The Famous 70 weeks of Daniel. Even people knowing nothing else of the book have heard of this passage. It’s vital to understand this section before you get to Revelation or you’ll be completely lost; Matthew underscores the importance of the prophecy as it’s specifically called out for understanding.
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. 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. 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. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:24–27)
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) (Matt 24:15)
This passage provides the framework to understanding all unfulfilled prophecy. If you follow this, the remainder falls into place, while failure to understand this prophecy causes many problems relating the church and the Jews, the tribulation and the church, and so on.
A few quick remarks to help avoid lots of bad information, and which should be obvious from even a casual reading (though surprisingly many miss):
- It’s about the Jews, not the church. It’s Daniel’s people (the Jews) and their Holy City (Jerusalem).
- It hasn’t happened yet. The end of sin, everlasting righteousness, and so on. Some attempt to claim a previous fulfillment, but then we must have missed the end of sin and the beginning of everlasting righteousness.
- The 70 weeks are not continuous. A gap appears between the 69th week and the 70th week.
- Revelation details the 70th week (mainly chapters 6–19).
Simply keeping a few obvious things in mind helps avoid pitfalls and puts you ahead of many scholars who don’t really read the book.
You’ll notice God deals with the church and Jews separately. Before Jesus, God dealt with the Jews (Gentiles were only included if they became a Jew). Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, God dealt with the Gentiles. This leads some to believe God abandoned the Jews, and their promises are now bestowed on the church.
Nonsense — God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis are unconditional and irrevocable; the Jewish people still have a destiny to be fulfilled. Don’t make the mistake the Jews aren’t important anymore, or God’s promises to them have now fallen on the church. That’s a tragic error, and the cause of much persecution of the Jewish people. More importantly, it’s simply not true.
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. (Daniel 9:24)
As noted, it’s obvious this prophecy concerns the Jews and the city of Jerusalem, not the Church; the Church and the Jews are distinct and separate. Second, while history records the fulfillment of parts of the prophecy, parts are still yet future. Obviously, an end of sin hasn’t occurred, nor everlasting righteousness.
What are the seventy weeks? The Hebrew says seventy sevens, and it’s translated weeks. Similar to our use of decade (meaning 10 years), in this context the Hebrew clearly implies a week means 7 years. One thing you must note; Bible prophecy uses 360 day years. Why exactly isn’t important, but if you’re going to try to calculate this yourself you can’t use the current 365 day calendar.
It does represent a literal period of time — it’s not an allegory and must be understood to be literal. To jump ahead a bit, several allusions to the 70th week appear elsewhere in the bible, each describing the time involved a bit differently, yet equally.
- 42 months — Revelation 11:2,13:5
- 1,260 days — Revelation 11:3,12:6
- Half of one week (literally “sevens”) — Daniel 9:27
- Times, time and half a time (3 1/2 years) — Daniel 12:7
First, when did this start? Perhaps your Bible mentions 3 possibilities for this starting event (actually 4).
- Cyrus in Ezra 1:1–4 (First year of Cyrus)
- Darius in Ezra 6:1–12 (First year of Darius)
- Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:11–26 (Seventh year Artaxerxes)
- Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1–8 (Twentieth year Artaxerxes)
So which is it? Go back to the text to get one more clue…