9:25the going out of the word. The Hebrew term translated “word” may mean either word or command. This ambiguity has given rise to two primary interpretations for the beginning of the “seventy weeks”: (a) some interpreters understand it to be the decree issued by Artaxerxes I in the seventh year of his reign, or 457 b.c. (Ezra 7:12–26). Forty-nine years later (408 b.c.) the streets and wall around Jerusalem had been completed (v. 25). (b) Other commentators understand the “seventy weeks” to begin in 587 b.c., the time of Jeremiah’s prediction (his “word”) that Jerusalem would be rebuilt (Jer. 31:38; 32:15, 37, 44). Forty-nine years later would be 538 b.c., the year that Cyrus permitted the Jews to fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy by returning to Palestine (Ezra 1:1–4).
to the coming of an anointed one. Advocates of interpretation (a) above understand “anointed one” to be a reference to Jesus. Linking the “seven weeks” (49 years) and the “sixty-two weeks” (434 years) as a continuous sequence yields 483 years, to run from 457 b.c. to a.d. 27, or approximately the beginning of Christ’s three-year public ministry. Others take the 483 years to begin with the “command” of Artaxerxes I in the twentieth year of his reign (Neh. 2:1), 444 b.c., instead of the seventh year of his reign (Ezra 7:12–26) in 457 b.c. Using a 360-day lunar year (as in the Jewish calendar), this approach reaches a date for the crucifixion in a.d. 33. This date for the crucifixion is possible but not certain. Advocates of interpretation (b) above understand “anointed one” to refer to Cyrus (also called the Lord’s “anointed,” Is. 45:1). This view separates the “seven weeks” and the “sixty-two weeks.” The “seven weeks” elapse between the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. and the decree of Cyrus in 538 b.c. The “sixty-two weeks” (434 years) is the time when the city is to be rebuilt, somewhere between 538 b.c. and a.d. 70 (when Jerusalem was destroyed). With this view, a time interval is required between the two periods of “weeks.”