« PreviousContinue »
throne; it only deals with whole years. The question is, to be exact, Did Artaxerxes come to the throne in December, 465 B. C., or at some time in the year 464 B. c.? At what season of the year did the king take the throne? Some historians, dealing with the matter roughly, date the succession from the year 465. But in dealing with divine prophecy, we require certainty upon which to base the reckoning of the seventh year of Artaxerxes, from which date the prophetic period
And in God's providence we do have certainty. Of all the kings of Assyria, Babylon, and Medo-Persia, in Ptolemy's long list, there is but one concerning whose succession the Scriptures give us the very time of the year and that one is Artaxerxes. The one case in which we need to know to a certainty the season of the year, in order to fix an important date in prophecy, is the one case in which Inspiration gives exactly the particulars. Who cannot see the hand of God in this?
The combined record of Neh. 1:1; 2:1 and Ezra 7:7-9,* shows that Artaxerxes came to the throne between the fifth month of the Jewish year and the ninth month,- roughly, between August and December, or in the autumn. The Bible gives one part of the record, and Ptolemy's canon gives
* These texts show that the king came to the throne in the autumn, so that the actual years of his reign would run from autumn to autumn. Neh. 1:1 begins the record: "In the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year." Neh. 21 continues: "It came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes." Thus it is plain that in the monthly calendar of the king's actual reign the month Chisleu came first in order, and then Nisan. Chisleu was the ninth month of the Jewish sacred year, roughly, December. Nisan is the first month, April. And these months. December, April,- in that order. -came in the first year of the king, of course, the same as in his twentieth year. And in the same year also came the fifth month, August; for Ezra 7:7-9 shows that the first and fifth months in that order - also fell in the same year of his reign. Then we know of a certainty that his reign began somewhere between August and December, that is, in the autumn. The first year of Artaxerxes was from the latter part of 464 B. C. to the latter part of 463, and the seventh year, as readily counted off, would be from near the end of 458 to near the end of 457. Under the commission to Ezra, the people began to go up to Jerusalem in the spring of that year, 457 B. c. (in the first month, or April), and they "came to Jerusalem in the fifth month" (August). Ezra 78, 9. Ezra and his associates soon thereafter "delivered the king's commissions unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river and they furthered the people, and the house of God." Ezra 8:36. With this delivery of the commissions to the king's officers, the commandment to restore and to build had, most certainly, fully gone forth. And from this date, 457 B. C., extends the great prophetic period.
another part; and by the combined record we know that Artaxerxes came to the throne late in the year 464 B. C., and thus the seventh year of his reign would be 457 B. C. This is the date fixed by other sources of reliable chronology also, Sir Isaac Newton having worked out several lines of evidence from ancient authorities, in each case reaching the year 464 B. c. as the first of Artaxerxes, which makes the seventh to be 457 B. C.
In the seventh year of Artaxerxes the commandment went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem, and this event fixes the beginning of the 2300 years, as also of the 490 years cut off from it upon the Jewish people.
That year, 457 B. C., therefore, is a date of profound importance. It stands like the golden milestone in the ancient Forum at Rome, from which ran out all the measurements of distance to the ends of the empire. From this date, 457 B. C., run out the golden threads of time prophecy that touch events in the earthly life and the heavenly ministry of Jesus that are of deepest eternal interest to all mankind today.
THE angel explained to Daniel the events of the seventy weeks allotted to Jerusalem and its people "to finish the transgression." Seven weeks and threescore and two weeks (69 weeks) of the seventy were to reach to the Messiah. The angel's words were:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression. . . . 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 [69 weeks, or 483 days]." Dan. 9:24, 25.
The sixty-nine weeks, symbolic time, are 483 years, which were to reach from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince.
The Time of the Messiah's Coming
The commandment of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem, as we have seen, went forth in 457 в. c. Reckoning from that date, 483 full years bring us to a. D. 27, when, according to the prophecy, the Messiah should appear.
Messiah means "anointed." The anointing of Jesus, and His manifestation as the Anointed One, was at His baptism:
"Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt. 3: 16, 17.
Thus Jesus was anointed as the Messiah (see Acts 10:38), and John proclaimed: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
When did this baptism and anointing take place? The Gospel of Luke supplies the historical facts for fixing the
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea," etc. Luke 3: 1-3.
Tiberius followed Augustus, who died in A. D. 14. But before the latter's death, Tiberius was associated with him on the throne. Some modern historians date this appointment of Tiberius as Cæsar from A. D. 13; but the "History of Rome," by Dion Cassius, a Roman senator, born in the second century, shows, under events of A. D. 12, that Augustus recognized Tiberius as holding the imperial dignity at that time. (Book 56, chap. 26.) Again, Dr. Philip Schaff says:
"There are coins from Antioch in Syria of the date a. u. 765 [a. d. 12], with the head of Tiberius and the inscription, Kaisar, Sebastos (Augustus)."—"History of the Christian Church," Vol. I, p. 120, footnote.