Volume Three Objection 4.20-4.21



This is the third article addressing Dr. Michael Brown’s ‘responses’ to Jewish Objections to Jesus regarding Daniel 9.  This one will deal with sections 4.20 and 4.21. They are:


· 4.20 Christian translations of Daniel 9:24-27 divide the seventy weeks incorrectly, and the dates have no relation to the times of Jesus.

· 4.21 Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of two anointed ones.


The two are being handled together as the answer to the second one depends and is a result of the answer to the first. I have written an article  that deals directly with the chronological issues of Daniel 9. It is strongly recommended that you read that before the rest of this article. There are many issues about the chronology that I will not be able to deal with in depth here, that are mentioned there.


Dr. Brown follows the secular chronology of the Persian dynasty, which I have explained in part 1 of my article. I will be referencing that throughout[1]. But let me deal with the other chronology in brief to show that there are some problems that Dr. Brown has avoided to engage, that bear on the Jewish objection.


The problem in short is that Daniel has a different chronology then the secular chronology. In chapter 11 we read the words of the angel sent by G-d:


(1) And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to be a supporter and a stronghold unto him. (2) And now will I declare unto thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. (3) And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. (4) And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.


Here we see that, according to the Biblical text, only three kings will come after Darius, and then the king, Alexander the Great, is to come. However the secular chronology has eight kings and many more years. The Rabbis following the Biblical chronology of Daniel have explained how the 490 years work out exactly, including the divisions of 7, 62 and 1 week, culminating in the destruction of the temple. This is outlined in full in part 2 of my article.


It is quite obvious that none of what Dr. Brown has contended will work for the Biblical chronology as I explained in part 3 of the article. However I have proposed a few ways, in part 4, of reconciling the Biblical and secular chronologies which will allow for the Rabbinic view to remain acceptable.


I would like to leave that aside for now and deal only with Dr. Brown’s arguments, which are based on the secular chronology and see if they can work in that chronology. I only wish to emphasize that the Biblical chronology ONLY works for the Rabbinic understanding, and that their view can be made to work for the secular chronology also. The same cannot be said for Dr. Brown and the secular chronology.


I will divide this response in three parts. First is a discussion about how the 490 years is divided. Is it 2 periods, 3 periods, or, as Dr. Brown says, both are acceptable? Second I will cover some issues needed to show the errors of Dr. Brown’s interpretation, specifically that the second anointed could be Jesus. These issues are:

  1. What the word mashiach/anointed means in Daniel.
  2. What is supposed to happen to the anointed one in Daniel 9:26?
  3. What is the ‘gap’ theory and is it just an ad hoc rationalization?

The last section will look at the proposed start dates for the 70 weeks and how Christians are unable to make it ‘work’.



The Division of the 490 years/70 weeks


With regards to the issue of how to understand the timing of the 490 years Dr. Brown states: “There are two different ways to understand the division of the seventy weeks, but both of them are legitimate and in keeping with the rules of Hebrew grammar.”[2] Following this statement he brings two translations, one the Christian New Revised Standard Version[3], which, like the Jewish versions, sees this period as divided into three periods: 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and one week. Then he brings the King James Version[4], which combines the first two periods into one of 69 weeks.


According to Dr. Brown the difference is totally based on an accent mark in the Masoretic text [5] and “to argue for an interpretation based primarily on the accents is to give them a weight of authority they do not deserve…” He then continues “If this is not the case, why not simply argue that the text can only be read one way without pointing to the accents for proof?”[6] He then concludes that “the difficulty in joining the two groups of weeks together – seven weeks of years and sixty-two weeks of years – is not grammatical. It is logical and contextual.”[7]


Accent marks in the Masoretic text perform the same function as punctuation and spacing does in English. So the question is: are the Masoretic accent marks arbitrary or do they reflect the true meaning? Dr. Brown argues that they are arbitrary, and that without them we could easily read the text either way as the Hebrew language does not require either interpretation. However he is wrong and this assertion is false.


To understand why this is false let me give an example, and then show how it applies here. Every computer has what is called an ip address. It is a series of 4 (or 6) numbers. For example, mine is It is interesting to see how we get such a number and what it means. When computers first appeared numbers could only be expressed as ones and zeros, because they were represented as lights being on and off. So, for example, the number 10 was 1010. If we wanted to write it in English it would be: 1 eight and 1 two. In mathematics this is called a base 2 number. Of course this is pretty hard to work with, so they combined 4 base 2 digits into a single hexadecimal digit (base 16) and so 10 now became A. If we wanted to write 100 it was a two digit number: 64 which we would read as 6 sixteens and 4 ones. A two digit hexadecimal number was called a byte of data. With time it was needed to give some type of name to each computer, and because of the way computers are constructed they took 4 bytes (or 6 bytes) together to make this number. A single byte can represent all numbers from 0 to 255. The ip number we have is really just a four or six byte number that refers to our computers. The point here is that something which may seem arbitrary to us is actually based on how numbers were used and developed.


