The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: 1-9

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1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days

The 3 1/2 "times" or years of Dan 12 is identical with the 3 1/2 "times" of Rev 12:14, which in turn appears to be identical with the 42 months of Rev 11:2 and the 1,260 days of Rev 11:3; 12:6. It is evident that all these prophetic time periods use a month of 30 days. Thus, 3 1/2 years = 3 1/2 x 12, or 42 months = 42 x 30, or 1,260 days.

Daniel, in Dan 12, is being told what will befall his people (Dan 12:1) in the Last Days. Much (all?) of Daniel plainly has to do with the fortunes of the holy people Israel (v 7) and their special holy place (v 11; Dan 9:24-27). Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the time periods involved in the angel's answer to Daniel's "How long?" (v 6) will conform to the Jewish calendar.

Key factors in the Jewish calendar

When the Jewish calendar is analyzed, it is found that there are three very special times each year. These are the three times that the men of Israel were commanded to appear before the Lord (Exo 23:14-17). The feast of unleavened bread, following the Passover, was a 7-day period in early spring (Abib 14-21). The feast of harvest, or first fruits, which the NT calls "Pentecost" (Acts 2:1), came 49 days (seven weeks), or the 50th day (hence "Pente-cost"), after the day following Passover (Abib 15), and thus approximately 45 days after the end of the feast of unleavened bread (Abib 21). The calendar date was usually between Sivan 3 and Sivan 5. The small discrepancies here arise because sometimes Jewish months were 29 days long and sometimes they were 30, and sometimes days were counted inclusively (ie counting the beginning and ending days) and sometimes they were counted exclusively (ie not counting the beginning and ending days). Finally, the third time of general gathering came in early fall. This was a 21-day period commencing with the Feast of Trumpets (Ethanim 1), continuing on to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (Ethanim 10), and culminating in the Feast of Ingathering, or Tabernacles (Ethanim 15-21).

The seven annual holidays, called "holy convocations", all fall within these three times (Lev 23:4-43). They are: (1) Abib 14 = Passover; (2) Abib 21 = The last day of Feast of Unleavened Bread; (3) Sivan 3,4, or 5 = Pentecost; Feast of Firstfruits; (4) Ethanim 1 = Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh Hashanah: New Years Day); (5) Ethanim 10 = Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur); (6) Ethanim 15 = The first day of Feast of Tabernacles; (7) Ethanim 21 = The last day of Feast of Tabernacles. Many significant events in Israel's Bible history, far too numerous to list here, occurred on these special days. Other days in the Jews' annual cycle were relatively unimportant.

Relevant to this discussion are the following points:

  1. From Abib 21 (the last day of the Passover "cluster") to Ethanim 21 (the last day of the Tabernacles "cluster") is exactly 1/2 year.
  2. From Ethanim 21 to Abib 21 is, of course, exactly 1/2 year also.
  3. Thus, a time period that begins with either Abib 21 or Ethanim 21, and runs precisely 3 1/2 years, will end on the other of the two.
  4. A time period beginning Ethanim 21 and ending Abib 21, with another 45 days (1,335 less 1,290) added on, would climax at the third significant date in the Jewish calendar (Sivan 3, 4, or 5) -- Pentecost.
  5. A 30-day period is the difference between the 1,290 days and the 1,260 days.
The extra 30 days

The Jews generally added an "intercalary" 13th month to their calendar (a sort of "leap-month") every third year or so. This was done to keep their calendar in line with the seasons, since their months were either 29 or 30 days, and thus their ordinary year was only about 354 days. The "shortfall" of 11 1/4 days added up each year, so that every third year (or more precisely, 7 years out of every 19) an extra month was needed. So, assuming that a 3-year period would necessitate one intercalary month, we have the reason why 3 1/2 years of 30-day months (ie 1,260 days) becomes 1,290 days -- the addition of precisely one month. Using a 30-day model, then, there are exactly 1,290 days from the end of the Tabernacles "cluster" of holy days (including Yom Kippur and the week-long Feast of Tabernacles) to the end of the Passover "cluster" of holy days (including the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread) 3 1/2 years later. And another 45 days (for a total of 1,335) brings us to the final "holy convocation" day, and the third "general assembly" of the year -- Pentecost.

Significance of the feast dates

Given the backdrop of Jewish feast dates, it is interesting to speculate on how God may be using these particular feasts as key points in His timetable for the final deliverance of Israel in the Last Days:

The Tabernacles "cluster" begins with the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:24). The blowing of trumpets is especially associated with the proclaiming of the Law of God (Neh 8:2; Exo 19:16,19; Amo 3:6,7), but particularly with respect to warnings to Israel (Eze 33:1-6; Num 31:6; Jer 4:19; 1Co 14:8). It could be the beginning of the events introduced by the trumpets in Rev 8 and 9, which depict punishments upon Israel.
This "cluster" also includes the Day of Atonement (Ethanim 10) -- a day of national soul-searching and repentance (Lev 16:29,31; Psa 81:3,4,8,13,14; Isa 58:1-6; Joel 2:15). The time of Jacob's last great trouble (lasting 3 1/2 years) could also be the time of the "Elijah" prophet's preaching to Israel and his call for repentance (Rev 11).
The Feast of Tabernacles (Ethanim 15-21) could begin, during the 3 1/2-year period, the final in-gathering of Israel.
Passover (Abib 14) could mark the beginning of Israel's deliverance from their oppressors, as has been the case (in limited ways) so many times in the past.
The end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Abib 21) could be the time when Israel ceases to eat "the bread of affliction" (Deu 16:3). From this date forward "the abomination that maketh desolate" would be removed from the Land and the Holy Place (Dan 12:11).
The earlier Pentecost (in Acts 2) was the time of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the believers. But the ultimate fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 (quoted that day by Peter) remains for the future. Here could be the final salvation for the remnant of Israel; therefore, "Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the [end of the] 1,335 days" (Dan 12:12).


All three time periods slip neatly into the Jewish calendar, incorporating the three great assemblies, and all 7 special "holy convocation" days. It would be practically impossible to produce such an arrangement with any set of numbers other than 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335. Either this is the most extraordinary coincidence, or we are being directed to interpret Daniel 12 with the Jewish calendar in mind.
The appropriateness of these time periods to the Jewish calendar is a very strong argument in favor of their literalness. On the other hand, any scheme of interpretation that turns the 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335 days into like numbers of years loses all possible connection with a literal calendar, and prompts the question: 'Why these numbers?'
The nature of these periods in Daniel has ramifications for Rev, where identical periods (and implied Jewish applicability) provide the "backbone" of the Book. Thus, Rev can be seen to involve a literal period of about 3 1/2 years, which involves Israel especially, and which culminates in the return of Christ and the establishment of God's Kingdom.

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