THE SEVENTY WEEKS
A Fresh Approach
It is attributed to Edward Denny, a notable exponent of Biblical Prophecy in the last century, that he would refer to the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 as "the backbone of prophecy". Such a description is particularly apt; for prophetic studies and chronologies incorporating this passage, by scores of writers and spread over a great many years, constitutes a significant proportion of the entire field of theological literature.
Yet the diversity of interpretations and of chronological placing must be nearly as varied and numerous as are the writers upon the subject; and even the area of general consensus cannot be regarded as entirely satisfactory or settled. This study makes no claim to finality; but is presented for serious consideration by students of Bible Prophecy as possibly shedding some light on a subject that has always been a problematic one.
There are a number of pitfalls at which every student of Scripture must be wary -- for even eminent theologians have sometimes tripped up by overlooking them. These can be listed as follows:
1. Failing to read the words of the text accurately.
2. Failing to confirm the accuracy of a translation from the original.
3. Failing to observe the literary context of the passage.
4. Failing to recognise the context of the occasion.
5. Uncritically accepting the commonly held supposition.
6. Embodying an assumption, either unwittingly or before testing validity.
In this study it has been of constant concern to keep these causes of error in mind, especially item No.4. This could therefore be called in Daniel's eye view' as it tries to look at the position as in that prophet's circumstance and times. To understand Daniel's situation involves chronology, and here these of Ivan Panin and of Van Lennep have been largely drawn upon, and together they provide the basis for a structure that seems to fit all the facts.
Firstly it is essential to clearly understand the system by which Israel's Sabbatic Years and the Jubilee operated. That there are confused ideas ideas about this is evidenced in the chronologies of the Companion Bible, which have been rendered valueless by the wrongly conceived idea that the Jubilee was interposed between successive Sabbatic periods. A diligent study of the 25th chapter of Leviticus will make it apparent that the Jubilee was not interposed, but rather it was superimposed, upon the Sabbatic scheme, overlapping the 49th and the succeeding first years by six months. The normal year, including every 7th year, ran from Nisan to Nisan [sometimes called the Ecclesiastical Year], but there was also the Civil Year [the only one currently recognised by the Jews] starting six months later and running from Tishri to Tishri. When it occurred the Jubilee was within ten days of coinciding with the Civil Year. This system is recognised in an appendix of the Variorum Bible: it has also been so understood and embodied in the chronology of Van Lennep.
In so far as Sabbatic Years and Jubilees can be identified they provide the ultimate yardstick to establish chronology, but information, particularly as to the latter, is sparse indeed. Jewish tradition, stemming largely from Maccabean times, is neither helpful nor wholly reliable. The Yobel ceased being observed after the Babylonian Captivity, while the Shemittah unaccountably seems to have been advanced six months so as to coincide with the Civil Year. However the periodicity of the Sabbatic series as traditionally observed remains in synchronicity with the sequence given in the Biblical record. So the Shemittah of 27 CE accords with Scriptural chronology, though the Jews regard it as having begun in Tishri of 26 CE rather than in Nisan of this year.
The Scripture data on the historic occurrence of a Jubilee are but very little more than the Judaic, being allusions rather than clear statements. There seems no more than three instances from which indications of a Jubilee may be deduced. They are:
2Kings 19:29[Isaiah 37:30]
"This will be the sign for you, O Hezekiah: "This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above."
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth of the month--it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin-- the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was upon him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Of these three, the last has the strongest claim to recognition by mentioning not only "the acceptable year", but also "deliverance to the captives" and "to set at liberty them that are bound": a further point of evidence is that Jesus "came to Nazareth where he had been brought up". But it has yet to be shown what year that was.
The probability that this announcement in the Nazareth Synagogue signified a Jubilee Year, has been observed by several persons; but as far as is known it has never yet been demonstrated. Most chronologies are formed upon some leading principle to which there is a predisposition, even if not admitted, this study being no exception; and it is acknowledged that it endeavours to establish the continuity of Jubilee cycles from the entry of Israel to the land until the occasion when He who claimed to be The Anointed One announced "the acceptable year of Jehovah".
It will be treated as admitted that the birth of Jesus Christ was in 4 BCE, and this is the date adopted by all chronologies referred to in this study [an assumption, but one that has been examined]. It will also be taken as established that the nativity took place at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the middle of Tishri, the 7th month of that year. This is Van Lennep's position; and the case is well presented in Appendix 179 of the Companion Bible. Panin insists on principles peculiar to himself, that the birth of Jesus must have been in the same year as the death of Herod. A Jewish works, The Megillath Taanith, gives the latter date as the 2nd day of Sebat 3 BCE, which is about three and a half months later than 15th Tishri 4 BCE, thus being in the same Hebrew year, Ecclesiastical or Civil.
