Tag Archives: Ezra

$500 Reward to Help Solve the Artaxerxes Assumption

I need some help. For nearly two decades now I’ve been searching the works of some of the most respected Biblical scholars, looking for answers for what I’ve termed, the Artaxerxes Assumption.  As I’ll explain in a moment, the Artaxerxes Assumption is a pivotal piece of Biblical history and to date I’ve only found a few scholars who have attempted to addressed the subject. I’ve come to realize, as much as I hate to admit it, that I can’t read every book or publication that might have been written on the subject so I’m asking for your help.

Here’s the offer. I’m offering $500 to the first person who can Continue reading

Who was Sir Robert Anderson’s “Artaxerxes”?

ezraTo this day one of the most important, yet least understood aspects of Bible prophecy is the history of Ezra, Nehemiah and  their contemporary, the great Persian king “Artaxerxes”. Even less understood is how this history has shaped Continue reading

Queen of 127 Provinces

Chapter-8“Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) . . .”  Esther 1:1

To me one of the coolest statements in the book of Nehemiah is an often overlooked mention of the queen of Persia. It’s a statement that frankly seems out of place unless you understand the chronological context of the Persian era. In the past few chapters, we’ve learned that the Jewish people were shown amazing favor during the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. This king over 127 provinces went out of his way to financially support and encourage the construction of the temple of Jerusalem as well as the city itself. It turns out there is more to the story than most of us have realized, and the book of Nehemiah gives us a clue: Continue reading

A Double Standard for Jonathan Cahn

Jonathan Cahn ShemitahIn the Bible Jesus often condemned the religious hypocrisy of His day. One of the more vivid examples comes from Matthew 23 where He lectures the scribes and Pharisees, telling them they were “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”.

Lately, I admit that I’m bothered by the way some of Jonathan Cahn’s more strident critics have attacked his work and in some cases his character. Mind you, I’m all for constructive criticism given in the spirit of humility and grace. In fact, there are some parts of Mr. Cahn’s book that I’ve disagreed with myself, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about are those who condemn his work with a sense of self-righteous superiority. While Mr. Cahn’s critics are straining to show the illegitimacy of his Shemitah theory, they fail to hold themselves to the same Biblical standard. In fact, I dare say they are straining at a proverbial gnat while swallowing a camel.

This is really about one of the best kept secrets of Bible prophecy. You see, many of Mr. Cahn’s critics hold a prophetic position far more influential for which they cannot provide a solid Biblical foundation. While they accuse Mr. Cahn of insufficient evidence, misinterpretation, and wishful thinking they are guilty of errors far more egregious. I’ll explain: Continue reading

The 70 Weeks of David Reagan

David Reagan Gods PlanIn our ongoing efforts to understand how Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 weeks has influenced the world view of popular prophecy teachers, this week we will be looking at the 70 weeks of Dr. David Reagan. Dr. Reagan is the director and founder of Lamb and Lion Ministries. He is a respected author and teacher on prophecy and is well known for his straight forward no-nonsense approach to the subject.

Let me say up front Dr. Reagan has a special place in my heart. I don’t know him personally but I’ve read many of his books and I have great respect for his teachings on Bible prophecy. Many years ago when I was trying to contact many of the leading prophecy teachers of the day about Daniel 9, I emailed Dr. Reagan about the prophecy of 70 weeks and after a rather brief exchange Dr. Reagan’s final email to my question was just a few very important words: Continue reading

Nehemiah: The Governor

Authors Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on the 2nd temple era chronology as it relates to the prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks.

Nehemiah: The Governor

In 520 BC YHWH gave Joshua and Zerubbabel  a “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.” (See my article Fifth Command for more information on the subject.)  Four years later the temple in Jerusalem was completed but very little progress had been made in building the walls of the ancient citadel.  The remnant of people who dwelt there was still being harassed by their enemies.

Back in Shushan, the winter palace of the Persian Kings, a Judean captive named Nehemiah was the cupbearer to king “Artaxerxes”. Nehemiah heard of the plight of his brethren in Jerusalem and set out to do something about it. After pouring his heart out to YHWH in prayer, Nehemiah petitioned king Artaxerxes to allow him to go up and repair the walls of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes granted his request and we learn later that Nehemiah also became governor (Tirshatha) of Jerusalem.

Most scholars today identify the Persian “Artaxerxes” in the book of Nehemiah as Artaxerxes Longimanus.  If you have read my articles the Artaxerxes Assumption, or Ezra: Priest & Scribe you know why this identification is without a reasonable basis in the Biblical record. A close look at the information provided in the book of Nehemiah further adds to that conclusion.

