March 17, 2005

Restore and rebuild Jerusalem

"...from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem..." - Daniel 9:25

  1. Cyrus - 537 BC
    • Ezra 1:2. Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah
    • Ezra 6:3. In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices...
  2. Artaxerxes - 458 BC
    • Ezra 7:13. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
    • Ezra 7:15,16. And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem.
  3. Artaxerxes - 444 BC
    • Nehemiah 2:5-8. 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. 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. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 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 wallw 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.
    • Nehemiah 17,18. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

I agree* with Thomas Ice [1] that the third decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah is the only one which matches the description of a decree to "restore and rebuild" Jerusalem. The first and second decrees have more to do with restoring the temple and the temple functioning than restoring the city. Nehemiah himself speaks of "how Jerusalem lieth waste".

Dating the third decree
Nehemiah dates the decree in 2:1 to the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. The question naturally arises as to whether or not we can pin down the date to the Julian calendar. I found* a rather curious site** by "Zachary" [2] who has claims to have scientifically dated the decree to March 14, 445 BC using a combination of astronomical data on eclipses from Ptolemy and marriage records from Egypt. This is interesting, because the 444 BC date I cited above, more precisely March 5, 444 BC, comes from Harold Hoehner, a Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who rather successfully argued [3] with Sir Robert Anderson, a British Bretheren. Anderson, using the Jewish calendar, also set Artaxerxes' decree at March 14, 445 BC.

Let's take the 445 BC date first. Based on the 69 weeks in Daniel 9:25, we compute 69 x 7 days => 69 x 7 lunar years = 69 x 7 x 12 x 30 days = 173880 days from March 14, 445 BC. According to Anderson and Zachary, this takes us to Sunday, April 6, 32 AD, when Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem.

More to come in another installment... it is bedtime.

[1] T. Ice, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, Part V.
[2] J. Zachary, Using Astronomy to Date Biblical Events with Scientific Accuracy, Harvard House.
[3] T. Ice, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, Part IV.
* Except as noted in the text, I do not endorse, agree or claim as truth any other statement by this person.
** As a disclaimer, I'm immediately suspicious of any site which uses the animated gif flame - as I used it myself about 10 years ago on my first few websites. I also note that is a Network Solutions Private Registration. Why all the secrecy? Finally, John Zachary has made a prediction of October 4, 2005 being a very significant date. Hmmm.

Posted by torque at March 17, 2005 9:43 PM | TrackBack

Thanks so much for this. Every Palm Sunday I need to remember if it was the decree in Ezra or Nehemiah that is mentioned in Daniel.


Posted by: Paul J Tetreault Jr at April 8, 2006 6:05 PM

I'm Ann,
from Arabia,
and I'm 18 y.o

Hi, Girl and Boy
I've studied English sinse Winter .
It's so hard Language!
I want like to meet boys and practisice My English with them.

Thanks all!!

Posted by: LitliGirL at December 7, 2006 8:16 AM
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