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9. The Prophecy Of The Seventy Weeks

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The third vision of Daniel the prophet, following the two preceding visions of chapters 7 and 8, concerns the program of God for Israel culminating in the coming of their Messiah to the earth to reign. Although other major prophets received detailed information concerning the nations and God’s program for salvation, Daniel alone was given the comprehensive program for both the Gentiles, as revealed to Daniel in preceding chapters, and for Israel, as recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. Because of the comprehensive and structural nature of Daniel’s prophecies, both for the Gentiles and for Israel, the study of Daniel, and especially this chapter, is the key to understanding the prophetic Scriptures. Of the four major programs revealed in the Bible—for the angels, the Gentiles, Israel, and the church, Daniel had the privilege of being the channel of revelation for the second and third of these programs in the Old Testament.

This chapter begins with Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy years of the desolations of Jerusalem and is advanced by the intercessory prayer of Daniel. The chapter concludes with the third vision of Daniel, given through the agency of the angel Gabriel, which provides one of the most important keys to understanding the Scriptures as a whole. In many respects, this is the high point of the book of Daniel. Although previously Gentile history and prophecy recorded in Daniel was related to the people of Israel, the ninth chapter specifically takes up prophecy as it applies to the chosen people.

The Seventy Years of the Desolations of Jerusalem

9:1-2 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign 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.

According to the opening verse of chapter 9, the third vision of Daniel occurred “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes.” In other words, the events of Belshazzar’s feast in chapter 5 occurred between the visions of chapters 8 and 9. It is not clear where chapter 6 fits into this order of events, but it also may well have occurred in the first year of the reign of Darius, either immediately before or immediately after the events of chapter 9. If Daniel’s experience at Belshazzar’s feast as well as his deliverance from the lions had already been experienced, these significant evidences of the sovereignty and power of God may well have constituted a divine preparation for the tremendous revelation now about to unfold.

The immediate occasion of this chapter, however, was the discovery by Daniel in the prophecy of Jeremiah that the desolations of Jerusalem would be fulfilled in seventy years. The expression by books may be understood to mean “in books.” Jeremiah the prophet, in addition to his oral prophetic announcements, had written his prophecies in the closing days of Jerusalem before its destruction at the hand of the Babylonians. Although the first record of Jeremiah had been destroyed (Jer 36:23), Jeremiah rewrote it, acting on instructions from the Lord (Jer 36:28). Jeremiah himself had been taken captive by Jews rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar and had been carried off to Egypt against his will to be buried in a strange land in a nameless grave, but the timeless Scriptures which he wrote found their way across desert and mountain to far away Babylon and fell into the hands of Daniel. How long Daniel had been in possession of these prophecies is not known, but the implication is that Daniel had now come into the full comprehension of Jeremiah’s prediction and realized that the seventy years prophesied had about run their course. The time of the vision recorded in Daniel 9 was 538 B.C., about 67 years after Jerusalem had first been captured and Daniel carried off to Babylon (605 B.C.).

Jeremiah had prophesied, “This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations” (Jer 25:11-12). Later, Jeremiah added to this prophecy, “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. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jer 29:10-14).

On the basis of these remarkable prophecies, Daniel was encouraged to pray for the restoration of Jerusalem and the regathering of the people of Israel. Daniel, although too old and probably too infirm to return to Jerusalem himself, lived long enough to see the first expedition of pilgrims return. This occurred in “the first year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Ezra 1:1), and Daniel lived at least until “the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Dan 10:1) and probably some years longer.

As brought out in the earlier discussion of chapter 6 relative to Darius the Mede, Darius had been appointed by Cyrus as king of Babylon. The assertion of Daniel 9:1 that Darius “was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans,” indicates that he was invested with the kingship by some higher authority. This well agrees with the supposition that he Was installed as viceroy in Babylonia by Cyrus the Great. This appointment is confirmed by the verb “was made king” (Hebrew homlak) which does not seem a proper reference to Cyrus himself. In this connection, it is of interest that in the Behistun Inscription, Darius I refers to his father, Hystaspes, as having been made king in a similar way.

In studying Daniel 9:2, with its reference to “the desolations of Jerusalem,” Sir Robert Anderson distinguishes the duration of the captivity from the duration of the desolations of Jerusalem. Anderson states, “The failure to distinguish between the several judgments of the Servitude, the Captivity and the Desolations, is a fruitful source of error in the study of Daniel and the historical books of Scripture.”464

Anderson goes on to explain that Israel’s servitude and captivity began much earlier than the destruction of the temple. Although Anderson’s dates are not according to current archeological findings (606 b.c. instead of 605 for the captivity, 589 b.c. instead of 586 for the desolation of the temple, and his date for the decree of Cyrus 536 B.C. instead of 538), in general, his approach to the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy is worthy of consideration. As previously discussed in the exposition of chapter 1, the captivity probably began in the fall of 605 B.C. at which time a few, such as Daniel and his companions and other of the royal children, were carried off to Babylon as hostages. The major deportation did not take place until about seven years later. According to Donald J. Wiseman, the exact date of the first major deportation was March 16, 597 b.c, after the fall of Jerusalem following a brief revolt against Babylonian rule. About 60,000 were carried away at that time.465

Jerusalem itself was finally destroyed in 586 b.c,466 and this, according to Anderson, began the desolations of Jerusalem, the specific prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11, also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36:21 and in Daniel 9:2.

The precise prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12 predicts that the king of Babylon would be punished at the end of seventy years. Jeremiah 29:10 predicted the return to the land after seventy years. For these reasons, it is doubtful whether Anderson’s evaluation of Daniel 9:2 as referring to the destruction of the temple itself is valid. The judgment on Babylon and the return to the land of course took place about twenty years before the temple itself was rebuilt and was approximately seventy years after captivity beginning in 605 b.c. Probably the best interpretation, accordingly, is to consider the expression the desolations of Jerusalem, in Daniel 9:2, as referring to the period 605 B.C. to 539 B.C. for the judgment on Babylon, and the date of 538 b.c for the return to the land.

This definition of the expression the desolations of Jerusalem (Dan 9:2) is supported by the word for “desolations” ( h£orbo‚t) which is a plural apparently including the environs of Jerusalem. The same expression is translated “all her waste places” in Isaiah 51:3 (cf. 52:9). Actually the destruction of territory formerly under Jerusalem control even predated the 605 date for Jerusalem’s fall.

Although it is preferred to consider Daniel 9:2 as the period 605 b.c.-539 b.c, Anderson may be right in distinguishing as he does the period of Israel’s captivity from the period of Jerusalem’s destruction. Zechariah 1:12, referring to God’s destruction of the cities of Judah for three score years and ten, may extend to the time when the temple was rebuilt. This is brought out in Zechariah 1:16 where it is stated, “Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.” It is most significant that the return took place approximately seventy years after the capture of Jerusalem in 605 b.c, and the restoration of the temple (515 b.c) took place approximately seventy years after the destruction of the temple (586 b.c), the latter period being about twenty years later than the former. In both cases, however, the fulfillment does not have the meticulous accuracy of falling on the very day, as Anderson attempts to prove. It seems to be an approximate number as one would expect by a round number of seventy. Hence, the period between 605 b.c and 538 b.c would be approximately sixty-seven years; and the rededication of the temple in March of 515 b.c, would be less than seventy-one years from the destruction of the temple in August of 586 b.c

What is intended, accordingly, in the statement in Daniel 9:2 is that Daniel realized that the time was approaching when the children of Israel could return. The seventy years of the captivity were about ended. Once the children of Israel were back in the land, they were providentially hindered in fulfilling the rebuilding of the temple until seventy years after the destruction of the temple had also elapsed.

Several principles emerge from Daniel’s reference to Jeremiah’s prophecy. First, Daniel took the seventy years literally and believed that there would be literal fulfillment. Even though Daniel was fully acquainted with the symbolic form of revelation which God sometimes used to portray panoramic prophetic events, his interpretation of Jeremiah was literal and he expected God to fulfill His word.

Second, Daniel realized that the Word of God would be fulfilled only on the basis of prayer, and this occasioned his fervent plea as recorded in this chapter. On the one hand, Daniel recognized the certainty of divine purposes and the sovereignty of God which will surely fulfill the prophetic word. On the other hand, he recognized human agency, the necessity of faith and prayer, and the urgency to respond to human responsibility as it relates to the divine program. His custom of praying three times a day with his windows open to Jerusalem still in desolation revealed his own heart for the things of God and his concern for the city of Jerusalem.

Third, he recognized the need for confession of sin as a prelude to restoration. With this rich background of the prophetic program revealed through Jeremiah, Daniel’s own prayer life, and his concern for the city of Jerusalem as the religious center of the nation of Israel, Daniel approaches the task of expressing his confession and intercession to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Because Daniel, for the first time, used the word Lord or Jehovah in Daniel 9:2, repeating the expression in verses 4, 10, 13, 14, and 20, critics have used this as an argument against the authenticity of this passage and the prayer which follows.467

Daniel’s Preparation for Prayer

9:3-4 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments.

Encouraged by his understanding of God’s intention to restore Jerusalem, Daniel now seeks to make adequate preparation to present his confessions and petitions to the Lord. Every possible element of preparation is included. First, he declares, “I set my face unto the Lord God.” This was a formal beginning in which Daniel turns away from other things to concentrate on his prayer to the Lord. It implies faith, devotion, and worship. His activity in prayer has a specific end expressed by the word to seek. It anticipates that he hopes to find ground for an answer to his prayers. The attitude of mind and steadfastness of purpose indicated is now supplemented by prayer and supplications, that is, prayer in general and petition specifically. This is accompanied by every known auxiliary aid to prayer: namely, fasting, that he might not be diverted from prayer by food; sackcloth, a putting aside of ordinary garments in favor of rough cloth speaking of abject need; and ashes, the traditional symbol of grief and humility. In a word, Daniel left nothing undone that might possibly make his prayer more effective or more persuasive. While God honors the briefest of prayers, as the experience of Nehemiah 2:4 indicates, effective prayer requires faith in the Word of God, proper attitude of mind and heart, privacy, and unhurried confession and petition. Daniel’s humility, reverence, and earnestness are the hallmarks of effective prayer. In beginning his prayer to the Lord, Daniel relies upon the fact that the majesty of God’s person and the greatness of His power are manifested especially in His fulfilling His covenant promises and manifesting mercy to those who love Him and keep His commandments. As Nelson Glueck has brought out in his study of the word “mercy” (hesed), the word con-note’s not only forgiveness but loyalty in keeping His covenant with Israel.468 This loyalty of God to His covenant is contrasted with the inexcusable disloyalty of the people of Israel. In beginning his prayer, Daniel thus is assured of the greatness of God and the goodness of God. His problem is that the children of Israel have sinned, broken their covenant, and have made themselves liable to the divine judgment which the faithfulness of God must inflict according to His promises.

