Bible code: The 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel
The present study deals with a subject that has carefully avoided in the rabbinic commentaries on the 70 Weeks of the prophecy in Daniel. At the core of this study is the Bible code that is found in Chapter 9, and what it will reveal to the reader. Therefore, it is the object of this work to seek the answer to the question as to the identity of the anointed, as we will touch upon the cryptic passages in the 70 Weeks in Daniel’s prophecy.
Although most commentators have already treated these verses exhaustively, there is some room left for our comments, as we will proceed below in due vein. For the sake of emphasis and further explanation, we will review what we have studied previously concerning Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy.
The spoken word
There is a great deal of misunderstanding as to how to count the 70 prophetic weeks (of years) or 490 years in Daniel’s prophecy and hence, who is the one who “shall make a firm covenant with many for one week”. Many Christian commentators view this prophecy as referring to the anti-messiah. They base this view on the premises that there is a time-gap of 2,000 years in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks between the 69 weeks and the last week. According to this view, the gap exists between the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 A.D. and the rise of the anti-messiah, who will make a false covenant of peace with many for one week, at the end-time, and more specifically between verse 26 and verse 27 of the prophecy.
As we explained in the book The Reckoning of Time, Chapter Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks, this is not the correct way to interpret the prophecy. As a convincing argument that our hypothesis is true, we used the chiastic structure of Dan 9:24-27 that gives us the understanding that the one who “shall make a firm covenant with many for one week” is the Messiah, not the anti-messiah. This will be further explained in the interpretation of the verses.
The other misconception is from which starting point to count the 70 weeks of Daniel. The prophecy says that the countdown will begin when a davar (“spoken word” in verse 25) to restore and build Yerushalayim is given, not when the city is actually built. The traditional interpretation of this verse is that the counting of the 70 weeks of years should begin with the issuing of the famous decree of King Koresh (Cyrus) with which he permitted the Jews in Persia to return to their land and build the Temple. But King Koresh permitted not only the Jews to return but also all other peoples in the Persian empire to return to their ancestral lands. He permitted them to return but did not permit them to restore their monarchies, and thus they remained satraps of the Persian kings.
And this is as it is written with regard to Koresh’s decree permitting the exile to return to the Land, in the seventieth year of the Babylonian exile: “Thus says Koresh king of Persia: Yehovah Elohim of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged me to build Him a house in Yehudah” (Ezr 1:2). Besides, Koresh was not the only Persian king who issued such a decree; the other two were Dareyavesh and Artahshashta.
But who of them issued the spoken word for the building of Yerushalayim that would commence the counting of Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy? Because the prophecy in verse 25 is very explicit: “Know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, etc.” The prophecy does not say: “from the going forth of the word to restore and to build the Temple” (with which the theocracy was to be restored), but “to restore and to build Jerusalem” with which the polity will be restored.
The problem arises from the fact that no decree specifically granting permission to the exiles to return and rebuild the city has come down to us. The kings indeed granted permissions, but they were simply to permit the rebuilding of the Temple and for the exiles to return to Yerushalayim for that purpose. This interpretation is important because it gives the answer to the question: Which return (Zerubavel’s, Yoakim’s, or Ezra’s) is the return that ended the 70-year exile.
But as we explained in Chapter The Fourth Return of Israel of the aforesaid book, neither did King Koresh nor King Dareyavesh’s decrees commenced the counting of Daniel’s 70 Weeks, because their decrees were concerning the rebuilding of the Temple, not the city. The spoken word for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, which commenced the 70 Weeks prophecy, was of King Artahshashta in his sixth year of reign, when Ezra returned with the third exile. And we explained the strong reason to believe that that return should be considered as the starting point of the 70 Weeks prophecy, which occurred years after the decree of King Koresh and first return with Zerubbavel. With the first return some 40,000 Jews returned, while most of them remained in Persia. Refer to the book The Reckoning of Time for a complete explanation.
The rabbinic view on the 70 Weeks in Daniel
What is the rabbinic interpretation of the 70 Weeks prophecy in Daniel? Traditional Jewish commentators offer uniform interpretations of the cryptic verses in Chapter 9.
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040 – 1105), was a medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and Tanach. Today he is known by the acronym Rashi (RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki) and is acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the Biblical text. Rashi gives the following interpretation of Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy.
