I apologize in advance for the long post, but we must set a date for the beginning of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy. I am not qualified to set a date by the stars. Nor do I have an infallible personal knowledge of ancient history. Let those who think they have such speak up, but I do not know of any whether in theological circles or secular historians. All have based their knowledge upon the false foundation of the works of Claudius Ptolemy, the second century AD astronomer. Therefore, I must count backwards from the times of Jesus, the Messiah. Since the prophecy pertains to his coming, we can find the date by counting 483 years back to the first year of Cyrus, the king of Babylon. This means, of course, that the significance of the second part of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy pointing to the time and arrival of the Messiah is placed in serious jeopardy. However, I am confident that Daniel did not place all his eggs in one basket. There is enough information that can be gleaned from the surrounding chapters to show who Messiah is and that he came on time.
The method of dating this period of secular history has been seriously compromised due to the methods of Claudius Ptolemy in dating the reigns of these kings. Therefore who can show anything with any degree of accuracy concerning this period of history as it pertains to time of events and reigns of kings, including their identities? Concerning dating historical events, it is altogether proper to date historical figures and their exploits from known data, when the number of years between the two is acknowledged. The reigns of kings are often dated in this manner. When the reign of one ends and another begins, a fixed date in either reign would be sufficient to date the events in the reign of the other king, provided one knew the length of his reign and in what year of the king’s reign the event occurred. Therefore, I do not apologize for dating the first year of Cyrus as king of Babylon by counting back from the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Indeed, all things in western civilization are dated from his life, whether our terminology is BC & AD or BCE & CE. We may try to ‘forget’ from where we date a matter by changing the terminology, but the chronology is the same no matter what suffix we employ at the end of our dates.
We know from the New Testament that many faithful Jews were looking for the Messiah. For example: Anna the prophetess told many who looked for the redemption of Israel about Jesus (Luke 2:36-38); Simeon looked for the Messiah to come and was even convinced that he would not die until he appeared and that he would actually see him (Luke 2:25-31). Moreover, the astronomers of the east, who were probably Jews in Babylon who had not returned to Israel, expected the arrival of the Messiah and looked for a sign of his arrival (Matthew 2:1-2; cf. Numbers 24:17). Furthermore, Joseph of Arimathaea, a member of the Sanhedrin, also waited for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:50-51; cf. Mark 15:43) as did many Jews at that time, whether living in Palestine (Matthew 11:3; 12:23; John 7:31), or Hellenists who came to Jerusalem from the gentile nations to celebrate the festivals at the Temple (John 12:12-23). But, the arrival of Messiah was not contained within the borders of Jewry alone, for many even in Samaria expected and looked for his coming (John 4:25-26; cf. v.29), and the expectation was certainly widespread (cf. John 4:40-42), for no one had to explain to them what the term Messiah meant or about the prophecy of his coming. They knew of him and expected his arrival.
Furthermore, Josephus shows that several men arose to prominence after the time of Jesus and before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. They had no problem getting Jews to believe their Messianic claims and promises of divine deliverance, showing that the Jews of the first century AD believed the Messiah would come and expected his arrival in their lifetimes.
In contrast, the writings of the rabbis show that those times of which Daniel wrote are now past. For example it is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (cir. 200-500 AD) that the ancient rabbis discussed the times of Messiah and the book of Daniel. Rabbi Judah, who was a prominent compiler of this work said of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy:
“These times were over long ago.”
They have even pronounced a curse upon anyone who would consider understanding these times:
“let them burst, or their bones rot, that compute the times.”
In the 12th century AD Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides, said of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy:
“Daniel has elucidated to us the knowledge of the end times. However, since they are secret, the wise [rabbis] have barred the calculation of the days of Messiah’s coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that the end times have already come but there is no sign of the Messiah.” (Igeret Teiman, Chapter 3 p.24 – emphasis mine)
If, therefore, there had been widespread expectation of the Messiah in the first century AD, but his times were said to have been past by the 2nd century AD, it stands to reason that Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy would have ended sometime within the first century AD. Concerning Jesus’ own times both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud respectively admit that prior to the destruction of the Temple:
“Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel (Temple) would open by themselves” (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).
“Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open” (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157).
Concerning the above, one phenomenon pertains to casting lots on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur; cp. Leviticus 16:1-10). The lot determined which of two goats would be “for the Lord” and which would be the Azazel’ or “scapegoat.” Previous to this phenomenon, for two hundred years the lots proved to be governed by chance, some going to the left hand or Azazel and some to the right or “for the Lord.” Sometime around 30 AD the lots fell only to the left hand and continued to do so until the Temple was destroyed. How long it would do this before a pattern would be noted is not said, but the records show that it was widely known among the Jews that this phenomenon lasted for about 40 years.
