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the promise of the Prince, Messiah, whose appearance all the patriarchs and prophets had foretold. The nearer that glorious epoch approached, the more minutely was it described. The Lord gave Daniel to "know and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, should be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks." The period here styled weeks, is generally allowed to be sabbaths of years. This appears to be the sense of the passage, for the Jews were accustomed to reckon their time and feasts by weeks or sabbaths. The week of days was from one seventh or sabbath day to another. The week of years was from one seventh or sabbatical year to another; in the seventh, or sabbatical year, they neither sowed their fields nor pruned their vineyards; it was a sabbath of rest unto the land.* In the regulation of the year of Jubilee, they were commanded to number " seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years, and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to thee forty and nine years."+ We therefore only follow the Mosaic rule, (to which Moses' disciples cannot object,) if we consider these seven weeks,
* Lev. xxiii. 3., xxv. 3. 4.
+ Lev. xxv. 8. 10.
and three score and two weeks, as seven times sixtynine, or four hundred and eighty-three years, which should be between " the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince." There were four distinct decrees or commandments granted by the kings of Persia, in favour of the Jews, who came under the dominion of that empire by its conquest of Babylon. This was the epoch of Daniel's vision. No sooner had Cyrus obtained possession of Chaldea, than he issued a decree allowing the Jews to quit the land of their captivity, and repair to Judea to build the temple of the Lord. He also restored to them the vessels and treasures which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple built by Solomon. On the grant of this decree,* five hundred and thirty-six years before Christ, many of the Jews returned to their own land, and laid the foundation of the temple; but they were hindered in the building of it by their several enemies, who were supported in their opposition by Artaxerxes, the successor of Cyrus. But when Darius Hystaspes ascended the throne of Persia, he issued a decreet five hundred and nineteen years before Christ,
2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23.
Ezra vi. 7-12.
forbidding the enemies of the Jews to interrupt the building of the temple, and further commanded that materials requisite for the work, and the animals, oil, and wine for the sacrifices, should be supplied at his (the king's) cost. The third decree was granted to Ezra, the scribe, four hundred and sixty-seven years before Christ, by Artaxerxes Longimanus, in the seventh year of his reign, by which he bestowed great favours upon the Jews, appointing Ezra Governor of Judea. He permitted all the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and commanded his treasurers beyond the river, to supply Ezra with such things as he needed for the house of his God, even to an hundred talents of silver, an hundred measures of wheat, an hundred baths of wine, and an hundred baths of oil. The king and his princes presented much silver and gold, and many vessels, and ordered that what else might be required for the house of God, should be supplied from the king's treasury. This is not the same Artaxerxes who listened to the slanderous reports of the enemies of the Jews, and stopped the building of their temple; but Artaxerxes, surnamed Longimanus, supposed to be the person styled Ahasuerus, in the book of Esther,
* Ezra vii. 11–23.
whose attachment to his Israelitish consort may account for the distinguished favours he conferred on the people of her nation. We find the queen was present when Nehemiah presented his petition, which was the second decree granted by this monarch, and was the fourth and last decree, being granted in the twentieth year of his reign, and four hundred and fiftyfour years before Christ.* This was the most efficient decree, for by it Jerusalem and its walls were built. The high resolves of the court of Heaven were revealed; Daniel was made "to know and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks, being sixty nine weeks, or four hundred and eightythree years. From the last, or fourth, decree to the birth of Christ, (vide Rollin, volume 8, page 265,) is four hundred and fifty-four years, to which we add twenty-nine years (the age at about which Christ entered on his public ministry);† these united, make the exact period of sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel also declares that "seventy weeks (or four hundred and ninety
years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." We find between the seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, and the sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years, a difference of one week, or seven years, which is the week evidently alluded to in the twenty-seventh verse of this chapter, in which “ he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, &c." From the period of Christ's first entry into the ministry, and the calling of his apostles, until his crucifixion, were three and a half years, and, for three and a half years after that event, his apostles continued to minister amongst the Jews. This makes a period of seven years, (or one prophetic week,) in the midst of which the Messiah was cut off, and the sacrifice and oblation" virtually ceased. The correspondence is exact; Jesus, the Messiab, not only entered on his public ministry at the very period pointed out ages before, but was actually cut off in the midst of the week, as was expressly foretold. These predictions of the Prince Messiah are peculiarly striking. The time for his appearance is marked, and