Daniel 9:24 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: Seventy weeks [of years, or 490 years] are decreed upon your people and upon your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish and put an end to transgression, to seal up and make full the measure of sin, to purge away and make expiation and reconciliation for sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness (permanent moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) to seal up vision and prophecy and prophet, and to anoint a Holy of Holies. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: 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.
NLT: A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to put down rebellion, to bring an end to sin, to atone for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: Seventy weeks are determined for thy people, and for thy holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in righteousness age-during, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies.
Before we begin these commentary notes on the most profound predictive prophecy in all of Scripture it would be good to first review some basic guidelines for interpretation of prophecy or eschatology (eschatos = last, last things + -ology = study of), the study of last things, especially but not exclusively, the study of the "end times" (because much of prophecy has already been fulfilled). Click the brief Prophecy Primer for an explanation of why one should seek to interpret Daniel 9:24, 25, 26, 27 literally, which is the approach taken by this commentary on Daniel. Note that in one sense all of God's word is prophecy or a speaking forth, but the Prophecy Primer deals specifically with that portion of God's Word which is predictive of future events. Remember that approximately 25% of the Bible was predictive prophecy at the time it was written and about 50% of those prophecies have already been literally fulfilled. You can "stake your life" on the fact that God will fulfill the other 50% without exception.
For background see -
Daniel Commentaries from a literal, usually futuristic perspective
1) Daniel 9:24-27- One of the key Scriptures regarding "end times" prophecy
Daniel 9:24-27 holds the key to all prophetic interpretation and as such is the backbone of biblical prophecy.
Well known pastor and author Ray Pritchard writes that
If you understand what these verses mean, you will have a good framework for understanding all that the Bible says about the future.
Miss this, and Revelation
If you have wondered where certain popular writers get the concept of a future seven-year Tribulation period, you will find the answer in this passage. Jesus refers to it in Mt 24:15 as does Paul in 2Th 2:1, 2, 3, 4. And the amazing events of Rev 6-19 are simply an expansion of Daniel 9:27. What is presented here in a condensed form is greatly expanded in the New Testament. This passage is the key that unlocks many other biblical prophecies. (A Peek into God's Calendar)
Well known pastor Chuck Swindoll says that
the vision of the seventy weeks revealed in Daniel 9:24-27 is undoubtedly "the backbone of Biblical prophecy" concerning Israel, Christ, and the Antichrist. It is also true that fewer predictions in Scripture have been interpreted in as many ways as have the seventy weeks of Daniel.
In regard to the numerous interpretations of Daniel 9:24-27, the reader should keep in mind that fortunately God is not a God of confusion (1Cor 14:33) and thus God's Word has one intended meaning (although prophecy can occasionally have a "double fulfillment") and that meaning is most advantageously assessed by interpreting the passage as literally as possible. The moment one begins to "see" figurative or symbolic language in passages that can otherwise be interpreted literally, is the moment that speculation and imagination began to incubate, eventually giving birth to erroneous, even absurd interpretations. We will not attempt to review the numerous interpretations as in our opinion that would be a profitless exercise in light of the fact that the plain sense of this great passage makes good sense when viewed in the light of historical fulfillment. The fact that much of this prophecy has literally been fulfilled is support for the interpretation that the remaining portion will be literally fulfilled in the future.
John Walvoord, former president of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes that "The interpretation of the revelation given to Daniel concerning the seventy weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) constitutes one of the determining factors in the whole system of prophecy. The attention given to it by all schools of interpretation, and the attacks upon the authenticity of the book itself combine to focus the white light of investigation upon it. The interpretation of this passage inevitably colors all other prophetic views, and a proper understanding of it is the sine qua non of any student of prophecy. (Chapter 5 The Seventieth Week of Daniel) (Bolding added)
Dr Charles Ray notes that "Regardless of one’s theological persuasion, Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most difficult passages to interpret. Challenges arise both in the area of linguistics and in theology, specifically eschatology. Some of the verbs are somewhat obscure, the chronological framework is not particularly easy to establish, and a dash of symbolism is thrown in the mix for good measure. The effort to unravel these four verses is worth it, however. Eschatological details are packed in them like sardines. A proper understanding of this highly scrutinized pericope will make end-time events less confusing. An overview of the passage reveals that Da 9:24 summarizes all four verses, Da 9:25 concerns the 69 “sevens,” and Da 9:27 describes the 70th “seven.” (Ed: Da 9:26 = Time Between 69th and 70th Weeks) (A Study of Daniel 9:24 - 27 - Part I)
2) Daniel 9:24-27 - Outlines the future history of Israel
As will be discussed below, Daniel 9:24-27 lays out in summary form a timetable of the events that will impact Israel. There is no reference whatsoever to "the church" in this passage, although some commentators still imagine some reference to "the church."
a) The Jews could have known the time of the Messiah's arrival (cf Jesus' declaration Lk 19:44).
b) The Jews will be able to know the time of the "Anti-Messiah's" (Antichrist) arrival (cf Mt 24:15, 2Th 2:1, 2, 3, 4).
Dr Harold Hoehner - Daniel had asked about Israel’s imminent return to their land, but instead God gave him the revelation of the seventy weeks which was to assure Daniel that God will fulfill His covenant promises to the nation (See Covenant: Abrahamic versus Mosaic; New Covenant in the Old Testament; Abrahamic vs Old vs New). Gabriel informed Daniel that God would bring Israel back into their land and set up the Messianic Kingdom (Millennial Kingdom). However, Gabriel went on to say that this would not be ultimately fulfilled at the end of the seventy-year captivity in Babylon but at the end of the seventy-week period stated in Da 9:24–27 . (Chronological Aspects of the...Seventy Weeks)
3) Provides clear evidence that the Bible is inspired by God
The accuracy of the prediction of the coming of Messiah, Prince, is indisputable evidence of that the Bible is not a book inspired by man but could only have been inspired by God Who Alone knows the future.
Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote a discourse on the topic, said we could stake the truth of Christianity on that prophecy alone, made five centuries before Christ.
Respected pastor and author Ray Stedman writes that Daniel 9:24-27 is
one of the strongest evidences to prove the divine inspiration of the Bible. Many (believers) are frequently asked why (they) believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and it is helpful to know certain passages which clearly set forth predictive elements that are unmistakable and which do indicate the ability of the Bible to predict events far in the distant future. This could only be by divine power....(Daniel 9:24-27) pinpoints the exact moment in history when the Jewish Messiah would present Himself to the Jewish people, and it does so over five hundred years before the event took place. It is so plain and detailed that it has always been an acute embarrassment to Jewish commentators.
4) Substantiates the truth that God is completely sovereign
The prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 is so compellingly accurate, that it leaves no doubt that God is sovereign and in full control over time and the affairs of men. This grand truth should encourage the saint and frighten the sinner who is not yet saved to consider the claims.
5) Has spurred many (Jews and Gentiles) to consider the claims of the Messiah
Although many of the stories are anecdotal (see below), the truth in Daniel 9:24-27 has caused many who seek to refute these prophecies find that they are confronted with indisputable evidence of the Messiah.
6) Refutes the attempt by many to question the date of writing of Daniel's prophecies
Liberal scholars, both Gentile and Jew, have tried to late-date Daniel in order to remove the onus of predictive prophecy. They say the book was written after the events occurred but in such a way as to appear that it was written beforehand. Daniel 9:24-27 is an irrefutable witness that the prophecy of the Messiah's coming and being cut off is true. Since, no one "late-dates" Daniel to the time of Christ, Daniel 9:24-27 is one clear case of predictive prophecy, which establishes the credibility of everything else. This observation also explains why the critics try so hard to debunk this passage.
