DANIEL 9’s 70 WEEK PROPHECY
by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
PERSIAN KINGS: [FOR CONTEXT
539-538 BC: Persia conquered Babylon;
Cyrus the Great and Astyages the Mede co-regents
539-530: Cyrus defeated Astyages
538: Darius the Mede ruled Babylon for Cyrus; Dan 5:31; 9:1-2; son of Ahasuerus
537: Cyrus’ decree for return; Ezra 1:1-4
536: first captives return; end of 70 years
522-486: Darius I the Great
515: 2nd temple completed; Ezra 6:14
485-465: Xerxes; book of Esther
Artaxerxes; Ezra and Nehemiah
decree gives money for sacrifices; Ezra 7
to rebuild walls; Neh 2
423-404: Darius II; Neh 12:22
404-331: Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes III,
Arses, Darius III
Dan 8:27 … I was astonished at the vision, but none understood
The only part of the vision from Daniel 8 which had not been explained concerned the time of 8:13-14 concerning
when the desolated sanctuary would be restored.
Dan 9:1 [538 BC; Darius the Mede]
Dan 9:2 … 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.
was trying to fill in the details of the visions of chapter 2, 7 and 8. He thought that the time period of the vision in 8:13-14
might somehow relate to the 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12.
Dan 9:11 … transgressed thy law
…therefore the curse is poured upon us
Daniel understood that the 70 years of Babylonian captivity had been God’s
curse on national Israel for disobeying his Laws (Deut 28 and 29).
Dan 9:18 … we do not present our
supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
Daniel approached God to
ask for His mercy by faith alone because Israel had no righteousness of its own to merit restoration.
Dan 9:19 O Lord, hear; O
Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by
Daniel asked God to restore national Israel because (1) Israel’s reproach for its sin was making Israel’s
God look bad and (2) God had made unconditional promises that his mercy would not be withheld forever towards his favored
Dan 9:23 … understand the matter, and consider the vision.
erroneously thought that the visions of chapter 8 concerned the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. The vision concerned a two-fold
or a three-fold fulfillment of future desolations. The final fulfillment would end in the consummation of all things.
Dan 9:24a Seventy weeks
are determined upon thy people [national Israel] and upon thy holy city:
VERY IMPORTANT: In Hebrew
“70 weeks” is “70 weeks of years,” that is, “490 prophetic years.” Almost all conservative
Bible scholars agree with this interpretation -- that it means “70 weeks of years” = “490 years.”
entire “490” period clearly must be interpreted as a time period which refers only to “thy people,”
national Israel and “the holy city,” Jerusalem. The church is not seen in the book of Daniel.
9:24b; what the 490 years will include:
A. to finish the transgression
B. to make an end of sins
make reconciliation for iniquity
bring in everlasting righteousness
seal up the vision and prophecy,
F. to anoint
the most Holy (place = restore the Temple)
Six things will be accomplished within the period of the “490”
and will end when the “490” period ends. The explanation of these six events depends on one’s basic hermeneutics,
or principles of interpretation.
MISINTERPRETATION: Most churches came into existence and formed their eschatology (theology of last day events)
between 135 and 1948 when there was no such nation as Israel. Literal hermeneutics had long been replaced with “spiritualization”
and allegorical hermeneutics. The church was almost universally called “spiritual Israel” and the unconditional
promises previously made only to national Israel had been re-interpreted as being fulfilled by the church. Seeing no literal
Israel since 135 A.D., they incorrectly interpreted the 490 prophetic “years” as God’s last chance offer
to redeem Israel as a nation. Afterwards, God had permanently abandoned that nation.
LITERAL INTERPRETATION: Beginning
in the early 1800s even before the rise of early Zionism a few theologians revived the literal principle of prophetic interpretation.
They were scorned and ostracized but persisted in their bold predictions that Israel would again come into existence as a
nation which God would again favor in the last days. Prominent among these were Darby (1827), William Kelly
(d1906), Clarence Larkin (1918), C. I. Scofield (1919) and L. S. Chafer (d1952). These taught that only the 69th
week ended during the time of Christ. When Israel ceased to exist as a nation the fulfillment of the 70th week
was of necessity put on hold during the Church Age. The 70th week will be fulfilled during a period of tribulation
and Great Tribulation before the second coming of Christ in glory in Revelation chapter 19.
from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
445-444 B.C., BEGINNING THE
490 YEARS: The 490-year prophetic time period was to begin when a king’s commandment was issued which allowed Israel
to “restore and build Jerusalem.”
