Daniel 9:25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two * weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until [the coming of] the Anointed One, a Prince, shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]; it shall be built again with [city] square and moat, but in troublous times. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
NLT: Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Literal: And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader is seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times.
SO YOU ARE TO KNOW AND DISCERN (Da 9:23; Matthew 13:23; 24:15; Mark 13:14; Acts 8:30)
Know and discern - Gabriel begins with an exhortation to Daniel ("you") and is an extension of the earlier exhortation to "give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision." (Da 9:23, cf Da 9:22)
Know (03045) (perceive, understand, ponder, be prudent) (yada') by observing, reflecting upon and becoming "intimately" acquainted with the important truth and timing of events to follow. Yada was the Hebrew word used to express the experiencing of intimate relations between a man and woman and thus speaks of an intimate, even experiential knowledge. The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates know with ginosko meaning to "know by experience" which also refers to an intimate knowledge that goes beyond the accumulation of facts.
Discern (07919) (have insight or comprehension, be prudent or circumspect, give attention to or ponder) (sakal) is somewhat synonymous with "know" but expresses the idea of knowing the reason for something by looking at it or giving attention to it.
Daniel and his friends had been endowed by God with sakal in Da 1:4 ("showing intelligence") and Da 1:17 ("intelligence").
Sakal implies the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts (for which Daniel 9:24-27 certainly qualifies!) resulting in a wise dealing and use of good practical common sense with the end result that one is successful.
In English the to understand describes the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars. Webster's 1828 dictionary says that understanding is "The faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it, or by which it receives or comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate. The understanding is called also the intellectual faculty. It is the faculty by means of which we obtain a great part of our knowledge."
The TWOT says that sakal...
Discern is translated with the Greek verb suniemi which entails the assembling of individual facts into an organized whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together. The mind grasps concepts and sees the proper relationship between them.
Commenting on Daniel 9:24-27 Matthew Henry writes that
We have here the answer that was immediately sent to Daniel's prayer, and it is a very memorable one, as it contains the most illustrious prediction of Christ and gospel-grace that is extant in all the Old Testament. If John Baptist was the morning-star, this was the day-break to the Sun of righteousness, the Day-spring from on high.
Reginald Showers of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry writes that Daniel 9:24-27 is
"one of the most significant prophecies in all the Old Testament Scriptures" and is also "one of the strongest biblical evidences to the effect that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah." (The Most High God: Commentary on the book of Daniel)
As Walvoord says...
The history of the interpretation of these verses (Da 9:24-27) is confirmation of the fact that this prophecy is difficult and requires spiritual discernment.
One needs to be aware that there are several approaches to the interpretation of Daniel's prophecy, especially the three "stage" that are outlined beginning in Daniel 9:25 - (1) literal interpretation with a gap between the 69th and 70th seven year period (the approach taken by this website), (2) symbolic interpretation (which several variations) and (3) literal interpretation of the seventy weeks as 490 consecutive years (see discussion of this interpretation).
For a comparison of the approaches to interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 see Dr Randall Price's discussion Interpretation of the Seventy Weeks (including the Jewish or rabbinical interpretation).
THAT FROM THE ISSUING OF A DECREE TO RESTORE AND REBUILD JERUSALEM: (Click additional notes) (Ezra 4:24; 6:1-15; 7:1,8,11-26; Nehemiah 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8; 3:1) (2Samuel 15:25; Psalms 71:10)
From the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem - This is the key to the interpretation of this entire passage and obviously the critical determinant is when does the "countdown" begin in history (the so-called "terminus a quo")
The decree (dabar = literally "word", cf use in 2Chr 30:5 = "decree", Est 1:19 = "edict") although made in heaven, would be made manifest on earth which would have been wonderful news to Daniel. The important question is which "decree" marks the commencement of the 490 years? There are 4 possible "candidate" decrees (listed below):
Below are the 4 most frequently mentioned possible candidates for the inception of the Seventy Sevens or 490 years.
As an aside, the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the seventy weeks (Da 9:2) although not considered by most commentators as a candidate for the terminus a quo is held by a few Gentile writers (eg, Edward Young) and also by Jewish apologists, this latter group clearly seeking to remove the possibility of any Christological interpretation in Da 9:24-27. John Walvoord writes that "Young himself admits, however, that this explanation simply does not satisfy the passage as the word of the Lord did not go forth in 586BC when Jerusalem was destroyed. As Young states, “However, it is perfectly clear that in 586BC, no word went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem.” (nor was there any "word" or decree in 605BC the beginning of the times of the Gentiles - Lk 21:24).
