Who is the Messiah?

The Definition

The word ‘Messiah‘ means ‘anointed one’, and is used throughout Scripture to refer to different people. According to Biblehub the Hebrew word occurs 39 times.

mashiach: anointed

Original Word: מָשִׁ֫יחַ

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: mashiach

Phonetic Spelling: (maw-shee’-akh)

Short Definition: anointed

The References

Lev 4 & 6 (4 times) ‘the anointed priest’

1 Sam 2:10. ‘The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.’

This is the first reference to the Messiah as a coming king, before ever there was a king in Israel. It is part of Hannah’s prayer, but the thought is endorsed by the LORD Himself in verse 35 of the same chapter.

16 more times through 1st and 2nd Samuel, the term is used of both King Saul and King David, and became synonymous with the King of Israel.

1 Chron 16:22 uses the term in relation to God’s people, Israel, in general.

In 2 Chron 6:42 Solomon used the term of himself as King.

Then we have 10 occurences throughout the Psalms, all referring specifically to David, his seed, or the nation of Israel more generally.

Of particular interest is Psalm 2, that is seen as  looking beyond Solomon to a greater King.

Next, we have the reference in Isa45 regarding Cyrus.  Is he the greater King being referred to? At this point we might say it is possible.

Lamentations 4:20 refers to Israel generally as the anointed, as does Habakkuk 3:13.

The last 2 references are found in Daniel chapter 9:24-27 in specific reference to this coming greater King.

Could it be Cyrus that Daniel is referring to?

We know Daniel lived at the same time as Cyrus, but when we examine the text of this very specific prophecy, we find there is no way possible for Cyrus to be the promised Messianic King. Rather, it clearly identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. So let’s look at what it says:

The Text


Dan 9:24  Seventy sevens are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Dan 9:25  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens, and threescore and two sevens: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Dan 9:26  And after threescore and two sevens shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Dan 9:27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one seven: and in the midst of the seven he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The Context

The chapter begins ‘in the first year of Darius’, which history tells us was 522/521 BC. In verse two Daniel has been reading Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer 25:11) concerning the desolation of Jerusalem and the captivity which would last 70 years. The children of Judah were first taken into captivity in 606 BC, but the destruction and desolation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar didn’t take place until 589 BC.

Exactly 70 years from 606 BC, in 536 BC, Cyrus the Great defeated Babylon, rode into the city and delivered the people of God from their captivity under the Babylonians.

This was the great act that God had anointed Cyrus for as Isaiah 45 tell us. Note the specific reference in verse 1 – ‘to open before him the two leaved gates’ – to this conquest of Babylon.

When you consider the life of Cyrus: how his grandfather tried to kill him as a baby (according to historian Herodotus), and the ease with which he conquered the great city of Babylon, truly God’s hand was with him.

Not only does Cyrus free the people of God from captivity, but decrees the rebuilding of the temple (2 Chron 36:22,22), and the first wave of captives return under Sheshbazzar (Ezra chapters 1-5).

But by Daniel 9, some 15 years later, Cyrus is dead, the temple is still not built, and Jerusalem as a city is still in desolation.

Chronologically, Daniel 9 fits in between Ezra ch5 and Ezra ch6.

In Ezra ch6, Darius is going to reissue Cyrus’ decree for the rebuilding of the temple, but in Daniel 9, this hasn’t happened yet. It is the first year of Darius’ reign and Daniel prays.

You will note in v17,18 that Daniel’s concern is not just for the temple that is still not built, but the entire city that sits in desolation.

It is in relation to this that Daniel gets his answer, and what an answer it is. He is told that not only will Jerusalem be rebuilt in that day, but that there is hope of a more glorious time when ‘Messiah the Prince’ will come.

This cannot be Cyrus, for he is already dead.

So who is this anointed prince, and why is he called prince and not king?

The Prophecy

The prophecy here is so time specific we do not have to guess.

V24 tells us that the fullness of the glorious restoration of Jerusalem will be complete in ‘seventy sevens’ = 490 years.

But we note that this time frame is divided into 3 section: 7 sevens (49 years); 62 sevens (434 years) and 1 seven (7 years).

