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"Spiritual Technology"
The Beginning of Daniel's "Time-Oriented" Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Outline of Presentation for this Page
Scientifically Dating the Beginning of Daniel's "Time-Oriented" Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

NOTE: If you've made it to this page, I assume you are highly interested in the details of the research and perhaps want the proof; that is what you'll find here.  If you have questions or want to know more, please send me an e-mail.
 

Section I: Scriptural References for Rebuilding Jerusalem

According to Daniel's prophecy, a decree to reconstruct Jerusalem would begin a "time-oriented" prophecy that would end with the Messiah appearing at Jerusalem. Daniel wrote:

"Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [Messiah], the ruler, comes..." (Dan. 9:25).

When was the decree issued to rebuild Jerusalem?

Although the temple had been completely rebuilt by 516 BC, Jerusalem laid in ruins until 445 BC, the year Nehemiah discussed the plight of Jerusalem with King Artaxerxes of Persia.

"The city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire" (Nehemiah 2:3b).

When Nehemiah stated his desire to rebuild Jerusalem, his request prompted King Artaxerxes to issue the legal decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

"The king said to me, 'What is it you want?'... 'Send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it'" (Nehemiah 2:1,4-5).

Nehemiah fulfilled Daniel's vision by recording the exact date of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. "In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes" (Nehemiah 2:1).

Scientific dating will show that this decree was issued on March 16, 445 BC. The method used to scientifically date this decree is based on the following two approaches.

  • Lunar eclipses referenced to the reigns of Persian kings in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.
  • Archaeological records known as papyri [the Elepantine Papyri] written in 5th century BC Egypt record both a Hebrew calendar date and an Egyptian calendar date relative to various Persian kings.These papyri were discovered in the early 20th century.
Section II: Lunar Eclipses in the 5th Century BC

Claudius Ptolemy (AD 70-161), a brilliant ancient scholar, assembled a precise record of lunar and solar eclipses that he linked to the reigns of ancient kings. Altogether, Ptolemy referenced over "eighty solar, lunar and planetary positions, with their dates, all of which have been verified by modern astronomers."(1) Based on Ptolemy's canon, scholars and scientists have verified when each Persian king ruled in ancient history.(2)

Let's begin with the Persian king Cambyses. Ptolemy records that a lunar eclipse occurred in the 7th year of the Persian King Cambyses.(3)(4)(5) Astronomy verifies this lunar eclipse occurred on July 16, 523 BC. Cambyses ruled Persia for eight (8) years, which ended in July, 522 BC.

After Cambyses, the Persian King Darius reigned for 36 years. Ptolemy records that lunar eclipses occurred in the 20th and 31st years of the Persian King Darius. These lunar eclipses have been confirmed as happening on November 19, 502 BC(6)(7) and April 25, 491 BC.(8)(9)(10) King Darius' reign ended in November, 486 BC.

Each lunar eclipse noted by Ptolemy is like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle with only one way to fit together. Such lunar eclipses verify that Cambyses and Darius ruled Persia from August, 530 BC to November 486 BC, and establish a time line prior to Nehemiah's era as follows:


 

Section III: Scientific Dating the Reign of King Artaxerxes

Cambyses and Darius were followed by the kings Xerxes and Artaxerxes. Today's scholars generally date Xerxes' and Artaxerxes' reign by the following time line:

The most important date in the time line above is the start of King Artaxerxes' reign in August, 465 BC.

Nehemiah wrote of Artaxerxes, "In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes." (Neh. 2:1). How can we find the Julian calendar date for this decree?

As noted earlier, archaeological records discovered in Egypt date back to the 5th century BC and allow us to scientifically date the verse above. These ancient papyri contain exact dates for transactions such as marriages or land purchases. We can actually find out the exact day couples married 2,500 years ago by examining the texts of these ancient papyri.

Ancient Marriage Records

Jewish scribes living in Egypt often recorded two distinct dates on legal records such as marriage papers or land purchases. If you were to get married at the Jewish colony in 5th century BC Egypt, the scribe would record on your marriage papers the Egyptian calendar date, the Hebrew calendar date, and the year in which the Persian king was ruling. The following is an example of a double dated papyrus from the 5th century BC documents at the Jewish colony in Elephantine, Egypt, as published by the Brooklyn Museum. I have italicized and colored the text red for the Egyptian calendar date, which differs from the single underline with purple text for the Hebrew calendar date. Also, please note that this papyrus was written in the 14th year of King Artaxerxes.

On the 25th of Phamenoth, that is the 20th day of Siwan, [in] the 14th year of Artaxerxes, the king(11)

The papyrus as written above gives the position of the moon, the sun, the earth, and the year of King Artaxerxes' reign. Such mathematical information allows an accuracy within three days for determining the Julian calendar date of the papyrus. In the example above, the Egyptian calendar date of the 25th day of the month must occur 20 days after a new moon to match the 20th day of the Hebrew calendar in the 14th year of King Artaxerxes.

The Egyptian date comes from the solar and star based Egyptian calendar, which had a 365 day year, whereas the Hebrew date comes from the lunar-solar based Hebrew calendar. A lunar month contains 29 days. Twelve lunar months of 29 days add up to 354 days in a year. The difference between the Egyptian year (365 days) and the Hebrew year (354 days) is 11 days.

