[Home] [Daniel] [India Village Ministries] [Bible Study] [Doctrine] [Music Study]

Daniel 9: Seventy Weeks

Chapter 9 - Introduction

Daniel is again in prayer. Perhaps he has counted the days of his life in exile and compared it to the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning seventy years. In this revelation, the seventy years of captivity is given a subsequent meaning as seventy sevens or 490 years of further events. This is the central chapter in the study of end time events. I suggest that you read the chapter completely before consulting notes. In particular, in verse 9:24 there are six purposes to be accomplished during these seventy sevens. Whether you adopt one or another view of the end times should rest upon whether you think these six purposes have been accomplished in the years since Daniel wrote them, or if they have not and are therefore future. There is strong disagreement on this, and so I request that you think about this verse, and try to come to some idea of what the purposes are and whether they were fulfilled before reading my notes or the commentary. Once you read the commentary or my notes, you will quite possibly be swayed into the opinions of the experts, who disagree with each other. Reading this key verse, and realizing how simple or difficult it's meaning is, will help you to be tolerant of the views of others. We are, after all, responsible to obey Scripture and not the opinions of men.

Chapter 9 - Text and commentary

{9:1} In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans,

DATE: 539 BC

{9:2} in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years.

{9:3} I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and petitions, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

{9:4} I prayed to Yahweh my God, and made confession, and said, Oh, Lord, the great and dreadful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments,

{9:5} we have sinned, and have dealt perversely, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even turning aside from your precepts and from your ordinances;

{9:6} neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

{9:7} Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us confusion of face, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, who are near, and who are far off, through all the countries where you have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against you.

{9:8} Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.

{9:9} To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness; for we have rebelled against him;

{9:10} neither have we obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

{9:11} Yes, all Israel have transgressed your law, even turning aside, that they should not obey your voice: therefore has the curse been poured out on us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God; for we have sinned against him.

{9:12} He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges who judged us, by bringing on us a great evil; for under the whole sky has not been done as has been done on Jerusalem.

{9:13} As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come on us: yet have we not entreated the favor of Yahweh our God, that we should turn from our iniquities, and have discernment in your truth.

{9:14} Therefore has Yahweh watched over the evil, and brought it on us; for Yahweh our God is righteous in all his works which he does, and we have not obeyed his voice.

{9:15} Now, Lord our God, who has brought your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have gotten you renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

{9:16} Lord, according to all your righteousness, let your anger and please let your wrath be turned away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people are become a reproach to all who are round about us.

{9:17} Now therefore, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant, and to his petitions, and cause your face to shine on your sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.

{9:18} My God, turn your ear, and hear; open your eyes, and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name: for we do not present our petitions before you for our righteousness, but for your great mercies' sake.

{9:19} Lord, hear; Lord, forgive; Lord, listen and do; don't defer, for your own sake, my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

{9:20} While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Yahweh my God for the holy mountain of my God;

{9:21} yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening offering.

{9:22} He instructed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to give you wisdom and understanding.

{9:23} At the beginning of your petitions the commandment went forth, and I am come to tell you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.

{9:24} Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.

Concerning the six things to be accomplished, I interpret them as already fulfilled during the first Advent of Christ. Transgression has be finished in the sense that the penalty has been fully paid. Jesus has put an end to sin in the sense that believers no longer need to live in its power. Certainly wickedness has been fully atoned for. Those who see these as still in the future consider that Jesus has made them possible by dying on the cross, but they have not been applied to Israel as a whole, who is still in unbelief. I consider that Jesus has brought in everlasting righteousness for all who believe, Jew and Gentile. Jesus has sealed prophecy in the sense that his sacrifice was the centerpiece of all prophecy. Also, in the few years following his death the canon has been completed, prophecy has ceased. Anointing the most holy may be taken as the baptismal anointing of Jesus, not an anointing of a temple. If so, no further fulfillment of these six item is required and a gap in the 70 sevens (to account for a future fulfillment) is not required on their account.

Purpose of 70 weeks

Historical Pre-Mill

Some Dispensational

finish transgression

Penalty paid at Calvary

Israel's sin will end at 2nd coming of Jesus

put an end to sin

Believers no longer slaves to sin

Israel's sin removed at 2nd coming

atone for wickedness

Full atonement on cross

application of atonement to Israel at 2nd coming

bring in everlasting righteousness

Jesus brought to all believers

Establishment of Millennial Kingdom

seal up vision and prophecy

Cross was center of all prophecy,
and prophecy has ceased

Completely fulfill Israel's covenant
in Millennial Kingdom

anoint the most holy

Baptism of Jesus

Dedicate Millennial Temple

{9:25} Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Anointed One, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times.

