The Determined Time - Daniel 9
The 80 year Error
If you've made it this far in this study on Daniel 9, thank you. However, we have come to the point where it is very possible you will be looking for the exit. Why?
Because it should be appearent that if we hold to the decree of Cyrus as the starting point for the 490 years of the prophecy, we are not going to reach the time of the appearing of Messiah. At least not according to the accepted chronology. Today's accepted chronology is based upon the work, or should I say, the best guesswork of one man, Ptolemy. More on him in a moment.
Cyrus' decree was given in the first year of his sole reign, which is universally accepted as 536 BC. So when we do the math, we are only going to reach to the year 53 BC.
536 BC - 483 years(69 sevens of years) = 53 BC.
According to the prophecy, the span of time from the decree given by Cyrus to the public manifestation of the Messiah Prince, is to be 483 years (69 sevens of years). We know from other historical markers given in the gospels, that Jesus made himself known to Israel in the fall of AD 26. So we are off by some 80 years.
So you can see the problem.
We have two ways of dealing with this problem.
- Leave it alone and let it stand. The prophecy states from the "going forth of the commandment" to the Messiah the Prince would be a total of 69 sevens. So the Messiah could manifest Himself at any point after 53 BC. This would leave us with a gap of only about 80 years, which is far better than one of 2,000+ years. However, since there is no hint in the text of a gap between any of the three sets of seven(s) [seven sevens, sixty-two sevens, one seven], then another solution must be sought.
- The real solution to this problem is to reconsider the chronology that is used to begin with. In the very detailed and thorough work of Rev. Anstey entitled, The Romance of Bible Chronolgy, he has shown that there is an 80-82 year error in the modern chronology used for reckoning the weeks of Daniel 9.
The present chronology used to count the weeks of Daniel comes from the second century AD astromoner, Ptolemy. Appearently Ptolemy was such an excellent astromoner, that his model for understanding the cosmos was gospel until the Capernicus' model replaced it in the 16th century. At this point, Ptolemy's cosmic model was shelved, but his chronology lived on. So what is the problem with his chronology?
As I understand it, history can be a tricky thing. In order to establish it, you need documentation. The history down to the Persian King, Darius Hystaspes, can be pretty well established. However, the period between his rule of the Persian empire and the time of Alexander the Great's defeat of the Persians, is quite murky. In fact, Anstey notes that the Persians themselves,"have no records of the period, these having been all swept away by the Greek and Mohammedan Invasions."(p.24)
One might asked about the Jewish reckoning of the Persian period. You might think that they would be careful to record such a time, since much of their history is tied up in this period. Well, you would be wrong. It is known that the present Jewish calendar is missing 240 years or more. That is a pretty good chunk of time not to account for. Besides, when is comes to the Persian period, Jewish tradition only assigns 52 years from the 1st year of Cyrus to Alexandar the Great (p.24). Ptolemy has assigned 205 years, "But if we take the account given in Nehemiah, and the years specified by the prophet Daniel, we shall find that the Persian Empire continued for a period of 123 years." (ibid) The difference between Ptolemy's count and that of the Scriptural record is 82 years (205-123=82 / 80 years counting exclusively).
If we accept the public appearance of Jesus the Messiah as being in AD 26, which I believe there is strong and sufficient evidence for, our count will go something like this.
AD 26 - 483 years (7 sevens + 62 sevens) = 457 BC for the 1st year of Cyrus, instead of the accepted 536 BC, a difference of 80 years.
456 BC - 123 years for Persian empire (Anstey's count) = 333 BC (to Alexander).
I realize that all this flies in the face of the accepted chronology, depending as it does on Ptolemy's Canon. However, each person must answer one simple question. "Do I accept the chronological record of the Inspired Scriptures or will I rely upon the record and guesswork of a heathen astronomoner? You will have to answer that one for yourself. I have made my choice.
Disclaimer: Although I don't agree with every conclusion that Anstey makes, the work of his chronology is excellent work. On this page, I have barely scratched the surface of all the evidence he gives for the error of Ptolemy's Canon. This is why you must investigate the matter for yourself. I have provided a download link below, so that you can. You can order a hard copy of Anstey's The Romance of Bible Chronology through Amazon.