Henry Morris adds that Daniel's "prophecy was given...well over half a millennium before its fulfillment. The probability that Daniel could guess the date of the manifestation and crucifixion of the Messiah is essentially zero. Only supernatural inspiration can account for fulfilled prophecies like this. In fact, these events were fulfilled almost two centuries even after the date assigned to Daniel by scholars who deny that such prophecies can valid!" (Defenders Study Bible - excellent resource from a conservative, literal viewpoint by one of the world's leading scholars on creationism)
Ray Pritchard writes that Daniel 9:24-27 is "the rock on which naturalistic theories have foundered. For generations liberal scholars have tried to late-date Daniel in order to remove the onus of predictive prophecy. They say the book was written after the events occurred but in such a way as to appear that it was written beforehand. However, no one late-dates the book to the time of Christ. This leaves us with one clear case of predictive prophecy, which establishes the credibility of everything else. No wonder the critics try so hard to debunk this passage." (A Peek into God's Calendar)
This statement applies to Daniel in general also, for no book in the Bible says more about the so called end times than Daniel. Many orthodox and conservative Jews believe the time is ripe for the coming of Messiah. They see Israel's return to her homeland after more than 1,900 years of national dispersion as having great prophetic significance. They believe the May, 1948 rebirth of Israel and waves of immigration (which is the meaning of the Hebrew word aliyah) from all over the world are converging with many other factors to set the stage for the predicted coming of a national Deliverer. They see the coming of this Messiah as being good not only for Israel but for the whole earth. According to the prophet Isaiah, He will cause the nations to
beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Is 2:4-see notes)
A C Gaebelein, a careful scholar who spent much of his life studying and comparing prophetic portions of the Bible wrote that "The prophetic message Gabriel brought from the throne of God to Daniel is perhaps the most important not only in the Book of Daniel, but in the whole Bible. The clear understanding of it is indispensable to every reader of God's Word, who wants to know God's purposes concerning the future. In the few verses which contain the words of Gabriel, events relating to Jewish future history are predicted. The return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, the rebuilding of the city in time of distress, the coming of Christ in humiliation, his death, the destruction of the temple and the city by the Romans, the desolations and wars which were to follow, all this is prewritten in this great prophecy. The final end of the time of the Gentiles, the great eventful week of seven years is revealed in the last verse." (The Prophet Daniel: A Key to the Visions and Prophecies).
To quote from an email received February 4, 2004 from "The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement" (an Orthodox Jewish group based in Jerusalem)
"The Hand of G_d appears again and again in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount...to purify the Temple Mount and immediately rebuild the house of G_d as the climax of the exciting redemptional times in which we are now living in Israel which will open the Eastern Gate for the coming of Mashiach ben David", this latter name of course referring to the expected Messiah. Interestingly, both Jews and Christians share the belief that a period of turmoil and distress will precede the coming of Messiah. The Jewish document called "Talmudic Sages" draws a dark picture of this time. Accordingly, one of these Jewish sages wrote, "Let him [Messiah] come, but let me not see him" (Sanh. 98b).
See Also Related Resource: Prophecy Primer
One of the most respected names in the study of Bible prophecy, Dr. John Walvoord, writes some sage remarks regarding the interpretative difficulties of Daniel 9:24-27:
In the concluding four verses of Daniel 9, one of the most important prophecies of the Old Testament is contained...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.
The Christological camp interprets the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel as culminating in Christ while the non‑Christological camp finds fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in events before or after Christ. (See list of Christological and Non-Christological Interpreters)
The non-Christological group (Ref) attempts to find fulfillment of the Daniel's 70 Weeks in the events leading up to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (see Daniel notes and additional discussion). In 168BC, a pagan altar was constructed on top of the great altar of burnt sacrifices, and a pagan sacrifice was offered under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. This act precipitated the Maccabean revolt which Antiochus attempted unsuccessfully to put down with great cruelty (167-164 B.C.).
Recall that Daniel was written in two languages, Hebrew and Aramaic. From Daniel 2:4b to Da 7:28, the language is Aramaic because the focus is on the Gentile world powers that would interact with Israel, and from Daniel 8:1 onward the focus of the book turns from the future of the Gentile world powers to the future of Israel.
Another interesting observation is that in Daniel 9 Yahweh or Jehovah is used seven times but nowhere else in the entire book! Why would the Spirit inspire the usage in this chapter? Jehovah is God's covenant name and this chapter preeminently emphasizes that He will keep His promise to bring the Jews back to their land, the land He promised in covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Note Abraham's question in Ge 15:7 then God's answer in Ge 15:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and especially Ge 15:18, 19, 20, 21).
Daniel wrote chapter 9 about 538 BC and had lived long enough to have witnessed the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 2 that predicted Babylon would give way to another kingdom the Medo-Persians. It is worth remembering that Daniel would be about 82 years old and yet he is still standing fast as a man of the Word and of prayer. What Daniel discovered as he read Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer 25:11,12 or a letter Jeremiah wrote to the exiles = Jer 29:10) provoked him to prayer, which presents a basic principle that the foundation of prayer is the Word of God.
Jesus taught that
So as we look at the Word of God, we know how to pray. In prayer we align ourselves, our desires, our actions, our petitions, with the Word of God . And we align our lives with the word of God.
It was C H Spurgeon who said
At the time the prophecy recorded in Daniel 9 was given, the Babylonian Empire had fallen to the Medo-Persian Empire. Cyrus (also referred to as Darius) was in power. Although the Jewish exiles were now the captives of the Medo-Persians, Daniel retained his position as prime minister because of his integrity. Daniel received his revelation in the year 538 BC, about 67 years after he had been taken captive.
Keil and Delitzsch commenting on Daniel 9:24 says that...
Resources to Aid Study of Daniel 9:24-27
SEVENTY WEEKS (Lv 25:8; Nu 14:34; Ezek 4:6) Literally this reads 70 sevens or 70 units of seven. (Click discussion of why the number 70 and its relationship to Sabbath rests). The NIV ("seventy 'sevens' are decreed") is actually more literal than and therefore easier to understand than the KJV and NAS which translate "seven" as "weeks" which naturally congers up the thought of a "week of days". In fairness to the NAS, the 95 version does have a marginal note that says "Or units of seven, and so throughout the chapter".
In Daniel 9:24 Gabriel gives Daniel a general summary of what will be accomplished during the seventy weeks.
Seventy (shibim) is used 91x in 90v in the NAS - Ge 4:24; 5:12, 31; 11:26; 12:4; 25:7; 46:27; 50:3; Exod 1:5; 15:27; 24:1, 9; 38:25, 28f; Num 1:27, 29; 2:4; 3:43, 46; 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79, 85; 11:16, 24f; 26:22; 31:32f, 37f; 33:9; Dt 10:22; Jdg 1:7; 8:14, 30; 9:2, 4f, 18, 24, 56; 12:14; 1 Sam 6:19; 2 Sam 24:15; 1 Kgs 5:15; 2Kgs 10:1, 6f; 1Chr 21:5, 14; 2 Chr 2:2, 18; 29:32; 36:21; Ezra 2:3ff, 36, 40; 8:7, 14, 35; Neh 7:9, 39, 43; 11:19; Esth 9:16; Ps 90:10; Isa 23:15, 17; Jer 25:11,12; Jer 29:10; Ezek 8:11; 41:12; Da 9:2, 24; Zech 1:12; 7:5. Shibim is translated seventy some 53 times.
Seventy is used to describe the number of years Judah was to be in exile in Babylon (2Chr 36:21, Jer 25:11,12; Jer 29:10, Da 9:2)
Weeks (07620) (shabuwa', sabua' or shabua') is found 6x in the four verses of Da 9:24-27. In simple terms shabua' means a "unit of seven" and could refer to seven of anything. It is simply a numerical measure. Our English equivalent is "heptad" which means "a group of seven". Daniel as well as all of the Jews would have been quite familiar with the concept of "sevens of years" from the Mosaic law stipulating that ever seventh year was to be a sabbatical or rest year for the land during which time they were to plant no crops (Lev 25:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The reason Daniel was praying in fact was because he had read in Jeremiah that Judah was in exile so that the land would be allowed to keep its sabbath rests (for 490 years they had failed to keep every seventh year as a sabbath!) (cf 2Chr 36:21). The only other type of weeks or sevens mentioned in Scripture are sevens of days (Sabbath rest each week). As Miller says "The burden of proof rests squarely upon anyone who would take the sevens in any other sense (other than days or years)." (New American Commentary: Daniel).
Miller also counters the interpretation that seeks to try to interpret these numbers symbolically noting...
those who contend that the sevens are symbolic must account for the fact that specific numbers are used and for division of the seventy sevens into units of seven, sixty-two, and one. Why would such definite numbers be employed to represent periods of indefinite length? (Ibid).