There is probably no work on Daniel's Seventy Weeks better known than Robert Anderson's "The Coming Prince". But this classic study is marred by using a false premise on which to construct a plausible but erroneous conclusion -- an instance of Pitfall No:2. It states on page 99, "There is not in the whole of Scripture a more definite chronological statement than that contained in the opening verse of the third chapter of St. Luke". This comment is true: except that Luke never wrote what all the standard versions make him say, namely, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar". So Anderson having embodied a wrong statement, reaches the inaccurate conclusion that the year of the death and resurrection of THe Lord Jesus Christ was 32 CE. Here it may be noted that the 29 CE given by the Companion Bible is only out by one year because it has adapted a fictitious zero year, zero being merely a datum point.
On the question of Tiberius, Panin says, "there is no certainty as to whether his sole reign is meant, or joint reign with Augustus". But this is just not so. Luke was a precise historian and, when rightly translated, what he did write was, "Now in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius ---". This is as given by Sharpe 1840, by Young 1863, by Bowes 1870 and by Darby 1871. In the 33rd verse of his first chapter, Luke had used the Greek word basileuO, but here by design he employs hEgemonia. Sixty years before "The coming Prince" was published this fact had been pointed out by T.H.Horne in his "Introduction to the critical study of The Holy Scriptures" [Vol:2 part 1. page 580]. It is true that as Anderson shows, the "reign" of Tiberius commenced 19th August 14 CE.
The call to public ministry of John, who was of a priestly family seems to coincide with the approach of his 30th birthday near the time of the Passover in the 15th year of the "government" of Tiberius, folr he had been born in Nisan 4 BCE. Its commencement was thus in the Julian year of 27 CE, being late in the Roman year of 779 AUC [which ended in April], and also in a traditionally accepted Shemittah. But the Jews wrongly supposed this to have begun the previous Tishri of 26 CE, instead of from that Nisan when John started to preach. So John The Baptist began his preaching at the start of a true Sabbatic year; and six months later, in Tishri, when Jesus, also was thirty years of age, it was near to the time when He commenced His active public ministry. This would certainly coincided with the Jubilee, if it could be shown that John's Shemittah was a forty-ninth year.
The chronology employed herein is largly adapted from that of Ivan Panin, the main feature of which being his allocation of the commencement of the 430 years of Exodus 12:40 to the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham at 99 years of age. This was 2107 years from Adam's creation, and it thus dates the year of Exodus as 2537. But in common with most chronologists, Panin has wrongly dated the 480 years as from the Exodus, instead of at entry to the land. [See "Going forth from Egypt"]
Van Lennep's system is defective in respect of its placing of these 430 years, but on the other hand, it appears to have identified the true starting point for the 480 years of 1Kings 6:1. He takes the phrase: "after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt" to mean "after they had come into the land from out of Egypt". When considered against the similar wording of Numbers 33:38 this may seem improbable; but that it provides a chronology fitting all the facts is evidence that the interpretation is correct.
Both of these chronologists are unsatisfactory in respect of the times of Samuel and Saul. This is because they have laboured needlessly to incorporate the 450 years of Acts 13:20. The Revised Versions [as well as the Rheims N.T.] show that the phrase "after these things He gave them Judges" should follow, not precede "about the space of four hundred and fifty years". The period Paul refers to comprises the 400 years of Acts 7:3, the 40 years in the wilderness and the 7/10 years in which they subdued the Canaanite nations. Panin comments on the existence of this explanation, but still rejects it. This is particularly surprising, for his own Numeric Greek text has kai meta tauta in the later position in common with all the major Greek editors, [except Alford]
The dubious concept of Anno bei and Anno Mundi prophetic periods is weighed and found wanting by Panin [see Companion Bible appendix: 59 VII]. He justifiably raises the issue that the time of the Temple's desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes is overlooked, and comments: "If these three years are not 'divinely reckoned' then this period's real is not 483 years but 486. But this correction every one of the three has failed to make in his chronology". The "these" alluded to are doubtless Bullinger, Anderson [see pp.81 ff, The Coming Prince] and probably Martin Anstey in his Romance of Bible Chronology, referred to by Van Lennep.