The same is true with how languages developed the use of numbers. They are not arbitrary, but based on a definite historical development. Here is a description in a Mathematics text dealing with the history of numbers:


“The great preponderance of people use a basic decimal or decadic group of 10 objects, as one should expect from counting on the fingers. The word for 10 often signifies one man. Quinary systems based on groups of 5 or one hand also occur but the vigesimal systems based on a 20 group are much more common, corresponding of course to a complete count of fingers and toes. Among the American Indian peoples the vigesimal system was in widespread use; best known in the well-developed Mayan system. One finds traces of a 20 system in many other languages. We still count in scores. The French quatre-vingt for 80 is a remnant of a previously more extensive 20 count. In Danish the 20 system is still used systematically for the names of numbers less then 100.”[8]


What we see here is that the number system that a language has is based on how they counted. Hebrew is a decimal language. Their numbers, like English, go from ones to tens to hundreds to thousands and on. So for example, if I asked you to meet me at a restaurant at 1359 Broadway, it would be grammatically INCORRECT to say meet me at 7 and 1352 Broadway. In fact no language allows that because the names given to their numbers were not developed in such a way. That is why to say 69 as 7 and 62, is WRONG no matter what punctuation appears, even if none appears at all. And this is true no matter which language we are talking about. For that reason, Dr. Brown is absolutely wrong that these two periods could be considered as one, because it violates the Hebrew language to do so. In fact, there is NO PLACE in the Tenach or any other Hebrew literature where such a construct of a number is found. Therefore, it is a violation of the Hebrew language to attempt to join these together. The Masoretic accents here reflect the text, and are not arbitrary as Dr. Brown had contended. The Christian interpretation that combines the two periods into one is a violation of the Hebrew counting system and language.


How Many Anointed Ones in Daniel 9 and is The Second One Jesus?


I would now like to address directly 4.21. There he states: “if there are two anointed ones, the second is the Messiah.[9]” In order to do that I need to discuss three separate but related issues:


  1. What are anointed ones? 
  2. What happens to the second one in Daniel 9?
  3. Is there a gap?


To address these issues, let’s see what appears in Daniel 9:24-27:


9:24 Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.


25 Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times.


26 And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.


27 And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment; and that until the extermination wholly determined be poured out upon that which causeth appalment.’


This is the JPS version which I am using since we have shown in the first section that the 70 weeks is divided into three periods. We need to now address who are the two anointed ones, and to do so we need to summarize the periods and what is happening in them.


Verse 24: We are told here that there is a period of 70 weeks. We see no division of the weeks and so they are to be seen as a single unit.


Verse 25: Here we see two issues. First that there is a seven week period from “the going forth of the word” until an anointed one, who is also a prince appears. What he does is not said. Then there is a sixty two week period when the city is rebuilt.


Verse 26: Here we see that after the 62 week period an anointed one will be ‘cut off’, and that the people of the prince shall come to destroy the city.


Verse 27: This discusses the last week. Here we see that ‘he’ (most likely a reference to the prince in the previous verse) will make a covenant for 3½ years, and then break it and the destruction will then follow. This means that chronologically verse 27 follows directly after 26 with no break.


Here we see three persons mentioned in this passage. There is an anointed prince in verse 25 who comes after 7 weeks. Then there is an anointed person and a prince who appear after the next period of 62 weeks. No explanation can be valid without an explanation of these periods and the people mentioned. One thing we have seen, since the first anointed one comes after 7 weeks and the second 62 weeks later, they cannot be the same person. Since Dr. Brown does allow for this (although most modern Christians do not agree) we can look at who the two are. Dr. Brown claims the second is Jesus.


Let’s address the first issue, what is an anointed one. In his first response (4.18) Dr. Brown agreed that the use of ‘Messiah’ was incorrect for the translation in Daniel 9. In 4.21, as I have already quoted, he admits that at least one of the ‘anointed ones’ could be other then the Messiah. So we just need to explain who could be called ‘an anointed one’. (In the next section this will become very important.)


In the Tenach many people were anointed to indicate that they were to perform a special function for G-d, for example prophets, kings, and priests, as I pointed out in my article on Moshiach ben Yosef. It was only during the second Temple period that this was applied to people who were involved in the endtimes drama. Dr. Brown does not seem to argue against this. We have shown that the proper understanding of the grammar of Daniel 9:25 tells us that there are two anointed ones, so we need only ask, is it possible for the second anointed one to be Jesus?