Shabua' - 20x in 17v in NAS - Ge 29:27, 28; Ex 34:22; Lv 12:5; Nu 28:26; Dt. 16:9, 10, 16; 2Chr. 8:13; Je 5:24; Ezek 45:21; Da 9:24, 25, 26, 27; 10:2, 3
Related Resource: John Whitcomb's analysis of the Hebrew word "weeks" - Daniel's Great Seventy-Weeks Prophecy An Exegetical Insight
The Theological Wordbook adds that in all 20 OT uses of shabua' indicates
a period of seven. Indeed, the word obviously comes to us from sheba' and could literally be translated always as "seven-period." (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Three times in the OT, shabua' is modified by the Hebrew word for days, with the "seven days" referring to a literal week (Ezek 45:21, Da 10:2, 3), 6 times in Daniel 9:24, 25, 26, 27 shabua' is used as a unit of seven without an added unit of time and 11 times it is used to mean a literal week of seven days (Ge 29:27,28, Lev 12:5) with 8 of 11 uses referring to the Jewish Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Ex 34:22, Nu 28:26, Dt 16:9 [x2], Dt 16:10, 16, 2Chr 8:13, Jer 5:24). Note for example Leviticus 12:5 which describes the length of time a mother shall remain unclean declaring
she shall be unclean for two weeks... (literally "two sevens" or "two units of seven")
Comment: Observe that the context most naturally leads to the interpretation as "two units of seven" days. By comparison the Hebrew of Da 9:24, 25, 26, 27 omits the unit of time, because in context the time is most naturally understood as "years".
Assuming a literal interpretation, seventy weeks or units of seven (seventy heptads, units of measure) can be divided as follows...
Daniel 9:24 - a comprehensive picture of the entire prophecy
Daniel 9:25 - the first 69 sevens (483 years)
Daniel 9:26 - the events between the 69th and 70th sevens
Daniel 9:27 - conclusion punctuated by the 70th seven of 7 years.
Note that Daniel’s use of definite numbers such as seventy, seven, sixty-two, and one makes it very difficult to imagine that this passage is to be interpreted symbolically as indefinite periods of time. Remember one of our simple but foundational "rules" in interpreting prophecy is that...
If the plain sense makes good sense ,
To say that the events described in Da 9:24, 25, 26, 27 occurred in 490 days, 490 weeks or 490 months makes no sense ("nonsense") from the context! Even older commentaries see this as only making sense if it is interpreted as years.
For example Gill writes that
It is often said that in interpretation of Scripture, "context is king" and the verses that follow (Da 9:25, 26) that predict the timing of the First Advent of Christ, the Crucifixion of Christ, and the Destruction of Jerusalem demand that the only unit of time that would make sense is years. that the most appropriate unit of time one should use to modify the "seventy units of seven". The rationale for interpreting the unit as years is discussed in more detail elsewhere (click here).
Adam Clarke notes that...
The Jews had Sabbatic years, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years.
BKC adds that...
Also if days were intended one would expect Daniel to have added “of days” after “70 sevens” for in Da 10:2, 3 he wrote literally, “three sevens of days” (Ed: See Young's Literal = "three weeks of days" Da 10:2, 3YLT).
In summary, the context leads one to conclude that Daniel is referring to "seventy sevens" of "years" for a total of 490 years (70 x "7" years = 490 years).
Click for more detailed discussion of why "years" is the most appropriate unit of time regarding the interpretation of the 70 x 7's.
HOW MANY DAYS
The next question is whether the year is 360 days (lunar) or 365 days (solar)?
First, observe the Genesis record regarding the beginning and end of the Flood...
BEGIN = In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. (Genesis 7:11)
END = In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)
Thus we can conclude the flood lasted 5 months. Now compare Moses record of this time period...
The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:24 )
and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. (Genesis 8:3)
Thus the flood lasted for 150 days or 5 months, which yields 30 days/month.
Now compare Daniel 7:25 which records the little horn's power will last for "time, times and half a time" which equates with three and one-half. And comparing with Revelation 13:5 we note the Little Horn or Antichrist is granted authority for 42 months or 3.5 years. Thus "time, times and half a time" equates with 3.5 years. When we compare Daniel 7:25 with Revelation 12:6 and Revelation 12:14, we note that "time, times and half a time" equates with 1260 days which equates with 30 days/month for the 3.5 year period. In sum, examination of the Scripture reveals that from Genesis to Revelation the Biblical month is thirty day. Therefore, the time period indicated by the seventy sevens is a period of 490 years of 360 days each.
Although many if not most of the older commentaries are woefully inadequate when it comes to the interpretation of prophecy (primarily because they have fallen into the "abyss" of replacing Israel with the Church in their interpretation of Old Testament prophecies - see Israel of God), there are a few relatively good older commentaries, and one is by Jamieson-Fausset-Brown which was published in 1871. It is refreshing to read their clear and cogent literal interpretation of Daniel 9:24...
Seventy weeks -- namely, of years; literally, "Seventy sevens"; seventy heptads or hebdomads; four hundred ninety years; expressed in a form of "concealed definiteness" [Hengstenberg], a usual way with the prophets.
The Babylonian captivity is a turning point in the history of the kingdom of God. It terminated the free Old Testament theocracy. Up to that time Israel, though oppressed at times, was; as a rule, free.
From the Babylonian captivity the theocracy never recovered its full freedom down to its entire suspension by Rome; and this period of Israel's subjection to the Gentiles is to continue till the millennium (Re 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) (Ed: "The Times of the Gentiles" Lk 21:24), when Israel shall be restored as head of the New Testament theocracy, which will embrace the whole earth. The free theocracy ceased in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, and the fourth of Jehoiakim; the year of the world 3338, the point at which the seventy years of the captivity. begin. Heretofore Israel had a right, if subjugated by a foreign king, to shake off the yoke (Jdg 4:1-5:31 2Ki 18:7) as an unlawful one, at the first opportunity. But the prophets (Jer 27:9, 10, 11) declared it to be God's will that they should submit to Babylon. Hence every effort of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah to rebel was vain. The period of the world times, and of Israel's depression, from the Babylonian captivity to the millennium, though abounding more in afflictions (for example, the two destructions of Jerusalem, Antiochus' persecution, and those which Christians suffered), contains all that was good in the preceding ones, summed up in Christ, but in a way visible only to the eye of faith. Since He came as a Servant, He chose for His appearing the period darkest of all as to His people's temporal state. Always fresh persecutors have been rising, whose end is destruction, and so it shall be with the last enemy, Antichrist. As the Davidic epoch is the point of the covenant-people's highest glory, so the captivity is that of their lowest humiliation. Accordingly, the people's sufferings are reflected in the picture of the suffering Messiah. He is no longer represented as the theocratic King, the Antitype of David, but as the Servant of God and Son of man; at the same time the cross being the way to glory (compare Da 9:1-27 with Da 2:34, 35, 44 Da 12:7). In the second and seventh chapters (of Daniel), Christ's first coming is not noticed, for Daniel's object was to prophesy to his nation as to the whole period from the destruction to the re-establishment of Israel; but this ninth chapter minutely predicts Christ's first coming... (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible — Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)
HAVE BEEN DECREED - determined (KJV), settled (Berkley), marked out (New English Bible), commanded (TLB), God has set (GNB), weeks have been fixed (BBE), assigned (GWT), God has ordered (NCV)
Decreed (02852) (chathak/hatak) means something determined. This verb is in the perfect mood which expresses a completed action. "God said it, so that settles it" is the idea! The Hebrew root word basically means to "cut or divide", "to cut off" and hence to decree or determine.
Our English word decree means to give an order usually with the force of law. The 1828 Webster (speaking of the noun form) writes that a decree is a "predetermined purpose of God; the purpose or determination of an immutable Being, Whose plan of operations is, like Himself, unchangeable."
The picture conveyed by chathak/hatak is of a settled decree by the LORD or Jehovah (Jehovah is always identified by LORD in all caps in the NAS = which distinguishes it from "Lord" = Adonai), the name Jehovah emphasizing that He is the covenant keeping God. In fact, in Daniel God's covenant name, Jehovah, is used only in Daniel 9 (Da 9:2, 9:4, 9:10, 9:13, 9:14, 9:20). This passage speaking of what God determines will come to pass emphasizes that He is sovereign and in complete control of the history of His Chosen People (history is "His-story"!). The Sovereign One has marked out, ordained or predetermined a 490 year period that directly impacts the nation of Israel (and He does so without violating Israel's free will which reminds us of God's attribute = Incomprehensible)! Stated another way, it is as if God has "cut off" a 490 year segment of time and assigned it as the time during which He will bring about the deliverance and restoration of His people, Israel, and His holy city, Jerusalem. What God prophesies, He fulfills and thus His plan will be completed in each of the 6 specific predictions in this verse (cp Is 43:13, 44:7, 45:21, 46:10).
The Hebrew verb chathak/hatak is translated in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) with the Greek verb suntemno that means to cut short, to put a limit to something, to bring to an end or to accomplish speedily (as in Ro 9:28). Figuratively, suntemno means to decide, determine, decree (cp the Eternal God's perspective on time - Ps 90:4-note).
Gill also observes that the Hebrew verb chathak/hatak is especially apropos for
Jamieson adds that the meaning is...
