The angel Gabriel tells Daniel a story that reveals when Gabriel will be appearing in New Testament times. Those appearances precede the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.
The Year of Jesus’ birth was foretold in various places in the Old Testament. One such place is in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel had been reading about the 70 years of desolation of Jerusalem foretold in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. Seeing that this period was about to end Daniel started to pray about it. When he did this the Lord answered his prayer and sent the angel Gabriel to explain to Daniel that there was much more to know about this number "70".1
20And while I was yet praying and confessing my offenses and the offenses of my people Israel and presenting my supplication before Yahvah my god for the holy mountain of my god,
21yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision before, came from the skies, flying swiftly, and drew near me at the time of the evening sacrifice.
22And he came and talked to me and said to me, Daniel, I have now come to instruct you, so that you might understand.
23At the beginning of your prayer, the word came forth and I have come to make it known to you; for you are greatly beloved; therefore discern the matter and understand the vision.
2470 times 7 weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, to finish the transgressions and to make an end of sins and for the forgiveness of the iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness and to fulfill the vision of the prophets and to give the most holy to the anointed.
25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem, to the coming of the anointed, the king, will be 7 times 7 weeks, and 62 times 7 weeks; the people will return and build Jerusalem, its streets, and its broad ways at the end of the appointed times.
Gabriel comes and tells Daniel that 70 weeks are decreed for Daniel’s people, Israel. This is an elaboration on the 70 years that Daniel has already read and prayed over from the Book of Jeremiah. Now, Daniel is told, there is a link from the restoration of Jerusalem after this period of 70 years and then the coming of Messiah or Anointed One.
Gabriel then breaks this set of weeks up in different ways, providing a cluster of variations on the predictions based on this set of numbers. The text past the quote above goes into this broken up version. The aspect that matters here is the entire 70 weeks, a pointer at Gabriel’s New Testament appearances.
The month that this decree was issued is known directly from the Old Testament chronology. The following is the original text.
1Then it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes the king, I was serving wine before the king; and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad before in his presence.
2Therefore the king said to me, Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of the heart. Then I was exceedingly afraid,
3and said to the king, Let the king live forever; why should my countenance not be sad, when the capital city of the kingdom of my fathers is in ruin, and its gates have been burned with fire?
This story will continue and the king will eventually issue a decree what would authorize Nehemiah to go and rebuild the walls. The passage above includes the date reference from which Daniel’s prophecy is measured. Nisan is the first month, and the decree is issued in the king’s year 20, but when did that year, or series of years fall in the Bible’s overall chronology?
The simple answer is that the year counting system being used here is the years after the 70 years of captivity that Daniel originally prayed about. A complete article showing how this is derived is here.
Since the last year of the 70 years of captivity was in 10479 AA (or 979 FE) year 20 of the new period was 10499 AA (or 999 FE). This decree caused Nehemiah to travel to Jerusalem and direct the rather sudden rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. After only 3 days2 Nehemiah surveys the walls at night. He then calls together the leaders and the rebuilding process begins in earnest.
Quite curious is the year of this rebuilding. 999 FE is measured "From Exodus" and the ringing triple 9s shows off the fact that this rebuilding happens in preparation for the the millennium celebrations that would also happen in Nehemiah’s time.
This decree is not given with a precise day, but only to the month. Using the standard Bible Time cross-calendar tools the full multi-calendar 30 day window when this report was issued can be seen with more clarity. The following is the report.
|Decree to Rebuild Jerusalem’s Walls|
|Issued 20/1/X where the day of the month is not given|
The month starts:
|Mon||10499/1/1 AA||9 Jan -489 NS||9 Jun 251 AUC||AAN: 3829621|
|999/1/1 FE||14 Jan -490 OS||9 Jun 503 BC||JDN: 1542464|
|And runs through:|
|Tue||10499/1/30 AA||7 Feb -489 NS||9 Qui 251 AUC||AAN: 3829650|
|999/1/30 FE||12 Feb -490 OS||9 Qui 503 BC||JDN: 1542493|
Notice that at this period in history the Roman calendars diverge by about 14 years. This is typical of events measured on Roman calendars from the era. By using the chronology of the Bible itself the problem of inaccurate historical dating is avoided completely. This 30 day window provides the starting point for measuring time forward into the New Testament era.
Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel. 3 4 So was Mary.5 So was Zechariah.6 Angel Gabriel was sent to explain that there were not just 70 days but 70 weeks decreed for Daniel’s people. This decree was later broken down into several components, but the first component was a simple statement involving an expansion from Jeremiah’s 70 years into 70 weeks of years. How much calendar time was implied by this expansion to 70 weeks?
Generally speaking when the Bible starts a new interval of time for some purpose, say a prophecy like this one, the statement is considered the start of a new contract for time. "As a bond man would count" is a typical Biblical expression that points at this concept. Gabriel’s message to Daniel about 70 weeks is another example of this "contract time" concept. It starts a new prophetic period.
Looking again at the above report imagine the first year of this period being year 1 in a new contract period, replacing the year 10499 as given in the report. Conceptually, then, this new "bond man" contract would just run out from here. The expiration would be expected 490 years later and, roughly speaking, 10498 + 490 = 10988. This is the year before the year of Jesus’ birth.
Remember the date of Jesus’ birth? The following is the complete multi-calendar date report:
|Fri||10989/8/29 AA||16 Feb 1 NS||⇉17 Feb 754 AUC||AAN: 4008629|
|1489/8/29 FE||18 Feb 0 OS||17 Feb 1 AD||JDN: 1721472|
This report shows the year of Jesus’ birth from Adam lands in 10989 AA. The various accounts of Gabriel’s New Testament appearances all happen in the year before Jesus was born, making the first point:
Gabriel was told to explain to Daniel the 70 weeks because it was Gabriel himself who would appear in New Testament times at the far end of the prophecy. Gabriel was announcing his own future visits.
The Bible Calendar is based on a 7 year Sabbath cycle that repeats every 50 years, called a Jubilee cycle. When year 1 of a predicted time, or "Bond Man" contract time begins overlaid with year 1 in a Jubilee cycle, there is no risk of the contract calendar getting out of phase from the absolute calendar used to measure time in national history. When the contract calendar is in phase with the absolute national calendar the various leap months in the contract calendar align exactly together with the national calendar.
This time, though, the start of the contract prophetic period is in the first month of 999 FE, or 10499/1/X AA. This is off the Jubilee Cycle so the years in the contract don’t align perfectly with the years in the absolute national calendar. In this case the national calendar sees leap months at the end of 999 FE and the end of 1000 FE, while the contracted prophetic period doesn’t see its first leap month until year 7 in the contract.
This lack of alignment means days in the contract must be counted day-accurately and independently of the days counted by the underlying national calendar. This is what it means to count time "as a bond man would count."
Gabriel’s contract time is fundamentally more difficult because Gabriel spoke his prophetic interval in a riddle. He did not simply say "490 years." Instead he built the time up from weeks. "70 weeks" is what Gabriel actually said in order to indicate the interval.
Gabriel can either mean that there is a single 490 year "contract" before his New Testament appearances, or there are 70 separate 7 year long contracts before his New Testament appearances.
