Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks refers to an end time vision that God had given him through his servant; angel Gabriel. This vision came to him as he was praying after perceiving that the time period that had been prophesied by Prophet Jeremiah concerning their seventy year captivity period had already passed.1
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This vision came to him as an answer to his prayer since after realizing that the time period had passed, he went ahead and started repenting for the sins of his people so that God may have mercy upon them and forgive them their sins, and if possible allow them to go back to their country.2
The prophet Daniel was brought into Babylon together Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah all of them being descendants from the royal lineage as captives.3 He was given the name Belteshazzar by Nebuchadnezzar the then most powerful king in the world after being selected together with his three companions to be trained for service in the king’s palace.4
It is in this king’s training school that he together with his three companions distinguished themselves with excellent ability and wisdom concerning all knowledge.5 Daniels fame as a seer and an interpreter of dreams rose when he interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams as well as the mysterious handwriting on the wall during the reign of Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son.6
Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams through the power of God made him rise in ranks and become second only to the king in the Babylonian kingdom, a position which exposed him to some many enemies due to his Jewish culture of praying everyday three times while facing Jerusalem.7
These enemies, who probably were his fellow satraps in the kingdom though of implicating him for worshiping a ‘strange god’, who in actually is the true God, by failing to worship the king according to the decree set and signed by the king.8
Fortunately, the Lord saved Daniel the torment of being thrown in the den of lions, which was the punishment to be melted down upon him for worshipping a ‘strange god’. It was to this great God that Daniel was praying to in Chapter nine of his book. Daniel had perceived from his continual study and meditation of God’s word, that the seventy periods of captivity which the Prophet Jeremiah had declared upon Israel was over.9
This knowledge is what motivated him to seek the Lord in prayer concerning the fulfillment of this prayer and specifically about their return to their country. Daniel could have probably been in his early eighties, having served in the royal courts during the reign of three different kings that is Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede.10
Daniel is described as being a man of piety always striving to live according to Gods standards as defines in the Pentateuch and the earlier prophetic records, though in a strange land and a strange culture. He wrote part of his book especially chapter nine in Aramaic, which was the dominant and major language of communication at that time in the kingdom.11
Chapter nine of this book was written by Daniel himself, as evidenced by the article ‘I’ in the second verse, unlike the earlier chapters which were form of a reported speech. This chapter has two main themes that is the prayer of the Daniel and the answer to his prayer which came in form a vision. The visions contained in this chapter were written to warn the Israelites of the coming kingdoms, and inform them of the coming times.
Overview of Verses – Dan 9:24-27
Daniel chapter nine from verses twenty four to twenty seven brings out a clear theme of seventy weeks in which future events that are about to happen have been explained in details. The aspect of seventy years did not start with this angelic message but started earlier with issuance of laws by Moses. God had given the Israelites a command to observe the Sabbath year after every six years, it being on the seventh year by not doing any work in their fields and vineyards.12
Unfortunately the Israelites did not uphold this sabbatical law and did not keep the sabbatical years for nearly four hundred and ninety years which is translated to seventy times every seventh year.13 This act of disobedience made God allow a seventy year desolation to fall upon the land in accordance to his word in Leviticus.14
The next seventy years of desolation and captivity was prophesied by Jeremiah the prophet when he proclaimed that the Babylonians will attack Israel and carry them away as captives.15 It is at the end of these seventy years that Daniel too received knowledge concerning events that will take place within seventy years into the future.
Verse twenty four
The angel told Daniel, that a declaration of seventy weeks has been made by God concerning his nation and their city and its temple. Within this seventy weeks or years transgression shall be finished, and end to sin shall be put, and through an atonement or a sacrifice for sin which shall bring forth an everlasting righteousness.
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During this period the prophet and the vision shall be sealed and the most holy place shall be anointed.16 The seventy weeks are interpreted to be seventy times seven years, giving us a total of four hundred and ninety years within which these events have to take place. This verse has eight major issues it talks about;
- The people of Israel and their holy city; Jerusalem are the center of this prophecy
- This prophecy will take place within seventy prophetic years or literally four hundred and ninety years translated as weeks from the original translation.
- Transgression and disobedience to God will be done away or finished with during this period of time. The word ‘finish’ as used in this verse is translated from the Jewish word ‘kala’ which has a meaning similar to restricting, prohibiting or holding back.17 Incorporating this new meaning in the verse it means that within this seventy years transgression will be restricted, prohibited or held back from progressing through the sacrifice for atonement for sin.
