Daniel’s 70 weeks is a pivotal prophecy for both Christian and Jew. By following the prophecy without preconceptions, it actually makes perfect sense I believe. I have established dates based on scripture and generally agreed historical records.
In this study I will attempt to show that we can accurately see the entire fulfilment of Daniel’s 70 weeks between 538 BC and 73 AD.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him
Daniel’s 70 Weeks
The Kingdom of Israel split into two after Solomon, becoming Israel and Judea. However God left the Israelite tribe of Benjamin inside Judea as a light to the tribe of Judah, so it might be more accurate to see the Kingdoms as greater Israel and lesser Israel (Judea). Although both nations were guilty of great apostasy, (the Israelites had been under the influence of apostasy since they day they left Egypt in fact), God thereafter dealt with the two nations entirely differently. God divorced Israel, and sent them into exile amongst the nations. (He however remarried them at the time of Christ). Their exile was completed around 721 BC, when they were deported by the Assyrians. They were not all deported, God left a tiny handful of Israelites in the land, but the overwhelming bulk of the Israelites were deported. We will not really hear of them again until Jesus’ ministry.
The Jews continued to inhabit Judea, until their apostasy became intolerable. God sent prophets to try and straighten them out, until eventually he had to punish them. Jeremiah was the prophet who brought the message of chastisement. Around 608 BC a portion of the Judeans, particularly priests and nobility, were sent into exile in Babylon. 1 The exile lasted 70 years, until 538 BC. During the last year of exile, the prophet Daniel, a Jew, considered one of the most righteous men in all scripture, sought the Lord on the fate of his nation and his countrymen. God sent the Angel Gabriel to let him know that although the phase of punishment in Babylon was over, that being the iron yoke of exile, they were still to be punished some more, under the wooden yoke of foreign rule in their own land. These matters are expressed in Daniel 9, 24-27.
(NKJV) Daniel 9
“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 in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to 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.”
(NRSV) 24 “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.”
I will generally be using the NRSV, (in red), as it makes more sense.
The weeks that Gabriel talks about are equivalent to 7 years, where a day is equivalent to a year, as per Ezekiel 4: 4-6, & Numbers 14: 33-34. So here we see God prescribing a further punishment period for the nation of Judea of 490 years. It is a punishment divided into three portions, of 49 years, 434 years, and 7 years, although there is no indication that these portions are anything other than contiguous; so we see them as all part of one continuous time period of 490 years. The punishment we are told commences from the date of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The decree to restore Jerusalem was first issued by King Cyrus at the same time that he liberated the Jews from their 70 year captivity, which was 538 BC. In this ensuing period of 490 years, God will deal with certain issues he has had with the Jews. He will finish their transgression, put an end to their sin, atone for their iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal vision and prophecy, and anoint a most holy place. We can come back to how he effects all this after we establish the toughest problem, the timeline of events.
Now at this point I need to point out, if you are unfamiliar with Daniel’s 70 weeks, that they are to both Jews and Christians alike a foundational prophecy, and needless to say, there have been innumerable interpretations of these words. Some people say the periods of time are split up, and the last week is yet to be fulfilled, some query the historical calendars on which dating is attempted, others say Daniel’s words aren’t meant literally, and all this and much more has lead to this prophecy being a crucible of divergent opinion. A key issue which causes more problems than any other, is the date of the actual decree to rebuild Jerusalem. There were in fact 4 separate recorded decrees at different times issued by various kings, and this understandably is another cause of a headache, and confusion over which one serves as the starting point. Different camps have different reasons for their differing starting points, and I am not going to get bogged down in adjudicating between the various decrees; let us just follow the events sequentially, in the order laid out by God.
If we take any other starting point other than the first decree of King Cyrus, we are lopping off and discarding a chunk of time for no apparent reason. Logically we would expect the punishment to continue running continuously, rather than jump forward in time, and unless God specified a hiatus, then there seems no valid reason to insert one. As King Cyrus’ decree is issued simultaneous to the 70 year exile in Babylon coming to an end, it is therefore the correct decree for starting the 70 week judgement.
1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared:
2 “Thus says King Cyrus 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 in Judah. 3 Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; 4 and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.”
