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Reflections on Jerusalem and its Wall
Daniel 9:24-27, the prophecy given by Gabriel to Daniel
questions and comments below
note: the word translated 'weeks' is, in the Hebrew 'shebuah,' meaning 'seven, especially of years.'
This passage in Daniel 9 talks about the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. It was stated that from the time of the giving of the command to restore and rebuild unto the coming of Messiah was to be a period of 69 sets of 7 years or 483 years. These years were Babylonian years of 360 days. This is also the length of the prophetic year as given in Revelation. Thus 483 prophetic years of 360 days is the same as 476.057 years of 365.25 days. That is 476 years and 21 days of our customary years. Either way you count the years, it equals 173,880 days.
In the case of the Jerusalem wall's first rebuilding (by Nehemiah) and Christ's first coming, the Command was given on the 1st Nisan (5th March) in 444 BC in Nehemiah 2:1 ff. When 173,880 days are added to that date, the period ends on 10th Nisan (March 30th) 33 AD. This was the Palm Sunday when Jesus presented Himself as Messiah. Jesus said that the stones in the Jerusalem wall, which Nehemiah had placed there in his building program, would cry out that He was Messiah if He silenced His disciples as the authorities demanded. The Crucifixion occurred a few days later on 14th Nisan (3rd April) 33 AD. In other words, the prophecy was fulfilled to the very day.
There will also be a final period of 7 years, the 70th in the sequence, which begins with the false Messiah signing a Covenant with Israel for 7 years to bring peace to the Middle east. That final 7 years is known as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" (Old Testament) or the "Tribulation, the Great One" (New Testament) as Israel suffers terribly in those 7 years. Thus there is a time gap between the 69th period of 7 years and the 70th period of 7 years. It is usual to say this time gap represents the "Times of the Gentiles" or the "Church Age" which is closed by the Rapture, the catching away of the Christians to meet Messiah in the air. Once that event has occurred, the 70th period of 7 years can begin.
In the sixteenth century, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman (a Muslim) Empire. The Ottoman Empire included Turkey, the Middle East, and some of southern Europe. In 1517 the Ottoman Turks under Suleiman’s father, Selim I, gained control over Jerusalem. Suleiman, however, respected the Jewish people and made a Jew, the Duke of Naxos, his Foreign Affairs Minister. Over 15 years after his accession, Suleiman records that he was troubled by a series of dreams. In these dreams he was being chased by lions who seemed intent on devouring him. In one dream he finally stopped running and faced the lions, asking what he should do to save his life. He was told he should build the wall of Jerusalem. Wondering about this, he asked the only deity he knew, the Muslim Allah, for guidance. The response came in a dream which was recorded as follows:
Notice that the terms of the arrangement were that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt, along with the Wall or fortifications, and that water dispensers or basins or fountains were to be provided. The wall that Suleiman built is the wall which currently surrounds Old Jerusalem, and the Lions Gate commemorates the lions in his dream. If the first rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls in Nehemiah's time testified to the first coming of Messiah and was still standing when Jesus rode in on the donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, then perhaps the second rebuilding of the Wall might announce a similar prophetic program relating to the Second Coming of Christ. Here is what I have been able to ascertain.
The building period for the Wall is generally given as being from 1535/1536 until the end of 1541 or beginning of 1542; that is a total of 7 years. It seems that the 4 fountains or water dispensers or basins were built first. This was, presumably, so that the workers on the wall could be refreshed and have an assured supply of water for the Wall’s construction. The various dates are as follows:
The Scripture says that "from the going forth of the command to build ... unto the coming of Messiah". The only command that I can find recorded is the following, which was placed on two of the fountains (Sabil); the one at the Jaffa Gate and the other at the Lion's gate. Here is the Command:
Whether or not this command, which was posted on the fountains, was earlier in time than the command to build the Wall, or restore the city, we do not know. The wording of Instructions to Suleiman in the dream quoted above, and his response, suggests the two might be the same; but the fountains had to be built first before work could start on the Wall.
