Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.
 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
 And after the sixty two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself. (And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.)
 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but [rather, and] in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to the sacrifice and offering. (And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.) (Daniel 9:24-27, NKJV – placing of parentheses is my doing, not the translators’).
I believe this prophecy of Daniel has to be among the most interesting portions of the Bible. Within the past two hundred years, the prophecies of Daniel have certainly produced some of the wildest ideas about “end times”. Yet when properly understood, these prophecies (and particularly this one in Daniel 9) can both provide some of the strongest evidence of the genuineness of prophecy, and at the same time shoot down all of those wild speculations about future-to-us “end times” scenarios.
The background of this prophecy is that the Jewish people had been in captivity to the Babylonians (or Chaldeans) for almost 70 years. Now Cyrus the Persian, in confederacy with the Medes (whose King was Cyrus’ uncle Darius) had conquered the Babylonians/Chaldeans, making his Uncle Darius the King of Babylon. Daniel, in his studying of the prophetic writings – particularly of Jeremiah, but no doubt of Isaiah also – came to the realization that Jeremiah had prophesied that the Jews would be held captive for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10). Understanding that those 70 years were almost complete, Daniel began to pray to God, confessing the transgressions of his people, and asking God to restore the Jews to their own land – particularly the city of Jerusalem – both as an act of mercy and as a fulfillment of His promise through Jeremiah.
The response to Daniel’s prayer was the coming of the angel Gabriel – who, as is apparently usual for angels, appeared as a man. Gabriel revealed that with the ending of the 70 years of captivity there would begin another well defined period of 70 “sevens” of years (the word “weeks” in this prophecy is literally “sevens”) at the end of which time (actually, at the end of 69 of the 70 sevens) the Messiah (“anointed one”) would appear for the people of Israel.
Gabriel told Daniel that this period of 490 years (70×7) would begin with the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem. This command was given by Cyrus 2 years later when Darius died and Cyrus became sole King of the empire of the Medes and Persians. This is specifically stated in 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23 and Ezra 1:1-4.
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel–he is the God who is in Jerusalem.
And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-4, English Standard Version).
In the command Cyrus issued, he stated that the LORD, God of heaven, had commanded him to build a house for Him in Jerusalem. Cyrus knew that God had commanded this because the Jews (perhaps Daniel?) made sure to let him know that God had specifically mentioned Cyrus by name for this purpose in the prophecy of Isaiah (150 to 200 years prior to the time of Cyrus). This prediction and ‘command’ of God can be found in Isaiah 44:26 – 45:7. There Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus would say to Jerusalem “You shall be built”, and to the Temple “Your foundation shall be laid” (44:28); and in verses 3 and 4 of chapter 45 he emphasizes that God is calling Cyrus by name, so long before his time, so that Cyrus may know that the LORD is the God of Israel.
(Yes, I believe that Isaiah is the author of the whole “book” that bears his name. The main reason some people have for thinking that someone else wrote chapters 40-66 is that they just don’t believe predictive prophecy is possible; and especially not such specific predictions. Then arguments from such things as “style” are invented to further justify their denial. But that, of course, assumes that one can determine everything there is to know about the “style” of an author from only one book written by him, and even determine that differences in style in later portions of the book are not possible for an author. That to me smacks of more than a little bit of arrogance; so I’ll stick with the Isaiah authorship, and the reality of the predictions.)
The period of 70 weeks was divided into 3 sections: 7+62+1. During the first 7 weeks (49 years) the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were to be rebuilt – though it was to be a troublesome period for the Jews because of the opposition they would face. The Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell about that period and the difficulties faced by the Jews.
The events of the next 62 weeks are not specified in this passage, but chapter 11 gives a brief overview of that period. The main point is that 62 more weeks (434 years) must pass before the anointed one will appear. There is a problem with the chronology of the period, though. There is a high degree of uncertainty about the length of the period of Medo-Persian rule. The generally accepted chronology is that of a man named Ptolemy, who calculated (more like guesswork as I understand it) that the period lasted 205 years. On this calculation, the 69 weeks (7+62 – 483 years) would bring us to about 53 B.C. Others have calculated, though, that the Persian period lasted as little as 52 years – which would mean the 69 weeks ended about 100 A.D.
If we “split the difference”, though, and assume that both those sets of calculations were off between 70 to 80 years, the calculation would bring us to about 26 A.D. – which is when the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus the Nazarene is believed to have started (with his baptism by John the baptizer).