Daniel’s Prayer of Confession

9:5-14 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

Having reminded himself of God’s covenant and mercy, Daniel begins his prayer of confession. Daniel himself is one of the few major characters of the Old Testament to whom some sin is not ascribed. He is dealing not with his personal sins, but with his identification with the sin of the nation and the collective responsibility which Daniel shares both in promises of blessing and warnings of divine judgment. Daniel does not spare himself or his people in his confession. As John Calvin points out in his exposition, there is a fourfold description of the extent of their sin: first, they have sinned (Heb. h£a„t£a„ánu‚), meaning a serious crime or offense; second, they have committed iniquity, that is, “acted unjustly”; third, they have done wickedly, or “conducted themselves wickedly”; and fourth, sinning in this way, they have rebelled even by departing from thy precepts, that is, “become, rebellious and declined from the statutes and commandments of God.”469 Moses Stuart notes, “The climactic construction of the sentence is palpable. To turn back from obedience to the divine statutes, in the frame of mind which belongs to rebels, is the consummation of wickedness, and so Daniel rightly considers it. The variety of verbs employed here, indicates the design of the speaker to confess, all sin of every kind in its full extent.”470

The heinousness of their sin is amplified in verse 6 by the fact that they have disregarded the prophets which God sent to them. This disrespect and disobedience to the prophets characterized all classes of Israel, including their kings, their princes, other leaders referred to as “our fathers,” and finally “all the people of the land.” Even in such times of revival as during the reign of Hezekiah when the king’s messengers went throughout the land calling people to the Passover at Jerusalem, the Scriptures record that many “laughed them to scorn, and mocked them” (2 Ch 30:10). The disregard of the Word of God in Israel’s departure from the precepts and judgments as mentioned in verse 5 as well as the disregard of the prophets, “is the beginning of all moral disorders,” as Leupold expresses it.471

In verses 7-8, Daniel contrasts the righteousness of God and the confusion of face belonging to Israel. God has been righteous in His judgments upon Israel, and in no way does Israel’s distress reflect upon the attributes of God adversely. By contrast, Israel’s confusion or shame of face which had made them the object of scorn of the nations was their just desert for rebellion against God. Daniel itemizes those who are especially concerned: first, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that is, the kingdom of Judah which was carried into captivity by the Babylonians, and second, “all Israel, that are near, and that are far off,” that is, also the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel which were carried off by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. The scattering of the children of Israel “through all the countries which thou hast driven them,” was not occasioned by one sin, but by generation after generation of failure to obey the Law or to give heed to the prophets.

In verse 8, those who are ashamed are itemized according to classes of society, that is, “our kings,” “our princes,” and “our fathers.” The judgment of God did not spare any class but was according to their sins and their rebellion. In this passage, as in Daniel’s earlier confession, he does not mince words but refers to Israel’s trespasses and their sins with no attempt to excuse them.

Frederick A. Tatford summarizes Daniel 9:5-8 in these words, “There was no tautology in the prolific accumulation of expressions he used: it was rather that he sought to express by every possible word the enormity of the guilt and contumacy of himself and his people. They had sinned in wandering from the right, they had dealt perversely in their wilful impiety, they had done wickedly in their sheer infidelity, they had rebelled in deliberate refractoriness, they had turned aside from the Divine commandments and ordinances. Their cup of iniquity was full. Their guilt was accentuated by the fact that prophets had been sent to them with the Divine message and they had refused to listen. All were implicated—rulers, leaders (the term ‘fathers’ being used, of course, in a metaphorical rather than in a literal sense), and the people. God was perfectly just, but a shameful countenance betrayed their own guilt. Nor was the confusion of face limited to Judah and Jerusalem: it was true of all Israelites throughout the world. Indeed, their scattering was in punishment for their own unfaithfulness to God. Daniel associated himself completely with his people in acknowledging their wrong-doing and freely confessed that their shamefacedness was due to perfectly justified corrections: they had sinned against God.”472

Having contrasted the righteousness of God to the sins of Israel, Daniel now turns in verse 9 to the contrast of the mercies and forgiveness of God as compared to the sin of Israel. The word mercies here is a different word than in Daniel 9:4 and is correctly translated. Although God is a God of righteousness, He is also a God of mercy. It is on this ground, of course, that Daniel is basing his petition. In doing so, he turns from addressing God directly in the second person to speaking of God in the third person, as if to state a truth for all who will hear, a theological fact now being introduced as the basis for the remainder of the prayer. As Stuart observes, “The plur. form of these nouns [“mercies and forgivenesses”] denotes intensity in the manifestation, or the continued and extended exercise of these qualities or attributes.”473

Over against the reminder of the merices and forgivenesses of God, Daniel now plunges into recital of the extent of Israel’s sin in verses 10-11. Again, Daniel restates the facts that Israel has not obeyed the voice of the Lord their God. They have not walked according to His laws as proclaimed to them by the Lord’s servants, the prophets. The word translated “laws” in verse 10 means literally, “instructions” (cf. Is 1:10 ff.). The rebellion was not on the part of a few but “all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing.” Because of their persistent failure and rebellion against God, the prophesied curse pronounced upon Israel as “written in the law of Moses the servant of God” was applied.

In Deuteronomy 28, for instance, the conditions of blessing and cursing are set forth before Israel in detail. If they obeyed, they would have every blessing, temporal and spiritual, from God. If they disobeyed, God would destroy them and scatter them over the earth. Moses had made perfectly clear that Israel’s situation would indeed be desperate if they disobeyed the Lord God. Most of Deuteronomy 28 is devoted to itemizing these curses, concluding with the prophetic warning of the world-wide dispersion of Israel (Deu 28:63-65) and the resultant uncertainty of life and future which would characterize individual Israelites.

How sad are Moses’ words: “And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and you shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see” (Deu 28:63-67). It was to such passages and similar warnings of God to which Daniel referred.

G. E. Mendenhall has shown that the Mosaic covenant in its form has a close parallel in certain suzerainty treaties (i.e., treaties between the Great King and his vassals) of the Hittite Empire. Sanctions are typically supplied in these treaties by a series of blessings and cursings as also illustrated in Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 27-28. Such warnings are witnessed by heaven and earth (cf. Deu 4:26 and Is 1:2) and in their form are similar to many passages in the Old Testament.474

In verses 12-14, Daniel itemizes the evil which God had brought upon them as a result of their sin. In thus bringing judgment upon Israel, He had “confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us” (cf. Is 1:10-31; Mic 3). Above all, the other terrible judgment was that of the destruction of Jerusalem itself which was the final blow to Israel’s pride and security.

Adding to all their earlier sins, Israel in their extremity did not turn to the Lord in prayer: “yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” Even in the midst of the terrible manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, there was no revival, no turning to God; rulers and people alike persisted in their evil ways. What Daniel is saying is that God had no alternative, even though He was a God of mercy; for when mercy is spurned, judgment is inevitable. Daniel, accordingly, concludes in verse 14, “Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.” Porteous notes that the word watched, which can also be translated “keep ready” or “vigilant,” is the same word Jeremiah uses when he tells how God was watchful over His word to perform it (Jer 1:12; cf. 31:28; 44:27). Jehovah was being faithful in keeping His word both in blessings and in cursings, which must have encouraged Daniel in anticipating the end of the captivity.475

Daniel’s Petition for Forgiveness and Restoration

9:15-19 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 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 thy name.

In his progression of thought, having laid fully the groundwork by confession of sin and recognition of the righteousness and mercies of God, Daniel now turns to the burden of his prayer—that God would, in keeping with His righteousness and according to His mercies, forgive and restore the people of Israel. In presenting his petition, Daniel first of all appeals to the revelation of the power and forgiveness of God in delivering the people of Israel from Egypt. In doing so, God had not only manifested His forgiveness but His power, and had gained “renown” among the nations for the demonstration of His mighty power. The deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt is, in many respects, the Old Testament standard illustration of the power of God and His ability to deliver His people. By contrast in the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s standard of power (Eph 1:19-20). In the future millennial reign of Christ, the standard of power will be the regathering of Israel and their restoration to the land (Jer 16:14-15). The three dispersions of Israel from the land and their regathering are among the more important demonstrations of power in relation to Israel. God had allowed them to go into Egypt and delivered them in the Exodus. He had punished them by the captives, but now Daniel is pleading with Him to restore His people to their land and their city. The future final regathering of Israel in relation to the millennial kingdom will be the final act fulfilling Amos 9:11-15, when Israel will be regathered never to be dispersed again. In both the dispersions and the regatherings, God’s righteousness, power, and mercies are evident.

Having introduced the thought of God’s deliverance of Israel from the land of Egypt, Daniel is once again overwhelmed by the wickedness of Israel which seems to block the way for the restoration. He injects, “We have sinned, we have done wickedly”—his theme song up to this point in the prayer—but, nevertheless, proceeds to his petition for Israel’s forgiveness and restoration.