(1) 538BC - Decree of Cyrus
(2) 519/520BC - Decree of Darius I (Darius Hystaspes)
(3) 457/458BC - Decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus
Ezra's response to the decree of Artaxerxes was...
(4) 444BC - Artaxerxes
In conclusion, of the four "candidate" decrees, the one which most closely fulfills the specific requirements of Daniel 9:25 is that found in Nehemiah chapter 2 which records that
Dr Harold Hoehner explains that...
Plaza (07339) (rehob) refers to an "open place" which came to mean a public square, city-hub, central part of city where people met and civic activity occurred. Rehob was first used in Genesis 19:2 when the angels told Lot "we shall spend the night in the square". In summary, rehob, describes the broad spaces, generally just inside the city gates where one see the center of city life. The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates rehob with plateia (10x in NT, 9 translated as "street", eg, Mt 6:5, 12:19, Lk 13:26, 14:21, etc) and describes a wide or broad street or way.
Moat (02742) (charuts/harus = a passive participle of charats/harats = to cut) is used only here in the OT and conveys the basic sense of "to cut or sharpen". In Hebrew charuts/harus means to cut in or dig, and in context refers to a
The idea is that a trench or ditch is dug or "cut out" around a city for the purpose of fortification. This same word in Aramaic refers to a trench, in Akkadian to a city moat, and in the Qumran it referred to a “moat of the rampart or bulwark”.
The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates charuts/harus with the Greek word teichos which describes a wall, especially a wall of a city or town which was used to provide strong fortification. Teichos is also used in the rabbinic literature to mean a wall, frequently one designed for defense.
Hoehner notes that...
Some argue that the word for moat is not the same Hebrew word used for wall in Nehemiah 2:8, but they miss the point that both have a similar function and they also disregard the use of the same Greek word teichos in both passages as described in the following comment.
In summary, the evidence is convincing that the starting date for the countdown of the 490 years is found in Nehemiah 2.
Prior to Artaxerxes' decree in 444/445BC, the Temple rebuilding had begun but the city itself was still unprotected. Nehemiah was charged by the king to restore the raised city to its former defensible state, which is the decree that is compatible with the prophetic description in Daniel 9:25.
In regard to the date of Artaxerxes' decree Dr. Harold Hoehner goes through a discussion (too detailed for these notes) and concludes that "Nisan 444 BC (March 5, 444BC) marks the terminus a quo (point of origin) of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24-27" rather than the 445BC date found in many texts. (For detailed discussion see Harold W. Hoehner Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ - Pt 6 - Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and New Testament Chronology - Bibliotheca Sacra 132:525 Jan 1975 - $).
It is interesting that this decree in Nehemiah was also the one favored even as early as the second to third century AD by Africanus, one of the so called "early church fathers".
Dr Charles Ray writes that a 444/445 BC inception point for the seventy sevens is confirmed by the following considerations...
Dr Harold Hoehner sums up his arguments that favor the decree in Neh 2:1-8 in 444/445BC as the starting point for the seventy sevens...
UNTIL MESSIAH THE PRINCE (John 1:41; 4:25) (Da 8:11,25; Isaiah 9:6; 55:4; Micah 5:2; Acts 3:15; 5:31; Revelation 1:5; 19:16)
Other Translations: Messiah the Leader (Young's Literal), the Anointed One, a Prince (Amplified), Christ the Prince (English of Greek Septuagint), the Anointed One, the ruler (NIV), an anointed prince (NRSV), an Anointed Prince (NJB), God's chosen leader (TEV), the appointed leader (NCV), one who is anointed and a leader (NAB), a prince, on whom the holy oil has been put (BBE)
WHEN IS THE
Until - This is an important word which marks a change of time, as it signifies up to the time that, up to the point in time or the event mentioned, up to a stipulated time, in this case the appearance of Messiah the Prince.
Although the opinions are nearly unanimous among evangelical conservative scholars that this phrase is a clear prophetic reference to the first coming of the Messiah, it must be kept in mind (especially if discussing this passage with someone who may not believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture) that there are some who will see the prophecy as fulfilled in the lives of other individuals (click here to see why some Bible versions also do not support the Messianic interpretation).
As will be discussed later several well known Bible commentators such as Edward Young, H C Leupold and C F Keil conclude that the seventy weeks were consecutive, thus postulating that the seventieth week immediately followed the sixty-ninth week. This interpretation however is not compatible with the Biblical and historical evidence as discussed here.
Until (05704) signifies that following 69 seven's or 483 years Messiah the Prince will come and then be cut off.
