The Coming Prince

By Sir Robert Anderson

Preface to the Tenth Edition

     THE COMING PRINCE has been out of print for more than a year; for it seemed inadvisable to reissue it during the War. But the War has apparently created an increased interest in the prophecies of Daniel; and as this book is therefore in demand, it has been decided to publish a new edition without further delay. Not that these pages contain any sensational "Armageddon" theories. For "a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" is situated neither in France nor in Flanders, but in Palestine; and the future of the land and people of the covenant will be a main issue in the great battle which is yet to be fought on that historic plain.

     Prophetic students are apt to become adherents of one or other of two rival schools of interpretation. The teaching of the "futurists" suggests that this Christian dispensation is altogether a blank in the Divine scheme of prophecy. And the "historicists" discredit Scripture by frittering away the meaning of plain words in order to find the fulfillment of them in history. Avoiding the errors of both these schools, this volume is written in the spirit of Lord Bacon's dictum, that "Divine prophecies have springing and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages, though the height or fullness of them may belong to some one age." And this world war is no doubt within the scope of prophecy, though it be not the fulfillment of any special Scripture.

     Very many years ago my attention was directed to a volume of sermons by a devout Jewish Rabbi of the London Synagogue, in which he sought to discredit the Christian interpretation of certain Messianic prophecies. And in dealing with Daniel 9., he accused Christian expositors of tampering, not only with chronology, but with Scripture, in their efforts to apply the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks to the Nazarene. My indignation at such a charge gave place to distress when the course of study to which it led me brought proof that it was by no means a baseless libel. My faith in the Book of Daniel, already disturbed by the German infidel crusade of "the Higher Criticism," was thus further undermined. And I decided to take up the study of the subject with a fixed determination to accept without reserve not only the language of Scripture, but the standard dates of history as settled by our best modern chronologists. [1]

     The following is a brief summary of the results of my inquiry as regards the great prophecy of the "Seventy Weeks." I began with the assumption, based on the perusal of many standard works, that the era in question had reference to the seventy years of the Captivity of Judah, and that it was to end with the Coming of Messiah. But I soon made the startling discovery that this was quite erroneous. For the Captivity lasted only sixty-two years; and the seventy weeks related to the wholly different judgment of the Desolations of Jerusalem. And further, the period "unto Messiah the Prince," as Daniel 9:25 so plainly states, was not seventy weeks, but 7+62 weeks.

     The failure to distinguish between the several judgments of the Servitude, the Captivity and the Desolations, is a fruitful source of error in the study of Daniel and the historical books of Scripture. And it is strange that the distinction should be ignored not only by the Critics, but by Christians. Because of national sin, Judah was brought under servitude to Babylon for seventy years, this was in the third year of King Jehoiakim (B.C. 606). But the people continued obdurate; and in B.C. 598 the far severer judgment of the Captivity fell on them. On the former capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar left the city and people undisturbed, his only prisoners being Daniel and other cadets of the royal house. But on this second occasion he deported the mass of the inhabitants to Chaldea. The Jews still remained impenitent, however, in spite of Divine warnings by the mouth of Jeremiah in Jerusalem and Ezekiel among the exiles; and after the lapse of another nine years, God brought upon them the terrible judgment of "The Desolations," which was decreed to last for seventy years. Accordingly in B.C. 589, the Babylonian armies again invaded Judea, and the city was devastated and burned.

     Now both the "Servitude" and the "Captivity," ended with the decree of Cyrus in B.C. 536, permitting the return of the exiles. But as the language of Daniel 9:2 so plainly states, it was the seventy years of "The Desolations" that were the basis of the prophecy of the seventy weeks. And the epoch of that seventy years was the day on which Jerusalem was invested – the tenth Tebeth in the ninth year of Zedekiah – a day that has ever since been observed as a fast by the Jews in every land. (2 Kings 25:1.) Daniel and Revelation definitely indicate that the prophetic year is one of 360 days. Such moreover was the sacred year of the Jewish calendar; and, as is well known, such was the ancient year of Eastern nations. Now seventy years of 360 days contains exactly 25, 200 days; and as the Jewish New Year's day depended on the equinoctial moon, we can assign the 13th December as "the Julian date" of tenth Tebeth 589. And 25, 200 days measured from that date ended on the 17th December 520, which was the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month in the second year of Darius of Persia – -the very day on which the foundation of the second Temple was laid. (Haggai 2:18, 19.)

     Here is something to set both critics and Christians thinking. A decree of a Persian king was deemed to be divine, and any attempt to thwart it was usually met by prompt and drastic punishment; and yet the decree directing the rebuilding of the Temple, issued by King Cyrus in the zenith of his power, was thwarted for seventeen years by petty local governors. How was this? The explanation is that until the very last day of the seventy years of "the Desolations" had expired, God would not permit one stone to be laid upon another on Mount Moriah.

     Dismissing from our minds, therefore, all mere theories on this subject, we arrive at the following definitely ascertained facts:

1. The epoch of the Seventy Weeks was the issuing of a decree to restore and build Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:25.)

2. There never was but one decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

3. That decree was issued by Artaxerxes, King of Persia, in the month Nisan in the 20th year of his reign, i.e. B.C. 445.

4. The city was actually built in pursuance of that decree.

5. The Julian date of 1st Nisan 445 was the 14th March.

6. Sixty-nine weeks of years – i.e. 173, 880 days – reckoned from the 14th March B.C. 445, ended on the 6th April A.D. 32.

7. That day, on which the sixty-nine weeks ended, was the fateful day on which the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9; when, for the first and only occasion in all His earthly sojourn, He was acclaimed as "Messiah the Prince the King, the Son of David."

