Messiah, Jerusalem’s Wall, and Daniel 9

Correspondent comment:
I'm sorry but you have a mistake interpreting the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel. This prophecy is indeed a twofold one but not about the second coming of jesus but about the coming of 'the prince who is to come', the desolator, the king of the Jews, the so-called antichrist. The wall was finished in 1542 plus 476 years you arrive at 2018 in which the antichrist appears.

Setterfield Response:
Many thanks for your interesting comments about our article on Jerusalem’s Wall and the Scriptures in Daniel 9. The first point is that there is some debate whether or not there is a two-fold fulfillment of this prophecy. I incline to the view that there probably is a two-fold fulfillment from what the angel Gabriel said to Daniel. You seem to agree that there might be a two-fold aspect to this prophecy in Daniel 9 as well.

Second, you also seem to concur that the 70 “weeks” are indeed 70 periods of 7 years of 360 days with 7 years making a ‘week’ of years and 360 days being the length of the prophetic year. So the specified 69 periods of 7 years make up 483 years of 360 days or 173,880 days.

Is it the Commencement date or Completion date?
The third point is important. You seem to take the time for the prophetic clock to start ticking as being from the completion of the Wall of Jerusalem, rather than its commencement.  In the present context, the Wall was started in 1536 and completed sometime very late in 1542. Taking the completion date as the prophetic time marker, as you do, and adding 173,880 days, does indeed give an end date for the prophecy sometime in 2018. Thus it would be helpful to know whether it is the commencement or completion date which should start the prophetic clock. Let us look at this.

In the first fulfillment of the prophecy, the wall was built in just a month and a half – all within the20th year of Artaxerxes. So there was no difference in the year of fulfillment, namely 33 AD. In this present case, however, there is a 7 year time-span to consider. Your comments indicate that you are taking the completion date for the Wall as the time marker rather than its inception. But in our English translations of Daniel 9:25 it says “from the going forth of the command to build” which seems to indicate the commencement of the building.

 I decided to check that word translated “going forth” in Hebrew and Greek. It is the word MOWTSA or MOTSA given as item 4161 in Strong’s Concordance. In current usage in Israel, this word can mean “origin” or “going out.” The Greek Septuagint renders this word as “exodus.” So it would appear that the command initiating the project is in view here. That is in accord with the first fulfillment when Artaxerxes gave the command on 1st Nisan 444 BC as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1 and the end date was 10th Nisan (March 30) 33 AD. Passover was 4 days later, when Messiah was “cut off” for our sins. So it is the command date that is in view here, not the completion date if the first fulfillment and the Hebrew words are considered.

Dates for Commands for Wall Construction
In the case of the second rebuilding of the Wall of Jerusalem the situation is still problematical as there were a number of commands given by Suleiman relating to the Wall. In our web article we recorded the first commands he gave, which were for the construction of the Sabil or water fountains in 1536 which had to be built to supply water for the Wall construction and to refresh the workers. Without water, the construction could not commence.  Some of our calculations were based on those dates, plus the fact that many had concluded that the wall was finished sometime in 1541 or 1542.

 However, we have since found out that there are two other recorded Command dates given by Sultan Suleiman in relation to the Wall.  The first is given in the inscription over the Jaffa Gate which is dated as the Muslim year of 945 (AH) or 1538 AD. The second Command was given in relation to the construction of the Northern Wall and reads as follows: The construction of this wall was ordered by our lord the sultan, Suleiman Ben Sultan Salim Khan, in the year 949" (AH). That is 1542 AD, with that Muslim year starting on 17th April.

In this case, only the year of the command is given, not the month or day.  When 173,880 days are added to the time of this second command, the end date is sometime after 21st May 2018. So, as at this moment of writing, it is still possible that it is valid to take the prophecy as two-fold with a potential fulfillment sometime during 2018 - 2019. If this period passes without some significant event, then the prophecy does not have a two-fold fulfillment, and I am in error for thinking it does.

The identities of those involved in Daniel 9
The fourth point is that you seem to believe that a mis-identification has been made as to the identity of the person or persons being spoken about in Daniel 9. You appear to believe that both “comings” are of the personage called the ‘antichrist’, the ‘desolator’, or ‘the prince who is to come’. Let us have a look at the actual wording to see precisely what the Scriptures themselves have to say.  Daniel 9:24 actually reads as follows when translated from the Hebrew:

“Seventy weeks [periods of 7 years] are decreed as to your people, and as to your holy city, to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins, and to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to Prince Messiah will be [69 periods of 7 years]. … And after the [69 periods of 7 years] are over, Messiah will be cut off, but not for himself. And the city and the sanctuary shall be destroyed by the people of the prince who is yet to come; and its end shall be like a flood… And he [the prince who is yet to come] will confirm the covenant with the many for one week [period of 7 years].  And after half the week [three and a half years] he [the prince who is yet to come] will make to cease the offering and sacrifice and set up the abomination of desolation. And that decreed will be poured out upon the desolator.”

