Daniel 9 - Outline of Daniel (MENU page)
II. Daniel's Visions concerning the Times of the Gentiles (ch. 7-12)
C. The Seventy Weeks (9:1-27)
1. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes,
which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years,
whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet,
that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications,
with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus... which was made king... of the Chaldeans.-
Darius and Ahasuerus are not personal names, but rather titles given to the kings of the Medes and Persians. This Darius is Cyaxares II, who conquered Babylon in 538 BC (Dan 5:30,31; 6:1).
I... understood by books... seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.-
Daniel had been studying the book of Jeremiah, through whom the LORD had revealed that the captivity of Jerusalem would continue for 70 years (Jer 25:11; 29:10). As a young man, Daniel had been carried to Babylon in the first wave of the captivity, in 606 BC (Dan 1:1). Since that time, about 68 years had elapsed.
     The time of the promised restoration was drawing near. But how could that restoration be accomplished, while gentile kingdoms held world dominion? Through the visions given to Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, God had revealed that gentile world dominion would continue through four great empires. Yet, in the first year of Darius, the second empire had just begun to rise. How would God bring about the promised restoration? What would that restoration look like? Would the nation of Israel be restored to a place of prominence? or, would its people continue to be trodden down of the gentiles? Daniel yearned to understand God's Word, and to see His purposes fulfilled in behalf of His people.
I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer {ie., intercession} and supplications {ie., request for favor}-
Near the end of this chapter, the Lord answers Daniel's prayer with the prophecy of "the Seventy Weeks." This prophecy is central to a proper understanding of all biblical prophecy. Yet, it is stated very concisely in only 4 verses! The remainder of the chapter (more than 20 verses) is occupied with Daniel's prayer. The sheer volume, of text dedicated to this man's prayer versus to this essential prophecy, provides an illustration of the importance that God places on prayer. His Word is sure. But few men understand it, because their hearts are unprepared to receive it. Daniel prepared his heart with prayer.
Daniel's prayer was:
  • Private - "I Daniel... I set my face unto the Lord God..."
    Although Daniel had called prayer meetings in the past (Dan 2:17,18), this was not a public prayer. He turned his full attention to the Lord God {HB= 'adonai elohim, the Mighty One who is Master of all} avoiding any concern about what men might think of his words. Mat 6:5,6
  • Purposeful - "I set my face... to seek..."
    He became engaged in the serious business of interceding for his displaced people, and of imploring God to gather them again to Himself. He had no time for idle or wasted words (Mat 6:7). Where did this sense of purpose and urgency come from? From the study of God's written Word (the 'books'). Having been confronted with God's purposes, Daniel was enabled to ask according to His Will (Psa 119:58,169,170; 1Joh 5:14).
  • Painful - "...with fasting and sackcloth, and ashes..."
    Such actions cannot impress God or gain his favor. (If they could, the prayers of the heathen would be answered. cp. 1Kin 18:25-29) However, in these ways, Daniel demonstrated the desperate desire of his heart. His hunger was not for food, but for the fulfillment of God's Will (cp. Joh 4:31-34). He mourned (as indicated by wearing sackcloth), for the sin and sorrows of his people (cp. Dan 10:2,3). He covered himself with ashes, in the humiliation and hopelessness of his condition apart from God's mercies (cp. Jam 4:8-10). By these outward acts, he was expressing inward groanings for which he could not find words (Rom 8:26,27).
4. And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said,
O Lord, the great and dreadful God,
keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him,
and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled,
even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name
to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O Lord, righteousness [belongeth] unto thee,
but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day;
to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel,
[that are] near, and [that are] far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them,
because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession...-
Daniel confessed:
  • That the LORD God is...
    • great and to be feared (ie., reverenced and obeyed}.
    • faithful to fulfill His promises (specifically His covenant with Israel), and to show mercy to those who honor Him. cp. Ex 34:6,7; Deu 7:9; Jer 32:17-19; Lam 3:22)
  • That the nation of Israel had been...
    • unfaithful and rebellious toward Him.
    • willfully rejecting God's Word, both that which had been written of old and that which had been proclaimed in their hearing more recently by His messengers, the prophets.
we have sinned {missed the mark}...- Daniel's prayer is very personal.
He identifies with his people and their sin, using the personal pronouns "I, we, my, our" 41 times. Yet, Daniel's righteousness is attested by the scriptures (which have no record of any sin on his part), and even by his enemies (who found no fault in him, Dan 6:4).
...committed iniquity {done perversely}... have rebelled {revolted}... by departing {ie., turning away}... neither have we hearkened...-
His confession of sin is specific and detailed. He brings each aspect of their failure out into the open before the Lord. Since there is nothing hid from God, He expects us to confess the sin that He sees. Psa 90:8
Am I truly confessing the horror of my sin before God, or simply covering myself, when I say, 'I have made mistakes...'? 1Joh 1:9
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee...-
The Lord had been righteous in exercising judgment upon His covenant people, by dispersing them among the gentile nations ('near and far'), because of their "trespass" {ie., unfaithfulness, treachery} toward Him.
-- The severity of their sin is emphasized
  • by the repetition of their crime: "...the trespass which we have trespassed..."
  • by the object of their crime: "...against thee..." cp. Psa 51:4
...but unto us confusion {shame, shamefulness} of faces...-
In other words, we have received exactly what we deserved. cp. Psa 44:11-16; Lam 1:7,8,18
8 O Lord, to us [belongeth] confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers,
because we have sinned against thee.
9 To the Lord our God [belong] mercies and forgivenesses,
though we have rebelled against him;
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws,
which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law,
even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice;
therefore the curse is poured upon us,
and the oath that [is] written in the law of Moses the servant of God,
because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words,
which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us,
by bringing upon us a great evil:
for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As [it is] written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us:
yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God,
that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us:
for the LORD our God [is] righteous in all his works which he doeth:
for we obeyed not his voice.
...and he {God} hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us...
In exercising judgment upon our sin, the Lord was faithfully fulfilling His Word (as written in the Law of Moses, see Deuteronomy ch. 27-29; Deu 28:15; 30:17-19; Lam 2:17).
...yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God... that we might turn... and understand...-
The hardness of sinful hearts is shown clearly by their unrepentance, even under the heat of God's chastening and judgment. Unable to see their own heart condition, they failed to ask the LORD to enable them to turn from sin, to seek Him. Jer 5:3; Hos 7:7,10,14; Isa 64:7; Lam 5:21
15 And now, O Lord our God,
that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand,
and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day;
we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee,
let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain:
because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers,
Jerusalem and thy people [are become] a reproach to all [that are] about us.
and now, O Lord our God...-
Having prepared his heart, with worship of the LORD and with confession of sin, Daniel intercedes in behalf of his people. Daniel's appeal rests upon the faithfulness of God and on the certainty of His Word, which was 'confirmed' {ie., validated, fulfilled, made 'more sure'} by the judgment poured upon them (v.12; 2Pet 1:19). Daniel remembers, as recorded in the scriptures, how the Lord God heard the cry of His people in a past period of desperation, and worked a great deliverance (Ex 2:24,25).
...that hast brought thy people out of... Egypt... and has gotten thee renown {HB=shem, a name}...
When the Lord delivered Israel out of Egypt, the name and reputation of Israel's God was magnified among the nations through His people. (Ex 14:18; Psa 106:7,8; cp. Jeremiah's prayer in Jer 32:17-23)
...we have done wickedly... thy people are become a reproach...-
Yet, the people whom He delivered had 'reproached' His name {ie., had given the nations reason to 'scorn, taunt, and blaspheme' the God of Israel}.
O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee...-
If God's wrath against sin is to be turned away from unrighteous sinners, it must be because God applies His righteousness to their account. Furthermore, because sinners are unable even to pray for themselves that they might turn and seek the LORD (v.13), there would be no effective plea on their behalf, except a righteous one pleads for them. Daniel's intercession foreshadows the coming of the One, who is the righteousness of God, who continually intercedes for His own (cp. 1Joh 2:1,2; 2Cor 5:21; Php 3:8,9; Heb 7:25).
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications,
and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate,
for the Lord's sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear;
open thine eyes, and behold our desolations
{ie., appalling condition},
and the city which is called by thy name:
for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses,
but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive
{ie., pardon};
O Lord, hearken and do
{ie., accomplish your work};
defer not
{ie., do not delay}, for thine own sake, O my God:
for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
O my God hear the prayer... not... for our righteousnesses...- (Isa 64:6-f)
Having no merit in ourselves, we have no basis for prayer, apart from the nature of God.
Thus, Daniel does not rest the effectiveness of his prayer upon his personal righteousness, but upon the character of his God. (cp. Eze 14:14,20; Jam 5:16).
