What Really Happened in 1844?

By David Hill

(This article copied from David's web site)


If 1844 is not a significant date in your mind then you need not read any further.

In Adventist theology, 1844 is a year of profound significance. But can this date be supported by Scripture? Every follower of Adventism and/or the writings of Ellen G. White must make certain in his/her own mind that the year 1844 holds special significance. This date must be supported from the Bible alone, and not from any other fallible human writings.

This however is impossible, because the bible counts time by reference to the reign of certain kings etc. and these dates can only be converted to years B.C. by the assistance of secular history studies. As there is still a fair degree of controversy amongst scholars on even such basic dates as the year of the birth of Jesus Christ, accuracy within one or two years cannot be guaranteed.

But let's make an allowance at this point for the sake of more important issues. Let us say that all the historical dates quoted in Adventist writings are accurate to the very year.

The 1844 date was calculated by William Miller, a Baptist lay preacher, from his interpretation of the Bible and the historical data that he had at his disposal. His calculation was based on the vision of Daniel recorded in Daniel 8.

Accepting on face value of the English translation of "evening mornings" as days, (Daniel 8:14) William Miller calculated the date 1844 by applying the 'day for year' principle and counting 2300 years. But where was his starting point? All Adventists know that the 2300 years are counted from 'the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem' said to have occurred in 457 B.C. (Daniel 9:25) But is this biblically sound doctrine? And can the '2300 evening mornings' of Daniel 8:14 be linked in any way with the 490 years of the prophesy of chapter 9 which was delivered to Daniel several years later?

For confirmation from God's Word let us begin our study at Daniel Chapter 9. To understand Daniel 9:24ff, it is important to read it in its biblical context.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Notice the Daniel's focus of attention. Pay particular attention to the sections in bold type. The year is circa 538 B.C. one year before the expiry of the seventy years of exile prophesied by Jeremiah.

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. -- Daniel 9:1-5

Daniel intercedes for his people confessing their sins before God.

"Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. "And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. " As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. -- Daniel 9:11-13

Daniel realizes that what has happened to his people is a direct result of the curse of the Law of Moses. But why is he particularly distressed by the continuing disobedience of the people? Is he concerned that God has forgotten his original period of seventy years? The answer lies in the Law of Moses. Let's look at the curse that the Jewish people were under at that time.

'But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, -- Leviticus 26:14 …
And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. -- Leviticus 26:25-28

This was Daniel's concern, that because of their lack of repentance, the Jew's punishment of seventy years would be multiplied seven times according to the curse of the Law of Moses. (70 years x 7 = 490 years of punishment)  Realizing this grave threat Daniel appeals to the Lord to for his Name's sake.

"Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. -- Daniel 9:17

"O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and our people are called by Your name." -- Daniel 9:19

Daniel's intercessory prayer for the fate of his nation is answered directly by God through the Angel Gabriel.

Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. "At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:  -- Daniel 9:20-22

This is the answer that came in answer to Daniel's concern for his unrepentant brethren.

"Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,' --
Daniel 9:24a

The Seventy weeks (literally seventy sevens) is a 490 year period using the 'day for year' principle of interpretation. This time period is consistent with the time of the indignation of God, (Daniel 8:19) an extension of Judah's punishment for their rebellion according to the sevenfold curse of the Law of Moses. (Leviticus 26:25-28) At this point it is important to understand the reason why God decreed this ''determined' period of time. We have seen that 490 years is seven times the original 70 year period of exile that was prophesied by Jeremiah but if this is a correct interpretation it must agree with those reasons given by the Angel.

'To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
' -- Daniel 9:24b

We see that the divine purpose of the 490 year period is consistent with and pertinent to dealing with national sin. 

However, the answer does not end there. Daniel no doubt knew that according to the prophecy of Isaiah, (Isaiah 44:28) a king called Cyrus would issue a decree that would end the 70 years nominated by Jeremiah and grant to the Jews freedom to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple and city. In His grace and mercy (and for his Name's sake as Daniel requested) God consented to honour his promise despite the rebelliousness of the exiles.   So in the next verse Daniel is reassured here that there will be a command to restore and build Jerusalem, even though this will be done in a time of turmoil rather than in peace.

"Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
-- Daniel 9: 25

Bible scholars and historians agree that Cyrus' command to rebuild the temple went out in the first year of his reign, and in actual fact, the rebuilding of the temple was begun around 537 B.C. and completed by the year 515 B.C. Work on the temple was halted around 522 B.C. and did not resume until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. The temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. (Ezra 6:15) This date was circa 515 B.C.[1]

However, the actual date of the rebuilding of the temple is not critical, as the period of 490 years begins at the date of the command to restore and build Jerusalem, not from the commencement of the building of the temple. The rebuilding of the temple however can be seen as the beginning of the rebuilding of the city, as the temple was its focal point, so a date for the command would logically precede the erection of the temple.[2]

In her book "The Great Controversy", Ellen G. White states that the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the temple, its re-affirmation by Darius, and its completion by Artaxerxes, together constitute the 'command to restore and build Jerusalem'  which marks the date 457 B.C. But while the scriptural decree of Cyrus (circa 537 B.C.) fulfills the prophecy, its affirmation by Darius and the decree of Artaxerxes cannot together mark the date that begins the 490 year period. The reason is that it is clear that the date is to be taken 'from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem'. Artaxerxes' command is a decree giving Ezra the priest permission to re-institute the work of the priesthood in the temple.  The assumption that the three decrees can be seen a single unit is the first and base assumption of her theory. Upon this assumption it must be further assumed that the date of the last command should be used rather than the obvious date of the 'going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem'.  

In 'The Great Controversy' Chapter 18, E. G. White states that,

QUOTE "The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting-point for the great period of 2300 days would be ascertained. In the seventh chapter of Ezra, the decree is found. In its completest form it was issued by Artaxerxes king of Persia, B.C. 457. But in Ezra 6:14 the house of the Lord at Jerusalem is said to have been built "according to the commandment [margin, decree] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia." These three kings, in originating, re-affirming, and completing the decree, brought it to the perfection required by the prophecy to mark the beginning of the 2300 years." UNQUOTE

However, you may diligently study this decree in seventh chapter of Ezra (verses 12 to 26) but you will not find in it a command to 'restore and build Jerusalem'.  Furthermore you won't find a command to build the temple as the temple had been completed some 58 years prior to this decree! A reading the 457 B.C. decree will reveal that it is an independent decree given to Ezra the priest for the purpose of aiding the reestablishment of the levitical and priestly duties of the temple. Although it is true that the temple and its proper services were in a sense finally completed according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, (Ezra 6:14) it still remains to be shown that 'the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem' was a result of these three decrees. It may be a small point to distinguish between the restoring and building of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of its temple but nonetheless in it we discover another assumption (the third) namely, that the combined interest of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes in the Temple in Judah can be equated with the 'going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem'.

If we are not to make a similar assumption in accepting that the command to 'restore and build Jerusalem' was given by King Cyrus of Persia then we should show from Scripture that Cyrus' decree fulfils the criteria of restoring and building Jerusalem, not just the rebuilding the temple.

The prophet Isaiah gave this prophecy showing that Cyrus' command was for both the building of Jerusalem and of the Temple.

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness; Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, 'You shall be inhabited,' To the cities of Judah, 'You shall be built,' And I will raise up her waste places; Who says to the deep, 'Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers'; Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid." ' -- Isaiah 44:24-28

Cyrus died in 529 B.C. In order for this prophecy to be fulfilled Cyrus must have issued his decree prior to 529 B.C. The 'seven weeks' and the 'sixty two week' periods must have begun sometime during his reign. The writings of the historian Flavius Josephus confirm that "Cyrus also sent an epistle to the governors that were in Syria, the contents whereof here follow:-

"KING CYRUS TO SISINNES AND SATHRABUZANES, SENDETH GREETING".