To understand who this second anointed one is we need to look at verse 26 and the Hebrew word translated as ‘cut off’. This word is ‘yekares’ (יכרת) which is from the root ‘karas’ (כרת). This actually can have two meanings in English. First it is associated with the making of a covenant, and has the meaning of finalizing or sealing or making of the covenant.  So for example in Nechemiah 9:8 we read: “and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites”[10] The other meaning, which is the one here in Daniel, is to cut off, but having the implication of something being removed. For example in 1 Kings 2:4: “there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.” Similarly in Genesis 9:11: “neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood.” Here is a promise that mankind will no longer be removed/wiped out by a flood. However we do not see it used to mean the death of an individual.


The key words are those that follow yekares, ‘vAyn lo’ (ואין לו) which literally means ‘and he has nothing’. The Christian translations will sometimes try and ‘play’ with the translation in order to make it seem as if it refers to the death of Jesus. Here are a few examples:


The most quoted is the King James Version: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:” Here the emphasis is on the ‘innocence’ of the ‘Messiah’.  Similarly look at the New International Version: “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.” There they use explicitly ‘death’. Here we see good examples of creative translations. When the verse doesn’t say what you need, just change the translation.


There are some Christian translations which are more accurate for example:


American Standard Version: “And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing”


The best way to understand the wording here is to translate as follows: “After sixty two weeks an anointed one will be removed and he will have nothing.” This is essentially the same as the ASV, but without the more ambiguous word ‘cut off’. The problem is that this does not say anything about a Messiah who dies, which is the claim Brown is making. In the Hebrew this verse is more like a Divine ‘YOU’RE FIRED’ then the Roman ‘off with his head’ that Jesus received.


From these two issues we see two things: 1. that the use of the word ‘anointed one’ does not imply that it is the Messiah, and 2. the second instance does not refer to the death of anyone, but of his removal from some position. Jesus, never had any position that he lost, so it cannot be him. It does, however, support the Jewish view which was that either the King Agrippa, or the High Priest was meant, both of whom lost their jobs in Judea at the time.




The final issue here is the issue of the ‘gap theory’. On page 107 Dr. Brown gives three conditions that a gap theory must have. I will discuss them shortly, but this point is significant. Except to exclude the view of Archer and others that have a gap of almost 2000 years at this writing, why are these conditions needed? It is to avoid being accused of coming up with an ad hoc explanation for why the 490 year period doesn’t work and is, in fact, much longer.


What is an ad hoc explanation? If you have seen a cartoon with a picture of a little boy with a cookie in his hand, and a broken cookie jar, with his mother looking at him angrily, and the caption saying: ‘The cat knocked it over’. That’s an ad hoc explanation. Something just said because there is a problem, and you need to say something[11]. Such explanations hold no weight.


Before getting to a discussion of gaps, I would like to point out that on page 107 Dr. Brown makes the following statement with regards to gaps: “Rashi is one of many interpreters who posits such gaps.” This statement is absolutely false. There is no traditional Jewish commentator who mentions anything about gaps in the 70 week period. In private communication Dr. Brown admitted that the reference to Rashi was an error, and that the interpreters are all Christian ones. The importance of this is that no Jewish commentator needs a gap at all because, as I mentioned in my article, based on the Biblical chronology the 70 week/490 year period works out with no gaps at all. Christians require gaps because using the secular chronology Daniel’s prophecy does not work out for their interpretation without one.


The truth is that the use of a gap is an admission that there is a problem with interpretation and/or the prophecy in Daniel itself. While the text had three periods, they are grouped together explicitly as one long period of 70 weeks. That means when the prophecy was given only 490 consecutive years was meant. Any gap needs to explain where and why this occurred. In that case, when Dr. Brown makes his ‘conditions’ they appear ad hoc, to allow him a gap, without addressing the real problem: Why was the prophecy from Daniel not fulfilled as it says?


Before seeing his ‘conditions’ let me show you how a ‘modification’ could be valid, by referring back to my article. In it I addressed the issue of what could we say if the Biblical chronology in Daniel was wrong and the secular one, which posits a longer period of time, is right. First, when the difference would occur was easy to determine, because Daniel 11 says that there would be 3 kings after Darius, while the secular chronology has many more. In fact the whole difference can be shown to be in the length of the Persian period. I give there a few reasons why G-d could have decided to extend the 490 year period in the middle of the second period. No gap that is mentioned by Christians can give a reason why the Biblical prophecy was changed to make the gap. For that reason they are ad hoc. They are invented to deal with an error in INTERPRETATION, and not a problem with the text itself.


