builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel,
and according tothe commandment of Cyrus, and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
Although earthly rulers may make decrees regarding the people of God and their institutions, theinitiative must always remain with the will and purposes of Almighty God.
Restoring and Rebuilding the City
Cyrus, King of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and initiated the return of the first group of Jewishexiles to rebuild the Temple.As far as the rebuilding of Jerusalem is concerned, various decrees are seen as candidates for thebeginning point of the 70 Weeks prophecy, and some were made by the Persian King Artaxerxes ILongimanus, (Grandson of Cyrus)
who ruled from 464
424 B.C. It was during his reign that Ezra, aLevitical Jew, and Nehemiah (appointed governor of Judah) returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:1).However, as with the Temple rebuilding, it appears that the initiative was again with God, asprophesied by
“For thus saith the LOR
D, That after seventy years be accomplishedat Babylon
I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you,
in causing you to returnto this place
It was therefore the “good word” of God which initiated the whole process of
restoring and rebuilding the City of Jerusalem.
(464-424 B.C.) first decree, to restore Jerusalem was made in his 7
It is found in
(and enlarged upon in
). We learn that this particular group of exiles began to go up to Jerusalem from Babylon on the
of the first month (Nisan) 458/7 B.C.
, and arrived there on the 1
ofthe fifth month (Av). This was 139 years after the first deportation to Babylon, 128 years after the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., 80 years after the first exiles returned to Judah, and 58 years after the Temple wascompleted in 516 B.C.Ezra appears to have concentrated on setting up an autonomous judicial system of government (
), and was given sufficient funds by Artaxerxes to accomplish all that needed to be done.
It was at this point (458 B.C.) that Government was reinstituted in Jerusalem, and the City wasrestored as Capital of Israel.
Artaxerxes’ released a second group of exiles in his
when Nehemiah returned tothe City,
specifically to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem,
having heard of the sad state of affairsstill existing there 93 years after the first exiles returned. The rebuilding of the shattered walls andburned gates of Jerusalem was eventually accomplished in just 52 days. However, although it appearsthis return was instigated in the month of Nisan, it only states in
that he “set a time” withthe King who gave him letters of authenticity, and protection. No definite “date” is given for this
permission to rebuild the walls and gates, nor is a specific decree mentioned.As we have seen, the 490 year period was to commence with
“the going forth of the commandment
torestore and to build Jerusalem
I believe the first decree in the 1
year of the 1
month in the 7
yearof Artaxerxes (458/7 B.C.) is the one most closely associated with
the time frame of Daniel’s 70 weeks
,and best fits the command to restore and build Jerusalem.