We also note two specific events mentioned as historical anchors for this time frame. The first – ‘from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem’ – marks the beginning of the countdown.

This commandment is given in Nehemiah 2:6-8, by Artaxerxes I. The date of this as given in 2:1 is the month Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes reign, which works out to be 445 BC.

The first section of the countdown – 49 years – takes us to 396 BC, which matches with the conclusion of Malachi’s ministry and the ending of the prophetic voice until John the Baptist comes on the scene.

The second specific event mentioned comes at the end of the next section, a total of 69 sevens (483 years) from 445 BC, at which point ‘shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself’. 


And so, we have a very specific time frame in which this anointed King will come but be rejected, even killed if the words ‘cut off’ are anything to go by.

But of course, Isaiah has already prophesied this in relation to the Messianic servant (Isaiah 53:5 ‘he was wounded for our transgressions’), which goes to show that the Messianic figure Daniel and Isaiah are referring to is the same one.

I think it because he was rejected that Daniel refers to him as Prince. A further period of seven years would have to elapse before the Messiah would finally return as King.

I’m not going into that now, suffice to say that this matches with, and is explained in Revelation 11.

The conclusion is obvious – Jesus is the promised Messiah, the suffering servant of Isaiah, the son of David, the rejected prince of Daniel.

The Calculation

But you say, “hang on! I’ve done my sums, and 445 BC plus 483 years takes us by simple calculation to 38 AD, a few years too late to be Jesus.”

However, it’s not quite that simple, for time measurements change from age to age, from 360 days in a year to the current 365, and then there’s the matter of leap years, etc.  I’m thankful for Sir Robert Anderson who has recorded in his book ‘The Coming Prince’ his thorough research on this very matter.

A summary of his findings are as follows:

‘The 1st Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (the edict to rebuild Jerusalem) was 14th March, B. C. 445. The 10th Nisan in Passion Week (Christ’s entry into Jerusalem) was 6th April, A. D. 32.

The intervening period was 476 years and 24 days (the days being reckoned inclusively, as required by the language of the prophecy, and in accordance with the Jewish practice).

But 476 x 365= 173,740 days

Add (14 March to 6th April, both inclusive) the 24 days

Add for leap years + 116 days

Equals a total of 173,880 days

And 69 weeks of prophetic years of 360 days (or 69 x 7 x 360) 173, 880 days. (*Explanatory note below)

This shows that the prophesy of Daniel is not just approximately pointing to the time of Jesus, but it is unerringly accurate to the very day that Jesus revealed himself as the Messianic King, the Son of David.

Mar 11:7  And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.

Mar 11:8  And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.

Mar 11:9  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

Mar 11:10  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Mar 11:11  And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple

I conclude with the words of Sir Robert Anderson himself:

‘To believe that the facts and figures here detailed amount to nothing more than happy coincidences involves a greater exercise of faith than that of the Christian who accepts the book of Daniel as Divine. There is a point beyond which unbelief is impossible, and the mind in refusing truth must needs take refuge in a misbelief which is sheer credulity.’


*It may be well to offer here two explanatory remarks. First; in reckoning years from B. C. to A. D., one year must always be omitted; for it is obvious, ex. gr., that from B. C. 1 to A. D. I was not two years, but one year. B. C. 1 ought to be described as B. C. 0, and it is so reckoned by astronomers, who would describe the historical date B. C. 445, as 444. And secondly, the Julian year is 11m. 10 46s., or about the 129th part of a day, longer than ‘the mean solar year. The Julian calendar, therefore, contains three leap years too many in four centuries, an error which had amounted to eleven days in A. D. 17527 when our English calendar was corrected by declaring the 3rd September to be the 14th September, and by introducing the Gregorian reform which reckons three secular years out of four as common years; ex. gr., 1700, 1800 and 1900 are common years, and 2000 is a leap year. “Old Christmas day” is still marked in our calendars, and observed in some localities, on the 6th January; and to this day the calendar remains uncorrected in Russia. (See Appendix 4, p. 306 note 8.)



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