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457 B.C. - Why This Date Is Correct

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What is the Starting Date for the 70-Week Prophecy of Daniel 9:25?

536 B.C, 519 B.C, 457 B.C, or 444 B.C?


Most authors propose 457 B.C. or 444 B.C. as the two most likely dates for the decree prophesied in Daniel 9:25. The purpose of this web page is to determine which of the two main proposed dates are correct for the starting date of the 70 weeks of years prophecy of Daniel 9:25. The author will show that very reasonable evidence from both a prophetic and historical reference frame demonstrates that 457 B.C. is the correct year.


The questions revolving around the correct date for the beginning of the 70 weeks of years prophecy of Daniel 9:25 have left many confused and uncertain about this issue. At the core of this is the fact that in English translations of the Bible there appears to be no recorded decree which exactly fulfills the prophecy itself by which we can actually date the beginning of the 70 weeks of years. However, appearances can be deceptive, for if you correctly translate the original Hebrew words in the prophecy, the correct decree among those recorded can be determined.

There are several other ways to determine the correct date based on history and the Bible, without the need for a language analysis. These additional methods help verify that the language analysis is correct. The author would prefer multiple sources of verification of this important issue, especially since he is not versed in the Hebrew language and must rely upon the works of others for this purpose.  Having multiple ways to verify a date always increases confidence in the accuracy of the date.

Information Sources:

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are the main sources of the dates used for this purpose for most scholars. History references giving dates of kings are also helpful. We will use both sources in this analysis.

Read the Book of Ezra.

Read the Book of Nehemiah.

Here is a list of the kings of the Persian Empire during the time in question. Note that all dates are B.C.:

Cyrus the Great (Cyrus II - freed Jews in 336).........550 529
Cambyses II............................................529 522
False Smerdis (Imposter of brother of Cambyses II).....522 521
Darius I (Rebuild temple decree in 519)................521 486
Xerxes I (Queen Esther?)...............................486 465
Artaxerxes I (Longimanus - 457 decree).................465 425
Xerxes II..............................................425 424
Darius II Achus........................................423 404
Artaxerxes II Mnemon...................................403 359
Artaxerxes III Ochus...................................359 338
Darius III (last Persian king).........................337 330

The author reconstructed most of this chronology of the Persian kings from information provided by the Encyclopedia Britannica, 2003 computer edition, based on essays about each of the kings. The author gathered a few facts from a chronology of Persian kings at the web site: http://www.bibarch.com/Chronology/Bab-Persian/BP-Periods.htm.

Note that the web based chronology just given lists the beginning year of Cyrus II as 539 B.C, rather than 550 B.C., as listed by the Encyclopedia Britannica.

There is a short gap between 404 B.C. and 403 B.C. with a couple of minor kings during that gap. This was apparently due to political situations at the palace.

The web site referred to above for some of the chronology information has another article titled "The Decree of Artaxerxes: Is it a Key to the Date of the Crucifixion?" This article claims that the only date that can fulfill the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 is 444 B.C. The author concludes, erroneously, that the decree of 457 B.C. cannot fulfill the prophecy, while maintaining there was a decree by Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. The reason for the author's conclusion in the article above is because he does not consider all the information available, he also ignores other pertinent information, and has some assumptions not supported by the facts, he does have some useful data. One thing he has is the following information in his footnotes, below is a summary of his footnotes:

King Accession Year (B.C.) Regnal Year (B.C.)
Cyrus II................539-538..................538-537
Artaxerxes I............465-464..................464-463
Darius II...............424-423..................423-422

The regnal year is very important; it is the year from which the Old Testament Bible writers from the Babylonian captivity onward use for dating events. The Bible in Ezra 7 says that it was in the seventh year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (I) when he issued the decree. Ezra is telling you to count seven years from the year 464-463 B.C. forwards, remember Jewish years usually started about the end of March by our calendar, which is why the regnal and accession years cross over years on our calendar. Counting 464-463 B.C. as the first year, would take you to 458-457 B.C. Ezra went to Jerusalem in 457 B.C, and it was then that Ezra could enforce the decree. Therefore, 457 B.C. is the date to consider for the arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem and beginning of enforcement of the decree of king Artaxerxes I.

Here is a website where you can learn some interesting things about the accession year and regnal year systems used in Daniel and several other books of the bible written about that time.