From Genesis - In the Flood account in Genesis we observe that comparison of Ge 7:11 to Ge 8:4 indicates that the flood lasted 5 months. Genesis 7:24 and Genesis 8:3 specify that this same time period lasted 150 days. Thus by simple calculation, one can determine that there were 30days per month.
From Daniel and Revelation - Comparing Daniel and Revelation we note the following specific time phrases which enumerations -
Now when we carefully compare the events associate with each time phrase, we see that one month equates with 30 days and therefore one year is 360 days. In conclusion, in Genesis, Daniel and Revelation, the Scripture utilizes a 360 day year.
Now, assuming there are 483 literal years (69 sevens) specified in Daniel 9:25, the next question would be how many days are in each year, 360 days (lunar) or 365 days (solar)? If we take the beginning of the "countdown" of the 69 weeks as 444BC and subtract that from 483 years without any adjustments, we would have a time of about 38AD, which is clearly too late for the Messiah's appearance. However, the Biblical evidence supports the use of a 360 day year as explained above and when this is factored into the calculation we can reduce the number of years so that the terminating point is between 32-33BC. This is a very rough calculation, just to make the point that if one begins "counting down" at 444BC, the time is very compatible with the Messiah's appearance in Jerusalem in the last week of His life. See discussion below for more detailed calculations
First, in general terms, all literalists conclude that the 483 years terminates with the appearance of Christ, the Messiah.
Augustus Seiss (who wrote an excellent generally literal commentary on the Revelation in the mid-1800's - The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation) observed that in regard to the interpretation of the phrase until Messiah the Prince...
Second, in regard to the specific event in the life of Messiah, as indicated in the chart below (click countdown) there are two major views as to one which favors the termination as coinciding with the baptism of Christ, while the majority of modern, conservative, evangelical commentators favor the termination as coinciding with the triumphal entry of Messiah into Jerusalem. (Click here for discussion by John MacArthur)
Next, let's address the possibility that the sixty-nine sevens terminate with the baptism of Christ. The strongest argument against this premise is that at Christ's baptism He was not presented to Israel as their Prince or King. Matthew records...
John MacArthur comments that Christ's baptism was not
Taking the degree of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2 as the starting point Sir Robert Anderson (See his calculations in The Coming Prince - 1894) and Dr. Harold Hoehner (Chronological Aspects of...Daniel’s Seventy Weeks - 1975 - fee required to view entire article but gives one year's access to over 27 fully searchable, conservative theological journals) have independently calculated that following the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Neh 2:1-8) until Messiah the Prince, terminates with Christ's presentation as the "King of Israel" on the day traditionally referred to as His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem marking the beginning of "Passion Week".
Messiah (04899) (Mashiyach/Mashiach/Masiyah from the verb mashach which conveys the basic meaning of to smear something on and the anointing serving as act of consecration) is a noun which can function as an adjective. (While you are studying about the timing of the first coming of the Messiah, listen to the timeless masterpiece Handel's Messiah - 1 Intro, 2 All flesh shall see the glory of the Lord; 3 of 6-Unto Us, 4 Surely He hath borne our griefs; 5 My Redeemer liveth; 6- Worthy is the Lamb that was slain)
An "anointed one" would have sacred oil poured on their head, which set them apart as an individual with a special authority and/or function. And so we see that patriarchs, priests (Lev 4:3, 5, 16, 6:22).
Mashiach - 38x in 38v in the NAS - Lev 4:3, 5, 16; 6:22; 1Sa 2:10, 35; 12:3, 5; 16:6; 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2 Sam 1:14, 16, 21; 19:21; 22:51; 23:1; 1 Chr 16:22; 2 Chr 6:42; Ps 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 28:8; 84:9; 89:38, 51; 105:15; 132:10, 17; Isa 45:1; Lam 4:20; Dan 9:25f; Hab 3:13. NAS translates it = Anointed(1), anointed(34), anointed ones(2), Messiah(2).
W E Vine writes that...
Hannah's prayer records the first use of mashiach in the Bible in reference to a king as an anointed one...
Here is the use of mashiach which has led some to misinterpret Da 9:25 as a reference to the Persian King Cyrus and not Yeshua (Jesus)...
Mounce writes that mashiach...
In Psalm 2 mashiach clearly refers to the Messiah, Jesus the Christ...
John is the only NT writer to use the word Messiah...
