The prophet Daniel was given a revelation concerning a series of events that would take place within a specific period of time. This revelation included the exact time when the Messiah would appear. The prophet was further told that the Messiah would actually be cut off, e.g. violently put to death, before the destruction of the second temple.
According to the prophecy, some of the major objectives that will be accomplished during this period include making an end of all sins or final atonement, ushering in everlasting righteousness, and bringing about the fulfillment of the visions and prophecies of the OT:
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince (mashiach nagid), There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeksMessiah (mashiach) shall be cut off (yikaret), but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:24-27 NKJV
Here is a Jewish translation of the same passage:
“Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment; and that until the extermination wholly determined be poured out upon that which causeth appalment.’ Jewish Publication Society 1917 http://www.breslov.com/bible/Daniel9.htm
Suffice it to say this is truly a remarkable prophecy, one that provides irrefutable evidence that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of by the prophets of God.
A Breakdown of Daniel’s Timeline
Here we will present two interpretations of the timeframe stipulated in Daniel’s prophecy. This will help the readers see for themselves how either breakdown of the time given in this remarkable prediction points to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone perfectly fulfills the words of this revelation.
3D. Length of prophetic year.
The calendar year used in the Scriptures must be determined from the Scriptures themselves.
Historically – Compare Genesis 7:11 with Genesis 8:4, and the two of these with Genesis 7:24 and Genesis 8:3.
Prophetically – Many Scriptures refer to the great tribulation under various terms, but all have a common denominator of a 360-day year.
Daniel 9:27 – “Midst” of the 70th week (obviously 3½ years) (KJV)
Daniel 7:24,25 – “a time and times and the dividing of time” (KJV) (literally 3½ times)
Revelation 13:4-7 – “forty and two months” (3½ years) (KJV)
Revelation 12:6 – “a thousand two hundred and three score days” (KJV) (1,260 days or 3½ years)
4D. Beginning of 70 weeks
There are several commandments or decrees in Israel’s history which have been suggested as the terminus a quo (beginning) of the 70 weeks. These are:
The decree of Cyrus, 539 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4).
The decree of Darius, 519 B.C. (Ezra 5:3-7).
The decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:11, 16).
The decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah, 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 17/131ff.
However, the only one that appears to fit the data accurately is number four, the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah.
- D. Wilson, comments on the startling point of the prophecy: “The … decree is referred to in Neh. ii. It was in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. The words of the decree are not given, but its subject matter can easily be determined. Nehemiah hears of the desolate condition of Jerusalem. He is deeply grieved. The King asks the reason. Nehemiah replies, ‘the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire.’ The King bids him make request. He does so promptly, asking an order from the King that ‘I be sent to the city that I may build it.’ And, as we read, he was sent, and he rebuilt Jerusalem.
“This decree then is the ‘commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.’ There is no other decree authorizing the restoration of the city. This decree authorizes the restoration and the book of Nehemiah tells how the work was carried on. The exigencies of their various theories have led men to take some other decree for the terminus a quo of their calculations, but it is not apparent how any could have done so without misgivings. This decree of Neh. ii is the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem; no other decree gives any permission to restore the city. All other decrees refer to the building of the temple and the temple.” 29/141,142
This decree was given in 444 B.C., based on the following:
“… In the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes” (Nehemiah 2:1).
Artaxerxes’ accession was in 465 B.C.
There is no date specified, so according to the Jewish custom, the date is understood as the first day of the month, which would be Nisan 1, 444 B.C.
March 5, 444 B.C. is our corresponding calendar date.
5D. Way-mark of the first seven weeks.
It took 49 years to restore the city (v.25).
The close of Hebrew prophecy and of the Old Testament canon in Malachi is noteworthy, marked 49 years after 444 B.C.
If Daniel is correct, the time from the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Nisan 1, 444 B.C.) to the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem is 483 years (69 x 7), each year equaling the Jewish prophetic year of 360 days (173,880 days).
The terminal event of the 69 weeks is the presentation of Christ Himself to Israel as the Messiah as predicted in Zechariah 9:9. H. Hoehner, who has thoroughly researched this prophecy in Daniel and the corresponding dates, calculates the date of this event:
“Multiplying the sixty-nine weeks by seven years for each week by 360 days gives a total of 173,880 days. The difference between 444 B.C. and A.D. 33 then is 476 solar years. By multiplying 476 by 365.24219879 or by 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.975 seconds [there are 365¼ days in a year], one comes to 173,855 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes, 44 seconds, or 173,855 days. This leaves only 25 days to be accounted for between 444 B.C. and A.D. 33. By adding the 25 days to March 5 (of 444 B.C.), one comes to March 30 (or A.D. 33) which was Nisan 10 in A.D. 33. This is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.” 17/138
6D. Interval between weeks 69 and 70
After the termination of the 69 weeks and before the commencement of the 70th week, two events had to occur.