I have given leave to as many of the Jews that dwell in my country as please to return to their own country, and to rebuild their city, and to build the temple of God at Jerusalem, on the same place where it was before. ....." (Antiquities Bk 11 Ch 1)

Now let's examine Jeremiah's prophecy, which you will recall was the one that Daniel referred to in his prayer.[3]

'And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the LORD; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation. -- Jeremiah 25;11-12

For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. --Jeremiah 29:10

The phase 'cause you to return' is the Hebrew word shuwb (Strong's reference 7725). It is exactly the same Hebrew verb (hifil, infinitive construct) used in Daniel 9: 25 for 'restore'.[4]  So according to Jeremiah's prophecy 'restoration' was to be effected after the seventy years in exile. According to Ezra, Jeremiah's prophesies including his prophecy of the 'restoring' was fulfilled in the first year of King Cyrus of Persia by his decree.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. -- Ezra 1:1-2

Hence we see that the biblical evidence cited above confirms both parts of Daniel's prophecy - the restoring and the building of Jerusalem. There is little doubt then that 'the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem' should be dated at 537 B.C. [5]

This date presents a problem for those who assume that it is necessary to count 490 years from 537 B.C. Of course this would bring one to 47 B.C. a date of little significance. But if we understand the passage properly we will not be obliged to play the counting game. God simply said that a period of seven sevens and a period of sixty-two sevens were determined[6] and that these periods were to be fulfilled after the command to return was given. (537 B.C.) If we understand the dialogue between Daniel and God we will see that Daniel asked for answers based on his concerns for the return of the exiles. In response God informs him first that he will fulfill His determined punishment according to the sevenfold Law. Then in verse 25a, He reassures Daniel that the prophecy of Jeremiah will go ahead in spite of this. God offers more detail when He specifies the three separate periods of punishment. A period of 7 sevens is to transpire before the coming of an anointed one, a prince. Ellen White's fourth assumption is that this refers to Jesus Christ. This interpretation rests on the translation of the King James Bible. The RSV and NAB translations make it difficult to hold this view. Goldingay suggests that if the anointed leader was to come after the seven sevens 'then the term likely refers to either Zerubbabel or Joshua'.[7]   

25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks.  Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. -- Daniel 9: 25.[8]

But these three separate periods of hardship need not be consecutive. They are only a fulfillment of the sevenfold curse of the law. The turbulent history of the Jews since their return from exile allows ample room for the fulfillment of 490 years of punishment. Thus any attempt to calculate dates rests on the assumption that the KJV interprets the verse correctly and that the nominated periods are consecutive. It also requires that 'the anointed one' referred to is Jesus Christ. That adds another three assumptions so that the running total for this theory is now seven.

But yet another problem arises with William Miller's arithmetic in that it is extremely difficult to establish that the 2300 "days" of Daniel 8 and the 490 years of Daniel 9 have a common starting point. These two time periods have no sound connection! This connection of Daniel 8 & 9 is the eighth assumption of the theory.

The vision in Daniel 9 cannot be treated as an explanation of the vision in Chapter 8. These two visions were separated by several years. The first vision took place in the third year of Belshazzar's reign. Circa 548 B.C. The supplication of Daniel occurred in 539 B.C. (Edward Reece - "The Reece Chronological Bible" Pages 1147 & 1158)  The Angel said to Daniel,

Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, 'O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.  23At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: -- Daniel 9: 20-23

It is to be noted that the second word "vision" in Daniel 9:23 is MAREH (Strong's Reference 4758) and is not used to describe a vision as seen while in an ecstatic state. The Hebrew word for the type of vision of Daniel 8 (see verse 1 and the first use of the word in 9:21) is the word HAZAH (Strong's Reference 2377) meaning 'a divine revelation'.  Both words also appear in Daniel 8:15 HAZAH is translated 'vision' while MARAH is translated 'appearance'.

Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. -- Daniel 8:15

It is clear that the command to grant understanding to Daniel went out at the beginning of Daniel's supplications. (verse 23) The angel Gabriel "being caused to fly swiftly" (verse 21) did not take nine years to arrive. He did not come to give understanding to Daniel's previous vision. Daniel had already been given the interpretation for that vision some nine years prior. The Angel's task was to urge Daniel to consider the current matter and gain perception in response to his supplication! (Compare Daniel 9:3 & 23)

To discover the truth about the 2300 days let's take another look at the divine question and take note of the divine answer as recorded in Daniel 8.

Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?"

And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." -- Dan 8:12-14

After studying the above texts one logically assumes that counting commences at the point where the sanctuary service was interrupted, seeing that the 2300 "days" was given as the time period that the vision concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation etc. would endure.

Has the sanctuary ever been desolated for 2300 years? Not yet! Have the daily sacrifices ceased for 2300 years? Not yet!

Perhaps the vision refers to the heavenly sanctuary? Has the heavenly sanctuary been desolated for 2300 years? No, because our High Priest is at this moment ministering in the perfect heavenly Sanctuary on our behalf!

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. -- Hebrews 9:11

If the Heavenly Sanctuary is perfect it cannot have been desolated! Could the daily sacrifices cease in heaven for 2300 years? No, there are no daily sacrifices in the heavenly Sanctuary. There is but one heavenly Sacrifice!

For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. Heb 7:26-27

Putting our preconceived notions aside, let's continue our study of Daniel's vision as recorded in Daniel chapter 8.

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me; to me, Daniel; after the one that appeared to me the first time. Dan 8:1

Daniel did not at once understand the meaning of the vision.

Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. Dan 8:15

Then came a divine command to make Daniel understand the meaning of the vision!

And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end." Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be. Dan 8:16-19

Now lets juxtapose the vision and it's divine interpretation.

Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.

 

"And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. Dan 8:21
"As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power. -- Daniel 8:22

And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

 

 

"And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes. -- Daniel 8:23

His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Dan 8:24

"Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means. -- Daniel 8:25

Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?" And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Daniel 8:8-14  

"And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future." -- Daniel 8:26

By divine interpretation the male goat represents Greece. Just as God had foretold through the prophet Daniel, the power that arose after the Media-Persian empire was that of Greece under Alexander the Great. And true to God's Word, Alexander perished (at the age of 33 years) and his kingdom was divided amongst four of his generals in 301 B.C. These four dynasties continued until the first century B.C. In the latter time of these kingdoms (Recall Daniel 8:23) one of the Seleucid kings, Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C., fulfilled the prophetic words of Daniel's vision with frightening reality.

Flavius Josephus, a renowned historian who lived at the time of the Apostles recorded the tragic events of that time in this way, (Antiquities of the Jews Book 12 Chapter 5)

And when the king had built an idol altar upon God's Altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship which they paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars, in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day. (254) He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction. He also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded. (255) And indeed many Jews there were who complied with the king's commands either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced; but the best men, and those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the customs of their country than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments; (256) for they were whipped with rods and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified while they were still alive and breathed: they also strangled those women and their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons about their necks as they were upon the crosses. And if there were any sacred book of the law found, it was destroyed; and those with whom they were found miserably perished also.

But Daniel's vision also foretold a "cleansing of the sanctuary" 2300 "days" later. In referring to the 2300 days, the word "days" is literally translated "evenings and mornings". The Hebrew word for day is "yom". (e.g. Yom Kippur) But "yom" is not used here. Instead, the 2300 "days" are actually evenings (Heb. `ereb 6153) and mornings (Heb. boqer 1242) relating to the daily sacrifices. (See Ezra 3:3, 2 Chron 2:4, 13:11, 31:3) The word 'days' being an English rendition, is not a literal translation. Therefore, in this case, one cannot apply the 'day for year principle' as there is no precedent for a year corresponding to a morning or an evening sacrifice! It is not by coincidence that this vision is called "the vision of the evenings and mornings" (Daniel 8:26) not the vision of the days. This vision and the number 2300 must refer to the number of sacrifices that would be omitted during the time that sacrifices would be prevented under the reign of the "little horn". These are 2300 literal evening and morning sacrifices.

