God is Judge

Chapter 17

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

Page 282 of 335

 TOC   Page
info Input pp. 282-335 then Select

The Last Seventy


So far the a priori drivers of the interpretation in the previous chapter are twofold; (1) that in its simplest form the prophecy has a periodization of 70 years; (2) that the temple forms the central thematic of the prophecy.  These assumptions have proved remarkably robust as the six periods of 70 years that have been identified culminate in the Maccabean rededication of the temple.  Unfortunately, after this point the prophecy looses relevancy because the culmination of the last 70 years of the prophecy (the seventh seventy) does not correspond to any significant event. 


In this section we propose to reverse the process – first, identify the last 70 years, then explain why they do not follow on directly from the Hasmonean era.  Is it possible to identify the “Last Seventy” without succumbing to complete subjectivity?  It is possible, but only if we accept the interpretation given by Jesus Christ – namely that the prophecy of Daniel had an application to the destruction of the temple (and Jerusalem) in the first century (AD 70).[1] The interpretation offered by Christ finds remarkable early support in Josephus and also in later Rabbinic literature such as the Seder Olam.  However, the Jewish war and destruction of the temple (and Jerusalem) did not see the complete fulfilment of the “Last Seventy”, for the prophecy delineates a final seven years that are subdivided in two periods of 3½ years.  


The suggestion is that the terminus a quo of the last 70 years is the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Christ in BC 3/4/5 (Jesus replaced the temple) and the terminus ad quem is the period that commences 70 years later (AD 66) with the start of the First Jewish War, culminating in the 3 ½ year campaign by Vespasian which ended with the destruction of the temple in AD 70.  This leaves a final 3 ½ year period unfulfilled.   However, such an interpretation would require an    Continued  ˃


[1] See the comparison table between the Olivet Prophecy and Daniel in the previous chapter

Page 283 of 335

 TOC   Page

arbitrary “gap” of some 160 years during the Hasmonean era. Interestingly, if the Rabbi’s had not compressed Persian period chronology the Jewish calendar would have faced a similar problem – when compared with conventional dating the Jewish calendar is also “missing” roughly the same period of 160 years. According to the chronology offered by Seder Olam the Second Temple flourished for 420 years and was, successively, under the control of the Persians for 34 years, the Greeks for 180 years, Hasmonean rule for 103 years and under the Herodian dynasty for 103 years. The Seder Olam compresses the time between the destruction of the first and second temples into a 490 year period (instead of 657 years).[2]  Whereas conventional dating measures the Persian period as lasting 207 years, Jewish dating has a mere 52 [3] years.  So our proposed interpretation has roughly a 160/1 year “gap” and Jewish chronology has a 167 year compression.  This is in excess of 140 years (2 periods of seventy) and indicates that a different terminus a quo should be sought for the prophecy – a later starting point in the time of Nehemiah.  This requires us to revise the interpretation proposed in the previous chapter and to explain the anomaly. The only way the 7x70 prophecy can terminate in a period of 70 years starting with the birth of Christ and ending with the removal of the temple is if the prophecy commences in 423/4/5 BC – then 6x70=420 years culminates with the last “seventy” commencing with the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in 3/4/5 BC.


The following exegesis will build on the observations of the previous chapter and will attempt to explain why the arrival of the messiah diverged from the expected outcome. All things being equal the messiah should have arrived 70 years after the Maccabean dedication    Continued  ˃


[2]  The Seder Olam Rabbah is a Jewish chronicle (ca. 160 BC) that dates events from creation which is year zero. The first temple is destroyed in 3338 AM [Anno Mundi] (423/4 BC instead of 586/7 BC) and rebuilt 70 years later in 3408 the second temple is destroyed 420 years later in 3828 AM.  This means that the period between the destruction of both temples in the Seder Olam is exactly 490 years; the Persian era was compressed in order to achieve this.

[3] Is this figure derived (legitimized) by Nehemiah building the wall of Jerusalem during the Persian period in a mere 52 days?

Page 284 of 335

 TOC   Page

of the temple (164/5) placing the messiah in 94/5 BC.  Obviously this did not occur and it wreaked havoc with Jewish chronology (and with the exegesis proposed in the previous chapter). This section will address those questions and demonstrate that Jesus was the replacement for the temple. Schematically the chronological problem can be expressed as follows:


Page 285 of 335

 TOC   Page

The year of the destruction of the second temple is alternatively given in different Jewish sources as being between 68 AD and 70 AD. [4]  In the above schema, the “Last Seventy” proceeds from the births of John the Baptist the forerunner and Christ (who is the new temple) to the commencement of the First Jewish War seventy years later in approximately AD 66½ leaving the final seven years of the prophecy. Those final seven years are subdivided in two periods of 3½ years – the first 3½ years commences with the campaign by Vespasian culminating in the destruction of the Second Temple- leaving the remaining 3½ years unfulfilled. The following is proposed:


  • The last 70 years of Daniel’s prophecy relates the destruction of the Second Temple
  • Jesus replaces the temple
  • Propose the range of 423-425 BC as the “new” starting date of the ‘Seventy Prophecy’


The last 70 and the destruction of the Second Temple


When Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple and the downfall of Jerusalem in the Olivet prophecy it was to the book of Daniel that he turned and particularly to the “Seventy Prophecy” of Daniel ch. 9.  The expectation was current in first century Judaism that the fulfilment of the “Seventy Prophecy” was at hand.  William Adler states; “It is clear from the testimony of both Josephus and the Jewish chronicle Seder Olam that the process of updating and reinterpreting Daniel’s vision persisted up to the destruction of the temple in 70”. [5]


Josephus alludes to Daniel ch. 9 in Ant. 10.276 but he is deliberately cautious with his interpretation, his high wire balancing act was    Continued  ˃


[4] See e.g., Frank Edgar in Talmudic and Rabbinical Chronology and History of the Missing Years, (Rabbi Y. Reisman, “The Jewish Observer,” January 1994),  16-19. Secular history dates it to 70 AD.

[5] William Adler, The Jewish apocalyptic heritage in early Christianity(eds. James C. VanderKam, William Adler:Van Gorcum & Company B.V.; Netherlands,1996),209

Page 286 of 335

 TOC   Page

necessary in order not to offend his Roman patrons while at the same time being careful not to alienate his Jewish audience. Adler comments; “Josephus fails to demonstrate how Daniel’s 70 weeks terminated with the Roman conquest. He “conveniently omits” the destruction of the desolator foretold in v 27, readers not familiar with Daniel 9 might even have inferred from him that Daniel foretold the triumph of Rome……..The passage [Ant. 10.276], Delphic in its double-edged ambiguity, could also be read to mean that Rome would be laid waste by the Jews”.[6]  Despite Josephus’ sensitivity it is obvious that Daniel ch.9 had an important fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem and Josephus certainly alludes to Dan. 9: 24-27 in Jos.War 6.5.4 when he states; “Thus the Jews, after the demolition of Antonia [the fortress near the temple], reduced the temple to a square, although they had it recorded in their oracles that the city and the sanctuary would be taken when the temple should become four-square”.


The Seder Olam Rabbah also has Daniel’s prophecy culminate in the destruction of the Second Temple. As the Seder Olam Rabbah was produced ca. AD 160  it is open to the charge of revisionism; - that the Jewish sages re-interpreted the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy to fit the interval between the destruction of the First and Second Temple and constructed their chronicle accordingly. From a Jewish perspective the destruction of the Second Temple was meant to herald the end of the 490 year “exile” under foreign domination (whether Babylonian, Persian, Greek or Roman) with the appearance of the Messiah.[7]  Shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple, [8] the pretender Bar Kochba breathed new life into Messianic expectations but the failure to remove the yoke of foreign domination necessitated yet another re-evaluation of the prophecy. In the magazine Hakirah, the trio Epstein, Dickman and Wilamowsky state that, “this dispute over how to interpret the destruction of the Temple continued on for well over a    Continued  ˃


[6] Ibid,216

[7] Even though they had returned to the land they still considered themselves in “exile”

[8]  52 years later according to Jewish Chronology (henceforth JC)

Page 287 of 335

 TOC   Page

century and was only settled with the passing of time and the continued worsening of hardships.” [9]  According to the Jewish sages the “Torah” era was to last 2,000 years before the appearance of the Messiah, however, with the (in Jewish eyes) non-appearance of the Messiah and the removal of the temple cult attention was refocused on the Law. The codification of the oral traditions, known as the Mishna or the “Oral Torah” was completed only 120 years (Jewish Chronology) after the destruction of the Second Temple.  In order to accord the Mishna canonical legitimacy it was completed exactly within the 2,000 years of the “Torah era” but this is only true if those 2,000 years are reckoned from Abraham[10] (rather than Sinai); “By associating the Mishna with the ending of the 2,000 years of Torah the Chachamim were thus trying to say that it was only natural that such a period should end in a work of unprecedented nature. To do this they had to start the Torah period considerably earlier than the more natural starting point of Sinai. To get the system to work the solution was thus to start the count from Avraham [Abraham] and  eliminate 166 years of Persian history dating back to the very earliest period of the 2nd Temple that was over 400 years in the past.”[11] Although rabbinic chronology in the Seder Olam is a post-70 reinterpretation of Daniel’s 490 years the culmination of the prophecy is placed in AD 70 and this is supported by early pre-70 apocryphal writings (also influenced by Daniel?) that expect a first century culmination.[12] Suffice to say that    Continued  ˃


[9] Sheldon Epstein, Bernard Dickman and Yonah Wilamowsky, “A Y2K Solution to the Chronology Problem” in Hakirah, The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought [online journal],(Volume 3,2006,67-115),111fn.63 article available online @ Access here [cited June 2009]

[10] The Torah era is reckoned from the birth of Abraham (1948 AM) to the completion of the Mishna (3948 AM) exactly 2,000 years later. According to this chronology Abraham received the following approval at age 52; “...because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” (Gen. 26:5)

[11] Ibid, Hakirah, 82

[12] See Appendix 1 Chapter 17: Apocryphal Eschatology

Page 288 of 335

 TOC   Page

there was a general messianic expectation in first century Judaism that can be largely attributed to the influence of Dan. 9:24-27, which told of the final destruction of the sanctuary heralding the end of gentile dominance and therefore the end of the 490 years of desolation before the inauguration of the messianic age.


