When Will the Messiah Come? (Daniel 9)

Refuting rabbinic objections to Christianity and Jesus and Messianic Prophecies

In the Bible, the prophet Daniel received a prophecy that reveals in a very detailed and amazing way the exact time of the coming of the Messiah.

But something in this prophecy bothered the Sages so much that they wrote in the Mishna that the book of Daniel is so holy it defiles the readers’ hands. Therefore, the average Jew must not even come close to this book.

Daniel Chapter 9 contains one of the most important prophecies in the Bible. Why? Because this prophecy foresees the exact time of the coming of the Messiah. And not less importantly, what will happen to him.

Babylon, 538 BC. King Darius is on the throne. The head of his courtiers, Daniel the prophet, turns to God after he read in the book of Jeremiah that the Babylonian Exile would last 70 years. Since the Babylonian Exile began in the year 605 BC, that would mean it was about to end. Therefore, Daniel comes before God, praying, repenting and fasting. He confesses the sins of the people of Israel and pleads with God to forgive them and bring his people back to Israel. He pleads for the restoration of Jerusalem’s glory and, of course, for the rebuilding of the temple that was destroyed.

Since the 70th year of Exile was drawing close, and Israel was still in Babylon, Daniel feared that God had decided to prolong the Exile due to their sins. Responding to his prayer God sends the angel Gabriel with an answer.

“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 

Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah the Prince there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and a trench, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. 

And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” (Daniel 9:24-26)

The physical exile of the people of Israel from the land of Israel was always connected to the spiritual exile of Israel from the God of Israel. The angel Gabriel confirms Daniel’s fears: the people of Israel, deeply involved with idol worship, will stay in exile. But next to the bad news the angel Gabriel also announces good news, the hope for a Messiah. When will that happen?

7 weeks and 62 weeks

In other words: another 483 years.

By the way, the division between these times is connected to the command to rebuild and the actual rebuilding of Jerusalem. You can read more about this in the article connected to this video. 

These 483 years start, according to the angel Gabriel, with the command to rebuild Jerusalem.

“…built again with streets and a trench…” (Daniel 9:25)

“Streets”, during the time of the Scriptures, is what today we would call a “city gate”: the protected space of the city, the center of life. The wall and gates were part of that area as well as described in 2 Chronicles 32. “A trench” refers to a moat that is a part of the protection system of a city. In ancient times, it was a common method of protection to dig a deep moat around the city walls. Therefore, the building of a moat includes the building of city walls and a protective system. Thus, in view of the mentioning of “street and trench” we understand that the starting point is when the order is given to rebuild Jerusalem as a whole.

And indeed, in the year 445 BC the King of Persia, Artaxerxes, gives Nehemiah the required order to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. (Nehemiah 2:1-8) 

Therefore, according to the prophecy in Daniel 490 years after the year 445 BC the Messiah will come.

What for?

To solve the problem of sin and iniquity for all of us.

That’s just the introduction. Now, things are starting to heat up a little… The biblical term “the Messiah the Prince” is similar to the term “King Messiah”. Gabriel says that from the issuing of the command to the Messiah Prince 69 “weeks of years” will pass. That means, 483 years.

Pay attention to this:

According to the book of Daniel the Messiah has to appear no later than 483 years after the year 445 BC. And what will be his mission?

“To put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity.”

In other words, to solve the problem of our sin once and for all.

We need to remember that during the time of the Scripture one year equalled 360 days. Thus, 483 years after the issuing of Artaxerxes’ command, we get right to the year 32 AD. 

Whoever takes the Bible seriously understands that the deadline for the Messiah’s coming ended almost 2000 years ago.

Moreover, in verse 26 Gabriel points out that

“the anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.”

The term “cut off” describes the death penalty. The Messiah must die a violent death. If earlier he was described as “Messiah Prince”, i.e. “Messiah King”, now he is described as a Messiah who has nothing. That means the royal status that he deserves will be taken from him. Instead of a golden crown, a crown of thorns. Instead of the glory of a King, unprecedented humiliation. Instead of ruling, he will be despised as a tortured slave.

