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The 70 year period the Jews would be in Babylon would come to an end in 537/6 BC when Cyrus would issue his decree allowing them to return to Jerusalem.

The next important time element occurs on 457 BC when Artaxerxes will issue his decree to "restore and build" Jerusalem. This date, 457 is accepted by many to begin the counting of the 70 weeks of years prophecy.

So, the question is why are there 80 years between these two dates? And there is no such thing as a coincidence so they are made up of two 40 year periods and 40 is certainly a meaningful number in the scriptures. Thank you in advance, Charlie

Jer 25:11, 12 - And this whole land will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. But when seventy years are complete, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their guilt, declares the LORD, and I will make it an everlasting desolation.

Jer 29:10 - For this is what the LORD says: “When Babylon’s seventy years are complete, I will attend to you and confirm My promise to restore you to this place.

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    Hey there @Charlie744, according to my sources, it was 539/538 BCE when Cyrus issued his degree and the fall of Jerusalem was about 589/588 BCE. These dates have been disputed because there aren't exactly 70 years between the two. The 70 years mentioned in Daniel though refer to the beginning of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. I don't remember much else about this as it has been years since I studied this (around 1998). I am looking forward to hearing different opinions on this. Aug 3, 2022 at 18:56

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70 Years of Jeremiah

There are two prophecies of Jeremiah which are possibly the same prophecy. Both Jer 25:11, 12 and Jer 29:10 predict that Judah would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years, during which the land would become waste. This was fulfilled beginning in 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar captured many of the nobility in the first Judean campaign. Two more campaigns followed in 597 BC (where another 10,000 captives were taken), and the final in 586 BC that destroyed the city. In Oct 539 BC Cyrus defeated the Babylonian kingdom. His first regnal year began in Sep 538 BC and he issued the decree recorded in Ezra 1 in early 537 BC. It was also during this first regnal year that Daniel 9 is recorded and refers directly to the prophecies of Jeremiah and the 70 years. The decree went into effect when the Jews organised themselves and departed Babylon (Ezra 1) probably in 536 BC, 70 years (by inclusive reckoning) after the first captivity of Judah.

2 Chron 36:21 also quotes Jeremiah’s 70 years and says that “the land enjoyed its Sabbath rests all the time of its desolation.” This suggests that the 70 years was to make up for previous years when the 7th year of Sabbath rest was not observed making a total of about 490 previous years – about the total time of the Israelite monarchy from Saul to Zedekiah.

Daniel 9:2 also refers to Jeremiah’s 70 years of captivity. In Dan 9:2, Daniel says that the 70 years would be the duration of the city’s “desolation”, a reference to the fact that Jews had been held captive by Babylon for almost 70 years. The subsequent prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 is couched in terms that are seven times greater than the 70 years of Jeremiah.

70 Years of Zechariah

Zechariah 1:12 & 7:5 appears to allude to another 70 years during which the temple remained unbuilt. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in 586 BC, and later, Zerubbabel and Haggai supervised the completion and rededication in 515 BC, about 70 years later, in the second year of Darius, Zech 1:1, 7, or perhaps the fourth year, Zech 7:1.

Thus, both prophecies appear to have been fulfilled.

70 Sevens/Weeks of Dan 9

The start of the 70 weeks of Dan 9:24 is another matter entirely as it concerns a different prophecy which is seven times greater than the 70 years. These are contrasted in Dan 9 as follows:

  • 70 years of Jeremiah concerns the duration of the Babylonian captivity, following which the people were allowed to return.
  • The start of the 70 weeks is a little more controversial as Ezra contains several royal decrees.

Royal Decrees in Ezra

  1. Ezra 1:1-4 - 1st year of Cyrus, about 537 BC. This decree was to allow the scattered Jews to return to Jerusalem and Judah.
  2. Ezra 6:3-12 - probably in the 2nd or 4th year of Darius (about 515 BC) Zech 1:1, 7, 12, 7:1, 5. This decree was to allow the rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem only
  3. Ezra 7:12-26 - 7th years of Artaxerxes, 457 BC (Ezra 7:7, 8). This decree was specifically for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and a restoration of its polity and thus is the likely candidate for the start of the 70 weeks.