Fortunately, we can put this interpretation of prophecy to the test. If the temple was in fact "cleansed" after the omission of 2300 sacrifices then the meaning of the vision is found. Faithful to his word the Lord God brought relief from the suffering that his people endured at that time and restored the defiled sanctuary. The events of that time are graphically recorded in the books of Maccabees, and other historical sources. Josephus also recorded the events of the cleansing of the temple sanctuary circa 164 B.C. ('Antiquities of the Jews' Book 12, Ch 8)

"Now it so fell out, that these things were done on the very same day on which their divine worship had fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use, after three years' time; for so it was that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years. (321) This desolation happened to the temple in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Apelleus, and on the hundred and fifty-third Olympiad: but it was dedicated anew, on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Apelleus, in the hundred and forty-eighth year, and on the hundred and fifty-fourth Olympiad. (322) And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some time]. 7. (323) Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them, by hymns and psalms. (324) Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of the temple worship, for eight days. (325) And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.

At the time of Christ, the festival of Lights (celebrating the cleansing of the sanctuary) was celebrated under the name of the Feast of Dedication.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. -- -- John 10:22

Jesus went to Jerusalem at the time of this festival even though it was dangerous for him to do so.  The Feast was a celebration of the 'cleansing of the sanctuary'. One would wonder why Christ was so eager to celebrate this festival if it was actually a tradition that misrepresented the fulfillment of this important prophecy.

Now it may be that the deeds of Antiochus Epiphanes and the post-exilic suffering of the Jews constitute a type rather than the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. Perhaps there is still a future fulfillment that will come to pass, but it is clear that Daniel's vision prophesied these very events long before they happened. In fact, some would argue that Daniel's prophecies refer to the "time of the end" (Daniel 8:17,19) and the "latter days" (Daniel 10:14). But a closer look at these texts show that it is the latter days of the close of the Israelite kingdom that is meant.

So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end." … And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be. -- Daniel 8:17,19

The indignation refers to the 490 years of God's punishment of Israel as previously discussed.

"Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." -- Daniel 10:14

Note that once again the Lord refers to those under His indignation as "your people" not as My people.

Now lets recap the main points of our study.

1. The starting point for the counting of the 490 years can only be set at the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem.

(a) If it is the command to build the temple that begins the 490 years then the starting date must be 538 B.C. - the year that Cyrus issued the decree to build the temple in Jerusalem.

(b) If on the other hand the building of Jerusalem itself is meant, then the date differs but according to the prophecy of Isaiah still lies prior to 529 B.C.

(c) If the command is a threefold command originating with Cyrus and finding its completion in Artaxerxes, the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to rebuild the city of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. (Neh. 2:5) seems vastly more significant as the date of the "completion" than the decree to Ezra for the restoration of the law and the temple service. (Ezra 7:12-26)

(d) The method of interpreting the command as a threefold command and the setting of the date at the supposed "completion" rather than at the "going forth" cannot be supported by Scripture.

2. The evidence linking the 2300 days and the period of 490 years is extremely weak. The vision in Daniel 9 cannot be treated as an explanation of the vision in Chapter 8. These two visions were separated by several years. The first vision took place in the third year of Belshazzar's reign. Circa 548 B.C. The supplication of Daniel occurred in 539 B.C. (Edward Reece - "The Reece Chronological Bible" Pages 1147 & 1158) Daniel 9: 23 has been misinterpreted to prove that the second vision explains the first. However, one must remember that the word "vision" in Daniel 9:23 is MAREH (Strong's Reference 4758) and really means 'perception'. The Hebrew word for vision (as used elsewhere in Daniel) is the word HAZAH (Strong's Reference 2377) meaning 'a divine revelation'. It is clear that the command to grant understanding to Daniel went out at the beginning of Daniel's supplications. (verse 23) The angel Gabriel "being caused to fly swiftly" (verse 21) did not take nine years to arrive. He did not come to add to Daniel's previously interpreted vision but to urge Daniel to consider the current matter and gain perception in response to his supplication! (Compare Daniel 9:3 & 23)

3. By allowing the Scripture to interpret itself, the period of 490 years is understood as a pre-determined period of punishment in response to the Jews' continued disobedience. We can now read the prophecy of Daniel 9 in a new light. Within the period of 490 years are another two pre-determined periods of 49 yrs and 434 years respectively. These two periods simply precede the coming of the Anointed, nothing more. It is only human assumption that these periods have to follow consecutively. There is now no need to align these periods to known dates in order come up with a "starting point". The 538 B.C. starting point can be readily accepted, being the most literal and simplest interpretation of Scripture. We can be satisfied with the fact that the Jews suffered a total of 483 years of punishment prior to the coming of the Messiah. We can also re-examine some of the complicated theories of Daniel's seventieth week which need not be such a mystery. In fact the remaining seven years of punishment may have easily been fulfilled in the period after Christ and prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.