It was this event that introduced Jesus to the world as the “Christ” (anointed one). Note that John, who is of course known as the forerunner of the Christ, had this to say about Jesus: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me’ ”. (John 1:29, 30). When John baptized Jesus, it is said that God’s Spirit came upon him, which was God “anointing” Jesus for his ministry. He then, having been “filled” with the Spirit, was led by that same Spirit “into the wilderness” to be tested. Afterward Jesus returned into Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” and taught in the synagogues (Luke 4:14, 15). One instance of his teaching at this early stage of his ministry is given in Luke 4:16-27, in his home town. He read the passage from Isaiah 61:1, 2 which says: The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor… and then told his hearers Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. It is also interesting that when John was imprisoned shortly after he had baptized Jesus, Jesus began preaching the gospel of the kingdom, saying The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). That is so interesting, because the prophecy of Daniel in chapter 9 is the only prophecy that specifies a time when the Messiah would appear. That this prophecy of Daniel was important to Jesus is evident in that he specifically mentioned it in the “Olivet Discourse” when he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple which was to be accomplished within that generation: Therefore, when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place… (Matthew 23:15). This was a direct reference to Daniel 9:27 as it appears in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, which literally reads and upon the temple an abomination of the desolations will be. So Jesus began his ministry by saying the time is fulfilled (referring almost certainly to Daniel’s prophecy), and ended his ministry by specifically referring to this prophecy of Daniel as about to be fulfilled in the existing generation.
Therefore, from the time of Cyrus’s commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, 49 years (7 “weeks”) passed during which Jerusalem and its Temple were rebuilt; then another 434 years (62 “weeks”) passed until Jesus was manifested to Israel as the “anointed one” by the baptism of John. Now notice: And after the sixty two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself (Daniel 9:26) and Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; and in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering (verse 27). What comes after the 69th week (7+62)? The 70th week, of course. And it was in fact in the middle of the ‘week’ immediately following his manifestation to Israel as Messiah that he was “cut off” by crucifixion. As the prophet Isaiah expressed it, He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isaiah 53:8). Verse 26 of Daniel 9 can be read cut off, but not for himself as it is in the New King James Version – in which case it would correspond with Isaiah’s statement for the transgression of my people was he stricken (not for his own transgressions, but rather because of the “wicked hands” of the leaders of Israel and the Roman rulers); or it can be rendered cut off, and shall have nothing (no heirs and descendents) – in which case it would correspond with Isaiah’s statement and who will declare his generation?
When it was said, Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, I put the word “for” in italics because there is no such word in the Hebrew or Greek texts. What is actually said is that “one week shall confirm the covenant with many”. That is, after 69 “weeks” have elapsed, the one remaining week will see the confirming of the “new covenant” prophesied by Jeremiah in chapter 31: Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (verses 31-33).
By being cut off…in the middle of the week Jesus the Messiah confirmed that new covenant with many. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). … Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Jesus, by allowing himself to be mistreated and murdered (in obedience to the will of his God and Father), set an example for us – showing us that the way to righteousness and life (the new covenant) was by following him, taking up our own crosses, dying to the world, ungodly ways, sins and transgressions. Then we can “rise” with him in a new way of life where God’s laws are inscribed upon our hearts, and we live righteously in conscious awareness of God. When we “change our minds” and turn from our sins, figuratively “dying” to them with Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness; our sins are “covered” (which is what the word translated “reconciliation” in Daniel 9:24 – to make reconciliation for iniquity – actually means).
There were six things to be accomplished within the 70 weeks, according to Daniel 9:24. The first four I believe refer first of all to a “probationary period” for the Jewish people after they were allowed to return to their own land. They had 70 “weeks” to “finish” (literally “restrain”) their transgressions, “make an end” of (literally “seal up”) their sinful ways, “make reconciliation for” (literally “cover”) their iniquities, and “bring in everlasting righteousness” (find that righteousness that exceeds the outward “old covenant” righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees – Matthew 5:20). In this they (as a whole) failed miserably. Though there was always a faithful “remnant” whose hearts and lives were right with God, for the most part instead of “restraining” their transgressions and “sealing up” their sins, they increased in their unrighteousness until they “filled up the cup” of their sins to overflowing. When Messiah came, both teaching and showing the way of righteousness and godliness, they “cut him off”. The “remnant according to the election of grace” did find the forgiveness of sins and “everlasting righteousness” which the Messiah “brought to light”; but for the rest there was terrible judgment.