Ray observes that...
FOR YOUR PEOPLE AND YOUR HOLY CITY
Notice that just before Gabriel interrupted Daniel's prayer he had specifically cried out...
And so Gabriel brings an answer that is specifically related to your people and your holy city, which leaves little doubt as to the identification of the two recipients of the great prophecy - Israel and Jerusalem, not the church and the "new Jerusalem"!
Your People - Recall that the one announcing this prophecy is the angel Gabriel (4x in Scripture - Da 8:16, 9:21, Lk 1:19, 26) who addresses Daniel, a Jew. It follows the phrase your people refers to the Jews. If one misses (or misinterprets) this important phrase (as for example "the church" or "God's people in general"), the entire prophecy will make absolutely no sense!
Your people - This specific phrase occurs 126x in 119 verses and if one examines the uses in the OT prophets, the context always refers to Israel (See Isa 2:6; 7:17; 10:22; 14:20; 60:21; 63:14; 64:9; Jer 22:2; 27:13; 31:7; 32:21; Ezek 3:11; 13:17; 26:11; 33:2; 37:18; Da 9:15, 16, 19, 24; 10:14; 11:14; 12:1; Hos 4:4; 10:14; Joel 2:17; Mic 7:14; Nah 3:13, 18; Hab 3:13). Note especially that in Daniel 9 the three previous uses of "your people" (Da 9:15, 16, 19) clearly referring to the Jewish People and not to the church.
Unlike the prophecies in Daniel 2 (cp Da 2:44, 45-note) and Daniel 7 (Da 7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7-note) describing the God's plan for the Gentiles (which helps explain why Da 2:4b thru Da 7:28 are written in Aramaic the "lingua franca" or world's common language rather than Hebrew), Daniel 9:24, 25, 26, 27 (and Daniel 10-12) lays out God's specific program for His chosen people, the Jews, and for His holy city, Jerusalem.
It is surprising that some scholars who seem to be generally "conservative" (e.g., Young, Keil, Leupold) interpret your people symbolically (allegorically, spiritually) as a reference to so called "spiritual Israel", the church (which even the New Testament says is not revealed in the Old Testament-- e.g., see Ep 3:1,2, 3-note, Ep 3:4, 5-note, Ep 3:6-note).
Ray comments that...
If you begin the interpretation of what has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, prophecies of all prophecies by misinterpreting to whom it is addressed, you are destined to miss the great jewels of truth that lay hidden to an honest, literal interpretation of this passage. For an excellent synopsis of the use and dangers of allegorical interpretation see Dr Tony Garland's articles (from his verse by verse study of the Revelation - which I highly recommend = A Testimony of Jesus Christ)...
Your holy city - In context this is clearly a reference to the holy city of Jerusalem (cf references to holy city - Neh 11:1; 11:18; Is 48:2; Isa 52:1; Da 9:24; Mt 4:5; 27:53).
Related Resource: God's Plan For Jerusalem: A Timeline
Daniel prayed specifically for the holy city and God answered specifically (a good principle whenever we pray - be specific - e.g., not just "Lord bless the missionaries")...
Similar to their incorrect allegorical interpretation of your people, the same group of commentators (e.g., Young, Keil, Leupold) interpret your holy city as a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem (cp Re 21:2-note) despite the fact that there is nothing stated in the immediate context which supports such an imaginative interpretation! This is why the wise Bible student holds fast to the maxim that context is always king in interpretation. Nowhere is this maxim more important to apply than in the interpretation of Biblical prophecies. As stated earlier, if the plain sense of the passage makes good sense, don't try to make some other sense or it's potentially nonsense!
By the time these 490 years run their course, God will have accomplished all 6 predictions, and in fact all will be literally realized by Israel at the Second Coming of Messiah (See Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming) when...
At that time the elect (chosen) of Israel (the remnant) will recognize the Messiah and will repent and will turn to Him as their national (and personal) Deliverer, Savior and King. At this time Israel will be restored to the land (a common phrase in the OT which most often refers to the "promised land" - but always check the context) in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham (Ge 15:18 - a promise never completely fulfilled but never revoked). Observe that in a sense the final future restoration of Israel is the answer to Daniel’s prayer.
Walvoord observes that...
Wiersbe points out that...
Note that although the six accomplishments listed in this verse are addressed primarily to Israel, clearly all of humanity will be radically impacted by the fulfillment, some to the eternal praise of the glory of God's grace and some to eternal punishment away from the presence of the Lord (cp Mt 25:41, Mt 7:21-note, Mt 7:22, 23-note, 2Th 1:7, 8, 9, 10)
(1) TO FINISH THE TRANSGRESSION: (Mt 1:21; 1Jn 3:8) "to let wrongdoing be complete" (BBE), Literally "to restrain firmly the transgression "; My paraphrase = "Bring the rebellion by Israel against divine authority to completion", "to consummate transgression"
The idea is to bring the transgression of "Thy people" and "Thy holy city" to a final stopping point during or at the end of the 490 years. Note that even after 70 years in captivity, the Jews had not repented and become obedient to Jehovah and the Mosaic Covenant. Furthermore,
MacArthur writes that this phrase...
S Lewis Johnson has an interesting interpretation of this infinitive...
Jamieson adds that...
Israel's rebellion as a nation will be finally restrained at the Second Coming of the Messiah when a remnant will turn to Him in faith and the nation’s transgression and sins will be forgiven (see more detail in the related discussion below by Lehman Strauss). And so the post-exilic prophet Zechariah records God's promise that when the Messiah returns after the decreed 490 years...
Finish (03615) (kalah') conveys the basic meaning of bringing a process to completion or consummation (eg, creation Ge 2:1, 2, high priest's atoning for the holy place Lev 16:20, referring to the spring harvest Ru 2:21, 23, Solomon finishing the Temple 1Ki 6;14, to fulfill the word of Jehovah - 2Chr 36:22). The Septuagint (LXX) uses the verb sunteleo which means to complete something that has been in process, to finish it, to bring it to an end. In context the idea is that the transgression of Israel and Judah will come to an end when Messiah, their Deliverer, returns and saves all (the 1/3 of Israel who is alive and who believes in Messiah at His Second Coming, cf Zech 13:8,9).
Moses' illustrates the meaning of kalah' describing the ending of the flood when
For completeness, it should be noted that there are two Hebrew verbs which are used to translate the phrase finish (click explanation).
Transgression (06588) (pesha' - word study') means to rebel, revolt or to rise up in clear defiance to authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship (civil or religious) between two parties. Pesha' speaks of willful sins. And so the first item in God's program is to bring Israel's rebellion against Him to an end.
Vine says that pesha' basically "signifies willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living.
Mounce adds that pesha'...
Transgression (pesha' - word study) in the present context speaks of a definite rebellion against (divine) authority and was the same Hebrew word used by Daniel in chapter 8 to describe the actions of the apostate Jews in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes (see pesha' = transgression in Da 8:12, 13-note where "host" refers to Jews, not stars or angels). Furthermore, the grammatical construction used here in Daniel 9:24 suggests that a specific transgression was intended (see note by Strauss below) and this seems to be a reference to the rebellion by Israel specifically against God and His Word.
Isaiah uses pesha' twice in his description of the Messiah in chapter 53 declaring that...
Showers adds that
Lehman Strauss goes to some length to emphasize (correctly) that this first (actually all) of the six summary purposes for the Seventy Sevens is specifically directed toward Israel ("your people" - which of course does negate the application of this truth to Gentiles) noting that...
John Walvoord adds that
Gleason Archer comments that finish the transgression...
To reiterate, the main idea of finish transgression as discussed is that Israel's transgression against God will end at the Second Coming of Christ and only those Jews (and Gentiles) who are genuine believers in the Messiah will enter into the Messianic Kingdom on earth. Note that although peace and righteousness will be the order in the Christ's Millennial Kingdom, at the end of this 1000 years there will be a brief time of final rebellion which John describes in Revelation 20...
To reiterate, note that the first three "infinitives" in Daniel 9:24 deal with sin of Israel. (transgression, sin, iniquity).
MacArthur feels that to make an end of sin means to judge sin with finality as described in Hebrews 9:26-note where Jesus "has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself".
Make an end (08552) (tamam) basically means to restrict the flow or movement of (see this sense illustrated in Ge 8:2) or to interrupt what is in progress or would naturally be in progress (in this case Israel's committing of individual "sins"). The basic meaning of tamam speaks of completeness, of being complete or finished, with nothing else expected or intended. The idea is to bring something to closure (e.g., 1Ki 6:22 = a building project) or to a successful end.
