What are Daniel’s 70 weeks? 

(Given on Hope FM 'Thought for the Day' on Monday 11th February 2010)

The passage known as Daniel’s 70 weeks is found in Daniel 9: 24 – 27.  Verse 24 says, “70 weeks are determined for your people”.  This passage prophesied the exact time that the Messiah of Israel would appear.

In verses 25 – 26, it says “know, therefore, and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, 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 weeks messiah shall be cut off but not for Himself”

This needs explanation.  The word for week is ‘Shabna’ in Hebrew which means only ‘seven’.  Here, referring to time, it could mean seven days or seven years.  In this God uses a double fulfilment, using both days and, separately, years.

Daniel had already found the prophecy of Jeremiah that said that Judal would be in captivity in Babylon for 70 years.  Daniel knew that the end of the captivity was very close. 70 weeks of days would be 70 x 7 days, that is 490 days which would be approximately 1.1/3 years.  Daniel knew that in just over a year Judah’s captivity would come to an end.

However, using 70 x 7 years was concerned with the coming of Messiah.  Two parcels of time are mentioned 7 x 7 = 49 years and 62 x 7 = 434 years, a total of 483 years.  The year in these Old Testament times consisted of 360 days.  To convert it to our years would make the total time 476 years.

The starting point of these 476 years is the decree to restore the city of Jerusalem, which Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed.  This decree was made by Artexerxes in the 20th year of his reign as recorded in Nehemiah 2: 1.  This places the year at 444BC.  The prophecy then declares that 476 years from 44BC would be the time of Messiah the Prince.  This takes us up to 33AD.

The prophecy states that after the 62 weeks Messiah would be cut off, which means “suffer the death penalty”.  It also claims “but not for Himself” which literally means “have nothing”.  He should have had a people and a kingdom but as a nation the Jews, His own people, rejected their Messiah and their King.

The religious leaders of the Jews knew their scriptures and they would have known about Daniel’s 70 weeks.  They could have dated the exact time that Messiah would appear on earth.  Couple that knowledge with the genealogies available in the Temple, they must have known that this particular royal descendant of David, in this particular generation was indeed Messiah.

No wonder there is one more seven year period of Jewish history to still be fulfilled (so far we have only been shown 69 sevens of years) and that is the 7 year period of Jacob’s Trouble as prophesied in Jeremiah 30:1 – 7, which is more commonly known as The Great Tribulation, which will be God’s final act of grace towards the nation of Israel.  It will be a time of great trouble but the people left alive in Israel at the end of that 7 years of greatest judgement on Israel (which the whole world gets caught up in under the one world government of AntiChrist) will finally be saved. National repentance of Israel as Messiah returns at Second Advent to set up His Millennial Kingdom ( 1000 year reign) on earth.