After these events, the Angel Gabriel points out that:

“The city and the sanctuary will be destroyed.” (Daniel 9:27)

This means that the city of Jerusalem and the temple will be demolished. And indeed, after the Messiah was humiliated, beaten and cut off, in the year 70 AD, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the temple were humiliated and beaten, and the temple was destroyed.

So… Do you know someone that in the year 32 AD was humiliated even to death, and was believed to be the Messiah? 

The writings of the NT talk about a very interesting situation that happened on the day of Yeshua’s crucifixion.

Yeshua was crucified in Jerusalem. Pilate gave the order that this would be written on his cross:

“Yeshua from Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

The historian Luke writes in his gospel,

“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:44-45)

In his book “Pontius Pilate”  Dr. Paul Maier, a historian at Harvard University, quotes from a letter written by Tiberius to prefect Pontius Pilate. This letter was written around 30 AD. See what he writes:

“What I wanted to ask you about is the mysterious celestial incident that occurred Friday afternoon after the month of April. A thick darkness moved towards us coming from the southeastern horizon of the Mediterranean Sea, and darkened our skies for several hours.” (Dr. Paul Maier, Pontius Pilate, p. 244)

Dr. Paul Maier indicates that Pontius Pilate answered in a letter:

“Regarding the darkness, it indeed covered all of Judah during the indicated time. However, the local astrologer simply can’t explain it. The darkness was accompanied by an earthquake. Still, the darkness continues to be a complete mystery.” (p. 244)

To sum it up: According to the prophecy in Daniel 9, the coming and the violent death of the Messiah King is calculated to the year 32 AD – before the destruction of the temple. The Messiah King had to be rejected, to suffer and to die because of our sins. The death of the Messiah King was a sacrifice and atoned for us.

That’s a real king.

A king who is willing to humble himself and leave his heavenly throne. Not in order to be served by man but in order to serve man. Not a king who is hiding in his palace, behind soldiers that protect him with their lives, but a king who gives his life, not only for his beloved ones but even for his haters.

This is the love of God.

A loving king who was willing to reveal himself to us, coming in the likeness of men. He lived the perfect life and still allowed us to reject him, to humiliate him, and who took on himself the punishment that we deserved.

This is real love.

This is a king who is worthy to be followed.

Or, as Yeshua himself said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

By the way, it’s interesting to see that though it is forbidden to come close to the book of Daniel, Rashi did connect verse 27 to the days of the Messiah King. However, Rashi disconnected it completely from the rest of the chapter and from the timetable mentioned in it. You wonder why? For the same reason the sages accused Daniel of being wrong in his calculation:

“So the Rabbi said: Daniel erred in his calculation.” (Scroll 12, 71)

Do you understand now why the sages did not want you to come close to the book of Daniel? Rambam adds that it is forbidden to try to calculate the coming of the Messiah:

“A person should never busy himself with the Aggadot…one should not calculate the ends.”

All this in order to hide from you that this prophecy talks about Yeshua the Messiah. And this is exactly the reason why we want to encourage you to check, to research, and to read the Bible by yourselves.

Do not let the rabbis think for you!

Eitan Bar

Eitan Bar

Eitan Bar is a native Jewish-Israeli who was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel (1984). Graduated with his B.A. in Biblical Studies from Israel College of the Bible (Jerusalem, 2009), his M.A. in Theology from Liberty University (2013) and is now pursuing his Doctorate with Dallas Theological Seminary. Eitan currently serves as ONE FOR ISRAEL's Director of Media & Evangelism. (From 2006 to 2013, Eitan worked for CRU, in which his roles included serving as Israel's VLM-SLM leader.)

Eitan's professional background is in "Multimedia Design and Visual Communications" working for various secular advertising agencies in Tel-Aviv.

Eitan is the producer of:
1) I MET MESSIAH (Jewish testimonials).
2) Answering Rabbinic Objections to Jesus.

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