Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel/Part I Chap X

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CHAP. X.[edit]

Of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.[edit]

The Vision of the Image composed of four Metals was given first to Nebuchadnezzar, and then to Daniel in a dream: and Daniel began then to be celebrated for revealing of secrets, Ezek. xxviii. 3. The Vision of the four Beasts, and of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, was also given to Daniel in a dream. That of the Ram and the He-Goat appeared to him in the day time, when he was by the bank of the river Ulay; and was explained to him by the prophetic Angel Gabriel. It concerns the Prince of the host, and the Prince of Princes: and now in the first year of Darius the Mede over Babylon, the same prophetic Angel appears to Daniel again, and explains to him what is meant by the Son of man, by the Prince of the host, and the Prince of Princes. The Prophecy of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven relates to the second coming of Christ; that of the Prince of the host relates to his first coming: and this Prophecy of the Messiah, in explaining them, relates to both comings, and assigns the times thereof.

This Prophecy, like all the rest of Daniel's, consists of two parts, an introductory Prophecy and an explanation thereof; the whole I thus translate and interpret.

[1] 'Seventy weeks are [2] cut out upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and [3] to make an end of sins, to expiate iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, to consummate the Vision and [4] the Prophet, and to anoint the most Holy.

'Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto [5] the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks.

'Yet threescore and two weeks shall [6] it return, and the street be built and the wall; but in troublesome times: and after the threescore and two weeks, the Anointed shall be cut off, and [6] it shall not be his; but the people of a Prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war, desolations are determined.

'Yet shall he confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in half a week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease: and upon a wing of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that which is determined be poured upon the desolate.'

Seventy weeks are cut out upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, &c. Here, by putting a week for seven years, are reckoned 490 years from the time that the dispersed Jews should be re-incorporated into [7] a people and a holy city, until the death and resurrection of Christ; whereby transgression should be finished, and sins ended, iniquity be expiated, and everlasting righteousness brought in, and this Vision be accomplished, and the Prophet consummated, that Prophet whom the Jews expected; and whereby the most Holy should be anointed, he who is therefore in the next words called the Anointed, that is, the Messiah, or the Christ. For by joining the accomplishment of the vision with the expiation of sins, the 490 years are ended with the death of Christ. Now the dispersed Jews became a people and city when they first returned into a polity or body politick; and this was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, when Ezra returned with a body of Jews from captivity, and revived the Jewish worship; and by the King's commission created Magistrates in all the land, to judge and govern the people according to the laws of God and the King, Ezra vii. 25. There were but two returns from captivity, Zerubbabel's and Ezra's; in Zerubbabel's they had only commission to build the Temple, in Ezra's they first became a polity or city by a government of their own. Now the years of this Artaxerxes began about two or three months after the summer solstice, and his seventh year fell in with the third year of the eightieth Olympiad; and the latter part thereof, wherein Ezra went up to Jerusalem, was in the year of the Julian Period 4257. Count the time from thence to the death of Christ, and you will find it just 490 years. If you count in Judaic years commencing in autumn, and date the reckoning from the first autumn after Ezra's coming to Jerusalem, when he put the King's decree in execution; the death of Christ will fall on the year of the Julian Period 4747, Anno Domini 34; and the weeks will be Judaic weeks, ending with sabbatical years; and this I take to be the truth: but if you had rather place the death of Christ in the year before, as is commonly done, you may take the year of Ezra's journey into the reckoning.

Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks. The former part of the Prophecy related to the first coming of Christ, being dated to his coming as a Prophet; this being dated to his coming to be Prince or King, seems to relate to his second coming. There, the Prophet was consummate, and the most holy anointed: here, he that was anointed comes to be Prince and to reign. For Daniel's Prophecies reach to the end of the world; and there is scarce a Prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming. If divers of the antients, as [8] Irenæus, [9] Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris Bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist; why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming?