The other two things to be accomplished within the 70 weeks were “sealing up” the vision and prophecy, and the “anointing” of the most holy (literally, “holy holy”) one. The anointing of the most holy is fairly obvious: it was the introduction of the “Messiah” by the baptism of John. His ministry, death, and resurrection “sealed up” the vision and prophecy of the Hebrew prophets, bringing them to their intended conclusion. And in fact his ministry accomplished the first four objectives for those who believe in him.
The final judgment on the rebellious nation and its destruction (its city and sanctuary, verse 26) was not listed as one of the things to be accomplished within the period of 70 “weeks”; and it did not in fact happen until about 40 years after Messiah was “cut off”. Then the “people of the Prince” who was to come destroyed the city and sanctuary in a “flood” of desolations and warfare. (It seems to me that the Prince referred to is the same as the Prince – Messiah – mentioned in verse 25. As in the Old Testament the armies who conquered the Israelites were considered God’s armies, fulfilling His will; and as in the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22 it was the king’s armies who came to destroy those who had murdered his servants [verses 6 and 7]; so the armies of Rome who destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple were God’s armies – and consequently the armies of his “vice regent”, Jesus Christ to whom God had given all authority in heaven and earth. However, “the Prince” could also refer to Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, who was the one who completed the overthrow of the Jewish people that Vespasian had begun before he became Emperor).
It was the “cutting off” of God’s anointed one which caused the cessation of the sacrifices and offerings of the “old covenant”. This was both a judgment on the people of Israel because of their rebellion, and at the same time it was due to the fact that Jesus was the true “lamb of God” who fulfilled in himself all that was symbolized in the old covenant rituals. Those who believed in Jesus as God’s anointed one came to realize that just as the people laid their hands on the sacrificial animals before killing them (or sending a lamb off into the wilderness), so the people of Israel and the Romans had laid their wicked hands on their Christ and murdered him. Jesus had, like a lamb, endured their malicious enmity without retaliation, and instead proclaimed forgiveness for everyone who turns from his wickedness and comes to God through him. The symbolism was complete and there was no longer any need for those old covenant rituals; the new covenant had been confirmed.
By the desolations brought by the Roman armies, however, the sacrifices and offerings were fully done away even for those who did not believe in Jesus, the Messiah. What was inherent in the ministry and “cutting off” of the anointed one, became finalized in the destroying armies of Rome.
Everything in Daniel’s prophecy ties in so well with the events in the life of Jesus the anointed. Sixty nine “weeks” elapsed between the decree by Cyrus the Persian to rebuild Jerusalem and Jesus’ ‘anointing’ as God’s representative. Then in the immediately following “week” (the 70th week) he was “cut off” and confirmed the “new covenant” with many – which was the cause of the cessation of the sacrifices and offerings of the old covenant. This prophecy was one of many predicting the murder of the Messiah, giving Jesus grounds for his admonition to some of his disciples after his resurrection: O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and [then] to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:25, 26). The stone had first to be rejected by the builders before it became the chief cornerstone (Mark 12:10, quoting Psalm 118:22).
As a result of the murder of the Messiah, the Prince sent his armies (the Roman armies) to destroy the city and sanctuary in a ‘flood’ of desolation and warfare.
One can only be astonished at the blindness of those who see an “antichrist” in this passage, who sometime still in our future will establish a covenant for 7 years with the earthly and rebellious nation of Israel – only to break the covenant in the middle of that ‘week’ of years and put an end to the sacrifices which supposedly are to be renewed for that brief 3½ year period in our future. It’s not enough for these spiritually blind people that the Roman armies destroyed the Temple back in 70 A.D.; they insist that it must be rebuilt just so it can again be destroyed by the “antichrist”.
They recognize the fulfillment of 69 ‘weeks’ in consecutive order, and then in an amazing leap of silliness invent the idea that the 70th week in the series is disjoined from the other 69 and still awaits fulfillment. It’s so absurd that one would think nobody could believe such a scheme; yet it nevertheless is widely believed in “popular” Christianity. May God deliver us from such nonsense, and lead us to recognize the wonders of His prophetic word and its real fulfillment.