Has Messiah Come?
by Avram Yehoshua
A most amazing thing occurs in the ninth chapter of Daniel: we’re told when Messiah would come. But instead of explaining it to us, our Rabbis curse anyone wanting to find it out: ‘Rabbi Samuel b. Nachmani said in the name (of) Rabbi Jonathan: ‘Blasted be the bones of those who calculate the end.’(1) Some of our Rabbis, in a further attempt to keep us from Daniel, even state that Daniel was wrong. Alfred Edersheim, a Talmudic scholar who would come to know Messiah said, ‘later Rabbinism, which, naturally enough, could not find its way through the Messianic prophecies of the book, declared that even Daniel was mistaken’. (2)
But Judaism’s greatest Rabbi, Rambam(3) (1135 to 1204 C.E.)(4) in his Letter to Yemen wrote, ‘we cannot assert that Daniel was wrong in his reckoning’.(5) In the same paragraph, Rambam tells us that it was for our own good that the curse was pronounced:
‘Daniel has elucidated to us’ ‘the knowledge of the End Times. However, since they are secret, the Wise, may their memory be blessed, have barred the calculation of the days of the Messiah’s coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that the end times have already come but there’s no sign of the Messiah. For this reason the Wise, may their memory be blessed, have decreed: “Cursed be he who calculates the End Times.” But we cannot assert that Daniel was wrong in his reckoning.’(6)
Rambam was concerned that we would be ‘led astray’ if we figured out Daniel’s time for the coming of the Messiah. He wrote that the End Times had already come, but no Messiah. Even Rabbi Yehuda the Prince, simply known as ‘Rabbi’ because of his written compilation of the Mishnah around 220 C.E. said of Daniel’s time frame for Messiah that, ‘These times were over long ago.’(7) So where is Messiah?
When the angel Gabriel spoke the words to Daniel in Babylon, the Temple and Jerusalem lay in ruins (Dan. 9:2, 11-12, 16-19). The King of Babylon destroyed it in 586 B.C.E. He took many of the rest of us who were alive, off to Babylon where we wept for Jerusalem (Ps. 137). But before we get into calculating the time of Messiah’s appearance, as seen in the ‘weeks’ of Daniel 9:25-26, it’ll be easy to see from what follows that Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt again, God would atone for our sins (vv. 24-25), the Messiah would be ‘cut off’ (die), and after that, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed again (v. 26). That’s why Rambam and Rabbi wrote that the End Times had come but the Messiah didn’t. At least they didn’t think so.
But Daniel gives the time of Messiah’s coming, His atonement for our sins, His death, and after that, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple:
“Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the rebellion, to put an end to sin, to atone for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up both vision and prophet and to anoint the Holy of Holies.”(8) (Dan. 9:24)
“Know and understand that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the time of Prince Messiah(9) there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It shall be built again with streets and trench but in a troubled time.” (Dan. 9:25)
“After the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah shall be cut off but not for himself. And the army of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the Temple. Its end shall come with a flood and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” (Dan. 9:26)
The expression a ‘week of years’ occurs in the Mishnah (Sanh. vol. 1)’(10) and means seven years.(11) This is confirmed in Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations which says, ‘one week in Daniel 9 means a week of years.’(12) The concept is found in both the Sabbath and Jubilee years (Lev. 25:3-4, 8).
The decree that Daniel spoke of (v. 25), is written in Ezra 6:14(13) and Nehemiah 2:1-8. King Artaxerxes (Artaxerxes Longimanus; 464 to 425 B.C.E.)(14) ‘authorized Ezra the Priest to rebuild the city of Jerusalem’ and the Temple ‘in the seventh year of his reign, that is, in 457 B.C.E. (Ezra 7:7-8, 11-26).’(15) ‘The majority of critics agree upon approximately this year.’(16)
‘The prophecy speaks first about seven weeks of years during which the Temple will be rebuilt and indeed the books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe this 49 year building phase ‘in the midst of dire times.’ And after this ‘a further 62 weeks’ of years ‘to the coming of the Messiah.’(17)
Subtracting the year of the decree, 457 (B.C.E.), from the 483 years of Gabriel’s words to Daniel, we come to the year 26 C.E. In the autumn of that year Yeshua (Jesus) began His ministry.(18) Coincidence? If Daniel, Rambam and Rabbi are right about when Messiah would come, who else could be our Messiah? The Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Roman ‘prince,’ Titus, in 70 C.E. If Yeshua isn’t our Messiah, who is?