At least two authorities have concluded that the decree of Artaxerxes went into effect in 457 B.C. Fact is these authorities concluded that it is inescapable that the decree went into effect in 457 B.C. They base this on the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Elephantine Papyri. The source for this information is The Chronology of Ezra 7 by Siegfried H. Horn and Lynn H. Wood, published by Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, DC, USA, 1970, page 115, and cited on page 66 in Open Secrets of the Antichrist, by Donald Ernest Mansell, published by Pacific Press Publishing Association of Nampa, Idaho, USA, 2002. Roy Gane Ph.D. cited this reference and a 1953 edition of a book by the same authors in support of 457 B.C. See the reference below for additional information about these sources.

Here is another viewpoint on when the 70 weeks began.

Several other books are sources for this web page.   Note that the authors of this web site have no financial interest in any of these books or publishing companies. These are:

Book Title I Want to Be Left Behind
Author Ted Noel, MD
Ordering Information Bible Only Bookstore

Please note that nearly all the material credited to Ted Noel on this web site you can find in chapter 3 of the book I Want to be Left Behind.  You may also read more about the start of the 70 weeks on his web site.

Book Title Open Secrets of the Antichrist
Author Donald Ernest Mansell
Ordering Information

adventistbookcenter.com (search for the author at that site)

Publisher Pacific Press Publishing Association, Nampa, Idaho
Book Title Altar Call
Author Roy Gane, Ph.D. (Professor of Ancient Languages, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA)
Ordering Information Roy Gane's web site or adventistbookcenter.com (search for author at that site)

Now, let us get to some basic proof that 457 B.C, rather than 444 B.C, is the correct date for the beginning of the 70-week prophecy.

Reasonable Evidence For 457 B.C.

To begin, the author wishes to show why 444 B.C. is not the correct date for the beginning of the 70 weeks of years prophecy. Then we will cover the reasons why 457 B.C. is the correct date.

Read about dating the prophecy from the year 444 B.C.

The author now wishes to discuss evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date for the prophecy.

Introduction to the evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date.

Proof #1 for the evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date.

Proof #2 for the evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date.

Proof #3 for the evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date.

Proof #4 for the evidence that 457 B.C. is the correct starting date.

Flaws in Arguments Against 457 B.C.

There are several flaws in the arguments against 457 B.C. as the correct date for the fulfillment of the 70 weeks/years prophecy. The flaws listed below are the common ones the author has run into, but certainly there probably exist other arguments against it.

The first of these flawed arguments is that the three decrees do not meet the requirements of the prophecy. From this, the proponents of such a view erroneously conclude that the trip of Nehemiah must have included an unrecorded decree of King Artaxerxes I and is, therefore, the date for the beginning of the 70 weeks of years prophecy. However, as shown above, this argument is incorrect because when you understand the language of the prophecy, then the discrepancy disappears and it is obvious that 457 B.C. is the fulfillment of the prophecy.

The second flaw commonly seen is that when the proponents of the 444 B.C. date discuss the 457 B.C. decree, they frequently omit certain facts about what was in the 457 B.C. decree. They will tell you that Ezra and others went to Jerusalem only to return the gold vessels of the temple. Therefore, they make a glorified trip out of it, but omit the most important parts of the decree, which is that the Jews got the right of autonomy (self-government), with judges and magistrates to enforce their laws. Why hide this fact? Could it be that they know the facts and want to hide them? Possibly, but more likely is that they have never really given the prophecy a careful check with the original language and so simply are not aware that the prophecy itself indicates that regaining self-government and restoring the people in the city of Jerusalem as the correct fulfillment of the prophecy.

The third flaw has to do with the length of the prophetic year versus the actual solar year. We cover this issue in the section about why 444 B.C. is not the right date. These people believe that the prophetic year of 360 days is the only year to use. The flaw of this type of reasoning is because evidence points towards a literal solar year for the prophetic year, while the 360-day year was a counting device to tell the reader how many total years the prophecy covered.

Conclusion of the Matter

On this web page, the author has attempted to show by different approaches that only the decree of 457 B.C. can fulfill the requirements of the prophecy of Daniel 9:25. Combining the following facts, the author believes that the proof is sufficient:

(1)       Presuming the start date is correct, the ending date of the 69 weeks matches up with the described events

(2)       Working backwards from the maximum range of the life of Jesus gives a range of dates that only 457 B.C. fits into

(3)       The magi would have showed up at Jerusalem in 4 B.C. ONLY if 457 B.C. was the right date

(4)       The language of the prophecy itself requires the 457 B.C. decree for fulfillment

(5)       There is no decree recorded by Nehemiah for his trip, which was to complete the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

(6)       There are serious problems with using a 360-day year for the prophecy and dating from 444 B.C.

(7)       The anointing of Jesus occurred at his baptism, not at any other time in his life: anointing = coming.

The only possible conclusion is that the decree issued by Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. is in fact the correct decree, and the correct date for fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9.