Here are the conditions Dr. Brown has made up[12]:

  1. The grouping would still have to make sense. In other words, there would have to be something distinct and identifiable about the three periods of 49, 483, and 7 years; otherwise they cease to have meaning and significance.
  2. The gaps could not be so large as to disrupt the overall chronological flow that makes this 490 year period so important.
  3. The gaps could not cause the 490 year period to end later then the time specified on the text.


While these conditions, at first reading, seem reasonable, it is interesting to note that in his section 4:19 he seems to have violated these conditions. As I have noted in my critique of this section, he has a long gap in the fulfillment of verse 24; in fact it has still not occurred. He seems to have a problem with being consistent in his approach to gaps.


As to his conditions, these seem to ignore reality. The last is an obvious one which I would agree to, but the others seem to avoid dealing with the issue of WHY there needs to be a gap at all. He is drawing his conditions around his arrow of interpretation, and not the other way around.


For example, according to Dr. Brown, between the second period and the last is a gap. This comes out to about 5 weeks. So why was Daniel not told that it was to be a period of 75 weeks?? Didn’t G-d not know that there would be this gap? That seems to be what Dr. Brown believes. Did He intend 70 weeks or 75? If the later, then why did he not say that? If there were reasons for G-d to change the length of these periods then what were they?  We can only accept a change of the period if there is some reason. An obvious one being that because of G-d’s mercy he was extending the period, or some such reason. But Dr. Brown has no explanation, except to provide some ad hoc justification for Daniel failing to fit what he desires of it.


But this leads to the next problem. Dr. Brown insists the gaps need to be at the end of the periods, but that really is the last place for them to occur. The end of one period leads to the next. The first 7 weeks is a lead up to the building of the city and temple, the second 62 weeks, is the period of its standing and the last week is the period of its destruction and references someone at the end of the second period as I pointed out above. They flow one into the other. The first period could be lengthened making its building take longer, or the second period made longer, having it stand for a longer time, or the third period could be more then a week, making the destruction process more drawn out. But there is no logical or contextual way for there to be gaps between the periods. In fact, it would appear the only period where it is possible to see G-d’s mercy would be if the middle period is extended. At least that is according to the Jewish understanding of this period being a test. With the Christian understanding that it is the lead up to Jesus’ atoning death, there is no indication of G-d’s mercy in extending that period or any other period.


In the end, the gap theory as Christians propose it is ad hoc, and even if we could use a gap, it does not help the Christian cause.


We can now answer Dr. Brown’s claim with regards to how many Messiahs there are. He had stated: “if there are two anointed ones, the second is the Messiah.[13]” We have seen that there ARE two anointed ones, because the Hebrew language forces us to see the 70 weeks as three periods. We also see that it is incorrect to claim that the second anointed one was Jesus, since there is no ‘gap’ between the end of the second and the beginning of the third period, and Dr. Brown agrees that the third period ends with the destruction of the Second Temple. This means that the second anointed one lived and lost his position of importance shortly before the destruction of the second temple. That could not be Jesus!!


Do the Dates Apply to Jesus?


In my paper in section 2 I showed how the Biblical chronology fits perfectly with the Jewish interpretation, and in part 4 I showed how it could also work if we accepted the secular chronology. However the problem with the Christian chronology and applying it to Jesus is clearly a problem and Dr. Brown does not shy away from an admission of it.


On page 106 he mentions 5 possible dates for the start of the 490 year period, and discusses them with regards to the secular chronology[14]. These dates are:  605 BCE (or 597 BCE); 538 BCE; 521 BCE; 457 BCE and 446 BCE. Let’s look at them and see whether the periods divide in a way that leads to 1. an anointed one and the building of the temple/city, 2 a removed anointed one and 3. the destruction of the temple and city.


The first 605 BCE is when Nevuchadnesser became ruler over Judea.[15] (An alternative would be 597 BCE when Jeconiah was sent into exile.)  The problems here are obvious when we look at the three periods, 49 years, 434 years and 7 years. This yields the dates of: 556, 122 and 115 BCE. This is not very good as nothing happened then. The same problem is with 597 which gives us: 548, 114 and 107 BCE. The 122 and 114 dates don’t seem to have any meaning to them, nor do the other dates. Dr Brown also points out that there is a problem with these dates as they predate the destruction of the city


The second, 538 BCE, Dr. Brown says this is when the decree of Cyrus the Great to build the temple was declared. He points out that one problem with this is that it does not refer to the city at all. Also if we look at the dates starting with 538 we get: 489, 55 and 48 BCE, which are meaningless.