Prince (05057) (nagiyd) while not the usual Hebrew word for king (melek), is notable in that the first use in Scripture of nagiyd is a reference to Saul, God informing His prophet Samuel that
There are numerous other OT examples where nagiyd is used as a synonym for the one who would rule over Israel as king (David in 1Sa 13:14, 25:30 = "ruler"; Solomon 1Ki 1:35 = "ruler"), so although some argue that the specific Hebrew word for "king" (malak) is not used in this prophecy, nagiyd clearly conveys the same idea as king. It follows that it is reasonable to interpret Daniel 9:25 as a reference to Messiah as King of Israel.
Nagiyd - 45x in 45v - 1Sa 9:16; 10:1; 13:14; 25:30; 2 Sam 5:2; 6:21; 7:8; 1Ki 1:35; 14:7; 16:2; 2Ki 20:5; 1Chr 5:2; 9:11, 20, 26; 11:2; 12:27; 13:1; 17:7; 26:24; 27:4, 16; 28:4; 29:22; 2Chr 6:5; 11:11, 22; 19:11; 28:7; 31:12, 13; 32:21; 35:8; Neh 11:11; Job 29:10; 31:37; Ps 76:12; Pr 8:6; 28:16; Isa 55:4; Jer 20:1; Ezek 28:2; Da 9:25, Da 9:26; Da 11:22
NAS = chief(2), chief officer(3), commander(1), leader(14), noble things(1), nobles(1), officer(3), officers(1), officials(1), Prince(1), prince(5), princes(1), ruler(11).
The Greek translates prince with the Greek hegeomai which speaks of one who leads out and is the same word in Matthew used quoting Micah's prophecy that "out of you (Bethlehem) shall come forth a Ruler (hegeomai), Who will shepherd My people Israel" (Mt 2:6), which is clearly a reference to the Messiah Who came to lead and rule Israel.
In Isaiah we see references to God as King...
As Pfeiffer says there is no doubt that this time refers to
Augustus Seiss offers a more incisive analysis which addresses which "official presentation" of the Messiah would be most compatible with His appearance as Prince ("King"), first asking...
As discussed more detail below (see notes) Sir Robert Anderson (1881) and Dr Harold Hoehner (1976) independently calculated that following the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Neh 2:1-8) until Messiah the Prince there would be an interval of 177,880 days which by their detailed calculations coincided with the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey in perfect fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah, the latter prophesying
We see the fulfillment of Zechariah in Jesus' triumphal entry described in all the gospels but most fully by Luke...
John records a parallel account...
Two observations are significant regarding the Jewish crowd's quotation from Ps 118:26:
(1). The original Psalm (in Hebrew and the Greek) does not have the word king (Hebrew = melek, Greek = basileus) which is used only in Luke's account (but not in Mt 21:9 or Mk 11:9). Mark however does follow the quotation from Ps 118:26 with the "kingly" declaration...
(2) Jesus even when he was admonished to rebuke the crowd for calling Him King, refused to do so, declaring in fact that
What would they cry out? That the King of the Jews had arrived, just as had been precisely prophesied by Daniel 9:24-25, 173,880 days earlier! Only on this day did our Lord offer Himself publicly and officially as Israel's Messiah and this was the day Anderson and Hoehner calculated had been prophesied by in Daniel 9! It is also noteworthy that all four gospels record the inscription above Jesus' head on the cross as the King of the Jews.
Anderson (see The Coming Prince) adds that
C H Spurgeon writes that...
The Lord God appointed a set time for the coming of His Son into the world; nothing was left to chance. Infinite wisdom dictated the hour at which the Messiah should be born, and the moment at which He should be cut off. His advent and His work are the highest point of the purpose of God, the hinge of history, the center of providence, the crowning of the edifice of grace, and therefore peculiar care watched over every detail. Once in the end of the world hath the Son of God appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and this is the event before which all other events must bow. The studious mind will be delighted to search out the reasons why the Messiah came not before, and why He did not tarry till yet later ages. Prophecies declared the date; but long before infallible wisdom had settled it for profoundest reasons. It was well that the Redeemer came: it was well that He came in what Scripture calls the fullness of time, even in these last days.
The reader must be aware of the two ways in which this section of Daniel 9:25 is translated as the translation can significantly impact one's interpretation. See the example below...
Notice that the NAS connects the seven weeks and sixty-two weeks while the ESV places a period after seven weeks and in effect separates this time period from the sixty-two weeks, the significance of which is discussed in more detail in the following section. Below are some common translations which are grouped together based upon how they render these two time phrases.
7 WEEKS AND 62 WEEKS
English Standard Version (ESV) - there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
Revised Standard Version (RSV) - there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) - there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. (Comment: No period but the rendering "and for" leads to the same interpretation as if there were a period.)
The Message - there will be seven sevens. The rebuilding will take sixty-two sevens, including building streets and digging a moat. Those will be rough times.