The Israelites in the days of the antient Prophets, when the ten Tribes were led into captivity, expected a double return; and that at the first the Jews should build a new Temple inferior to Solomon's, until the time of that age should be fulfilled; and afterwards they should return from all places of their captivity, and build Jerusalem and the Temple gloriously, Tobit xiv. 4, 5, 6: and to express the glory and excellence of this city, it is figuratively said to be built of precious stones, Tobit xiii. 16, 17, 18. Isa. liv. 11, 12. Rev. xi. and called the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City, the Lamb's Wife, the City of the Great King, the City into which the Kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour. Now while such a return from captivity was the expectation of Israel, even before the times of Daniel, I know not why Daniel should omit it in his Prophecy. This part of the Prophecy being therefore not yet fulfilled, I shall not attempt a particular interpretation of it, but content myself with observing, that as the seventy and the sixty two weeks were Jewish weeks, ending with sabbatical years; so the seven weeks are the compass of a Jubilee, and begin and end with actions proper for a Jubilee, and of the highest nature for which a Jubilee can be kept: and that since the commandment to return and to build Jerusalem, precedes the Messiah the Prince 49 years; it may perhaps come forth not from the Jews themselves, but from some other kingdom friendly to them, and precede their return from captivity, and give occasion to it; and lastly, that this rebuilding of Jerusalem and the waste places of Judah is predicted in Micah vii. 11. Amos ix. 11, 14. Ezek. xxxvi. 33, 35, 36, 38. Isa. liv. 3, 11, 12. lv. 12. lxi. 4. lxv. 18, 21,22. and Tobit xiv. 5. and that the return from captivity and coming of the Messiah and his kingdom are described in Daniel vii. Rev. xix. Acts i. Mat. xxiv. Joel iii. Ezek. xxxvi. xxxvii. Isa. lx. lxii. lxiii. lxv. and lxvi. and many other places of scripture. The manner I know not. Let time be the Interpreter.

Yet threescore and two weeks shall it return, and the street be built and the wall, but in troublesome times: and after the threescore and two weeks the Messiah shall be cut off, and it shall not be his; but the people of a Prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, &c. Having foretold both comings of Christ, and dated the last from their returning and building Jerusalem; to prevent the applying that to the building Jerusalem by Nehemiah, he distinguishes this from that, by saying that from this period to the Anointed shall be, not seven weeks, but threescore and two weeks, and this not in prosperous but in troublesome times; and at the end of these Weeks the Messiah shall not be the Prince of the Jews, but be cut off; and Jerusalem not be his, but the city and sanctuary be destroyed. Now Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in the 20th year of this same Artaxerxes, while Ezra still continued there, Nehem. xii. 36, and found the city lying waste, and the houses and wall unbuilt, Nehem. ii. 17. vii. 4, and finished the wall the 25th day of the month Elul, Nehem. vi. 15, in the 28th year of the King, that is, in September in the year of the Julian Period 4278. Count now from this year threescore and two weeks of years, that is 434 years, and the reckoning will end in September in the year of the Julian Period 4712 which is the year in which Christ was born, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, Irenæus, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome, Orosius, Cassiodorus, and other antients; and this was the general opinion, till Dionysius Exiguus invented the vulgar account, in which Christ's birth is placed two years later. If with some you reckon that Christ was born three or four years before the vulgar account, yet his birth will fall in the latter part of the last week, which is enough. How after these weeks Christ was cut off and the city and sanctuary destroyed by the Romans, is well known.

Yet shall he confirm the covenant with many for one week. He kept it, notwithstanding his death, till the rejection of the Jews, and calling of Cornelius and the Gentiles in the seventh year after his passion.

And in half a week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; that is, by the war of the Romans upon the Jews: which war, after some commotions, began in the 13th year of Nero, A.D. 67, in the spring, when Vespasian with an army invaded them; and ended in the second year of Vespasian, A.D. 70, in autumn, Sept. 7, when Titus took the city, having burnt the Temple 27 days before: so that it lasted three years and an half.

And upon a wing of abominations he shall cause desolation, even until the consummation, and that which is determined be poured upon the desolate. The Prophets, in representing kingdoms by Beasts and Birds, put their wings stretcht out over any country for their armies sent out to invade and rule over that country. Hence a wing of abominations is an army of false Gods: for an abomination is often put in scripture for a false God; as where Chemosh is called [10] the abomination of Moab, and Molech the abomination of Ammon. The meaning therefore is, that the people of a Prince to come shall destroy the sanctuary, and abolish the daily worship of the true God, and overspread the land with an army of false gods; and by setting up their dominion and worship, cause desolation to the Jews, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. For Christ tells us, that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel was to be set up in the times of the Roman Empire, Matth. xxiv. 15.

