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In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:1–2)


The ninth chapter of Daniel is dated in the first year of Darius, who was make king over the realm of the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, after the defeat of the Babylonian army and the taking of the city of Babylon. The first year of Darius was 539 b.c.

We are informed in verse two that Daniel had just been given some understanding concerning the 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah the prophet as found in Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.” God told the Israelites through Jeremiah that they would be held in the captivity of Babylon for 70 years, after which they would return to Jerusalem. Daniel realizes that 70 years have passed and it is probably time for the Jews to be released to return to Jerusalem.




Verses 7–19 record Daniel’s impassioned prayer to God in which he confesses the sins of Israel and he appeals to the mercy of God. Humbly and sincerely he includes himself personally as one of God’s people who have sinned and committed iniquity. He does not attempt to set himself above his brethren, but admits “we have sinned and committed iniquity, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.” (Verses 5 and 6).

Daniel acknowledges that God’s judgment has been just and God has been longsuffering with the Jews because they have had this problem ever since the time of the Judges. He confesses that God spoke plainly in the Law of Moses of the consequence of their continual apostasy and it fell upon them just as God said it would.

He admits that even now, after what they have experienced there is no national righteousness that deserves God’s mercy; rather, he appeals to the faithfulness of God and the surety of His promise in verse 18,


O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.


And he concludes with an emotional plea in verse 19, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”




While Daniel is confessing his sin and the sin of his people, the angel Gabriel appears to him. He recognizes Gabriel because Gabriel had appeared to him twelve years earlier explaining the vison of the Ram and the Male Goat. He appears around 3 p.m., the time of the evening sacrifice. On this visit Gabriel comes with a time-specific prophecy of the coming of Messiah.

In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream it is seen that Messiah and His kingdom, the stone cut out without hands, comes during the time of the Roman Empire, the iron legs of the image. The prophecy of the Four Beasts shows us Messiah would come into the world just at the end of the reign of the little horn, Herod the Great. The prophecy of the Ram and the Male Goat reveals that the conclusion of the successions of the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek empires marks the time of the end; that is, the time of the end of one dispensation and the beginning of another dispensation. Under the old dispensation, God’s kingdom on earth was centered on the nation of Israel; in the new dispensation the kingdom is to be transferred from Israel to the Kingdom of God under the leadership of Messiah, the Savior of mankind.

In the prophecy of the 70 weeks it is revealed precisely in which year Messiah will come, how long He will minister, and what kind of ministry He will perform.




Up to the time of Gabriel’s appearance Daniel had been praying to know when the 70 years of Babylonian captivity would be fully completed. Gabriel does not give him the answer but, instead, responds by announcing that 70 weeks are determined. The two 70s are deliberate, but they are not the same. He gives Daniel a similarity between the deliverance from the 70 years of captivity and a greater deliverance to come. Adam Clarke says of this prophecy:


Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices. In the four following verses he enters into the particulars of this most important determination, and leaves them with Daniel for his comfort, who has left them to the Church of God for the confirmation of its faith, and a testimony to the truth of Divine revelation.


The 70 years and the 70 weeks also have a unique relationship; when the 70 years ends the 70 weeks begin.

The fact that the 70 weeks are determined is more than just a chance or even a strong probability. The Hebrew word translated determined actually means decreed; the 70 weeks have been decreed by God. The English dictionary says the theological meaning of decree is “one of the eternal purposes of God, by which events are foreordained.” This 70 weeks and what they lead to is something that God has purposed to take place. The Book of Revelation makes reference to this fact of God’s purpose in chapter 13, verse 8:


All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;


which is also reinforced by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:44,


Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.


“From the foundation of the world;” at the very beginning of creation God purposed to send a Savior to deliver the human race from the ravages of sin. It never was the will of God that sin enter the world, but in His foreknowledge, even before He created the world, He knew Adam would sin and the human race would need a Savior. There are prophecies concerning Messiah beginning in the Garden of Eden, to Abraham, Moses, and King David, but these prophecies are no more than the promise of Messiah, the Savior. The prophecy of the 70 weeks reveals the precise time in human history in which God decreed Christ to come and make atonement for the sins of the world.




The Hebrew word translated weeks is sheb-oo-aw, the literal meaning of which is “sevened” and is used to mean a week, a succession of sevens. In His Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Dr. James Strong specifies that it applies to a week of seven years. In the few places where this word appears in the Old Testament it appears to mean a period of seven days, a week. However, in Genesis 29:27 we find sheb-oo-aw to mean a period of seven years. In verse 18 Jacob agrees to serve Laban for a period of seven years to win Rachel for his wife. In verse 20, it says that Jacob served seven years for Rachel, after which he told Laban to give her to him as his wife. Laban pulled a trick on Jacob and substituted Leah, his older daughter, and married her to Jacob. When Jacob confronted Laban over his trickery, he demanded he be given Rachel to which Laban agreed on one condition:


Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also. (Verse 27).


Jacob had been “sevened.” He was required to work another seven years, what Laban called a week, to win Rachel as his wife.

In the Law of Moses the concept of seven-year weeks appears in determining the Year of Jubilee. The concept is found in Leviticus 25:8, “And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.” The Israelites were to count seven sabbaths of years, sabbath to sabbath being a week, and in the case, a week of years, seven weeks. The Revised Standard Version makes it very plain, “And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years.” While the Hebrew text uses the word “sabbaths,” The RSV substitutes the modern concept of weeks without doing any harm to the Scripture.

To understand this prophecy it must be determined whether the weeks are periods of seven days or periods of seven years. All of the time references in the previous prophecies of Daniel have been seen to be literal periods of time: 2300 days is 2300 actual days, and so forth. The question here is, for this prophecy do we understand the weeks to be literal weeks or are the weeks symbolic of something else? We have seen that the word weeks means both seven-day weeks and weeks of seven years. There is no symbolism involved, it is merely a matter of determining which meaning is appropriate.

Verse 25 starts the 70 weeks with the command for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and they end with the coming and ministering of Messiah. By using seven-day weeks we arrive at a period of 490 days, about one year and four months. The question we have to ask is did Messiah come one year and four months after the Jews left for Jerusalem. The answer is “no.” Jesus did not come until the time of the Roman Empire. This prophecy was given to Daniel in 539 b.c. and the Jews returned to Jerusalem shortly after this date. Palestine did not become a Roman Province until 63 b.c., some 476 years in the future. It is therefore not possible for the 70 weeks to be weeks of seven days.

Using the seven-year meaning of weeks, we calculate a period of 490 years, meaning that Messiah would come and minister 490 years after the Jews were allowed to return from Babylon to Jerusalem, which is what happened in history.