- Within these four hundred and ninety years and end of sins shall be made. Sin refers to the act of violating God’s law, or disobedience to his precepts. This phrase proclaims that in this period something will happen that has the ability to put an ultimatum to disobedience to God’s law.
- Within these four hundred and ninety years atonement for iniquity shall be made through an act of a single sacrifice. The word atonement is translated from the jewish word ‘kaphar’ which has a meaning similar to the process through which physical, spiritual, and moral impurity is covered.18 When this process is complete sin is completely destroyed and the breach between God and man is healed and restored.
- Within this period of time, a never-ending right standing before God, shall be made possible upon Daniel’s people. Naturally, everlasting righteousness cannot exist where sin prevails, since righteousness involves being like God in every aspect of life. During this period something shall take place which will make it possible for people to be and remain perpetually righteous.
- Within this four hundred and ninety year period, both the vision and the prophet shall be sealed inferring that the vision and the prophecy will be brought to an end. This means that everything that is spoken of in Daniel’s vision and which is within the prophecy that was revealed to him will end in the final event of the prophecy which is the anointing of the Most Holy One.
- Within this four hundred and ninety year duration, a most holy place will be anointed or consecrated for a holy purpose. This infers that at this prophesy will conclude by the establishment of a holy of holies sanctuary where the God’s spirit and presence will inhabit.
The seventy week prophecy spans through thousands of years, and in the midst of these years an event shall take place which shall take away sin. This event shall be a new method of atonement which shall provide total forgiveness of sins and thus healing completely the breach that was between God and man. This prophecy ends with the establishment of God’s government on earth and the restoration of his worship at Jerusalem.
Part of this seventy week period has been covered from the time Jerusalem was rebuilt to the time Jesus Christ, the Messiah was crucified. The anointed prince spoken of refers to Jesus Christ, who offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin, thus breaching the gap that was between man and God.
Through his blood mankind has obtained perpetual righteousness, made an end of sins, and made the atonement for sin.19 The prophecy does not end with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, but it will end with his second coming to establish God’s Kingdom and righteousness on earth.20 It is at this second appearance of Christ and establishment of God’s Kingdom that sin and unrighteousness will be ultimately destroyed.21
Verse twenty five
In this verse the Angel Gabriel affirms to Daniel that from the time word shall go round or a decree shall be made concerning the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem until the time of the anointed prince, seven and sixty two weeks will have elapsed. Within this period too, Jerusalem will be built again, but in a troubled time.
The key issues in this verse are:
- The issuance of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, which marks the beginning of the seventy week period to the full fulfillment of prophesy. The seven and sixty two weeks give us sixty nine weeks, which translates to four hundred and eighty three years until the messiah comes.
- The rebuilding of Jerusalem.
- The time of the Anointed one.
The time of the issuance of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem is assumed to have taken place in the year 454 B.C when Ezra was authorized by Cyrus the king of Persia to build the temple.22 The proclamation to rebuild the broken temple was made by the then king; Artaxerxes in one of the holy months of the Israelites called Nisan.23 This recorded in the book of Nehemiah how the letters were distributed and the walls rebuilt amidst opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah.24
According to the seventy weeks prophecy it should take four hundred and eighty three years, from 454 B.C. to the coming of the Messiah, who is the anointed one. Summing up the years takes us to around 29 A.D., but since there is zero year between B.C. and A.D. One year is added to twenty nine to give use 30 A.D. the approximate year in which Jesus Christ died, and rose again.25
Versus twenty six
In these verses, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that after the sixty two weeks the anointed shall be cut off meaning he shall be killed. He also informed him of the destruction that would be caused by troops of the prince in the future. As this princely person shall be terminating his period of ruler ship in the world, different forms of violence and war shall take place which shall lead to desolations in the city. The major theme in this verse is the Messiah who shall be killed and his Kingdom not realized and established, and the rise of a king who shall destroy the city and the temple.
The sixty two weeks refers to four hundred and thirty four years from the time the commandment concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem was issued. Adding this figure to 454 B.C. gives 20 B.C meaning that the Messiah was killed at around this time, which is impossible since at this time he was not yet manifested in the world. Therefore these four hundred and thirty four years must be after the forty nine years or seven weeks still remaining which gives us a total of four hundred and eighty three years.
The month of Nissan is a very sacred month in the Jewish calendar; it is in this month that the Passover lamb is killed. Jesus Christ was offered as a sacrifice for sin on the Passover of 30 A.D. which is exactly four hundred and eighty three sacred years from the time the command of rebuilding Jerusalem was made.