Stuart summarizes verse 15 in these words, “Here commences the supplication of the speaker; at least, this address is preparatory to it. The argument stands thus: ‘O God, who in times past hast wrought wonderful deliverances for thy people, and thereby acquired a glorious name —repeat thy wondrous doings, and add to the glory which thou hast already acquired! As thou didst bring us out of exile in Egypt, so bring us out of exile in Babylon.’—a name, as at the present time, i.e. such a name, glory, honor, as is attributed to thee even now.—We have sinned etc., the deep sensation of penitence forces from the speaker the repetition of confession.”476

In making his petition in verses 15-19, Daniel addresses God only as Adonai and Elohim and no longer uses the term Jehovah as he did in verses 4-14. Strangely, most commentators have ignored this significant change in address.477 Montgomery goes so far as to insert the word Jehovah in his translation, although he calls attention in his critical apparatus to the actual Hebrew.478 The explanation seems to be that in using the word Adonai, Daniel is recognizing God’s absolute sovereignty over him as Lord.

In presenting his petition specifically, Daniel significantly appeals again to the righteousness of the Lord in verse 16. Although anticipating that the hope of the restoration of Israel depended on the mercies of God, Daniel recognized, nevertheless, that it must be “according to all thy righteousness.” Here is implied the whole system of reconciliation to God by sacrifice, supremely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Daniel recognizes that somehow there is no contradiction between the righteousness of God and His mercies and forgiveness. It is also true that the same Scriptures which predict God’s judgment upon Israel also predict their restoration, and it would be in keeping with the veracity of God as a covenant-keeping God not only to inflict judgment but to bring in the promised restoration. In verse 16 as in verse 15, in beginning his petition, Daniel argues on the ground that the children of Israel are “thy people” and that his petition has to do with the restoration of Jerusalem which is “thy city,” and “thy holy mountain.” The appeal is to the fact that restoration will not only be an act of mercy but also that which will bring honor and glory to God and a testimony to the nations before whom Israel now is “a reproach.” As Young expresses it, “The prayer is a tragic confession of guilt. Jerusalem should have been the mount unto which all nations would flow, and Israel should have been a light unto the Gentiles, but because of the people’s sins, Jerusalem and Israel had become a reproach.”479

With his petition now grounded on the fact that an answer would be to the glory of God, Daniel now adds one further item, namely, that the sanctuary itself, the place where God met man in sacrifice, was in desolation and that the whole sacrificial system had fallen into disuse because of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Accordingly, in verse 17, he beseeches God to “hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications” and, in answer to Daniel’s petition, to “cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.” Ultimately, it was not simply the restoration of Israel which Daniel sought, nor the restoration of Jerusalem or even of the temple, but specifically the sanctuary with its altars of sacrifice and its holy of holies.

The eloquence of Daniel’s prayer now reaches its crescendo. How it must have delighted the ears of God to have heard His devoted servant present His petitions. How it must have moved the heart of God to have heard Daniel say, “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.” If prayer to God can be called persuasive, Daniel’s prayer certainly merits this description. Daniel in his holy life, his careful preparation in approaching God, his uncompromising confession of sin, and his appeal to God’s holy character as the One who is both righteous and merciful, illustrates the kind of prayer that God delights to answer. Daniel, led by the Spirit of God, had expressed precisely the prayer that God wanted to hear and wanted to answer.

In closing his prayer, Daniel once again beseeches God to hear, to forgive, to do, to defer not, all for God’s own sake, for God’s city Jerusalem, for God’s people Israel, who are called by the name of the Lord. As Tat-ford has well said, “The prayer is one of the most remarkable in the pages of Holy Writ.”480

Although no other portion of the Bible breathes with more pure devotion or has greater spiritual content than this prayer of Daniel, it has been attacked without mercy by the higher critics, of which Charles is an illustration. Acting on the premise that the book of Daniel as a whole is a second-century forgery and not written by Daniel the prophet in the sixth century B.C., exception is taken by the critics to this section of Daniel as a particular proof that the book of Daniel as a whole could not have been written by Daniel the prophet. Charles has seven arguments against accepting this passage as genuine.481 Leupold representing conservative scholars summarizes the seven arguments of Charles and refutes them adequately.482

Montgomery has summarized the objections of the critics. Although making preliminary concessions that the prayer “is a liturgical gem in form and expression, and excels in literary character the more verbose types found in Ezr. and Neh.,” he holds “the prayer is of the liturgical type which existed since the Deuteronomic age represented by Solomon’s Prayer, 1 Ki. 8, the prayers of Jer., Jer. 26.32.44, and the prayers in Ezr.-Neh., Ezr. 9, Neh. 1.9.” Montgomery goes on to say, “By far the largest part of this prayer consists of language found in those other compositions.”483

Not all the higher critics, however, accept the explanation that Daniel 9:2-19 is an interpolation not originally in the book. These complicated arguments have been summarized both for and against by Montgomery. He states,

Von Gall, Einheitlichkeit, 123-126, has developed the thesis that Dan.’s prayer is an interpolation, although the rest of his work contends for the practical integrity of the canonical books. He is followed by Mar., Cha. [Marti’s Commentary, and Charles]. It is patent, as these scholars argue, that the theme of the prayer does not correspond to the context, which would seem to require a prayer for illumination, cf. 2:20 ff., and not a liturgical confession bearing on the national catastrophe. Further, Dan.’s prayer for immediate redemption is in contrast to the recognition of the far distance of that event, 8:26 and end of this chap. It is pointed out that 5:4a repeats 5:3 and especially that 5:20 is a joint with the main narrative, which is resumed in 5:21; this would explain the repetition: “whiles I was speaking and praying and confessing” “whiles I was speaking in prayer.” The present writer agrees with Kamp. [Kamphausen] in finding these arguments inconclusive. The second-century author may well have himself inserted such a prayer in his book for the encouragement of the faithful, even as the calculation of the times was intended for their heartening… For an elaborate study of the Prayer, defending its authenticity and also arguing for its dependence on the Chronicler, 10 Bayer, Daniel-studien, Part 1.484

The critics’ argument is based on the false premise that Jeremiah’s seventy years and the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 are the same. Because Daniel distinguishes these two periods, it is argued that the material is an interpolation. It is the critics who are wrong, not Daniel. The alleged copying from a common source on the part of Daniel, Nehemiah, and Baruch is better explained by the fact that Daniel was written first (sixth century B.C., not second century) and that Nehemiah and Baruch had Daniel before them. Again, it is the critics’ theories which are the basis of their argument, and the theories are in error. The critics of Daniel argue in a circle; assuming a second century date for Daniel, they then criticize Daniel for not harmonizing with their erroneous premises. The unity and beauty of this passage is its own defense.

The Coming of the Angel Gabriel

9:20-23 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

While Daniel was offering his petition to the Lord, the answer was already on the way by means of the heavenly messenger, the angel Gabriel. Daniel implies in verse 20 that the angel was sent at the very beginning of his prayer. As Daniel expresses it, it was accomplished “whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God.” According to verse 21, Gabriel touched Daniel about the time of the evening oblation. It is obvious that the prayer of Daniel recorded here is only a summary of the actual oral prayer which probably was lengthy and culminated at the time of the evening sacrifice.

The reference to “the man Gabriel” is not a denial that he is an angel, but serves to identify him with the vision of Daniel 8:15-16. The term man (Heb. áish) is also used in the sense of a servant.485 As brought out in chapter 8, there is an interesting play upon the thought here. Leupold notes: “The term ‘Gabriel’ means ‘man of God,’ but with this difference: the first root, gebher, means ‘man’ as the strong one, and the second root, ‘el, means the ‘Strong God.’”486 In other words, the expression the man Gabriel could be translated “the servant, the strong one of the strong God.” In addition to the identification by the name itself, Daniel adds, “whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning,” that is, in chapter 8. Gabriel, according to Daniel, “being caused to fly swiftly,” arrived at the time of the evening oblation. The Hebrew for being caused to fly swiftly is difficult, as all commentators note, but this seems to be the best possible translation. The thought is that God directed Gabriel to go immediately to Daniel at the beginning of his petition. Although he flew swiftly, he did not arrive until the end of Daniel’s prayer.

It is a touching observation that he arrived at the time of the evening oblation. There, of course, had been no evening oblation for half a century since the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C.; but in Daniel’s youth, he had seen the smoke rise from the temple site in the afternoon sky with its reminder that God accepts a sinful people on the basis of a sacrifice offered on their behalf. This sacrifice usually began about 3 p.m., and consisted of a perfect yearling lamb offered as a whole burnt offering accompanied by meal and drink offerings, which typified the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross as the spotless Lamb of God (Heb 9:14). Daniel does not speak specifically of the sacrifice but only of “the evening oblation,” that is, the meal offering and the drink offering. The time of one, of course, was the time of the other. As the time of the evening sacrifice was also a stated time for prayer, Daniel was encouraged also to pray. As God in a sense met the spiritual need of His people at the time of the sacrifice and oblation, so Gabriel was sent by God to meet Daniel’s special need at this time and remind him of the mercies of God.

Upon arrival, Gabriel talks with Daniel and states that the purpose of his coming is “to give thee skill in understanding.” Although Daniel’s prayer was not directed to his own need of understanding God’s dealings with the people of Israel, this is the underlying assumption of his entire prayer. God, in a word, wants to assure Daniel of His unswerving purpose to fulfill all His commitments to Israel, including their ultimate restoration. In verse 23, Gabriel confirms what is implied in verse 20 that he was given instructions to go to Daniel early in Daniel’s prayer. The commandment apparently came from God Himself, although conceivably he might have been sent by Michael the Archangel. Because of the magnitude of the revelation which follows, however, it is better to ascribe it to God Himself. According to Gabriel’s own statement, he had come to show Daniel what was necessary to understand the entire matter of Israel’s program, and specifically, to consider the vision of the seventy weeks described in the verses which follow. Gabriel bears witness to the special relationship which Daniel had to the Lord in that he was one “greatly beloved,” in many spiritual and moral characteristics like the Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (Jn 13:23). The long preamble of twenty-three verses leading up to the great revelation of the seventy weeks is, in itself, a testimony to the importance of this revelation. The stage is now set for Gabriel to reveal to Daniel God’s purposes for Israel, culminating in the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom on the earth.