Converting the Papyrus' Dates into a Julian Calendar Date

Let's convert the dates in the papyrus text noted above to a Julian calendar date we can understand. The Egyptian solar date of Phamenoth 25 occurred on July 6 as noted by a 5th century BC Egyptian calendar. The Hebrew lunar date is Sivan 20. Since the first day of a lunar month happens at the time of a new moon, we know that a new moon must occur 20 days before July 6 in the year the papyrus was written.

By isolating a year in which a new moon occurs around June 16 (twenty (20) days before July 6), we can establish the 14th year of King Artaxerxes. Since Artaxerxes became king in August, 465 BC, his 14th year could have been 452, 451 or 450 BC. I have graphed the lunar positions (new moons) for each year as follows:

Astronomical data confirms a new moon occurred on June 16 in 451 BC.(13)(14) This papyrus also confirms Artaxerxes' 14th year as occurring in 451 B.C, just like lunar eclipses prove when Cambyses and Darius ruled Persia.

Archaeologists have discovered numerous papyri that confirm when the kings Xerxes and Artaxerxes reigned, which in turn relate to the biblical dates written in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Astronomy, a science based on math, can find the exact date Nehemiah received the legal decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

In April, 2005, I updated the website by adding all the scientifically dated Elephantine papyri that were written during the reign of King Artaxerxes. A total of eleven scientifically dated papyri provide the evidence that King Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem on Sunday, March 16, 445 BC.

 
Section IV: Scientific Dating Nehemiah's Decree in 445 BC

Nehemiah 2:1 states the decree to rebuild Jerusalem occurred on Nisan 1(15) in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. Has another ancient papyrus been unearthed that confirms Nehemiah's decree to rebuild Jerusalem occurred on March 16, 445 BC?

Scholars date an Egyptian papyrus from the 5th century BC Jewish colony in Elephantine, Egypt on November 18, 446 BC.(16)(17) The inscribed Hebrew date is Kislev 2, which matches the Egyptian date of Mesore 11.

Kislev is the 9th Hebrew month. We can follow the sequence of Hebrew months forward from the 9th month with each succeeding new moon as follows:

Since the new moon occurred on March 13, 445 BC, the date of Nisan 1 has the highest probability of occurring on March 16, 445 BC. The March 16 date finds support due to deeper analysis of the scientifically dated Elephantine papyri.

Click Here to Get More Details on Scientifically Dating 5th Century B.C. Events

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Section V: References:

(1) Thiele, Edwin R., The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids Michigan 49506, 1983, p 71.

(2) M.A. Dandamaev, A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, Translated by W.J. Vogelsang, Published by E.J.BRILL, New York, 1989.

(3) Ibid., p 71 & 229.

(4) Ptolemy, (Claudius Ptolemaeus), The Almagest, Translated by R. Catesby Taliaferro, "Great Books of the Western World", Vol 16. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler. Edited by John Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer J. Alder. University of Chicago, 1952 by Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., p 172.

(5) Herman H. Goldstine, New and Full Moons, 1001 BC to AD 1651, 1973 by The American Philosophical Society, Independence Square, Philadelphia, p 40.

(6) Ptolemy, (Claudius Ptolemaeus), The Almagest, Translated by R. Catesby Taliaferro, "Great Books of the Western World", Vol 16. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler. Edited by John Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer J. Alder. University of Chicago, 1952 by Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., p 137.

(7) Herman H. Goldstine, New and Full Moons, 1001 BC to AD 1651, 1973 by The American Philosophical Society, Independence Square, Philadelphia, p 42.

(8) Ibid., p 43.

(9) Thiele, Edwin R., The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids Michigan 49506, 1983, p 71 & 229.

(10) Ptolemy, (Claudius Ptolemaeus), The Almagest, Translated by R. Catesby Taliaferro, "Great Books of the Western World", Vol 16. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler. Edited by John Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer J. Alder. University of Chicago, 1952 by Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., p 136.

(11) Emil G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri: New Documents of the Fifth Century BC from the Jewish Colony at Elephantine, Published for the Brooklyn Museum by the Yale University Press, New Haven, 1953 by Yale University Press, pp 132-133.

(12) Herman H. Goldstine, New and Full Moons, 1001 BC to AD 1651, 1973 by The American Philosophical Society, Independence Square, Philadelphia, p 46.

(13) Ibid., p 131.

(14) S. H. Horn & L. H. Wood, "The Fifth-Century Jewish Calendar at Elephantine," Journal of Near Eastern Studies (January 1954), p 11.

(15) John Zachary, Threshold of Eternity, Harvard House, 1989, p 182, note b.

(16) S. H. Horn & L. H. Wood, "The Fifth-Century Jewish Calendar at Elephantine," Journal of Near Eastern Studies (January 1954), pp 11-12.

(17) Herman H. Goldstine, New and Full Moons, 1001 BC to AD 1651, 1973 by The American Philosophical Society, Independence Square, Philadelphia, p 47.
 

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