Rambam expresses the chaos and confusion in Judaism over Messianic thought and how our Rabbis have understood the time when Messiah would come by saying,
‘we cannot know, in all these and similar questions, how they will be fulfilled since they are veiled even from the Prophets. Our Rabbis have no special teachings on these matters; they simply follow the particular leaning of various verses which gives no uniform doctrine. In any case, the main thing is not to make claims regarding the accuracy’ ‘of these doctrinal questions’. Let us not’ ‘think about the Last Days. The Wise say, ‘‘Cursed be those who predict the End Times.’’’(19)
Rambam was quoting Rabbi Samuel again. It seems fairly evident that Rambam knew Daniel’s prophecy pointed directly to Yeshua. This is why he upheld the curse and warned us about being ‘led astray.’ But does belief in God’s Messiah mean that we would be led astray?
Daniel’s prophecy ends with the destruction of the Temple. The Talmud, Nazir 32b, confirms that Daniel referred to the destruction of the Second Temple.(20) The Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. The Messiah should have come before that. But some of our Rabbis, in a further attempt to keep us from understanding Daniel, do all sorts of strange things with the ‘weeks.’(21) For instance, some would have us to think that the time was literal weeks, but that makes absolutely no sense as it took 49 years for the city to be rebuilt, not 49 weeks.
Greater Than Solomon’s Temple?
Haggai the Prophet said that the Glory of the Second Temple would be greater than Solomon’s Temple (Hag. 2:9). How could this be? Solomon’s Temple was bigger and much more magnificent than Ezra’s smaller and less lavish Temple. Some of the people that were there at the laying of the foundation for the Second Temple, openly wept because they had seen the glory and grandeur of the Temple of Solomon (Ezra 3:10; Hag. 2:1-9).
Rabbi David Kimchi (1160 to 1235), of whom it was said, ‘without him we will not find the correct way to interpret the Scriptures’(22) thought the Second Temple would be greater because Messiah would walk in it. He saw both the Lord, and the Messenger of the Covenant in Malachi 3:1, as King Messiah:(23) ‘The Lord whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His Temple, the Messenger of the Covenant whom you desire.’ That’s quite a revelation.
The idea of Messiah being ‘cut off’ or killed (Dan. 9:26; Is. 53:4-12; Zech. 12:10), ‘is the word used’ in Hebrew ‘for the’ (cutting or the) ‘making of a covenant.’(24) The Messiah’s death would bring the New Covenant that Jeremiah the Prophet spoke of:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It will not be like the Covenant that I made with their Fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; a Covenant that they broke, though I was their Husband, says the Lord. But this is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my Law within them and I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord!,” for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:31-34; see also 32:37-44; 50:5; Is. 55:3; 61:8; Ezk. 16:60; 37:26).
A ‘New Covenant’?! Did God really say that to Jeremiah?! Another coincidence? Christians speak of a ‘New Covenant’ (‘New Testament’). They say that Jesus is the Christ, which is just a Greek to English way of saying the Messiah. Could it be? Is Jesus our Messiah?