The Revelation of the Seventy Sevens of Israel

9:24 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.

In the concluding four verses of Daniel 9, one of the most important prophecies of the Old Testament is contained. The prophecy as a whole is presented in verse 24. The first sixty-nine sevens is described in verse 25. The events between the sixty-ninth seventh and the seventieth seventh are detailed in verse 26. The final period of the seventieth seventh is described in verse 27.

Although many divergent interpretations have been advanced in explanation of this prophecy, they may first be divided into two major divisions, namely, the Christological and the non-Christological views.

The non-Christological approach may be subdivided into the liberal critical view and the conservative amillennial view. Liberal critics, assuming that Daniel is a forgery written in the second century B.C., find in this chapter that the pseudo-Daniel confuses the seventy years of Israel’s captivity with the seventy sevens of Gabriel’s vision. As Montgomery summarizes the matter in the introduction to chapter 9, “Dan., having learned from the Sacred Books of Jer.’s prophecy of the doom of seventy years’ desolation for the Holy City, a term that was now naturally drawing to an end (1.2), sets himself to pray for the forgiveness of his people’s sin and the promised deliverance (3-19). The angel Gabriel appears to him (20-21), and interprets the years as year-weeks, with detail of the distant future and of the crowning epoch of the divine purpose (22-27).”487 In a word, Montgomery is saying that this is not prophecy at all but is presented by the pseudo-Daniel as if it were. Whatever fulfillment there is, is a fulfillment in history already accomplished at the time this Scripture was written. In his extended note on the interpretation of the seventy weeks, Montgomery in general attempts to support the idea that the details of the prophecy are to a large extent fulfilled in the life and persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes.488 In his summary, Montgomery states,

The history of the exegesis of the 70 Weeks is the Dismal Swamp of O. T. criticism. The difficulties that beset any “rationalistic” treatment of the figures are great enough, but the critics on this side of the fence do not agree among themselves; but the trackless wilderness of assumptions and theories and efforts to obtain an exact chronology fitting into the history of Salvation, after these 2,000 years of infinitely varied interpretations, would seem to preclude any use of the 70 Weeks for the determination of a definite prophetic chronology. As we have seen, the early Jewish and Christian exegesis came to interpret that datum eschatologically and found it fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem; only slowly did the theme of prophecy of the Advent of Christ impress itself upon the Church, along with the survival, however, of other earlier themes. The early Church rested no claims upon the alleged prophecy, but rather remarkably ignored it in a theological atmosphere surcharged with Messianism. The great Catholic chronographers naturally attacked the subject with scientific zeal, but their efforts as well as those of all subsequent chronographers (including the great Scalinger and Sir Isaac Newton) have failed.489

In other words, Montgomery, for all of his scholarship and knowledge of the history of interpretation, ends up with no reasonable interpretation at all.

Some conservative scholars have done no better, however, as illustrated in the commentary of Edward Young. Although treating the Scriptures with reverence, he finds no satisfactory conclusion for the seventy sevens of the prophecy and leaves it more or less like Montgomery without a satisfactory explanation.490

The conservative interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 usually regards the time units as years. The decision is, however, by no means unanimous. Some amillenarians, like Young, who have trouble with fitting this into their system of eschatology consider this an indefinite period of time. Actually, the passage does not say “years”; and because it is indefinite, they consider the question somewhat open. Further, as Young points out, the word sevens is in the masculine plural instead of the usual feminine plural. No clear explanation is given except that Young feels “it was for the deliberate purpose of calling attention to the fact that the word sevens is employed in an unusual sense.”491

Most commentators agree that the time unit is not days. Further, the fact that there were seventy years of captivity, discussed earlier in the chapter, would seem to imply that years were also here in view. The interpretation of years at least is preferable to days as Young comments, “The brief period of 490 days would not serve to meet the needs of the prophecy, upon any view. Hence, as far as the present writer knows, this view is almost universally rejected.”492 Young finally concludes after some discussion that Keil and Kliefoth are correct when they hold that the word sevens does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but “an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven, which chronological duration must be determined on other grounds.”493

With this point of view, Leupold, an amillenarian, also agrees: “Since the week of creation, ‘seven’ has always been the mark of divine work in the symbolism of numbers. ‘Seventy’ contains seven multiplied by ten, which, being a round number, signifies perfection, completion. Therefore, ‘seventy heptads’—7x7x10—is the period in which the divine work of greatest moment is brought to perfection. There is nothing fantastic or unusual about this to the interpreter who has seen how frequently the symbolism of numbers plays a significant part in the Scriptures.”494

Some amillenarians, however, use a literal year time unit for the first sixty-nine weeks but an indefinite period for the last seven years, as in the case of Philip Mauro (see pp. 232-37). In view of the precision of the seventy years of the captivity, however, mentioned in the same chapter, the context indicates the probability of a more literal intention in the revelation.

To be added to the non-Christological interpretation of Young is that of orthodox Jewry which concludes that the period ends with the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This, of course, also does not give an adequate explanation of the text.

The overwhelming consensus of scholarship, however, agrees that the time unit should be considered years. It is normal for lexicographical authorities in the field of Hebrew to define the time unit as “period of seven (days, years),” and “heptad, weeks.”495

Otto Zöckler, Professor of Theology in the University of Greifswald in Prussia in the 19th century, argued at length from the internal evidences within Daniel that the Hebrew term translated “week” denotes a period of seven years:

This cannot possibly denote seventy weeks in the ordinary sense, or 490 days; for the number has an obvious relation to the seventy years of Jeremiah, 5:2, and the brief limit of 490 days is not suited to serve as a mystical paraphrase of the period of three and a half years. Moreover, according to the descriptions in chapters 7 and 8, the three and a half years were throughout a period of suffering and oppression, while in 5:25 et seq. the latter and more extended subdivision (amounting to sixty-two weeks) of the seventy weeks is characterized as being comparatively free from sufferings. Finally, the three and a half years evidently reappear in 5:27, in the form of the “half-week” during which the sacrifices and oblations were to cease, etc.: and this undeniable identity of the small fraction at the end of the seventy weeks with the three and a half years of tribulation, heretofore described, removes it beyond the reason of doubt that the seventy weeks are to be regarded as seventy weeks of years, and therefore as an amplification of the seventy years of Jeremiah.496

In view of the great variety of opinions which find no Christological fulfillment at all in this passage, the interpreter necessarily must approach the Christological interpretation with some caution. Here again, however, diversity of opinion is found even though there is general agreement that the prophecy somehow relates to the Messiah of Israel. Christological interpretations divide again into two major categories. All Christological interpretations tend to interpret the first sixty-nine sevens as literal. The division comes on the interpretation of the seventieth seven. Amillenarians generally regard the seventieth seven as following immediately after the sixty-ninth seven and, therefore, is already fulfilled in history. The other point of view regards the seventieth seven as separated from the earlier sequence of years and scheduled for fulfillment in the future in the seven years preceding the second advent of Christ. Although many minor variations can be found, the principal question in the Christological interpretation of this text concerns the nature of fulfillment of the last seven years.

In the Christological interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, it is generally assumed that the time units indicated are years. The English word “weeks” is misleading as the Hebrew is actually the plural of the word for seven, without specifying whether it is days, months, or years. The only system of interpretation, however, that gives any literal meaning to this prophecy is to regard the time units as prophetic years of 360 days each according to the Jewish custom of having years of 360 days with an occasional extra month inserted to correct the calendar as needed. The seventy times seven is, therefore, 490 years with the beginning at the time of “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” found in verse 25 and the culmination 490 years later in verse 27. Before detailing the events to be found in the first 483 years (sixty-nine times seven), the events between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven, and the final seven years, Daniel gives the overall picture in verse 24. Careful attention must be given to the precise character of this important foundational prophecy.

The prophetic period of time in question is declared to be “determined.” This involves the assumption of a comprehensive plan of God in which future events are rendered certain and conceived of as a part of an overall plan which is being executed by God.

A very important aspect of the prophecy given at the start is that the period of time in question relates to “thy people” and “thy holy city.” Even in ruins, Jerusalem remains the city set apart in the heart of God (cf. 9:20) and Daniel shared this love for the city which is central in God’s program for His kingdom both in the past and the future. Unlike the prophecies of Daniel 2, 7, and 8, which primarily related to the Gentiles, this chapter is specifically God’s program for the people of Israel, as Daniel would obviously interpret it. To make this equivalent to the church composed of both Jews and Gentiles is to read into the passage something foreign to the whole thinking of Daniel. The church as such has no relation to the city nor to the promises given specifically to Israel relating to their restoration and repossession of the land.

Once it has been established that the prophecy relates to the people of Israel and the holy city Jerusalem, six important purposes of God are clearly discerned in verse 24: (1) “to finish the transgression”; (2) “to make an end of sins”; (3) “to make reconciliation for iniquity”; (4) “to bring in everlasting righteousness”; (5) “to seal up the vision and prophecy”; and (6) “to anoint the most Holy.”

These six items, to be completed in the seventy sevens of Daniel 9:24, are comprehensive in nature. Some expositors, like Young, attempt to find three negative results, namely, “to finish the transgression,” “to make an end of sins,” and “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” By contrast, the positive accomplishments would be “to bring in everlasting righteousness,” “to seal up the vision and prophecy,” and “to anoint the most Holy.” This obviously is an arbitrary division, because “to make reconciliation for iniquity” is a positive rather than a negative act and, on the contrary, “to seal up the vision and prophecy” is probably negative instead of positive.497 The preferable approach is to take each on its own merits.

The first three, however, do deal with sin named in three ways: “the transgression,” “sins,” and “iniquity.” Although a great variety of interpretations are possible, as the text itself does not explain the terminology, the general idea can be ascertained. In the period of the seventy sevens, first will be a program to finish the transgression. The expression to finish is derived from the piel verb form of the root ka„la‚ meaning “to finish” in the sense of bringing to an end. The most obvious meaning is that Israel’s course of apostasy and sin and wandering over the face of the earth will be brought to completion within the seventy sevens. The restoration of Israel which Daniel sought in his prayer will ultimately have its fulfillment in this concept.