Note: For the sake objectivity, the present author has made a literal translation of the four verses in Daniel 9; all punctuations and capitalizations have been removed (they do not exist in Hebrew) in order to provide unbiased text. Yet, the text is still readable.
(Dan 9:24) seventy sevens are decreed on your people and on your set-apar city to finish the transgression and to make an end of sin and to forgive iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness and to seal vision and prophet and to anoint the most set-apart place.
Rashi says that “Seventy weeks [of years] have been decreed” on Jerusalem from the day of the first destruction in the days of King Zedekiah until it will be destroyed the second time. And the statement “to terminate the transgression and to end sin” means so that Israel should receive their complete retribution in the exile of Titus and his subjugation, in order that their transgressions should terminate, their sins should end, and their iniquities should be expiated, in order to bring upon them eternal righteousness and to anoint upon them the Holy of Holies: the Ark, the altars, and the holy vessels, which they will bring to them through the king Messiah. The number of seven weeks is four hundred and ninety years. The Babylonian exile was seventy years and the Second Temple stood four hundred and twenty years. This is the interpretation, according to Rashi.
We find the following issues with this interpretation. Where Rashi says that “Seventy weeks [of years] have been decreed on Jerusalem from the day of the first destruction in the days of Zedekiah until it will be destroyed the second time”, we have this to say. The common acceptance is that the first Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. 490 years (70 weeks times seven) leads us to year 96 B.C. But the second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.
The second issue we find in Rashi’s interpretation is that of duration of the second Temple the Jews built after their return to the Land. Rashi says: “The Babylonian exile was seventy years and the Second Temple stood four hundred and twenty years” (hence, 70 + 420 = 490). It is commonly accepted, however, that the construction of the second Temple was finished in 538 B.C. Then, 420 years forward will lead us to its destruction in 118 B.C. But it was destroyed in 70 A.D.
In other words, if we rewind the time 490 years from 70 A.D., we will arrive to nowhere. But if we reckoned those years from year 3996 from the Creation (31 AD) backwards, we will indeed come to year 3506 which is the 6th year of King Artahshashta’s Decree in 460 BC. (See Yovel Table of the aforesaid book for more clarity)
(Dan 9:25) know and understand from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Yerushalayim to anointed commander shall be seven sevens sixty two sevens shall be built again with broad place and moat and in troublous times.
Then, Rashi goes on to comment on verse 25, “until the anointed king”: “Time will be given from the day of the destruction until the coming of Cyrus, king of Persia, about whom the Holy One, blessed be He, said that he would return and build His city, and He called him His anointed and His king, as it says”. In other words, Rashi sees King Koresh of Persia as the anointed (Hebrew, mashiach) who rebuilt the city in troubled times. He continues, “Seven complete shemittah cycles (Ed. seven sabbatical cycles) they will be in exile before Cyrus comes, and there were yet three more years, but since they did not constitute a complete shemittah cycle, they were not counted”.
The issues we find in Rashi’s comments are: While Koresh King of Persia was indeed called mashiach, “anointed” in Isa 45:1, the reader should know that all who were anointed in the Tanach were also called such: the high priests and kings of Israel (David, etc.). According to Rashi (and others), the seven weeks (49 years) in verse 25 refer to the duration of the exile in Babylon. This is a well-established rabbinic tradition. However, if the people were in exile for only 49 years instead of 70 years, then the land had not enjoyed 70 years of rest. But that was the whole purpose of the exile decreed through the prophet Jeremiah. In Leviticus, Torah commands Israel to observe rest of the land every seventh year; after seven cycles of seven years (49 years), comes the Jubilee Year (the 50th year) which is also decreed for a rest. The purpose of the exile therefore is not to have the people out of the land, but the land to have the 70 years of rest (which it did not enjoy) accumulated from the time Israel took possession of the land and partitioning it until the reign of the last King of Judea Tsidkiyahu. This we too explained in the aforesaid book.
(Dan 9:26) and after the sixty and two sevens shall anointed be cut off and no more to him and the city and the set-apart shall destroy people of commander shall come and shall end in flood and until end war is decreed desolation.