The ‘cutting of’ of the Messiah (Daniel 9:26).
The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Daniel 9:26).
Wilson discusses this part of the prophecy: “After that, the Roman prince [Titus] sent an army which utterly destroyed the city and temple of Jerusalem.
“That destruction was complete. The temple was not simply polluted, as it was by Antiochus Epiphanes–it was destroyed. It has not been reared in Jerusalem since. The Jewish ritual was ended. It has never been restored, and it never can be. It has had no priesthood since Jerusalem fell; for every son of Aaron was slain. There can be no more priestly sacrifices, nor atonement by high priest; for in that dire disaster, the older covenant passed away. Its vitality and validity had ceased when the Lamb of God was offered upon Calvary; but for forty years the outward shell remained. That shell was removed in the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D.” (Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Historical Evidences For The Christian Faith [Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN 1979], Volume 1, Chapter 9. The Messianic Prophecies Of The Old Testament Fulfilled In Jesus Christ, pp. 172-174)
At the completion of these 490 years, according to v.24b, there will be six results: (1) “to finish or bring transgression [or `the sin of rebellion’] to an end”; (2) “to finish [or `seal up’] sins”; (3) “to make atonement for iniquity”; (4) “to bring in everlasting righteousness”; (5) “to seal up vision and prophecy”; and (6) “to anoint the holy of holies.” By the end of the full 490 years, then, the present sin-cursed world order will come to an end (1 and 2), the price of redemption for sinners will have been paid (3); the kingdom of God will be established on earth, and all the earth will be permanently filled with righteousness, as the waters cover the sea (4); and the Most Holy One (Christ?), or the Most Holy Sanctuary (which seems more probable, since Christ was already anointed by the Holy Spirit at His first advent), will be solemnly anointed and inaugurated for worship in Jerusalem, the religious and political capital of the world during the Millennium (5 and 6).
Daniel 9:25 reads: “And you are to know and understand, from the going forth of the command [or `decree’; lit., `word’– dabar] to restore and [re] build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [nagid] will be [or `there are; the Hebrew omits the verb `to be’ in this case] seven heptads and sixty-two heptads.” This gives us two installments, 49 years and 434 years, for a total of 483 years. Significantly, the seventieth heptad is held in abeyance until v.27. Therefore we are left with a total of 483 between the issuance of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah.
As we examine each of the three decrees issued in regard to Jerusalem by kings subsequent to the time Daniel had this vision (538 B.C., judging from Dan. 9:1), we find that the first was that of Cyrus in 2 Chronicles 36:23: “The LORD, the God of heaven,…has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (NASB). This decree, issued in 538 or 537, pertained only to the rebuilding of the temple, not of the city of Jerusalem. The third decree is to be inferred from the granting of Nehemiah’s request by Artaxerxes I in 446 B.C., as recorded in Nehemiah 2:5-8. His request was “Send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then we read, “so it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time [for my return to his palace]” (NASB). The king also granted him a requisition of timber for the gates and walls of the city.
It should be noted that when Nehemiah first heard from his brother Hanani that the walls of Jerusalem had not already been rebuilt, he was bitterly disappointed and depressed–as if he had previously supposed that they had been rebuilt (Neh. 1:1-4). This strongly suggests that there had already been a previous decree authorizing the rebuilding of those city walls. Such an earlier decree is found in connection with Ezra’s group that returned to Jerusalem in 457, the seventh year of Artaxerxes I. Ezra 7:6 tells us: “This Ezra went up from Babylon,…and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him” (NASB; notice the resemblance to Neh. 2:8, the last sentence). According to the following verse, Ezra was accompanied by a good-sized group of followers, including temple singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and a company of laymen (“some of the sons of Israel”). After arriving at Jerusalem, he busied himself first with the moral and spiritual rebuilding of his people (Ezra 7:10). But he had permission from the king to employ any unused balance of the offering funds for whatever purpose he saw fit (v.18); and he was given authority to appoint magistrates and judges and to enforce the established laws of Israel with confiscation, banishment, or death (v.26). Thus he would appear to have had the authority to set about rebuilding the city walls, for the protection of the temple mount and the religious rights of the Jewish community.
In Ezra 9:9 Ezra makes reference to this authority in his public, penitential prayer: “For we are slaves; yet in our bondage, our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (NASB; italics mine). While this “wall” may have been partly a metaphor for “protection,” it seems to have included the possibility of restoring the mural defenses of Jerusalem itself. Unfortunately, we are given no details as to the years that intervened before 446; but it may be that an abortive attempt was made under Ezra’s leadership to replace the outer wall of the city, only to meet with frustration–perhaps from a lack of self-sacrificing zeal on the part of the Jewish returnees themselves or because of violent opposition from Judah’s heathen neighbors. This would account for Nehemiah’s keen disappointment (as mentioned above) when he heard that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire” (Neh. 1:3, NASB).