So the idea of to make an end of sin is to bring (Israel's) sins under full restraint (as will occur when all Israel is saved at the end of the Great Tribulation punctuated by the return of the Messiah - Rev 19:11-21-note) Thus only redeemed, regenerate, born again Jewish men and women will enter the Messianic Kingdom (Millennial Kingdom) and although they will not be perfect (they are not yet glorified), because they are all saved, they will demonstrate restraint of sins (cp Ezek 36:26, 27 - the Spirit will give them the power to say "no" to sins).
Daniel uses this same verb in the fifth "infinitive" statement "to seal up (tamam) vision and prophecy."
Tamam - 62v in the OT - Ge. 47:15, 18; Lev. 25:29; 26:20; Num. 14:33, 35; 17:13; 32:13; Deut. 2:14ff; 31:24, 30; 34:8; Jos. 3:16f; 4:1, 10f; 5:6, 8; 8:24; 10:20; 1 Sam. 16:11; 2 Sam. 15:24; 20:18; 22:26; 1 Ki. 6:22; 7:22; 14:10; 2 Ki. 7:13; 22:4; Job 22:3; 31:40; Ps. 9:6; 18:25; 19:13; 64:6; 73:19; 102:27; 104:35; Isa. 16:4; 18:5; 33:1; Jer. 1:3; 6:29; 14:15; 24:10; 27:8; 36:23; 37:21; 44:12, 18, 27; Lam. 3:22; 4:22; Ezek. 22:15; 24:10f; 47:12; Dan. 8:23; 9:24 and is rendered in the NAS as all(1), all gone(1), all spent(2), been completed(1), blameless(1), blossoms(1), boil well(1), came to an end(1), cease(1), come to an end(2), complete(2), completed(1), completely(3), consume(1), consumed(4), count(1), destroyed(6), end(2), ended(3), fail(1), finally perished*(1), finish(1), finished(7), full(1), gone(1), lie(1), make perfect(1), meet an end(4), met an end(1), perished(4), ready(1), run(1), show blameless(2), spent(1), utterly(1).
Note the other 2 uses of tamam by Daniel:
In short, this "infinitival" statement is saying that sins will be controlled during the Millennium and cease completely during the succeeding eternal state in the New Heaven and New Earth. (Re 21:1, 2-note, Re 21:8-note, Re 22:15-note). The Millennium will be characterized by a "sealing up" of sin indicating that among the citizens of the Millennium, sin will be rare and judgment for wrongdoing will be swift and just (see Walvoord's comments below).
Sin (02403) (chattat/chattath - word study) describes a missing of the mark or a falling short of the God's perfect standard of righteousness (see literal use Jdg 20:16 - "miss"). Contrast the previous Hebrew word for transgression (pesha) which signifies willful revolt against the divine standard.
When will God make an end of sin in regard to Israel? The prophet Zechariah refers to the return of Messiah declaring...
Strauss comments that to make an end of sin will take place...
John Walvoord writes that to make an end of sin...
Miller feels that...
Ezekiel records that when Christ returns and inaugurates His New Covenant with Israel, they
At the termination of these 490 years God adds
At that time, the Jews entering the Millennial Kingdom with a "new heart" will have the supernatural "power" to restrain their sins in everyday life. Matthew had prophesied that a virgin named Mary would
J Vernon McGee phrases it this way
Other Translations: to make reconciliation for iniquity (KJV, NKJV), to atone for wickedness (NIV), to cover iniquity (Young's Literal), to make expiation for iniquity (Darby), "To seal up or shut sins in prison"
Make atonement (03722) (kapar - detailed word study = related word  kippur/kippurim gives us "Yom Kippur" or Jewish Day of Atonement) is a verb that has reference to sin and means to cover or make a covering, This clearly points to the Crucifixion of Christ as the event that made atonement for Israel's (and all mankind's) iniquity. While the once and for all time sacrifice of the Lamb of God on Calvary (Jn 1:29) is a past historical event, there will be a time in the future when the believing remnant of Israel will appropriate (by grace through faith - cf Zech 12:10) the finished work of Christ.
Andrew Trotter - That the Bible's central message is atonement, that is, that God has provided a way for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with Him, is everywhere apparent in Scripture. From the first stories in Genesis to the last visions of Revelation, God seeks to reconcile His people to Himself. (See full article on atonement - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary)
William Owen Carver writes that...
Driver adds that kaphar means...
In short, the idea is to cover sin by making a sacrifice.
Keil says the form of the verb indicates that it means "to cover so thoroughly that the sin is obliterated."
Kaphar is used in most of the OT with the theological meaning of to “cover over”, usually with the blood of a sacrifice, and thus covering over sin in order to atone for sin (make reparation, amends or satisfaction for an offense or a crime, by which reconciliation is procured between the offended and offending parties). This symbolism is drawn from the OT sacrificial system in which the blood was sprinkled over the mercy seat in the temple, depicting that the sin of the people was forgiven because it was covered by the blood (cf. Lev 16:15, 16) (See much more detailed study on kapar)
Iniquity (05771) ('avon) expresses the concept of to bend, twist or distort and in this context refers a twisting of the standard or deviation from it. It is behavior that is perverted, and thus indicates that genre of sin which deviates from God’s righteous design. Two times in his great prayer Daniel had used 'avon - (1) Da 9:13 ("yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity" - i.e., they had not repented of their 'avon!) (2) Da 9:16 ("iniquities of our fathers")
On the Day of Atonement In the Old Testament sacrificial system the blood of a sacrificial goat was sprinkled upon the mercy seat overlying the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, symbolically depicting that the sins of the people were atoned for or covered by the blood of the animal. In Leviticus we read that
Moses describing the actions of the Jewish High Priest on the annual
In the New Testament parallel passages we read that Jesus
Paul adds of Christ that
John adds that Jesus
Jesus, Messiah the Prince, made His atonement available for the sin of Israel when He died on the Cross, but the efficacy of His atonement will not actually be realized by Israel as a nation until the individual Jews in Israel personally appropriate God's gracious gift by receiving Jesus as their Messiah, Redeemer and Savior. When will this great event occur?
In Hosea God says...
In Jeremiah we read...
This event will not transpire until the 490 years that have been decreed have run their full course. In the intervening period (the so called "church age") leading up to the termination of the 490 years, Daniel's Seventieth Week, the so-called "Tribulation", individual Jews have received and will continue to receive Jesus as their Great High Priest Who has finished His work of atonement on their behalf. Praise the Lord for the increasing number of Jews who are turning to their Messiah and Redeemer as we draw nearer and nearer to the end of the age punctuated by His glorious return as King. Gentile believers must therefore remember and practice Paul's affirmation...
May God grant that many Jews seek the Way, the Truth and the Life, be drawn to Daniel 9:24-27, have the eyes enlightened and their hearts and mind opened by the Holy Spirit to the truth that their Messiah has come as the perfect sacrificial Lamb (Jn 1:29), once for all time, and may they by grace through faith be saved to the glory of the ever compassionate God Who has prepared His marvelous plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike even before the foundation of the world. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20)
As Ray says...
This divine purpose points to the justice and peace of the new order which will prevail in the Millennium inaugurated by Christ's return, when man (and in context especially applicable to "your people" = Israel) will be put in right (righteousness) relationship with God.
After centuries of apostasy, the redeemed nation of Israel ("all...saved" - Ro 11:25, 26, 27-note) will practice righteousness under the leadership of their Righteous Branch, the Messiah (Jer 23:5, 33:15, Isa 51:6, 7, 8, read Ps 85:13, Ps 96:13, Ps 97:2)
As Seiss says the seventy weeks will
In Isaiah "the Mighty One of Israel" (Is 1:24) offered this same prophetic hope (mercy) to Israel even in the midst of His righteous wrath (Is 1:25)...
To bring in (0935) means literally "to cause to come in" and as Barnes notes "refers to some direct agency by which righteousness would be introduced into the world." There is a sense in which this was accomplished by Christ in His first coming, providing the righteous ground by which God would justify (declare righteous) a believing sinner. The complete fulfillment in regard to Israel however awaits the return of the Righteous One, Who
God promised through His prophet Jeremiah (who promised hope while the nation was yet in a hopeless condition in Babylon) that
The Amplified Bible serves as a "mini" commentary adding that the seventy sevens will...
Righteousness (06664) (tsedeq) is a root which basically connotes conformity to an ethical or moral standard. The idea is of doing what is required according to a standard.