In Nehemiah 5:14, it states that Nehemiah was appointed governor from the 20th to the 32nd year of “Artaxerxes”.  This information allows us to limit our search for Nehemiah’s “Artaxerxes” to three Persian kings because only three ruled 32 years or longer than. Those kings are Darius, Longimanus, and Memnon. (Memnon ruled 46 yrs. but is not included in the list below. His rule commenced after Darius Nothus)
    Persian Rulers                     

So which of these three Persian kings provides a reasonable basis to claim he is the “Artaxerxes” of Nehemiah?  There are several pieces of evidence in the book of Nehemiah which give us the answer so let’s take a look:

  1. In Nehemiah 1:1 we find Nehemiah in the Shushan palace.  For those familiar with the book of Esther you know that Shushan was the palace of Esther’s King. In my articles on the Queen of Persia I showed that in the most reasonable rendering of the Biblical evidence, Esther was the Queen of Darius Hystaspes, king of 127 provinces. This premise is further strengthened by an unusual statement in Neh. 2:6 (Artaxerxes is addressing Nehemiah)And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?
  2. Nehemiah 12:25-26 shows a contemporaneous relationship between the porters and Joiakim (son of Jeshua the high priest), Nehemiah, and Ezra. This is important, because this places Nehemiah as a first generation contemporary of those who returned under the mandate of Cyrus in 536 BC.Nehemiah 12:25-26  2Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.  These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.
  3. Nehemiah 12:47 links the governorships of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah and their ministrations to the singers and porters.Nehemiah 12:47 – 13:1  47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.
  4. In Nehemiah 8 it describes the celebration of the first Feast of Tabernacles which took place after the wall was finished. (21st year of Artaxerxes) The text identifies those who partook:Nehemiah 8:17   17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

    Notice it says “them that were come again out of the captivity”. The most reasonable reading of this implies these people were the same generation as those who came up with Joshua and Zerubbabel in 536 BC.  This places them as the contemporary of Darius Hystaspes also known as Artaxerxes.
  5. Further supporting the above is the lists of Nehemiah 10 & 12. In Nehemiah 12 it lists the priests and Levites “chiefs of their fathers” who came up out of the captivity with Joshua and Zerubbabel by the decree of Cyrus in 536 BC.  Nehemiah 10 lists many of those same priests and Levites as still alive in the 21st year of “Artaxerxes”.

So which is the more reasonable explanation? These men were (at their youngest) 65-75 years old during the reign of Darius Hystaspes or they were (at their youngest) 122-132 years old during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus.  Only one of these options does not strain the bounds of credibility.  Please see the chart below for comparison.

Nehemiah_10&12

In summary, it is clear that Nehemiah and Ezra were contemporaries of Darius Hystaspes, also known as Artaxerxes.  Any other rendering of the chronology requires one to ignore the most reasonable and natural reading of the book of Nehemiah.

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If you would like to learn more about Biblical history and Bible prophecy, you might also appreciate my books in the Prophecies and Patterns series.

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More Articles related to the prophecy of 70 Weeks and 2nd temple era chronology:
The “Artaxerxes” Assumption – The best kept secret of Old Testament chronology.
The Fifth Command – Why do prophecy teachers ignore it?
Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part I – Defining “Artaxerxes” in the context of Ezra.
Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part II – Ezra, Darius even “Artaxerxes”.
Nehemiah: The Governor– Nehemiah’s place in the 2nd temple chronology
Queen of Persia – Part I – Defining Esther is the context of the 2nd Temple era.
Queen of Persia – Part II – Defining Esther is the context of the 2nd Temple era.
A New Testament Cipher – The key to unlocking the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks.
Ezekiel’s 13th Month– Key to understanding Biblical “time” in the 2nd Temple era
6 milestones – Seventy Weeks – Defining the purpose of the Messiah within Daniel’s 70 “weeks”.
The Messiah Factors (Part I): Decoding 13 & 14 – Symbolism of the Messiah
The Messiah Factors (Part II): The Countdown – Proving Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah promised in Daniel 9.

 

Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part II

Ancient-Persian-SoildersIn my previous article Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part I we learned that the most reasonable explanation of Ezra’s lineage places him as a contemporary of Darius “the Great” son of Hystaspes also known as “Artaxerxes.”  Now we will look once again at the chronology of Ezra with this perspective in mind. If Ezra was in fact a contemporary of Darius “the Great” then we should expect additional confirmation from the Old Testament record.

For those who are not familiar with the chronology of the 2nd temple era, it is worth briefly going over it once more to establish the context.  In 536 BC, Cyrus gave a decree which allowed the Judean captives to return and build the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1-3 tells of these events.  Incidentally, for those willing to dig a little deeper, the Cyrus Cylinder found in the ruins of Babylon also offers some intriguing confirmation of Ezra’s record below.

Ezra 1:1-3  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of YHWH by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, YHWH stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia….. Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, YHWH God of heaven ….. he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem….  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of YHWH God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

As I explained in my article The Fifth Command for the next 16 years the enemies of the Jewish people harassed them in their efforts to build the temple. In fact they did not get much further than laying some of the foundation stones.

The chart below is a summary of the Persian rulers from Cyrus to Artaxerxes I. It will provide a handy reference for those trying to figure out how the Persian kings related to the 2nd temple era chronology.
Persian Rulers

In 520 BC (2nd yr. of Darius), YHWH gave the Judean captives a divine command to restore and build Jerusalem.”  Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor, listened to the words of YHWH as witnessed by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and construction on the temple resumed. (Ezra 6:14)  Four years later, the temple was finished in the 6th year of Darius.