In conclusion, the destruction of the Second Temple as a sign of the “end” was anticipated in the first century and messianic fervour probably encouraged rash behaviour during the First Jewish War – as a way of forcing God’s hand in sending the Messiah (similar to Christian fundamentalists who support building a Jewish temple on the Dome of the Rock as they believe that this will hasten Armageddon and the rapture).


Jesus replaces the Temple


The Christology of the NT makes it quite clear that Jesus replaces the temple, this is particularly true of the 4G, where Jesus states; “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The Evangelist deliberately adds by way of explanation; “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (John 2:21) This clarification seems almost superfluous until we realise that the charge of threatening to destroy the temple was brought against Jesus during his trial. The Jews are portrayed by the Evangelist as reacting with incredulity in v. 20; “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” Although this provides an important chronological marker in the 4G[13] it is treated symbolically by Augustine, (In Joh.10.12) who notes that the Greek letters of ‘Adam’ had the numerical value of 46 and suggests that it was applied to Jesus’  age for this reason. 


[13] It probably fits the Passover of 28 AD, although, as Robinson admits the chronology cannot be pressed to hard as there is always the possibility of a year’s difference in computing. At this point the temple had been under construction for 46 years from, according to Josephus, the “eighteenth year of his [Herod’s] reign” which is 20-19BC, see J.A.T. Robinson, The Priority of John, (London: SCM Press, 1985),130 fn 18 and 19

Page 289 of 335

 TOC   Page

Robinson dismisses a symbolic reading[14] but it is the contention of this exegesis that the “46 year” age of the temple cannot be seen in isolation of the statement about Jesus’ age in John 8:57; “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Exegetes treat this age reference in a number of ways and it is often regarded as indicating premature aging (Jesus was about 30 years old at the commencement of his ministry) brought on by stress (this may well accurately reflect the people’s perception of his age), however,  it is suggested that the Evangelist is deliberately drawing a parallel between the 46 year old temple at Jesus first Passover visit and the “not yet 50” year old temple three-and-one-half (?) years later - in other words the Evangelist is highlighting that Jesus is the new temple.  It is not beyond the scope of the Evangelist’s complex theology that a contrast is being made between “Adam” and Christ or, more likely in the context of John ch.8 between “Adam” who like the Jews believed the lie of the serpent (cf. John 8:44) and faithful “Abraham” who “saw” Jesus’ day (i.e. the revelation of the “new temple”, inaugurated by Jesus’ sacrifice on Mt. Moriah cf. John 8:56).


The charges brought against Jesus and Stephen at their trials draws on the “Seventy Prophecy” found in Dan. 9:24-27 and this explains why Jesus answered his accusers by conflating Zechariah 12:12 with Daniel 7:13; “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. (Matt. 24:30). Jesus would return as the vindicated “Son of Man” described in Daniel, and in a reversal of roles, would judge the Sanhedrin.  The chief accusation against both Jesus and Stephen was that they desired to destroy the temple and sought to change the traditions and laws associated with Judaism (Matt.26:60-65; Acts 6:13-15). In effect Jesus was accused of acting like Antiochus Epiphanes (god manifest) who functioned in first century Judaism as the archetypical enemy, committing blasphemy and sacrilege; “And shall intend to change times and law” (Dan. 7:25 cf. Acts 6:14; “For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which    Continued  ˃


[14] “This bears no relation to the plain sense of the text”, so J.A.T Robinson, Ibid,131

Page 290 of 335

 TOC   Page

Moses delivered to us.”). It is not coincidental that in the 4G the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) forms the background to the charge of blasphemy brought against Jesus (John 10:22), as this feast commemorated the rededication and cleansing of the temple after the defilement perpetrated by Antiochus.  The book of Daniel encouraged a first century apocalyptic worldview that expected the imminent destruction of the temple followed by the realization of the messianic age - the provocative sayings made by Jesus concerning the temple (of his body) should be placed in this context. 


It will be proposed that the last seventy years of Daniel’s prophecy commenced with the birth of John the Baptist and evidence will be presented to demonstrate that this occurred during the ‘Feast of Lights.’ The Feast of Dedication or ‘Lights’ (Hanukkah) is intimately linked with the Hasmonean rededication of the Temple and with the original reception of the restoration prophecy by Daniel and the day of “blessing” by Haggai. The temple is therefore the focus of the prophecy. Another key element in the restoration is prayer, for it is confessional prayer in the case of Daniel and Nehemiah that receives a positive response. The same elements are encountered in the Lucan annunciation narratives as a response to the prayer of Zacharias.


The Lucan narrative makes it apparent that Zacharias was praying for a son. However, his motives were not selfish, for the response of the angel indicated that his son would, go before the Lord in the power and spirit of Elijah” (Lk. 1:17), suggesting that his prayer was not simply a personal request but also a plea on behalf of the people for deliverance. Zacharias’ wife Elisabeth was barren and they were both old – they represented the law and priesthood which could not bring salvation. Zacharias knew this. Moreover, John the Baptist, who was an Aaronic priest by birth, was raised as a Nazarite (Lk.1:15).  The cult of the Nazarite was instituted in imitation of the Aaronic priesthood – why would an Aaronic priest be raised as a Nazarite?  It is obviously meant as a statement – a greater priest is coming.


The priests were divided into 24 groups or divisions (1 Chronicles 10:7-18), of which Zacharias’ “division of Abijah” is eighth in the rotation. Priests and their families would live in Jerusalem or in various nearby villages, but when their division was called up for duty for a    Continued  ˃

Page 291 of 335

 TOC   Page

week, twice each year, the priests would come to Jerusalem to work in the temple. Each day about 50 priests would have been on duty, with perhaps 300 on duty during a given week. Zacharias was “chosen by lot” to go inside the temple and burn incense on the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place. It is considered a great honour. Since there were a large number of priests, no priest was allowed to serve as the officiating priest more than once in his lifetime. We are informed that the “the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside” (Luke 1:10). Can we conclude from this that the “whole multitude” would only have been gathered at one of the three required feasts, at Passover, Pentecost or the Feast of Tabernacles?  The Greek word employed here is plethos; sometimes, “assembly” is used to translate plh/qoj the term usually implies in English a specific or particular group of people. However, this could simply be a large group gathered outside, which would not be unusual, especially for the afternoon offering. Such sacrifices, which included the burning of incense, would have occurred in the holy place according to the Mishna (m. Tamid 1.2; 3.1; 5-7). So this does not necessarily mean that he was serving on an important feast day.[15]


There are two arguments that militate against Zacharias serving on a feast day. Firstly, if he served on a feast day we would expect it to be mentioned by Luke, secondly, if it was an important feast day we would expect the high priest himself to officiate,[16] perhaps with the help of assistants.[17] However, Zacharias entered by himself, probably    Continued  ˃


[15] Contra John Chrysostom  followed by Kenneth Doig who suggests the Feast of Tabernacles in 6 BC although he admits that, “such dating is attractive, but not free of uncertainties”.  Kenneth F. Doig, New Testament Chronology, (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).

[16] See Tamid; Strack and Billerback II, 71-75; Schurer, II: 1, 284-297 in I. Howard Marshall, Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (New International Greek Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 1978),54

[17] Joachim Jeremias refers to M. Tam. v.5; vi.2; vii.2 for the first assistant, and to M. Tam. vi.3; vii.2 for the second assistant. Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the time of Jesus an investigation into economic and social conditions during the New Testament,(Fortress Press, 1969),201,fn178

Page 292 of 335

 TOC   Page

leaving the other priests outside.  The proposed chronology has Zacharias serving in the first week of Nissan and John the Baptist being born during the Feast of Lights.[18]  John the Baptist was the forerunner – he prepared the way for the new temple – Jesus Christ; “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light…..he himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light” (John 1: 6-8).[19]  Jesus explicitly says; “John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.” (John 5:35). The dating of John’s birth during “‘Lights” obviously has implications for the dating of Christ’s birth[20] which accordingly is dated in the vicinity of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) [21] marking his presentation at the Temple as an offering of the “first-fruits” of the Spirit. Pentecost was traditionally associated by the Jews with law (the word) giving at Sinai but now the word had become flesh. The annunciation of the Messiah’s birth occurred “In the sixth month”, (Luke 1:26) usually understood as referring to the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:36) but it is suggested that a more natural understanding would be the “sixth month of the year” (Elul).  As it happens it makes no difference to the suggested chronology as the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy coincides with the sixth month of the year.


[18] See Appendix 2 Chapter 17: The Priestly Courses

[19] The lights of the Fourth Gospel reference celestial bodies (i.e. the sun and moon) in keeping with the creation motif in the Prologue but this does not preclude allusions to Hanukkah (‘Lights”) which is a demythologised form of the winter solstice. In pagan religion this date (25 Dec) is associated with the death/resurrection of the sun.

