
of years. '" PUSEY, Daniel, p. 167.
But considerations of this kind go no further than to prove how legitimate and important
is the question here proposed. The inquiry remains whether any grounds exist for
reversing the presumption which obtains in favor of the common civil year. Now the
prophetic era is clearly seven times the seventy years of the "desolations"
which were before the mind of Daniel when the prophecy was given. Is it possible
then to ascertain the character of the years of this lesser era?
2. Encyc. Brit.
(6th ed.), title "Chronology." See also Smith's Bib. Dict.,
title "Chronology," p. 314.
3. Astronomy of the
Ancients, chap. 1 & 7. Are not the hundred and eighty days of the great feast
of Xerxes intended to be equivalent to six months? (Esther 1:4.)
One of the characteristic ordinances of the Jewish law was, that every seventh year
the land was to lie fallow, and it was in relation to the neglect of this ordinance
that the era of the desolations was decreed. It was to last "until the land
had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for so long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath, to fulfill
threescore and ten years." (2 Chronicles 36:21; cf . Leviticus 26:34,
35) The essential element in the judgment was, not a ruined city, but a land laid
desolate by the terrible scourge of a hostile invasion, (Compare Jeremiah 27:13;
Haggai 2:17) the effects of which were perpetuated by famine and pestilence, the
continuing proofs of the Divine displeasure. It is obvious therefore,
that the true epoch of the judgment is not, as has been
generally assumed, the capture of Jerusalem, but the invasion of Judea. From the
time the Babylonian armies entered the land, all agricultural pursuits were suspended,
and therefore the desolations may be reckoned from the day the capital was invested,
namely, the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year of Zedekiah. This was
the epoch as revealed to Ezekiel the prophet in his exile on the banks of the Euphrates,
(Ezekiel 24:1, 2) and for twenty-four centuries the day has been observed as a fast
by the Jews in every land.
The close of
the era is indicated in Scripture with equal definiteness, as "the four-and-twentieth
day of the ninth month in the second year of Darius. "Consider now" (the prophetic word declared) "from
this day and upward from the four-and- twentieth day of the ninth month, even from
the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid consider it: from
this day I will bless you." Now from the tenth day of Tebeth B.C. 589, to the twenty-fourth
day of Chisleu B.C. 520, was a period of 25, 202 days; and seventy years of 360 days contain exactly
25, 200 days. We may conclude, therefore, that the era of the "desolations"
was a period of seventy years of 360 days, beginning the day after the Babylonian
army invested Jerusalem, and ending the day before the foundation of the second temple
But this inquiry may be pressed still further. As the era of the "desolations"
was fixed at seventy years, because of the neglect of the Sabbatic years, (2 Chronicles
36:21; Leviticus 26:34, 35) we might expect to find that a period of seven times
seventy years measured back from the close of the seventy years of "indignation
against Judah," would bring us to the time when Israel entered into their full
national privileges, and thus incurred their full responsibilities. And such in fact
will be found upon inquiry to be the case. From the year succeeding the dedication
of Solomon's temple, to the year before the foundation of the second temple was laid,
was a period of 490 years of 360 days.
4. Haggai. 2:10, 15-19.
The books of Haggai and Zechariah give in full the prophetic utterances which the
narrative of Ezra (4:24; 5:1-5) mentions as the sanction and incentive under which
the Jews returned to the work of setting up their temple.
5. The ninth year of Zedekiah.
See App. 1. post.
6. The second year of Darius
7. The date of the Paschal
new moon, by which the Jewish year is regulated, was the evening of the 14th March
in B. C. 589, and about noon on 1st April B. C. 520. According to the phases the
1st Nisan in the former year was probably the 15th or 16th March, and in the latter
the 1st or 2nd April.
It must be admitted, however, that no argument based on calculations of this
kind is final. The only data which
would warrant our deciding unreservedly that the prophetic year consists of 360 days,
would be to find some portion of the era subdivided into the days of which it is
composed. No other proof can be wholly satisfactory, but if this be forthcoming,
it must be absolute and conclusive. And this is precisely what the book of the Revelation
8. The temple was dedicated
in the eleventh year of Solomon, and the second temple was founded in B. C. 520.