5 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred—got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Seems logical enough surely, doesn’t it? Cyrus simultaneously closes one chapter, the 70 year exile, and opens another, the 490 years of subjection to foreign rule. There is no reason to believe God would have dislocated Judah’s punishment into the future, so, applying Occam’s razor here – why make this more complicated than it needs to be – this edict seems to be the one we are looking for. Now if we run this 490 year period forward, we will see that it terminates in 48 BC, which is a bit of damp squib for all sorts of reasons, and certainly did not historically mark the end of Judean subjection by foreign rule. But let us continue with the study, and hopefully these problems can be sorted through.
Next we encounter a problem with the restoration of the temple. The Jews started the work, but then the local Samaritans came in and sabotaged progress by writing to King Artaxerxes, (known in Persian as Cambysses), complaining that the Jews were historically an evil, rascally people and bad citizens of empire. Artaxerxes swallowed the bait, and he countermanded the original decree of Cyrus by issuing a cease and desist notice:
Ezra 4: 21 Therefore issue an order that these people be made to cease, and that this city not be rebuilt, until I make a decree…. 24 At that time the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped and was discontinued until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
So the restoration job fell into abeyance, pending a new imperial decree to the contrary.
Time passes, and God, through the prophet Haggai, complains that the Jews have been building themselves nice panelled houses, but neglecting the temple. The matter gets referred back to the new king, Darius, and it turns out that nobody has any recollection of Cyrus’ original decree. Given that the decree was issued 17 years previously and that there were 127 satrapies in the Persian Empire, it is hardly surprising. The court clerks are duly sent scuttling off to the libraries, and nothing is found, until in some obscure provincial archive, the relevant document is unearthed and dusted off. At this point Darius re-issues the original decree.
Ezra 6: 7 let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site………..11 Furthermore I decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of the house of the perpetrator, who then shall be impaled on it. The house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God who has established his name there overthrow any king or people that shall put forth a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”
As Artaxerxes suspended the first decree, this really is a new decree in itself, even though it recapitulates the old one. The difference now though is that Darius serves the decree on behalf of God, along with the death penalty on anyone who obstructs it. To use a sporting metaphor, the original decree had been a false start. It was the correct starting point originally, but as it was violated, a new starting point comes into force. This now becomes I believe the new starting point for the 490 year judgement. However, we have a more compelling decree, because Zechariah tells us that God himself gives the decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 1:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
The word used here to describe the Lord’s decree is ‘dabar’, (v13), which is the same word used by Gabriel to Daniel to describe the decree. Conversely, none of the decrees issued by the various kings is ‘dabar’. This reinforces, if not wholly confirms, that this decree is the absolute and correct decree to work from.
Zechariah records that this was on the 24th day of the 11th month of Darius’s second year in office (verse 7), so we now have a double witness, both through Darius and God, that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem went out in the second year of Darius’s reign. As he had come to power in 522 BC, we can see that this edict went out in 521 BC.
We now need to go forward ‘7 weeks’, 49 years, to the next event in Daniel’s prophecy, the time of an anointed leader. So we now are looking for an event in 472 BC. Now we can turn to the Book of Esther.
The famous story of Esther is of how a program of mass Jewish genocide was averted by the miraculous intervention of a beautiful Benjaminite Queen and her inspirational uncle. Haman the Agagite, (an Edomite tribe), fell out with Mordecai the Benjaminite and decided the best solution to assuage his anger was the mass genocide of every single Jew in the entire Persian Empire. This disproportionate response reflects the enmity of Esau and Jacob going back centuries. It is in fact a conflict at a spiritual level, because had Esau not sold the birthright to Jacob / had Jacob not defrauded Esau of the birthright, then the Messiah would have come from Esau’s seed, not Jacob’s. As Judea was one of the 127 satrapies of the Persian empire, we can see that Haman not only wanted to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire, but that he also wanted (whether consciously or under spiritual influence, we do not know) to destroy Jesus’ Davidic bloodline. So not only would Haman’s bloodlust potentially interfere with God’s judgement on Judah, and the Jewish people, (by destroying them all), it also had ramifications for God’s promise to King David, and the entire world. Haman ran his plans before King Ahasuerus, got them approved, and planned for a day of slaughter. God, through Mordecai through Esther, curtailed Haman’s plans, and justice was served on Haman when he was, literally, hoist on his own petard. The rest of the matter is concluded by a reversal of fortune on the day of slaughter, whereby the Jews lay in wait for their persecutors, and rather than being destroyed, slaughtered their enemies.