...but for thy great mercies...-
Only the God of great mercies could pardon our sin. Lam 3:22; Psa 78:38; 106:45; Mic 7:18,19; Titus 3:4-7
...for thine own sake...-
The Name of God ought to be exalted and glorified before the nations. But because of Israel's sin, God's own city (Jerusalem) and people (Israel) had disgraced Him. Only God could accomplish the work of lifting them out of their defilement, that the glory of the LORD might rest upon His people. Jer 14:7; 33:7-9; Isa 46:13; Eze 39:25-29
20. And whiles I [was] speaking, and praying,
and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel,
and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21 Yea, whiles I [was] speaking in prayer,
even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning,
being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22 And he informed [me], and talked with me, and said,
O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth,
and I am come to shew [thee]; for thou [art] greatly beloved:
therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
while I was speaking... yea, while I was speaking in prayer...-
The time of the answer is repeated, emphasizing its rapidity. Answers to prayer do not come due to the length or eloquence of our prayers. Daniel's prayer can be read in less than 3 minutes. Yet, the answer came "while" he was praying... not after he had finished, but "at the beginning of thy supplications." (Mat 6:7,8; Isa 65:24).
...I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved...-
God loves to answer the requests of His children, whose hearts are right with Him, and who seek to understand and do His will. Daniel confessed sin, desiring true righteousness for himself and for his people (Isa 6:5-7; Rom 3:23-26), and desiring restoration for Jerusalem, to show forth the glory of God (Isa 62:6,7; Zech 8:3).
...the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning {or, the first time}...-
The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, in the form of a man, just as he had at the time of his previous vision (Dan 8:16). At that earlier occasion, Gabriel had interpreted the visions which Daniel had received, so that he could understand their meaning. Now, Gabriel brings a concise message to increase Daniel's understanding.
     Daniel had prayed that God would glorify His Name through forgiving Israel's sin and by restoring them to Jerusalem. As far as Daniel could see, the prophesied time for restoration had come, for the 70 years of captivity were nearly fulfilled. However, Daniel's prayer was answered, not with the immediate restoration for which he yearned, but rather, with a better understanding of God's extended program, by which He would accomplish the final and complete restoration of His people.
24 Seventy weeks 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.
Seventy weeks are determined {ie., divided, marked out} upon thy people and upon thy holy city...-
  • The seventy weeks {lit., sevens} refer to a period of 'seventy times seven' (490) years.
       The word 'weeks' is translated from the Hebrew word 'shabua,' meaning 'a seven.' It enumerates a group of things, in the same manner as the English term 'a dozen.' The term is not specific, and could refer to that number of apples, days, or years, as determined by the context. Remember that Daniel's prayer began with his desire to understand the relationship between the Times of the Gentiles (as revealed in his visions), and the 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah concerning the restoration of Jerusalem (v.2). He was already thinking in terms of years, which were in multiples of seven.
       Also, as Daniel would have known, from his study of 'the books,' the 70 years, which Jeremiah prophesied, were to fufill neglected sabbatical years (2Chr 36:21; cp. Lev 25:8). Since the sabbatical years occur every seventh year, the seventy neglected 'sabbaths' occurred over a period of 490 years (seventy sevens).
       The only other occurrences of the Hebrew word 'shabua,' in this book, are in Dan 10:2,3, where Daniel obviously means 'weeks of days.' Although it should be obvious that he would not have been fasting for three full weeks of years (21 years), Daniel is very careful to identify this period as 'three weeks of days.' In both verses, the Hebrew word 'yowm' {meaning 'day'} is translated 'full' or 'whole.' If Dan 9:24 was intended to mean 'seventy weeks of days,' there would have been no need for Daniel to make this distinction in ch. 10. (This is another indication that the 'seventy weeks' are weeks of years.)
  • This 'seventy week' period applies specifically to "thy people... thy holy city..."
    Daniel had been in earnest prayer for his people, Israel, and for his holy city, Jerusalem. Therefore, we must be careful to apply the prophetic message, first, to that people and place. The fulfillment of these promises, relative to Israel, will overflow from them to the world.
  • This 'seventy week' period will accomplish six specific purposes...
    1. ...to finish the transgression...-
      Israel had transgressed God's Law, having turned away from following His voice, to pursue the empty promises of other nations and their false gods (v.11).
         However, the words for transgression in v.11 and v.24 are different. The word used here (in v.24) is the same as in Dan 8:12,13, where it refers to the 'rebellious trespass' of Antiochus and of those Jews who turned away from the God of Israel to be complicit in his blasphemy.
         Yet, Israel's rebellion was not complete in Daniel's day, nor would it be complete in the time of Antiochus. Before the end of the 490 year period, the nation would crucify their Messiah, and accept a false messiah (Joh 5:43).