Tsedeq - 112v in the OT - Lev. 19:15, 36; Deut. 1:16; 16:18, 20; 25:15; 33:19; Job 6:29; 8:3, 6; 29:14; 31:6; 35:2; 36:3; Ps. 4:1, 5; 7:8, 17; 9:4, 8; 15:2; 17:1, 15; 18:20, 24; 23:3; 35:24, 27f; 37:6; 40:9; 45:4, 7; 48:10; 50:6; 51:19; 52:3; 58:1; 65:5; 72:2; 85:10f, 13; 89:14; 94:15; 96:13; 97:2, 6; 98:9; 118:19; 119:7, 62, 75, 106, 121, 123, 138, 142, 144, 160, 164, 172; 132:9; Prov. 1:3; 2:9; 8:8, 15f; 12:17; 16:13; 25:5; 31:9; Eccl. 3:16; 5:8; 7:15; Isa. 1:21, 26; 11:4f; 16:5; 26:9f; 32:1; 41:2, 10; 42:6, 21; 45:8, 13, 19; 51:1, 5, 7; 58:2, 8; 59:4; 61:3; 62:1f; 64:5; Jer. 11:20; 22:13; 23:6; 31:23; 33:16; 50:7; Ezek. 3:20; 45:10; Dan. 9:24; Hos. 2:19; 10:12; Zeph. 2:3
Messianic passages in the OT envision righteousness as being applied to the earth at the time of the Second Coming of the Messiah (Millennium).
Jeremiah for example writes
At Messiah's return the "elect" in Israel will believe in the Messiah and will receive His righteousness by faith and will be enabled by virtue of their New Covenant relationship (promised initially to Israel during Babylonian captivity - see Jer 31:31, 32, 33, 34, compare Ezek 36:26, 27 = new heart, etc = to be fulfilled when Israel enters new covenant) to live in a right (righteous) relationship with God, according to His good and acceptable and perfect will. Messiah's return will usher in the promised and long awaited Messianic Kingdom (Millennial Kingdom) which will be characterized by righteousness. Isaiah describing Messiah's reign declared that
Peter writes that
(5) TO SEAL UP VISION AND PROPHECY: (Mt 11:13; Lk 24:25, 26, 27,44,45; Jn 19:28, 29, 30) (Acts 3:22) - to put a seal on a prophet’s vision (GWT), to make the vision and prophecy come true (International Children's Bible), so that the vision and the prophecy will come true (TEV), vision and prophecy may be fulfilled (Darby), to put a seal on a prophet's vision (GWT), to confirm the prophetic vision (NLT)
Walvoord writes that ...
Wiersbe feels that...
John Whitcomb explains that
I agree with the interpretation that this phrase conveys the truth that no more revelation is needed once the Sun (Son) of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings (Mal 4:2).
As Campbell says...
Seal up (02856) (chatham/hatam - word study) means to set a seal on, to close. It indicates the act of affixing an impression to serve as a seal on something, then sealing it up as well. It can mean to stop, hinder, i.e., stop an event as a figurative extension of sealing up a document.
NIDOTT notes that...
Chatham - 24v in the OT - Lev. 15:3; Deut. 32:34; 1 Ki. 21:8; Neh. 9:38; 10:1; Est. 3:12; 8:8, 10; Job 9:7; 14:17; 24:16; 33:16; 37:7; Cant. 4:12; Isa. 8:16; 29:11; Jer. 32:10f, 14, 44; Ezek. 28:12; Dan. 9:24; 12:4, 9
Some have interpreted the phrase (seal up) to suggest that prophecy is to be sealed up and be kept silent through the 490 year period (Keil), but even common sense does not support this interpretation. On the other hand, the legitimate interpretation of this phrase varies somewhat among conservative scholars, in part because there are 2 Hebrew verbs depending on the manuscript one favors. The NASB and KJV translate the manuscript with the Hebrew verb (chatham) for seal up, and can mean to authenticate a document (as when one finishes a letter and stamps it with a personal seal) or to seal it up and make it securely enclosed under the seal. This action therefore seems to have a two fold purpose of authenticating (the prophecy will be shown to be true and will be completely fulfilled) and of bringing prophecy to a close for when the prophecy is fulfilled and Messiah has returned after the 490 years, there will no no longer be needed for vision and prophecy.
Ray adds that...
Vision (02377) (chazown/chazon) means revelation or a communication to others. It refers to a communication from God to be communicated to others (e.g., 1Sa 3:1; 1Ch 17:15; 2Ch 32:32; Ps 89:20; Pr 29:18; Is 1:1; 29:7; Je 14:14; 23:16; La 2:9; Ezek 7:13, 26; 12:22, 23, 24, 27; 13:16; Da 1:17)
Chazown/chazon - 34v in OT - 1Sa 3:1; 1Chr 17:15; 2Chr. 32:32; Ps. 89:19; Pr 29:18; Isa 1:1; 29:7; Je 14:14; 23:16; Lam 2:9; Ezek 7:13, 26; 12:22, 23, 24, 27; 13:16; Da 1:17; 8:1f, 13, 15, 17, 26; 9:21, 24; 10:14; 11:14; Hos. 12:10; Obad. 1:1; Mic 3:6; Nah 1:1; Hab 2:2, 3
Vine writes that...
Prophecy (05030) (nabiy) is the word for one who speaks or proclaims the message of a deity (1Sa 3:20, 1Ki 18:20, La 2:14).
To reiterate the point of this infinitival statement is to make clear that no more revelation is needed once Christ comes back (cf God's final Word was when He spoke in His Son = Heb 1:1, 2-note)
Charles Feinberg adds that the idea is "to giving the seal of confirmation to Daniel and his vision by fulfilling his predictions. In Isaiah 8:16, this phrase meant that the prophecy was complete, and the command was given to bind it up, to roll it up like a scroll and seal it. Again, in Daniel 8:26 the thought was to seal up the prophecy and make a permanent record of it, so that when it is fulfilled the event can be compared to the prophecy to show how completely the one corresponds to the other."
To anoint the most holy place - More literally the Hebrew reads anoint "the holy of holies". As discussed below most interpret this as the Holy Temple which will be rebuilt in the Millennium. It could hardly refer to the eternal state, for there will be no temple (Rev 21:22-note).
Recall Daniel's specific petition...
Anoint (04886) (masah/maschah which is the root verb for mashiach/masiyah the word which is transliterated into English as Messiah, "the anointed One") conveys the basic meaning of to smear something on. The OT uses of anointing included the setting apart for an office (prophet, priest or king) or a function and thus to consecrate.
Mashach - 66v in OT - Ge 31:13; Ex 28:41; 29:2, 7, 36; 30:26, 30; 40:9, 10, 11, 13, 15; Lv 2:4; 6:20; 7:12, 36; 8:10, 11, 12; 16:32; Nu 3:3; 6:15; 7:1, 10, 84, 88; 35:25; Jdg 9:8, 15; 1Sa 9:16; 10:1; 15:1, 17; 16:3, 12f; 2Sa 2:4, 7; 3:39; 5:3, 17; 12:7; 19:10; 1Ki. 1:34, 39, 45; 5:1; 19:15, 16; 2 Ki. 9:3, 6, 12; 11:12; 23:30; 1Chr 11:3; 14:8; 29:22; 2Chr 22:7; 23:11; Ps. 45:7; 89:20; Is 21:5; 61:1; Je 22:14; Da 9:24; Amos 6:6 and is rendered in NAS as anoint(21), anointed(42), anointing(1), oil(1), painting(1), spread(4).
Holy (06944) (qodes/qodesh) is a noun which identifies that which has been consecrated and set aside to be used only for sacred purposes. That which was qodesh was not to be put to common use lest it become profaned and rendered "not holy". Qodesh is used some 468 times in 382 verses in the KJV and is translated as -- holy 262, sanctuary 68, (holy, hallowed,...) things 52, most 44, holiness 30, dedicated 5, hallowed 3, consecrated 1. Notice that 68 times qodesh refers to the Holy Sanctuary.
The word place is in italics in the NAS, indicating (in NAS, KJV, NKJV but the ESV does not use italics to identify words added by the translators) that it has been added by the translators. In other words the original Hebrew text literally reads anoint the holy of holies with no word for "place". The added word place assumes this to be a reference to a place rather than to a person (such as "holy one"). The Septuagint (LXX = Greek translation of the Hebrew) supports the interpretation as referring to a place, translating the Hebrew with the Greek phrase holy of holies, which is interpreted most naturally as a reference to the inner sanctuary of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Elsewhere in the OT, this phrase most holy is used (37 of 39 occurrences - see also comment by Dr Ray below) as a description of a place or an object and not a person, which is further support that the text is referring to anointing of the holy place in the Temple and not to the Holy One, the Messiah.
