The 2300-day Prophecy: Building on Assumptions
By Ernesto Gil
The SDA church teaches that the "2300 evenings and mornings" prophecy of Daniel 8:14 was fulfilled on October 22, 1844. The church teaches that it was William Miller who, while led by the Holy Spirit, discovered that the starting point of the "2300 evenings and mornings" prophecy was the same as the "70 weeks" prophecy of Daniel 9. While there is scant Biblical evidence showing the two prophecies have a common starting point, the purpose of this article is not to question the linkage between Daniel 8 and Daniel 9, but to question the starting and ending points of the "2300 evenings and mornings" prophecy with the assumption that both prophecies begin at the same time.
When did the prophecy start?
According to Daniel 9, the "70 weeks" prophecy was to start with the "going forth" of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. According to the SDA interpretation, this occurred on the seventh year of Artaxerxes' reign.
When was Artaxerxes' 7th year? To answer this we must first determine when Artaxerxes reigned. In order to do this, we must turn to Claudius Ptolemy, a first century Astrologer/Astronomer and Mathematician who among his writings, created a list of kings (which has been questioned by some scholars). According to Ptolemy's king list Artaxerxes reigned from 464 BC, thus placing his 7th year on 457 BC.
Many scholars believe that Xerxes died on the fifth month of 465 BC. They base their belief on the writings of a Babylonian cuneiform tablet stating that Xerxes was murdered on the fifth month of a year with two eclipses. According to scholars, the year with two eclipses has been verified to be 465 BC. It is also said that Artaxerxes did not start his first official year until March-April of 464 BC.
It is not the intention of this article to prove or disprove these dates for there are many disagreements among scholars themselves on this subject. It is simply worth noting that the pioneer Adventists do not provide one shred of evidence to the accuracy of Ptolemy's canon (unless one wants to assume that the pioneers were experts in Astronomy). For the sake of argument, we will also assume that Ptolemy's canon is correct and will place Artaxerxes' first year in 464 BC.
In the Review and Herald of January 17, 1856, we read:
"For example: The 70 weeks and 2300 days date from the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The commencement of his reign was B. C. 464. This is demonstrated by the agreement of above twenty eclipses that have been repeatedly calculated, and have been found to fall in the time specified. Before it can be shown that his reign is wrongly fixed, it must first be shown that those eclipses have been wrongly calculated. This no one has or ever will venture to do; consequently the commencement of his reign cannot be removed from that point." R&H Vol. VII., Jan. 17, 1856, No. 16, "The Times of the Gentiles"
SDA prophetic scholar Uriah Smith writes:
"After a reign of seven years, Cyrus left the kingdom to his son Cambyses, who reigned seven years and five months, to B.C. 522. Eight monarchs, whose reigns varied from seven months to 46 years each, took the throne in order till the year B.C. 336, as follows:
Note that Ptolemy's cannon states when the commencement of Artaxerxes' reign was and not when Artaxerxes' seventh year was. In other words, the date which is supposed to be proven by over "twenty eclipses" is 464 BC and not 457 BC. Why is this important? Because Miller was not particularly known for his math skills. Miller believed that the 2300 years started on Artaxerxes' 7th year, so in order to find out when Artaxerxes' 7th year was, he subtracted 7 from 464 BC (Artaxerxes' first official year) resulting in 457 BC. After that, all he had to do was to subtract 457 BC from 2300 to come up with 1843. He then concluded that Jesus was returning in the Jewish year 1843, which started on March/April 1843 and ended on March/April 1844.
For those who have not noticed, both calculations are wrong:
So now, assuming Artaxerxes began his reign in 464 BC, let us calculate the dates:
Ezra 7:8 says:
"And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him."
If the first month of Artaxerxes' 7th year is March-April 458 BC, and this is the starting point of the 2300 years, then the end of the 2300 years would have been on Feb./March 1843, twelve months before Miller's original Mar/April 1844 prediction! Of course, Miller's first prediction (end of Jewish year 1843 or March 1844) failed and the Millerites suffered the first disappointment (a term not generally used by SDA's. They usually only refer to the great disappointment that occurred on October 22, 1844.)
How did the SDA pioneers pick October 22, 1844?