    2. ...to make an end of sins...-
      Daniel yearned for the day when he and his people would be free of sin (v.20). That day would come, in its appointed time. The word for 'sins' is also used of the sin offering. Where there is no sin, there is no more need for atonement through the sacrificial system (Heb 10:16-18).
    3. ...to make reconciliation for iniquity...-
      During this 490 year period, the Lamb of God would be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world (for Jew and Gentile alike). Joh 1:29; Rom 5:8-10; Col 1:20-22; 1Pet 1:18-21
         But not until the end of this period, will the nation of Israel discover this for themselves (Rom 10:3,4; 11:26,27; Zech 12:10; 13:1).
    4. ...to bring in everlasting righteousness...-
      At the end of the 490 years, Christ will establish His Kingdom of righteousness (Dan 7:13,14; Heb 1:8,9).
    5. ...to seal up {HB=chatham, close up, end, stop} the vision and prophecy...-
      By the end of the 490 years, all prophecy will have been fulfilled. Mat 6:10; Rev 16:17; 21:5,6
    6. ...to anoint {HB=meshach} the most Holy {lit., the Holy of Holies}.-
      At the end of the 490 years, the millennial Temple will be consecrated, and the Messiah {'the Anointed One'} will fill His role as High Priest and King, for which He was pre-ordained of God. In the OT, 'the most Holy' refers to the Holiest place in the Tabernacle (and later, in the Temple; eg., Ex 26:33,34). There, the glorious presence of the Holy God was manifested, and there He communed with men at the Mercy Seat. In Christ's millennial Kingdom, He will dwell, in the midst of His people, within the Most Holy place of the Millennial Temple (Eze 43:2-7). In Christ's eternal Kingdom, there will be no Temple, for the Holy of Holies will dwell among His people in the Person of their God and King (Rev 21:22,23).
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 weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks 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.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:
and in the midst of the week 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.
Observe that the seventy weeks are further divided into three portions:
seven weeks (49 years), threescore and two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years).
from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...-
This command marks the starting point of the 490 years that are determined. Obviously, it is important to identify the correct decree, since it will set the calendar for what follows. Because the 490 years occur during the Times of the Gentiles, we can expect that the decree should be identifiable with a date in secular history. Several decrees have been suggested by Bible scholars:
  • the decree of Cyrus (Ezr 1:1-4). This decree, allowing a remnant of Israel's captives to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple, marked the end of their 70 years of captivity (Jer 25:11; 29:10).
  • the decree of Darius, to allow the rebuilding of the Temple to resume, following suspension of the work due to opposition from enemies (Ezra 6:1-12).
         As noted in the comments at v.1 above, Darius is not a name but a title. The Darius of Ezra ch. 6 was a king of Persia (Ezra 4:5,24), who ruled about 20 years later than the Darius 'of the seed of the Medes' of Dan 9:1.
  • the decree of Artaxerxes, in the seventh year of his reign, to provision the rebuilt Temple and its priests for their service (Ezra 7:11-26).
  • the decree of Artaxerxes, in the twentieth year of his reign (Nehemiah 2:1-8).
        This last decree is the only one that satisfies v.25, because all of the others pertain to the rebuilding of the Temple or the resumption of Temple worship. Only here is specific permission given for the rebuilding of the city walls. Although, the returned remnant had previously built houses and finished the Temple, Nehemiah's assessment was that Jerusalem was in deplorable condition as represented by her fallen walls (Neh 1:1-4).
        Note that in Old Testament times, the condition of a city was represented by, and nearly synonymous with, the condition of her walls. A fallen city would not be considered rebuilt until her walls and gates were restored (eg., Joshua 6:26 with 1Kings 16:34). Likewise, Jerusalem's condition, whether under blessing or judgment, was reflected in the condition of her walls (eg., Deu 28:52; Jer 1:15; 39:8; Psa 51:18; 122:6,7; Isa 62:6).
        Note also that Nehemiah's request was very specific: "...send me unto Judah, unto the city of my father's sepulchres, that I may build it" (Nehemiah 2:5).
        The first year of Artaxerxes' reign is well attested from secular history. Therefore, combining the secular and scriptural records, his command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem was issued in the month Nisan, 445 BC. Counting from there, the first 'seven weeks' (49 years) relate to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
...unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks...-
Sixty-nine weeks (483 years) after Artaxerxes issued his decree, the Messiah would appear on the scene. This sets a specific narrow window of time for His arrival. According to scholarly computations (see below), this schedule identifies the exact day on which Jesus presented Himself to the nation, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfillment of Zech 9:9, as recorded in Mat 21:4,5 and Luk 19:28-44.