[20] See Appendix 3 Chapter 17: Dating the Birth of Christ

[21] Incidentally along with crucifixion dates Clement records May 20th as one of the possible dates for the birth of Christ in Stromata, or Miscellanies 1:21:140, 144-46. May 20 in 3 BC of the Gregorian calendar falls on Pentecost (Sivan 6 in 3758 AM).

Page 293 of 335

 TOC   Page

The formulaic expression, “which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Lk.1:20) is used in reference to prophetic utterances. In the first instance it references the prophetic pronouncement made by the angel (“my words”) that Zacharias would have a son. However, the implication is that it includes far more than the immediate prediction of the Baptist’s birth – it is a reference to Daniel; “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled” (Dan.12:6). Gabriel is the angel of answered prayer (Lk. 1:26, 30, 13; 22:43, 44; Dan. 9:21; 10:12; 6:11, 22; Acts 10:30, 31; Jer. 32:16,18—Gabriel means God’s Mighty One). Centuries before, Gabriel had been sent “in swift flight” to Daniel (Daniel 9:21). God has specifically sent him to tell the Good News to Zacharias.[22] Gabriel is named twice in the Book of Daniel (8:16 and 9:21). Six months after the annunciation to Zacharias, Gabriel is sent once more to announce Jesus’ birth to Mary; “Greetings, you who are highly favoured” (Lk.1:26). Daniel is addressed in virtually the same way when he receives the “Seventy Prophecy” from Gabriel; “I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed” (Dan. 9:23).


The Lucan annunciation narrative employs the title ‘Highest’ (hupsistos) for God (Luke 1:32, 35, 76). The Old Testament equivalent of the Greek hupsistos is the Hebrew El Elyon, which is used in a similar fashion. Use of the equivalent Aramaic form `illay is prolific in the book of Daniel (Dan.3:26; 4:17, 24, 25, 32, 34; 5:21; 7:18, 22, 25, 27), more so than (the equivalent El Elyon) in any other Scripture. It is usually employed in the context of opposition, or hostility.[23] The    Continued  ˃


[22] Note the time is the “evening sacrifice” this would be about the same time as Zacharias’ incense offering.

[23] El Elyon: Gen.14 (v.v.18,19,20,22) context- enemies (tsâr)[v.20]; Num.24:16; context-foreign and enemies (tsâr)[v.8]; Deut.32:8-context: foreign (Gentile nations) and enemy (tsâr) [v.42]; Ps.7:17-context: enemies(tsârar)[v.4,6](’ôyêb)[v.5];Ps.9:2-context: enemies (’ôyêb)[v.3,6]; Ps.18:3-context: enemies (’ôyêb)[v.3,17,37,40,48]; Ps.21:7-context: enemies (’ôyêb) [v.8]; Ps.46:4 –context: the heathen raging [v.4]; Ps.47:2-context: subjugation of Gentile nations [v.3]; Ps.50:14 –context: a call for deliverance (enemies implied) [v.15]; Ps.57:2-context: a cry for deliverance (enemies implied)[v.3]; Ps.73:11-context: wisdom Psalm contemplating fate of the wicked; Ps.77:10- context: song in the night [v.6= Passover only feast celebrated at night] deliverance from the enemy (implied) by Moses [v.20]; Ps.78:17,35,36 – context: covenant song celebrating deliverance from the enemy (’ôyêb) [v.53] (tsâr) [v.42,61,66]; Ps.82:6-context:deliverance from the wicked [v.4] inheriting the (Gentile) nations; Ps.83:18-context:enemies (’ôyêb) [v.2]; Ps.87:5- context: lists the Gentile nations opposing Zion [v.4]; Ps.89:27-context:enemies (’ôyêb) [v.10,22,42,51]; Ps.91:1,9-context: divine protection from the enemy (implied); Ps.97:9 –context: enemies (’ôyêb) [v.3]; Ps.107:11-context: enemy (tsâr) [v.2]; Isa.14:14 –context: king of Babylon; Jer.3:35,38 context-enemies (’ôyêb) [v.46,52].

Page 294 of 335

 TOC   Page

phrase ‘sons of the Most High’ is found in the Septuagint of Daniel ch.3 the singular form ‘son of the Most High’ has now been attested in Aramaic in 4Q 243 (4Q ps Dan Aa ) 2:1.[24] The title is also used to describe Christ as the son of God (Son of the Most High ) in the annunciation of his birth (Lk.1:32) in the relation to inheriting the throne of David (cf. Ps 89:4 - where the same title is employed in the context of the Davidic covenant facing opposition). The power (Holy Spirit) of the Most High would “overshadow” Mary (Lk.1:35) in the same way that it “brooded or hovered” upon the face of the waters in the beginning (Gen.1:2), describing the defeat of primeval chaos and the victory of light over darkness. The Greek word translated “overshadow” (ἐπισκιάζω) appears nowhere else in the Bible except in the Greek translation of Exodus 40:34-35 where it refers to the presence of God covering the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Luke builds a parallel between the Ark of the Covenant’s journey into Jerusalem [25] and Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth:


[24] A. Fitzmyer, ‘The Contribution of Qumran Aramaic to the Study of the New Testament’, NTS 20, 1973-1974, 382-407, especially 391-394; there are several parallels of language between this text and Luke 1:32-35.

[25] So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: “Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” (Num 10:35) Compare; Luke 1:71; That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us. Luke 1:74; Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear.

Page 295 of 335

 TOC   Page


When David brought the Ark of  the Covenant into Jerusalem; – He leaped and danced before the Ark. (2 Samuel 6:14-16) When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth; – Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. (Luke 1:41)
David says; “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?”  (2 Samuel 6:9) Elizabeth says; “How does it happen…that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  (Luke 1:43)
– The Ark remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months before being carried into Jerusalem.  (2 Samuel 6:11) – Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home. ( Luke 1:56)


Luke records that Elizabeth “cried out in a loud voice” Luke 1:41-42. The word translated “cried out”(ἀνεφώνησεν) appears nowhere else in the New Testament but occurs several times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, but only and always in connection with the Ark of the Covenant. Virtually all the terms in Daniel 9:24[26] can be found as allusions or echoes in Luke’s annunciation narratives but we think here in particular of the phrase “to anoint the Most Holy”[27] with Mary    Continued  ˃


[26] Daniel 9:24;  “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation or iniquity (Lk. 1:77- for remission of their sins), To bring in everlasting righteousness (Lk. 1:33- and of his kingdom there shall be no end cf. Dan 2:44;4:34), To seal up vision and prophecy (Lk. 1:20- which are fulfilled in their season), And to anoint the Most Holy (Lk. 1:35 –the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee)”.

[27] Randall Price notes; “To anoint the Holy of Holies.” Rabbinic interpretation refers this to the Third Temple, since Tosefta Sotah 13:2 records that the Second Temple had not been anointed. This goal is specifically related to the consecration of the chamber which housed the Ark of the Covenant, whose presence sanctified the Temple by virtue the Shekinah (the Divine Presence). Since neither of these were present in the Second Temple, according to Yoma 21b, rabbinic tradition held that the Ark will be revealed by the Messianic king, who will also build the Third Temple (cf. Zechariah 6:12). In the Dead Sea document known as the Temple Scroll it was held that when the legitimate Third Temple is consecrated the Ark of the Covenant will again be present (11Q19 7:10-12). A similar view may be implied in Ezekiel 43:1-7 (cf. Jeremiah 3:16-17). J. Randall Price, Seventy Weeks of Daniel in Dispensational Interpretation, page 7 [cited Aug. 2010] online @  Access here

Page 296 of 335

 TOC   Page

functioning typologically as the “Most Holy (place)” containing the “Ark of the Covenant” (Christ).  In turn the ark contained within, under the protective cover of the mercy seat, the tokens of new life[28] – the Ark was a “resurrection box.”  Therefore Christ represents the very heart of the New Temple – the divine throne – the Ark of the Covenant.


The title “Most High” is also employed to describe John the Baptist as the “prophet of the Most High” (Lk.1:76), with reference to the Abrahamic covenant (v.73) and deliverance from their enemies (v.71, 74), paradoxically it is used in Luke 6:35 by Christ in the context of loving your enemy. In Luke 8:28, (// Mk. 5:7) the title has been adopted from the tradition utilised by Mark in order to express the sovereign majesty of Jesus over against the demon possessed (here the unclean spirit is the enemy).  We encounter the name again in Lukan record of Stephen’s defence in Acts 7:48. Stephen chooses the predominately gentile title hupsistos to emphasise that divine revelation    Continued  ˃


[28] Hebrews 9:4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. The manna was the incorruptible manna of the Sabbath; the rod was a dead rod that budded; the tablets of the covenant were the new ones written after the first tablets were destroyed.

Page 297 of 335

 TOC   Page

was not limited to the temple (or to the  Jews), for God had appeared to the patriarchs outside the land in gentile territory [29]  The temple was in fact superfluous (v.47) for the “Most High” dwells in temples made without hands (v.49). It is fitting therefore that Stephen uses the gentile title for God, first employed by the gentile priest Melchizedek, who blessed the progenitor of the Jewish nation at the very place where the temple currently stood. In Acts 16:17 the title “Most High” is again employed by a gentile woman possessed with the spirit of Python (=serpent; the archetypical enemy cf. Gen.3:15), who uses hupsistos when addressing Paul, the apostle to the gentiles as “servants of the Most High God.” The last N.T. occurrence is appropriately from Heb. 7:1 quoting Gen.14:18-20.