According to Daniel, our Messiah has already come. There’s no one else during Daniel’s time period (or any other time for that matter), who comes even close to doing what Yeshua did. Aside from His many miracles (Is. 35:1-10; 61:1-3), Yeshua was crucified (Ps. 22; Is. 53:5; Zech. 12:10) as a sacrifice for us (Is. 53:4-8, 10-12), that we might be forgiven of our sins, as both Daniel and Jeremiah spoke of. And He rose from the dead (Ps. 16:10; Is. 53:10-12) by the power of God our Father, 40 years before Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. He was seen by hundreds of His followers after His death (Matt. 28:1-10; Lk. 24:1-53; Acts 1:1-14; 1st Cor. 15:1-9, etc.).
Now, I wasn’t there. I didn’t see Yeshua die. I didn’t see Him alive from the dead either. But thirty one years ago, when I read about Jesus, my heart was drawn to believe. It was the God of Israel who was drawing me to Himself. I asked Yeshua to forgive me of my sins and to come into my heart and the most wonderful thing happened to me. I felt something come upon me and move within me. I didn’t know it then but it was the Holy Spirit, confirming to me that what I had just done, was heard and accepted by the God of Israel. I felt Shalom (Peace) from Heaven for the first time in my life. It continues to this day. God is with me. Daniel was right. Messiah has come! He’s very much alive and real and is the only Way back to our Father in Heaven.
I pray that Messiah Yeshua uses this message to draw you to Him. He is Life (John 14:6). His plans for you are only good. He loves you very much. Who else would die for you so that your sins would be forgiven, and give you Eternal Life in return (Dan. 9:24-26)?
1. Sanford R. Howard, L’Chayim: Finding The Light of Shalom (Thorsby, AL: Sabbath House, Inc., 1999), p. 209. Sanhedrin 97b, vol. 2, p. 659, Soncino Press. Editorial footnote #6 says, ‘i.e., Messiah’s advent.’
2. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), p. 957. Bereshith Rabba 98 (a midrash or commentary on Genesis). Edersheim lived from 1825 to 1889 C.E.
3. Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Rambam), is also known as Maimonides.
4. C.E. means the ‘Common Era’ and B.C.E. means, ‘before the Common Era.’
5. Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (Jerusalem: Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992), p. 100. Rambam, Igeret Teiman, chapter 3, page 24.
7. Ibid. p. 101. Sanhedrin 98b and 97a.
8. The Holy of Holies in Daniel is ko-desh ko-dah-sheem.
9. Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), p. 533.
10. Howard, L’Chayim: Finding The Light of Shalom, p. 206. Dr. Judah B. Slotki, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Soncino Press, p. 77.
11. Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, p. 99.
12. Howard, L’Chayim: Finding The Light of Shalom, p. 77. Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations, p. 65, Soncino Press, Dan. 9:27.
13. Ibid. p. 207. It was only the third decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C.E. that would complete the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple. The decree of Cyrus was in 537 B.C.E. and that of Darius the First in 518 B.C.E.
14. J. M. Sinclair, General Consultant, Diana Treffry, Editorial Director, Collins English Dictionary, Fourth Edition (Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998), p. 84. Son of Xerxes the First.
15. Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, p. 99.
18. Herod began Temple improvements in 19 B.C.E. John’s ‘46 years’ (2:20) took place in 27 C.E. Yeshua began His ministry the previous autumn (26 C.E.), most likely on the Feast of Trumpets. Marcus Dods, D.D., Author; W. Robertson Nicoll, Editor, M. A., LL. D., The Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol. one: The Gospel of St. John (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), p. 710. F. F. Bruce, The Gospel and Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), p. 76.
19. Ibid. p. 101. Rambam, Hilchot haMelachim, (The Statutes of King-Messiah), chapters 11-12.
20. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, p. 1004. ‘So also in Yalkut, vol. 2, p. 79d, lines 16ff. from the bottom.’
21. Howard, L’Chayim: Finding The Light of Shalom, pp. 208-211.
22. Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, p. 40.
23. Ibid. 102.
24. Ibid. p. 100. The word Hebrew word yih-kah-rate means, ‘to make a covenant’ ‘from the ancient custom of cutting up victims on such occasions’; Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, p. 394. See also Gen. 15:10.