Now here is where modern Biblical scholarship takes a detour. Ezra 6 ends with the completion of the 2nd temple in the 6th year of Darius.(516 BC)  Ezra 7 starts with Ezra, the priest & scribe, setting off on his journey to Jerusalem in the 7th year of “Artaxerxes.”

Today, most Biblical scholars have assumed that this “Artaxerxes” is a reference to Artaxerxes I (Longimanus).  This requires them to insert a gap of about 58 years between Ezra 6 & 7. They do this despite the fact that Darius (son of Hystaspes) is in fact called “Artaxerxes” in Ezra 6:14.  Let’s take a look.

Ezra 6:14-15   14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, {and} Artaxerxes king of Persia.  15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

It is imperative to note in the verses above, that it clearly states the Jewish people “builded and finished the temple according to the “commandments” of  God of Israel, Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia.  Notice it states unequivocally that the temple was finished by the 6th year of Darius. That means all the secular rulers mentioned in Ezra 6:14 must have ruled at some point previous to the 6th year of Darius.

Who then is the “and Artaxerxes” mentioned in Ezra 6:14?  It couldn’t be the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 4:7 because this “Artaxerxes” stopped construction of the temple. Who then could it be? Many Biblical scholars have assumed, contrary to the clear context of the verse, that this “Artaxerxes” is a reference to Artaxerxes I – Longimanus.  This despite the fact that he reigned almost 60 years after the temple was completed.

Most likely the translators use a single Hebrew letter to further the “Artaxerxes Assumption.” In Hebrew, the letter waw, is often used as a conjunction but as most Hebrew lexicons explain it also has a much wider, though less common, use as well.  Below is the TWOT Hebrew lexicon explaining the use of waw.
TWOT_Hebrew_Lex_Waw1For those who read the entire excerpt you saw the waw can also be used as a “hendiadys,” i.e. two words with one meaning. Take a look at the little chart below. It shows waw as it appears in  the Hebrew text of Ezra 6:14.

Even Artaxerxes

 

Ezra 6:14-15   14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and even Artaxerxes king of Persia. 

Since there is no reasonable basis to assume the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 6:14 was another Persian king the translators should have used waw as a hendiadys not a conjunction.  Their decision to use the waw as a conjunction was premised upon the necessity to show that Ezra was a contemporary of Artaxerxes Longimanus. There is simply no other reason to add another Persian king to the chronology of Ezra 6:14-15. I encourage you to work it out yourself.

Now take a look at the Ezra 6 and 7 in this context.  In the 6th year of Darius “even” Artaxerxes the 2nd temple is completed.  Just a few verses later it shows that the temple had been completed and Ezra decided to go up to Jerusalem and teach the people the Torah.  Ezra 7 states he received permission to go up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of “Artaxerxes.”  With what we now know, this is perfectly reasonable. No need for another Persian king and a gap of 58 years.  Ezra simply went up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of Darius also known as Artaxerxes. This confirms the Biblical evidence concerning Ezra’s lineage as we saw in Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part I. This also has far reaching implications for Bible prophecy teachers who hold to the “Artaxerxes Assumption”.

Those of you who have the heart of a Berean, I encourage you to search this out for yourselves. For those of you too proud or stubborn to look, I humbly ask you to reconsider. The uncomfortable implications of this can no longer be ignored as too much is at stake.

 

FREE Book Download:
If you would like to learn more about Biblical history and Bible prophecy, you might also appreciate my books in the Prophecies and Patterns series.

At the following link you may download one of the three books shown below.  If you like the book and would like to download the other two, all I ask is that you subscribe to my blog. I won’t share your email or spam you with advertisements or other requests. Just every couple of weeks I’ll share with you my love of Biblical history and Bible Prophecy. Should you decide you no longer wish to be a subscriber you can unsubscribe at any time.

Click the following link to download your Free book: Book Download

I hope you’ll join the adventure!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

More Articles related to the prophecy of 70 Weeks and 2nd temple era chronology:
The “Artaxerxes” Assumption – The best kept secret of Old Testament chronology.
The Fifth Command – Why do prophecy teachers ignore it?
Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part I – Defining “Artaxerxes” in the context of Ezra.
Ezra: Priest & Scribe – Part II – Ezra, Darius even “Artaxerxes”.
Nehemiah: The Governor– Nehemiah’s place in the 2nd temple chronology
Queen of Persia – Part I – Defining Esther is the context of the 2nd Temple era.
Queen of Persia – Part II – Defining Esther is the context of the 2nd Temple era.
A New Testament Cipher – The key to unlocking the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks.
Ezekiel’s 13th Month– Key to understanding Biblical “time” in the 2nd Temple era
6 milestones – Seventy Weeks – Defining the purpose of the Messiah within Daniel’s 70 “weeks”.
The Messiah Factors (Part I): Decoding 13 & 14 – Symbolism of the Messiah
The Messiah Factors (Part II): The Countdown – Proving Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah promised in Daniel 9.