There are three ways the SDA pioneers calculated the October 22, 1844 date.
I) George Storrs. (Original way)
"`Behold, the Bridegroom cometh' this year; `go ye out to meet Him.' We have done with the nominal churches and the world, except so far as this cry may affect them. Our work is now to wake up the `virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.' Where are we now? `If the vision tarry, wait for it.' Is not that our answer since last March or April? - Yes. What happened while the bridegroom tarried? - The virgins all slumbered and slept, did they not? Christ's words have not failed; and `the Scriptures can not be broken,' and it is of no use for us to pretend that we have been awake; we have been slumbering, not on the fact of Christ's coming, but on the time. We came into the tarrying time; we did not know `how long' it would tarry, and on that point we have slumbered. Some of us have said in our sleep, `Don't fix another time;' so we slept. Now the trouble is to wake us up. Lord, help, for vain is the help of man. Speak Thyself, Lord. O that the `Father' may now `make known' the time! "How long is the tarrying time? - Half a year. How do you know? - Because our Lord says, `At midnight,' while the bridegroom tarried. The vision was for `twenty-three hundred evening-mornings,' or days. An `evening,' or night, is half of one of those prophetic days, and is therefore six months. That is the whole length of the tarrying time. The present strong cry of time commenced about the middle of July, and has spread with great rapidity and power." The Tarrying Night
In the same article in the Midnight Cry, we read:
"But how came we into this tarrying night? - Because we commenced the vision [of the 2,300 days] in the spring, instead of the fall, 457 B. C., we fell short of reaching the destined port six months and a few days over. It threw us into the tarrying night six months." Storr's Six Sermons
Here we can see how the pioneers "borrowed" excerpts from other visions (Habakkuk: "If the vision tarry, wait for it"), and how they assumed that the Ten Virgins waited from noon to midnight, thus making the waiting time exactly half a day or six months to justify their unscriptural notion that they could figure out the exact date of Jesus' return.
II) Samuel Snow.
Samuel Snow showed greater proof by introducing the Karaite Jew's way of reckoning the New Year:
"Samuel S. Snow had arrived on the camp ground. Hardly had he dismounted from his panting horse than word got around that here was a man with a message. Snow strode to the platform and expounded his view, based on the reckoning of the Karaite Jews, that the 2300 day-years of Daniel 8:14 would actually end on October 22, 1844. The camp meeting was electrified." Paul A. Gordon & James R. Nix, for the Ellen G. White Estate, in The Footsteps of the Pioneers
Mr. Snow learned about a Jewish sect (KARAITES or CARAITES) who believes that the Jews keep the feasts on the wrong days. The Karaites believe that the new method of calculating the feasts is not Scriptural for it is calculated in advance instead of doing it by the old way of New Moon sighting (every month) and checking the barley crops (for the new year). Mr. Snow believed in the way the Karaites figured out the New Year and in Aug 1844, he figured out that the 10th day of the 7th month of the year 1844 was going to be October 22nd.
"The Millerite Adventists had at first expected the Lord to come sometime in the Jewish year which ended in the spring, March 21, 1844, but even before that date had arrived there were suggestions that time might linger a little longer. As early as February, 1844, Samuel S. Snow had urged the autumn of 1844 as the time of Christ's coming, but it was not until the Exeter camp meeting, August 12-17, that the October 22 date took hold." Paul A. Gordon & James R. Nix, for the Ellen G. White Estate
The question is, how did Mr. Snow know when the NEW MOON of October was going to become visible in Israel? What Mr. Snow did, was exactly what the Karaites believed the Jews were doing wrong. Mr. Snow did not use the KARAITE New moon/Barley "sighting" (in Israel) method. As far as we know, Mr. Snow did not check the Barley crops in Israel in order to determine when the New Year started. He obviously did not wait until the sighting of the new moon in October since he determined the date in advance (August 1844).
Mr. Snow calculated the Astronomical new moon (conjunction) but did not take into consideration that this new moon cannot be seen! The first visual moon after the conjunction can be seen 15 to 48 hours after the Astronomical new moon. This means that the first day of the 7th month, assuming it was on October (more on that in a moment) could have been 15 to 48 hours after October 11th1 (conjunction for October, 1844).
