Header Image: The angel Gabriel coming to Daniel

Daniel's 70 Weeks

 

To fully understand Jesus's first, and indeed what is commonly called his "Second Coming," we need to understand the book of Daniel. This prophetic books give many details and glimpses into the future about coming kingdoms, rulers and above all, the Messiah. I'm going to be focussing on just one part of the book, chapter nine, often referred to as "Daniel's 70 Weeks". But just what is "Daniel's 70 Weeks" you might be asking as you read this. For those unfamiliar with Old Testament prophecy, it is a prophetic vision that Daniel was given from God, and interpreted by the angel Gabriel. You can read the prophecy in full below: 

Dan 9: 20-27 (NRSV)

While I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God— while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision:

“Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.”

Now, in this prophecy, it speaks of "weeks" (or literally, "sevens") – 70 in total, which if taken at face value would only be just over a year in length. This would be a very short time to do all that is spoken of by the angel — especially the rebuilding of a city!

Advertisement

The prophecy in Daniel gave the time span for the rebuilding of the city and even mentions that it will be in a "troubled time" as Gabriel told Daniel, which we can see happen in the book of Nehemiah in about 444 BC (around 94 years later):

Nehemiah 4:7-8

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. (cf. Neh 4:16-18; Ezra 3:3) 

The is a prophetic metaphor for years – each day equals one year. You may wonder how the "sevens" or "week" equals 7 years, and by looking at other examples of prophetic language in the Bible, we can find two other places where one day is equal to one year in a prophetic sense: Ez 4:6 and Num 14:34. There's also two other places where one day is equalled with one thousand years: Ps 90:4 and 2 Pet 3:8 – unlike the previous examples, these aren't spoken of in a prophecy or vision as to have a specific time meaning, but are rather hyperbole to make a point, as the surrounding context of those verses will show.

Advertisement

If we were to calculate Daniel's prophecy based on 1000 years to each day, it would cover a timeframe of 70,000 years instead of 490 – which is just slightly ridiculous!

So lets break down the prophecy to see what's going on and being said:

"Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city" — 70 weeks, or 490 years (70x7), have been decreed by God as the time set for the following things to take place for the Jews and Jerusalem. These things can be split up into six parts:

  1. To finish the transgression
  2. To put an end to sin
  3. To atone for iniquity
  4. To bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. To seal both vision and prophet
  6. To anoint a most holy place (Heb. or "thing" or "one").

The angel Gabriel then gives a brief overview of how all of these things will happen, when the seventy week countdown begins, and the timescale for each part. The nation of Israel were basically on probation from God to get their act together; they have 490 years to get right with God, which is point 1. Then follows points 2-6. This prophecy is actually very precise and specific!

...from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

I'm going to include this same quote from the NIV translation too (all other quotes are NRSV), as it keeps the original wording of "sevens" instead of using "weeks", which I find makes the grammar of the sentence flow a little better:

From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’  It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

This in total means that there are to be 483 years from when the word "goes out" to start restoration on Jerusalem. I point this out because of the way the English translations make the initial seven and the sixty-two sevens appear as separate events, as in the NRSV ("there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks...") whereas the NIV quote doesn't come across that way, and neither does it in some other versions, such as the KJV. I looked this up in a Hebrew interlinear (since I can't read ancient Hebrew) and the flow of the sentence is more akin to the NIV, KJV etc., with a Sof passuk (ie. a full stop/period) marking the end of the sentence at the end of verse 25. But I'm not a Hebrew expert so I may be overlooking other aspects of grammar here.

What has this got to do with Jesus?

Advertisement

Now you may be asking, what has all this got to do with the "Second Coming?" Well, in order to fully understand when the return and "the end" is to take place, we must first understand the timing of Daniel's prophecy about the Messiah as his first coming and death, and then what's oftern thought to be his return are all wrapped up in this 70 weeks.

