Did Daniel speak of Jesus?
Let us return to the verses we looked at last week ...
"From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be 49 years and 434 years (i.e. 483 years) ... After the 434 years, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing".
So, if we know the start point, then add 483 years, we should reach the point where the Messiah "will be cut off and will have nothing".
Interestingly, we do know the start point, in fact it is a historical certainty. The issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was fulfilled in the actions of Artaxerxes I, who made an order, in 444BC, that the walls of Jerusalem should be rebuilt.
"In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests." (Nehemiah 2:1-8)
The first part of the Daniel prophecy mentioned 49 years, which most commentators suggest is the time that it took to finish the rebuilding job, which may seem a long time, but then again how long was it meant to take to rebuild a certain football stadium in modern London, with all of the sophistication of modern building science available!
Now the maths get a little complex, when we add up the years from 444 BC to get to the time of the Messiah. It's not straightforward for the simple reason that Biblical events never happened in modern Europe! We measure our years by the time it takes the Earth to completely travel around the sun. This is called a solar year and takes just over 365 days. The Jewish calendar is different, it is based on the moon and the time it takes to revolve around the earth. This is a lunar calendar, where a year consists of only 360 days. So when the Bible speaks of years, these are "360 day" years, not "365 and a bit day" years. So ... pause for breath ... adding 483 Jewish years to 444BC, then converting back to our solar year, we arrive at around the year 33 AD.
So, returning to the implication of our verses ...
"At around 33 AD, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing."
This is incredible, when we consider how many Messiahs appeared at around that time only to be killed (cut off) in 33 AD. Only one fits that profile, Jesus of Nazareth. It's an awesome prophecy. No wonder Rashi was adamant that Daniel wasn't a prophet!
Nevertheless, whether or not Rashi and the rabbis considered Daniel to be a prophetic book, if a scripture in the Hebrew Bible seems to point to a Messiah dying in 33AD, then we must believe that the rabbis must have a response to this.
We will find what it is next week ...
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book 'Jesus Man of Many Names')
A Lib Dem candidate who was due to stand in the upcoming election...