The second aspect of the program, “to make an end of sins,” may be taken either in the sense of taking away sins or bringing sin to final judgment.498 Due to a variation in textual reading, another possibility is to translate it “to seal up sin.”499

Keil translates this aspect, “to seal up sin,” and states, “The figure of the sealing stands here in connection with the shutting up in prison. Cf. ch.6:18, the king for greater security sealed up the den into which Daniel was cast. Thus also God seals the hand of man that it cannot move, Job 37:7, and the stars that cannot give light, Job 9:7… The sins are here described as sealed, because they are altogether removed out of the sight of God.”500

The final explanation may include all of these items because the eschatological conclusion of Israel’s history does indeed bring an end to their previous transgressions, brings their sin into judgment, and also introduces the element of forgiveness.

The third aspect of the program, “to make reconciliation for iniquity,” seems to be a rather clear picture of the Cross of Christ in which Christ reconciled Israel as well as the world to Himself (2 Co 5:19). As far as the Old Testament revelation of reconciliation is concerned, lexicographers and theologians have understood the Hebrew word kippe„r when used in relation to sin to mean to “cover,” to “wipe out,” to “makeas harmless, non-existent, or inoperative, to annul (so far as God’s notice or regard is concerned), to withdraw from God’s sight, with the attached ideas of reinstating in His favour, freeing from sin, and restoring to holiness.”501

While the basic provision for reconciliation was made at the cross, the actual application of it is again associated with the second advent of Christ as far as Israel is concerned, and an eschatological explanation is possible for this phase as well as an historic fulfillment.

George N. H. Peters relates Christ’s sacrifice to the kingdom specifically:

Following the Word step by step, it will be found that the sacrifice forms an eternal basis for the Kingdom itself. For it constitutes the Theocratic King a Saviour who now saves from sin without violation or lessening of the law, He having died “the just for the unjust,” and even qualifies Him as such a King, so that in virtue of His obedience unto death He is given authority over all enemies, and to restore all things… The sacrifice affects the restoration of the Jewish nation; but when the happy time comes that they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, faith in that sacrifice shall also in them bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The allegiance of the nations, and all of the Millennial and New Jerusalem descriptions are realized as resultants flowing from ‘this sacrifice being duly appreciated and gratefully, yea joyfully, acknowledged. It is out of the inexhaustible fountain from whence the abundant mercies of God flow to a world redeemed by it.502

The fourth aspect of the program is “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” There is a sense in which this also is accomplished by Christ in His first coming in that He provided a righteous ground for God’s justification of the sinner. The many Messianic passages, however, which view righteousness as being applied to the earth at the time of the second coming of Christ may be the ultimate explanation. Jeremiah, for instance, stated, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23:5-6). The righteous character of the Messianic kingdom is pictured in Isaiah 11:2-5 (cf. Is 53:11; Jer 33:15-18).

The fifth aspect of the program, “to seal up the vision and prophecy,” is probably best understood to mean the termination of unusual direct revelation by means of vision and oral prophecy. The expression to seal up indicates that no more is to be added and that what has been predicted will receive divine confirmation and recognition in the form of actual fulfillment. Once a letter is sealed, its contents are irreversible (cf. 6:8). Young applies this only to the Old Testament prophet,503 but it is preferable to include in it the cessation of the New Testament prophetic gift seen both in oral prophecy and in the writing of the Scriptures. If the seventieth week is still eschatological, it would allow room for this interpretation which Young, attempting to interpret the entire prophecy as fulfilled, could not allow.

The sixth aspect of the prophecy, “to anoint the most Holy,” has been referred to the dedication of the temple built by Zerubbabel, to the sanctification of the altar previously desecrated by Antiochus (1 Macc 4:52-56), and even to the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-27).504 Young suggests that it refers to Christ Himself as anointed by the Spirit.505 Keil and Leupold prefer to refer it to the new holy of holies in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:l-3).506 A. C. Gaebelein, expressing a premillennial view, believes the phrase “has nothing whatever to do with Him [Christ], but it is the anointing of the Holy of Holies in another temple, which will stand in the midst of Jerusalem,” that is, the millennial temple.507

There is really no ground for dogmatism here as there is a possibility that any of these views might be correct. The interpretation of Keil and Leupold that it refers to the holy of holies in the New Jerusalem has much to commend itself. On the other hand, the other items all seem to be fulfilled before the second advent and the seventieth week itself concludes at that time. If fulfillment is necessary before the second advent, it would probably rule out Keil, Leupold, and Gaebelein, although millennial fulfillment could be regarded as a part of the second advent. On the other hand, the six items are not in chronological order and it would not violate the text seriously to have this prophecy fulfilled at any time in relation to the consummation. If complete fulfillment is found in Antiochus Epiphanes as liberal critics conclude or in the first coming of Christ as characterizes amillenarians like Young, this reduces the perspective. If the final seven years is still eschatologically future, it broadens the possibility of fulfillment to the second advent of Christ and events related to it such as the millennial temple. Amillenarians like Leupold, who hold to an indefinite period of time, can extend the final fulfillment to the eternal state.

The Fulfillment of the Sixty-nine Sevens

9:25 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.

At the outset of the revelation of the details of the seventy sevens, Daniel is exhorted to know and understand the main facts of the prophecy (cf. Dan 9:22). Calvin understands it as a statement of fact, “Thou shalt know and understand,” instead of an exhortation.508 It is questionable, however, whether Daniel actually understood it. Some of the later aspects of the prophecy of Daniel are clearly not understood by Daniel (Dan 12:8), although the general assurance of God’s divine purpose must have comforted Daniel. It is preferable to consider it an exhortation. The history of the interpretation of these verses is confirmation of the fact that this prophecy is difficult and requires spiritual discernment.

The key to the interpretation of the entire passage is found in the phrase “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” The question of the terminus a quo, the date on which the seventy sevens begin, is obviously most important both in interpreting the prophecy and in finding suitable fulfillment. The date is identified as being the one in which a commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem is issued.

As the history of the interpretation of this verse illustrates, a number of interpretations are theoretically possible. Young considers the expression the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to be “the going forth of a word to restore and to build Jerusalem,” that is, “This phrase has reference to the issuance of the word, not from a Persian ruler but from God.”509 Young goes on to point out that the expression the commandment, which he insists is better translated “a word” (Heb. da„ba„r; cf. 2 Ch 30:5) is also found in Daniel 9:23 for a word from God. Young argues, “It seems difficult, therefore to assume that here, two w. later, another subject should be introduced without some mention of the fact.”510

Of course, it is rather obvious that another subject has been introduced in verse 24 and the two commandments are quite different—that of verse 23 having to do with Gabriel being sent to Daniel and verse 25 having to do with the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Young, however, finds that the word of the Lord referred to here in verse 25 is that given to Jeremiah concerning the return of the children of Israel from the captivity, as quoted in Daniel 9:2. This, of course, completely confuses two entirely different prophecies, one having to do with the captivity and the return to Jerusalem, the other having to do with Israel’s future after their return. Young himself admits, however, that this explanation simply does not satisfy the passage as the word of the Lord did not go forth in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem was destroyed. As Young states, “However, it is perfectly clear that in 586 b.c, no word went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem.”511 The same objection can be placed against the date 605 B.C., the beginning of the times of the Gentiles.

Most expositors, however, recognize that the word or commandment mentioned here is a commandment of men even though it may reflect the will of God and be in keeping with the prophetic word. There are at least four decrees concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem recorded in Scripture: (1) the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the temple (2 Ch 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-5); (2) the, decree of Darius confirming the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 6:6-12); (3) the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11-26); (4) the decree of Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah authorizing the rebuilding of the city (Neh 2:1-8).

All agree that there was a decree to rebuild the temple, given by Cyrus approximately 538 B.C. The question is whether this decree also authorized the rebuilding’ of the city. The precise wording of the three decrees as recorded in 2 Chronicles 36 and in Ezra seems to deal only with the temple, and the rebuilding of the city was not fulfilled until the time of Nehemiah where the decree recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8 clearly refers to the city as a whole.

Implication has been drawn from Ezra 4:12-21 that the city walls were rebuilt at that time and that the reference to “a wall in Judah” in Ezra 9:9 signifies completion. There is no evidence that rebuilding the wall was authorized in 457 B.C. A careful examination of these passages will not prove with any clarity that the wall was ever completed or even begun. The accusations of Israel’s enemies were largely false, as the evidence indicates explicitly only that they were building a temple. The extent of the ruins of Jerusalem and»of the wall twelve years later, indicated in Nehemiah, are such that the best interpretation is to refer them to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Any date earlier than 445 B.C. for rebuilding the wall is based on insufficient evidence.512

The amillennial interpretation of this passage, however, has been to consider the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. as the decree to rebuild the city and the wall. Although it is granted that 2 Chronicles and Ezra do not authorize the rebuilding of the city, reference is made to the prophecy of Isaiah 44:28 and 45:13, remarkable prophecies given concerning Cyrus one hundred and fifty years before he came on the scene. According to Isaiah 44:28, God “saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” Additional prophecies are given concerning Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1-4. Although Cyrus is not specifically mentioned, some have taken Isaiah 45:13 as another reference to him, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Young finds confirmation of this in the statement in Ezra 4:12, where the enemies of Israel accuse the Jews of “building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.” There is also an obscure reference to the fact that God “has given them mercy, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.” This latter reference, however, seems to refer to the temple itself. Young, accordingly, concludes, “It is not justifiable to distinguish too sharply between the building of the city and the building of the temple. Certainly, if the people had received permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, there was also implied in this permission to build for themselves homes in which to dwell. There is no doubt whatever but that the people thus understood the decree (cf. Haggai l:2-4).”513

Young, however, completely misses the point of Haggai’s prophecy. It is true that the children of Israel had built houses, but apparently they were not in Jerusalem. To let the temple of God lie waste while they lived in comfortable homes was an offense to God; and, therefore, Haggai exhorts them to build the temple. The question whether Jerusalem was rebuilt is answered in the graphic description of Nehemiah, which Young does not mention, which pictures the city in utter ruins (Neh 2:12-15). He describes the walls as broken down, the gates consumed with fire, and the streets so full of debris that his beast which carried him could not get through. In his challenge to the children of Israel, Nehemiah says, “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach” (Neh 2:17). Further, in Nehemiah 11, the expedient is resorted to of casting lots so that one in ten would have to move to Jerusalem and build a house there (Neh 11:1).