"From the time the word went out" is often related to King Cyrus, who gave the initial decree that allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding their temple (cf. 2 Chron. 36:23; Ezra 1:2-5). This is assumed because Cyrus was prophesied about by Isaiah 150-200 years before he was born. The amazing thing about this prophecy is that Isaiah actually named Cyrus and that he would do this! Check it out:

Isaiah 44:28

...who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd,
    and he shall carry out all my purpose”;
and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”

Advertisement

But what is often overlooked in this is that Cyrus only gives a decree to rebuild the temple. We see this fulfilled in Ezra 3:8-13 which tells of when the foundations were laid after the Jews returned to Jerusalem following Cyrus's decree. Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, gives a nice little insight into this aspect of Jewish history (Antiquities 11:1,2) when he recounts that King Cyrus didn't realise this was written but when it was shown to him, he then had a desire to go about and fulfil it - despite being a Persian king who didn't even know nor worship the God of the Jews (Isa 45:5)!

So when did the seventy week clock begin ticking, if not with Cyrus? There are four decrees by three kings to the Jews concerning the rebuilding of the temple and the city, over a period of time: Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes (twice, although there is some dispute over whether there was a second king with the same name later on).

But is it the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11-26) in which the Jewish people were allowed to go back to Jerusalem with the blessing of the king, so that they may restore it fully. This happened  in the 7th year of his reign (Ezra 7:8), which according to historical records, would have been 457 BC.

As a point of interest, there is another way in which these initial 7 weeks and 62 weeks can be read which could also explain why the "weeks" are phrased in two parts ("until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks..."). This first anointed price could well reference Cyrus (as "anointed" doesn't always mean the Messiah in the Saviour sense), and the "word" that went out could be a reference to Jeremiah's prophecy about the Babylonian captivity (which is during the time that Daniel was written). Jeremiah prophesied about Jerusalem about 587 BC, which would in fact be 49 years before Cyrus gave his decree, around 538 BC. The break in the time, and then continuing with "and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built..." would still begin when the rebuilding actually took place, in the reign of Artaxerxes, still leading us up until the time of Jesus. 

Linking into the New Testament

Advertisement

It is generally accepted that Jesus was baptised around 26 or 27 AD, given the timescales and points in history the authors of Scripture give us (eg. Luke 3:1). This now brings us from "the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" right up until "after the sixty-two weeks" when the next "anointed one" appears in the prophecy, as when Jesus was baptised it was then he was anointed by the Holy Spirit to begin his ministry (Matt 3:16-17; Acts 10:38). As an aside for those reading who may not realise the connection: Messiah is the Hebrew word for "anointed," and Christ is the Greek version of that Hebrew word – hence Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah (although, not all who were anointed were thought or expected to be the promised Saviour-Messiah).

This timescale brings us perfectly up to the 69 "weeks" of Daniel's prophecy, which is 483 years leaving only the remaining "week" to go.

There is a 'pause' here, similar to the first 7 weeks, in the way the angel Gabriel phrases the prophecy to Daniel in verse 26: "After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing" – so the initial 483 years brings us up to the next appearance of the Anointed One, and then after this he shall be "cut off", ie. killed. Jesus was crucified after about 3 years of ministry.

Before getting into that last 7 year period, I'd just like to point out some aspects of the Gospels and Galatians which should hopefully make more sense now in light of Daniel's prophecy and its timing:

Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law... (emphasis mine)

Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (emphasis mine)

 Jesus began his ministry at that time because it was when the "time [was] fulfilled", referencing Daniel's prophecy (which would also "seal both vision and prophet" about this event; v.24) , which his original audience would have understood. The Jewish people had that time while Jesus was with them to repent and turn back to God and enter his eternal kingdom which was promised to the Messiah – the kingdom which Daniel also prophesied about in Daniel chapter two, that would be founded not by human hands, and which would last forever. That was the time which God had given his people, and those who rejected it would suffer what was prophesied about in the final "week".

Dan 2:44

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever

2 Peter 1:11

For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you

Jn 18:36

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.

The Final Week

There is some contention about this final seven years. The details about what happens during that time are divided in half: a ruler will come to destroy for the first half (3.5 years), and then war will ensue until the end, which will also be this ruler's end too when the final 3.5 years are complete.

