I am very happy to share with you what I discovered with Daniel’s prophecy regarding the timing of the death of the Messiah. The key verses are 9:24-27:
Daniel 9:24-27New International Version (NIV)
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”
26 “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.”
First, there are several items in the prophecy that require explanation. The Jews used a lunar calendar of twelve 30 day months (360 days to a year). They counted their years in weeks, or “sevens”. They had no numbers, instead using letters for numbers. When “and” was used between two numbers, it meant “+” and the two numbers were to be added. The prophecy in verse 24 is therefore predicting that there will be a period of seven sevens (49 years) plus sixty-two sevens (434 years) (which equals sixty-nine sevens (483 years)), from the going forth of a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem until the Anointed One (the Messiah or Christ) is put to death.
Daniel and the Jews were in captivity in Babylon at the time this prophecy was given by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. Jerusalem had been ravaged for 70 years earlier by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jerusalem was in ruins. The countdown of 483 years until the Messiah’s death was prophesied to begin with the going forth of a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. That decree was given in Nehemiah Chapter 2, when King Artaxerxes granted Nehemiah’s request to go and rebuild the walls. This happened in the month of Nisan (April) in the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign. Since Artaxerxes reigned over Babylon/Persia from 465 BC to 424 BC, his 20th year equates to 445 BC on our modern calendar. Here is just one of hundreds of references to the timing of his reign ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artaxerxes_I_of_Persia ).
The Biblical text is below:
2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before,2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.”
Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry. His ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. King Herod died in 4 B.C. The Gregorian calendar which we use today is slightly off, since the birth date of Jesus was calculated on the Gregorian calendar which used the date for Jesus birth based on calculations done in 525 AD. The calendar we use is therefore off by 3 years, since there was no year “0”. Using Herod’s year of death as Jesus year of birth, the latest the Messiah could have died is therefore 30 AD. Since the word for infant used in Herod’s decree to kill all the infants in Matthew 2:16 can be applied to a child up to the age of two, Jesus could have been born any time from 6 to 4 B.C., os could have been put to death as early as 28 AD. However, I think the events described in Matthew 2 with the birth of Jesus and the death of Herod occurred within weeks of one another, so I believe that Jesus was born in 4 B.C. That would then mean that Jesus was put to death during the Passover in the year 30 A.D. Passover, by the way, is in the middle of the Jewish month of Nisan, the same month in which the decree to rebuild the walls went out.
The prophecy in Daniel is that after the 483 years, the Messiah (the Christ) will be “cut off”. The Hebrew word here is karat, which typically means to put to death with piercing. So then, taking the date of the decree as 445 B.C., and the span of the prophecy to his death as 483 years, the calculation comes out to predicting 30 A.D. as the time of his death:
Description Converted to 365 Day Years
Date of the Decree (365 day solar years) 445 B.C. -445
Prophesied Years after Decree (360 day lunar years) 483 Years +476
Remove the Year Zero* -1
*The calculator has a year zero, the calendar does not, so one year must be subtracted.
Predicted Year of Messiah’s death 30
Predicted Jewish Month was Nisan.
Crucifixion was on the Passover, which occurs in Nisan.
The prophecy is so accurate, that I initially suspected it had been written after the death of Jesus. After some additional research, I discovered that the entire book of Daniel, including this prophecy, is contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls which have been carbon dated at 200 BC (https://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/dead-sea-scrolls-2.htm ).
At the time of Jesus’ birth, there was no concept of a world calendar. Calendars were local. Even the Julian calendar initiated by Julius Caesar was a Roman specific calendar. Rather, dates were established based on time after important events or the rulers in power (e.g. – Nehemiah 2:1 – “in the month of Nisan in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes…”) or from some other great event (e.g. – Daniel 9:1 – “In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes…”). The date of Jesus’ birth had to have occurred when the following three things were true: 1. Herod the Great was alive (Matthew 2:1 – “After Jesus was born in Judea, during the time of King Herod…”); 2. Augustus Caesar ruled the Roman Empire (Luke 2:1- “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.) and 3. Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2 – “This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria). These three items were only true until 4 BC when Herod died.
In 525 AD Dionysius Exiguus, an Italian monk, was commissioned by the pope to work out a Christian chronology, primarily for the purpose of determining when Easter should fall. His calculation was made using the older Roman calendar by which he concluded that Jesus was born in the Roman year 753 AUC (Ab Urbe Conditata – “from the founding of the city”). From that calculation, he determined the Christian should begin on January 1st, 754 AUC.
The date of the birth of Christ and the start of the Christian era, like the dating of the founding of Rome, was not agreed at the time of its occurrence, but many centuries after the event. The fact that Exiguus got within three years is actually surprisingly close, since he lacked a great deal of the historical information that we have today.