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$20. We must, therefore, in the first place, abate from the whole account of five hundred and ninetynine years before stated, the sum of thirty-seven years, which ensued after the death of our Savior, until the destruction of Jerusalem; and the remnant is five hundred and sixty-two years; which exceeds the number of seventy weeks by seventy-two years. pears, then, that the beginning of the weeks cannot be the decree of Cyrus; for to name four hundred and ninety, for five hundred and sixty-two, would seem rather to be a rude conjecture, than an exact prophecy; nor is there any necessity for such a supposition. Besides, the word used by the angel (Inn) plainly proves, that a precise duration of time is intended; for it signifies to cut out, or cut off; that is, to set apart, limit, or determine.
It is, therefore, a precise portion of time cut out, limited, and apportioned, for the accomplishment of the work foretold, subject only to the inconsiderable fraction before noticed.*
$21. Others there are, who, resolving to date these weeks from the first of Cyrus, and to make four hundred and ninety years the exact measure of the time from thence to the death of the Messiah, and not being able to disprove the computation from Alexander to that time, fall also upon the Persian empire, and cut it short above fifty years of the general account, to fit it to the place they have provided for it. To this end they reject the account of the Chaldeans, Grecians, and Romans, concerning the time of its continuance, as fabulous, and give us a new arbitrary account of the reign of those kings whom they will allow. But independent of the extraordinary liberty required to warrant such a procedure, it is destitute of all probability. The word decree, or commandment, mentioned to Daniel is, that for the building of Jerusalem; that is, the restoring of it into a condition of rule and government, and not merely the setting up of houses. Consequent to this, their “building of the walls” also, for the defence of the people is mentioned. Of this it is said, that it should fall out in a troublesome time, or a time of straits, as accordingly it fell out in the days of Nehemiah. In the whole, there is not the least mention of building the temple, which, had it been intended, could not, I suppose, have been omitted. But in the decree of Cyrus, the principal thing mentioned and aimed at is, the re-edification of the temple, the city, and the walls thereof, being not spoken of, Ezra i, passim. It seems, then, evident, that the decree mentioned by Daniel, for the building of the city and walls, and that given out by Cyrus, for the building of the temple, were divers. Besides, this decree of Cyrus, although foretold long before, and made famous, because it was the entrance into the people's return and settlement, took effect for so short a space of time, being obstructed within less than three years, and utterly frustrated within four or five, that it is not likely to be the date of this prophecy, which seems to take place from some good settlement of the people. That alone which is pleaded with any color for this decree of Cyrus, is the prediction recorded, Isa. xliv, 28. It is prophesied of him, that he should say to “Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, thy “foundations shall be laid.” But it is neither here foretold, that Cyrus should make any decree for the building of Jerusalem, or that it should be done in his days, as indeed it was not until an hundred years after, as it is evident from the story in Nehemiah. The whole intention of this prophecy is, that he should cause the people to be set at liberty from their captivity, and give them leave to return to Jerusalem, which he accordingly did, and thereupon, both the building of the city and temple ensued, though not without the intervention of other decrees. The account therefore, before laid down, being established, it is certain enough, that the decree mentioned by Gabriel, from the going forth whereof the seventy weeks are to be dated, was not that of the first of Cyrus, for the return of the captivity and building of the temple. We must, therefore, inquire for some other decree, from whence to date the weeks.
*The Jewish mode of attempting to solve the difficulty, by dating the weeks from the destruction of the temple, by the Chaldeans, and ending them in the desolation of the second house, is beneath farther notice; as excluding in their computation those transactions which are equally notorious to mankind, as that there ever was such a thing as the Persian empire. And to suppose that there were no more kings of Persia than are mentioned in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, is no less futile than it would be to say, that there were never above three or four kings of the Assyrian empire, because there are no more mentioned in scripture. But if a full chronological account was not intended in those books, this (cvioloproie) non-insertion in history, is beneath all consideration.
$22. The second decree of the kings of Persia, in reference to the Jews, was that of Darius, made in his second year, when the work of the building of the temple was carried on through the prophecy of Haggai and Zechariah, mentioned in Ezra vi, granted by Darius, upon appeal made to him from the neighboring governors; and it was a mere revival of the decree of Cyrus, the roll whereof was found in Achmetha, in the province of the Medes, ver. 2. See Hag. i, 12; ii, 10; Zech. i, 1.
Upon the roll of the kings of Persia, we find three called by the name of Darius, as the Jews term him. (1.) Darius Hysdaspes, who succeeded Cambyses, by the election of the princes of Persia, upon the killing of Smerdes Magus, the usurper. (2.) Darius
Nothus, who succeeded Artaxerxes Longimanus. (3.) Darius Codomanus, in whom the Persian empire had its period, by Alexander the Great. That the last of these can be no way concerned in the decree, is notorious; the two others are disputed. Most learned men grant, that Darius Hysdaspes was the author of this decree; and indeed that it was so, at least, that it can be ascribed to no other Darius, we shall soon undeniably prove. And it is not unlikely that he was inclined to this favor and moderation towards the Jews, by his general design to relieve men from under the oppressions that were upon them during the reign of Cambyses, and to renew the acts of Cyrus, their first emperor, who was renounced amongst them, to ingratiate himself with mankind, and confirm himself in that kingdom, whereto he came not by succession. And it is not improbable, that this was he who was the husband of Esther. Now Cyrus reigned after his first decree three years; Cambyses with Smerdes eight; and Darius, before he issued out this decree, two years; in all thirteen years. Now, deduct this from five hundred and sixty-two, and there yet remains five hundred and forty-nine years, which exceeds the number of years inquired after by fifty-nine years. So that neither can this be the commandment intended; not to mention, that this command was a merè renovation, or a new acknowledgment of the decree of Cyrus, about the rebuilding of the temple; and so, doubtless, was not designed as the signal epocha of the time here determined.
The great Scaliger, who would date the weeks from this decree of Darius, knowing that the time would not suit with the reign of Darius Hysdaspes, contends that Nothus, who succeeded Longimanus, was the author of it; and extends the whole time to the
destruction of the city and temple; that space of time, according to his computation, being elapsed from the
of Darius. But the truth is, as may be seen from our former account, that from the second year of Darius Nothus, to the destruction of the city, was but four hundred and eighty years. Besides, we have before proved from the text, that the time determined was to expire in the death of the Messiah. Neither is it consistent with the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the temple should be waste so long a space; that is, about one hundred and seventy years. Again, Haggai plainly declares, that when the work of the temple was carrying on, in the second year of Darius, many were yet alive, who had seen the first temple, Hag. ii, 3. As multitudes were upon the laying of its foundation, in the days of Cyrus, Ezra ii, 12. But this was impossible, had it been in the days of Nothus, a hundred and sixty or seventy years after it was destroyed. It appears, then, that Darius Nothus was not the author of the decree mentioned; as also that the times of the weeks cannot be dated from the second year of Darius Hystaspes, who was the author of it.
$23. After this, there is mention made of two other commands, or decrees, relating to the temple and people, both granted by the same Artaxerxes, one in the seventh year of his reign, to Ezra, chap. vii, 7; the other in the twentieth year of his reign, to Nehemiah, chap. ii, 1. And from one of these must the account inquired after be dated. Now, supposing that one of these decrees must be intended, it is evident, that Longimanus, and not Memor, was the author of them; for from the seventh year of Memor, which was the second of the ninety-fifth olympiad, to the eighteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, wherein our Savior suffered, being the third of the two hundred and second olym