I have been exchanging E-mails with a Karaite Jew and this is what he said:
"Hebrew dates begin the evening before. So if October 14th is the beginning of the month, the new moon was seen the prior evening (on October 13th). Whether the moon was actually sighted on the evening BEFORE October 14th is unknown. However, given the astronomical data it can be said with 100% certainty that the new moon would not have been visible the evening BEFORE October 13th whereas the evening BEFORE October 14th it would have been clearly visible (barring poor weather conditions)."
The Pioneer's wrote:
"From a full and careful review and examination of the question, we are still convinced that the true Jewish seventh month could only synchronize with our October, - commencing with the first appearance of the new moon on the 13th of that month, and ending with the appearance of the new moon on the 11th of November." R&H Vol. X., Sep. 3, 1857. - No. 18 The Time in our Year of the True Seventh Month
What does all this mean? There is no way that the 10th day of the 7th month (assuming it was October) could have fallen on October 22nd due to the fact that the first appearance of the new moon could not have been visible the evening before October 13th. The best SDAs can ever hope for, is that the first visible new moon (In Israel) was on October 13th thus making the 14th the 1st day of the 7th month and the 23rd (October 22nd sunset to October 23rd at sunset) the 10th. SDAs have argued that since we are dealing with Israel’s time, then October 22nd at sunset to October 23rd at sunset translates to October 22nd 10:00AM to October 23rd 10:00AM Boston time. This argument hold very little weight because Karaite Jews throughout the world DO NOT observe the seventh day and all the other Jewish feasts at the same time they are observed in Israel. Furthermore, it is evident the pioneers had a different understanding2:
"With bated breath the Adventists, no less than fifty thousand and probably nearer one hundred thousand scattered largely across the northeastern portion of North America, arose to greet the eventful day, Tuesday, October 22, 1844. Some sought vantage points where they could peer into the clear heavens, hoping to catch a first glimpse of the coming of their returning Lord. When would Jesus come? The morning hours slowly passed and noon came, then midafternoon; finally darkness settled upon the earth. But it was still October 22, and it would be till midnight. At last that hour came, but Jesus did not come. The disappointment was almost beyond description. In later years some wrote of the experience. Hiram Edson gave a vivid account of how they looked for the coming of the Lord "until the clock tolled twelve at midnight. Then our disappointment became a certainty." Of his experience in the depths of sorrow he wrote: Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept and wept, till the day dawn." (Ellen G. White: The Early Years Vol. 1, page 53)
According to the words of Hiram Edson, they became disappointed at midnight (Boston time) but in reality, all the rituals, including the entering of the Most Holy Place, were not performed until the last 12 hours of the day (sunrise to sunset). In other words, following the pioneers thinking (they waited the whole 24 hours) the disappointment should have occurred sometime after 10:00 AM on October 23rd thus the proper term should be “the October 23rd disappointment” and the doctrine should teach that October 23rd marked the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings.
According to SDA historian J.N. Loughborough:
"The tenth day of the seventh month, Jewish time (Oct. 22, 1844), at last came. ... The hours passed slowly by, and when at last the sun sank below the western horizon, the Jewish tenth day of the seventh month was ended. The shades of night once more spread their gloomy pall over the world; but with that darkness came a pang of sadness to the hearts of the advent believers..." Great Second Advent Movement, p. 183
Here it seems that either Mr. Loughborough’s3 “sunset to sunset” notion affected his description of what took place on that day, or the pioneers had different views on how the 22nd of October should be reckoned. Nevertheless, we can see that they were also mistaken for the 10th day of the 7th Jewish month would have ended “when at last the sun sank below the western horizon” on the 23rd of October.
