Jews, Muslims, and Atheists, read this: the 70 weeks of years
Two of the most important passages about who the Messiah is, and when He would come, are found in Nehemiah 2:1-6 and Daniel 9: 25-26. The date given in this passage of Nehemiah is the starting point to compute the seventy weeks of years given in Daniel's passage. Both passages together are good arguments to prove to Jews, that Jesus is the Messiah, and to prove to Muslims and atheists, that the Bible is the book of God, and also that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Let's see.
"1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2 Wherefore the king said unto me: Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 3 and said unto the king: Let the king live for ever. Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 4 Then the king said unto me: For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said unto the king: If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. 6 And the king said unto me, ( the queen also sitting by him, ): For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time." ( Neh 2: 1-6 )
According to Nehemiah chapter 2 verse 1, it was the year 20 of the reign of king Artaxerxes when Nehemiah had this conversation with the king. At that moment Jerusalem was in ruins, because of the havoc brought to it by Nabuchadnezzar king of Babylon, in time of Zedekiah king of Judah. We may ascertain it by reading Neh 2: 3-5 and 1: 1-3.
"1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me: The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire." ( Neh 1: 1-3 )
After reading these passages it is evident that:
a) The people in Jerusalem were in affliction and reproach because the wall and gates were destroyed.
b) The city had few people in it. This is confirmed in 11: 1-2 where we read that people were compulsory recruited to live in Jerusalem.
c) Nehemiah requested directly and explicitly to the king, to send him to Jerusalem in order to rebuilt it. Not only did the king give the order, but he also provided troops and materials, as we can see in 2: 8-9.
This is an overt proof that the city had not been rebuilt yet, and that this very day of the 20th year of Artaxerxes, was the commandment given to restore Jerusalem. This is an important fact to keep in mind, to later understand Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks.
"1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem." ( Neh 11: 1-2 )
"8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me." ( Neh 2: 8-9 )
In Dn 9: 25-26 it clearly says that from the going forth of the commandment to restore Jerusalem, till the Messiah, 7 weeks of years and 62 weeks of years, equal to 69 weeks of years would elapse. This means 69 periods of 7 years each, which amounts to 483 years. ( Below I demonstrate that in the Bible the word "week" is also used to mean a period of seven years ).
"25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall 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." ( Dn 9: 25-26 )
In the Encyclopedia Britannica, XV Edition 1977, Micropaedia, volume I, page 549, we read that King Artaxerxes, who is mentioned in Nehemiah 2: 1-6 as the one giving "the commandment to restore Jerusalem", reigned from 465 to 425 B.C. If this monarch started his reign in 465 B.C., the twentieth year of his reign must have been year 445 B.C.. Of course, we know that after having elapsed more than 2000 years, historical chronology could not be mathematically accurate, but even so, we can use it efficiently.
Therefore, if from year 445 B.C. to the Messiah 483 years were going to elapse according to the prophecy, let's do the calculations to find out that 38 A.D. is the final year of this period. As a result, we see that the 483-year period finishes during Christ's times.
Maybe a stubborn person would want to allege that this period does not finish exactly on year 33 A.D., when Jesus was crucified, nor on the date that Jesus was born, but this is irrelevant for two reasons: a) the ancient chronology is not mathematically precise, a 5-year difference after more than 2000 years, doesn't mean anything; even our present era has an error of about 4 or 6 years. b) During all that time, ( a couple of centuries before and after Jesus ), there had never been another man of Messianic stature. Jesus was the only one.
It is not a matter of finding out to whom, out of three or four possible Messiahs of that time, sets best the prophecy of the 483 years. In all this period there was only one: Jesus Christ, none other.
Once we see all these facts, we can assert that any non-believer in Christ, who is honest, and who wants to use common sense, and has interest in searching for the truth, has to arrive to the conclusion that in these passages there is proof of the divine origin of the Bible, and that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
Take note that the two passages which prove that Jesus is the Messiah belong to the Old Testament; they belong to the Scriptures that Jews accept. Therefore, an atheist, a Jew, or even a Muslim, cannot suspect that these two passages were "fixed" as to make them prove that Jesus is the Messiah, for a couple of reasons: 1) Orthodox Jews do not "fix" Scriptures, and 2) because even in the case that they wanted to fix it, they would never ever "fix" it to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah.
If the proof which demonstrates that Christ is the Messiah rests on two passages that could not be fixed, it is reasonable and of common sense, that this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Also, if 483 years in advance a unique event was prophesied, we have to recognize that the book that contains it, is not of human inspiration.
Let's now demonstrate that in the Bible the word "week" is also used to signify a seven-year period. It is frequent in the Bible to compute time in ways that we are not used to. In Gn 29: 18-28 the word "week" is used indicating a period of seven years. We can see this in verse 18 where it specifies that the period involved is seven years, which is also confirmed in verse 20. Though, in verse 27 they call this same period "a week". The same thing happens in verse 28. Let's see.
"18 And Jacob loved Rachel, and said: I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said: It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man; abide with me.
20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah; and he said to Laban: What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
26 And Laban said: It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfill her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week; and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also." ( Gn 29: 18-28 abbreviated )
Also in Leviticus 25: 8 something similar is mentioned, when it says that seven Sabbaths of years will account for 49 years. In this case, in the King James version, the word "Sabbath" is used as an equivalent for "week". Nevertheless, in the Jewish translation, from Hebrew to Spanish, by Dujovne and Konstantynowsky, and in the Spanish Reina-Valera, the word is rendered "week", and not "Sabbath".
"And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years." ( Lev 25: 8 )
It seems as if God wanted to leave a documental proof of the use of the word "week" meaning seven years, as to disprove those who could try to deny that the weeks talked about in Dn 9: 25-26, were weeks of years.
In addition to all these obvious arguments and reasoning, which demonstrate that the word "week" was used to mean seven years, we can also reason that anyone who really believes in the Old Testament as God's Word, has to conclude that if in this prophecy Daniel was referring to weeks of days, then the prophecy failed miserably, because a year plus after this prophecy, nothing happened. However, if Daniel was referring to weeks of years, then the prophecy hit the mark, because 483 years after the commandment to restore Jerusalem, the Messiah came, and subsequent to it, the city was destroyed again, as the prophecy foresaid.
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