Ray - Each of the 39 occurrences of qödeš qodäšîm ("most holy") pertains to the Tabernacle, Temple (specifically the Holy of Holies), or the things in the Temple. Those things include the altar (Ex 29:37), holy incense (Ex 30:36), the showbread (Lev 24:9), and even a sin offering (Lev 6:18). A reasonable deduction from that fact is “a most holy” is the Temple. The allusion is not likely to be the Holy of Holies proper because that term almost always has the article with it...In what sense will it be anointed? Probably by the presence of the Messiah (Hag 2:7, 8, 9). In the OT, only God’s Shekinah Glory (see notes) is said to fill the Temple. The Messiah’s presence gives the Temple “a sacredness to that edifice which nothing else did give or could give, and, therefore, as meeting all the proper force of the language used here.” (Barnes) (A Study of Daniel 9:24-27 - Part II)
At the end of the 490 years, the holy of holies in the Temple on Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be anointed once again for God’s service (cf other prophecies of the future Temple - Joel 3:18, Is 60:7, Jer 33:20, 21, 22, Ezek 37:26, 27, 28).
The prophet Ezekiel records that the Temple will be rebuilt and this will occur during the time immediately following the Second Coming of Christ, commonly referred to as the Millennial (1000 year), when Messiah will reign for 1000 years on earth (Ezek 40-48). This 1000 year period is based primarily on the repeated phrase 1000 years (6 times) in Revelation 20. Many who refuse to interpret the Scriptures literally (where that interpretation is quite reasonable), take the 1000 years as symbolic, an interpretation generally referred to as amillennial. It is interesting that many of those who hold this position, also hold the position that God is finished with Israel and that the promises made to Israel in the OT have been "defaulted" to the Church. They base this specious interpretation on a misinterpretation of Galatians 6:16 (see discussion of the phrase Israel of God). Those who assume this non-literal interpretation, not surprisingly have considerable difficulty interpreting the book of the Revelation, which if taken literally, chronicles the final dealing of God with His chosen people Israel. It is little wonder (and very sad) that there are such a plethora of confusing interpretations on the great book of the Revelation.
Ezekiel records that (after the 490 years are completed)
Pfeiffer - Most commentators, even many Amillennialists (those who do note accept a literal 1000 year reign of Messiah on earth) (see related topic: Millennium), to whom this passage is somewhat of an embarrassment, feel that this refers to a renewed Temple, anointed like the Tabernacle of old.... (Pfeiffer, C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody)
Not everyone agrees that holy place precludes the idea of holy person, Mills for example writing that...
Beware that some commentaries put forward the misleading interpretation that the holy place refers to the consecration of the church at the end of the age (Keil). To reiterate, the intended recipient of this prophecy is not the church but "your people", the nation of Israel, a fact which should silence all such spurious spiritualization.
Augustus Seiss, was born into a family that worshipped in the Moravian denomination, and later joined the Lutheran Church in which he became a pastor despite having very minimal formal theological education. His commentary on the book the Revelation, entitled "The Apocalypse" (The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation), is one of the best old commentaries available as he held generally to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. He also published lectures on Daniel in which he offered a somewhat novel interpretation of the phrase "to anoint the most holy"...
Seiss notes that "Everything promised, prophesied or ever to be hoped for Israel is thus summed up in what these seventy sevens are to bring."
Richison sums up this introductory verse writing that...
Whitcomb sums up this section noting that...
Ray comments that first...
Franz Delitzsch observes that
Scofield sums it up writing that...
MacArthur adds that of the 6 purposes for the "seventy weeks"...
In the seventeenth century a very learned Jew published a book in which he set forth the claims of Jesus Christ to be the Jewish Messiah. In the preface to the book he told how he himself had been converted by listening to a debate between a knowledgeable Jew and a Christian convert from Judaism over the meaning of Daniel 9:24-27. The moderator of the debate was a learned rabbi, and as the Christian pressed the claims of this passage home it became so clear that the passage was pointing to Jesus Christ that the rabbi closed the debate with these words
The seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 was originally regarded by the rabbis as one of the most important predictive texts in the Bible. This significance was testified to by the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus
Leopold Cohn (pictured below - Addition notes; Brief Wikipedia article) was born into an Orthodox Jewish community in Berezna, a small town in eastern Hungary in 1862. At age 18 he graduated with high marks from the Talmudic academy and became a rabbi. One of his rituals was to daily repeat the 12th article of the Jewish creed:
Cohn however wondered why Messiah tarried, but was unsettled by the "answers" he able to find. While reading the Talmud (collected writings of rabbis commenting on the Torah or Old Testament), he discovered that other rabbis had also wrestled with this question. But as he continued to study he discovered that the Messiah should have come long ago. This prompted him to study the Hebrew prophets for himself, and as he studied Daniel’s prophecy of the "70 weeks" in Daniel 9:24-27, it became clear that Daniel had predicted the coming of Messiah some 400-500 years after the prophecy was given. But that was 2500 years ago and the rabbis said that Messiah had not yet come. How could he resolve this contradiction? An older rabbi who served as Cohn's mentor advised him to drop the subject altogether or he might lose his rabbinical career because such questions were not to be asked. The rabbi further explained that he could not discuss the matter without losing his own job. He even advised Cohn to go to America where, he said, people knew more about the Messiah. Later, Leopold Cohn recalled this incident and felt that the rabbi knew something about the Messiah, Jesus. And so in 1892 Cohn left Hungary for New York City in search of the truth about the Messiah prompted by his study of Daniel's "Seventy weeks". On one providential day, Cohn happened to pass by a church in the Jewish section of the city and noticed a small sign advertising "Meetings for Jews." It was at that meeting that Cohn met another Jewish man also trained in the Talmud. It was there that Leopold Cohn was given a copy of the New Testament which he read straight though beginning at 11:00 one morning and finishing at 1:00 AM the next day, upon which he concluded that Yeshua (Jesus) was indeed the promised Messiah prophesied in Daniel 9:25, the Messiah who would come and be cut off. Soon thereafter he received Yeshua, Jesus, as his Messiah, Savior and Lord (cp Jn 1:9-12). With his new found faith, he begin to go to his people, the Jews, and in Cohn's words
What followed was sorrow, travail and persecution from other Jews because of his presumed "betrayal" of their orthodox faith. In 1894 Cohn set up a storefront mission in a renovated horse stable in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York for the sole purpose of telling others that the Messiah had come and that his name was Yeshua, Jesus. The first Bible meeting was attended by eight Jewish people. The Lord continued to bless this work, and in the course of his lifetime, Leopold Cohn led over 1,000 people to the Lord. His local mission eventually became the American Board of Missions to the Jews, which was later re-named Chosen People Ministries. Over 50 years later a man named Moishe Rosen left that ministry to form what eventually became Jews for Jesus. This one passage, Daniel 9:24-27, radically changed an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and led to the birthing of ministries that have touched literally thousands of Jewish and Gentile lives around the world.
><> ><> ><>
Donald Campbell former president of Dallas Theological Seminary has an interesting anecdotal story
Two Christians, observing the model of first-century Jerusalem at the Holy Land Hotel in that city, were discussing in particular the future rebuilding of the temple. A stranger stood nearby listening to their conversation and then introduced himself as a New York rabbi. He asked in amazement,
"Do Christians really believe in the rebuilding of a temple in Jerusalem?"
"Haven't you read your prophets, Ezekiel and Daniel? one of the Christians replied.
"No," the rabbi admitted, "because when I was studying to be a rabbi I was told not to read Daniel and was particularly forbidden to compute the prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel, chapter 9!"
The reason for such a prohibition? Because the prophetic books, especially Daniel 9, show that Messiah has already come.
An ancient rabbi said,
"Let the bones of those who reckon the times tremble."
(To which Campbell responds)
Rather may it be said, "let the hearts of those who reckon the times rejoice! For Messiah has come and provided salvation for all who believe. (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society: Discovery House Publishing, 198)
Summary of Evidence
1) Using Context: (see note)
Context is always "king" in regard to accurate interpretation and thus this is the single most important piece of evidence for the "seventy units of sevens" being a reference to "years". From the context of chapter 9, Daniel had been thinking in terms of years (not days, weeks or months) having just read in Jeremiah about the "seventy years" of punishment
in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem (see phrase "seventy years" in Jer 25:11, 12, 29:10), namely, seventy years. (Da 9:2-note)
Here God's answer to Daniel's prayer is in terms of seventy "sevens" of years. (Click here for discussion by Thomas Ice)
The Theological Wordbook of the OT adds that the 6 uses of shabua' in Daniel 9:24-27 all refer to years as
is proven by the context wherein Daniel recognizes that the seventy-year period of captivity is almost over. The land had been fallow for seventy years and thus repaid the Lord the seventy sabbatical years owed to Him for the prior seventy periods of seven years (Da 9:2; Jer 25:12; cf. 2Chr 36:21). Just as Daniel is in prayer concerning this matter, the angel Gabriel appears and informs him that Israel’s restoration will not be complete until she goes through another seventy periods-of-seven, shabua' (Da 9:24-27)! ... Thus here it means years.