So let us examine your statements in light of these Scriptures. I see several distinct segments here. Gabriel states that the purpose of the exercise is two-fold. First that sins, transgressions and iniquity will be atoned for. Second, that all vision and prophecy will be fulfilled when the Most Holy is anointed as King. In all honesty, these things cannot be fulfilled by any antichrist, but only by Messiah Himself as the other Scriptures attest (see Isaiah 53 etc). In fact, Gabriel makes it quite plain that it is to be Messiah who fulfills this as the prophecy goes on to enumerate that 69 weeks of years will elapse from the Command to build the Wall to the coming of Prince Messiah. The word that is used in Daniel 9 to describe him is NAGID MASHIYACH (Prince Messiah), so it cannot be anyone other than Messiah. If he were the antichrist, Daniel would have told us.

The identity of Messiah
Daniel 9:26 says Messiah was then to be “cut off, but not for himself” and some time after that, the city and the Temple would be destroyed. That destruction event is dated historically as 70 AD, so Messiah had to come before the Temple was destroyed at Tisha B’Av (9th Av), which you remember annually by the Black Fast.  On this first fulfillment, the sacrifice for sin, listed by Gabriel, was made by Messiah at the time He was “cut off, but not for Himself.” These things were not to be fulfilled by any antichrist or false messiah. The dating of the Command to re-build the Wall for the first time was given in Artaxerxes 20th year of 444 BC. When we add the 173,880 days, given by Gabriel to Daniel, it terminates during the week of Passover in 33 AD.

There is only one Person who therefore fits the description of Messiah under these circumstances, and he came before the Temple was destroyed. He, in fact, warned of the coming of antichrist and the abomination of desolation that Daniel said was to be set up in a later, reconstructed Temple. So the Person who came in 33 AD is not antichrist, but rather prophesied of him. It should be noted that before there was an antichrist or anti-messiah, the real Messiah had to appear, otherwise there could not be a counterfeit.

Some have questioned that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah (Ha Mashiach). They have said that if that were the case, then surely it would have been mentioned in the Tenach (Old Testament). My response is to quote two verses from the Tenach. First, Isaiah 62:11 “Say to the daughter of Zion, Surely your Yeshua is coming; behold His reward is with Him and his work before Him.” Here the context shows that Yeshua (Jesus in English) is a personal name. Second, in Habakkuk 3:13 we read these words: “You went forth with the Yeshua of your people, with Yeshua Ha Mashiach, you struck the head from the house of the wicked.” Again the context demands that Yeshua is the personal name of the Messiah.

The identity of the prince who is to come
But if there is a Messiah, as these verses affirm, then Daniel 9:26 talks about another personage who comes after the Messiah. He is introduced in that verse as “the prince who is to come.” However, he does not appear directly in verse 26. Rather, it is the people of the prince who is yet to come that destroy the Jerusalem and the Temple. Because the armies which destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD were under the control of Titus the Roman, many have thought that “the prince who is to come” was going to be a Roman prince. But it says “the people” of the prince who is to come. The actual people who made up the legions which destroyed the city were not ethnic Romans. Rather, the records show they were mainly from the regions we now call Turkey and Syria. This is in line with Daniel 8 and 11 which states that this person comes from the lands occupied by the Seleucid Empire after death of Alexander the Great. This Empire had its heartland in Turkey. So it seems that this “prince” may be a Turkish leader.

With the destruction of the city and Temple, and the war that achieved this, verse 26 closes. In verse 27 the story picks up again with “the prince who is to come” confirming a 7-year covenant with Israel. It is customary to say that there is a hiatus between verse 26 and 27 from 70 AD up until the 7-year Covenant is signed which starts the 70th “week”. If this is the case, there is no second fulfillment of Messiah’s appearing before the Covenant is signed. The prophecy would then pick up at the moment of the signing of that covenant with “the many” (the Knesset majority) in Israel.

The re-appearance of Messiah
However, if the second re-building of the Wall is important prophetically, it suggests that Messiah will make an appearance immediately prior to the signing of the Covenant. If that is the case, then there is one event mentioned by both Yeshua and 1st century Rabbi Paul that is specifically in view here. . Rabbi Paul put it this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 -17. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then those of us (Christians) who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord (Yeshua) in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.” This event is sometimes called the Rapture of the Christians or the Translation of the Church.

It is after this event that Rabbi Paul states that the “prince who is to come” will appear and sign the 7-year Covenant. Again, it seems that Messiah makes a brief appearance before this counterfeit arrives on the scene. Other Scriptures affirm that this “covenant” ushers in the period of 7 years known variously as the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, “the Indignation”, the “wrath of God”, or “the tribulation, the great one”. It is a period of natural and supernatural disasters as well as man-made tragedies unparalleled in human history. Yeshua said that “Unless those days were shortened, no flesh will be saved, but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).

Other verses elsewhere in Daniel show that the Temple is built as part of that Covenant and the sacrifices start about 200 days into the Covenant period. After three and a half years the “prince who is to come” stops the sacrifices and sets up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple. This person is called the anti-messiah or anti-christ. This “prince who is to come” is then finally revealed for what he is. Rabbi Paul gave further insight into what will happen when he says of antichrist that he sets himself up in the Temple to be worshipped “so that he as god sits in the Temple of God to prove to himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).  Yeshua also warned of this abominable event, so he could hardly be speaking about himself as the anti-messiah in this context.

Finally, as you read through Daniel and other Scriptures, it becomes apparent that Messiah returns at the height of the Battle of Armageddon at the end of that 7-year period. He then sets up his kingdom on earth reigning from Jerusalem for 1000 years. It is a time of peace and prosperity never known before. The Tribulation is therefore the black-robed herald of the bright Millennium. That dawn is glorious.