There are three notable decrees to consider in order to determine which best
fits the prophecy. In 538 BC Cyrus issued a decree which allowed the Jews to return from Babylon (Ezra 1:1-4). In 457 Artaxerxes
issued a decree which provided funds for Temple sacrifices and equipment (Ezra 7). And in 444 Artaxerxes issued a decree which
enabled Nehemiah to rebuild the wall and gates in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 2:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the
king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house,
and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the
good hand of my God upon me.
While the decrees of Ezra focus on the Temple and its supplies, the decree
in Nehemiah 2 is the only one which mentions rebuilding the wall in fulfillment of Daniel 9:25a.
Dan 9:25b … unto
the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [7 weeks of years], and threescore and two weeks [62 weeks of years] [total
69 weeks of years=483 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
The prophecy states that 69 (7 + 62) weeks of prophetic years (69 x 7 = 483 years) would reach “unto the time
of Messiah the Prince.” Using the decree of Nehemiah 2 to start at 445-444 B C and subtracting it from 483 yields 38-39
A. D. (when one year is added to allow for no year “0.”) Although this should be close enough to prove that
God’s hand was in the prophecy, the prophecy can be even more precise.
In 1894 Sir Robert Anderson
wrote The Coming Prince. He argued that the Hebrews used a calendar of 360 days with twelve 30-day months. He then
multiplied 483 years times 360 days to conclude that there was 173,880 prophetic days involved. Anderson was on the right
track but he would have reached the same conclusion from studying ancient Hebrew calendar calculations.
HEBREW CALENDARS: Jews knew
from surrounding nations which used solar-years that a solar year was 365 ¼ days long. Therefore, they were forced
to add extra days to their calendar in order to keep the Passover lined up with the third full moon of the new year and springtime
in the third month. Because of the lunar cycle, they alternated 29 and 30 day months. They also added an extra month 4 times
every 11 years and later 7 times every 19 years. This would give them 365 ¼ days year.
extra 5 ¼ days per literal year would move 38-39 A. D. (483-445) back to the years of 31-32 A. D. which are historically accurate (173, 880 divided by 365.25 times = 476 years) (476 minus 445-444 BC = 31-32 A. D.). Thus, using Nehemiah
2’s B. C. 445-444 as the beginning of the 483-year prophecy, God’s Word predicts the year of Christ’s crucifixion
(“being cut off”).
There is always at least a one-year gap in Bible chronology due to the inconsistent methods of dating time
from accession years and actual reignal years of kings. Most theologians date Christ’s death between 30 and 33.
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and
the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Gal 4:4 But when the
fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.
THE TIME IS FULFILLED: Many
believe that Jesus’ words in Mark 1:15 refer to the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27’s prophecy. In Matthew 2:1-8
the chief priests and scribes told Herod to tell the wise men to go to Bethlehem; there was no objection that the time for
Messiah’s appearing was wrong.
Dan 9:26a And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah
be cut off, but not for himself…
MESSIAH WILL DIE AFTER THE 69TH WEEK (483RD YEAR):
The prophecy says that Messiah will be “cut off” “after” the 69 weeks had been fulfilled (7
+ 62). It does not say how long afterwards and it does not say that the 70th week involved the Messiah being cut
off in the middle of the 70th week as many teach.
Dan 9:26b … 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.
JERUSALEM AND TEMPLE DESTROYED IN 70 A. D.: Almost everybody
agrees that 9:26b refers to pagan Rome, Titus Vespacian and the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A. D. .
THE SEQUENCE REQUIRES A TIME GAP: The sequence of events is extremely important. The literal biblical order is:
(1) The 69th week ends (Dan 9:25).
(2) Messiah is cut off after the 69th week ends (Dan 9:26a).
(3) Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed in AD 70 (Dan 9:26b).
(4) The 70th week begins and ends after 70 A. D. (Dan 9:27).
“He” in 9:27 refers to nearest antecedent “Prince
of 9:26, a type of anti-Christ).
“He” (Anti-christ makes and breaks a future 7 year covenant with Israel.
(5) The Most Holy is anointed at the end of the 70th week (9:24).
OUT OF SEQUENCE ERROR: Those
who teach that the 70 weeks were Israel’s last chance to accept its Messiah end the entire 70-week period with the events
immediately surrounding Calvary between 30-34 A. D. They then teach that 9:26b is an out-of-sequence parenthetical description
of the events of 70 A. D. They then teach that national Israel is henceforth completely out of the scope of biblical prophecy
and the Church has replaced it as “spiritual” Israel.
(1) The 69th week ends (Dan 9:25).
Messiah is cut off; Christ is crucified (Dan 9:26a).
Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed in 70 A. D. (Dan 9:26b).
(4) Point #3 is out of sequence; the 70th week concerns Christ.
“He” in 9:27 is Jesus beginning 7 last years of ministry
in 9:27 is Jesus who desolates the Temple by his death.