Thus have we in this short Prophecy, a prediction of all the main periods relating to the coming of the Messiah; the time of his birth, that of his death, that of the rejection of the Jews, the duration of the Jewish war whereby he caused the city and sanctuary to be destroyed, and the time of his second coming: and so the interpretation here given is more full and complete and adequate to the design, than if we should restrain it to his first coming only, as Interpreters usually do. We avoid also the doing violence to the language of Daniel, by taking the seven weeks and sixty two weeks for one number. Had that been Daniel's meaning, he would have said sixty and nine weeks, and not seven weeks and sixty two weeks, a way of numbring used by no nation. In our way the years are Jewish Luni-solar years, [11] as they ought to be; and the seventy weeks of years are Jewish weeks ending with sabbatical years, which is very remarkable. For they end either with the year of the birth of Christ, two years before the vulgar account, or with the year of his death, or with the seventh year after it: all which are sabbatical years. Others either count by Lunar years, or by weeks not Judaic: and, which is worst, they ground their interpretations on erroneous Chronology, excepting the opinion of Funccius about the seventy weeks, which is the same with ours. For they place Ezra and Nehemiah in the reign of Artaxerxes Mnemon, and the building of the Temple in the reign of Darius Nothus, and date the weeks of Daniel from those two reigns.

The grounds of the Chronology here followed, I will now set down as briefly as I can.

The Peloponnesian war began in spring An. 1 Olymp. 87, as Diodorus, Eusebius, and all other authors agree. It began two months before Pythodorus ceased to be Archon, Thucyd. l. 2. that is, in April, two months before the end of the Olympic year. Now the years of this war are most certainly determined by the 50 years distance of its first year from the transit of Xerxes inclusively, Thucyd. l. 2. or 48 years exclusively, Eratosth. apud Clem. Alex. by the 69 years distance of its end, or 27th year, from the beginning of Alexander's reign in Greece; by the acting of the Olympic games in its 4th and 12th years, Thucyd. l. 5; and by three eclipses of the sun, and one of the moon, mentioned by Thucydides and Xenophon. Now Thucydides, an unquestionable witness, tells us, that the news of the death of Artaxerxes Longimanus was brought to Ephesus, and from thence by some Athenians to Athens, in the 7th year of this Peloponnesian war, when the winter half year was running; and therefore he died An. 4 Olymp. 88, in the end of An. J.P. 4289, suppose a month or two before midwinter; for so long the news would be in coming. Now Artaxerxes Longimanus reigned 40 years, by the consent of Diodorus, Eusebius, Jerome, Sulpitius; or 41, according to Ptol. in can. Clem. Alexand. l. 1. Strom. Chron. Alexandr. Abulpharagius, Nicephorus, including therein the reign of his successors Xerxes and Sogdian, as Abulpharagius informs us. After Artaxerxes reigned his son Xerxes two months, and Sogdian seven months; but their reign is not reckoned apart in summing up the years of the Kings, but is included in the 40 or 41 years reign of Artaxerxes: omit these nine months, and the precise reign of Artaxerxes will be thirty nine years and three months. And therefore since his reign ended in the beginning of winter An. J.P. 4289, it began between midsummer and autumn, An. J.P. 4250.

The same thing I gather also thus. Cambyses began his reign in spring An. J.P. 4185, and reigned eight years, including the five months of Smerdes; and then Darius Hystaspis began in spring An. J.P. 4193, and reigned thirty six years, by the unanimous consent of all Chronologers. The reigns of these two Kings are determined by three eclipses of the moon observed at Babylon, and recorded by Ptolemy; so that it cannot be disputed. One was in the seventh year of Cambyses, An. J.P. 4191, Jul. 16, at 11 at night; another in the 20th year of Darius, An. J.P. 4212, Nov. 19, at 11h. 45' at night; a third in the 31st year of Darius, An. J.P. 4223, Apr. 25, at 11h. 30 at night. By these eclipses, and the Prophecies of Haggai and Zechary compared together, it is manifest that his years began after the 24th day of the 11th Jewish month, and before the 25th day of April, and by consequence about March. Xerxes therefore began in spring An. J.P. 4229: for Darius died in the fifth year after the battle at Marathon, as Herodotus, lib. 7, and Plutarch mention; and that battle was in October An. J.P. 4224, ten years before the battle at Salamis. Xerxes therefore began within less than a year after October An. J.P. 4228, suppose in the spring following: for he spent his first five years, and something more, in preparations for his expedition against the Greeks; and this expedition was in the time of the Olympic games, An. 1 Olymp. 75, Calliade Athenis Archonte, 28 years after the Regifuge, and Consulship of the first Consul Junius Brutus, Anno Urbis conditæ 273, Fabio & Furio Coss. The passage of Xerxes's army over the Hellespont began in the end of the fourth year of the 74th Olympiad, that is, in June An. J.P. 4234, and took up one month: and in autumn, three months after, on the full moon, the 16th day of the month Munychion, was the battle at Salamis, and a little after that an eclipse of the sun, which by the calculation fell on Octob. 2. His sixth year therefore began a little before June, suppose in spring An. J.P. 4234, and his first year consequently in spring An. J.P. 4229, as above. Now he reigned almost twenty one years, by the consent of all writers. Add the 7 months of Artabanus, and the sum will be 21 years and about four or five months, which end between midsummer and autumn An. J.P. 4250. At this time therefore began the reign of his successor Artaxerxes, as was to be proved.