I struggle to see any significance for the 80 years between the first return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem and the later issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. It is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the Bible and so there is nothing to say.

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  • Thank you very much for your response. I certainly agree with your comments but this is why I put the question out there. Why was 457 BC selected by God to be the start date for the 70 weeks prophecy? He does not do anything without a perfect reason. Why not 487 BC, or 444 BC?
    – Charlie744
    Aug 4, 2022 at 6:39
  • @Charlie744 - put it on your list questions when you meet Him.
    – Dottard
    Aug 4, 2022 at 9:21
  • Nope! God gave us His Words and He will also give us His answers ... He did not write these to keep them a secret... He will provide them through His followers with the help of the Holy Spirit. I can assure you there IS a perfect answer... just need help with this one.
    – Charlie744
    Aug 4, 2022 at 9:49
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    @Charlie744 - it is only "important" because you have decided, without Bible justification to make it important. On what basis is this even important? $57BC was chosen, presumably because God knew when Messiah would be crucified. Further, the dates 537 and 457 come entirely from secular chronology and history, not from the Bible anyway.
    – Dottard
    Aug 4, 2022 at 11:41
  • No, it’s important because it is written by God in His Bible.
    – Charlie744
    Aug 5, 2022 at 1:49
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Thank you Dan! There are perhaps a few ways to determine the start date for the prophecy. One is based on a comment made by a second BC Seder named Olam Rabbah, who stated the first Temple stood for 410 years before its destruction by the Babylonians in 587/6 BC. If correct, this would mean that Solomon’s Temple was dedicated around/on 996 BC (586 + 410). Consequently, this would also be the beginning of the 3rd Great Jubilee, and in 587/6 BC the counting of the Great Jubilee Cycle would have stopped. The clock, or counting of the 3rd Cycle would restart in 538/7 when Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to rebuild the Temple, and walls and had fulfilled their punishment period in Babylon. Therefore, the time from 587/6 to 538/7, or 49 literal years would not have been counted. The Jews would be back in Jerusalem for exactly 80 years (538/7 to 458/7) when Artaxerxes issued his command. These 80 years are exactly what was needed to complete the 3rd Great Jubilee Cycle of 490 years.

This would also establish the start date for the 4th and final Great Jubilee. It also would be fulfilled after 490 years or around 33/4 AD.

After the 7 and 62 weeks were completed (483 literal years), the Messiah would be baptized in the Jordan. This would be the first day of the 70th week and the first day of His ministry. He could not have arrived until the 69 weeks were completed. His ministry was set aside for the last week of the prophecy. Everything that was necessary to complete the physical restoration of Jerusalem, the Temple, including the feast days, ceremonies and the Sabbatical cycles had to be completed before the Messiah could arrive. And these are the requirements to be fulfilled by the Jews before the end of the 69th week- and they were. Their part in the complete restoration after Babylon was fulfilled. The only remaining piece of furniture to be restored was the presence of God in the sanctuary- the Ark of the Covenant. This was the first piece of furniture taken away (hidden from the Babylonians) and will be the last piece of furniture to be restored in the form of the Messiah. He would not only complete the restoration that was taken away, but He would then fulfill his God-given mission (9:24) before His crucifixion. Only the Messiah could restore those elements, and He did so within 3.5 years into the final week of the prophecy. Consequently, both parties, the Jews and the Messiah completed their obligations set aside during the 490 years. At the end of the 70th week (7 years set aside for the Messiah) the 4th Great Jubilee Cycle would end.

However, because the Jews rejected their Messiah, their standing with their God would cease. The 490 required years to complete the Cycle would be short by 3.5 years or the last 1/2 of the final week of the prophecy. Remember, everything was completed by both parties in the restoration prophecy. There is nothing incomplete or yet to be finished (as far as the restoration prophecy). However, the only thing that must be completed is the remaining 3.5 years of the 4th Great Jubilee Cycle. Only when the Jews are back in Jerusalem and in good standing with their God will the counting of the years continue. Therefore, at the end of time, when the time of the Gentiles is finished, God will remove the blindness from the eyes of the Jews. They will recognize the One they have pierced was Jesus. For 3.5 years they will preach the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus and fulfill the remaining 3.5 years of the 4th Great Jubilee and bring in the Messiah.