Some say that it is still yet to come, in some far-flung future, as the "prophetic clock" stopped when Jesus was killed. I suspect if you've ever been taught anything about the "End Times," that is what you believe or expect, especially if you have read or watched the Left Behind books or films which are based heavily on a futurist interpretation of Daniel, Revelation and the Olivet Discourse.

But it may surprise you to know that this isn't the only interpretation or school of thought, despite how popular this view is. I used to believe that this was what was going to happen, that it could happen at any moment as "Jesus is coming soon!" along with great tribulation and "armageddon" as people often proclaim. But after studying this topic for quite some time now, I've found that it doesn't reconcile with what the Scriptures say, or what Jesus taught, nor what history shows, and thus have had to adjust my views.

Advertisement

Lets have a look at what is to happen in the final seven years:

Dan 9:26-27

After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.

 Now some say that since Jesus' ministry was about 3 and a half years long, that this was the final week and why the sacrifices were ceased. On the face of it this seems to make sense, as the sacrificial death of Jesus was the be the final sacrifice for sins for all time in the eyes of God, thus any other animal sacrifices aren't accepted. While Jesus's death did fulfil other aspects of this prophecy: "an anointed one shall be cut off  ... to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness" which the New Testament authors were clearly aware of and saw fulfilled in Jesus, I won't write them all out here but will give references – John 1:29; 1 Cor 1:30;  2 Cor 5:17-19,21; Romans 3:21-22 ; Romans 5:17-19; Heb 13:12; Heb 9:15;  1 Peter 2:24; Col 1:20, plus many more.

Advertisement

I will quote one passage though, which I think summarises the fulfillment of Jesus in Daniel's prophecy:

Heb 9:26b-25

But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Not only does this state that the early Christians saw Jesus as being the ultimate sacrifice to remove sins for all time, and give those who believe in him everlasting righteousness, but that they also recognised the times as being "the end of the age". I will be going more into that topic later in this series. 

Advertisement

So while I do see a fulfillment here in part, and agree with the New Testament authors that Jesus's sacrifice did put an end to the need for animal sin sacrifices, however I don't believe that this is what Dan 9:26-27 is all about, as the Jews will have continued to sacrifice in the temple as they always did, even after Jesus's death.

No, this part is also what Jesus prophesied about in Matt 24:15 "So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel" and also in verse 30, "they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’" which is also a reference to the book of Daniel chapter seven: "As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven."

Here, Jesus also says that the temple will be destroyed too, which is what this final week in Daniel is also saying: "the prince ... shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" – contrast this with Matt 24:1-2.

Some reading this now may be thinking of something else Jesus said, "But about that day and hour no one knows" — this can still be true despite the preciseness of Daniel's prophecy, simply because the 70 weeks appear to have some time breaks which leave it open to happen only when certain events are in play – by which point the signs of what's coming will be obvious yet still not definite.

Advertisement

"After the sixty-two weeks ... the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city..." – there's an indefinite period of time here, which is why Jesus told his disciples, "when you see all these things, you know that he is near..."

I'll be discussing Matthew 24-25 in more detail in Part 3 of this series; the next part will be looking at what exactly "coming on the clouds of heaven" means in terms of it's usage in the Old Testament prophetic texts, and how the disciples and those listening to Jesus would have understood it, as all these phrases link the New to the Old Testament. As 1st century Jews who knew their Scriptures, they would have undoubtedly have heard it differently to how we do in a 21st century context with all of our "End Times" baggage and bias.

 

Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Advertisement

 


 

Further reading: 

 

Subscribe to Updates
Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 607 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

