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only an end was put to the civil and ecclesiastical polity of the Jews, the termination falls precisely on the date of the edict of Darius, the former happening in the year 580 B.C., and the latter in the year 510.
To date the commencement of the seventy years' captivity from the reign of Jehoiakim, when it took place only very partially, and when the temple was standing, all the forms of the Jewish religion kept up, and Jewish kings reigning in Jerusalem several years after, appears to me to have been adopted too hastily by most, if not all commentators who have written on the subject, from not attending to any other date for the expiration of these seventy years than the mere decree of Cyrus.
I date the seventy years' captivity from the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem, when the calamities of the Jewish nation began, and not from the actual destruction of it, which was two years afterwards; but this appears to me sufficiently near the truth, and as the prophecy is delivered in whole numbers, it cannot but be deemed quite sufficient that the completion terminate at the nearest whole number. Indeed no commentators think themselves absolutely bound to greater exactness.
Besides, the building of the temple was not actually completed, and the edifice dedicated, till the seventh year of Darius, or 505 B.C.; so that, taking the middle between these two terms, from 510, when the building was commenced, to 505, viz. 507 B.C. for the building of the temple, we may date the seventy years' captivity from the actual demolition of the temple, and the final destruction of Jerusalem.
That the seventy years' captivity, as it is generally called, or more properly, the seventy years' desolation of Jerusalem, and more especially of the temple, did not expire till the reign of Darius Hystaspes, may, I think, with certainty be inferred from Zechariah i. 12. This prophet had a vision (an account of which is given in this chapter) in the second year of Darius, the very year in which his decree to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem was made; and in this vision an angel of the Lord is represented as saying, “O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?" I cannot help thinking this to be decisive in favour of the seventy years' captivity, or desolation, having terminated in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, and consequently of their having commenced at
the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; and therefore, that it is from the decree of Darius that we are to date whatever is foretold in this famous prophecy of Daniel.
In the preceding computation I suppose an error of ten years in the time allotted by all chronologers to the reign of Xerxes. But this I think has been sufficiently proved by Mr. Lauchlan Taylor, in his Essay on the Revelation, viz. that in reality, he did not reign more than eleven years, though the canon of Ptolemy gives him twenty-one. This appears to me to be a discovery of so much consequence in chronology, and especially for the interpretation of prophecy, that I shall subjoin all that he has said upon this subject in a distinct Section; and I am the more induced to do this, as I believe Mr. Taylor's book is not much known in England.
I also think there is a pretty plausible ground for dating the 62 years, after which the city should be rebuilt, from the decree of Darius in 510 B.C., when I find, in Prideaux's tables, that from this time to the actual rebuilding of the city under Nehemiah in 445 B.C., there are 65 years (allowing for the error above-mentioned in the intervening reign of Xerxes), and assuming the middle date for the rebuilding of the temple above-mentioned, this period will be exactly 62 years; the difference at least not exceeding half a year.
Instead of supposing, with Mr. Blayney, and most others, that the time when the Messiah should cut off the city and sanctuary is to be dated from the commencement of the Jewish war, in the year 66, I suppose the completion of it to be intended in the prophecy, or the year 73; and it is remarkable enough, that from the time of this vision, in the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, (which immediately succeeded the taking of Babylon by the Medes and Persians,) and which corresponds to the year 538, or with the correction above-mentioned, 528 B.C., to this date were exactly 77 weeks of years, and 62 single years, or 601 years, And it is observable, that in this part of the prophecy these periods of years, which are repeated from the preceding part of the prophecy, are not said to commence from the era of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem: it is only said that after
"An Essay on some important Passages of the Revelation of the Apostle John, compared with corresponding Passages in Daniel, in which a new Explication is given of some Passages in that Book, and applied to the Circumstances of the present Time." By Lauchlan Taylor, A.M. (Minister of Larbert, N. B.) London, 1762, Edin. 1770.
the times 77 and 62, Messiah shall cut off, &c. These two periods, and not a different one, comprehending them both, was probably made use of for the easier recollection of them, on account of the same numbers having been used just before, though commencing from a different date.
The last week I make to be the very same with Mr. Blayney, supposing the termination of it to be in the year 73, and that in the middle of this week the Messiah did actually cause the sacrifice and meat-offering to cease, by the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem.
For greater distinctness, I shall subjoin a short paraphrase of this prophecy, with my interpretation intermixed with it.
Seventy, I say, seventy years of desolation, commencing at the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, and ending at the rebuilding of the temple under Darius, are decreed upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to check the revolt, to bring again the righteousness of ancient times, and to fulfil the prophecy of Jeremiah. Till this period be expired, the sanctuary must continue to lie desolate.