New American Bible (NAB) - there shall be seven weeks. During sixty-two weeks it shall be rebuilt, With streets and trenches, in time of affliction.
Bible in Basic English (BBE) - will be seven weeks: in sixty-two weeks its building will be complete, with square and earthwork.
Amplified Version - shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]; it shall be built again with [city] square and moat, but in troublous times.
Authorized Standard Version (ASV) - shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.
Darby 1890 - are seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. The street and the moat shall be built again, even in troublous times.
God's Word Translation (GWT) - seven sets of seven time periods and sixty-two sets of seven time periods will pass. Jerusalem will be restored and rebuilt with a city square and a moat during the troubles of those times.
Holman CSB - will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in difficult times.
King James Version - shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
New English Translation (NET) - there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.
New International Version (NIV) - there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) - seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, with squares and ramparts restored and rebuilt, but in a time of trouble.
New King James Version (NKJV) - There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
New Living Translation (NLT) - Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven (Translation note: Hebrew = Seven sevens plus sixty-two sevens)
Septuagint (LXX) - hebdomades hepta kai hebdomades ezekonta duo (Literally reads "seven sevens and sevens sixty two")
Vulgate (Latin) - hebdomades septem, et hebdomades sexaginta duae erunt (Literally reads "seven sevens and sevens sixty two will be")
Young's Literal Translation (YLT) - seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times.
Now let's take a closer look at the popular ESV translation and how this translation might affect one's interpretation of this section...
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
Comment: If one attempts to interpret the ESV literally, the "plain sense" makes no sense ("nonsense"), for then Gabriel is saying it would take 434 years to build the plaza and moat! To get around this one might say that the passages (seven weeks and 62 weeks) are contemporaneous, but there is simply no indication of this as confirmed by the Septuagint, Theodotion, the Syriac, and the Vulgate versions all of which treat these 69 weeks as consecutive! Besides one would still have to conclude that it took several hundred years to finish restoring the city which is not true from history (cf the completion of the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days - Nehemiah 6:15, which Ryrie dates as occurring in Sept 21, 444BC).
The ESV and RSV (click for another discussion of different versions) base their English rendering of this verse on the translation of the original manuscript by a group of Hebrew scholars known as the Masoretes. The Masoretes added an accent (called a "atnach") to the original Hebrew manuscripts, the accent in this case being placed between the two time phrases "seven weeks" and "sixty-two weeks". The ESV and RSV translators felt that this Masoretic accent justified placing a period at the end of "seven weeks" and beginning another sentence to which they added the word "then".
Below is another translation from a Jewish source the stated goal of which is to provide indisputable evidence that Daniel 9:25 does not foretell of the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus)...
Know and understand from the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed prince will be 7 weeks; and 62 weeks will the street be rebuilt and the wall, even troublesome times.
Comment: And here is the accompanying note in this apologetic against a Messianic interpretation of this passage...
"Going forth...until an anointed prince is 7 weeks": A week in Hebrew is a group of seven. Thus, the week is actually seven years. Thus, 49 years after the prophecy of Jeremiah (Ed: This paper postulates this is the inception of the Seventy Sevens)
So as you share Daniel 9:24-27 your Jewish friends and co-workers (you are sharing this truth aren't you?) be aware that many Jewish rabbis reference the Masoretic "accent" as a major line of evidence to refute the fact that Daniel 9:24-27 is referring to the coming Messiah.
Indeed, if we read the ESV literally, we are forced to interpret Daniel 9:25 as a reference to an anointed one, a prince, as coming on the scene after seven weeks (49 years), an interpretation which clearly excludes the interpretation of the anointed one as a reference to the Messiah. And so reliance on the ESV forces one into a non-messianic interpretation of one of several (historically possible) individuals, including King Cyrus (Isa 45:1 = "anointed" one), Zerubbabel or Joshua the post-exilic high priest (priests were anointed). Then these commentators are forced to interpret the second anointed one in Daniel 9:26 as a reference to Onias III, (apparently the same as Oniah) a Jewish high priest (anointed) who was displaced and then killed (cut off) about 171BC) during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned from 175-164BC - 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). The upshot is that the passage has then been emptied of any valid Messianic interpretation! It is not surprising that the liberal, critical school of interpretation follows this line of reasoning and similarly it is not surprising that many in this school even deny that Daniel wrote Daniel! They postulate that Daniel was written some time in between 200-100 BC, after the events had historically taken place. Jesus clearly disagrees, quoting from Daniel the prophet in Mt 24:15.
Arguments against the ESV/RSV rendering...