Rashi says the following, “Agrippa, the king of Judea, who was ruling at the time of the destruction, will be slain. … and the people of the coming monarch will destroy [The monarch who will come] upon them. That is Titus and his armies. And his end will come about by inundation. And his end will be damnation and destruction, for He will inundate the power of his kingdom through the Messiah, and until the end of the wars of Gog the city will exist”.
In verse 25, Rashi introduced King Koresh as a messiah of the 70 Weeks prophecy. Here in verse 26, however, King Agrippa appears as a second choice of a messiah, who was indeed killed by Titus in Rome.
(Dan 9:27) And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one seven; and for half of the seven he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease and upon extremity of detestable things shall be that which causes appalment and until completion determined be poured out upon devastation.
In verse 27, according to Rashi’s interpretation, it was Titus who strengthened a covenant with the princes of Israel for seven years, but within the seven years, he abrogated his covenant and abolished sacrifice and meal-offering.
At this point in the study, it is necessary to understand that the rabbinic rulings are not binding and cannot be offered as if they have any bearing upon those who are not under the authority of the rabbis.
According to the official rabbinic interpretation, the prophecy of the 70 Weeks concerning the messiah seems as relevant to King Koresh of Persia and Agrippa the king of Judea. But if it were so, the vision of the 70 Weeks in Chapter 9 of Daniel seems to be out of place standing alone with no connection with the vision in Daniel 7, and the rabbis who advance this view are under the necessity and obligation of explaining why Gavriel had given Daniel unrelated prophecies. From a purely contextual point of view, it is quite impossible to suppose that a messenger of YHVH would deliver such a mixed message.
Son of man in Daniel 7 and Mashiach in Daniel 9
The Book of Daniel is comprised of two sections: the first chapters (1–6) present stories about the life of the prophet in the court of Babylon, chapters 7–12 contain four apocalyptic visions received by Daniel in a cryptic language. To two of these visions, we now turn to conclude our study.
The second section of Daniel begins with the vision of the four beasts in Dan 7:1-8. Then, the vision continues with a poetic description of the heavenly court and the appearance of the “Ancient of Days” on His throne surrounded by fire and thousands of messengers (9-10). The books were open before Him, the heavenly register of what is about to happen on earth.
While the perplexed Daniel was observing this heavenly scene, the fourth beast he saw was killed and thrown in the burning fire. But the rest of the beasts continued to live for a season and a time.
Then, a vision of the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven was given to Daniel in Dan 7:13-14 and its interpretation in Dan 7:17-24. This son of man came to the Ancient of Days to receive everlasting dominion and kingship to rule over all nations.
The vision of the ram and the goat symbolizing the kingdoms of Persian and Greece respectively appeared to him and explained by the angel Gavriel in Chapter 8.
And now in Chapter 9, the same angel appears to Daniel again and explains to him what is meant by the son of man in Chapter 7, the vision Daniel has already seen. Who was the son of man to whom the Most High gave dominion over the earth? That is the King Messiah. See Daniel 7:13 with Rashi.
The son of man who was brought before the Most High is not named but is only described according to his appearance “like a son of man”, i.e., resembling a man, and not like some other creature. This is implied, as the four beasts signify not animals but earthly kingdoms, so is the appearance of the mystical figure in the form of a man may signify something else than a human being. Yet, in the words “like a man” it is implied that this heavenly being was in a human form.
Rabbeinu Bahya noted this in his commentary on Genesis 2:3, saying,
“Just as Adam took control on the sixth day of creation, something alluded to in the words “let us make Adam,” so the Messiah will arrive and take control of the earth during the sixth millennium after a tenth of that millennium has passed, corresponding to the hour at which the sun rises in the morning. The reference is to the Mashiach ben David, the Messiah who is the descendant of David, the final Messiah. It has been written of this Messiah “and his throne is as the sun before Me” (see Psa 89:36-37). It is he who is meant when the Torah spoke of Man as being made in the image of the Lord. Daniel 7:13 describes him as “and behold! With the clouds of heaven, one like a man came”, Sanhedrin 98a:13. See also the comments of Ramban and Tur HaAroch on Genesis 2:3.
With that being said, the prophecy of the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven in Dan 7:9-14 evidently relates to a future event, because the context of the vision relates to an everlasting dominion, glory, and kingdom given to him over all nations, which is yet to be fulfilled. It relates to the prophecy in Dan 9:24, in which it is said, “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and for your set-apart city, to put an end to the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover crookedness, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”. This is not yet fulfilled either.
