Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Fresh Stab at a Difficult Text: Daniel's 70 Weeks

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks
Glenn Layne

Text is from the ESV Bible

The objective of the 70 weeks: to deal decisively with sin and to bring in righteousness
24 "Seventy weeks [literally 70 sevens; based on Jubilee usage from Leviticus, etc., this is widely interpreted as 7x70 years= 490 years] are decreed about your people [the Jewish people] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression [or, seal up rebellion], to put an end to sin [that is, a decisive act to deal with human sin], and to atone for iniquity [parallel to previous clause], to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

The seventy weeks are set to bridge from Daniel’s own time, with the end of the exile to the dramatic acts of God which bring an end to the current Mosaic covenantal order.  Sin is defeated, righteousness is victorious, and to vindicate (seal) vision and prophet who had seen what was to come.  Finally, a “holy place” is anointed.  But how?  That is explained in vs. 27.

The unfolding of the 70 weeks: 7 weeks, 62 weeks…

25 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.

The best understanding of the chronology of Daniel 9 is suggested by Daniel Lurie (JETS, 33/3, September 1990, 303-309,, who points out that a “seven” can be any multiple of seven, so the decree of Cyrus of 538 BC is the starting point.  The first seven are 14 years each (7x2) or 49 years; the 62 sevens are 7 years each or 432 years, making a total of 532 years, which takes us to 6 BC, the year that is widely accepted as the mostly year of Christ’s birth.

The holy place is anointed in the 70th week by the Messiah

26And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one [Messiah] shall be cut off [keret, a word associated with a covenantal sacrifice] and shall have nothing [see Isaiah 53:3-4]. And the people of the prince [an “anointed one” is a royal figure; there is no lexical need to introduce a second “prince” here] who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary [this is a crystal clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD]. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27And he [the Messianic prince—again, there is lexical or grammatical grounds to introduce a second prince] shall make a strong covenant [a “prevailing berit”, both strongly positive terms] with many [“many” is often a term for “the elect” in Scripture; see, for example, Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 20:24] for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator [this sentence is the hardest portion of the prophecy to decipher; here’s my attempt, expressed as an extended paraphrase: “And for the extremity of abominations committed shall come One who brings destruction to the temple, until the divine decree is poured on Him in death."].

There are no grounds for postulating two princes in vs.26-27.  There are no grounds to introduce a gap of many years either between vs. 25 and 26 or between vs. 26 and 27.

Vs. 26-27 are placed “after” the 62 weeks (which follows the 7 weeks).  Logically, vs. 26-27 fill the content of the 70th week.  In the 70th week, Messiah is cut off, Jerusalem is destroyed and sacrifice and offering cease.

If a week can be any multiple of 7, what multiple fits here?  I suggest 10x7=70 years.  6 BC-64 AD fits.  Midway between these dates is 29/30 AD, the year of Jesus’ death on the cross.    64 AD does not match either the destruction of the temple (70 AD) or the outbreak of the Jewish war (66 AD) exactly, but perhaps a better understanding of Daniel’s intent could clarify the chronology. 

(Daniel 9:24-27)

See also,%20Meredith%20-%20The%20Covenant%20of%20the%20Seventieth%20Week%20%28Daniel%209%29.pdf

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