Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sabbatical Cycles

Part 6 of Daniel's Messianic Prophecy

One of history's greatest ironies: Judaism was the pious keeper of Messianic prophecy yet blind to its fulfilment.

In Leviticus 25, we learn of a seven year cycle which has come to be known as a sabbatical cycle.  The Sons of Israel sowed and reaped in the Promised Land for six years but in the seventh year the land rested.  That seventh year was dubbed a sabbatical year.

The weeks in Daniel’s Messianic prophecy were understood by the ancient Jews to be sabbatical cycles.  Hence, the ancient Jews tried to determine the time of Messiah's arrival in terms of sabbatical cycles.

The first 69 weeks of Daniel’s Messianic prophecy were divided into two parts, 7 and 62 weeks, suggesting different interpretations of time for each part.

Notably, the Babylonians discovered a 19 year cycle which matched up almost perfectly with 19 solar years.  In that cycle, 7 of the 19 lunar years were assigned an extra month.  In other words, within each 19 year Babylonian cycle was one week of 13 month years.  Thus 7 weeks of 13 month years elapsed with the passing of seven 19 year Babylonian cycles or 133 yearsThe 62 weeks are less abstruse.  They simply represent weeks of Babylonian years.  Sixty-two weeks are the equivalent of 434 years.  That gives us a 69 week total of 567 solar years.

Ben Zion Wacholder is a scholar who for many years was a professor at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  He compiled a table of sabbatical cycles based on the Julian calendar.  For example, 540/539 BC, from October 1 to September 30, was year one of a sabbatical cycle. 

Assuming the starting point of Daniel's seventy weeks was God's command to Cyrus the Great, consider the following scenario: God's commandment to Cyrus was delivered between October 1 and December 31, 540 BC.  That period occurred in the Jewish year 540/539 BC which was year one of a sabbatical cycle.  Christ was baptized 567 years later, in the spring of 28 AD.  That period occurred in the sabbatical year 27/28 AD.

According to Wacholder’s table, there were exactly 81 sabbatical cycles in the 567 years between October 1, 540 BC and September 30, 28 AD.  Therefore, the first 69 weeks of Daniel's Messianic prophecy can be interpreted in terms of sabbatical cycles.


  1. Judah’s civil calendar celebrated New Year’s Day on Tishri 1. The first day of Tishri fell in late September or early October on the Gregorian calendar. Hence Tishri 1 can be equated with October 1 on our modern calendar.

  2. Further clarification: There were exactly 567 years between October 1, 540 BC & September 30, 28 AD. Ergo, 540/539 BC represents the first year & 27/28 AD represents the 567th year of Daniel’s 69 weeks according to my interpretation of Daniel’s Messianic Prophecy.

  3. Scriptural reference: Exodus 23: 10-11

  4. Related article: Type Zuckermann into my search bar.