The same thing is also confirmed by Julius Africanus, who informs us out of former writers, that the 20th year of this Artaxerxes was the 115th year from the beginning of the reign of Cyrus in Persia, and fell in with An. 4 Olymp. 83. It began therefore with the Olympic year, soon after the summer Solstice, An. J.P. 4269. Subduct nineteen years, and his first year will begin at the same time of the year An. J.P. 4250, as above.

His 7th year therefore began after midsummer An. J.P. 4256; and the Journey of Ezra to Jerusalem in the spring following fell on the beginning of An. J.P. 4257, as above.

Notes to Chap. X.[edit]

1 ^  Chap. ix. 24, 25, 26, 27.

2 ^  Cut upon. A phrase in Hebrew, taken from the practise of numbring by cutting notches.

3 ^  Heb. to seal, i.e. to finish or consummate: a metaphor taken from sealing what is finished. So the Jews compute, ad obsignatum Misna, ad obsignatum Talmud, that is, ad absolutum.

4 ^  Heb. the Prophet, not the Prophecy.

5 ^  Heb. the Messiah, that is, in Greek, the Christ; in English, the Anointed. I use the English word, that the relation of this clause to the former may appear.

6 ^  Jerusalem.

7 ^  See Isa. xxiii. 13.

8 ^  Iren. l. 5. Hær. c. 25.

9 ^  Apud Hieron. in h. l.

10 ^  1 Kings xi. 7.

11 ^  The antient solar years of the eastern nations consisted of 12 months, and every month of 30 days: and hence came the division of a circle into 360 degrees. This year seems to be used by Moses in his history of the Flood, and by John in the Apocalypse, where a time, times and half a time, 42 months and 1260 days, are put equipollent. But in reckoning by many of these years together, an account is to be kept of the odd days which were added to the end of these years. For the Egyptians added five days to the end of this year; and so did the Chaldeans long before the times of Daniel, as appears by the Æra, of Nabonassar: and the Persian Magi used the same year of 365 days, till the Empire of the Arabians. The antient Greeks also used the same solar year of 12 equal months, or 360 days; but every other year added an intercalary month, consisting of 10 and 11 days alternately.

The year of the Jews, even from their coming out of Egypt, was Luni-solar. It was solar, for the harvest always followed the Passover, and the fruits of the land were always gathered before the feast of Tabernacles, Levit. xxiii. But the months were lunar, for the people were commanded by Moses in the beginning of every month to blow with trumpets, and offer burnt offerings with their drink offerings, Num. x. 10. xxviii. 11, 14. and this solemnity was kept on the new moons, Psal. lxxxi. 3,4,5. 1 Chron. xxiii. 31. These months were called by Moses the first, second, third, fourth month, &c. and the first month was also called Abib, the second Zif, the seventh Ethanim, the eighth Bull, Exod. xiii. 4. 1 Kings vi. 37, 38. viii. 2. But in the Babylonian captivity the Jews used the names of the Chaldean months, and by those names understood the months of their own year; so that the Jewish months then lost their old names, and are now called by those of the Chaldeans.

The Jews began their civil year from the autumnal Equinox, and their sacred year from the vernal: and the first day of the first month was on the visible new moon, which was nearest the Equinox.

Whether Daniel used the Chaldaick or Jewish year, is not very material; the difference being but six hours in a year, and 4 months in 480 years. But I take his months to be Jewish: first, because Daniel was a Jew, and the Jews even by the names of the Chaldean months understood the months of their own year: secondly, because this Prophecy is grounded on Jeremiah's concerning the 70 years captivity, and therefore must be understood of the same sort of years with the seventy; and those are Jewish, since that Prophecy was given in Judea before the captivity: and lastly, because Daniel reckons by weeks of years, which is a way of reckoning peculiar to the Jewish years. For as their days ran by sevens, and the last day of every seven was a sabbath; so their years ran by sevens, and the last year of every seven was a sabbatical year, and seven such weeks of years made a Jubilee.