Versus twenty seven
In this verse the angel Gabriel still is referring to the prince who shall come after the death of the Messiah, says that he shall make covenants with world leaders for one week. For three and half days this leader causes the sacrifice and offerings to stop and in their place shall raise an abomination that results into desolation. After the end of his reign he shall be destroyed.
This verse has the following main themes:
- The rise of an evil king whose army shall destroy the temple and shall cause the end of offering and sacrifices and in its place erect an abomination
- This king shall make covenants with the world leaders
- There shall be wars
- This desolater will rule only for a time and will be destroyed.
The troop belonging to the prince who is to come could probably refer to the Romans, who destroyed the City Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. the temple was torn down stone by stone as the Roman army under Titus, searched for melted gold. In this time over one million Jews were killed, fulfilling what the prophet was told that its end shall come with a flood.
Up to this point it is only four hundred and eighty three years that have passes, still seven more years are remaining. These seven years have not been fulfilled, and they refer to the reign of the antichrist, who shall rule in three and a half peaceful years and three and a half harsh years. The antichrist is the prince to come referred to in this verse.
Going back to Daniel eight, this prince shall come from the union of ten nations in the same place where Rome stands today, which apparently is Europe; the disintegrated Roman empire.26 This prince shall cause the abomination of desolation described of in the gospel of Luke.27 This desolation apparently is dual in nature, the first one having occurred in 70 A.D. when the Roman army leveled down Jerusalem and built a temple for their goddess Jupiter in its location.
The next desolation will happen in the end time when another army will desolate Jerusalem before the second coming of the Lord.28 This desolation will come in the first three and half years of the reign of the antichrist, and when the final seventieth week is over Israel’s ultimate redemption will occur, and sin will be no more.29
The aspect of war refers to what will happen during the last week of the seventy weeks, which Jesus himself echoed to his disciples in the book of Mathew.30 He warned them that in the days preceding his second coming, there will be wars and rumors of wars. It will be a time of trouble, desperateness, fear, and hopelessness.
It is during such a time of trouble and lack of peace that the antichrist will emerge as an excellent peace maker, and will make many agreements with the world’s leaders to the extent of restoring peace in the war torn Middle East. In the first half of his seven year reign, he will have no problem convincing people that he is the messiah. It is only after he shall enter the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and demand worship that desolation will take place.
In conclusion Daniel received this knowledge as an answer to his prayers, after he discovered that the seventy year exile period was due. His visions outline events from the rebuilding of the temple to the time of the ministry of Jesus Christ, to the time the temple was destroyed again. This vision also contains the unfulfilled portion, specifically the last seven weeks, which talks about the reign of the antichrist on earth.
Albertz, Rainer. Israel in Exile: The History and Literature of the Sixth Century B.C.E. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.
LaHaye, Tim, and Edward E. Hindson. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 140 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2004.
Miller, Stephen R. Daniel Vol. 18. Oxford: B & H Publishing Group, 1994.
Obrien, David and Leon J. Wood. A Survey of Israel’s History. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.
Quidera, Tasso. From Here to Eternity. Fairfax: Xulon press, 2005.
1 Dan. 9:2-3, 21-23
2 Ibid., 9:16-19
3 Ibid., 1:1-7
4 Ibid., 1:3-7
5 Ibid., 1:19
6 Ibid., 5:5-28
7 Ibid., 6:10
8 Ibid., 6:7-9
9 Jer. 25:9-11
10 Tim LaHaye and Edward E. Hindson. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 140 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 68.
11 Stephen R. Miller. Daniel Vol. 18. (Oxford: B & H Publishing Group, 1994), 30.
12 Lev. 25:3-4
13 Rainer Albertz. Israel in Exile: The History and Literature of the Sixth Century B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 13.
14 Lev. 26:14, 31-35
15 Jer. 25:9
16 Dan. 9:24
17 W. Bromiley Geoffrey “kala” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1979 ed.
18 W. Bromiley Geoffrey “kaphar” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1979 ed.
19 Rom. 3:24, 5:8-10
20 1Cor. 15:24
21 1Cor. 15:55-56
22 Ezr. 1:1-5
23 Tasso Quidera, From Here to Eternity (Fairfax: Xulon press, 2005), 96.
24 Neh. 2:1
25 David Obrien, and Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel’s History (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 42.
26 Dan. 7:7-8
27 Luke. 21:20-24
28 Zech. 14:1-4
29 Rom. 11:26
30 Math. 24:6