It has thus been necessary to prepare an original chart for the period from Eli to David. The death of Eli at 78 after a term of 40 years when he became a judge at the unusual age of 58. Almost certainly he had been a Priest, possibly even High Priest, many years earlier and this addition indicates the likelihood that he assumed office on the death of a previous Judge. This could not have been Abdon, but it could well have been Ibzan: making Eli contemporary in office with Elon and Abdon, both of whom he survived. In this way the successive judgeship of Samson and Samuel fall into place, the former's death working the initiating of the removal of the Philistine Oppression. As the ages are given in Scripture for Samson, Samuel or Saul there have been conjectured. The problem concerning 1Samuel 13:1 is well known. It is suggested, if the verse [which is not found in the LXX] is genuine, that originally it may have read: "Saul was [three score and] one year old when he became king and he reigned two years", i.e. after Samuel's death. But the supposition is not a basis for the chronology. While David's forty years were those of his actual reign, those of Saul were from his anointing to his death.
Now if Solomon's 4th year was 480 years from the entrance of Israel into the land, then ten years later, his 14th year, was 490 years, i.e. 70 Sabbatic Periods from this starting point. It was the year 3066 from Adam and was that during which the 10th Jubilee began -- though there is no Biblical reference to it. There is, however, an allusion in Isaiah 37:30 to a Jubilee in Hezekiah's 14th year, which Whiston notes in regard to this event as narrated by Josephus. If the 14th year of these two kings can be shown to be spaced apart by an interval divisible by 49 then these bases of chronology are mutually established. The chronologies of both Van Lennep and Panin indicate a span of 294 years between them, that is six Jubilee Periods exactly. So unless the dates employed are either too much or too little by 49 years, it is demonstrated that Solomon's 14th year included the start of the 10th Jubilee, while Hezekiah's 14th year included the start of the 16th Jubilee, which was 3360.
An impartial reference is found in Ezekiel 1:1. This identifies the 5th year of Jehoiachin's captivity [and hence also that of Zedekiah's reign] as being the 30th year. This cannot be applied to any captivity or reign, as it must be the 39th year of a Sabbatic Series of 49 years. This means that the 1st year of Zedekiah coincided with the 26th year of such a period, and a simple calculation enables us to discover that the previous 49th year was in fact the 17th year of Josiah. So the great Passover held by Josiah in his 18th year was actually near the middle of a Jubilee.
Now in order to identify this particular Jubilee it is necessary to count the years elapsed since the 16th Jubilee in Hezekiah's 14th year. Both of our chronologists agree, on the basis of the Biblical data, that the interval is 89 years which is short of two Jubilees by nine years. So unless the discrepancy can be accounted for, the entire chronology must be discarded.
The wickedest king of Judah, Manasseh, also reigned the longest, 55 years in fact. It is therefore tempting to conclude there is a mistake here and that it should have been only 15 years. But Scripture twice states the total years of this king's reign, and it has to be accepted as correct. If we only considered the 21st chapter of 2Kings we should be left without any clue to a solution, but there is a hint in verse 17 that we should refer to 2Chron.33. Here we read in verse 11 and 12 that Manasseh was carried captive to Babylon and subsequently he returned after repenting. Now while he was held in Babylon, which Scripture says, he was not at that same time reigning in Jerusalem which Scripture also declares he did for 55 years. Hence the 55 years of his reign were not continuous, for there was a hiatus of nine years [unless the interval was an improbable 58 years]. This is not a conjecture but a fact deducible from Biblical data.
Now in the 14th year of Hezekiah, when Jerusalem was under siege by the Assyrians, notable officers of the king were "Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe" Isaiah 36:3,22. Subsequently it seems that Shebna must have engineered the removal of Eliakim and then usurped his position; for in Isaiah 22:15 Shebna is denounced by Isaiah who foretells his deposing and death in a country to which he will be taken away captive; probably it was at the same time as Manassah, most likely by Esar-haddon. At that same time it is declared by Eliakim, "I will commit the government into his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to The House of Judah" Isaiah 22:21. So it seems probable that during the nine years interregnum of Manasseh, the government and stewardship were held by Eliakim, whose authority was vested in "the key of David".
There is thus adequate evidence that from Hezekiah's 14th year there were just two weeks of years until Josiah;s 17th year. So it is established that the Jubilee of his 17th/18th year was the 18th Jubilee from Joshua, and it began in 3458.
