Friday, September 7, 2012

Wacholder versus Zuckermann: Sabbatical Scholars

If you’ve read Daniel's Seventy Weeks: a six part series, you know I favor Wacholder.  To see why, click the link to Sabbatical Cycles on the sidebar and read that article along with my notes which are published under comments.

There are those who favor Zuckermann and I’m sure he too was a very scholarly historian.  In fact there are some who would have you believe that the first 69 weeks of the Ezra based interpretation of Daniel’s Messianic prophecy correspond precisely with Zuckermann’s table of sabbatical cycles.  However, I beg to differ.

When determining a specific year in the reign of a king, there is accession year reckoning and non-accession year reckoning.  For example, when a king dies, an heir apparent becomes his successor.  Most often this occurs in the middle of a calendar year.  Some count that partial year as his accession year and the next calendar year as his first regnal year.  Others count his accession year as his first regnal year.

If you’ve read my Messianic Seventy Weeks (click the link on the sidebar), you know I used non-accession year reckoning to determine the year of Christ’s baptism.  I’m assuming that Luke did the same in chapter three of his gospel.

The Persian king, Artaxerxes, reigned from 465-424 BC.  Now it is a documented fact that he commissioned Ezra to return to Jerusalem in his seventh regnal year.  That year was 458/457 BC according to accession year reckoning based on Judah's civil calendar which celebrated an autumn new year.  Because there was no year zero, 483 years later (69 weeks x 7 years), we arrive at the time of Christ in 25/26 AD.  In a nutshell, that summarizes the first 69 weeks of the Ezra based interpretation of Daniel's prophecy which began with Artaxerxes' decree and ended when Jesus was a young man. 

A sabbatical cycle can be defined as a week of years.  A sabbatical cycle ran from year one to year seven which was called a sabbatical year.  For Daniel’s 69 weeks to match up perfectly with a string of Zuckermann’s sabbatical cycles, the string of sabbatical cycles would have to begin in the first year of the first cycle and end in the seventh year of the 69th cycle.  The string of sabbatical cycles that qualified ran from 457/456 BC to 26/27 AD.  However, Artaxerxes' edict that sent Ezra to Jerusalem was proclaimed in 458/457 BC which was one year too early to give us a perfect match. 

Therefore, the first 69 weeks of the Ezra based interpretation of Daniel’s Messianic prophecy do not correspond precisely with Zuckermann's table of sabbatical cycles.


  1. Non-accession year reckoning is also called inclusive reckoning because the accession year or partial year is included in the regnal years. In other words, the accession year is the first regnal year.

  2. 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.

  3. Artaxerxes’ accession year began after October 1, 465 BC and ran until October 1, 464 BC. Consequently 464/463 BC was his first regnal year according to accession year reckoning. That would make 458/457 BC his seventh regnal year, the year Ezra was sent to Jerusalem.

  4. There were exactly 483 years between October 1, 458 BC & September 30, 26 AD. Ergo, 458/457 BC represents the first year & 25/26 AD represents the 483rd year of Daniel’s 69 weeks according to the Ezra based interpretation of Daniel’s Messianic prophecy.