The intervening period reckoned exclusively was 483 years = 490 lunisolar years of
360 days. It is noteworthy that the interval between the dedication of Solomon's
temple and the dedication of the second temple (B. C. 515) was 490 years. A like
period had elapsed between the entrance into Canaan and the foundation of the kingdom
under Saul. These cycles of 70, and multiples of 70, in Hebrew history are striking
and interesting. See App. 1.
As already noticed, the prophetic era is divided into two periods, the one of 7+
62 heptades, the other of a single heptade. Connected with these eras, two "princes" are prominently mentioned;
first, the Messiah, and secondly, a prince of that people by whom Jerusalem was to
be destroyed, a personage of such pre-eminence, that on his advent his identity
is to be as certain as that of Christ Himself. The first era closes with the "cutting
off" of Messiah; the beginning of the second era dates from the signature of
a "covenant," or treaty, by this second "prince," with or perhaps
in favor of "the many," that is the Jewish nation, as distinguished probably from a section of pious
persons among them who will stand aloof. In the middle of the heptade the treaty
is to be violated by the suppression of the Jews' religion, and a time of persecution
is to follow.
9. Though it is signally
confirmed by the undoubted fact that the Jewish Sabbatical year was conterminous,
not with the solar, but with the ecclesiastical year.
Daniel's vision of the four beasts affords a striking commentary upon this. The identity
of the fourth beast with the Roman empire is not doubtful, and we read that a "king"
is to arise, territorially connected with that empire, but historically belonging
to a later time; he will be a persecutor of "the saints of the Most High,"
and his fall is to be immediately followed by the fulfillment of Divine blessings
upon the favored people the precise event which marks the close of the "seventy
weeks." The duration of that persecution, moreover, is stated to be "a
time and times, and the dividing of time," a mystical expression, of which
the meaning might be doubtful, were it not that it is used again in Scripture as
synonymous with three and a half years, or half a prophetic week. (Revelation 12:6,
14) Now there can be no reasonable doubt of the identity of the king of Daniel 7:25
with the first "beast" of the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. In the
Revelation he is likened to a leopard, a bear, and a lion, the figures used for
Daniel's three first beasts. In Daniel there are ten kingdoms, represented by ten
horns. So also in Revelation. According to Daniel, "he shall speak great words
against the Most High, and wear out the saints of the Most High": according
to Revelation, "he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God," "and
it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them." According
to Daniel, "they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the
dividing of time," or three and a half years: according to Revelation, "power
was given unto him to continue forty and two months."
10. The division of the
69 weeks into 7 +62 is accounted for by the fact that the first 49 years, during
which the restoration of Jerusalem was completed, ended with a great crisis in Jewish
history, the close of the prophetic testimony. Forty-nine years from B. C. 445 brings
us to the date of Malachi's prophecy.
11. "The multitude."
TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 97.
It is not impossible, of course, that prophecy may foretell the career of two different
men, answering the same description, who will pursue a precisely similar course in
similar circumstances for a similar period of three and a half years; but the more
natural and obvious supposition is that the two are identical. Owing to the very
nature of the subject, their identity cannot be logically demonstrated, but it rests
upon precisely the same kind of proof upon which juries convict men of crimes, and
convicted prisoners are punished.
Now this seventieth week is admittedly a period of seven years, and half of this
period is three times described as "a time, times, and half a time," or
"the dividing of a time;" (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14) twice as
forty-two months; (Revelation 11:2; 13:5) and twice as 1, 260 days. (Revelation 11:3;
12:6) But 1, 260 days are exactly equal to forty-two months of thirty days, or three
and a half years of 360 days, whereas three and a half Julian years contain 1, 278
days. It follows therefore that the prophetic year is not the Julian year, but the
ancient year of 360 days.
12. It is noteworthy that
the prophecy was given at Babylon, and the Babylonian year consisted of twelve months
of thirty days. That the prophetic year is not the ordinary year is no new discovery.
It was noticed sixteen centuries ago by Julius Africanus in his Chronography,
wherein he explains the seventy weeks to be weeks of Jewish (lunar) years,
beginning with the twentieth of Artaxerxes, the fourth year of the 83rd Olympiad,
and ending in the second year of the 202nd Olympiad; 475 Julian years being equal
to 490 lunar years.
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