We can put a date on when this attempted mass genocide took place:
Esther 3: 7 In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur—which means “the lot”—before Haman for the day and for the month, and the lot fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar
The Persian King Ahasuerus is known to us as King Xerxes I, who came to power in 485 BC. Twelve years into his reign leads us to 473 BC. So the events of Haman’s persecution start in the twelfth year of Ahasuerus reign, 473 BC. The actual envisaged slaughter we note is set for the end of the year:
Esther 3: 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods
So here we have a plot against the Jews that took place 48 years after the start of the 490 year period of judgment, and so fits almost perfectly to bookend the first seven week period. Daniel’s prophecy refers to an anointed Prince in two places, here, and at the end of the 62 week period. The Hebrew is ‘mashiyach nagiyd’, which means literally ‘an anointed leader’. Mashiyach is almost always translated as anointed actually, so there is no compelling reason to translate it here as the Messiah. In fact, I suspect that this one issue more than any other dogs attempts to make sense of Daniel’s prophecy, the assumption, or the translator’s error, or both, that attempts to include Jesus in the scope of the prophecy more than is legislated by the text. There are many anointed leaders in the Bible. Priests are anointed, kings are anointed, when Samuel anointed King Saul, he too was ‘mashiyach nagiyd’. Cyrus himself, the Persian King, was anointed, (Isaiah 45:1), so there is no compelling reason at all here to translate ‘mashiyach nagiyd’ as the Messiah; given that this event takes place in 473 BC, it is actually very problematic if we do try and find Jesus in this part of the prophecy. Anointing is the act of pouring oil on someone. Once Esther had been chosen by King Ahasuerus, she had to prepare herself. This involved some serious purification treatments.
Esther 2: 12 Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
Esther was anointed with myrrh for six months. Myrrh was the oil used to embalm Jesus after his death. Esther was obviously Queen of Persia also, so we can therefore call her an anointed leader, for she fulfils both criteria.
After all these events had played out, the saving of the Jews was then inaugurated into a national holiday of remembrance and celebration, called the Feast Of Purim, by royal decree of Queen Esther.
Esther 9: 29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.
As we have calculated that the events of Purim took place 48 years after Darius’ and God’s original decree, then we can see that the ‘time of the anointed leader’, i.e. the two day festival of Purim that commenced a year later, therefore aligns perfectly to mark the end of the 49 year (7 week) period and the beginning of the 434 year (62 week) period. Although the Jews call Purim Mordecai’s day, they should really call it Esther’s Day. (It may be of note that Purim falls on the 343 day of the year. 343 + 434 = 777).
So now on top of the original double witness for the starting date of 521 BC for Daniel’s prophecy, we have a further confirmation in the inauguration of Purim on the Hebrew calendar from 472 BC onwards, 49 years after our starting point. ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’, therefore establishes these as the correct dates for Daniel’s prophecy. Now we begin to see why the prophecy of Daniel was temporally tripartite, rather than bipartite.
As Purim was on the Jewish calendar, this also gave the Jews a calendrical date and festival that would serve as their countdown to the end of foreign domination. By this reckoning, the sixty two weeks, 434 years, would lead to 37 BC, and the final week would expire on 30 BC.
The prophecy of the 62 weeks is: ‘and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time (tsowq eth).’ Tsowq eth literally means ‘an anguished period of time’. The Hebrew word ‘tsowq’ also occurs in a very particular messianic prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 8:22, concerning the Jews who reject Jesus. I will do a full explanation of this at the end, but what we have to consider here is that the final 441 years of judgement (434 + 7 years) time somehow get disrupted, that the period of time, Tsowq, is anguished, i.e. not one uninterrupted unit of time. This may appear a strange idea, as God is always so precise in his fulfilment of prophetic times, and besides, what would be the point in him setting a timeline, if it is not binding? The problem though is this. Judea was sent into Babylon for 70 years of exile, which was the biblical punishment of the iron yoke. The exile formally ended in 538 BC, and thereafter, from 521 BC, they were to be under the wooden yoke of foreign occupation for 490 years. The intercalation of redundant time between 538 BC and 521 BC actually sets a precedent for temporal dislocation within the prophecy. The critical point of the judgement against Judah was the element of foreign occupation, else the punishment ceased to be a punishment. If the Jews rebelled against their punishment and threw off their oppressor’s yoke, this is not God’s fault. And this is precisely what happened; as we see in the Books of The Maccabees, which document the wars of the Maccabeans, Judea regained independence for a period of time. Under the Hasmonean dynasty the Jews liberated themselves from foreign rule for 103 years, from 166 BC to 63 BC. 2
This troubled time, and disruption to the prophetic clock, is explained further in Daniel 11 in the description of Antiochus Epiphanes, who set up the first abomination of desolation, which led directly to the Jewish revolts and independence of the Maccabeans:
He shall be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay heed to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant; but the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 The wise among the people shall give understanding to many; for some days, however, they shall fall by sword and flame, and suffer captivity and plunder. 34 When they fall victim, they shall receive a little help, and many shall join them insincerely. 35 Some of the wise shall fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed, until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.