The question is then asked about the break-down of the 69 periods of 7 years into 7 periods of 7 and 62 periods of 7. Furthermore there is Gabriel's comment that the wall would be built "in troublous times." These were indeed troublous times for Suleiman as he was engaged in the Ottoman-Safavid War from 1532-1555 which involved the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (Iran). In the midst of this, there were several expeditions to trouble spots in Europe. However, in a special way, there was also trouble for the Jewish people with the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition focusing on them especially at that time. Suleiman provided sanctuary in his Kingdom for those Jews wishing to escape from these troubles. The 7 periods of 7 years from the going forth of the Command to build ended around 1585 -1590 depending on just when the precise command was given. At the end of that period, in 1588, the Spanish Armada was destroyed, the Inquisition ceased, and the intense Jewish persecution came to an end.
Given this history, there is another item of interest. If, instead of 7 periods of 7 years and 62 periods of 7 years, we take it the other way around and have, first the 62 periods of 7 years, THEN the 7 periods of 7 years, a remarkable circumstance occurs. The 62 multiplied by 7 gives 434 years of 360 days, which is 427.76 ordinary years. It is noted that the 4 gates which have been dated were built sometime during the period 1538-1539. In particular, the construction of the Lion's Gate specifically spanned that period. (It is of interest to note that it was that gate which Israeli paratroopers stormed on 7th June 1967 and regained the Old city of Jerusalem.) What is even more surprising is that, going back 427.76 ordinary years from then, we end up with a date in 1539. That would then leave a period of 7 times 7 years of 360 days or 48.3 actual years from June 1967 to the completion of the prophecy. In that case, the completion of the prophecy, and the full stretch of 69 periods of 7 years, would end near October 2015. Alternatively, if the Command was given for the wall and city to be re-built at the same time as the fountains in 1536, then the full period ends near July 2012. The completion of the Wall in 1541 gives an end date of 2018.
Whichever way it works, we appear to be on the edge of a crucial period in God's Program for Israel and the Church. For the Church, the close of these 69 periods of 7 years may refer to Messiah coming at the Rapture to catch away the genuine Christians to be with Himself. Following this event, the final or 70th period of 7 years, which may be reflected in the 7 years taken to complete the Wall, is Scripturally known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble, or the Tribulation. This comes with the Antichrist signing of the 7 year covenant with Israel to bring peace to the Middle East. The events of Revelation chapters 6 to 20 are fulfilled at this time. At the end of these final 7 years, there is the battle of Armageddon at which Messiah returns with the Christians from heaven and the resurrected Tribulation believers, and sets up His earthly rule for 1000 years. The city of Jerusalem is His capital and Israel his chosen people, while the Christians who returned with Him and the resurrected Tribulation believers are His administrators in maintaining His Kingdom around the world (ref: Luke 19:11-19).
Questions and Comments:
Many thanks for your comments; they are appreciated, and we understand your concern. It may have been better to just say that Suleiman the Magnificent had ordered the Walls to be rebuilt, and left it at that. However, we have given you the full historical perspective on the matter.
As far as Suleiman the Magnificent is concerned and his dreams, I think you need to appreciate that God can use anyone or anything to achieve His purposes; He is not limited to using only the righteous. If He were, then Judah should never have been punished by the Babylonians or the Romans for their shortcomings. This was the problem that the prophet Habakkuk had. In chapter 1 he states that iniquity and violence abounds in Judah and God appears to do nothing. God replies to him that He is going to act through the Chaldeans, that "bitter and hasty nation." Habakkuk is horrified. In 1:13 he protests and says "Lord, you are of purer eyes than to behold evil...How can you hold your tongue when the wicked [nation - Babylonia] devours one [nation - Judah] which is more righteous than he is?" etc. "I will stand on my watchtower and see what He will say to me." The Lord in the following chapter makes it clear that He understands very well what Babylonia is like "Behold, he is proud; his soul is not upright in him." But the prophet, the just - he shall live by faith. God goes on to state that the Babylonians will chastise Judah, but God is eventually going to punish the Babylonians for their wickedness, using another nation [Media-Persia as it turns out]. In response, Habakkuk, with his eyes now open to some of God's ways says in amazement in 2:20 "But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silent before Him!"
I trust that this allays some of your concerns and opens up a broader view of the way that the Almighty can act. We have run this document on the Walls of Jerusalem past several competent Bible scholars and leaders of Biblical organizations, and received only positive feedback. All have agreed that it looks to be a legitimate proposition. One stated that he had wished he had thought of it himself...!
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