To sum up so far- it is the same angel messenger (Gabriel) who employs the same titles (Most High, Highest) as the Danielic prophecy, a title that speaks of hostility and opposition towards God and his people. Gabriel indicates that the annunciation concerned the fulfilment of his words to Daniel. We also have reason to believe that the birth of John the Baptist occurred during Hanukkah. Another temple was about to be dedicated to God – this time one made “without hands”. The Hanukkah miracle of the ‘Lamp’ was about to be repeated – this time in the person of John the Baptist – but he was not that Light. It is during this last “Seventy” that the greatest opposition towards God and his saints would erupt. Therefore the angel Gabriel announces the establishment of a New Temple (Jesus) which is heralded by the birth of John on the feast of “Lights” paralleling the prophetic work by Haggai/Zechariah, who also function as “lamps” when pronouncing the “day of blessing” that proceeds the restoration of the Second Temple (also announced by Gabriel to Daniel 490 days before the Darius restoration).  The Second Temple., that was destroyed 490 years after the First Temple (according to the Jewish calendar), is about to be replaced by Christ – the true dwelling place of the Shekinah.


[29] Abraham in Mesopotamia vv.2,4; Joseph in Egypt v.9;  patriarchs buried in Samaria in a Hittite grave v.16; Moses raised by Pharaoh’s daughter v.21; welcomed in Midian v.29; theophany at Sinai v.30; wonders in Egypt, the red sea and wilderness ; v.36

Page 298 of 335

 TOC   Page

A “new” starting date – 423/4/5 BC


According to the Jewish calendar the First Temple was destroyed in 3338 AM (423/4 BC), which is historically incorrect.  Possible reasons for the anomaly have already been discussed but the date itself is interesting because the subtraction of 420 years (6x70) terminates in the birth of John the Baptist and Christ.  Thus working from the Jewish Chronicle Seder Olam we are correct in stating that 420 years after the destruction of the Second Temple the New Temple (Jesus) was announced and 70 years after his birth (again using Seder Olam) the “old temple” was destroyed.  It is certainly paradoxical that in attempting to legitimize the codification of the oral law the sages’ manipulation of the calendar actually legitimized Christ as the replacement for the Second Temple – and the replacement of oral law. The Word became flesh!  Hear ye him! The “Hasmonean route” (culminating in Hanukkah of 164/5 BC) is a dead end or is perhaps more accurately described as a red herring.  The pragmatic nationalism of the Hasmonean dynasty of priest-kings was no substitute for the covenant that promised a Davidic Messiah.  The same nationalist fervour devoid of covenant faith would lead to the destruction of the nation in AD 70 and is unfortunately also characteristic of modern Israel.  Therefore the “Hasmonean route” did not lead to the revelation of the Messiah – but it did establish Hanukkah as a permanent feast that celebrated the rededication of the temple. It was no doubt, a politically astute move to consolidate power by associating the Hasmonean dynasty with Haggai/Zechariah’s temple restoration by institutionalizing the day after Haggai’s “day of blessing” and associating the two “lamps” of Zechariah’s vision with the “miracle” of lights at the rededication of the temple in 164/5 BC.


Disregarding the “fit” achieved by the Seder Olam chronicle is there any way that restarting (resetting?) Daniel’s “Seventy Prophecy” from the proximity of 423/4 BC can be justified? It has already been noted that the Cyrus restoration was a failure and that the anticipated restoration was delayed by 21 years until the reign of Darius I – is it possible to regard the initial mission by Nehemiah in 444/5 in a similar fashion – as only achieving completion 21 years later (423/4) under Darius II? The symmetry between the two situations is striking with both restorations experiencing a 21 year delay until a “Darius” comes to power.

Page 299 of 335

 TOC   Page

On the period in question Grabbe observes the following; “The dedication ceremony is preceded by a further genealogical list [in Neh. 12; 1-26?]...........The priests and the Levites are supposedly those who came in the time of Joshua and Zerubbabel, but the genealogy is carried down to a later time in the Persian period. The exact cut off point is unclear. According to 12:26, the list comes down to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, but this looks somewhat artificial. One or both of these names is likely to have been added to the text. Neh 12:22 mentions the rule of “Darius the Persian,” who is unlikely to be Darius I (522-331 BC). Darius II (424-404 BC) and Darius III (338-331 BC) are also candidates. The book of Nehemiah does not appear to know of more than one Artaxerxes and only two kings by the name of Darius. This suggests that the Darius of v.22 was Darius II”.[30] Fried supports a similar view; “To the redactor [of Ezra-Nehemiah], the Darius under whom work on the temple is completed can only be Darius II, not Darius I; that is, he can only be the Darius who reigned after Xerxes and after Artaxerxes. The redactor provides the correct order of the kings in his list of those who give permission for the work to go ahead: Cyrus, Darius (I), Artaxerxes, and Darius (II; Ezra 6:15-16). Darius I is presumably included based on the writings of Haggai and Zechariah, while Artaxerxes is included because he finally relented and ordered Asaph to give Nehemiah wood to build the gate of the temple fortress (Neh 2:8).The letters to and from the Achaemenid kings Xerxes and Artaxerxes that are enclosed between the resumptive clauses are meant to explain exactly how the satrapal officials, the (cam ha’ares, prevented the Jews from building the temple and city from the time of Cyrus up until the time of Darius)”.[31]


[30] Lester L. Grabbe, “Nehemiah” in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, (eds. James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids:Michigan,2003), 326-327

[31] Lisbeth S. Fried, The cam ha’ares in Ezra 4:4 and Persian Imperial Administration, (University of Michigan; Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2006),136

Page 300 of 335

 TOC   Page

What occurred in 423/4 BC under the reign of Darius II that effectively restarts the 490 years?  Did anything significant occur that can be regarded as the end of the restoration period after the false starts of Cyrus, Darius I and Nehemiah’s (444/5 BC) first mission? The Bible names Sheshbazzar (Ezra 5:14), Zerubbabel (Hag. 1:1), and Nehemiah (Neh. 5:14) as governors of Judah, but little is known about the following period; “At this point, [the end of Nehemiah’s term as governor] our primary sources come to an end. For the last century of Persian rule we have only tatters of information which is extremely difficult to contextualise historically.”[32]  It is generally accepted that Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and built the wall in 444/5 and that after governing Judah for 12 years he returned to the royal court in Susa in 432/3. After a few years, ca. 430 BC he asked for a further leave of absence (Neh. 13:6), and returning to Jerusalem, seems to have governed it for the rest of his life.


The book of Nehemiah ends abruptly without telling the reader what happened to either Nehemiah or Ezra. However, if we turn to external epigraphic sources we find that the next governor was Bagavahya or Bagôhî. André Lemaire notes that, “Bagavahya/ Bagôhî, governor of Yehud (pht yhwd),” is attested in the Aramaic petition of Yedoniah and his colleagues in Elephantine papyrus (Cowely 30), written in November 407 B.C.E (Cowley 1923:108-19; Grelot 1972:no.102, 1; Porten and    Continued  ˃


[32] Hugh G.M. Williamson, “Studies in Persian period history and historiography”, (J.C.B. Mohr (P. Siebeck), 2004), 44. On page 81 Williamson adds that, “The paucity of our knowledge of the period forbids dogmatism”.  Joseph Blenkinsopp observes that, “As far as Judaism is concerned, this [the Period from Artaxerxes II in 404 to the first year of the Seleucid era in 312] could be described as the lost century. There is hardly a single biblical text that can be located with certainty in this century. Josephus, our principal source external to the Bible, is not well informed on the Persian period, and he makes matters worse by a tendency to conflate the three rulers named Artaxerxes and the three named Darius, thus drastically telescoping the two centuries of Persian rule”. Joseph Blenkinsopp, “The Development of Jewish Sectarianism from Nehemiah to the Hasidim” in Judah and the Judeans in the fourth century B.C.E.,(eds., Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, Eisenbrauns, 2007), 385

Page 301 of 335

 TOC   Page

Yardeni 1986:68-71, A4.7, 1) as well as in the reply memorandum (Cowley 32, 1). These references indicate that he may still have been governor of Yehud/Judah in the early fourth century B.C.E. Identification of this name with the Bagoses of Josephus, Ant. 11.297-301 is more uncertain and is still a subject of discussion (e.g., Williamson 1998: 163; 2004: 22, 74-89)”.[33] In the same correspondence (AP 30) [34] reference is made to, a Jehohanan who is the high priest. Eliashib was high priest at least from the time of Ezra’s arrival (458 BC)[35] through the time of Nehemiah (445 BC Neh. 3:1, 20). Eliashib’s    Continued  ˃


[33] André Lemaire, “Administration in Fourth-Century B.C.E. Judah in Light of Epigraphy and Numismatics” in Judah and the Judeans in the fourth century B.C.E.,(eds., Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, Eisenbrauns, 2007), 54

[34] A. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), 108-19. The papyrus gives the date of its composition as in the 17th year of Darius II.