It is rather evident, when all the evidence is in, that Jerusalem was not rebuilt in the sixth century b.c. although the rebuilding of the temple was indeed the first step toward the jestoration of Israel and is that which is in view in the prophecies relating to Cyrus and is made explicit in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4. It is most significant that none of the prophecies in 2 Chronicles or Ezra mention the city but only the temple. Accordingly, the best explanation is that the decree relating to the rebuilding of the city itself is that given to Nehemiah in 445 b.c, about ninety years after the first captives returned and started the building of the temple.

Many of the older commentators, such as Dereser, Havernick, Weigl, interpret the reference to the commandment as indicating the royal edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus, who reigned over Persia 465-425 B.C., and who not only commanded the rebuilding of Jerusalem in 445 b.c. but earlier had commissioned Ezra to return to Jerusalem in 457 b.c. (Ezra 7:11-26).514 The date 445 b.c. is based on the reference in Nehemiah 2:1 ff. stating that the decree went forth in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. As his reign began in 465 b.c, twenty years later would be 445 b.c. Most scholars, whether conservative or liberal, accordingly, accept the 445 b.c. date for Nehemiah’s decree.

Although Young argues his case well, the ultimate decision to some extent has to be determined by the fulfillment of the prophecy as a whole. Young’s explanation beginning it with the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. does not permit any reasonably literal interpretation of this prophecy. The 483 years which would then begin in 538 b.c, anticipated in the sixty-nine times seven years, would end in the middle of the first century b.c. when there was no significant event whatever to mark its close. In order to make his explanation plausible, Young has to assume that the years are not literal, the interpretation is not exact, and as a matter of fact, the first sixty-nine times seven years would be an indefinite period of time, actually much longer than the period specified. Although enthusiastically espoused, as Young points out, by “Calvin, Kliefoth, Keil, and lately Mauro also,”515 it makes impossible any exact fulfillment.516

In verse 25, Daniel is introduced to two periods of time which are immediately consecutive, first a period of seven sevens, or forty-nine years, and then a period of sixty-two sevens, or four hundred and thirty-four years. There is no indication clearly given as to the reason for distinguishing between the two periods except that he adds “the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”

The word translated “wall” {harm) is not the normal word for wall (homd). The root haras means “to cut, sharpen, decide.” The nominal form harm, found only here, is rendered by ancient interpreters as “walls.” Most modern lexicographers render it “ditch,” or “moat.” Zockler comments, “It was not to be a wretched, confused, and scattered, as well as defenceless mass of houses, but was to be arranged in streets, and to be surrounded with a fortified (wall and) ditch.”517

The first forty-nine-year period does not fit Young’s explanation as the period between the decree of Cyrus (538 b.c. ) and the decree of Darius (520 b.c. ), obviously was not forty-nine years. The best explanation seems to be that beginning with Nehemiah’s decree and the building of the wall, it took a whole generation to clear out all the debris in Jerusalem and restore it as a thriving city. This might well be the fulfillment of the forty-nine years. The specific reference to streets again addresses our attention to Nehemiah’s situation where the streets were covered with debris and needed to be rebuilt. That this was accomplished in troublesome times is fully documented by the book of Nehemiah itself. Although the precise fulfillment is not a major item and only the barest of details are given, the important point seems to be the question of when the sixty-nine sevens actually end. If the terminus a quo is 445 B.C., the date of Nehemiah’s decree, what is the terminus ad quern?

Sir Robert Anderson has made a detailed study of a possible chronology for this period beginning with the well-established date of 445 B.C. when Nehemiah’s decree was issued and culminating in a.d. 32 on the very day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before His crucifixion. Sir Robert Anderson specifies that the seventy sevens began on the first Nisan, March 14, 445 b.c. and ended on April 6, a.d. 32, the tenth Nisan. The complicated computation is based upon prophetic years of 360 days totaling 173,880 days. This would be exactly 483 years according to biblical chronology.518 Alva McClain concurs with Anderson.519

That Sir Robert Anderson is right in building upon a 360-day year seems to be attested by the Scriptures. It is customary for the Jews to have twelve months of 360 days each and then to insert a thirteenth month occasionally when necessary to correct the calendar. The use of the 360-day year is confirmed by the forty-two months of the great tribulation (Rev 11:2; 13:5) being equated with 1,260 days (Rev 12:6; 11:3). The conclusions reached by Anderson, however, are quite complicated in their argument and impossible to restate simply.520 While the details of Anderson’s arguments may be debated, the plausibility of a literal interpretation, which begins the period in 445 B.C. and culminates just before the death of Christ, makes this view very attractive.

The principal difficulty is Anderson’s conclusion that the death of Christ occurred a.d. 32. Generally speaking, while there has been uncertainty as to the precise year of the death of Christ based upon present evidence, most New Testament chronologers move it one or two years earlier, and plausible attempts have been made to adjust Anderson’s chronology to a.d. 30.521 There has been a tendency, however, in recent New Testament chronology to consider the possibility of a later date for the death of Christ, and no one today is able dogmatically to declare that Sir Robert Anderson’s computations are impossible. Accordingly, the best explanation of the time when the sixty-nine sevens ended is that it occurred shortly before the death of Christ anticipated in Daniel 9:26 as following the sixty-ninth seven. Practically all expositors agree that the death of Christ occurred after the sixty-ninth seven.

Prophesied Events After the Sixty-ninth Seven

9:26 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.

In summarizing the period of the sixty-nine sevens, the statement is made in verse 25 that the period will be “unto the Messiah the Prince.” Most conservative expositors have interpreted this as a reference to Jesus Christ. Montgomery, however, has another explanation: “‘Messiah’ is epithet of king, of priest (cf. 2 Mac. 1:10), of prophet; and in a spiritual sense of patriarch (Ps. 105:15), and even of Cyrus, who is ‘My Anointed,’ Is. 45:1… The second term ‘prince,’ qualifying the first, is used of various officers of rank: as a chief among officials, esp. in the temple personnel, e.g. 11:22 of the high priest, q.v.; of nobles or princes, e.g., Job 29:10, 31:37; then of royalty, appearing as an early title for the king in Israel, e.g., 1 Sa. 9:16, and also of foreign kings. Hence both terms are ambiguous, and their combination does not assist identification, for which three candidates have been proposed: Cyrus, the ‘Anointed’ of Is. 45:1; Zerubbabel, the acclaimed Messiah of the Restoration; and his contemporary, the high priest Joshua b. Josedek.”522

It is obvious that Montgomery is straining to prove a non-Christological interpretation. By far the majority of scholars who accept Daniel as a genuine book find the reference in verse 25 to Jesus Christ. As Young expresses it, “The old evangelical interpretation is that which alone satisfies the requirements of the case. The ‘anointed one’ is Jesus Christ, who was cut off by His death upon the Cross of Calvary.”523 If this interpretation of verse 25 is correct, it provides the key to verse 26 which states that after “threescore and two weeks,” that is, the 7 plus 62 sevens, or after the end of the sixty-ninth seven, the Messiah shall be “cut off.” The verb rendered “to cut off” has the meaning, “to destroy, to kill,” for example, in Genesis 9:11; Deuteronomy 20:20; Jeremiah 11:19; Psalm 37:9.

The natural interpretation of verse 26 is that it refers to the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. As this relates to the chronology of the prophecy, it makes plain that the Messiah will be living at the end of the sixty-ninth seventh and will be cut off, or die, soon after the end of it.

The prominence of the Messiah in Old Testament prophecy and the mention of Him in both verses 25 and 26 make the cutting off of the Messiah one of the important events in the prophetic unfoldment of God’s plan for Israel and the world. How tragic that, when the promised King came, He was “cut off.” The adulation of the crowd at the triumphal entry and the devotion of those who had been touched by His previous ministry were all to no avail. The unbelief of Israel and the calloused indifference of religious leaders when confronted with the claims of Christ combined with the hardness of heart of Gentile rulers to make this the greatest of tragedies. Christ was indeed not only “cut off” from man and from life, but in His cry on the cross indicated that He was forsaken of God. The plaintive cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” reveals not only the awfulness of separation from God but points also to the answer—the redemptive purpose. Although the additional explanation but not for himself is probably best translated, “There is nothing for him,” it is nevertheless true that He died for others. Nothing that rightly belonged to Him as Messiah the Prince was given to Him at that time. He had not come into His full reward nor the exercise of His regal authority. He was the sacrificial lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world. Outwardly it appeared that evil had triumphed.

Although evangelical expositors have been agreed that the reference is to Jesus Christ, a division has occurred as to whether the event here described comes in the seventieth seventh described in the next verse, or whether it occurs in an interim or parenthetical period between the sixty-ninth seventh and the seventieth seventh. Two theories have emerged, namely, the continuous fulfillment theory which holds that the seventieth seven immediately follows the sixty-ninth, and the gap or parenthesis theory which holds that there is a period of time between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven. If fulfillment is continuous, then the seventieth week is already history. If there is a gap, there is a possibility that the seventieth week is still future. On this point, a great deal of discussion has emerged.