     Although the Jewish nation did not recognize the importance of that day, Jesus said they should have (Luk 19:44). Because they had not understood, "the things which belong unto thy peace" (ie., the things listed in Dan 9:24) would be hidden from them (Luk 19:42).
     The mathematical precision of this prophecy provides evidence that all of Daniel's prophecies are trustworthy, and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (cp. Isa 46:9,10). Because the book of Daniel is included in the Septuagint and among the Dead Sea Scrolls, even the most sceptical scholars must acknowledge that it was written at least 200 years prior to this event in the life of Christ, which it predicted with such great precision.
     Brief summary of the computation of the date of the Messiah's presentation:
  • Start date: Nehemiah 2:1-8 - According to secular history, Artaxerxes began to reign in 465 BC. The first year would have been his year of ascension, after which the years of his reign would be counted. Thus, his twentieth year was 445 BC. Since the month is given without mention of a specific date, Jewish custom would assume the first day of the month. Thus, the calculation of the 483 years, begins on the first day of Nisan 445 BC (March 14, 445 BC).
  • Length of years: The Hebrew calendar is "lunar-solar." The typical Hebrew year contains 354 days (with twelve months of 29 or 30 days), to match the 29.5 day cycle of the moon. However, the earth takes slightly more than 365 days to circle the sun. Therefore, to prevent the seasons from drifting unreasonably, the Hebrew calendar is adjusted to the solar cycle by periodically inserting an extra month in a year (for 13 months that year). This happens seven times in a 19 year period (ie., every two or three years). [This is comparable to the "leap year" adjustment of the Gregorian calendar, by which one day is added to the typical 365 day year every four years, to compensate for the 365.25 day solar cycle.]
        Should the years of Daniel's Seventy Weeks be counted according to the lunar year, the Hebrew lunar-solar adjusted calendar, the commonly accepted Gregorian calendar, or by some other means?
        There is no need to guess about this. In scripture, a 'prophetic' year is 360 days (with no provision for adjustment to the solar calendar). This can be shown from the text before us. The last week of Daniel's seventy weeks is a period of 7 years. This period is divided in half ("in the midst") in v.27. The latter half of the period is described variously as "a time, times and the dividing of time" (ie., thee and a half years, Dan 7:24,25; Rev 12:13,14), "forty and two months" (Rev 13:4-7), and "a thousand two hundred and three score days" (1260 days, Rev 12:6). 42 months x 30 days = 1260 days. 1260 days divided by 3.5 years = 360 days. [Note that although a solar adjustment was due, according to the number of years spanned, no adjustment was made, according to the number of days specified.]
  • Length of this period: 69 x 7 years x 360 days = 173,880 days.
  • Calendar date: When the number of days is applied to the conventional 365 day calendar (which includes leap years), and counting from March 14, 445 BC, the last day (of the Sixty-Ninth Week) falls on April 6, 32 AD. In that year, Passover was on April 14.
         [For a more complete discussion of these computations, see the books: "The Coming Prince," by Sir Robert Anderson, or, "Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks," by Dr. Alva J. McClain, pub. Zondervan, 1969]
         [Note that several scholars differ concerning the year of Christ's crucifixion, by as much as two or three years (depending on their starting point and other pre-suppositions in their calculations). But even with such scholarly uncertainty, there is a very narrow time window, in which Israel should have expected their Messiah to appear.]
the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times...-
During the first seven weeks (49 years) which followed the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, the city would be rebuilt. This period of rebuilding is the subject of the book of Nehemiah. The "troublous times" (described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) were caused by gentile neighbors who sought to hinder the restoration of Jerusalem and its Temple (eg., Neh 4:6-9).
and after [the] threescore and two weeks...-
Observe carefully, that the two events mentioned in v.26 occur "after" the Messiah's presentation of Himself to the nation (v.25), but before the seven year covenant of v.27. Thus, we see that there must be an interval of unspecified length between verses 26 and 27.
The events that occur during this interval are:
  1. ...shall Messiah be cut off...-
    Several days after the Messiah presented Himself to His people, He would be "cut off" at His crucifixion (Isa 53:8).
    ...but not for himself {lit., but he shall have nothing}...-
    There are two senses possible in this phrase:
  2. and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary...-
        Not long after Messiah was cut off, the Roman empire destroyed Jerusalem and the second Temple (in 70 AD). Commanded by Titus, the Roman armies besieged and overwhelmed the city, like "a flood" (cp. this expression in Isa 8:7; Jer 46:7,8). Since the fall of Jerusalem occurred more than 35 years after Christ's crucifixion, we see again that there is an interval between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of the prophecy.