(1) The Greek translation of the Hebrew (Septuagint or Lxx) is an older manuscript than the Masoretic additions and does not support the translation in the ESV/RSV. The Septuagint or Lxx reads "until Christ the prince there shall be seven weeks, and (the Greek conjunction "kai" = "and" is present in the Greek) sixty-two weeks" (Brenton's English Translation). The Greek reading allows for the interpretation of consecutive time periods which allows a Messianic interpretation.
(2) The ESV/RSV forces a cumbersome translation which reads as if it will take 62 "sevens" or 434 years to rebuild the plaza and moat, which clearly is nonsense!
(3) Regarding the insertion of this accent (atnach) mark by the Masoretes, even Old Testament scholars Keil and Delitzsch remark that
the atnach does not always separate clauses, but frequently also shows only the point of rest within a clause; besides, it first was adopted by the Masoretes, and only shows the interpretation of these men, without at all furnishing any guarantee for its correctness.
(4) The Hebrew Masoretes added their interpretative marks hundreds of years after the original Hebrew manuscript (probably around the 9th or 10th century AD which is hundreds of years after the Greek translation, the Septuagint or Lxx) leading some to suggest that they may have had a possible anti-Christian bias.
Dr. Harold Hoehner adds that...
The athnach was a Massoretic addition of probably around the ninth or tenth century A.D. which "only shows the interpretation of these men, without at all furnishing any guarantee for its correctness." (Keil - Daniel) Second, it is not unusual for the Masoretes to place a major disjunctive mark such as an athnach where normally one would not expect it. Wickes speaks of this when he states:
In cases of specification, we often find the proper logical or syntactical division -- particularly the latter -- neglected, and the main musical pause introduced between the details or particulars given. Distinctness of enunciation, and emphasis (where necessary), were thus secured. The pause was introduced where it seemed likely to be most effective. Thus the logical division is disregarded:...
...Syntactical clauses are treated in the same way, and subject, object, etc. are cut in two -- or members that belong together, separated -- by the dichotomy. (A logical pause may occur in the verse or not.) (William Wickes, A Treatise on the Accentuation of the Twenty-one So-called Prose Books of the Old Testament - Oxford, 1887)
Wickes cites several examples of this phenomenon (Ge 7:13, 25:20, Ex 35:23, Lev 16:2, Isa 49:21; 66:19) but the most relevant passage he cites is Nu 28:19: "And ye shall offer a burn-offering unto Jehovah, two young bullocks and one ram,|[=an athnach] and seven he-lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish." In this verse one sees no logical reason for the athnach there. Third, to place a break between the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks is foreign to the context and makes no sense. (Hengstenberg, III, 123; Young, Daniel, p. 205). This means that it took 434 years to build the plaza and moat, which does not fit historically nor what was intended by Daniel in the context. In conclusion, then, the seven weeks and sixty-two weeks need to be considered cumulative or continuous and not parallel or contemporaneous. (Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ).
Note: Dr. William Barrick explains in his comments on accents in non-poetic books, the disjunctive accent 'athnach marks "’the principal division of the verse—the logical mid-point." (Hebrew Accents)
What a difference a single accent mark makes in the interpretation of this important prophecy! Now are you totally confused? I pray not and in fact as you read this my prayer is that of Paul
Please do not let this discussion shake your confidence in the truth that God's Word is fully inspired and inerrant. If you would like to read a more detailed discussion, click this link for Randall Price's analysis and scroll down the page to section subtitled "Question of the Division of the Seven and Sixty-two Weeks".
Pfeiffer comments that...
Seven weeks - The text does not associate a specific event with the first seven "seven's", (49 years) but the two most frequent events mentioned are (1) the time to completely rebuild Jerusalem or (2) the time at which the Old Testament canon was completed. While I favor the former, one should not be dogmatic.
Some commentators such as M R DeHaan state that...
It is a matter of history that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple and all of the streets, and so forth, took exactly forty-nine years, fulfilling the first division of the seventy weeks of Daniel which was up to the completion of the Temple in the city of Jerusalem. (De Haan, M. R. Daniel the prophet. Originally published: Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan, 1947. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)
Comment: In fact this terminus cannot be historically verified with absolute certainty so we had best avoid dogmatism. In any event the fulfillment pales in comparison to the fulfillments in the following sections!
It will be built again with plaza and moat - See preceding discussion of plaza and moat.
Harry Bultema writes that...
Times (06256) ('eth; Lxx = kairos) refers to a time, such as a season or the proper time. Their efforts to rebuild the city of Jerusalem would be associated with a "season" of trouble as discussed below.