If, then, the decree of 457 granted to Ezra himself is taken as the terminus a quo for the commencement of the 69 heptads, or 483 years, we come out to the precise year of the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah (or Christ): 483 minus 457 comes out A.D. to 26. But since a year is gained in passing from 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 (there being no such year as zero), it actually comes out to A.D. 27. It is generally agreed that Christ was crucified in A.D. 30, after a ministry of a little more than three years. This means His baptism and initial ministry must have taken place in A.D. 27–a most remarkable exactitude in the fulfillment of such an ancient prophecy. Only God could have predicted the coming of His Son with such amazing precision; it defies all rationalistic explanation.
Daniel 9:25 goes on to say, “It will again be built with street and moat, even when times are difficult.” It is fair to deduce from this that the actual completion of the reconstruction of the city, both walls and interior appointments of the city, would take up about seven heptads, or forty-nine years. Soon after 400 B.C., then, the walls, the defensive moat, and all the streets and buildings behind those walls had been completely restored.
Daniel 9:26 goes on to foretell the tragic death of the Messiah: “And subsequent to the sixty-two heptads [ensuing upon the earlier installment of forty-nine], the Messiah will be cut off and shall have no one [or `nothing’].” This suggests that the Messiah would be violently put to death, without any faithful followers to protect Him. He would die alone! This refers to the great event that took place on Golgotha in A.D. 30. There are some able scholars who prefer the date 33 but the calendrical data seem to favor the earlier date. At all events, the earlier statement “until Messiah the Prince” in v.25 refers to His first appearance to Israel as the baptized and anointed Redeemer of Israel; it does not refer to the year of His death, since His “cutting off” is not mentioned until v.26.
Daniel 9:26 b then foretells what will happen by way of retribution to the “holy city” that has rejected Jesus and voted to have Him “cut off”: “And the people of the prince who shall come [i.e., Titus, the victorious commander of the Roman troops in A.D. 70] will destroy the holy city, and its end will come with a flood [of disaster], and war is determined down to the [very] end, with devastation.” These vivid terms point to the total destruction that overtook Jerusalem in that fateful year.
Daniel 9:27 reads: “And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one heptad [i.e., seven years], but in the middle of the heptad he will terminate sacrifice and offering.” The subject of “confirm” is indefinite in the Hebrew, for no subject is expressed; but it is easily inferred from the last personal subject mentioned in the previous verse: “the prince who shall come,” that ruler who will establish a covenant or concordat with the Jewish community (“the many”–a term originating in Isa. 53:11-12) is an antitype of the Roman general who destroyed Jerusalem after the termination of the sixty-ninth heptad (i.e., Titus in A.D. 70). That antitype has already appeared back in Daniel 7:25 as the Little Horn of the last days who will persecute “the saints of the Most High” for “a time [Aramaic `iddan], times, and half a time,” i.e., for three and a half years. This same period recurs in Daniel 12:7, where the mighty angel swears to Daniel that “it will be for a time [Heb. mo`ed), times, and a half; and as soon as they finish shattering the power [lit., `hand’] of the holy people, all these things will come to an end”–i.e., that final heptad of years will be over. The data of v.26 indicate that a long but indeterminable interval is intended between A.D. 27 (the end of the sixty-ninth heptad)–after Messiah appears; then the Crucifixion occurs; Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans; and finally there is a period of overwhelming disaster, war, and desolation–and the inception of the final seven years of the last days (v.27), in the midst of which the antitypical prince or supreme dictator covenants with the Jewish people for seven years of religious tolerance, only to revoke his promise after three and a half years.
By the use of proper grammatical exegesis, then, it is possible to make perfect sense of the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 and see a remarkable correspondence with subsequent history up through the sixty-ninth heptad and the events that have ensued between then and now. But the reference to “sacrifice and offering” in 9:26 does seem to presuppose the prior erection of a valid temple and altar on the Temple Mount as a feature at the inception of the final seven years before the Battle of Armageddon and the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth in the millennial rule of Christ on the throne of David. (Gleason L. Archer, Enyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 293-295: http://www.tsbalan.com/books/Difficulties.pdf)
It is quite clear that the time given for the appearance and cutting off of the Messiah coincides with the advent of the Lord Jesus, thereby proving that he alone fulfills the words of this truly supernatural prediction. Moreover, is it a mere coincidence that the city and the temple were destroyed shortly after the death of Jesus, just as Daniel said would happen once the Messiah had been killed?
The prophet Isaiah gives the reason why God decreed that the Messiah would be cut off:
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-12
The reason why the Messiah was going to be violently cut off is because God had ordained that his death would bring about the atonement necessary for the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the nations. Hence, it is the Messiah’s vicarious death which brings about final atonement and everlasting righteousness stated by the prophet Daniel in his amazing prediction.
This brings us to the next part of our discussion https://answeringallah.com/the-time-of-messiahs-advent-pt-2/