        Be careful to observe that vs.25,26 identify two different 'princes.'
    • The first is the Messiah, who would be rejected by His people.
    • The second prince, the "prince that shall come," is the antichrist, an imposter, whom Israel will accept. Since Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, we understand that the antichrist will arise out of the Roman system of governance (the last form of gentile world dominion). Jesus foretold both the destruction of Jerusalem (Mat 24:1,2; Luk 19:43,44; 21:6,20,24) and the acceptance of this false christ (Mat 24:5,24; Joh 5:43).
...and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
{or, '...even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.' [NASB]}
     Jesus also foretold that following the destruction of Jerusalem, troubled times would persist and intensify "unto the end" of the Great Tribulation of the antichrist's reign (Mat 24:6-14, 21-24). Only after those troubled days, would He return to reign, in His glory (Mat 24:29,30).
     The interval between Daniel's sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks is consistent with other prophecies, where Christ's first and second comings are spoken of together, though they are separated by the Church age (which was an unrevealed mystery in the OT). Examples of such prophecies include:
  • Isa 9:6,7 - The interval between the birth of the child and His reign.
  • Zech 9:9,10 - The interval between His presentation to Israel, and the peace enjoyed by all nations when He shall reign.
  • Isa 61:1-3 - Christ quoted the first half of these verses, in Luk 4:16-21. He stopped in the middle of the sentence, because the things that followed would not be fulfilled at His first coming.
    The character of the intervening era (between the cutting off of the Messiah, and the coming of the antichrist) is particularly unflattering. Even though, (as we know from our historical perspective) the Church is active in this period, she will not rid the world of conflict and troubles. Rather, "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" (2Tim 3:13). There can be no permanent peace on earth, until the Prince of Peace takes His rightful place. Yet, the believer can take comfort in the fact that the "wars and desolations are determined" by the LORD, who is in ultimate control, and who uses even the wrath of man to bring about His purposes.
    There is no marker given for the close of this interval between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. From the NT, we understand that the two closing events will be the Apostasy of the visible church (2The 2:3, where 'falling away' is the GK 'apostasia'), and the Rapture (snatching away) of the true Church out of the world (1The 4:16,17; Rev 4:1). The apostasy is upon us now, and gaining momentum. So, we see the time is near, but we cannot tell how near. The spirit of antichrist is with us now, although its full rise is hindered by the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is active in the true Church. After that hindrance is removed, suddenly and without warning, by the Rapture of the Church, the antichrist will step unto the scene (2The 2:7,8).
...And he shall confirm {HB=gabar, cause to prevail, strengthen, enhance} the covenant with many for one week...-
Apparently, this refers, not to the making of a new covenant, but rather to the strengthening of an existing agreement (perhaps a mutual defense treaty, perhaps between the USA and Israel). That agreement may provide a season of relative peace and security, prior to the invasion by Gog and Magog (Eze 38:10-16). After the forces allied with Gog are defeated, and have retreated, the world leader, behind that previous agreement, will take credit for repelling Israel's northern enemies, and then take further measures to enhance Israel's position (and his own) in the world. By these steps, this leader will initially endear himself to Israel, as their savior. But his actions will soon reveal his true identity.
     The antichrist ('the prince that shall come'), the little horn who arises out of the Roman empire (Dan 7:7,8; Rev 13:1) will use his power to guarantee a peace treaty between Israel and the nations (Rev 6:2). Few details are revealed about this covenant, except...
  • the duration of the covenant: "for one week" (ie., for seven years). It is possible that the parties will consider this covenant as the permanent solution to the middle-eastern conflict (ie., a treaty without expiration date). The covenant and its aftermath are limited by the pre-determined duration of the 'seventieth week' (cp. Mat 24:22)
  • the parties to the covenant: "many..." {HB=rab, a large number, a multitude}. These, no doubt, include the antichrist himself, the ten kings who are in league with him (Dan 7:24; Rev 17:12), and the nation of Israel. Since the covenant is with 'many,' it is evident that some will refuse to align themselves with this false christ and his schemes.
  • the provision of the covenant: The covenant terms will allow rebuilding of the Jewish Temple and the restoration of Temple worship, as implied by the antichrist's discontinuance of Temple sacrifice, in the middle of the covenanted period (cp. v.27; Rev 13:4-6). We are given no explanation for the breaking of this treaty. However, we know that the antichrist's purpose is to exalt himself. He will use peace with Israel, and also cooperation with the apostate church, as means to self-exaltation. When he has reached his goal, he will discard them both and install himself as the supreme object of worship.