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  • If you care to take the time, check out my answer to the following Q:- hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/83490/… - The "70 Weeks" most likely ran in consequential order and most probably were completed in 33 AD, having started on Nisan 1 of 458 BC, see Ezra 7:9. Dec 14, 2023 at 21:50
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Nothing was bumped into the future. The 70 weeks or 490 years was fullfilled in its entirety.Daniel 2:44 was fullfilled. He brought in everlasting righteousness! It is now, and has been a Spiritual house.

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The answer why 80 or so years after Cyrus's decree, I agree, may be somewhat bothersome or hard to understand.

May I suggest this answer or possibility.

After Cyrus's decree, all of the Jews did not return to Judea. Daniel himself stayed back and took a high position in the Medes/Persian realm. In the book of Esther, we see that Esther and her uncle Mordecai as well as others remained in the Babylonian/Persian empire. Daniel might well have stayed for two reasons, at least as I can think of: his age being one, and his desire to be of help to his people in such a high position in the kingdom being the other.

Your assertion that 457 BC is the right date for the decree to start the 490-year period is correct. Cyrus's decree in Ezra 1 is only for the Jews to return to their homeland. Darius's decree is only a confirmation of Cyrus's. Some will take the record of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah as the starting point. Mathematically this does not fit.

444 BC minus 483 years to the time when the Messiah shows Himself will take you to 40 AD. (Remember you have to add 1 because there is no 0 BC or 0 AD. It goes from 1 BC to 1 AD). The only way to make 444 BC fit in well, from what I have found in my research, is to multiply 483 years (to when Messiah would show Himself), by 360 days, (the number of days in the Jewish year), and then divide by the number of days in the Julian and Gregorian year.

But this is incorrect for this reason: why would God give a time prophecy in which you use one calendar and then divide it by another that wasn't going to exist until almost 400 years later? One must remember, that God is dealing with His people and would use a measuring of time they would know.

Yet following this pattern of interpretation was plausible, and it would take you to 29 AD as the time when Christ came to John to be baptized. All scholars I have read seemed to recognize that Jesus was 30 when He began His ministry, coinciding with the priestly requirement of being 30 to start in the priestly service.

This would mean he was born in 2 BC which does not fit well with the Magi's visit, the escape to Egypt, and the death of Herod the Great. The account of the Magi's visit describes that when they came to visit they saw a young child, not an infant and they had followed the star for 2 years, hence Herod's order to kill all male infants up to 2 years old.

While there is some discrepancy on when Herod died, 4 or 2 BC, it fits in with the time that Jesus was born in 4 BC, went to Egypt in 2 BC, and later, Joseph having been informed by an angel that Herod was dead, went back settling in Nazareth.

The timetable of the 490 years beginning in 457 BC fits in with all the criteria, especially when you read the decrees of Cyrus and the two of Artaxerxes (in Ezra 7 and Nehemiah 1). The one in Ezra 7 is correct for this reason. It is the only one in which Artaxerxes gives orders for the Jews to set their own judges and magistrates and to govern by the Jewish laws. You won't find this in any other decree.

This would take you to full completion of the 490 years this way: 457 BC, the decree made, Jesus' baptism to begin His ministry in 27 AD, a covenant made to preach the gospel only to the Jews for the remaining week or 7 years, but the Messiah would be cut off, die, in the midst of the week in 30/31 AD, and the gospel still to be preached to the Jews, (as he said, "do not go but only to the lost sheep of Israel") until the death of Stephen in 34 AD.

At that time, in the book of Acts, it's recorded that a great persecution fell on the early church and many fled to parts of Syria. It wasn't long from this that we find the story of Peter going to a Gentile's home, preaching the gospel and their conversion, and recounting this to his Jewish brethren later in a council, that God has seen fit to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

And Paul's conversion was right after Stephen's death for he witnessed it, keeping at his feet the robes of those who took part in stoning. Then he received orders from the religious leaders to go after the church and made his way to Damascus, in Syria.

Hope this helps.

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