Tag Archives: Nehemiah

$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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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.

 

The “Artaxerxes” Assumption

220px-GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689

” Those Jews who took Herod for the Messiah, and were thence called Herodians, seem to have grounded their opinion upon the seventy weeks of years, which they found between the Reign of Cyrus and that of Herod: but afterwards, in applying the Prophesy to Theudas, and Judas of Galilee, and at length to Barchochab, they seem to have shortened the Reign of the Kingdom of Persia.”   
Anyone care to guess who made the quote above? Would you believe that one of the most famous scientists of all time penned this in the early 1700’s?  It may come as a surprise to some that Sir Isaac Newton had a great interest in the Bible and Biblical prophecy. It was in his Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, as quoted above, where he noticed the Jewish chronology was missing a couple of centuries. What’s fascinating is he traced the root of that missing chronology to an assumption made by early Jewish messianic expectants concerning the most important prophecy in the Bible.

It is worth considering the importance of that for a moment. Over two thousand years ago Jewish messianic believers made an assumption about the prophecy of 70 Weeks (found in the book of Daniel chapter 9) which led them to erase over two hundred years of history.  Ironically, Christian scholars today have made a similar mistake only instead of erasing two hundred years of chronology they have added seventy years. What is most amazing about these chronological errors is that they are both based in what could be called an “Artaxerxes Assumption.”

For over two millennia, the holy grail of messianic prophecies has been the prophecy of “70 Weeks” found in chapter 9 of the book of Daniel.  This is the only prophecy in the entire Biblical record which gives a specific datable event as a marker for the future appearance of the Messiah.  As quoted above, Isaac Newton believed the prophecy was in part responsible for over two hundred years of missing Persian chronology.  Though he was correct in tracing the missing chronology to an erroneous assumption concerning the prophecy of 70 weeks, Newton was incorrect in attributing that error to a starting point in the reign of Cyrus.

To get to the real root of the problem it is imperative to understand the prophecy within the context of the 2nd temple era of Jewish history. The starting point for the prophecy of Daniel 9 (which was the basis for each of the failed messianic claims noted by Newton) began with a “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem”.

Daniel 9:25  25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,

As explained in my article The Fifth Command there was only one “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” the Jewish people would have recognized.  That command was the Divine command given by YHWH, proclaimed by Haggai and Zechariah and witnessed by Ezra 6:14 (see my article The Fifth Command for further explanation).

Here is how the “Artaxerxes Assumption” enters the picture.  The Divine command “to restore and to build Jerusalem” was given in the 2nd year of Darius who was also known historically as “Artaxerxes”.  When the Asmonaeans calculated the 70 weeks of Daniel from the 2nd year of Darius it allowed them to claim that Judas Maccabaeus was the promised messiah. When he failed to usher in the Messianic kingdom, the prophecy was recycled for the next Jewish messianic figure. Since the Divine command was given in the 2nd year of Darius “Artaxerxes” the next generation of Jewish messianic expectants just shifted the prophecy to the 2nd year of another Persian Artaxerxes.   With the end of the Bar Cochab rebellion in the first part of the 2nd century the use of Daniel 9 to claim the start of the Messianic kingdom had run its course.  The Rabbinic Biblical calendar was reset and 241 years of Persian history were lost.

To this day the Rabbinic Biblical calendar still reflects this mistake.  Unfortunately, the “Artaxerxes Assumption” of the 1st centuries set in motion the chronological confusion which is still alive today. As a result of these errors, the only legitimate and contextually accurate fulfillment of the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks was obscured and eventually all but forgotten.

 

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a Scotland Yard investigator named Sir Robert Anderson (of Jack the Ripper fame) wrote a book on the prophecy of Daniel 9 called The Coming Prince. In his work on this great prophecy, Anderson made his own “Artaxerxes Assumption.” This time instead of erasing the Persian chronology, Anderson stretched the Biblical chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah by 58 years in order to fulfill his interpretation of the prophecy of 70 weeks.  Today, Anderson’s interpretation is the basis for most scholars’ writings on the subject of Daniel 9. Regrettably, his good intentions were a little short on reasonable chronological evidence from the Bible.

First, Anderson ignored the contextual relevance of YHWH’s command “to restore and to build Jerusalem.”  Unlike his 1st century messianic predecessors, Anderson saw no reason to begin the prophecy with the words of YHWH.  Next, Anderson assumed the “Artaxerxes” of Nehemiah and Ezra was Artaxerxes Longimanus. Unfortunately, he did not base this assumption upon any Biblical evidence but instead upon a single unsubstantiated opinion of the Christian historian, Rawlinson, in his translation of Herodotus, vol. 4, p.217 . That quote as taken from Anderson’s The Coming Prince is as follows:

Artaxerxes I. reigned forty years, from 465 to 425. He is mentioned by Herodotus once (6. 98), by Thucydides frequently. Both writers were his contemporaries. There is every reason to believe that he was the king who sent Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem, and sanctioned the restoration of the fortifications.” – RAWLINSON, Herodotus, vol. 4., p. 217.

Anderson, by all accounts, was an exceptional Biblical scholar. To be fair to Anderson, his assumption was understandable considering Ussher, Newton, Rawlinson, and Josephus were of the same general opinion concerning “Artaxerxes.”  I mean, what kind of person argues with the opinion of some of the greatest Biblical chronologists of all time? Okay, I must admit I am raising my hand timidly from the back of the room. But with all due respect to these great men, it seemed to have been a case of each thinking the other had done his homework. In this case, their messianic zeal caused them to make an assumption which is unsupported by Biblical chronology.  I appreciate the fact that they believed Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Artaxerxes Longimanus, but is that sufficient proof upon which to establish the most important prophecy in the Scripture?  Kind of hard to believe, isn’t it? I encourage you to check it out for yourself. The Coming Prince can be read at Rapture Ready, one of the most respected Bible prophecy web sites on the internet. Here is what they say about Sir Robert Anderson and The Coming Prince:

“He helped establish the fact that 69 of Daniel’s 70 weeks have now transpired, and that the tribulation will be the 70th week. Sir Robert Anderson’s book, The Coming Prince, has become a foundational resource for all dispensationalists.”

With all due respect to the good folks over at Rapture Ready how can a belief about Daniel’s 70 weeks be an established “fact” when the “foundational resource” is based upon an assumption with no reasonable basis in Biblical chronology?

In closing, I would like to encourage those of you interested in Bible prophecy to check out the Biblical chronological evidence, before you make your own unfounded “Artaxerxes Assumption.”

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

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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.