From this statement we can clearly see that the Adventists were generally not aware that, assuming that the 7th Jewish month was on our October, the 10th day was the 23rd (22nd sunset to 23rd sunset) and not the 22nd.4
If this is not enough proof that the Pioneers were mistaken, every Jewish calendar calculates Yom Kippur for the year 1844 on September and not on October. I have found no proof that on 1844 the Karaites would have celebrated Yom Kippur on October.5 As a matter of fact, I asked a member of the Karaite Jews and this is what he stated:
"That Yom Kippur 1844 was celebrated by the Karaites in September and not October is confirmed by a Karaite Tomb Stone inscription cited by Abraham Firkowitz in his book "Avnei Zicharon" (lit. 'Stones of Remembrance'. published Vilna 1872). It should be noted that while claims have been made that Firkowitz altered some of the inscriptions cited in his book, all of these dubious accusations are in regards to Tomb Stones from the early centuries of the Common Era and there can be no doubt as to the authenticity of the later Tomb Stones, especially those from the 19th century. On p.242 Firkowitz quotes from a Karaite Tomb Stone from the "New Cemetery" in Gozlow that reads:"And Yosef Shlomoh died at seventy five years of age. And all Israel mourned him and cried for him 'Woe master and woe his glory'. And they buried him in great honor on the 12th day of the month Tevet in the year 605 of the sixth millennium since creation according to our counting, and according to the counting of Rome, the tenth of the month December in their year 1844 here in Gozlow, or Yeupetoria, on the Crimean Peninsula in the reign of the master the great and mighty Czar, King of Russia and the other lands, that is, the Emperor his majesty Nicolai the first Pavelovitz in the twentieth year of his reign, and in the sixty-first year of this Crimean Peninsula being under the rule of the Kings of Russia since the days of the Czarina Catherine the Second who conquered it from the hand of the Tartaric king and Shekhan Gari Khan who was king of Crimea at that time."
There is one more interesting fact about Snow's theory that contradicts another SDA fact...
The date of Jesus' death
Pioneers adopted Snow's idea that the Jewish calendar always started on the New Year in April. (Snow's interpretation of the Karaite reckoning is not really accurate because Karaite Jews used the Moon/barley sighting method which did not necessarily mean every new year started on April.)
"According to the Karaite Jews, the true year cannot commence until the appearance of the new moon in April. They are strict observers of the Mosaic law." R&H Vol. X., Sept. 3, 1857, - No. 18. The Time in our Year of the True Seventh Month
Uriah Smith wrote:
"In the consulate of Tiberius Caesar Aug. v. and AElius Sejanus (U.C. 784, A.D. 31), our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, on the 8th of the Calends of April (25th of March)." Daniel and the Revelation, Seventy Weeks
If, according to Snow's misconception of the Karaite Jews' view, the true year cannot commence until the appearance of the new moon in April, then why does Uriah Smith say that Jesus died on the 25th of March? If we were to apply the same "SDA/Karaite logic", then SDAs would have to accept the "SDA/Karaite fact" that the first month of 31 AD started on April 10th, thus placing Jesus crucifixion on Sunday the 24th of April (assuming that March 25th was a Friday)!
What happened to Mr. Samuel S. Snow? What happened to the person who was responsible for finding all this new light? What happened to the man who had all the answers as to why Jesus failed to return as Miller had predicted at the end of the Jewish year of 1843?
"For a brief time after the disappointment, Snow questioned as to whether a mistake had been made in the prophetic reckoning of the year, and searched for another time or event. He rejected the message Hiram Edson had received, that the date had indeed been correct, and that Jesus had then entered the most holy place and had a work to do before He would return to the earth. He continued searching for a definite time for Christ's return. He preached it would be October 22, of 1845, 1846, or 1847...
III) THE OFFICIAL WAY:
"The days were to date from the beginning of the work of restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25;) but Ezra and his company did not arrive at Jerusalem till the fifth month (Ezra 7:8;) and certainly they could not have employed less than two months in locating themselves, and getting ready to build, which would carry the date into the seventh month." Uriah Smith: 1832 - 1903, Parable of the Ten Virgins
This is what they are basing their belief on: Assumptions! They distorted and added to the truth to prove that they were right! This is what happens when people disregard Jesus' words that no one will know when His return will be. Adventists should have trusted Jesus' words rather than Miller, Snow, Uriah Smith, and Ellen White. There is not one shred of Biblical evidence stating that the 2300 evenings and mornings prophecy ended on October 22, 1844. The only "evidence" SDA's supply is the writings of Ptolemy, the assumptions of Samuel Snow (a false prophet) and the unscriptural assumption that the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was on the 7th month of Artaxerxes' seventh year.