Daniel is very specific here about the impact of Antiochus on the prophetic calendar. He also tells us that the covenant of the Prince will be ruptured (shabar nagiyd beriyth – Daniel 11:22). The Prince or leader here is Christ himself. Esther and the Church are anointed leaders, acting in a priestly intercessory role, but this Prince is the Prince of Peace himself. God’s covenant was of peace and welfare with his people – those at least who obeyed his laws. When Antiochus invaded Judah, he obviously ruptured the covenant, both materially in terms of outlawing the Jewish religion and turning the land into a warzone and a bloodbath, but also in terms of rupturing the prophetic countdown to Christ’s return and the end of the old covenant age. Daniel makes this quite explicit in verse 35: “Some of the wise shall fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed, until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.”
The word here for fall is kashal, which means ‘stumble’. We now have a critical piece of information to help us understand why the Jews rejected Christ; they stumbled because the prophetic calendar was ruptured by Antiochus Epiphanes. Or put another way, the Levitical priests need purifying and cleansing, and hence required the statutory three generations (120 years) of chastisement. What Daniel is telling us here is that this chastisement serves to purify the priests.
Esther qualifies as the anointed leader at the end of the 7 weeks, and then we see that at the end of the 62 (69 total) weeks, ‘an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing’. The anointed one here refers to the Church in Jerusalem. The entire church in Jerusalem, in accordance with Jesus’ earlier warning, later fled the city. This is recorded by Eusebius, Josephus and Epiphanes, amongst others, who recorded that the Christians fled for Pella between AD 66 – 68. 3 The prophecy indicates they flee at the start of the last week, which would be 67 AD. According to Josephus in the Jewish War, the Idumeans let the last 2000 Christians in the city out of prison around AD 67/68, just before passover, and they all promptly fled the city. The Church in Jerusalem was ‘the anointed leader’ insofar as it was the first and principal Church, all issues were referred back here in the first days of the Church, and it was anointed as it was founded on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 1:21 that The Holy Spirit is an anointing – ‘Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God’.) It is self-evident from Acts in the way that Paul interacts with the Church and in James’ authority, that the Jerusalem church was the head church of the Church, which Jesus confirmed in the Olivet Prophecy:
Luke 21: 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
The numbered hairs are the members of the Church in Jerusalem, which is itself the head.
The Church was cut off and left with nothing when it fled Jerusalem for the safety of Pella; as the historians of the time record, not one Christian was left in Jerusalem, and not one died in the days of slaughter. The Church in Jerusalem was Jesus’ last instruction before he departed for heaven, (Acts 1), and the reason the Christians were able to flee Jerusalem was that Jesus had given them very specific instructions (Matthew 24 / Luke 21). So after the initial affrays into the city by the armies of Gallus and their withdrawal in the winter of AD 66, the Church was able to flee. It is important to understand that Jesus gave very specific instructions while he was on earth, about the foundation of the Church and the necessity of escaping the judgement, so that Daniel’s prophecy was properly fulfilled, and of course, so that no innocent person was caught up in the judgement. There is some debate about the correct translation here for the phrase following ‘cut off’; although I have been referencing the NRSV, I think the NKJV carries more sense in this instance: “(the anointed one) shall be cut off, but not for Himself”. The Church was cut off from Jerusalem, in the literal sense removed from the main body, as in a tree, but the effect of the cutting off is vicarious; it is in fact the unbelieving Jews who are really being cut off, and not the Church. Paul explains this cutting off in Romans 11, which we do not need to study here, other than to point out that Paul’s explanation shows the Church to be the object in focus of the prophecy. We can in fact view the entire narrative of verses 26-27 as God’s glory departing the Temple, referred to in the old testament as “Ichabod”; first the Church leaves Jerusalem, taking God’s grace and Holy Spirit with them, and then we see the physical manifestation of this as the now desolate and burned down edifice of the temple has an abomination, a false god, set up where God used to reside.