There is no explanation for “anoint the most holy” at the end of the 70th week.
The interpretation that the
Church has replaced national Israel is wrong for many reasons: (1) Scores of God’s unconditional promises to Israel
as a nation have not been fulfilled. (2) There are too many differences between national Israel and the Church to blend them
into one. (3) The prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7 concerned nations which ruled Israel and there are no grounds for a change
to a spiritual nation. And (4) Daniel 9:24 does not allow for a change from national Israel to the Church.
Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:
and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall
stand for ever.
THE TIME GAPS EXPLAINED: Great gaps in prophetic fulfillment are common in the Bible:
(1) David’s seed did not continuously reign on earth (but in Christ).
(2) The O.T. merges the first and second coming of Christ.
(3) Christ separated His first and second comings as He divided Isaiah 61:1-2 into two comings in Luke 4:18-19.
2:40-44: There is an essential gap between Daniel 2:40 and 2:41-45 caused when Israel ceased to be a nation on earth. The
teaching that Daniel 2:44-45 refers to the Church cannot possibly be correct because the Church began when pagan Rome was
at its peak of power from Daniel 2:40. It did not begin when the kingdom was weak and divided.
Dan 7:23 Thus he said,
The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the
whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
… gap …
7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall
be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
DANIEL 7:23-24: There is also an essential
gap between Daniel 7:23 and 7:24 caused when Israel ceased to be a nation. On the one hand Daniel 7:23 ends with pagan Roman
at its very peak of power under one emperor and, on the other hand, Daniel 7:24 describes a much later time after the powerful
power had been divided into ten kings of varying authority.
Dan 9:26a And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah
be cut off, but not for himself …
Dan 9:26b … 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 9:26A AND 26B: Daniel 9:26a and 9:26b have the same gap as 2:40-41
and 7:23-24 caused when Israel ceased to be a nation. This gap is denied by many when they force the text to agree with their
interpretation by making 9:26b out-of-sequence and parenthetical. However, if the literal translation is followed and if 9:26b
is in its correct sequence of 70 A. Dl, then the 70th week must be after 70 A. D. The unfulfilled portions
of Daniel 2:41-45; 7:24-27 and 9:26-27 must be fulfilled only after Israel again becomes a nation in the last days
Dan 9:26b … 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
Dan 9:27a And he shall confirm [the] covenant
with many for one week:
Matt 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination
of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).
TYPE TO ANTI-TYPE: The book of Daniel often gives a multi-dimensional aspect to its prophecies having more than one
fulfillment. Chapters two and seven jump from the days of pagan Rome to the last days when God will establish his kingdom
on earth using national Israel. Pagan Rome dissolves into ten kingdoms which will be involved in last day events. Although
chapter 8 is clearly a discussion of the Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes from B. C. 170-165, its final verses (8:23-26)
merge the king into a type of the anti-Christ of the last days which Jesus himself confirmed in Matthew 24:15.
Rev 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and
his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. [Daniel
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as
it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
9:26b and 9:27a also merge types. The pagan Roman general who destroyed Rome in 70 A. D. is both a type of Antiochus IV and
a type of the future last-day anti-Christ of the 7 year tribulation period in Revelation.
(KJV) is actually only “a” covenant and does not refer to the Old Covenant. The nearest grammatical antecedent
to the pronoun “he” in 9:27 is the “prince” in 9:26 who is clearly the pagan Roman leader who destroyed
Rome in 70 A. D.
In Matthew 24:15 Jesus placed the “abomination of desolation” from Daniel 8 and 9 in the future
and applied it to a future anti-Christ. Since a future covenant between anti-Christ and Israel depends on the very existence
of Israel, then the fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 can only occur after 1948. Therefore, a future persecuting power in the final-type
of both pagan Roman of Matthew 24 (70 A. D.) and the little horn of Daniel 8 (B. C. 170) will enter into a covenant with Israel
for seven years. The details of this anti-Christ are found in Matthew 24, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13:1-8.
Dan 9:27b … 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 book of Revelation is divided into the same two sets of time periods described in Daniel – the
3 ½ times, 42 months, or 1260 days. These correspond to the 70th week being cut in half by the covenant
made with Israel by the antichrist beast. Compare Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:6, 7; Rev 11:1-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5.
will rule as God inside the rebuilt Temple during the first half of the 7-year covenant with Israel. Also see 2nd
Thessalonians 2:1-10. During the last half of the 7-year period, great tribulation falls upon the earth. The second coming
of Christ in glory will end the 70th week in Revelation 19 and begin the millennial reign of Messiah on earth in
fulfillment of the many unconditional prophecies of the Old Testament.