And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of this decree of Darius to restore Jerusalem, unto the time that the Messiah shall appear in his princely power, with his commission from God, to preach the glad-tidings of the gospel, shall be 77 weeks of years, or 539 years; but that after threescore and two years from the same decree, the city itself shall be actually rebuilt, with its walls and gates; and it shall enlarge itself; and become more and more considerable even amidst times of distress.
Also, after the same periods of years which have been just mentioned, viz. 77 weeks of years, and 62 single years, in all 601 years reckoned from the present time, Messiah, who on his first appearance will be rejected by the Jews, shall reject them from being his people, and shall have completely cut And the Romans off both the city and the sanctuary. whom he shall employ to execute his just vengeance, shall destroy the people, and this destruction shall be most rapid and complete.
In the last week of this whole term, or the last seven years, preceding the year 73, the Messiah shall confirm a covenant with many; numbers adhering to his cause, and being rescued by him from impending destruction. And in the midst of this dreadful week, that is, in the year 70, he shall cause the sacrifice and meat-offering to cease, in the utter destruction of the temple and the city; the abomina
tion of desolation shall be in the temple itself, and an utter and speedy end will be put to the whole of the Jewish constitution.*
New as this interpretation is, in almost all its parts, I hope that, in a speculation of so much difficulty, the reader will not reject it on that account. Since the conjectures of learned men relating to this remarkable prophecy have been so very different, there is certainly less reason for attaching ourselves to any one of them, and more reason for giving due attention to others. †
Mr. Lauchlan Taylor's Observations concerning the Length of the Reign of Xerxes, from his Essay on some Passages in the Revelation, &c. p. 191, &c.
"THERE are considerable differences among chronologers concerning the length of the reign of Xerxes. Diodorus, and the chronologers who have followed him, affirming that Xerxes reigned twenty years before the reign of his son Artaxerxes commenced; whereas Petavius hath offered a proof, from the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, that Artaxerxes began his reign in the twelfth year of the reign of his father Xerxes, he having been (as he supposes) then admitted by him into an equal share of the government with himself. The authorities upon which Petavius grounds his opinion are, beyond all question, superior to that of Diodo
* See Michaelis on this part of the prophecy. (P.)
The reader will please to take notice that, in the preceding computations, I have made use of Prideaux's chronological tables, subjoined to his Connexion, than which nothing can be more unexceptionable. For yet greater distinctness, I shall subjoin a chronological table of all the dates referred to in the preceding interpretation (corrected by deducting ten years from the reign of Xerxes) and a view of all the periods.
Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem
He destroys the city and temple
The commencement of the empire of Darius the
Mede, in the year of the vision
The building of the temple resumed by order of Darius Hystaspes
The middle term between the commencement and
Nehemiah rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem by order of
The year of Christ's death
The commencement of the Jewish war
The destruction of the temple in the middle of the
war between 66 and 78
The termination of the war
rus in point of antiquity; as both the above-mentioned historians wrote not long after the period in question. Let us therefore examine their writings with the utmost accuracy, that we may see what light these ancient authors throw upon the subject.
"Herodotus, who was born in the reign of Xerxes, relates, (Lib. vii. C. xx.) that, in the beginning of the fifth year of his reign, Xerxes entered upon his Grecian expedition, by marching his numerous armies towards Sardis, and that he took up his winter quarters there. Consequently, his passage over the Hellespont, which happened the spring following, and the defeat of his navy at Salamis by Themistocles, in October following, must have been in the sixth year of his reign; and the defeat of his army under the command of Mardonius, by the Lacedemonians and Athenians at the battle of Platea, (which, according to all historians, happened in the September following,) must have been in the seventh year of his reign. The year following, viz. the eighth of Xerxes, Thucydides tells us (Lib. i. Sect. xciv.), that the Grecian fleet under the command of Pausanias the Lacedemonian, invaded Cyprus, and overthrew many cities; that after this expedition, Pausanias besieged and took Byzantium; (which must have happened the year after the expedition against Cyprus, and in the ninth year of Xerxes ;) that immediately after this success, he entered upon a treasonable correspondence with Xerxes; and having for some time behaved very haughtily, the confederates accused him of affecting a princely dominion; that upon this he was recalled by the Spartans; and, though he was absolved from the crime of treason, yet, that the Spartans would not restore him to his former command, but allowed it to be given by the confederates to the Athenian generals. This must have happened in the 10th year of Xerxes. He then relates, that although Pausanias was not intrusted with any public command; yet, that he might be in a condition to effect his treasonable designs, he set out in an armed ship for Byzantium; but, being driven from thence by the Athenians, he fixed his residence about Troy: that the Spartans receiving intelligence of his treasonable machinations there, sent one of their officers to bring him home; and that, some time after his return, his treachery being fully proved, he was starved to death. This (it is highly probable) happened in the eleventh year of Xerxes's reign. Immediately after the discovery of the treasonable practices of Pausanias, and his death, the Spartans (as Thucydides relates) accused Themis