Daniel 9:24-27 takes us from rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls through the coming of the Messiah. When did the rebuilding of Jerusalem begin? Nehemiah 2:1 records that the Persian King, Artaxerxes, gave Nehemiah permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the “year 20” of his reign. Establishing exactly when this happened has created confusion for over 2,000 years.
The first universal history of mankind by Diodorus of Sicily in his Library of History records Artaxerxes coming to the throne of all of the Persian kingdom in 464 BC. It now seems firmly established from historical Persian Empire texts, that Diodorus was correct. King Xerxes, Artaxerxes Father, was assassinated in August 464 BC and Artaxerxes succeeded him by December. Using this date, Artaxerxes twentieth year would be 444 BC. However, this date does not point forward to the ministry of Jesus and the ten-year gap has created considerable mischief – including the “7 years of tribulation.”
With the correct date that recognizes the 20th year of Artaxerxes as 454 BC, the 70th week of Daniel runs from autumn 29 AD to autumn 36 AD. How is this problem of using 444 BC vs. 454 BC resolved?
Evidence comes from a Greek writer who was a contemporary of Nehemiah. He describes the escape to Persian-controlled Asia Minor (Turkey) of a Greek traitor named Themistocles: Thucydides, Peloponnesian Wars 1.137: “…he