I. Scripture Text. Daniel 9:24.
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
A. Before one can determine the chronology of the prophecy of the “seventy weeks,” it is first necessary to understand Daniel’s use of the term “weeks” as it is here employed. On this, McClain has written:
1. The Hebrew word is”shabua,” which means literally, a “seven,” and it would be well to read the passage thus…..Thus the twenty-fourth verse of Daniel’s ninth chapter simply asserts that “seventy sevents are determined” ….. and what these “sevens” must be determined from the context and from other Scriptures. The evidence is quite clear and sufficient as follows: (thru 3)
…..the Jews had a “seven” of “years” as well as a “seven” of “days.” And this Biblical “week” of years was just as familiar to the Jews as the “week of days.” It was, in certain respects, even more important. “Six years” the Jew was free to till and sow his land, but the “seventh year” was to be a solemn “Sabbath of rest unto the land” (Lev 25:3-4). Upon a multiple of this important week of years -“seven Sabbaths of years” – there was based the great jubilee year …..
2. Now there are several reasons for believing that the “Seventy Sevens” of Daniel’s prophecy refer to this well known “seven” of years. In the first place the prophet Daniel had been thinking not only in terms of years rather than days, but also in a definite multiple of “sevens” (10×7) of years (Dan 9:1-2). Second, Daniel also knew that the very length of Babylonian captivity had been based on Jewish violation of the divine law of the Sabbatic year. Since, accordingto II Chron 36 :21, the Jews had been removed from off the land in order that it might rest for”seventy years,” it should be evident that the Sabbatic year had been violated for 490 years, or exactly seventy “sevens” of years. How appropriate, therefore, that now at the end of the judgment for these violations the angel should be sent to reveal the start of a “new era” of God’s dealing with the Jew which would extend for the same number of years covered by his violations of the Sabbatic year, namely, a cycle of 490 years, or
“Seventy Sevens” of years (Dan 9:24).
3. Furthermore, the context of the prophecy demands that the “Seventy Sevens” be understood in terms of years. For, if we make them “sevens” of days, the entire period would extend for merely 490 days, or a little over one year. Considering now that within this brief space of time, the city is to be rebuilt and once more destroyed (to say nothing of the tremendous events of verse 24), it becomes clear that such an interpretation is altogether improbable and untenable. Finally ….. the Hebrew word “shabua” is found only in one other passage of the book (10:2-3), where the prophet states that he mourned and fasted “three full weeks.” Now, here it is perfectly obvious that the context demands “weeks” of days…..And significantly, the Hebrew here reads literally “three sevens of days.” Now, if in the ninth chapter, the writer intended us to understand that the “seventy sevens” are composed of days, why did he not use the same form of expression adopted in chapter ten? The quote obvious answer is that Daniel used the Hebrew “shabua” alone when referring to the well known “week” of years ….. but in chapter ten, when he speaks of the “three weeks” of fasting, he definitely specifes them as “weeks of days” in order to distinguish them from the “weeks” of years in chapter nine.
B. Interesting substantiating evidence is found in Genesis 29:27 where it is said, “Fulfill her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou serve with me yet seven other years.” Here, the “week” is specified to be a week of years, or seven years. It is also necessary, in this consideration, to observe that the year in prophetic Scriptures is a year composed of 360 days. The same author states”
….. there is conclusive evidence to show that the prophetic year of Scripture is composed of 360 days, or twelve months of 30 days.
1. The first argument is “historical.” According to the Genesis record, the Flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month (7:11), and came to an end on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (8:4). Now this is a period of exactly five months, and fortunately the length of the same period is given in terms of days – “an hundred and fifty days” (7:24; 8:3). Thus, the earliest known month used in Biblical history was evidently thirty days in length, and twelve such months would give us a 360-day year.
2. The second argument is “prophetical”…..Dan 9:27 mentions a period of Jewish persecution ….. Since this persecution begins in the “midst” of the Seventieth Week and continues to the “end” of the Week, the period is obviously three and one-half years. Dan 7:24-25 speaks of the same Roman Prince and the same persecution, fixing the duration as “a time and times and the dividing of time” – in the Aramaic, three and a half times. Rev 13:4-7 speaks of the same great political Ruler and his persecution of the Jewish “saints” lasting “forty and two months.” Rev 12:13-14 refers to the same persecution, stating the duration in the exact terms of Dan 7:25 as “a time and times and half a time”. and this period is further defined in Rev 12:6 as “a thousand two hundred and three score days.” Thus, we have the same period of time variously stated as 3 1/2 years, 42 months, or 1260 days. Therefore, it is clear that the length of the year in the Seventy Weeks prophecy is fixed by Scripture itself as exactly 360 days.
III. Additional Discussion.
A. This highly complex and startlingly accurate prophecy answers Daniel’s prayer, not with reference to near history, but by giving the future of Israel in the final end of the age. God promises 2 sets of 3 accomplishments each. First, those related to sin are: 1) finish the transgression, i.e., restrain sin and Israel’s in particular in its long trend of apostasy, as in v. 11; 2) make an end of sins, i.e., to judge it with finality (cf. Heb. 9:26); and 3) make reconciliation for iniquity, signifies to furnish the actual basis of covering sin by full atonement, the blood of the crucified Messiah who is “cut off” (v. 26), which affects the first two realities (cf. the fountain, Zech. 13:1).
B. Second, those accomplishments related to righteousness are: 1) bring in . . . righteousness, the eternal righteousness of Daniel’s people in their great change from centuries of apostasy; 2) seal up vision . . . , i.e., no more revelation is needed, and God will bring these anticipations to completion by their fulfillment in Israel’s blessing as a nation; and 3) anoint the Most Holy, consecrate the Holy Place in a temple of the future that will be the center of worship in the millennial kingdom (cf. Ezek. 40–48). Clearly this must be understood to sweep to the end of Gentile power and the time of Antichrist right before Christ’s return. Summing up, the first 3 are fulfilled in principle at Christ’s first coming, in full at His return. The last 3 complete the plan at His Second Advent.
C. This period of 490 years concerns “your people,” (the Jews) “and your holy city” (Jerusalem).
A. Paragraph I. The verse is from the English Standard Version, and is cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
B. Paragraph II. Things To Come, Zondervan, 1958, J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., pp. 242-244.
C. Paragraph III. A. MacArthur Study Bible, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
D. Paragraph III. B. MacArthur Study Bible, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
E. Paragraph III. C. Ryrie Study Bible.