1. There has been some discussion on internet forums as to when the seventh month of 1844 actually began. While this web page originally indicated the conjunction occurred on Oct. 13, further research has proven it happened on Oct. 11. It is of interest to note that even SDAs such as Uriah Smith miscalculated the date:
“As those days ended in 1844, it was only necessary to find the tenth day of the seventh month, Jewish time, of that year; and as the year began with the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the seventh month began on October 12, and the tenth day of that month fell on October 22.” Looking unto Jesus, p. 215
2. I want to point out that if any believe I “distorted the facts” regarding the time zone, then they have no other choice but to also believe that the following statements are “distortion of the facts”:
“The tenth day of the seventh month, the great Day of Atonement, the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which in the year 1844 fell upon the twenty-second of October…” TGC p. 399
3. That Mr. Loughborough was an authority on this subject can be shown from the preface to his book:
"THERE are already many useful books in the hands of the people, and my apology for adding another to the list, is that in these pages I state many things concerning Adventists, and especially Seventh-day Adventists, which have not heretofore been brought in this form before the people. Besides this, many who espoused the cause in later years, and who have not witnessed the things mentioned, have earnestly requested a narration of these facts and experiences from those earlier in the work. Having been familiar with the advent movement in 1843 and 1844, and having, since Jan. 2, 1849, proclaimed the doctrine, first as an Adventist, and since 1852 as a Seventh-day Adventist, I esteem it a pleasure to "speak the things I have seen and heard… In addition to my own observations, I have also presented the testimony of other eyewitnesses respecting their experiences. Such facts should have more weight with the candid reader than random statements made by those who have never been present on such occasions."
It is also worth noting that Mr. Loughborough’s book was endorsed by the church's prophet:
“Pioneer History to Be Kept Before the People.--The record of the experience through which the people of God passed in the early history of our work must be republished. Many of those who have since come into the truth are ignorant of the way in which the Lord wrought. The experience of William Miller and his associates, of Captain Joseph Bates, and of other pioneers in the Advent message should be kept before our people. Elder Loughborough's book should receive attention. Our leading men should see what can be done for the circulation of this book” The Publishing Ministry, page 30 [* REFERENCE IS HERE MADE TO THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS, PUBLISHED IN 1892 BY J.N. LOUGHBOROUGH (REVISED IN 1905 AS THE GREAT SECOND ADVENT MOVEMENT ).]
4. With a spirit of fairness, it appears not all of the Adventists held to the Oct. 22 date. The following appeared in the Oct. 19, 1844, issue of The Midnight Cry:
"TIME AT JERUSALEM. - If that is to be the standard, we may not see the tenth day till Oct. 23d, for the new moon was not till the morning of Oct. 12th at Jerusalem, and if it did not appear till the evening of the 13th, then the first day of the tenth month might, even, be as late as the 14th, and the tenth day might therefore be on the 24th. Let us, therefore, not cast away our confidence, if the Lord should not come on the 23d of this month. But let none presume upon the continuance of time beyond the 22d." The Midnight Cry, October 19, 1844, page 132.
These statements (which are not official SDA statements) reinforce my argument: Even if the SDA church makes an enormous amount of assumptions ranging from the alleged connection between the 70 ‘sevens’ and the 2300 evening and mornings prophecy, to the meaning of its fulfillment, there is no valid reason why they should preach that October 22nd, 1844 marks the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings. At best, they should state that October 23rd, 1844 (Jewish time) marks the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings.
5. The following E-mail from pastor Sydney Cleveland further emphasizes the validity of the September date:
I am well aware of the attempts of ultra-conservative SDAs trying to figure out a way to salvage Ellen White's October 22, 1844 debacle. I am also well aware that a very great portion of both SDA scholars, educated lay people and leaders have already come out -- and continue to come out -- with statements to the effect that Ellen G. White was simply wrong. Hence, those in Seventh-day Adventism who try to prove Ellen White correct in her teaching on October 22, 1844 are not only going against the historical facts, against the Biblical facts, against ancient and modern Jewish scholarship -- but also against their own Seventh-day Adventist church!
Category: 1844 Movement
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