THE prophet Daniel lived more than 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jehovah revealed to Daniel information that would make it possible to pinpoint the time when Jesus would be anointed, or appointed, as the Messiah, or Christ. Daniel was told: “You should know and understand that from the issuing of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be 7 weeks, also 62 weeks.”—Daniel 9:25.
To determine the time of the Messiah’s arrival, first we need to learn the starting point of the period leading to the Messiah. According to the prophecy, it is “from the issuing of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem.” When did this “issuing of the word” take place? According to the Bible writer Nehemiah, the word to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem was issued “in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes.” (Nehemiah 2:1, 5-8) Historians confirm that the year 474 B.C.E. was Artaxerxes’ first full year as ruler. Therefore, the 20th year of his rule was 455 B.C.E. Now we have the starting point for Daniel’s Messianic prophecy, that is, 455 B.C.E.
Daniel indicates how long the time period leading to the arrival of “Messiah the Leader” would last. The prophecy mentions “7 weeks, also 62 weeks”—a total of 69 weeks. How long is this period of time? Several Bible translations note that these are, not weeks of seven days, but weeks of years. That is, each week represents seven years. This concept of weeks of years, or seven-year units, was familiar to Jews of ancient times. For instance, they observed a Sabbath year every seventh year. (Exodus 23:10, 11) Therefore, the prophetic 69 weeks amount to 69 units of 7 years each, or a total of 483 years.
Now all we must do is count. If we count from 455 B.C.E., a period of 483 years takes us to the year 29 C.E. That was exactly the year when Jesus was baptized and became the Messiah!* (Luke 3:1, 2, 21, 22) Is that not a remarkable fulfillment of Bible prophecy?
From 455 B.C.E. to 1 B.C.E. is 454 years. From 1 B.C.E. to 1 C.E. is one year (there was no zero year). And from 1 C.E. to 29 C.E. is 28 years. Adding these three figures gives us the total of 483 years. Jesus was “cut off” in death in 33 C.E., during the 70th week of years. (Daniel 9:24, 26) See Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! chapter 11, and Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 899-901. Both are published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.