[35] The date for Ezra’s arrival is contested and has led to the theory that while Nehemiah’s patron was Artaxerxes I (465-424 BC), Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 398 BC during the reign of Artaxerxes II (405-359 BC). Blenkinsopp accepts the traditional dating of the arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem in 458 BCE as does Williamson, who marshals evidence from Achaemenid policy, details in the biblical text, and broader considerations of biblical evidence. This study regards Ezra-Nehemiah as being in some way contemporaries. Brown notes that, “With virtually one voice scholars acknowledge that the Biblical text presents Ezra as preceding Nehemiah and makes Ezra and Nehemiah contemporaries during the latter’s governorship. Nehemiah’s arrival in 445 BC during the reign of Artaxerxes I constitutes perhaps the only other point of agreement in this long-standing debate. Past this point consensus disappears, even among critics. Among the many objections raised to the Biblical text’s presentation, three issues surface repeatedly as being the most problematic: (1) the apparent lack of cooperation between Ezra and Nehemiah; (2) the thirteen-year gap between Ezra’s arrival and his reading of the law; and (3) the generational distance between the high priests associated with each reformer”. Gottwald states; “the chronological order of the missions of Nehemiah and Ezra, and the substantive interconnection of their work, is a baffling, at present unresolvable, historical problem.” Norman K. Gottwald, “The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction”, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 434-5. For a fuller discussion of  the temporal ordering in Ezra see, A. Philip Brown II, “A Literary and Theological Analysis of the Book of Ezra”, (Seminary and Graduate School of Religion, 2002) @ Access here [cited Aug. 2009] Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezra -Nehemiah: a commentary, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988), 44; H.G.M Williamson,. Ezra and Nehemiah, Old Testament Guides, (Sheffield:  JSOT Press for the Society for Old Testament Study, 1987),65

Page 302 of 335

 TOC   Page

son Joiada succeeded him (Neh. 12:22). Upon Joiada’s death, Jehohanan, Eliashib’s other son, assumed the high priesthood (Neh. 12:22) and was still high priest around 408-410 B.C., according to the Elephantine correspondence. The correspondence was also sent to Sanballat’s sons. Eliashib was still high priest 13 years after Ezra – when Nehemiah arrived in 445, if Eliashib  retired (or died) soon after, then his eldest son  Joiada would have served and his other son Jehohanan could have been have been a young man at Ezra’s arrival and the high priest 50-60 years later.  It is plausible that Nehemiah governed until 423/4 and was then replaced (or died?) by Bagôhî shortly after Darius II came to power.  Nehemiah would then have served the full reign of Artaxerxes – a period of 42 years (during which he twice served as governor of Judah), making him between 60-70 years old by 423/4.


When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem for a second term as governor, he found that commercial interests superseded Sabbath discipline, that compromise with the surrounding gentile (enemies) was common, that greed had caused neglect in payment of the stipend to the priests and Levites, and therefore their numbers and usefulness were reduced, and that some combination of indiscipline and foolishness had allowed the protagonists Tobiah and Sanballat admittance  to the temple and to the highest councils of power. It is difficult to conceive that the situation in Nehemiah 13 at the very end of the book of Nehemiah deteriorated so quickly after the renewal of covenant faithfulness described in    Continued  ˃

Page 303 of 335

 TOC   Page

Nehemiah 9-10. It seems that the author has arranged the material thematically rather than chronologically[36] but much uncertainty surrounds the issue, which is still vigorously debated in scholarship.




Most scholars ascribe Nehemiah 13:4-31 to the Nehemiah Memoir; “a nearly contemporary source that was written not later than approximately 25 years after the events it reports”.  Rainer Albertz notes that, “the report on Nehemiah’s cultic and ritual reforms in Neh    Continued  ˃


[36] Brown believes that a similar arrangement occurs in Ezra, when explaining the mixed order of the kings mentioned in Ezra 6:14 he states; “Ezra’s use of anachrony signals that thematic development is again overriding chronological presentation”. (Ibid, Philip Brown II Chapter 1Temporal Ordering In Ezra: Part I)

Page 304 of 335

 TOC   Page

13:4-31, dated to his second stay in Judah (v.6), is totally set apart”.[37] Suffice to say that with the different arrangement of the Ezra-Nehemiah material in the Greek 1 Esdras and the Jewish understanding of Ezra-Nehemiah as a single unified work, together with the ongoing debate in scholarship over the chronology of the era, the question is far from settled.  It is however difficult to regard the Ezra-Nehemiah era of restoration ending on such a sour note as described in the last chapter of Nehemiah – particularly as divine providence had reversed all external opposition and the restoration under Ezra-Nehemiah had finally achieved the fullness of the blessing promised in Haggai 2;18-23. The proposal put forward here is that the restoration period was only finalised with the renewal of the covenant described in Nehemiah chapters 9-10 [38] and that this occurred in 423/4 at the very end of Nehemiah’s ministry. Eskenazi observes that, “the people’s prayer in Neh. 9:6-37 has been recognized rightly as the    Continued  ˃


[37] “It is highly probable that the editor of Ezra-Nehemiah used an older source, written by Nehemiah himself or by an intimate friend from his immediate circle. The existence of this older source is widely accepted (Mowinckel 1923; 278-22; Rudolph 1949: xxiv; Kellermann 1967:4-56; Williamson 1985: xxiv-xxviii; Gunneweg 1987:176-80; Blenkinsopp 1988:46-47; Karrer 2001:128-213)”. Rainer Albertz, “Purity Strategies and Political Interests in the Policy of Nehemiah” in Confronting the past: archaeological and historical essays on ancient Israel in Honor of William G. Dever (eds. Seymour Gitin, J. Edward,Wright, J. P. Dessel,Eisenbrauns,2006,199-206),199- 200

[38] Williamson concludes that the prayer has been transposed to this location, somewhat awkwardly. He identifies the awkwardness as follows: The “bearing of the people is markedly different. In chap. 8 they appear to be ignorant of the procedures of even the most important of all the national festivals. Here, however, they need no instruction, but gather spontaneously – and yet quite correctly – for a day of mourning and confession.” H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah. Word Biblical Commentary 16 (Waco, TX: Word, 1985), 309.

Page 305 of 335

 TOC   Page

theological centre piece of Ezra-Nehemiah.” [39] Notably, scholars frequently group Nehemiah 9 together with Daniel 9.[40]


Nehemiah chapter 9 relates the renewing of the Abrahamic covenant.  Eskenazi recognizes this; “This history emphasizes “inheritance” Sinai is mentioned (9:13-14) but without reference to the covenant because the Abrahamic covenant suffices and is still intact” …………. “Today,” says the prayer in vss. 32 ff, Israel is again standing vulnerable, facing a “sea” of foreigners who threaten to destroy it. Like “our ancestors”, the prayer says, we cry to you (see also Neh. 9:4 which uses the same verb to describe the communal gathering). Like Abraham, and in sharp contrast to all the previous generations for whom you did so much, we are faithful. How is our faithfulness demonstrated? With the pledge that follows in chapter 10. Abraham was faithful, נאמן.   We are faithful, we sign a pledge – אמנה” [41]


This date (423/4 BC) is then to be considered the real date of “entry” into the land – the date of covenant renewal.  The Abrahamic covenant    Continued  ˃


[39] Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Nehemiah 9-10: Structure and Significance, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 3: Article 9 (2001); §1.1 @ Access here [cited August 2009]

[40] Ibid, Eskenazi, §1.8 “In a most helpful appendix, Boda charts the numerous designations that scholars have used to classify Nehemiah 9 and the various texts with which they group Nehemiah 9. It can be noted as a result that the vast majority of studies group Nehemiah 9 with Daniel 9 and Ezra 9. Among the 44 studies that Boda lists, 36 group it with both Daniel 9 and Ezra 9 and another six with either Daniel 9 or Ezra 9. In addition, nine groups also include Psalm 106 with Nehemiah 9”.

[41] Ibid, Eskenazi, §3.3 and §2.18 - Eskenazi adds a reference to Gilbert in a footnote, “Le place de la loi dans la priere de Nehemie 9”, M. Carrez, J. Dore, and P. Grelot, ed., De la Torah au Messie. Paris: Desclee (1981), 307-316

Page 306 of 335

 TOC   Page

lies at the basis of the Deuteronomic account of entry into the land[42] and also informs the background of the Lukan birth narratives.  Interestingly, Nehemiah 9:7 specifically mentions the naming of Abraham, which occurred when Abraham was 99 years old[43] - the same period  of 99 years had elapsed between the recommencing of the work on the temple[44] under Zechariah/Haggai and renewal of the Abrahamic covenant in Nehemiah 9 (if our date of 423/4 BC is correct).  The annunciation narratives in Luke (420 years after the renewal of the Abrahamic covenant in Nehemiah 9) are shot through with allusions, echoes and references to the Abrahamic covenant as well as echoes of Nehemiah 9 as the table on the following page demonstrates.

[42] See Appendix 4 Chapter 17: The Abrahamic Covenant

[43] Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless”.... No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations (v.5).

[44] In the second year of Darius (Ezra 4:24) –  c. 522/523 to c.423/4 is 99 years

Page 307 of 335

 TOC   Page
Luke 1 Abrahamic Covenant
Luke 1:6…..walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.[45] Gen.17:1 …..“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless”.
Luke 1:18…“How shall I know this?” Gen.15:8 ….how shall I know that I will inherit it?”
Luke 1:7. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren Gen. 11:30. But Sarai was barren; she had no child
Luke 1:25 ….He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people Neh.2:17…“Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.[46]
Luke 1:37. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Gen.18:14. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”
Luke 1:72. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant….. Luke 1:73. The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:


Elizabeth=God is an oath Zacharias=Yah has remembered John=Yah has been gracious
Psa. 106:45. And for their sake He remembered His covenant, And relented according to the multitude of His mercies. Neh.9:7-8. You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham…You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him… You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.
Luke 1:71, 74. To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies....


