Daniel's 70 Weeks: Part 3
Aug 12, 2006
The timing of Daniel's 70th week (26-33 A.D.) and Jesus' crucifixion are explicitly linked together by Daniel's prophecy. Likewise, because Jesus said in Matthew 18 that the purpose of a 490-year period is to bring into accountability, Jesus had to be crucified at the end of that 490-year period.
The question is, can we prove that Jesus was crucified in 33 A.D.? Yes, we can. This date, of course, followed the general consensus of historians for many years until challenged in more recent years. One of the reasons for their dissatisfaction is that according to popular thinking, Jesus was born in 4 B.C. and crucified in 33. That would have made him 36-1/2 years old when He died, rather than 33-1/2. Since He was baptized at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), that means He would have ministered for 6-1/2 years, instead of 3-1/2. Something is wrong with that point of view.
Jesus was born on the Feast of Trumpets of 2 B.C., not in 4 B.C. He could not possibly have been born in 4 B.C., even by the evidence set forth by past historians. Jesus' birth is not recorded in history books, because it was a non-event to the historians of the day. His birth is dated according to the death of Herod, who died about a month after killing the children of Bethlehem.
Josephus tells us that Herod was nearly 70 years old when he died. Antiquities XVII, vi, 1 says,
"And as he despaired of recovering (for he was about the seventieth year of his age), he grew fierce and indulged the bitterest anger upon all occasions."
He confirms this again in Wars of the Jews, I, xxxiii, 1, where he says, "for he was almost seventy years of age."
Historians also know that Herod was 25 when he began his career in 47 B.C., when his father appointed him governor of Galilee. Thus, Herod was 70 in about 2 B.C.
Josephus also tells us that a few weeks before Herod died, there was a lunar eclipse visible from Jerusalem. This is what pinpoints Herod's death, because astronomers know precisely when every lunar and solar eclipse occurred throughout the past. In this case, the historians had a number of eclipses to consider.
Nov. 8, 8 B.C. (too early, since Herod was only 62)
March 23, 5 B.C. (too early, since Herod was only 65)
Sept. 15, 5 B.C. (too early, since Herod was only 65)
March 13, 4 B.C. (This is where past historians have placed the eclipse that occurred shortly before Herod's death. But he was still only 66 at the time.)
July 17, 2 B.C. (Herod died two or three months before a Passover, so this is the wrong time of year, since it would place his death in September or October.)
January 9, 1 B.C. This is the one we are looking for.
Nov. 8, 2 A.D. (Herod would have been 73, so it is too late, and it is also the wrong time of year.)
The assumed date of Herod's eclipse was on March 13, 4 B.C. If Herod died shortly after that date, then how is it that Jesus could be born the following September? If dead, Herod, would not have been able to kill the children of Bethlehem. If anything, Jesus would have had to be born the previous September of 5 B.C. But this only compounds the problem of the traditional historians, for then Jesus would have been 37-1/2 when He was crucified.
The only feasible eclipse is the one on January 9, 1 B.C., which occurred a few months after Jesus was born on Sept. 29, 2 B.C. Herod was 70 years old, and he died a few weeks after the eclipse.
When Jesus was born on Trumpets of 2 B.C., the local shepherds came to see him that night (Luke 2:16), while they were still in the stable. Three months later the wise men arrived from afar, and this was when Herod was alerted to His birth and became alarmed at the prospect of a rival king. The wise men found them in a "house" at this point (Matt. 2:11).
That night, both Joseph and the wise men were warned in dreams (Matt. 2:12, 13) about Herod, and so then Jesus was taken to Egypt for His protection. He was three months old, even as Moses had been three months old when he was taken into Pharaoh's house for his protection (Ex. 2:1). Jesus is compared to Moses in Acts 3:22, 23.
The wise men must have arrived at the end of December of 2 B.C., giving rise later to the Christmas tradition on Dec. 25. Their only fault was that they assumed the wise men had arrived along with the shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth. Perhaps it is fortunate for Mary that this did not happen, for going to Egypt right after giving birth would have been a very difficult trip for her.
Jesus' birth is also dated by early Christian writers. According to W. E. Filmer, who wrote an article proving Jesus was born in 2 B.C., "there were, before the year 500, no less than ten Christian witnesses who agreed on the year in which Christ was born." These witnesses include Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Eusebius, "the father of Church History." See pages 18 and 19 of my book, When REALLY Was Jesus Born?
If Jesus was born in September of 2 B.C., then in what year did He turn 30? Many people would do the math and say, "28 A.D." (because 28 2 = 30). However, it is not quite that simple. When our present calendar (using B.C. and A.D.) was invented in 526 A.D., they were still not using the number ZERO. Thus, mathematicians had to move from -1 to 1 without benefit of the zero. And chronologists had to figure from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. directly, instead of counting -1, 0, 1, 2, etc.
That means Jesus turned 30 in September of 29 A.D., and He was 33-1/2 in April of 33 when He was crucified at Passover.
Another cross-check is from Roman history itself, because John's ministry began "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1). John was just six months older than Jesus, and, as a priest, would have begun his full ministry at the age of 30, even as Jesus did. So John began His ministry around Passover of 29, and Jesus came to John for baptism in September of 29.
Tiberius began his reign when his father (Augustus Caesar) died on August 19, 14 A.D. This is one of the most quoted dates in Roman history, because Augustus had died precisely 56 years after the beginning of his political career (Aug. 19, 43 B.C.). Thus, Tiberius' fifteenth year would extend from August of 28 A.D. to August of 29 A.D. and include the Passover of 29 A.D. when John began his ministry.
So we may conclude that Jesus turned 30 years of age on the Feast of Trumpets in September of 29 A.D. Ten days later, on the Day of Atonement, He came to John for baptism to fulfill the law of Leviticus 16. The Spirit then led Him into the wilderness for 40 days, after which time He returned to preach the Kingdom of God.
John was arrested a few months later and executed the following Passover (30 A.D.). That event began a 40-year countdown toward Passover of 70 A.D., when the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and began the siege that destroyed the city.
All of the time cycles work out perfectly, once we understand the history. The key is to understand the history--find out what actually happened--and then we will know how to interpret the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Daniel's 70 weeks ended in April of 33 A.D., which was 490 years after Ezra began his mission to Jerusalem on the 12th day of the first month (Ezra 8:31). Jesus was crucified 490 years later on the 14th day of the first month at the time the lambs were killed for Passover.
The date of Jesus' crucifixion is important, because it is the starting point of 40 Jubilees (1,960 years) toward the year 1993, when God began to bring history to a climax.
This is the third part of a series titled "Daniel's 70 Weeks." To view all parts, click the link below.