Interestingly also, the two anointed leaders have been women; Esther, and the Church, for the Church is always pictured as a woman.
The rest of the prophecy is fairly self-evident I think.
and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The Roman troops of General Titus came in and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Titus tried to preserve the temple, but it went up in flames and the Roman troops then dug up every stone to the foundations, in order to get to the gold which had been liquified in the fire and melted to the bottom. As General Titus later became Emperor of Rome, we can see the very great accuracy in the prophecy – ‘the prince who is to come.’
Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
Floods depict anger, and the Romans were extremely angry with the Judeans, and the conflict was savage. The Great Civil War lasted from AD 66 -73, ending with the siege of Masada.
27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,
Literally, “he will enforce the Covenant for one week”. The covenant in view here is God’s Covenant with Israel. This is referenced many times in Jeremiah; namely, that the houses of Judah and Israel need to turn to God and obey him, and if they do not, then they will be destroyed. All of those slaughtered in Jerusalem were non-Christian, the Christians were long gone. So God here is merely making good on his promise, which is the annihilation of those in the houses of Judah and Israel who reject him. Now we can see why Jesus grieved so deeply over Jerusalem, because he knew what was coming. The ‘many’ here are the estimated one and half million Jews who died in the siege of Jerusalem. The covenant in fact goes all the way back to God’s original covenant with Israel, but we reach the climax of the agreement here in AD 67-73, played out with the House of Judah. Jeremiah had warned the Judeans very seriously about what was coming:
Jeremiah 12 :17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will completely uproot it and destroy it, says the Lord
The same nemesis was spelt out also by Jesus
Matthew 15:13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted
This is also what Paul was referring to when he spoke of ‘the wrath to the uttermost’ in Romans. (But this is for another study.) Suffice it to say that most of Israel accepted Jesus with alacrity, it was only sadly the Jews really who rejected him.
and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator
At the midpoint of the civil war, in AD 70, the temple was completely destroyed, thus terminating the Levitical practices. In the ruins of the temple the Romans would have planted a Roman Standard, bearing the insignia of the eagle, which was viewed by the Jews as an abomination. (In a previous instance, the Jews had marched to Caesarea to protest about the abomination of the eagle to the Roman Consul). The last three years of the civil war were more carnage, ending with the desolation of Masada, where the entire rebel force, except for 5 children and 2 women, committed suicide.
So after 66 BC, we see the church disbanded, and then the Romans come in and destroy Jerusalem, fulfilling all the rest of the points of the prophecy, up to the final gutting of the temple in AD 70, and the subsequent mopping up operations.
It is quite important to understand what Daniel is talking about here, especially in regards the covenant.
At the start of the prophecy we were told that within this period of 490 years, God will deal with certain issues he has had with the Jews. He will ‘finish the transgression, put an end to their sin, atone for their iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal vision and prophecy, and anoint a most holy place’. All these things refer to Jesus’s grace and mercy under the New Covenant, except for the finishing of the transgression, which refers to the completion and closure of the 490 years’ judgement itself. The forgiveness of sin and iniquity is covered in Jeremiah, (31:34) “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”; Jesus is obviously everlasting righteousness – not a lot more needs saying on that; the sealing of vision and prophecy refers to Jesus as the fulfilment of prophecy: a seal is a King’s seal impressed with his signet ring, showing veracity. When Jesus came he completed, i.e. put a divine stamp of veracity on, all (the documents) of prophecy. He effectively said “all these words were from me”, as Jesus was himself the spirit of prophecy, and he proved it in the flesh by his death and resurrection. Hence he is the Alpha and the Omega, the blueprint and the completed work. This is why we always see the apostles and Paul arguing with the Jews from scripture, i.e. showing them how Jesus was the fulfilment of all the prophecies, and thereby proving the veracity of Jesus as the Messiah; the anointing of the most holy place refers to the anointing of Jesus on the throne in heaven after his resurrection, (Hebrews 1); i.e. the establishment of the throne of David. The finishing of the transgression is the necessary completion of the 490 years. Unfortunately any Jew who did not embrace Jesus fell back under the severe judgement of the prophecy.