...and for the overspreading of abominations {ie., detestable things, idols} he shall make [it] desolate...-
The worship of the antichrist will be the abomination of desolation of which Jesus spoke (Mat 24:15-21; 2The 2:4), and of which the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus was a foreview (Dan 8:9-14). This worship will be wide spread, but have its center in the Temple in Jerusalem.
    The word 'abomination' is used frequently in the OT of idols (eg., Jer 7:30). The worship of these 'detestable things' was the cause for Israel's desolation, in Daniel's day (Dan 9:16-18).
    When the antichrist breaks off the Temple sacrifices to install himself as the object of worship, many Israelites will recognize the true nature of his covenant, and will turn away from him. Therefore, he will seek to "make desolate" {lay waste, ruin} those who refuse to worship him. This is the reason for Jesus' warning to those living in Judea, at that time, to flee.
    This severe persecution of believers, which Jesus referred to as the Great Tribulation {or, the Tribulation, the Great One}, will take place during the last half of the final seven year period, continuing "...even until the consummation {ie., the end, the termination}." (Jer 30:7; Dan 7:25,26; Rev 13:4-8,14-15)
...and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate {or, the desolator}.
Though man sets himself in the place of God, there is but one Lord God Almighty, whose worship continues unabated in His heavenly Temple (Rev 15:1-8). It is He who has pre-determined the judgments forewarned in His Word, and who has pre-determined the length of Israel's desolations and of the antichrist's reign (Mat 24:22; Dan 9:24). The wrath of the true God will be poured out upon the antichrist and all who serve him (Rev 16:1-21), as it had been poured out in the past upon Israel for her idolatries (Jer 7:20).
Diagram of Daniel's Seventy Weeks:
The command to Messiah the Prince Rapture of the true Church
| restore & build | (v.26; Zech 9:9) ^
| Jerusalem (v.25; | | The prince that shall come:
| Neh 2:1-8) | Messiah cut off | /-makes covenant (v.27)
| 445BC | _|_ Jerusalem destroyed | / |-breaks covenant
|__________|_______________________| | | |/______________|_______________|
7 weeks 62 weeks 32 70 The Church Age | | 1260 days
(49 years) (434 years) AD AD Jacob's Trouble
| 69 weeks (483 years) | Interval of undisclosed length | 1 week (7 years) |

Covenant / Reformed view of the 70 Weeks:
(in comparison with above diagram)
|__________|_______________________|____|_____|< Fulfillment of
Week #70 | all points in Dan 9:24
'It is Finished'
Note: The above interpretation of Daniel's Seventy Weeks is usually rejected by those who hold to Covenant or Reformed theology. Therefore, we will now briefly consider an interpretation offered by those systems.
  1. The number 7 is symbolic of 'completion.' Therefore, a precise accounting of the seventieth week is not required, for it marks the completion of God's purposes (as given in v.24).
  2. The 'weeks' need not be 'weeks of years.' However, the first 69 weeks are generally presented as weeks of years, counting from one of the decrees (as listed in the notes at v.25 above) to the coming of Christ. Depending on the decree chosen as the starting point, and the methods of calculation, the 69 weeks may end at Christ's birth, baptism, or presentation (His 'Triumphal Entry' into Jerusalem).
  3. The seventieth week follows immediately from the sixty-ninth week. The gap inserted by the Dispensational interpretation is unnatural.
    • [We agree that, upon first glance, the gap does seem strange. However, because certain events are specifically placed 'after' the sixty-ninth week and before the seventieth week, and because these events are separated by nearly 40 years, a gap seems to be required. As observed previously, several other scripture passages see Christ's first and second comings, in a combined prophetic foreview, where the intervening Church Age remains hidden (eg., Isa 9:6,7; Zech 9:9,10; Isa 61:1-3).]
    • [Also, we note that the Covenant / Reformed view is not consistent, in that it regards each of the first 69 weeks as periods of seven years, but treats the seventieth week as a symbolic period of completion which extends over an unspecified length of time, until Christ's second coming.]
  4. The seventieth week represents Christ's earthly ministry, including His sacrificial death and resurrection. Therefore...
    1. Christ is the only 'prince' in view. The pronoun 'he', in v.27, refers to the subject of v.26 (Messiah).
      • [However, would God use unnecessary words in identifying those who would destroy Jerusalem (after Messiah's death) as 'the people of the prince that shall come' (v.26b)? If Messiah is that prince, the Jews would have destroyed their own city. If it is another, God has purposely mentioned that prince, just prior to v.27.]