Neh.9:27.Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies……


[45] The word ‘blameless’ (amemptos) is the same word used in the LXX to describe faithful Abraham who believed God’s promise regarding the Messiah.

[46] The MT subscription to Ezra-Nehemiah notes that its sign is “Yahweh, remember the reproach of your servants”

Page 308 of 335

 TOC   Page

At long last, in the face of mounting external opposition and internal disobedience (causing delay in the divine programme) the temple, city, people and covenant relationship had been restored.  The date that is proposed (423/4 BC) for renewal of the Abrahamic covenant in Nehemiah ch. 9 signifies the end of the Babylonian exile – the date when the Abrahamic covenant was renewed. It is from the Nehemiah covenant renewal that Daniel’s prophecy re-commences thus realizing a fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant 420 years (6x70) later with the birth of Christ in 3/4 BC.  Henceforth, Jesus Christ becomes the divine dwelling place, anticipating the removal of the Second Temple, which occurred 70 years later.




Page 309 of 335

 TOC   Page


Apochryphal2 cont.


‘Animal Apocalypse’ (c.160 BC)


The Shepherds are understood by the author as the guardian-angels of the nations corresponding to the “princes” of the nations in Dan 10:13, 20f; 12:1; cp Deut 32:8 LXX, and they are 70 in number because the nations of the world are 70 in number in Genesis 10. The “reigns” are divided into periods of 12, 23, 23 and12.  In 1 Enoch 90:6-9 the author informs of a partial awakening of the “lambs” and the murder of “one of these lambs” and the subsequent development of a “great horn” on one of the sheep. These references are usually taken to refer to the murder of the high priest Onias III and the rise of Judas Maccabee. As the first period culminates in the building of the temple (515/6) the starting point is usually sought some 84 years earlier (12x7); however none of the periods exactly match known historical events. Daniel C. Olson[47] suggests 520 BCE as the terminus a quo (the period of the second empire) thus allowing the intervening 490 years (84 + 162 + 161 + 84) cover the period between the Exile and the Eschaton. Whatever the intention of this chronological scheme we note that there is approximately 160 years between the defeat of Persia by Greece at the battle of Marathon and the visit of Alexander to Jerusalem and a similar approximation of a 160 year interval between the death of Alexander and the death of Antiochus Epiphanes; the final 12 year “reign” was still unknown territory from the author’s perspective.  Leaving aside specific interpretations of the “Animal Apocalypse” one    Continued  ˃


[47] Daniel C. Olson, “Historical Chronology after the Exile according to 1 Enoch 89-90”, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 15, No. 1, 63-74 (2005)

Page 310 of 335

 TOC   Page

is left with the impression that the author expected the “end” anywhere from 100 BC onwards.


The Assumption of Moses (c.48 BC) 


Moses’ death occurred in 2500 AM (according to the Assumption of Moses) making the advent of the Messiah 4250 AM (assuming the “times” represent 7 year periods). If the date 4250 AM represents a continuation of Maccabean chronology, which according to Murtonen[48] had the Maccabean rededication of the temple occur in the “highly significant”, 4000 AM (164/5 BC) then 4250 AM represents 85 AD, barely 15 years after the destruction of the temple.


[48] Northcote summarises as follows; “In the 1950’s Aimo Murtonen (1954:137) argued that the MT chronology could not have attained its final form earlier than 164/5 BCE – the date of the Maccabean’s rededication of the Second Temple. He based his argument on the finding that, if the MT chronology was extended beyond the Babylonian exile period-using ancient Near eastern king lists that were likely known to Jews in the Maccabean era – it yields the highly significant date of AM 4000 for the Maccabean rededication of the temple........It should be noted, however, that the synchronization of the MT’s date of AM 4000 with the date of the Second Temple rededication in 164/5 BCE is not an exact match, because the year AM 4000 actually falls on 161 BCE (if AM 3575 is calculated as Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year) or 162 BCE (if AM 3575 is calculated as Nebuchadnezzar’s nineteenth year). However, the Old Testament chronology is flexible enough to allow the addition of two or three years. For example two or three years can be added for Shem’s age at the birth of his firstborn- a calculation that, as noted earlier, Jepsen believed was made in the progenitor chronology”. Jeremy Northcote, “The Schematic Development of Old Testament Chronography: Towards an Integrated Model”,[JSOT 29.1(2004)3-36]:8-9; A. Murtonen, “On the Chronology of the Old Testament”, ST 8(1954):133-37

Page 311 of 335

 TOC   Page

Pseudo-Philo (c.70-100 AD)


The next text also poses difficulties and any interpretation can only be speculative. The solution proposed here yields 3150 AM for the “death of Moses” which is close to the “Saros”[49] chronology dating proposed for the Exodus (3100 AM) and assumes that Moses died 40 odd years later (3140 AM?). The “Saros” chronology has the Second Temple completed in 4080 AM (conventional date 515/6 BC) which would equate the end of the 4900 period with 305 AD.  However, if the post Second Temple period is 160/167 years shorter than conventional chronology (similar to Jewish Seder Olam chronology) this delivers a date of approximately 140 AD or 70 years after the destruction of the Second Temple (approximately the time of the false messiah Bar Kochba).


2 Esdras (c.100 AD)


The book is supposedly written 30 years after the destruction of the First Temple (cf. 2 Esd.3:1). If the calculation is based on units derived from a 354 day lunar cycle,[50] the 9.5 parts are dated to 3363 AM which is 25 years after the destruction of the first temple, dated by Seder Olam    Continued  ˃


[49] Saros is a term for the number 360 used to describe a geometric circle in Babylonian mathematics and therefore possibly representing the idea of historical circularity to the exilic Jews. The “Saros” chronology is a hypothetical pre-LXX/SP chronological tradition suggested by Northcote (2004:13-14) and marked by the expansion of the post-diluvian generations by 600 years by adding 100 years to each generation (except Cainan); this addition was later preserved in both the LXX and SP chronologies.

[50] The use of a 354 lunar cycle also occurs in the chronology encountered in Jubilees (for example the flood is dated in 1062 or 3x354) even though  the book of Jubilees condemns use of the lunar calendar (Jub. 6:32-38) and also has “solar” dating (birth of Jacob in 364) indicating that the lunar chronology was a later modification. See Jeremy Hughes, “Secrets of the Times: Myth and History in Biblical Chronology”,(JSOTSup,66; Sheffield: JSOT press,1990),23 

Page 312 of 335

 TOC   Page

to 3338 AM. Considering the Seder Olam is of later provenance than Esdras this is a remarkably close agreement. If this approach is correct we terminate in 4248 AM a date similar to the A. Moses calculations.


Conclusion Appendix 1


All resolutions of apocryphal eschatological calculations are of necessity speculative because the writers are deliberately ambiguous, leaving their chronological units undefined. This allows both the author and the reader a certain amount of flexibility in updating the apocryphal “prophecies” to ensure that they remain current (just change the unit in order to achieve a different date). Added to this difficulty are the different chronological schema’s – when does one date the death of Moses?  Is it in 3140 (Saros), 2488 (Seder Olam), 2500 (A.Mos.), 2450 (Jubilees), 3859 (LXX), 2795(Samaritan Pentateuch), 2540(MT)?


The intent of this investigation is not to establish any definitive “eschatological dates” (an impossible task), or to harmonise the eschatological dates, merely to demonstrate that the early apocryphal writings pre-70 AD all had messianic expectations that terminated in the first century when Christ appeared and when the Second Temple was destroyed - as Daniel had predicted. When this did not occur (as expected by first century Judaism), the chronological data was realigned in the Seder Olam chronicle (completed c.160BC/3920AM) by compressing the interval between the destruction of the two temples into a period of 490 years (deleting 166 years mainly in the Persian period) not necessarily because of the importance placed by Daniel on the 490 period, which ends with the destruction of the sanctuary, but in order to shift the focus away from the “Messianic era” back to the “Torah era” by having the Mishna completed in 3948 AM[51], which is both within the limits of the “Torah era” and also still within the limits suggested by the apocryphal books for the “end”(4250/4248 AM)[52],    Continued  ˃


[51] This is the date given by דבאר and others. Rav Shereira Gaon says it was 3978 AM.

[52] According to Seder Olam this is a date only 8 years prior to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud and, as we have seen, for anyone following Maccabean or MT chronology, it is a date slightly after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Page 313 of 335

 TOC   Page

thus placing the advent of the Messiah still in the future. In later rabbinic literature any discussion concerning the Messiah’s delay before 4000 was considered premature.  Thus for those writing pre-70 AD a date of 4250/4248 AM was still acceptable for the appearance of the messiah, but for authors post 70 AD, or more probably post 132-136 AD[53] (the revolt instigated by the messianic pretender Bar Kochba), it was necessary to realign priorities and adjust the dating schema’s (without compromising earlier predictions). The Bar Kochba revolt supported by Rabbi Akiva  reactivated the cult and resulted in more than three years of liberty for Jerusalem, but the revolt was ruthlessly crushed by Rome and should therefore probably be regarded as the last  Jewish attempt to force a messianic interpretation on Daniel 9:24-27.


Appendix 2 Chapter 17: The Priestly Courses


The following data find general acceptance and form the basis of the table below: From the time of King David, there were 24 courses of priests assigned to the Temple, and the course of Abijah was the 8th course as a permanent assignment. Each course of priests served for 7 days (1 Chronicles 9:25), twice a year. Their week long service at the Temple began and ended on the Sabbath (2 Chronicles 23:8); the priests passed responsibility at midday on the Sabbath (Against Apion 2:8). Three times a year all Israel was required to appear before the Lord at the Temple, and during those three weeks, all priests from all courses served at the Temple. The three times were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles [Succoth] (Deut 16:16). The basis of the schema is the Jewish lunisolar calendar which was used by the Jerusalem priests (Qumran had a solar based calendar).