The third is 521 BCE which is the decree of Darius, which is basically a renewal of the one by Cyrus and likewise referred to the temple. The three dates starting at 521 are: 472, 38 and 31 BCE.


The fourth is 457 BCE which was a decree to allow the rebuilding of the temple. The three dates for this are:  408 BCE, 27 CE and 34 CE. According to Dr. Brown[16] 27 CE is the year Jesus started his ministry, but it was NOT when he was cut off, so this does not fit. Likewise the years 408 and 34 have no meaning.


The final one he mentions is 446 BCE when the king issues a commission, which according to Brown does not seem significant enough for this prophesy. He also points out the date problems: 397 BCE, 38 CE and 45 CE. As he admits 38 is too late for the death of Jesus.[17] The other two dates are meaningless.


The problem is significant and he spends the last two pages (107 and 108) doing some gymnastics on this issue, with no clear conclusion. The following quote by another author seems to sum up what Dr. Brown believes: “While it is quite certain that the Rabbi’s interpretation of the verses is wrong, I cannot find any interpretation that commends itself to me.” [18]


We can summarize our conclusions quite simply:


  1. The 70 weeks are divided into three periods
  2. There are two different anointed ones
  3. Neither can be Jesus
  4. Christians have no explanation of who the first anointed one was.
  5. There is no interpretation by Christians that can make the numbers work and fit what Daniel says.


In all the pages Dr. Brown has used to discuss these two issues, he has yet to answer the Jewish objections:

  1. There are TWO anointed ones (Messiahs) in Daniel 9 and neither is Jesus.
  2. The 70 weeks are incorrectly divided in Christian translation into two periods where they are to be divided into three periods.
  3. These periods cannot be made to point to Jesus.

Jesus does not fit Daniel 9!!!


© Moshe Shulman 2011 http://www.judaismsanswer.com

For more information, questions answered, or help with missionaries you can reach Moshe Shulman at outreach@judaismsanswer.com.




Chronology - Scholarly.


Secular Date[19]

Alternate Date[20]

Nevuchadnesser becomes ruler over Judea

605 -562 BCE.


Exile of Jeconiah

597 BCE.


Destruction of Temple by Babylonia

586 BCE.


Evil Merodach

562-560 BCE


Nergal Sharezzar

560-556 BCE


Labash Merodach

556 BCE



556 – 537 BCE

556 – 539 BCE


552 – 537 BCE

552 – 539 BCE

Persian Conquest of Babylonia under Cyrus

537 BCE

539 BCE


537-527 BCE

539-530 BCE


529-522 BCE

530-522 BCE

Rule of the Magi


522-521 BCE

Darius (I)

521-486 BCE


Xerxes (I)

485-465 BCE


Artaxerxes (I)

465-424 BCE


Xerxes (II)

423 BCE


Darius (II)

423-405 BCE


Artaxerxes (II)

404-359 BCE


Ochus – Artaxerxes (III)

358-338 BCE



337-336 BCE


Darius (III)

335-330 BCE


Alexander the Great Defeats Persia

330 BCE

332 BCE

Destruction of the Second Temple

70 CE




[1] At the end of this article is a chart of the important dates according to the secular chronology/

[2] Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 3 page100.

[3] Ibid page 101

[4] It should be noted that this is NOT the original King James Version of 1611, which DOES divide the periods in the same way as the Jewish versions.

[5] Op cit page 102

[6]  Ibid page 102-103

[7]  Ibid

[8]  Ore, Oystein, Number Theory and Its History, Dover Publications, 1976. Page 1-2

[9]  Brown, op cit page 109.

[10]  JPS version

[11]  Unfortunately this is a common tactic found in works like Dr. Brown’s.

[12]  Brown, op cit page 107.

[13]  Ibid page 109.

[14]  See my paper as to how this works out according to the Biblical chronmology.

[15]  Below I have copied the chart from my paper which has the dates according to the secular chronology.

[16]  Brown, op cit. page 102.

[17]  Dr. Brown here seems to reject the mathematical trick used by some Christians called the ‘prophetic year’. I discuss this in my paper.

[18]  A. Lukyn Williams, Christian Evidences for the Jewish People, 1911 Paragraph 284.

[19]  These are the standard dates that we find in scholarly works, they are based on Ptolemy.

[20]  These dates are based on other sources I have seen. My intention here is only to give a rough outline of the situation and not a rigorous scholarly treatment of the secular dating. It should be understood that any dating calculations for a period in the past like this cannot be 100%.