With reference to the crimson thread, a tradition had begun during or just after the days of Ezra that a scarlet thread would be tied to the Azazel or scapegoat and then to the doors of the Temple (cf. Isaiah 1:18). During the days of Simon the Righteous (cir. 300 BC ) for 40 years the scarlet ribbon on the Temple doors changed white as he entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Furthermore, during his ministry the lot had always went “for the Lord” or to the right hand. After his death the lot went either to the left or the right and the crimson thread sometimes changed white and sometimes not. Nevertheless, for the 40 years prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the crimson thread on the Temple door remained crimson as both Talmuds record.
The phenomenon concerning the Temple doors swinging open of their own accord is a bit unclear. It is not said that they did so each night for 40 years or whether they did so for a single night about 40 years prior to the destruction of the Temple. One tradition I read concerned their doing so on the night of Jesus’ death in 31 AD., while others believe the doors opened every evening after they had been closed for the night. In any event, it is recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud:
“Said Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai to the Temple, ‘O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, ‘Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars’ (Zechariah 11:1) (Sota 6:3).’ ”
As for the ‘western light,’ it was the light in the Temple that must stay lit. From its flame, the other lights of the Temple compound were lit each evening. For 40 years prior to the destruction of the Temple, no matter what precautions the priests took, this light would go out. The significance of this not only anticipates the impeding judgment of God upon the Temple, but also points to something occurring at the beginning of this phenomenon that made the next forty years or so stand out like those during the ministry of Simon the Righteous, but this time “not for the Lord” but for evil.
We know that Jesus died in 31 AD on the Feast of Passover (14th day of Nisan or the 1st month in the Jewish calendar) after a three and one-half year ministry. This, together with Luke’s connecting the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry with the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius requires that Jesus’ public life begin in the fall of 27 AD, on the first day of the seventh month, which is the Feast of Trumpets.
Counting from the Feast of Trumpets in 27 AD backwards to the first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets, when Jeshua and Zerubbabel built the altar of God on the site of the Temple mount upon their arrival in Jerusalem in the first year of Cyrus, king of Babylon, would make that year 457 BC.
Though the book of Ezra begins before the book of Nehemiah, both end within a few months of each other. The problem with the books is this: most chronologies using secular history as a foundation for both content and time put the arrival of Nehemiah at about 435 BC and the return of the remnant with Zerubbabel at about 535 BC. This places approximately 100 years of separation between the two figures.
When Nehemiah arrived, he was greeted by Eliashib, the third generation high priest, and only the second generation of many other families. This is seen by comparing those who helped build the walls and comparing them with the names of the returning exiles under the leadership of Zerubbabel (Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 3). Most heads of families who returned with Zerubbabel would already have had sons when they were initially released from Babylon by Cyrus. To believe that they were all 20 years old without children is asking quite a bit of our imagination. Realistically, some children may have been teenagers, some even in their twenties and perhaps thirties with children of their own. While the heads of the families would be in their forties or fifties or more. To accept secular history’s timeframe for these books would mean that this second generation that came up from Babylon greeted Nehemiah and were one hundred years old or more. This is the same generation, according to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that labored for twelve years moving those great stones that comprised the wall of Jerusalem. The thought is just too ridiculous to take seriously. The timeframe has got to be much shorter than one hundred years between the beginning ministries of Nehemiah and Zerubbabel. How much shorter? Daniel made the overall timeframe for rebuilding the Temple and the city walls to be 49 years and within the reigns of four Persian kings, beginning with Cyrus. Do the math!
 JOSEPHUS: Wars of the Jews; Book 2; Chapter 13; Paragraph 3
 Babylonia Talmud, Sanhedrin, 98b and 97a
 Babylonia Talmud, Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 2
 Rabbi Zakkai was a principal figure of the Jewish community immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. Shortly after the war, with the permission of the Roman government, the Jewish leadership was transferred to Jamnia, a town along the northern border of the land of Judah and near the Mediterranean.
 This date is fixed by Jesus’ birth, his age at the beginning of his ministry and knowing that four Passovers were incorporated into his public ministry, three revealed in John’s Gospel and one additional (3rd in succession) Passover hidden in Luke but dated by data in the Gospel of John. Moreover, the time of Jesus’ birth is fixed at 3 BC by the death of Herod in 1 BC and data found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews concerning the census mentioned in Luke 2 and the murder of those connected with the Magi’s coming in Matthew 2. Herod’s death is fixed by a comparison of the historical events immediately before and after his death and the only lunar eclipse surrounding his death that could have allowed those events to occur.
 This is 79 years out of sync with traditional history which is based upon the fabricated works of Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD. However, the more we see how accurate the Bible truly is, agreeing with known historical facts, the more we will understand that it is warranted to ‘correct’ historical inaccuracies with the facts as they are found in Scripture.