[53] This is the conventional historical dating; for the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 136 AD see W. Eck, ‘The Bar Kokhba Revolt: The Roman Point of View’, JRS 89 (1999), 87-88. The Seder Olam chronicle dates the revolt to 3880 AM (the equivalent of 120 AD).

Page 314 of 335

 TOC   Page

The following is debated; (1) Do the courses continue year on year or did they start a fresh cycle each year? (2) If a new cycle commences each year, does it start in Nissan or Tishri? (3) All the priests served during the required feasts of Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishna, Sukkah 55b). Was the normal cycle interrupted by the services at the Major feasts?


We note the following; (1) Judas Maccabeus belonged to the course of Jehoiarib and this was the first course to serve. Scholars suspect that the list in Chronicles was adjusted at the rededication of the Temple in 164/5 BC to reflect the importance of the Hasmonean dynasty of priest-kings and that it was probably not the original order of service in David’s time. Even if a later adjustment occurred (sic) in the era of Judas Maccabaeus it would make no difference to our table as the priests would have served the same rota since the 160’s BC; (2) Any schema that assumes unbroken priestly service with the courses continuously following each other regardless of the New Year (whether Tishri or Nissan is chosen) is bound to fail as there were numerous interruptions; Hezekiah reinstituted the Passover he also “appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites to their divisions” (2 Chron. 31:2). The priestly service was again interrupted by Antiochus Epiphanies (which required the rededication in 164/5 BC) and after Alcimus a sacerdotal black hole exits from 159-152 BC; (3) “To fix the calendar by observation involves wide fluctuations, and in  practice the decision that a particular year would be a Leap-Year must have been even less predictable than the decision that a particular day would be the new moon” [54]  (4) Months were always numbered from the Ecclesiastical New Year in Nisan, even though the Civil New Year in Judah began in Tishri. Edwin Thiele has concluded that ancient Kingdom of Israel counted years using the Ecclesiastical New Year, while the Kingdom of Judah counted years using the Civil New Year.[55]


[54] Roger T. Beckwith, Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies,(Brill Academic Publishers, 2001),79

[55] Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983).

Page 315 of 335

 TOC   Page

The use of a number instead of the month name in Scripture may have come about because Babylonian month names were adopted after the time of Solomon, and at least one such name, Tammuz, referred to a heathen deity. The Hebrew Calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It is a complex system, where a year can have any of six different numbers of days in it (353, 354, 355, 383, 384, or 385) and referred to as ‘deficient, regular or complete’ and ‘common (350s) or embolismic (380s)’. Hanukkah begins Chislev 25, and continues for a total of eight days.


The large Table below (preceded by a smaller Overview Table) is based on the work done by Roger Beckwith (2001:77-90) with the numbers in the narrow column in the large Table representing the Sabbath dates when the courses changed over.  Although it is not necessarily always the case Beckwith alternates the length of the months between 29 and 30 days respectively and this is close enough for illustrative purposes, particularly as the new moon was determined by observation.  A leap year has been included as they occurred on average every two to three years. Beckwith’s argument concerning the courses commencing in Tishri (the Civil New Year) has been accepted, with the first course (Jehoiarib) commencing on the closest Sabbath to 1 Tishri to ensure that Jehoiarib was always in service on the first of the Civil New Year. However, the first month of the year referred to in Exodus 12:2 is Nissan; “This month shall be to you the beginning of months”. This is referred to as the Ecclesiastical New Year, which means that the Civil New Year, Rosh Hashanah, actually begins in the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. Therefore, the weeks of the year have been counted from Nissan as this marked the commencement of the festal calendar (Ecclesiastical New Year). Beckwith bases his schema on the saying by Rabbi Jose which establishes a fixed reference point - namely that the course of Jehoiarib was serving on the 8th of Ab when the Second Temple was destroyed.[56]  This fixed reference point allows us    Continued  ˃


[56] “Good things come to pass on an auspicious day, and bad things on an unlucky day. It is reported that the day on which the First Temple was destroyed was the eve of the ninth of Ab, a Sunday, and in the year following the Sabbatical year, and the Mishmar of the family of Jehoiarib were on duty and the Levites were chanting the Psalms standing on their Duchan (platform). And what Psalm did they recite? - [The Psalm] containing the verse, ‘And He hath brought upon them their own iniquity, and will cut them off in their own evil.’ And hardly had they time to say, ‘The Lord our God will cut them off,’ when the heathens came and captured them. The same thing too happened in the Second Temple.” (Ta’anith 29a)

Page 316 of 335

 TOC   Page

to work out which course was serving at Tishri. On the three great feasts (Passover, Tabernacles and Pentecost) all the courses served together and it can be seen from the schema that this did not interrupt the cycle - priests from the other courses joined the scheduled course to help serve on the Feast days. Therefore, all priests served five weeks a year; during the two weeks their course served at the Temple, and during the three weeks when all the priestly courses were present. They served four times if their course coincided with one of the three feasts, and six if they began and ended a year with a thirteen month leap year. The calculation of leap year’s for the period 10BC-AD10 is present in certain schemes but cannot be established with any certainty.  During Temple times and through the Tannaitic period (70AD-200AD), the Hebrew calendar was observational, with the beginning of each month determined by the high court (Sanhedrin) based on the testimony of witnesses who had observed a new crescent moon. Periodically, the court ordered an extra month added to keep Passover in the spring, again based on observation of natural events. Whether or not an embolismic month (thirteenth month known as second Adar or Veadar) was announced after the “last month” (Adar) depended on whether “the barley was ripe” and was done in order to keep the seasons in tune with the calendar – especially important for feasts that celebrate the ingathering of harvests. After the temple was destroyed and the Sanhedrin disbanded the Jews eventually took to calculating (using the 19-year lunar cycle known as the Metonic cycle) when an intercalary month should be inserted in the year.  As such calculations were not employed pre -70 nothing can be inferred for the period that concerns us. The necessity for a leap year in our table has simply been determined by the information in Luke combined with rabbinical testimony. In order to achieve a “fit” a leap year must be included and as they occurred every 2 or 3 years– but which year was actually a leap year (3BC, 4BC, 5BC etc) is not possible to determine.

Page 317 of 335

 TOC   Page

Following the tables determined below the annunciation of John’s birth occurred during the course of Abijah (Yah is a Father) in the first week of the month Nissan and his birth occurs 38 weeks later in Chislev during the Feast of Lights (Hanukkah). The annunciation of Jesus’ birth occurs six months later in Elul (we have chosen the second week); if the birth also took place in the 38th week then the presentation at the Temple (8 days later) would occur at Pentecost (the Feast of weeks) marking Jesus as the “First Fruits” (of the Spirit). The age difference between John and Jesus is then about 21-22 weeks (about five and a half months). Surprisingly a 38 week gestation period (which fits both pregnancies) means that conception occurred immediately. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks (counting from the last menstrual cycle) but artificial fertilisation and implantation results in 38 weeks from conception to birth! In the case of Zacharias, he went home straightaway, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished (Lk. 1:23) - this does not necessarily mean that he served for the complete week. To all intents and purposes he had suffered some sort of minor stroke which left him deaf and dumb, no doubt he went home post haste to the nearby hill country (Lk. 1:39) and Elisabeth (the barren woman) conceived immediately (miraculously) in her old age by one who was deaf and dumb. With divine help the Law and the covenants could still produce offspring to a nation that had become barren, deaf and dumb – but henceforth they would hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness – make the way straight for the messiah!  A simplified overview table is provided on the next page followed by a more extensive outworking of the same table.

Page 318 of 335

 TOC   Page

Table 1 – Priestly courses simplified overview




Page 319-327 of 335

 TOC   Page




Page 328 of 335

 TOC   Page

Appendix 3 Chapter 17: Dating the Birth of Christ


The year 0 is not normally included in the count of years in the transition from BC dates to AD dates (Since Bede, historians have not counted with a year zero). Different ways of counting; (1) The interval is 8 years; (2) From 5BC to 5AD is 9 years; (3) Inclusive reckoning is 10 years. Depending on inclusive reckoning and the accounting of part years, dates between 3BC and 5BC can all deliver a period of 70 years in relation to the Jewish War. (Example: 5BC to AD 5: -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5) Determining the death of Herod the Great is crucial to determining the birth date of Christ. In Matthews’s gospel Herod is responsible for the slaughter of the innocents causing the flight of the holy family to Egypt. If this is historical (some scholars believe that it is Midrash) then Christ was born some time before the death of Herod. The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels sums up as follows; “Most scholars are still persuaded by the work of E. Schürer (cf. Bernegger, Hoehner) that Josephus is correct about the time of Herod’s accession and the length of his reign. This would place the death of Herod at about 3 B.C. However, Josephus also tells us that an eclipse of the moon occurred shortly before Herod’s death (Ant. 17.167), and in view of the fact that this is the only time that Josephus mentions this sort of phenomenon, it is improbable that he fabricated this piece of information. There were no such eclipses in 3 B.C., but there was one on March 12/13, 4 B.C. He also informs us that Passover was celebrated shortly after Herod’s death (Ant. 17.213; J.W.2.10). In 4 B.C. the first day of Passover would have been on April 11, 4 B.C. and presumably the discrepancy of one year is accounted for by the inclusive reckoning of regnal years. This means that Jesus was born sometime before March of 4 B.C.” Herod died between a lunar eclipse observed from Jericho and close to a Passover. The dates for Passover between 11BC and 6 AD are as follows (the first day of Passover is always the 15th of Nisan (starting the evening of the 14th of Nisan).