The Problem of Suffering and How We Approach it

| 06th January 2018 | Christianity

The topic of human suffering is a subject many Christians struggle with, and is an issue many theologians have written about over the centuries — so it's definitely not something I can fully address in a single blog post! But there are some general principles we can find in Scripture that many Christians can/do accept, which should act as a starting point to addressing this subject, such as: We live in a fallen world due to sin (Gen 3), and so things aren’t perfect and neither are people, therefore suffering can happen from illness, nature, and human action (or inaction). Not all suffering is necessarily “bad”, from a Christian perspective. For example, if we are made to suffer due to our faith, we should rejoice to be counted as partakers in Christ’s suffering — 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. And, Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Sometimes suffering can be used to test our faith to make us stronger, which we see an example of with Peter in the Gospels: Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And also in James’ epistle: James 1:2-4 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. Lastly, sometimes bad things just happen for no good reason. This kind of relates to point one, but with a bit of a different explanation to point out that just because someone suffers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were under any judgement or that they were any worse than another person — though there are certain times where God's judgement was on someone, but these things are explained in Scripture so we can expect them (see: Acts 12:22-23 and 1 Cor 11:28-32). We can infer consequential suffering from Jesus’ teaching when he speaks about a local tragedy of a tower collapsing and killing some people: Luke 13: 4-5 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No […] Can we do anything about it? Christianity isn't about trying to philosophise about why we suffer, but rather it's to do with how we respond to suffering. We accept that it's a reality of our lives and world, and then go about trying to make it better. James makes the point in his epistle when explaining that “pure religion” is “to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). This is similar to what Isaiah declared about the type of worship that God is truly interested in: Isaiah 58:6-7Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of injustice,to undo the thongs of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke?Is it not to share your br...

Jesus was a pagan copy, and other Christmas myths

| 24th December 2017 | Christmas

It's that time of year again when certain groups of people like to share memes and videos that apparently "prove" Jesus to be a carbon-copy of ancient Egyptian gods. This has been debunked so many times, yet it's still so pervasive on social media, mindlessly shared over and over again. This myth about Jesus being a copy of other pagan "dying-and-rising gods" doesn't have its roots in Egyptian legend, but rather in the claims of a film called Zeitgeist. A quick search online will bring up many websites which have gone through the claims of this film with a fine tooth comb, and debunked each one. Here's one such example, which lists out the major claims and gives a detailed response to each: Analysis and Response to Zeitgeist Video. To quote a pertinent part of the above website, Dr. Norman Geisler, a Christian systematic theologian and philosopher, gives a good response to the major claims against the resurrection: Dr. Norman Geisler, author or coauthor of more than 80 books, writes, “The first real parallel of a dying and rising god does not appear until A.D. 150, more than a hundred years after the origin of Christianity. So if there was any influence of one on the other, it was the influence of the historical event of the New Testament [resurrection] on mythology, not the reverse.  If you don't want to read a long essay of the subject though, this video by Inspiring Philosophy breaks it down nicely in just under 5 minutes: Other myths debunked If not Osiris, Jesus is often claimed to be copied from the Egyptian god Horus... or the Roman god Mithras. Apparently everyone just copied whoever came before them, and hoped no one would notice! All of these claims are equally as nonsensical as the others, and have "facts" which are completely fabricated to push an agenda of causing Christianity disrepute. But if you look into the actual myths of these ancient gods, you will see that none of them have any resemblance to Jesus or the New Testament. Here is another video which summarises these claims and counters them in a humorous way, this time by Lutheran Satire:    So let us go forward in the knowledge that Jesus was truly born, truly lived and truly rose again; and that he was unique and not a copy of other so-called gods. In the words of Leo the Great, let us celebrate "the birthday of Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity"! Merry Christmas everyone....

Why Read The Early Church Fathers?

| 08th December 2017 | Early Church

Why read the Early Church Fathers? Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers? No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works. My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years. Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies). From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”. So Why Read What They Wrote? The Bible didn't just drop out of the sky, all leather bound and ready to read for us to pick up today. There was a lengthy process of selecting and preserving the apostles teachings which spanned nearly four centuries, and it was due to the Fathers and their faithfulness to the Scriptures that this was possible. Not only that, but due to their close links to the Apostles — some who were even taught directly by an apostle — we now have valuable resources and insights into aspects, teaching and issues within the very early Church which we can learn from and measure our doctrine and interpretation against. This isn't to say that everything the Church Fathers said, did or wrote is perfect; or that we should elevate their texts to the level of Scripture, but we can glean much from those who knew and were discipled by the Apostles (or those who knew them second hand). We can read what certain portions of Scripture meant to them, or see how they interpreted things in the years following the Apostles, and can compare that to how we might read those same Scriptures today. This is a highly valuable resource for us to still have available; to be able to check our beliefs and doctrines against accepted, historical orthodoxy, which was quite literally shaped through blood, sweat and tears. It's a wonderful thing to be able to look back millennia and know that what we believe and follow as Christians has been faithfully passed on and preserved for all this time. Many doctrines we now take for granted were actually developed and defended during this time; carefully worded and formed to ensure that the truth of God doesn't get lost, diluted or warped for selfish gain. We owe much to these men of God and can still learn a great deal from them, as they still speak to us today as part of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us (Heb 12:1). This is an excerpt from the introduction to my new book. You can read more from the Early Church Fathers in my new book, 40 Days with the Fathe...