4. Closer examination of the 2300 days reveals that these are literal morning and evening sacrifices. Therefore the 'day for year principle' cannot be applied to this figure as it can be to actual days or weeks. The is no scriptural precedent for applying the principle to morning and evening sacrifices. There is ample historical evidence to show that a fulfillment of the omission of 2300 literal sacrifices in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes and a subsequent cleansing of the sanctuary did take place. (Refer to the Books of Maccabees) This event was so significant that it became an annual feast and is still celebrated by Jews today.

Miller's assumption that the 'day for year' principle can be applied to 'evenings and mornings' was his ninth assumption. He was also convinced that the 'cleansing of the sanctuary' referred to the return of Christ. This, his tenth unfounded assumption, was indeed a costly conjecture. Many trusted in Miller's interpretations and gathered together to wait for the coming of the Lord in 1843. They gathered again in 1844 but the outcome was nothing but bitter disappointment.

From the points raised in this booklet we can see serious flaws in the doctrine of 1844. William Miller admitted his mistake. Others could not face the truth of their error and fabricated complicated interpretations of these prophecies in order to ease their disappointment.

Exposing the error of the doctrine of 1844 and all that it represents strikes a crippling blow to the very root of Adventism. Without 1844 the whole network of false Adventist teaching falls with a thundering crash!

The Scriptures clearly disprove the 1844 doctrine. It is time to get back to the Bible and the Bible alone. It is time accept the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and ignore the misleading doctrines of human "teachers".

May God bless you in your search for Him.



[1] Why then did Ezra credit the temple construction in part to the command of Artaxerxes? (Ezra 6:14) Artaxerxes, the grandson of Darius 1 and great grandson of Cyrus, began his reign upon the death of his father Xerxes in 465 B.C. (about fifty years after the completion of the temple) and his reign continued until 425 B.C. It was not until the seventh year of Artaxerxes' reign in 457 B.C. that he sent Ezra the priest to Jerusalem with gifts to be used for service in the temple of God. Therefore, if the Artaxerxes of Ezra 6:14 is the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:12-26. then Ezra 6:14 is an anachronism. It would appear that King Artaxerxes' name was possibly included by Ezra out of deep respect for the king's generosity in the gifts provided by the king for the beautification of the temple and a recognition of Artaxerxes interest in the temple as the progeny of Darius.

[2] The book of Haggai tells us that in second year of King Darius, the rebuilding of the new settler's homes preceded the completion of the temple. (Haggai 1:1ff)

[3] Daniel 9:1

[4] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart) 1990.

[5] As previously stated the Book of Haggai  tells us that the people who had returned from exile had constructed their own houses prior to the building of the temple in the second year of Darius' reign. (Haggai 1:1,4&9) The city of Jerusalem was under restoration back in 522 B.C.! In 444 B.C. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. (Neh 2:1-8) After making a survey of the city, Nehemiah said to the people of Jerusalem, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste and its gates burned with fire." Nehemiah then proceeded to rebuild the gates and walls of city according to the authority granted to him by the king. If the command to 'restore and build Jerusalem' incorporated the 'originating, re-affirming, and completing' commands of the three kings referred to by E.G. White, then surely this important command to Nehemiah for the completion of the restoration and rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem (specifically its walls and gates) cannot be ignored. Consideration must be given to the date 444 B.C. when calculating the commencement of the 490 years.

[6] A third period on one seven is implied.

[7] John E. Goldingay 'Daniel' in Word Biblical Commentary (Word Books: Dallas) 1989.

[8]The Revised Standard Version, (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.) 1973, 1977.


Other Articles Written by David Hill