    2. The 'midst of the week' (3.5 years) refers to the length of Christ's earthly ministry, which ended on the Cross.
      • [However, in the context of Daniel, a period of that length corresponds with the reign of antichrist (7:24-26).]
    3. The 'covenant' which He 'confirmed' is the 'Covenant of Salvation.' (According to Covenant Theology, prior to Creation, God [the Father and the Son] established a Covenant of Salvation, which set forth God's primary purpose relative to the earth, which was the salvation of man.) This covenant was confirmed in Christ's blood, when He was 'cut-off' at the cross (v.26).
      • [We agree that our salvation from sin rests on the blood of Christ, whose sacrifice finished the work of redemption once for all (Joh 19:30; Rom 10:4; Gal 3:13; Heb 10:5-10).]
      • [However, we do not see one all encompassing 'Covenant of Salvation' in scripture. Rather, we see that God made definite, irrevocable, everlasting covenants (with Abraham, the nation of Israel, and David). The foundation for the fulfillment of these covenants is redemption from sin through the New Covenant in Christ's blood. The nation of Israel will not realize the fulfillment of the prior covenants, until they turn to their Messiah, in repentance and faith. Meanwhile, believing Jews and Gentiles enjoy New Covenant blessings in the church, but these neither fulfill nor replace God's promises to Israel (v.24; Jer 31:31-40).]
      • [The Lord will draw unbelieving Israel to Himself, through the time of Jacob's Trouble, when they finally repent of their misplaced confidence in a false messiah (and his guarantee of peace and security), and receive their true Messiah and His salvation (cp. Hos 2:14,15; Zech 12:10; 13:1,8-9). To this end, it is the antichrist and his false covenant which are foreseen in v.27 (as previously depicted by the 'little horn' from the fourth beast, in Daniel chapter 7).]
    4. Christ's 'one sacrifice for sins for ever' brought an end to animal sacrifice (v.27b, Heb 10:16-18).
      For this reason the Temple was destroyed (v.26b) and made desolate (v.27c), in 70AD.
      The last half of the seventieth week (from 'the midst of the week' to 'the consummation'), represents a period of cleansing, like the period from the abominations of Antiochus until the cleansing of the Temple by the Maccabees (Dan 8:13-14). This cleansing is currently being accomplished by the worldwide spread of the Gospel, and will be complete at Christ's return.
      • [However, in the time of the Maccabees, the Temple was cleansed after a very brief period of 7 days, as celebrated at Hanukkah. In contrast, the extended period, of 2300 days, was the period of defilement under Antiochus. That period of defilement more closely parallels the length of the present age, which Jesus said would be characterized by apostasy, deception, false prophets and false christs. Following the long defilement, the brief period of cleansing under the Maccabees may preview the seven year tribulation, after which, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa 11:9), in Christ's Millennial Kingdom. (Caution: Other than the relative lengths of those periods, there is no scriptural reason to link the 2300 days with 'end time' events.)]
      • [Also, note that, in the time of Antiochus, the daily sacrifice was taken away, not because of its completion, but rather because of a blasphemous ruler (Dan 8:9-14). The character and actions of Antiochus (the little horn from the third Gentile empire) foreshadow the antichrist (the little horn from the fourth Gentile empire), who had not yet risen by the time of Christ.]
    5. All of God's prophetic purposes (v.24) have been completed in what Christ has accomplished. Thus, looking at the diagram above, the seventy weeks ended soon after the Cross, by which all of God's purposes were completed.
      • [While we whole heartedly agree that Christ has completed the work of salvation, for all who trust in Him, by His offering of Himself for our sins (1Pet 2:24; 3:18), we also note that "all things" are not yet "under His feet" (1Cor 15:24-28). As discussed, in the notes at v.24 (above), God has stated several specific purposes, which will be brought to completion at the end of the 'seventy weeks.' Christ has indeed 'made reconciliation for iniquity.' However, since the day of His historic sacrifice, the state of our world (including unbelieving Israel and the apostatizing church) continues to 'wax worse and worse.']
      • [Compare the realities, of the present age, with God's ultimate purposes as listed in v.24...
        1. Today, transgression deepens, because...
        2. sinful men still love darkness and will not come to the Light, even though...
        3. Jesus Christ has made reconciliation, upon His cross, for whosoever will trust in Him.
        4. God's people are still yearning for His Kingdom of everlasting righteousness, which will not be realized until...
        5. God will bring all of His prophetic promises to completion, by...
        6. the Anointed One (Messiah), at His second coming to earth, as King and Judge. "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us" (2Cor 1:20). Also see Hos 3:4,5; Heb 10:36,37]

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