Distress (06695) (tsoq) describes oppression, trouble, i.e., a state of hardship, trouble, and distress brought on by external pressure. For example this word is used in of God "distressing" His people in an attempt to bring them to repentance and salvation, Isaiah recording...
The book of Nehemiah gives ample testimony to the fact that the rebuilding of the city and the wall was associated with vigorous, even vicious opposition. Nehemiah records for example that
While there is not complete agreement, the consensus of conservative evangelical writers is that the historical fulfillment which is most compatible with Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9 is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It was at that time Jesus was presented to the Jewish people as the Messianic Prince/King. Prior to that He had refused any attempts to make Him King. A few commentaries feel Jesus’ baptism was the historical event that marked the fulfillment of this prophecy, but He was not presented as King on that day. And so, the ultimate test of this interpretation is whether Jesus’ triumphal entry occurred 173,880 days after the second decree of Artaxerxes, which is the number of days between Artaxerxes’ decree in Nehemiah 2 and Jesus’ Triumphal entry. This number can be calculated using either a “Biblical Year” or a 365 Day year as follows.
The following calculations are discussed from the viewpoint of the "biblical" year (360 days) and the solar year (365 days). In regard to the solar year ("man's" year), we need to take into consideration that this year is slightly longer then 365, so that the more accurate value is 365.25 days. Now divide the biblical year by the solar year and multiply by the 483 years of Daniel's prophecy...
360/365.25 x 483 = 476.0575 years
476 years matches the number of years that elapsed between Artaxerxes’ decree in 444BC and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in 33AD. Here is the calculation from “God’s” point of view and “Man’s” point of view...
Now let’s take a brief look at how two Biblical scholars, Sir Robert Anderson and Dr Harold Hoehner have independently handled the specific calculations of the prophecy in Daniel 9:25 arriving at very the same conclusion! While we have to cautious in being too dogmatic regarding these specific calculations (because of some question about the exact dates in Jesus’ life), we must not miss the great truth that Jesus’ First Coming was clearly predicted and has been completed fulfilled regardless of whether you accept the Triumphal entry as the fulfillment.
Sir Robert Anderson, assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard (See Robert Anderson Scotland Yard official) and member of the Plymouth Brethren church, in his famous 1881 publication “The Coming Prince” (Chap 8 = "Messiah the Prince"; Chap 10 = Fulfillment of the Prophecy) began the countdown of Daniel’s 70 Weeks on March 14, 445BC (Latin - terminus a quo = literally means “the end from which”) which he identified as the date of Artaxerxes' second decree according to our calendar. Using astronomical calendars and charts (he actually wrote to the leading astronomers of his day for the information), Anderson determined that the culmination of the 173,880 days was April 6, AD32 (Using a 360 day "Prophetic "year), at which time the Messiah made His so-called “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem to inaugurate His last week of life contemporaneous with the celebration of the Passover during which He would accomplish His prophetic work (cf Jn 4:34, 17:4, 19:30-notes on "It is Finished") as the Kinsman-Redeemer and the Passover "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29, 36). The astronomical data helped Anderson determine the timing of the Jewish new moons which in turn was used by the Jews to determine the date of the Passovers.
John MacArthur writes that…
Dr Harold Hoehner professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary using more modern astronomical data confirmed the validity of Anderson’s detailed chronology, although Hoehner arrived at a different beginning point (terminus a quo) for the Seventy Sevens (His book = Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ; Chronological Aspects of Daniel’s 70 Weeks but $). Using the knowledge that many ancient kings, including those of Medo-Persia did not equate their accession year with the first year of their reign, Hoehner concluded that Artaxerxes was not officially identified as king until 464BC which made his 20th year (the date in Neh 2:1) the year 444BC instead of 445BC and that the first of Nisan was on March 30 (according to the new moons of 444BC) not March 5 (Anderson’s terminus a quo).
Using the same adjustments as Anderson, Hoehner multiplied 476 years (years between decree of Artaxerxes and Triumphal entry of the Prince or King in Jerusalem) by 365.24219879 (the decimal equivalent of 365 days, five hours, forty-eight minutes, and forty-four seconds--which accounts for the 1/128 difference between calendar and solar days observed by Anderson) and obtained a product of 173,855.28662404 days (173,855 days, six hours, fifty-two minutes, and forty-four seconds) which is 25 days longer than the 173,880 days calculated by Anderson. But Hoehner was able to adjust that amount by the difference between Anderson’s terminus a quo of March 5 and his date of March 30 which is 25 days which when added to 173, 855 days gives the same number of days as Anderson.