Ezekiel has told us that the 39th year, of what we now have identified as the 19th Jubilee period, was the 5th year of Zedekiah. Hence his 10th year was also the 35th year, and thus a Shemittah, a fact which chapter 34 of Jeremiah makes clear. Now Zedekiah's 11th year, of which he reigned only three months, was also the year that Jerusalem was destroyed, being the year 3494 from Adam. So the prophesied seventy years of the Desolation of Jerusalem were not merely a haphazard series of years; they were ten of Israel's designated septads, or weeks of years.
The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was an event of no small significance to Israel. We now know that its construction under Solomon began in the year 3056 and that it was dedicated 7 years later in 3063. It is noteworthy then that from the date of its dedication until its destruction was another of those notable periods of 430 years.
In speaking of "years", and before considering Daniel, it is necessary to set aside the concept of a Lunar Year and particularly to repudiate the notion of a Prophetic Year. A year is not a convenient multiple of so many days, but is a period for the planet Earth to revolve round the Sun, which in the present Age [this term is used technically not figuratively] amounts to 365.2422 days. It may well be that before the Flood this period was exactly 360 days. Moreover, the geological cataclysms destined to mark the consummation of this Age and the onset of the Age about to be, will bring about changes such that prophesies which relate to those days are likely to indicate a year of 363 days. This data has been misapplied to compute an alleged Prophetic Year, meaningless for to-day.
In "Aids to Prophetic Study -- No.34", being report's of lectures to The Prophesy Investigation Society in the mid 1920s, a commentator, Norman S. Denham during discussion of "The Seventy Weeks", says on page 42 -- "The mind leaps to the conclusion that the weeks mentioned were intended to be Sabbatic Weeks, a time measure perfectly well known to Daniel. The years must have been the ordinary consecutive calendar years -- not some speculative unnatural time unit, not to be understood till ages after the whole prophesy was fulfilled". Exactly so!
The prophesy of Daniel contains much that is apocalyptic and symbolic much that is apocalyptic and symbolic, but that does not apply to its ninth chapter. It must not then be supposed that Daniel, or anyone else, was required to interpret a "week" of days as typifying a "week" of years. The word translated "week", literally "seven", is better rendered as Hebdomad; and whether it means of hours, days, months or years, is determinable only from the context. This Hebrew word SHABUA clearly means a week of days in Leviticus 12:5; but it symbolises a week of years in Genesis 29:27. The plural has a feminine which in Ezekiel 45:21 relates to days; but there is also a masculine plural which in Daniel 10:2 relates to days. So the masculine plural which occurs only in Daniel, does not of itself settle whether this Hebdomad in any instance means days or years; for it could be either.
Some few years before Jerusalem fell. Daniel was already a captive in Babylon, which means that seventy years later he was advanced in age. But Daniel was fully aware that Jeremiah had prophesied the seventy years Desolation of Jerusalem. He knew that that term began with the first year of a new Sabbatic period, and that it comprised ten Hebdomads of years. He knew also that; after two of those periods had passed during the captivity, the 19th Jubilee had been allocated -- but without the liberation of captives associated with the Year. Likewise, the 20th Jubilee uneventfully went by fortynine years further on, leaving but seven years of the Desolation still to run.
Thus it came about, in the first year of Darius of the Medes, the Shemittah marking the seventh year of the 21st Jubilee having just ended, that Daniel "understood by the books" that the Desolation of Jerusalem had completed its course, the advent of the month Nisan introducing a new year. How natural it was then, as the time of the Passover became due, that such a faithful and intelligent Jew should be found praying, with an intensity that only a Jew can attain, for the blessing of Jerusalem and its people.
This earnest supplicator, this "man greatly beloved", who prays intelligently in accord with the declared purpose of God, is recompensed by a response through a divine messenger to give Daniel "wisdom and understanding". There can therefore be no doubt but that he did perfectly comprehend Gabriel's message. Seventy years may have run their course, but now there are to be seventy Hebdomads as it says, "decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city". For Daniel there would be no problem in perceiving that these were "weeks" of years. or Sabbatic Periods; for ten of these had just expired and he was on the threshold of a new one. The idea of them being mere sequence of 490 years vaguely placed on the calendar would never have occurred to a Jewish mind in Daniel's position.