In the interpretation of this passage and the decision on the question of the continuous fulfillment versus the gap theory, the fulfillment of the prophecy again comes to our rescue. The center part of verse 26 states “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Historically the destruction of Jerusalem occurred in a.d. 70 almost forty years after the death of Christ. Although some expositors, like Young,524 hold that the sacrifices are caused to cease by Christ in His death which they consider fulfilled in the middle of the last seven years, it is clear that this does not provide in any way for the fulfillment of an event thirty-eight years or more after the end of the sixty-ninth seven. Young and others who follow the continuous fulfillment theory are left without any explanation adequate for interposing an event as occurring after the sixty-ninth seven by some thirty-eight years—which, in their thinking, would actually occur after the seventieth week. In a word, their theory does not provide any normal or literal interpretation of the text and its chronology.

The intervention of two events after the sixty-ninth seven which in their historic fulfillment occupied almost forty years makes necessary a gap between the sixty-ninth seven and the beginning of the seventieth seven of at-least this length of time. Those referred to as “the people of the prince that shall come” are obviously the Roman people and in no sense do these people belong to Messiah the Prince. Hence it follows that there are two princes: (1) the Messiah of verses 25 and 26, and (2) “the prince that shall come” who is related to the Roman people. That a second prince is required who is Roman in character and destructive to the Jewish people is confirmed in verse 27 (see following exegesis), which the New Testament declares to be fulfilled in relation to the second coming of Christ (Mt 24:15).

The closing portion of verse 26, although not entirely clear, indicates that the destruction of the city will be like the destruction of a flood and that desolations are sovereignly determined along with war until the end. Because of the reference to “the end” twice in verse 26, it would be contextually possible to refer this to the end of the age and to a future destruction of Jerusalem. According to Revelation 11:2, “The holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months “probably refers to the great tribulation just before the second advent. However, there is no complete destruction of Jerusalem at the end of the age as Zechariah 14:1-3 indicates that the city is in existence although overtaken by war at the very moment that Christ comes back in power and glory. Accordingly, it is probably better to consider all of verse 26 fulfilled historically.

The same expression of an overflowing flood is used to denote warlike hosts who annihilate their enemies in Daniel 11:10, 22, 26, 40 and in Isaiah 8:8. This seems to be a general reference to the fact that from the time of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, trouble, war, and desolation will be the normal experience of the people of Israel and will end only at “the consummation” mentioned in verse 27, that is, the end of the seventieth seven. History has certainly corroborated this prophecy, for not only was Jerusalem destroyed but the entire civilization of the Jews in Palestine ceased to exist soon after the end of the sixty-ninth seven, and that desolation continued until recent times. The prophesied events of verse 26, like those of verse 25, already have been fulfilled and constitute clear evidence of the accuracy of the prophetic word. The prophecy of verse 25 dealing as it does with the restoration of Jerusalem at the beginning of the seventy sevens, the sixty-two sevens which follow the first seven sevens culminate in the Messiah, and the prediction that the Messiah shall be cut off and Jerusalem destroyed gives the high points in Israel’s history and provides the key to understanding this difficult prophecy. In contrast to the rather clear fulfillment of verses 25-26, verse 27 is an enigma as far as history is concerned; and only futuristic interpretation allows any literal fulfillment.

The Seventieth Seven

9:27 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.

Although difference of opinion has been observed in the interpretation of Daniel 9:24-26, in the main the question has been whether fulfillment was non-Christological as liberals hold or Christological as most conservative expositors view the passage. Among conservatives, the major division has been between amillennial and premillennial interpretations. The divergence of interpretation comes to a head, however, in verse 27. Here the choice is clearly between literal fulfillment, which requires a futuristic interpretation with a gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week, or several other options which admittedly do not provide any clear fulfillment of verse 27.

In opposition to the futuristic interpretation, at least four other views have been advanced: (1) the liberal view that the seventieth seven is fulfilled in events following the Maccabean persecution just as the preceding sixty-nine sevens were; (2) the view of Jewish scholars that the seventieth week is fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70; (3) the view that the seventieth week of Daniel is an indefinite period beginning with Christ but extending to the end, often held by amillenarians such as Young and Leupold;525 (4) that the seventieth seven is seven literal years beginning with the public ministry of Christ and ending about three and a half years after His death.526

Each of the four views which claim fulfillment largely in the past have their supporting arguments, sometimes presented at length. But they have one common failure, which is the Achilles’ heel of their interpretation: none of them provides literal fulfillment of the prophecy. The first view, the Maccabean fulfillment, is built on the premise that Daniel is a forgery and prophecy is impossible. The second and third views explain away problems by spiritualization and have no specific chronology. The numerical system of the seventy sevens becomes merely symbolic. The fourth view, that of Philip Mauro, finds literal fulfillment of the first sixty-nine and one-half sevens, but no fulfillment of the climax.

Even Leupold, an amillenarian who considers the seventy sevens as extending to the second coming of Christ (third view), objects to the historic fulfillment of the seventy sevens. He writes, “All they have left for the last week and the consummation of the seventy year-weeks is an unimportant date seven years after Christ’s death, when something so unimportant happened that the commentators are at a loss as to what they should point to. That interpretation runs out into sand. No one has yet advanced a halfway satisfactory answer as to why such a termination of glorious work should be selected to close at the computation.”527

Leupold comes close to the premillennial interpretation as he identifies “the prince that shall come” of verse 26 with the one wHo is related to the covenant in verse 27. He states, “The person under consideration as making the covenant is…the Antichrist.”528 Keil, after a lengthy discussion, presents the same view as Leupold; that is, the one making the covenant is the Antichrist. Keil concludes, “Therefore the thought is this: That [an] ungodly prince shall impose on the mass of the people a strong covenant that they should follow him and give themselves to him as their God.”529

The determination of the antecedent of he in verse 27 is the key to the interpretation of the passage. If the normal rule be followed that the antecedent is the nearest preceding possibility, it would go back to the prince that shall come of verse 26. This is the normal premillennial interpretation which postulates that the reference is to a future prince who may be identified with the Antichrist who will appear at the end of the interadvent age just before the second coming of Christ. This interpretation is also followed by amillenarians such as Keil and Leupold, as well as by Zockler.530

A number of other interpretations, however, have been advanced. Montgomery believes that the reference is to Antiochus Epiphanes, in keeping with his interpretation that the prophecy was fulfilled in the second century b.c. He states, “The historical background of the sentence so interpreted is clear: the clever diplomacy whereby Ant. made his bargain with the worldly majority, at least of the aristocracy, in Jerusalem. It may be noted that the Jewish comm., Ra. [Rashi], Aez. [Aben Ezra], Jeph. [Jephet], do not hesitate to interpret the covenant as of the treaty between the Jews and the Romans.”531 Montgomery, accordingly, identifies the he of verse 25 as the prince that shall come of verse 26.

A second view is that he refers to Christ. This is supported by Young532 and Philip Mauro. Mauro states, “If we take the pronoun ‘He’ as relating to ‘the Messiah’ mentioned in the preceding verse, then we find in the New Testament Scriptures a perfect fulfillment of the passage, and a fulfillment, moreover, which is set forth in the most conspicuous way. That pronoun must, in our opinion, be taken as referring to Christ, because (a) the prophecy is all about Christ, and this is the climax of it; (b) Titus did not make any covenant with the Jews; (c) there is not a word in Scripture about any future ‘prince’ making a covenant with them.”533

Mauro, of course, begs the question, for this is the only passage on the seventy sevens of Israel. The question being debated is whether or not verse 27 deals with Christ; and to state dogmatically that “the prophecy is all about Christ” is precisely the matter in question. Nor is it unthinkable that a future ruler would make a covenant with Israel.

A third view has been suggested by Keil, who worded the sentence to read, “One week shall confirm the covenant to many.”534 Keil cites in support not only Theodotion, but Havernick, Hengstenberg, Auberlen, C. von Lengerke, and Hitzig. Keil states, “But this poetic mode of expression is only admissible where the subject treated of in the statement of the speaker comes after the action … The confirming of the covenant is not the work of time, but the deed of a definite person.”535 This translation does not seem to have found favor with contemporary expositors.

The difficulty with all these interpretations, as has been pointed out previously, is that there is no seven-year period marked off in any clear way in history which has fulfilled the last unit of seven of Daniel’s prophecy. Those who identify he as Christ differ as to whether Christ actually confirmed the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-37 as Philip Mauro explains it,536 or as Young interprets it, a reconfirmation of a covenant already in existence, “He shall cause to prevail a covenant for the many.”537

Ultimately, the question facing every expositor is what interpretation gives the most natural and intelligent exposition of the text. If it is not necessary to consider this literal prophecy, and the time units are not literal, a variety of interpretation immediately becomes possible. If the expositor desires to follow the text meticulously, however, there is really no alternative but to declare the entire seventieth seven future, for there has been no seven-year period fulfilling the events of prophecy, however labored the interpretation. This is usually conceded by those who make the last seven years an indefinite period which allows for still future interpretation.

In summary, it may be concluded that Antiochus Epiphanes does not satisfy the passage for anyone who accepts it as Scripture. Christ does not satisfy the description of verse 27 because there is no seven-year period related to Christ which provides fulfillment for the entire passage. Under these circumstances, the normal antecedent of he is the prince that shall come, who is not to be identified with Titus but rather with a future enemy of the people of Israel who will bring them into the great tribulation anticipated as still future in the book of Revelation, which was written at least sixty years after the death of Christ and twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The precise prophecy of verse 27 indicates that the personage in view enters into a covenant relationship with many, literally, “with the many,” (cf. many, literally, “the many,” Dan 11:39; 12:2). This is a clear reference to unbelieving Jews who will enter into alliance with the prince that shall come. That they are Jews is indicated by thy people in verse 24. If the preceding chronology is understood to involve literal years, this should also be a seven-year period. In a word, the prophecy is that there will be a future compact or covenant between a political ruler designated as the prince that shall come in verse 26 with the representatives of the Jewish people. Such an alliance will obviously be an unholy relationship and ultimately to the detriment of the people of Israel, however promising it may be at its inception.