Page 329 of 335

 TOC   Page

Lunar eclipses visible from Jerusalem from 9BC to 1 BC: [57]




[57]The date of Passover 11BC – 10AD Access here online [cited August 2009] Table supplied by Susan Stolovy, an astronomer at Steward Observatory (Tucson, USA), based on data from Access here

Page 330 of 335

 TOC   Page




A range of 6-4 BC is therefore generally accepted as the birth range for Christ, based on the conclusion that Herod died at the end of March or early April in 4 BC, although this has been questioned by some scholars [58] who argue that Herod could have died as late as 1 BC    Continued  ˃


[58] Steinmann, Andrew, “When Did Herod the Great Reign?”, Novum Testamentum, Volume 51, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 1-29(29); Ormond Edwards, “Herodian Chronology,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 114 (1982) 29-42; W.E. Filmer, “Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 17 (1966) 283-298; Paul Keresztes, Imperial Rome and the Christians: From Herod the Great to About 200 A.D. (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1989) 1-43; Ernest L. Martin, “The Nativity and Herod’s Death,” in Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan, ed. Jerry Vardaman and Edwin M. Yamauchi (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989) 85-92.

Page 331 of 335

 TOC   Page

placing the birth of Christ in the range 3-1 BC. However, evidence that all three of Herod’s successors—his sons Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip—dated their reigns from about 4 BC leads most scholars to reject a 1 BC date for Herod’s death. A minority of scholars present strong counter arguments in favour of 1 BC. Concerning the redating of Herod’s death, the relevant paragraphs from the book by Jack Finegan are reproduced below: [59]


514. Proceeding now to look in greater detail at the last months and days of the life of Herod the Great, we remember (our §504) that Josephustells us (Ant. 17.167) that an eclipse of the moon took place shortly before Herod died, and (War 2.10; Ant. 17.213) that the Jewish Passover came not long after his death. If the death of Herod is placed in 4 B.C. the eclipse in question can be identified with a partial lunar eclipse on Mar 12/13, allowing twenty-nine days until the Passover on Apr 11 (so e.g., Schürer/Vermes/Millar, our §504). Or if the death of Herod is placed in 5 B.C. the eclipse can be identified with a total lunar eclipse on Sept 15/16, allowing some seven months until Passover on Apr 17, 5 B.C. (so Barnes, Bernegger, our §505). If the death of Herod was in 1 B.C.-the year we are now exploring as probable for the death of Herod-the relevant eclipse of the moon was a total eclipse on the night of Jan 9/10, and the full paschal moon of Nisan 14 was on Apr 8, twelve and a half weeks later.


§515. In the last period of Herod’s life, between the eclipse shortly before he died and the Passover soon after his death, Josephus (Ant. 17.156-191) narrates many events. These are the following: (1) on the night of the eclipse Herod had two rabbis burned alive for involvement in the destruction of his golden eagle at the temple gate; (2) with his    Continued  ˃


[59] Handbook of Biblical Chronology: Principles of Time Reckoning in the Ancient World and Problems of Chronology in the Bible, (Hendrickson Publishers; Rev Sub edition, 1998).

Page 332 of 335

 TOC   Page

health worsening he travelled from Jericho to the hot baths of Callirrhoe near the northeast end of the Dead Sea; (3) when numerous baths and additional immersion in a vat of warm oil failed to bring relief he returned to Jericho; (4) at Jericho, knowing that death was near and being well aware that most of the Jewish people hated him, he sent officers into all areas of his kingdom to bring prominent Jewish elders to Jericho where he had them shut up in the hippodrome with instructions that upon his demise they be executed, so that there would be mourning throughout the nation at the time of his death; (5) receiving a letter from Augustus allowing him to either exile or execute his son Antipater, Herod sent his bodyguards to do the latter; (6) he then altered his will and designated Archelaus to have Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; Antipas to be tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; and Philip to be tetrarch of Gaulanitis and related regions; and (7) on the fifth day after having Antipater killed, he died. It is plain that it would have been difficult for all this to transpire within the twenty-nine days between the eclipse of Mar 12/13 and the Passover of Apr 11 in the year 4 B.C. The seven months in 5 B.C. would of course be more than sufficient, but that date is not otherwise strongly supported. In 1 B.C. the time would be adequate and not excessive, and this fact is an additional reason for preferring the 1 B.C. date for the death of Herod the Great.


516. The matter of the reigns of Herod's three sons and successors is also relevant to the question of the date of Herod's death, and has usually been taken as the major reason for accepting 4 B.C. as the correct date, on which basis the three rulers are usually listed as Archelaus, 4 B.C.–A.D. 6; Antipas, 4 B.C.–A.D. 39; Philip, 4 B.C.–A.D. 34. As for the end point of each reign, the references or evidences seem plain: Herod Archelaus, ruler of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, was banished in A.D. 6 in the tenth year of his reign (Dio 55, 27, 6; Ant. 17.342). Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, lost his tetrarchy during the second year of the emperor Gaius (38/39) and had reigned according to the evidence of coins for forty-three years (Ant. 18.252). Herod Philip, tetrarch of Gaulanitis and related regions, died in the twentieth year of Tiberius, A.D. 33/34, after a reign of thirty-seven ears (Ant. 18.106). Calculating backward from these points, all seem to have' begun to reign in 5 or 4 B.C.

Page 333 of 335

 TOC   Page

517. Filmer however, considers that this kind of evidence can be misleading because coregency and antedating were common. As he points out, in the case of the kings of Israel and Judah there were several occasions when a king appointed a son as coregent and the son’s reign overlapped the father’s by several years, thus the reign could appear longer than it actually was. In the time after Alexander the Great we have seen specific examples of the antedating of reigns in the cases of Ptolemy I Soter I of Egypt and Seleucus I Nicator I in Babylon (§192), and there were other examples in the Hellenistic and early Roman period. On an occasion when Herod was testifying to the Roman general and governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, about his son Antipater, he spoke of him “to whom I have in a manner yielded up my royal authority while I am alive,” and in his reply Antipater said that he had no reason to conspire against his father since “I was a king already . . . you proclaimed me king in your lifetime” (War 1.624, 625, 631-632). See below (§654) for antedating in the reign of Herod Agrippa II. Similar antedating could, therefore, easily have been practiced in the reigns of Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas. In regard to Herod Philip there is now specific evidence (§518).


§518. As cited just above (§516), the currently known text of Josephus’s Ant. 18.106 states that Philip died in the twentieth year of Tiberius (A.D. 33/34; for the regnal years of Tiberius see Tables 151ff., especially 158, 167) after ruling for thirty-seven years. This points to Philip’s accession at the death of Herod in 4 B.C. (4 years B.C. + 33 years A.D. = 37 years). But Filmer suspected that a figure had dropped out and that the text should probably read the twenty-second, rather than the twentieth, year of Tiberius (A.D. 35/36). Barnes rejected this reading as “comparatively ill-attested,” although he agreed with Filmer that it was a pivotal point of the debate. In fact, however, already in the nineteenth century Florian Riess reported that the Franciscan monk Molkenbuhr claimed to have seen a 1517 Parisian copy of Josephus and an 1841 Venetian copy in each of which the text read “the twenty-second year of Tiberius.” The antiquity of this reading has now been abundantly confirmed. In 1995 David W Bever reported to the Society for Biblical Literature his personal examination in the British Museum of forty-six editions of Josephus’s Antiquities published before 1700 among which twenty-seven texts all but three published before 1544, read “twenty- second year of Tiberius,” while not a single edition    Continued  ˃

Page 334 of 335

 TOC   Page

published prior to 1544 read “twentieth year of Tiberius.” Likewise in the Library of Congress five more editions read the “twenty-second year,” while none prior to 1544 records the “twentieth year.” It was also found that the oldest versions of the text give variant lengths of reign for Philip of 32 and 36 years. But if we still allow for a full thirty-seven-year reign, then “the twenty-second year of Tiberius” (A.D. 35/36) points to 1 B.C. (1 year B.C. + 36 years A.D. = 37 years) as the year of death of Herod. This is therefore the date which is accepted in the present book. Accordingly, if the birth of Jesus was two years or less before the death of Herod in 1 B.C., the date of the birth was in 3 or 2 B.C., presumably precisely in the period 3/2 B.C., so consistently attested by the most credible early church fathers (see above Table 139). Furthermore, we have seen evidence for a time of Jesus’ birth in the mid-winter (Beckwith, our §473), therefore mid-winter in 3/2 B.C. appears the likely date of the birth of Jesus.


Finally, it should be noted that that the Herod who caused the holy family to flee and who slaughtered the innocents may have been Herod Archelaus (not Herod the Great cf. Matt. 2:22), the successor and son of Herod the Great in 4 BC (or in 1 BC?) his whose tyrannical reign ended in AD 6 when Rome banished him to Vienne in Gaul where he possibly died (or was assassinated?) soon afterwards as nothing is know about him after this point..

Page 335 of 335

 TOC   Page




Moses neglected to circumcise his own son before entering Egypt and the wilderness generation had neglected to circumcise their sons in preparation for entering the Promised Land.  Before entering the land the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision was ratified.  Evidently the practice had lapsed during the wilderness wanderings.