     And here again we must keep to Scripture. Though God has nowhere recorded the Bethlehem birth-date of Christ, no date in history, sacred or profane, is fixed with greater definiteness than that of the year in which the Lord began His public ministry. I refer of course to Luke 3:1, 2. I say this emphatically, because Christian expositors have persistently sought to set up a fictitious date for the reign of Tiberias. The first Passover of the Lord's ministry, therefore, was in Nisan A.D. 29; and we can fix the date of the Passion with absolute certainty as Nisan A.D. 32. If Jewish or infidel writers set themselves to confuse and corrupt the chronology of these periods, we would not be surprised. But it is to Christian expositors that we owe this evil work. Happily, however, we can appeal to the labors of secular historians and chronologists for proofs of the divine accuracy of Holy Scripture.

     The general attack upon the Book of Daniel, briefly discussed in the "Preface to the Fifth Edition," is dealt with more fully in the 1902 reissue of Daniel in the Critics' Den. The reader will there find an answer to the attack of the Higher Criticism on Daniel based on philology and history; and he will find also that the Critics are refuted by their own admissions respecting the Canon of the Old Testament.

     Most of the "historical errors" in Daniel, which Professor Driver copied from Bertholdt's work of a century ago, have been disposed of by the erudition and research of our own day. But, when writing on the subject, I recognized that the identity of Darius the Mede was still a difficulty. Since then, however, I have found a solution of that difficulty in a verse in Ezra, hitherto used only by Voltaire and others to discredit Scripture. Ezra 5 tells us that in the reign of Darius Hystaspis the Jews petitioned the throne, appealing to the decree by which Cyrus had authorized the rebuilding of the Temple. The wording of the petition clearly indicates that, to the knowledge of the Jewish leaders, that decree had been filed in the house of the archives in Babylon. But the search there made for it proved fruitless, and it was ultimately found at Ecbatana (or Achmetha: Ezra 6:2). How then could such a State paper have been transferred to the Median capital?

     The only reasonable explanation of this extraordinary fact completes the circle of proof that the vassal king whom Daniel calls Darius the Mede was Gobryas (or Gubaru), who led the army of Cyrus to Babylon. As various writers have noticed, the testimony of the inscriptions points to that conclusion. For example, the Annalistic tablet of Cyrus records that, after the taking of the city, it was Gobryas who appointed the governors or prefects; which appointments Daniel states were made by Darius. The fact that he was a prince of the royal house of Media, and presumably well known to Cyrus, who had resided at the Median Court, would account for his being held in such high honor. He it was who governed Media as Viceroy when that country was reduced to the status of a province; and to any one accustomed to deal with evidence, the inference will seem natural that, for some reason or other, he was sent back to his provincial throne, and that, in returning to Ecbatana he carried with him the archives of his brief reign in Babylon. In the interval between the accession of Cyrus and that of Darius Hystaspis, the Temple decree may well have been forgotten by all but the Jews themselves. And although it was a serious matter to thwart the execution of an order issued by the king of Persia (Ezra 6:11), yet in this instance, as already noticed, a Divine decree overruled the decree of Cyrus, and vetoed their taking action upon it.

     The elucidation of the vision of the Seventy Weeks, as unfolded in the following pages, is my personal contribution to the Daniel controversy. And as the searching criticism to which it has been subjected has failed to detect in it an error or a flaw, [2] it may now be accepted without hesitation or reserve. The only disparaging comment which Professor Driver could offer upon it in his Book of Daniel was that it is a revival in a slightly modified form" of the scheme of Julius Africanus, and that it leaves the seventieth week "unexplained." But surely the fact that my scheme is on the same lines as that of "the father of Christian Chronologists" creates a very strong presumption in its favor. And so far from leaving the seventieth week unexplained, I have dealt with it in accordance with the beliefs of the early Fathers. For they regarded that week as future, seeing that they looked for the Antichrist of Scripture– "an individual person, the incarnation and concentration of sin." [3]

– R. A.  

1 As regards the regnal years of Jewish Kings, however, Fynes Clinton's month dates are here modified in accordance with the Hebrew Mishna, which was a sealed book to English readers when the Fasti Hellenici was written. With reference to one date of cardinal importance I am specially indebted to the late Canon Rawlinson and the late Sir George Airey.

2 One point may be worth notice in a footnote. The R. V. reading of Acts 13:20 seems to dispose of my solution of the perplexing problem of the 480 years of1 Kings 6:1. But here, in accordance with their usual practice, and in neglect of the principles by which experts are guided in dealing with conflicting evidence, the Revisers slavishly followed certain of the oldest MSS. And the effect on this passage is disastrous. For it is certain that neither the Apostle said, nor the Evangelist wrote, that Israel's enjoyment of the land was limited to 450 years, or that 450 years elapsed before the era of the Judges. The text adopted by the Revisers is, therefore, clearly wrong. Dean Alford regards it "as an attempt at correcting the difficult chronology of the verse"; and, he adds, "taking the words as they stand, no other sense can be given to them than that the time of the Judges lasted 450 years." That is, as he goes on to explain, the era within which occurred the rule of the Judges. It is not that the Judges ruled for 450 years — in which case the accusative would be used, as in verse 18 — but, as the use of the dative implies, that the period until Saul, characterized by the rule of the Judges, lasted 450 years. I need scarcely notice the objection that I fail to take account of the servitude mentioned in Judges 10:7, 8. That servitude affected only the tribes beyond Jordan.

3 Alford's Greek Test., Prol. to 2 Thessalonians Chapter 5.