Matthew 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
When you add up the years which are added to the prophecy, or rather, the years which are disqualified from the prophetic years, they amount to 120. 103 + 17 =120. 120 years is time frame used by God to demarcate the end of a previous age and the beginning of a new age. God gave mankind 120 years before the flood, and Moses, who was not allowed to enter the promised land, died at the age of 120. Most importantly, 120 is 3 generations, as a generation lasts 40 years. So this 120 year period amounts to judgement time for idolatry, as per Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18 and Deuteronomy 5:9. The importance of this is not just limited to the first Century, as the fourth generation, (‘visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children to the third and the fourth generation’), will appear at the end of time, 2033-2073, as per Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy. The flood represents extreme judgement, and is included in Daniel’s prophecy, as he says the Roman troops will come in ‘in a flood’. The extra 120 years also attest to the end of the age of Mosaic Law, as depicted by the Mosaic lifespan. From Christ to AD 73 two ages ran concurrently, the old covenant and the new covenant, the new covenant being in utero so to speak, but after AD 73 the old covenant was abolished completely, and the New Covenant was birthed. (That Satan and Michael disputed over Moses’ very healthy dead body refers then to a dispute over the Law itself, whether it has died or not, which we can understand now that we see Moses’ 120 year life is an embodiment of the whole Mosaic Law itself). When Jesus arraigned the pharisees, he included in the record of their bloodguilt the slaying of Abel; now clearly the pharisees did not exist when Abel was murdered by Cain, but Jesus attributes the guilt to them.
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
So God passed the 120 years of guilt of mankind in the days of Noah onto the pharisees, and hence we see the 120 years of judgement added to the 490 years. In fact we can say that the 120 year period of judgement was on the Levites rather than Judah. (No study is ever really complete, and this idea, that the 490 years were for Judah, and the 120 years for the Levites, came to me today – June 10, 2016 – and I will develop it when I’ve understood it completely. One great thing about a website is that you can amend and improve your study over time.) The bottom line is that the Levites were absorbed into Judah, (2 Chronicles 11), and therefore for God to judge the Levites he had to do it in Judah’s ‘time’.
“Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” now has a further meaning; it means that not only were the pharisees getting the full measure of judgement God had decreed on Jerusalem, the 70 weeks, but they were getting an added 120 years, as he was attributing to them the guilt of mankind in the days of Noah for the killing of the prophets.
The final and incredible proof that everything I have said regards the times is correct is this. God decreed 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week, but remembering the 1 week is cut in half, we have the following
(7, 62, 1/2) weeks
a week being 7 years, we can say
(7, 62, 1/2) of 7 years
Now let us express this is a sum
7 ( 7 X 62 X 1/2 )
7 ( 7 X 62 X 1/2 )= 1519
The Law was given on mount Sinai 1447 BC 4 and ended 73 AD. That is a period of 1519 years.
I find this sum so complete as a proof, that I view it as God’s mathematical seal on the prophecy.
Two final further things occur to me, at this stage of the study. I will try and follow up on these matters if I feel I understand them better.
Firstly, the two anointed leaders, Esther and the Church, are both women. Esther found grace before the King, and avoided the rightful punishment for appearing before him without an appointment, which was death. It would seem Esther then is both a type of the Church, and also a figure of grace for the Jews, who could avoid the wrath to come by accepting Jesus’ grace. As the Purim she instituted started in the 50th year of the judgement, it acts then as a Jubilee. A Jubilee is for the cancelation of debt and the restoration of land.
I mentioned Isaiah 8 in this study. I suppose the final point to consider, which I will leave as more of an open question for now, because it is such a big subject, and partly because it will come under a study of Romans anyway, is the question of to what extent the nature of Daniel’s prophecy, and in particular the 103 year hiatus, may have caused misunderstanding amongst the Jews. Paul says the Jews ‘eyes were darkened’ and Jesus says they ‘did not know the time of their visitation’. So did the fact that the prophecy timeline appeared to end in 47 BC or 30 BC cause confusion and disbelief amongst the Jews? It may well have. If, for the 100 or so years prior to Jesus’ ministry, Jerusalem and Judea had been awash with people declaring the Messiah, or declaring themselves as the Messiah, and proclaiming the imminent end of foreign occupation, then it is highly likely that by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, at least 103 years later than anticipated, the religious authorities were exhausted both by dealing with claims of false messiahs, and perhaps with disputations over the end of the 70 weeks, and consequently were extremely sceptical. Also, Herod the Great’s rule from 41 BC to 30 BC was fairly turbulent, and included an attack on Jerusalem, not to mention the great earthquake in Jerusalem in 31 BC. One wonders if all this, overlapping as it does the projected end of the 70 weeks, if taken from 521 BC, might have contributed to a ‘false positive’. I put this point merely as a note of conjecture though.