Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy

King Nebuchadnezzar had taken the prophet Daniel as a captive along with the rest of the Jews back to the land of Babylon. While he was there he continued to serve God faithfully even at the risk to his own life. Daniel not only had a heart toward God but he also was concerned about his people and desperately wanted to know what God's plan was for their future. He had been reading the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah when he came across a passage that caught his attention:

"In the first year of his reign [i.e., King Darius - 538/537 B.C.] I Daniel understood by books 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." (Daniel 9:2)

The scripture passage Daniel had read is found in the Book of Jeremiah:

"Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because you have not heard My words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations...And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years...For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (Jeremiah 25:8-9,11; 29:10)

When God gave Daniel the understanding of this passage, Daniel spoke one of the most heartfelt prayers of repentance and supplication in the entire Bible.  While he was praying the angel Gabriel appeared to him and gave to him a prophetic message that would declare the future of the Jewish people:

"24 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. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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." (Daniel 9:24-27)

The word "weeks" in this passage is translated from the Hebrew word "shabuwa" which literally means "sevens". Therefore, this prophecy gives a time frame for the Jewish nation that would span "seventy sevens". The question is, What time period does these "sevens" encompass? Since the context of this prophecy was the seventy Sabbath years of punishment given to the Jews these "sevens" are actually years. (Even the Jewish Publication Society (a non-Christian organization) has in their Hebrew-English Tanakh (i.e., Old Testament in the Christian Bible) a footnote to Daniel 9:24 which states that the word sevens here means sevens "of years". [JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh; p.1828, footnote "a" (The Jewish Publication Society, 2000)] Thus, "seventy sevens of years" or 490 years are determined for the time frame of this prophecy.

This scripture passage concerns only the Jewish people since the people of Daniel were Jews. The holy city can only refer to Jerusalem since this is the only city in the world that is holy to Jews. At the end of this 490-year period God would put an end to the transgressions and sins of the Jewish people. Then He would bring in everlasting righteousness and anoint the most holy [i.e., the Jewish Temple].

According to this prophecy, the 490-year period would commence with the issuing of a commandment or decree to rebuild Jerusalem and restore its streets and walls that the Babylonian invasion had destroyed.

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