The foregoing seems to have been a somewhat generalised announcement, but now there follows what is specifically directed to Daniel, for he is required to "know therefore and understand". The first thing he is to understand is the point in time of "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem". What a lot of controversy attaches to identifying this "commandment" with several decrees of different Gentile monarchs! If Daniel had been confronted with a decision so problematic, it would be in order to charge Gabriel with failing in his mission. But this is not so: for Daniel was expressly told when that "commandment" went forth. As Van Lennep says, page 259, "these tremendously impressive words must, and can only be, taken as meaning that the Commandment that came forth 'at the beginning of thy (Daniel's) supplication' was the commandment of Gabriel's own Master, God Himself, who had sent him -- -- -- it was not the mere decree of Cyrus -- -- -- or of Artaxerxes Longimus". So as Daniel knew when his supplications began, he knew exactly when the commandment was issued; and we may reasonably deduce that the date was about the middle of Nisan at the start of the eighth year of the period culminating in the 21st Jubilee.
Daniel is particularly to grasp the significance of this point in time, in that there were to be "seven weeks, and three score weeks and two weeks" unto Messiah the Prince. Most chronologists seem to assume that Gabriel had diminished ability in computation or some other idiosyncrasy, for they immediately add together the two parts and without more ado refer to the 483 years. An exception is found in the Companion Bible chronology which attempts to show, not very convincingly, that the command was issued by Asteiages in 454 BCE and that the "seven weeks" marked the dedication of the restored temple in 405 BCE. It must therefore, be with deliberate intent that the time interval was not expressed as "three score and nine weeks", and the reason should be sought.
Now if the period announced to Daniel had been instead, "three score and two weeks, and seven weeks", would he not have perceived that with the one "week" just completed he was being directed to look forward for 62 + 1 weeks.of.years i.e. nine Jubilee Periods on from the 20th Jubilee, then not long passed? To add on to this yet another "seven weeks" would then be recognised logically as a further 49 years, constituting an extra Jubilee term. But this is not what was stated by Gabriel; so the "seven weeks" cannot be construed thus -- though it is suggested that the "three score and two weeks" are to be understood in this way.
Consider now Daniel's point of view. Here he was in the month Nisan, around the time of Passover, and seven weeks are mentioned. What would come into the mind of any devout Jew but the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost? So as Daniel was meant to clearly understand the message, naturally he would comprehend it as being that of Pentecost, in the Shemittah that introduced the 29th Jubilee, Messiah the Prince would be revealed. And as the essential feature of Messiah is being an anointed one, it could be expected that anointing would constitute the manner of that manifestation. Did not this then at the appointed time come to pass?
In earlier considerations it was noted that John the Baptist, having attained the age of thirty about 7th Nisan of the Sabbatic year of 27 CE, this being the 15th year of the government of Tiberius, began his preaching of the imminent Kingdom of the Heavens. It is to be assumed that his active ministry was deferred until the days of unleavened bread were past, and that a few weeks would transpire before he had achieved a sufficient following, to bring his ministry to public notice. Though there is no Biblical statement that Pentecost had drawn nigh, the presence in Judea of working Galilean fishermen implies a contemporary feast at Jerusalem, and the subsequent narrative declares the possibility of it being identified with a later feast.
That those who subsequently became the disciples of Jesus were then seeking a messianic manifestation is evident: for later Andrew tells Peter "we have found the Messiah", and Phillip tells Nathaniel, "we have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets wrote". Can it have been other than a knowledge of Daniel's prophecy that drew so many to give heed to John? For, "the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether haply He were the Christ". Luke 3:15
In these circumstances, it was, that Jesus came from Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Then John "saw the heavens rent asunder and The Spirit as a Dove descending" upon Jesus, a vision evidently seen only by John. But John's commission was that "He should be made manifest to Israel", so he declared, "I have seen and have borne witness that this is The Son of God", a title which is synonymous with Messiah -- for here was the anointing of The Holy Spirit, and this was the fulfilling of Daniel's "seven weeks and three score weeks".
That this event took place at Pentecost is a probability, rather than a certainty, for the viewpoint of the Gospel writers' records. But that it should be the case is appropriately in accord with that later notable descent of The Spirit.
From this time on some seven weeks transpired until Jesus arrived at Cana in Galilee and there performed the first sign of His Messiahship. He then taught in their synagogues while His thirtieth birthday drew on, and while John elsewhere was yet preaching. It was only when John was "delivered up" [but evidently not then imprisoned] that "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of God, and saying: 'The time is fulfilled'".
There is every reason to conclude that the due time for Messiah to begin His preaching, as distinct from teaching, was the 30th anniversary of His birth in Tishri of 27 CE. It was most likely then, at some time between the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles [which would demand His presence in Jerusalem], The Lord Jesus Christ came into the synagogue at Nazareth on the sabbath day and announced, "The Spirit of The Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel -- -- --". Thus was the 29th Jubilee year introduced.