Evidence of the Trinity in the Hebrew Scriptures

| 08th November 2017 | Trinity

Table of Contents Jewishness and the Trinity 1. God Is A Plurality The Name Elohim Plural Verbs used with Elohim The Name Eloah Plural Pronouns Plural Descriptions of God The Shema II. God Is At Least Two Elohim and YHVH Applied to Two Personalities III. God Is Three How Many Persons Are There? The Three Personalities in the Same Passage Conclusion New Testament Light I was recently in some discussions/debates online about the nature of God and whether the "Trinity" exists, or if God is purely singular and exists in different forms rather than different persons.   This idea that God has different "forms" or "modes" is what is known as Modalism (also sometimes called Sabellianism). This doctrine was condemned as heresy by Tertullian around 213 AD, and later by the bishop of Rome around 262 AD. A more modern sect of Christians, often called "Oneness Pentecostals", still hold to this heretical doctrine today. Now, to be clear: I do believe in the Trinity and accept that it is the orthodox position to hold. But that doesn't mean I've always fully grasped the concept. This is something Christians have struggled to define for centuries, hence the sometimes confusing and lengthy language of the creeds (see here, here, here and here for example). So after reading this debate online with some Oneness believers, I decided to look more into the Trinity to try and get my head around it as much as possible. On my searching and reading, I came across an article by Arnold Fruchtenbaum on the Jews for Jesus website. He had taken the time to really look into the Tri-unity of God from a Jewish/Hebrew perspective to bring some clarity to the issue. I found the article to be very helpful for my own understanding, and very illuminating to see the plurality of God in oneness hidden within the Hebrew language, something that is often lost in translation to our English bibles. I'm no Hebrew scholar, so rather than try (and probably fail) to explain the language nuances to you, I sought permission to post a copy of the original article here. I hope that the information provided is as helpful to you as it was for me. The original article begins below. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Jewishness and the Trinity In a recent question-and-answer article, Rabbi Stanley Greenberg of Temple Sinai in Philadelphia wrote: Christians are, of course, entitled to believe in a trinitarian conception of God, but their effort to base this conception on the Hebrew Bible must fly in the face of the overwhelming story of that Bible. Hebrew Scriptures are clear and unequivocal on the oneness of God . . . The Hebrew Bible affirms the one God with unmistakable clarity. Monotheism, an uncompromising belief in one God, is the hallmark of the Hebrew Bible, the unwavering affirmation of Judaism and the unshakable faith of the Jew.” Whether Christians are accused of being polytheists or tritheists or whether it is admitted that the Christian concept of the Tri-unity is a form of monotheism, one element always appears: one cannot believe in the Trinity and be Jewish. Even if what Christians believe is monotheistic, it still does not seem to be monotheistic enough to qualify as true Jewishness. Rabbi Greenberg’s article tends to reflect that thinking. He went on to say, “…under no circumstances can a concept of a plurality of the Godhead or a trinity of the Godhead ever be based upon the Hebrew Bible.” It is perhaps best then to begin with the very source of Jewish theology and the only means of testing it: the Hebrew Scriptures. Since so much relies on Hebrew language usage, then to the Hebrew we should turn. 1. God Is A Plurality The Name Elohim It is generally agreed that Elohim is a plural noun having the masculine plural ending “im.” The very word Elohim used of the true God in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” is also used in Exodus ...