Seventy Weeks — Daniel 9:24-27Note, this article is part of a topical study series.
“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.”
First, we must define "weeks" here according to the Scriptures. It was translated from the Hebrew word "shabuwa" which basically just means "seven". This Hebrew word is used in two different ways: (1) a period of seven days, (2) to mean seven years (a heptad). In its masculine form shabuwa most usually represents a heptad (Ref: Archer, G.L., 1985, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, Vol. 7, p.26). Therefore,"seventy weeks" here most likely represents 490 years, and this is how we take to mean in Daniel 9:24.
The seventy weeks
Secondly, we see who this prophecy is directed upon "thy people" (Israelites) and "upon thy holy city" (Jerusalem). Therefore, 490 years are determined for the following six things to happen to the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem:
“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.”
So, here it is written that there is going to be 7 weeks (49 years) + 62 weeks (434 years) = 483 years starting from the time the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus comes the first time as Messiah the Prince. In 538BC, King Cyrus issues a decree to rebuild the "house of God at Jerusalem" (Ezra 6:3, also see Ezra 1:2). However, this was not the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem came from Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1-8 in the year 445BC. It is interesting that some people have been able to compute from decree 483 yrs (using a Jewish 360days/year calendar), to find that the exactly 483 years later to the day was April 6, 32AD. April 6th, 32AD is the day of the Messiah's triumphal entry into Jerusalem (ref: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/m.sion/jewc70da.htm).
“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.” Daniel 9:26
There are two events that will happen: (1) Messiah will be cut off, and (2) the prince shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Here, it says the Messiah will be "cut off" after the 62 weeks (which comes after the 49 weeks), which means he will be killed sometime after the 483 years. Isaiah 53:8 says "he was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken". We know that Jesus was crucified in 33AD (some say 29AD). And the next thing that will happen after Jesus was crucified is that "the people of the prince" shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. This very clearly was fulfilled in 70AD when the Roman army, led by Titus, came and destroyed both the city and the temple. Jesus also prophesied this in Matthew 24:2. So, the people of the prince that shall come we now know to be Romans, which means the "prince that shall come" should also be a Roman. The "prince" is talking about the "little horn" in Daniel 7:8 & 8:9 (also see Revelation 13:5-7), as in the New Testament he is referred to as the "prince of this world" in John 14:30 and "the prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2.
“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.”
The following figure shows a timeline of Daniel 9:25-27, the arrows show specific events mentioned in this passage.
So far only 69 (or 483 years) of the 70 years have been accounted for. Daniel 9:27 talks about the 70th week. Here the "he" must refer back to the "prince" of Daniel 9:26. Here, the "prince that shall come" is going to confirm a covenant with Israel for 7 years. Therefore, since the end of the world has not yet happened, there must be a gap between the 69th week and when the 70th week starts. Notice, in Daniel 9:24 it only says "Seventy weeks are determined...", it does not say "Seventy consecutive weeks..." although many have interpreted it this way in the past.
This gap must be where God deals instead with the Gentiles. Romans 11:25 says that "...blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (please see article on the "times and fulness of the Gentiles"). Peter mentions this at the Jerusalem counsel as well "God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name." Acts 15:14, then he says "After this I will return..." Acts 15:16. Therefore, it would appear that there is a gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. The 70th week starts when the Antichrist confirms a covenant for seven years. After the seven years, (we will see in other articles) that the end of the world will come.
Then we read about the "abominations shall make it desolate". This phrase is referred by Jesus as the "abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24:15. The context of this phrase in Matthew 24 is when He is explaining to His disciples what would be the signs of the end of the world (Matthew 24:3). This is referred to again in Daniel 12 in the context of "the time of the end" (Daniel 12:4). Daniel said "I heard, but I understood not" (Daniel 12:8).