Therefore regardless of the terminus a quo used, both Anderson (in the 1880’s) and Hoehner (in the 1970’s) were able to show the accuracy with which God’s word through Gabriel to Daniel predicted and fulfilled the presentation of Jesus Christ to Israel as Messiah the “King of the Jews” (Mt 27:11, 29, 37) (the terminus ad quem = literally “the end to which)
When Jesus entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey He did so in full awareness of the timing of “the day” of His royal presentation. Prior to this He had declared "My hour has not yet come," (Jn 2:4, 7:3, 4, 5, 6) and dismissed any attempts to make Him King as in John 6:15 where the crowd’s intention was make Him king because He had healed and fed them! Jesus Christ, the perfect God Man knew perfect timing for He knew "the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isa 46:10, cf Isa 45:21). Shortly after John’s description of Jesus’ triumphal entry (Jn 12:12, 13, 14, 15), our Lord finally acknowledged “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12:23, 24, 13:1 cf “cut off” Da 9:25), in perfect fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.
Sir Robert Anderson's work The Coming Prince studied Daniels prophecy of Seventy Weeks applying mathematical precision which showed that the prophecy actually predicted the time of the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Sir Robert Anderson's work, The Coming Prince, which seeks to explain Daniel's prophecy mathematically although not without fault is very convincing.
Pfeiffer comments that...
In view, however, of the present state of NT studies in relation to the chronology of the life of our Lord and especially the date of the crucifixion, commitment to that view is a most risky matter. Anderson’s evidences for the termini a quo and ad quem are still most respectable even if his mathematics is less than absolute demonstrative proof of inspiration. (Pfeiffer, C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody or Logos)
Dr. Harold Hoehner, using a different beginning date (444BC) and ending date (33AD), also arrived at similar conclusion. Thus it appears that the Jews should have known the time of the first advent of their Messiah and as alluded to above, God has used the truth of this incredible prophecy as an "catalyst" to bring about the salvation of a number of Jews. May their tribe be greatly multiplied in Christ. Amen.
Related Resources on the Interpretation of Daniel 9:25 and the 70 Weeks...
Interpretation of 70 Weeks - Randall Price- 3 interpretations - literal, Jewish, non-literal
FOR MESSIAH'S FIRST ADVENT
PREDICTED IN DANIEL 9:25-26
“terminus a quo”
“terminus ad quem”
RESOURCES THAT FAVOR
THE COUNTDOWN ENDS
WITH MESSIAH'S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
INTO JERUSALEM ON "PALM SUNDAY"
Sir Robert Anderson
Entry into Jerusalem
Dr. Harold Hoehner
In his book:
Entry into Jerusalem
Assumes a 360 day year but calculates the start and end dates differently.
RESOURCES THAT FAVOR
THAT THE COUNTDOWN ENDS
WITH MESSIAH'S BAPTISM
AND BEGINNING OF HIS MINISTRY
New Am Com (Miller)
Ezra 7:11, 12, 13
26AD is the one many believe Jesus was baptized
Gleason Archer says that a 360 day year is not found in any other country around Israel but make no reference to it's use in Genesis.
Most Early Church fathers, older orthodox interpreters such as Matthew Henry
|Christ first coming, His death & destruction of Jerusalem|
RESOURCES THAT INTERPRET DANIEL 9:24-27
AS A PROPHECY OF MESSIAH
BUT DO NOT ACCEPT A TIME GAP
BETWEEN THE 69th & 70th WEEKS
E J Young
Keil & Delitzsch
Ezra 1:3, 5:3
2Chr 36:22, 23
These writers in general find great difficulty in interpreting the 70 x 7's and choose to interpret them symbolically and as indicative of indefinite periods of time. Somehow they still manage to conclude that the passage predicts Messiah's first coming
RESOURCES THAT DO NOT INTERPRET DANIEL 9:24-27
AS A PROPHECY OF THE MESSIAH
(represents the liberal, non-messianic interpretation)
Cleansing of Temple in 164BC
Death of Antiochus in 163BC
Although this period of time is far short of 490 years Montgomery declares, “We can meet this objection only by surmising a chronological miscalculation on the part of the writer.”Wrong! The Scriptures are inerrant!
Word Biblical Commentary
"There is no reason to refer it exegetically to the first or second coming of Christ." (J E Goldingay Vol. 30: Word Biblical Commentary, page 260)
Orthodox Jewish Interpretation
Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD
Concludes the period ends with destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. This, of course, also does not give an adequate explanation of the text.
Prophecy Primer - Why interpret Da 9:24-27 literally?
Daniel Commentaries from a literal, usually futuristic perspective
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