1. Did the 70-weeks begin in the autumn of 457 BC?
The starting point of the 70-week prophecy is found in Daniel 9:25:
...from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...
Was there such a commandment in 457 BC? Ellen White says:
The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting-point for the great period of 2300 days would be ascertained. In the seventh chapter of Ezra, the decree is found."2
Artaxerxes' decree is found in Ezra 7:12-26. A simple reading of this passage will prove that there is no command in this decree to "restore and to build Jerusalem". The decree of Ezra 7 permits the return of all Israelites to Jerusalem, and it provides funds for the offerings, for vessels, and anything else needed for the Temple. It did not call for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the walls, the street, or the Temple. In fact, the Temple had already been rebuilt 58 years prior to this decree! (see Ezra 6:14-15)
Aware of this problem, Adventists claim Araxerxes decree was the "culmination" of three decrees, one issued by Cyrus, one by Darius, and this last one by Artaxerxes. Whether or not the 457 BC decree is a "culmination" is pure speculation, but regardless, it must be emphasized that there is nothing in Artaxerxes' commandment about rebuilding Jerusalem. The commandments of Cyrus and Darius actually did command the rebuilding of Jerusalem, as did Artaxerxes' commandment to Nehemiah in 444 BC. Therefore, the 457 BC decree is the least likely of all the decrees to be a fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy because it contains none of the specifications of that prophecy. (For further evidence that the 457 BC decree was not a command to rebuild Jerusalem, see the Q&A section at the bottom of this page)
Jews can return. Rebuild Jerusalem and rebuild Temple (Isa. 44:24-28)
Jews can return. Rebuild Temple (Ezra 6:3-5)
Jews can return. Furnish the rebuilt temple with vessels (Ezra 7:12-26)
Rebuild Jerusalem's walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:1-8)
Furthermore, the entire SDA timeline depends upon the decree going out in the autumn of 457 BC. However, careful historical research by Professor Eduardo Martínez-Rancaño shows conclusively that Artaxerxes decree was issued prior to the spring of 457 BC. This throws off the entire timeline and makes it impossible to correlate to events that occurred in Christ's lifetime. (It is beyond the scope of this page to review that evidence, but for those interested, click here.)
2. Was Christ baptized in 27 AD?
First, let us take a quick look at the baptism date. According to Luke 3, John the Baptist began preaching in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, which began in October of 27 AD and ended in October of 28 AD. In order for Jesus to have been baptized in the "autumn" of 27 AD, he would have had to have been baptized within a few weeks of when John started preaching. While that is theoretically possible, it is more likely John preached for at least a year, if not longer, before he baptized Christ. In Desire of Ages Ellen White describes some events that transpired in John's ministry prior to the baptism of Christ that indicate a rather long elapsed time:
If Adventists seriously consider Ellen White to have had inspired insight into the life of Jesus, then it would be difficult to fit all these events into a timeline that requires an autumn 27 AD baptism. It is more likely Jesus was baptized between 28 AD and 30 AD.
- The "whole nation was stirred" and "multitudes flocked to the wilderness" (p. 104). This was in the days before mass media and modern transportation. It would take months for the message of John the Baptist to spread throughout the entire nation of Israel. Likewise, it would take time for "multitudes" to travel from throughout Palestine to visit the desert preacher.
- "Multitudes followed this new teacher from place to place..." (p. 108). According to Ellen White, John went about preaching in various places prior to the baptism of Christ.
- "Tidings of the wilderness prophet and his wonderful announcement, spread throughout Galilee. The message reached the peasants in the remotest hill towns..." (p. 109) Again, for the preaching of John to penetrate to the "remotest" towns would take months if not years.
3. Did Christ die in 31 AD?
John 19:31 tells us that Jesus died on the preparation day for a "high Sabbath". This "high Sabbath" was the annual Passover, which was celebrated on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. On the Jewish calendar, the Passover falls on Nisan 15. On the evening of Nisan 14, the day before the Passover, the traditional Passover lamb was eaten. Ellen White informs us that Christ died on Nisan 14, the same day that the Passover lamb was slain and eaten.
They had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Saviour desired to keep this feast alone with the twelve. He knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten He was to be sacrificed.3
Mrs. White then informs us that on the Sabbath day after Christ died, the Passover day (Nisan 15) was observed:
The body of Jesus was hastily placed in the tomb because of the near approach of the Sabbath, that the disciples might keep the day according to the commandment. The two Marys were the last at the sepulcher. This was a never-to-be-forgotten Sabbath to the sorrowing disciples, and also to the priests, rulers, scribes, and people. The passover was observed as it had been for centuries, while the antitypical Lamb, which it prefigured, had been slain by wicked hands, and lay in Joseph's tomb.4
Ellen White even goes so far as to give us the exact day of the Jewish Calendar upon which Christ died:
These types were fulfilled, not only as to the event, but as to the time. On the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the very day and month on which for fifteen long centuries the Passover lamb had been slain, Christ, having eaten the Passover with His disciples, instituted that feast which was to commemorate His own death as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." That same night He was taken by wicked hands to be crucified and slain.5
Day of Week
||Passover lamb was slain and eaten
||Jesus was slain
||The annual Passover day was celebrated
||Jesus rested in the tomb
Now that we have established that according to Ellen White, Jesus died on the Friday before Passover (Nisan 14) and rested in the tomb on the subsequent High Sabbath (Nisan 15), we can cross-reference these dates with the Jewish Calendar and determine if these events occurred in 31 AD.