According to the prophecy, in the middle of the seven-year period the one who confirms the covenant “shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” that is, all the bloody and non-bloody sacrifices. This could not refer to Jesus Christ at His death on the cross as Philip Mauro insists,538 because, as a matter of fact, the sacrifices did not cease until a.d. 70, some forty years later. The sacrifices were not stopped by Christ but by the Roman soldiers who destroyed the temple. Contemplated in this prophecy is a yet future event following the type of the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes but beginning the great tribulation of which Christ spoke in Matthew 24:15-26, obviously future from Christ’s point of view, and, therefore, not the desecration by Antiochus in the second century B.C.

According to the prophecy of Christ, there will be a clear-cut event referred to as the abomination of desolation similar to the language of 9:27, which will occur in the period just preceding the second advent. Christ said, “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:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: … For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt 24:15-16, 21). The fulfillment of this prophecy necessarily involves the reactivation of the Mosaic sacrificial system in a temple in Judea. The present occupation of Jerusalem by Israel may be a preparatory step to the re-establishment of the Mosaic system of sacrifices. Obviously, sacrifices cannot be stopped and a temple cannot be desecrated unless both are in operation.

The last part of verse 27 seems to describe the desecration of the temple in the words “for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” The expression the overspreading of abominations is better translated “upon the wing of abominations,” or as Leupold suggests, “upon the wing of abominable idols.”539 The Hebrew is rendered “abomination of desolation” in 1 Maccabees 1:54; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14 and is supported by the most ancient translations including the Septuagint, Theodotion, and the Vulgate. The identification of the expression in Daniel 9:27 with these other references as well as Daniel 11:31 and 12:11 make the meaning here clear. Many fantastic explanations have been given of the use of the word wing. Keil after Kliefoth takes the wing as reference “‘to idolatry with its abominations, because that shall be the power which lifts upward the destroyer and desolator, carries him, and moves with him over the earth to lay waste’ (Klief.).”540 Young gives a preferable view after disposing of many other suggestions when he states, “The word apparently refers to the pinnacle of the temple which has become so desecrated that it no longer can be regarded as the temple of the Lord, but as an idol temple… The wing of the temple (Matt. 4:5; Luke 4:8) is the summit of the temple itself.”541

The word abomination used by Christ in Matthew 24:15 may be an allusion to Antiochus in Daniel 11:31, but in Daniel 12:11, it clearly refers to the future stopping of the daily sacrifices, forty-two months before the second advent of Christ. The 1,290 days, actually forty-three months, seem to extend beyond the second advent to the beginning of the millennial kingdom. That which Antiochus did in a small way in the second century B.C. will become a worldwide persecution of Israel and a stopping of their sacrifices in the future great tribulation. According to Revelation 13, the future world ruler of the time of the great tribulation will not only take to himself absolute political power but will demand the worship of the entire world, will blaspheme the true God, and persecute the saints (Rev 13:4-7). His period of great power will terminate at the second advent of Christ. Like the desolation of Daniel 9:27, which is going to continue until the consummation, the desolation according to this passage will continue until the consummation pictured dramatically in Revelation 19 when the beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire. This will be the terminus ad quern of the seventy sevens of Daniel and coincides with the second advent of Jesus Christ to the earth.

In summary, it may be concluded that Daniel’s great prophecy of the seventy sevens comprehends the total history of Israel from the time of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. until the second coming of Jesus Christ. In the first period of seven sevens, the city and the streets are rebuilt. In the second period of sixty-two sevens which follows, the Messiah appears and is living at the conclusion of the period. In the parenthesis between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven, at least two major events take place: the cutting off of the Messiah (the death of Christ) and the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Actually, the whole present age intervenes.

The final period of seven years begins with the introduction of a covenant relationship between the future “prince that shall come” and “the many,” the people of Israel. This covenant is observed for the first half of the future seven-year period; then the special liberties and protections granted Israel are taken away; and Israel becomes persecuted in their time of great tribulation. The beginning of the last three and one-half years of the seventy sevens of Daniel is marked by the desecration of the future temple, the stopping of the sacrifices, and the desolation of the Jewish religion. It is this period referred to by Christ as the great tribulation in Matthew 24:15-26.

The culmination of the entire prophecy of the seventy weeks is the second advent of Jesus Christ which closes the seventieth seventh of Israel as well as the times of the Gentiles pictured in Daniel’s prophecies of the four great world empires. For most of the period, the two great lines of prophecy relating to the Gentiles and Israel run concurrently, and both end with the same major event—the second advent of Jesus Christ, when oppressed Israel is delivered and the oppressor, the Gentile, is judged. With Israel today back in the land, the fulfillment of these prophecies may not be too long distant.

464 Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, p. 3.

465 Cited by Wilbur M. Smith, “Jerusalem,’ in Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 421.

466 Cf. D. F. Payne, “Jerusalem,” in The New Bible Dictionary, p. 616.

467 “See discussion of Dan 9:15-19, pp. 211-12.

Cf. R. H. Charles, The Book of Daniel, pp. 96-97. Cf. also N. W. Porteous, Daniel: A Commentary, p. 137.

468 Nelson Glueck, Hesed in the Bible.

469 J. Calvin, Commentaries on the Prophet Daniel, 2:150.

470 M. Stuart, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, p. 258.

471 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, p. 384.

472 Frederick A. Tatford, The Climax of the Ages, p. 150.

473 Stuart, pp. 259-60.

474 G. E. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East.

475 Porteous, p. 138.

476 Stuart, p. 261.

477 J. A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, pp. 366-68; E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, pp. 188-89; Leupold, pp. 390 ff.

478 Montgomery, p. 369.

479 Young, p. 188.

480 Tatford, p. 155.

481 Charles, pp. 96-102.

482 Leupold, pp. 395-99.

483 Montgomery, p. 361.

484 Ibid., pp. 362-63.

485 Leupold, p. 400.

486 Ibid., p. 105.

487 Montgomery, pp. 358-59.

488 Ibid., pp. 390-401.

489 Ibid., pp. 400-1.

490 Young, pp. 220-21.

491 Ibid., p, 195.

492 Ibid., p. 196.

493 Keil, p. 339; Young, p. 196.

494 Leupold, p. 409.

495 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 988.

496 Zöckler adds, “Such a prophetic or mystical transformation of the seventy years into many periods of seven years each is not unparalleled in the usage of the ancients; cf., e.g., the remarks of Mark Varro in Aul. Gellius, N.A. III., 10: ‘Se jam undecimam annorum hebdomadem ingressum esse et ad eum diem septuaginta hedomadas librorum conscripsisse;’ also Aristotle, Polit., Vii 6; Censorin., de die natali, C. 14. It was, however, peculiarly adapted to the prophet’s purpose, and was especially intelligible to his readers, inasmuch as the Mosaic Law (Lev. 25:2, 4 et seq.; 26:34, 35, 43; cf. 2 Chron. 26:21) had designated every seventh year as a sabbath of the land, and had introduced the custom of dividing the years into hebdomads, which thus became familiar to every individual in the Jewish nation during all subsequent ages. The thought that instead of seventy years, seventy times seventy were to elapse before the theocracy should be restored in all its power and significance, and that, consequently, an extended period of delay should precede the advent of the Messianic era, is ‘an integral feature in the mode of conception which prevails throughout the book’ (Kranichfeld)” (“The Book of the Prophet Daniel,” in Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, 13:194).

O. Zöckler, “The Book of the Prophet Daniel,” in Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, 13:194.

497 Cf. Young, p. 197.

498 Young, pp. 198-99; C. F. Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, p. 342.

499 The King James Version bases its translation to make an end on the Kere reading lÿha„te„m, the hiphil infinitive of ta„mam, meaning, “to finish, complete, perfect.” All the ancient versions follow this reading with the exception of Theodotion. The Kethib reading, followed by Keil, is lah£to„m, the qal infinitive of h£a„tam meaning “to seal, to seal up.” The textual confusion is due to easy interchange of letters. Since lah£to„m, “to seal up (the vision),” is found in the next line, it seems plausible to suppose that the scribe responsible for the Kethib reading was influenced by this word. In short, the Kere reading is the preferred reading, as followed in the King James Version, that is, “to make an end” or “to finish sins.”

500 Keil, p. 342.

501 S. R. Driver, “Propitiation,” in A Dictionary of the Bible, 4:131.

502 George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, 3:455-56.

503 Young, p. 200.

504 Cf. Young, pp. 200-1.

505 Ibid., p. 201.

506 Keil, p. 349: Leupold, pp. 414-16.

507 A. C. Gaebelein, The Prophet Daniel, p. 133.

508 Calvin, 2:219.

509 Young, p. 201.

510 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, however, allow da„ba„r the meaning “word of command,” and translate it, edict (p. 182).


511 Ibid., p. 202.

512 For a brief explanation of the earlier view beginning the seventy weeks in 457 b.c, see G. L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 387; J. B. Payne, “Daniel,” Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 198; J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, p. 521.

513 Young, p. 203.

514 M. F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 94.

515 Young, p. 203.

516 Calvin states, for instance, “Next, as to the going forth of the edict, we have stated how inadmissible is any interpretation but the first decree of Cyrus, which permitted the people freely to return to their country” (2:219).

517 Zockler, p. 199.

518 Anderson, p. 128.

519 Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecies of the Seventy Weeks, p. 20.

520 Cf. Glenn R. Goss, “The Chronological Problems of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel,” doctor’s dissertation.

521 Leslie P. Madison, “Problems of Chronology in the Life of Christ,” doctors dissertation.

522 Montgomery, pp. 378-79.

523 Young, p. 207.

524 Ibid., pp. 208 ff.

525 Young, pp. 208 ff.; Leupold, pp. 431-40.

526 Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, pp. 70 ff.

527 Leupold, pp. 436-37.

528 Ibid., p. 431.

529 Keil, p. 367.

530 Ibid., p. 373; Leupold, p. 431; Zockler, p. 202.

531 Montgomery, p. 385.

532 Young, p. 209.

533 Mauro, p. 81.

534 Keil, p. 365.

535 Ibid.

536 Mauro, pp. 81-83.

537 Young, p. 208. Orig. in italics.

538 Mauro, p. 83.

539 Leupold, p. 431.

540 Keil, p. 372.

541 Young, p. 218.

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