In the next two (near) uses of shabua' in Daniel 10:2, 3 both uses are "qualified" with the specific time unit of days. Thus Young's Literal reads "three weeks of days" (Da 10:2, 3YLT). Since the context of Daniel 9:24-27 so clearly supports "years" as the unit of time, if Daniel had intended any other unit of time, surely he would have so specified.
2) Interpreting Literally: (Click note)
This line of evidence obviously overlaps somewhat with (#1) but is still important to emphasize. If Daniel 9:24-27 is interpreted literally, it is impossible to fit the events, specifically the cutting off of the Messiah, into periods of days, weeks or months. It is a historic fact that Messiah was not present in Israel within 490 days (about one and one-third years), 490 weeks (about nine and one-half years) or 490 months (about 41 years) after the decree to rebuild the city (assuming as the most likely date 444/445 BC - see discussion). The literal interpretation of this passage and the historical fulfillment of the first part of the prophecy demands that one interpret the "70 units of seven" in terms of years.
Leviticus 26 helps understand Daniel's "seventy units of sevens" as referring to years. In Lev 26:14, 15, 16, 17 God had issued a general warning to Israel that she would be punished for breaking the Mosaic covenant. Although there were many "lesser" punishments for Israel over the centuries (e.g., see the Book of Judges) the "summa cum laude" (with highest distinction) example of punishment was the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, the Holy Temple and the 70 years of exile in the land of Babylon while the land rested for 70 years to make up the 70 missed Sabbath years (which covered the previous 490 years). In Leviticus 26:18 God added the warning to Israel that "if also after these things, you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." While seven is certainly a symbolic number indicating completeness (Rev 3:1), in this case it may also convey a literal meaning (Observe that the first 10 uses of "seven times" in Leviticus all reflect a literal use of this number, usually sprinkling of blood - Lev 4:6, 17, 8:11, 14:7, 16, 27, 51, 16:14, 19, 25:8, then the next 4 refer to Israel's sin - Lev 26:18, 21, 24, 28! 24x seven refers to a specific unit of time - days! - Lev 8:33, 35; 12:2; 13:4, 21, 26, 31, 50; 14:8, 38; 15:13, 19, 24, 28; 22:27; 23:6, 8, 34, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42). In short, seven times more is almost assuredly meant to be taken literally not figuratively. How long would seven times more be? Seven times seventy years more would be 490 years. God through His messenger Gabriel was explaining to Daniel that although the Jews would return to Jerusalem after the 70 years, the full restoration of the nation would not be realized until 490 more years had passed.
This line of reasoning is also suggested in The Nelson Study Bible where we read that the note that
Leviticus 25:8 speaks of “seven sabbaths of years”; Lev 26:18, 21 (which) implies that Israel’s punishment would be multiplied sevenfold. Therefore, a seventy “week” exile would be expected to last for seven times seventy years. (The Nelson Study Bible : NKJV: T. Nelson Publishers. 1997).
4) Other Prophetic Time Phrases:
In Da 9:27 there is a separate "seven" or "week" during which time a covenant is made and broken in the middle. If one accepts the "seven" as seven years, this would mean that the covenant would be broken at the three and one-half year point, and this description correlates with Jesus' warning in Mt 24:15,21 that when the Jews
see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)...then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.
This midpoint of the last 7 year period then marks a three and one-half year period of great distress for the Jews which Jesus called the great tribulation and correlates with the other descriptions of this same time period ...
one thousand two hundred and sixty days (Rev 12:6-note)
forty two months (Rev 13:5-note)
5) The Law of Moses and Israel's Failure to Keep Past "Sabbath rests":
The following makes several assumptions, so you may find it to be a weaker argument for "years" as the appropriate unit of time. Read it critically and accept it if you will, but if not, do not let it detract from the merits of the other lines of logic, especially the argument from context. Daniel was a man of the Book, and would likely have had access to the "Pentateuch", the first five books of Moses. Daniel as a student of the Scriptures was surely familiar with the law relating to the required rest for the land. For example, notice in his prayer he says
Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse (e.g., see Lev 26:14, 15, 16, 17) has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. "Therefore, the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. (Da 9:11, 12, 14)
Specifically Daniel knew from reading the law of Moses that
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land (of Israel) shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. (Lev 25:3, 4)
In the following chapter (Leviticus 26:1-46) Daniel knew the blessings of obedience but the punishment for breaking the sabbath rest, for God declared
I will scatter among the nations (fulfilled the first time in the exile to Babylon) and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste (which is what happened to Judah, Jerusalem and the Temple). Then the land will enjoy (Hebrew can mean satisfy a debt) its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, (11x in Jeremiah 23x in Ezekiel both prophesying of the Babylonian captivity) while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy (satisfy the debt of) its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it. (Lev 26:33, 34, 35, 35)
How many sabbath rests were to be "paid back"? Seventy years, the time specified in Jeremiah (Jer 25:11, 12, 29:10) and explained in Second Chronicles where we read that
those who had escaped from the sword he (Nebuchadnezzar) carried away to Babylon and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed (satisfy the debt of) its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete. (2Chr 36:20, 21)
The 70 years in captivity was not chosen arbitrarily but was directly related to the number of "Sabbath Years" Israel had not kept. So for how many years had Israel not kept the 70 cycles of "sabbath rests"?
One answer might be 70 years but in fact their disobedience covers seventy cycles of seven years or 490 years. Each year of captivity represented one seven-year cycle. So for a total of 490 years of Israel's approximately 800 year history (to 605BC when the 70 years exile began), the nation had failed to keep the "sabbath rest" for the land! Now look at the diagram below.
As Gabriel revealed Israel's future to Daniel, it would be reasonable for Daniel to conclude that the future prophesy of "seventy units of seven" also referred to years. There would be 490 years before Gods people would experience restoration of their holy city and holy temple and reconciliation with their holy God (See Ro 11:25, 26, 27-note and Zec 13:8, 9)
6) Use in Rabbinic Literature:
Although shabua' (unit of seven) does not refer to years anywhere else in Scripture, shabua' does have this meaning in the Mishnah (Baba Metzia ix. 10; Sanhedrin v1), a collection of rabbinic laws compiled about 200AD.
7) If the prophecy was in days, weeks or months, it would have been of little comfort to Daniel to know that Jerusalem would be destroyed again in a relatively short time (Da 9:26).
Barnes notes that Gabriel...
comes to bring him [Daniel] consolation…But what consolation would it be to be told that the city would indeed be rebuilt, and that it would continue seventy ordinary weeks - that is, a little more than a year, before a new destruction would come upon it? (Notes on the Old Testament)
The four major interpretations of the ‘seventy sevens’:
(1) The seventy sevens are consecutive years and they end at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (about 163 BC). (See related discussion on Antiochus Epiphanes - Da 8:9-note, Da 8:17-note, Da 8:19-note; see also Daniel notes and additional discussion)
(2) Symbolic interpretation of the seventy sevens ending in the first century AD.
(3) Symbolic interpretation that sees the sevens as unspecified eras beginning in 538 BC and ending at Jesus' return at the end of the age.
(4) The literal interpretation which sees the 490 years as occurring in 3 divisions, with a gap between the 69th and 70th week.
For more detailed discussion regarding the first 3 interpretations see Dr. Charles Ray's paper on a Study of Daniel 9:24-27-Part 1
Ray for example has the following note quoting Edward Young who...
claims (p.206), “The burden of proof rests with those who insist that (literal) sevens of years are intended. Of this I am not convinced. If the sevens be regarded merely as a symbolic number, the difficulty disappears.” On the contrary, it is magnified. By not taking the numbers at face value, one can assign any value to them. The burden of proof rests on those who want to impute a special or unusual meaning to a phrase. (Ref)
John Walvoord: Daniel: The key to Prophetic Revelation (online)
Millennium 1 - Early Church drift from literal interpretation of Rev 20
Millennium 2 - Context & events leading up to Millennium
Millennium 3 - How OT describes Millennial Messianic Age