Pilate was governor of Judea between 26 AD and 36 AD. During that time period, Nisan 14 fell upon a Friday on only two years:
On 31 AD, Nisan 14 fell upon March 27, a Tuesday! Therefore, Jesus could not possibly have died in 31 AD.7
- April 8 of 30 AD
- April 3 of 33 AD6
Further evidence for a 33 AD date is based upon Peter's statement in Acts 2:16-20 that Joel's prophecy had recently been fulfilled. Part of Joel's prophecy refers to "a moon of blood". Can astronomy prove that the moon turned to blood in 33 AD?
A "moon of blood" is a term also commonly used for a lunar eclipse because of the reddish color of the light refracted onto the moon through the earth's atmosphere. ...
According to NASA, there were no lunar eclipses on any of the possible crucifixion dates in 31 AD.9
Humphreys and Waddington of Oxford University reconstructed the Jewish calendar in the first century AD and arrived at the conclusion that Friday April 3 33AD was the date of the Crucifixion. Humphreys and Waddington went further and also reconstructed the scenario for a lunar eclipse on that day. They concluded that:
"This eclipse was visible from Jerusalem at moonrise. .... The start of the eclipse was invisible from Jerusalem, being below the horizon. The eclipse began at 3:40pm and reached a maximum at 5:15pm, with 60% of the moon eclipsed. This was also below the horizon from Jerusalem. The moon rose above the horizon, and was first visible from Jerusalem at about 6:20pm (the start of the Jewish Sabbath and also the start of Passover day in A.D. 33) with about 20% of its disc in the umbra of the earth's shadow and the remainder in the penumbra. The eclipse finished some thirty minutes later at 6:50pm."8
4. Did the 70-week Prophecy Terminate in 34 AD?
No one knows exactly when Stephen was stoned, but scholars have dated it between 33 AD and 36 AD. Regardless of this, the more important question is: Was the stoning of Stephen the terminating point of the 70-week prophecy? Daniel 9:24 states that...
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city...
Nothing of significance happened to either the Jewish people or the city of Jerusalem when Stephen was stoned. Many Christians fled Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen, but the Apostles stayed (Acts 8:1) and the Jerusalem church continued witnessing there until all the Christians fled Jerusalem just prior to 70 AD. So, Christians continued evangelizing Jews, the Jerusalem Church continued to be the most prominent base of Christianity (Acts 15), and even Paul, the missionary to the Gentiles, made it his first goal to convert Jews wherever he went. Notice the following accounts paraphrased from Acts:
Therefore, it is apparent that the status of the Jewish people did not change after the stoning of Stephen. In addition to all this, Daniel 9:27 says:
- When Paul arrived at Antioch he went into the Jewish Synagogue Sabbath on Sabbath to preach (13:14)
- When Paul arrived at Thessalonica, he preached in the Jewish Synagogue for three Sabbaths (17:1-2)
- When Paul came to Berea, he went into "the synagogue of the Jews" (17:10)
- When Paul visited Corinth, he stayed with a Jewish family, teaching in the Jewish synagogue every Sabbath, both Jews and Greeks (18:1-4)
- Three days after Paul got to Rome, he met with the leading Jews (28:17)
...he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease...
While it is true that the sacrifices were no longer efficacious after Christ died, they nevertheless continued until the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
God's termination of the Old Covenant, and the ensuing destruction of Jerusalem and the Sanctuary of His covenant, did not occur until 70 AD. The book of Hebrews was written about 65 AD10, and Hebrews 8:13 describes the Old Covenant as "becoming" obsolete and about ready to vanish:
It is obvious from this passage that the Old Covenant, although still in existence and binding upon the Jews, was soon to be terminated, leaving only the New Covenant that was instituted by Christ on the Cross. Within a few short years of when this verse was written, the Old Covenant literally "vanished away" when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The Book of the Law, containing the Old Covenant, was taken away by Prince Titus to Rome as a war trophy.11 This literal removal of the Book of the Law from the Temple symbolizes the termination of God's Old Covenant with the Jews. The captivity of the Jews, and the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem provide a much more meaningful termination of the 70-week prophecy than does the stoning of Stephen. The destruction of Jerusalem by the prince, Titus, is even alluded to in Daniel 9:26:
- ...waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away. KJV
- ...is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. NKJV
- ...will soon disappear. NIV
- ...is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. ESV
- ...is ready to disappear. NASB
- ...is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. RSV
- ...is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away. HNV
...and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
This cataclysmic event, impacting every Jew on earth, is a much more fitting termination point than the stoning of a single disciple that had no noticeable impact on either the Jews or their city.
5. Is 457 BC the starting point of the 2300-day prophecy?
The topic of the beginning and ending points of the 2300-day prophecy is thoroughly discussed on this web site. To view that page, click here.