Chapter nine of the Book of Daniel contains the most amazing prophecies and timeline as a framework to hang many of the prophecies in the Bible. It is the timeline of God’s full restoration for Jerusalem and His people the Jews.
The book of Daniel is written from exile in Babylon at about 530 B.C. The theme is “God rules the destiny of the world”. Chapter 7-12 are mainly prophecies given to Daniel in four visions of which the timeline of Seventy weeks is the third.
Daniel observes in v.2 that the 70 years prophesied for the exile is up and he prays in v4-19 for God to restore His people (v. 15-19). Gabriel appears in v. 20-23 to answer his prayer which is this prophecy of the 70 weeks in v.24-27.
Daniel is told in v22-23 that he is to be given “insight with understanding” regarding the vision. So it is not just knowing but rather to properly understand, which will require careful study. But what is the vision about? As his prayer is for restoration of Jerusalem and His people (v. 16), this must be the focus of his vision. However it is not just on the return after the exile but rather their ultimate exaltation in the Millennium.
In Daniel 9:24-27, Gabriel begins by clarifying Daniel’s prayer over the 70 years. In v,24 he affirms that God’s plans for the Jews will not be completed in 70 years but 70 weeks. But the Hebrew for week is actually “shabua” or “a period of seven” and it is not limited to days. Daniel is praying about “years” in v.2 and so it must also be referring to years. Thus 70 “shabua” must be 70 x “7 years” or 490 years.
V.24 states all that God intents to achieve for His people and holy city by the end of this period. Transgression and sin will finally be dealt with by atonement to usher in eternal righteousness. There is sealing up of vision and prophecy which means in the Old Testament they do not see their final fulfillment. The anointing of the most holy place is to firmly establish their temple. All these will occur in subsequent verses through the Messiah in three phases.
V.25 mentions two of the phases. The First Phase is 7-week or 49-year, starting with a decree to return and rebuild Jerusalem. It is not Cyrus’ decree who calls only for a return but Artaxerxes’ in 445 BC calling for both a return and rebuilding of the wall (Neh. 2:5-6). According to Nehemiah 2:1, Artaxerxes wrote the command in the 20th year of his reign. Artaxerxes came to the throne in 465 B.C., hence the decree was in 445 B.C. And truly after 49-year by 395 BC, Jerusalem is known to be fully rebuilt.
In v.26, the second phase is shown compacted with the 7-week because they are consecutively linked. V.26 restates the Second Phase and adds on 62-week or 434-year for a total of 483 years before the Messiah or Christ comes and He will be cut off. This is obviously at the cross, but strangely he will “have nothing”. It evidently means that He is not yet able to restore the Jews which is indeed true. “Years” here is Jewish (360 days) and not our Gregorian 365 days) but simple arithmetic will show that Christ’s death (the cut off) will fall precisely at 33 AD#.
#NB: 444+33-1=476 yrs. The 444 is in the year 445 BC when calculating backwards for years BC and only one year from 1 BC to 1 AD, not two, so -1. [360-day year excess 476 x 5 = 2380 days or 6.6 yrs. 476+7= 483 yrs.]
The prince to come is the antichrist, who in the future will rule a revived Roman Empire and so his people in v.26 are the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem like a flood in 70 AD but war and desolation will follow the city up till the end, which is precisely fulfilled in history.
V.27 is the Third Phase of 1-week or 7-year and it is separate from the compacted first two phases because there is a gap in between. It must be, for in the third phase is the advent of the antichrist but instead the city is destroyed in 70 AD. If we accept the gap, it will harmonize well for the antichrist makes a covenant for 7-year (the Tribulation period) with many, a reference to the Jews and breaks it after 3.5-year to put an end to sacrifice with the abominations of declaring himself God as predicted in Rev. 11:1-2; 13:8 and 2Thess. 2:3-4. Jesus Christ will return with His church at the end of the seven year Tribulation Period.
Because the prophecy was so amazing and accurate to the small numbers, some critics have said that predictions must have been written after they occurred. Robert C Robinson commented that this is a misunderstanding of the evidence of the Old Testament:
“Alexander the Great was one of the world’s greatest and most prolific conquerors. Upon the completion of his conquest of the Babylonian empire, began a far-reaching campaign to make the Greek language the primary spoken and written language of the known world. As a result, the Hebrew language of the Jews fell into disuse. Between 285 and 246 B.C., Ptolemy II Philadelphus commissioned seventy Hebrew scholars to translate the Hebrew scriptures into Greek. Their completed translation known today as “LXX” contained the complete text of the Book of Daniel, as well as all the prophets who wrote the 365 prophecies, that are the subject of this book. For this reason, we know that the prophecies of Daniel, which described the most important prophecy of the Old Testament—the precise date for the arrival of the Messiah—were a part of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, almost 300 years before Jesus arrived. Today, upon comparison of the Septuagint with our modern translations of the Old Testament scriptures, we find that the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah, and all the prophets who predicted the specific details of the Messiah, are virtually identical.” – Robert Robinson, Prophecy, at https://robertcliftonrobinson.com/prophecy/
Indeed, Daniel 9 contains one of the most remarkable chapters in the whole Bible as far as Divine prophecy is concerned. The numbers harmonized so amazingly that we have come to know that the almighty God, through His prophets, has let His people know about His plan for them and the precise timing for the arrival of His son, the Messiah for the world.
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