This difference belies two different ways of ways of understanding how Jubilee related leap months are counted. A single contract with 490 years has 9 Jubilees within the contract and therefore up to 9 additional months caused by the leaps. A set of 70 contracts of 7 years has no Jubilees and therefore is about 9 months shorter in overall duration. But, since it still has leaps it will still observe some of the leaps seen in the Jubilee case. The only way to know exactly how much time is indicated is to run the math. The following table shows how the math works in the case of single 490 year interval.
|Years in 1 Sabbath Week:||7||Years|
|Number of weeks:||* 70||Weeks|
|Total years in Gabriel’s time:||= 490||Years|
|Total days in 490 years:||= 178710||Days|
|Days in 7 years:||2550||Days|
|Number of weeks:||* 70||Weeks|
|Total days in Gabriel’s time:||= 178500||Days|
Recall the New Testament chronology of Gabriel. Gabriel appeared to Zechariah at the temple.7 Gabriel told Zechariah he would have a son.8 Zechariah questioned Gabriel and lost his voice.9 Eventually Zechariah’s wife conceived.10
Six months after the conception11 Mary encounters Gabriel. Gabriel tells Mary about the process of her own conception.12 Gabriel tells Mary that Elizabeth is in her 6th month.13 The difference between these two encounters is about 7 months, which leads to the second point:
Gabriel states the 70 weeks in an ambiguous riddle because the 7 month difference between the two ways of calculating the number days in "70 weeks" is the 7 month difference between his two visits. By using this literary form, this riddle, Gabriel indicates both of his New Testament appearances.
Gabriel appeared to Mary coincidentally with her conception. If the date of Mary’s conception can be known then the date of Gabriel’s appearance to Mary can also be known.
In popular culture a pregnancy typically runs 9 months, but a more accurate measurement is 40 weeks. This is not given in the Bible with clarity but suggests a literary parallel between 40 days (such as the 40 days the spies were in Canaan) and the 40 weeks of conception. The two are the same by divine plan.
Backing up 40 * 7 = 280 days from Jesus’ birthday yields the best approximate conception date for Mary. The following is the report.
|Fri||10988/11/19 AA||12 May 0 NS||13 May 753 AUC||AAN: 4008349|
|1488/11/19 FE||14 May 0 OS||13 May 1 BC||JDN: 1721192|
This date is 19 days into month 11 of year 10988 AA. This is the right year from the approximations done above, but notice the day number for this date. 4008349 is the day number for this conception date. The start of the month, 1488/11/1 FE, 19 days earlier, is 4008331.
Look above at the multi-calendar date report for the month of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. 3829621 is the day number given for 999/1/1 FE.
The difference between these two numbers is the number of days between these two dates. The math is this: 4008331 - 3829621 = 178710 days.
Go back up and look at the two ways the number of days in "70 weeks" can be computed. There are two different number of days listed there. The longer interval is 178710, is the same number of days as there was between the decree to restore Jerusalem’s walls and the conception of Jesus. Bringing this discussion to the next point:
Gabriel announced to Daniel his visit to Mary as accurately as can be measured. The decree and his visit to Mary are 178710 days apart, with a tolerance of +30/-0 days.
The accuracy, about 1 part in 6000, is typical of the accuracy seen across these stories in the Bible Time project. These two events are linked together far more accurately than would be expected by random chance alone.
God, of course, is a fine double entry book-keeper. The very same math could have been explained forward in order to support the date when Jesus was born. The reason the derivation is shown in this order is because the date of Jesus’ birth is already known with more precision than Gabriel supplied to Daniel, so from our perspective two millennia out this second story simply becomes a strong confirmation for the birth date of Jesus.
The timing of Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah is harder to establish because unlike Jesus’ birthday, the birth of John is not known from a second source. But, consider the puzzle pieces still unexplained. Gabriel’s other possible number of days is 178500, or 210 days earlier than his appearance to Mary. Gabriel’s other New Testament appearance was to Zechariah.
How many days earlier does Luke say that Gabriel appeared to Zechariah than to Mary?
Luke doesn’t say exactly. After appearing to Zechariah, he had to finish his time of Temple service then return home to Elizabeth and then Luke says that there was a 6 month interval to Gabriel’s visit to Mary.
Could Gabriel have appeared to Zechariah 210 days earlier? Yes. Of course. Bring up yet another point:
The two possible ways of explaining the expression "70 weeks" covers Gabriel’s two different New Testament appearances. These happen as accurately as can be measured.