The recognition of an autumnal Nativity, in Tishri, which is basic to this study, makes it unjustified to postulate four Passovers during The Lord's public ministry. The three Passovers, mentioned as such, in John's Gospel adequately accommodate the composite narrative. The period of Christ's open testimony to Israel therefore was of two and a half years duration, and the year of His death, resurrection and ascension becomes established as 30 CE.
The dates of the chronology which have been reckoned only from the creation from Adam may now be assigned years on the basis of the common Era. The year of the Israelites occupation of the Land was 2577; and as this was the first year in the first Sabbatic Series, then the 49th Year, which introduced the first Yobel, was 2577 plus 48, which is 2625. The date from Adam of the 29th Jubilee, therefore, was 29 times 49 plus the date of the first Jubilee, viz. 1372 + 2625 = 3997. We know that this year 3997 began in the Jubilee year of 27 CE. So it became apparent, probably not unexpectedly, that the year 4000 from Adam relates to 30 CE, during which through His death and resurrection the "last Adam" became "a life giving Spirit", the new head and hope for mankind.
The year 1 CE thus corresponds to 3971, and 1 BCE to 3970. The key dates in the chronological system can now be tabulated as follows
The chronology here presented is based solely on Biblical sources, and for this it is not intended to offer any apology. However it is reasonable to give some consideration to valid secular data, providing it is not made a basis for modifying the statements of Scripture. Panin aptly comments, on page 160: "Once indeed established, the testimony of an eclipse as to a date is final - - - Such an eclipse however, it is certain, will never conflict with true Bible chronology".
The allusion to eclipses, of course, refers to the Canon of Ptolemy, which is constructed on such a system. In appendix 86 of the Companion Bible it has been suggested that this Canon "upon which the faith of modern chronologers is so implicitly - - - pinned, must have been built upon unreliable foundations". Panin states, on page 153, "The professed identification of certain years of antiquity by eclipses recorded by Ptolemy contains some fallacies in logic which vitiate the results". Van Lennep claims, "Ptolemy inserted one or more men as reigning sovereigns who never actually did reign, in order to make up the years that his wrong calculation demanded", page 257. The same writer elaborates this alleged error by Ptolemy in saying, page 20, "if he had made the mistake [no matter how] of counting one revolution of his 'clock' more than it had revolved, he would have begun his Canon just 54 years and one month too early". Now if there is a possibility of including one extra eclipse cycle, could it not be feasible that even two of such cycles may have become, inadvertently embedded in the Canon?
In the various Bible articles on "Bases of Scripture Chronology" it is claimed that Ptolemy's Canon "furnishes invaluable help in determining chronology, fixing for instance the fall of Jerusalem at BC 586". Let it be observed that between this date and the BCE 477, herein assigned to the same event, the difference is 109 years. The closeness of this number of years to two cycles of 54 years and 1 month is significant enough to warrant investigation by students of Ptolemaic and other secular chronology.
To designate this study The Seventy Weeks was perhaps not entirely accurate, as the principle theme is the 'seven weeks and sixty two weeks'. There are a few aspects of prophecy which have not been considered, yet are clearly affected by the approach herein adopted. For instance, if the starting point of the Seventy Weeks allocated to Daniel's "Holy City", is identical with that of the Sixty-Two Weeks [an assumption open to question], then the evidence of history is that sixty-eight "weeks" have been fulfilled, and just as surely two have not. On this basis the integrity of prophecy demands a pre-millennial 14-year existence of a restored Temple in Jerusalem. Because Gabriel's message did not involve the date of the dedication of the Second Temple, it has not been considered, though the date that Solomon's Temple was dedicated has been; an added reason for querying the datum from which the "Seventy Weeks" are to be counted.
It is most important to observe that the apportionment of the "Seventy Weeks" consisted of two elements, namely, Daniel's "people" and his "Holy City". That these do not coincide and have to be treated each in its own setting is evident in that the seventy years of the Desolation of Jerusalem, which alone has been the subject in this study, are independent of the seventy years of the Servitude of the people of Judah. No conclusion as to this theme are here proffered; it is noted in order to stimulate research.
It is, therefore, to be hoped that the style of approach featured in this study, reinforced by the results thus yielded, will encourage other students of Biblical chronology to investigate related fields which are not essential to the case for the proposition herein presented.
Maurice S. Lloyd, Glasgow June 1983
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