That of מָשִׁיחַ mashiach נָגִיד nagid in Dan 9:25, however, relates to a coming of an anointed ruler with a mission to accomplish. Here we will use again the chiastic form of the prophecy of the 70 Weeks in verses 25-27, which points to the mission this mashiach has to accomplish (notice the pattern of chiasmus pointing to the central message D in the prophecy:
A. Daniel 9:25, Jerusalem Built: Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
B. Daniel 9:25, Anointed one: to an anointed prince, shall be seven weeks.
C. Daniel 9:25, Jerusalem Built: And 62 weeks, it shall be built again with street and moat, even in troublous times.
D. Daniel 9:26, Anointed one: And after the 62 weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and be no more for him.
C. Daniel 9:26, Jerusalem Destroyed: And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined.
B. Daniel 9:27, Anointed one: And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease;
A. Daniel 9:27, Jerusalem Destroyed: and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that makes desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.
A closer look at the pattern of chiasmus will convince even the doubter that the prophecy speaks of one anointed and the focal point of it is that this anointed one who will be cut off. And when read in context, Daniel describes the prophecies in Daniel 7 and Daniel 9 as one prophecy that relates to two comings of the son of man and assigns their proper times in Daniel 9.
But for the rabbis Daniel 7 and Daniel 9 are two unrelated visions, because they chose not to read them in the entire context of the prophecy. Their interpretation of the 70 Weeks prophecy is not grounded well in the Hebrew text, as the connection between Daniel 7 and Daniel 9 is never raised or even hinted at in their proper context. For the rabbis, it does not seem to matter that the visions of the son of man, the rise and fall of the world empires, and the 70 weeks decreed to end transgressions and to bring in everlasting righteousness, are related.
But is there anything that can synchronize both visions? This is where the Bible code comes to help.
The Bible code
This will be an interesting Bible code to consider. While there is great deal of interpretation of the “raw” data of the Bible codes bring on the surface, sometimes the hidden message is plain to understand.
When we keep all these considerations above in mind, we will understand the reason why the messenger Gavriel started the revelation of the prophecy of the 70 Weeks with a particular set of words. The choice of words with which verse 25 begins may not be accidental at all: “Know and understand”, are the words of Gavriel. And then he dictated the prophecy, which Daniel faithfully put in writing being unaware of the cryptic message he preserved for the future generations. “Know and understand” was meant for us.
We will read the Hebrew text of verses 25 and 26 of the 70 Weeks prophecy of Daniel,
וְתֵדַע וְתַשְׂכֵּל מִן־מֹצָא דָבָר לְהָשִׁיב וְלִבְנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַ͏ִם עַד־מָשִׁיחַ נָגִיד שָׁבֻעִים שִׁבְעָה וְשָׁבֻעִים שִׁשִּׁים וּשְׁנַיִם תָּשׁוּב וְנִבְנְתָה רְחוֹב וְחָרוּץ וּבְצוֹק הָעִתִּים׃
וְאַחֲרֵי הַשָּׁבֻעִים שִׁשִּׁים וּשְׁנַיִם יִכָּרֵת מָשִׁיחַ וְאֵין לוֹ וְהָעִיר וְהַקֹּדֶשׁ יַשְׁחִית עַם נָגִיד הַבָּא וְקִצּוֹ בַשֶּׁטֶף וְעַד קֵץ מִלְחָמָה נֶחֱרֶצֶת שֹׁמֵמוֹת׃
Now the Bible code begins revealing letter by letter the hidden identity of the anointed one of YHVH, the son of man, who has been given the dominion over the earth. Starting in verse 26, in the word וְהָעִיר ve-ha-yir, “and the city” (that is Jerusalem), and counting every 26th letter from left to right, ending in verse 25, spells out the Hebrew name Yeshua (in red). When noting that these are the two verses that have the word mashiach, “anointed” (in blue), the question: “Who is the Messiah in Dan 9:25-26?” is answered for the rabbis. “Know and understand, who the Messiah is: Yeshua” is the message.
By laying out these factors, we hope the reader will become more skeptical of the rabbinic interpretation of the 70 Weeks prophecy.
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