Which decree is meant is not known. The pseudo-exact dating from March 5, 444 BC (quoted in some commentators) is obtained by calculating backwards from Psalm Sunday, AD 33, and is not collaborated by any historical evidence (only the year, 444, is known). An elaborate scheme of 'prophetic years' of 360 days each is deliberately worked out to shave seven years from the dating from 444 BC. Interestingly, the 458 date from the decree in Ezra 7:11-26 with normal years brings us to an alternative date of the baptism of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry, but this does not fit the 'dispensational' interpretation, hence prophetic years and the later decree are determined. Historical premillennialists (not dispensationalists) believe the 70 weeks of years were completed in the years following the ministry of Jesus.

Another method has been suggested, that the seven year cycles may refer to the fact that every seventh year the Jews were to keep a Sabbath year, and at the end of every seventh seven year cycle (49 years) were to celebrate another Sabbath year, the year of jubilee. So, 14 sevens occur in one hundred years. Treating a seven like a modern decade, if something happened in 1923 and the second event was in 1945, we might count it as three decades (20s, 30s, 40s) even though it would only be 22 years (three decades would perhaps be 30 years?) This would perhaps allow either event (baptism or Psalm Sunday) to occur at the right time dating from 458 BC. But which event is meant should not be determined only on the basis of unclear or artificially exact timing.

{9:26} After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end of it shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined.

{9:27} He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out on the desolate.

The verse describing the 70th seven may be taken as fulfilled in the life of Jesus and the years immediately following. The He does refer properly to the anointed one. The ruler in this verse is not a subject or object of a sentence, rather the subject is the plural 'people of the ruler'. He is singular, and the antecedent singular subject was the anointed one. The covenant confirmed for seven years may be the New Testament, the New Covenant in Jesus blood. For 3 1/2 years Jesus had a public ministry to Israel. Upon his death, the early church was almost entirely Jewish and did not do significant ministry to the gentiles until after the stoning of Stephen, 3 1/2 years after the death of Christ. Therefore, for seven years the New Testament was confirmed with the Jews before the dispersion of the Christians from Jerusalem changed the focus of the church. Jesus put an end to the validity of sacrifice by his own sacrifice on the cross, there was no longer any valid 'sacrifice for sin' at the temple. The one sacrifice for sin had been made.

The alternate translation 'One who causes desolation will come upon the pinnacle of the temple, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolated city." (NIV Note) distinguishes between the anointed on and the one who will cause desolation (Titus in 70 AD).

This is a drastic difference of interpretation, as summarized below. Even the year of our Lord's death (Time of Anointed Cut Off) in this plan is disputed!

Events of the 70th Seven



Who will confirm the covenant?

Jesus Christ


70th Seven

Jesus Ministry and Following

Future Tribulation

Covenant to be confirmed

Gospel Message

Political Treaty

Sacrifice Ended

By Christ's Sacrifice

By Antichrist Force

Time of Anointed Cut Off

Middle of 70th Seven

Before 70th Seven


Ezra 458 BC

Nehemiah 444 BC

Years of 70 Sevens

Normal Years

Prophetic (360 day) Years

Beginning of 70th Seven

Jesus Anointing (Baptism)

Rapture of the Church

Covenant Confirmed for 7

Seven years of confirmation
3 1/2 by Jesus, 3 1/2 by Disciples

A covenant to last seven years

Covenant endurance

Eternal - never broken

Broken after 3 1/2 years

Also of interest is the frequent assigning of the 10 kings to come to Europe (Rome). The Roman Empire consisted of parts of Europe, the Middle East (absorbed Persia), Africa (Egypt), and Asia Minor (modern Turkey). In the statue of Daniel 2, the first two empires of the statue were not European at all, and were absorbed by the following empires. There is no reason from this text to assume the ten kings are all European powers.

Not only amillenarians, but some Historical Premillenarians consider these events to be fulfilled. The Historical Premillenarians in the life of Christ and immediately following, the Amillenarians wrongly in the current church age. Specifically,

Chapter 9 - Summary

There is considerable disagreement among true Christians as to when the last seven years occur. All agree that at least 69 sevens preceed the first coming of Jesus, which was an amazing prediction of the time of Christ. Perhaps this contributed to the wise men, from the East (possibly Persia), expecting a special King of the Jews to be born. The Historical PreMillenarian and the Amillenarian see this chapter as focusing on the Cross, with 3 1/2 years preceding it and 3 1/2 following it composing the final seven. Some Dispensationalists, while fully acknowledging the importance of the Sacrifice on the Cross as making the purposes possible, apply this only to the Jews and since there are millions of Jews today not acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, look to a future seven year period as the center of this prophecy. The Historical Premillenarian also expects a future tribulation, but does not see the timeline of this chapter as pertaining to it.

Chapter 9 - Questions


Unless otherwise stated, the Bible text is from the World English Bible, and is in the public domain.
BrRon's Bible Commentary (C)Copyright 2010 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved