Understanding Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy

Daniel received Gabriel’s remarkable message in the first year of Darius the Mede (Dan. 9:1). This was shortly before Cyrus’s decree for the return of exiled Jews to Jerusalem and its temple.

This passage provides a wonderful illustration of the precision of divine prediction. It outlines seventy weeks that will lead to the Messiah’s work of redemption and judgment upon Jerusalem.

The First Seventy Weeks

Whether or not there should be a space between the seven and sixty-two weeks is a matter of punctuation. Some translations separate them, while others keep them together.

Zerubbabel led a group of Hebrews back from captivity in 536 B.C. This is the starting point for counting 69 weeks (483 years). The seventy-week period is designed to finish transgression, atone for sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness.

The Second Seventy Weeks

When Zerubbabel led a group of exiles back to Jerusalem, Gabriel gave them a royal decree concerning “an anointed one, a prince” (9:25). The Hebrew word for “prince” and the corresponding reference in “an anointed one” both refer to Messiah. We therefore should equate the titles.

The prophet announced that he would “cut off” this anointed one, a prediction that was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross.

The Third Seventy Weeks

Gabriel’s message centered on Messiah, the Anointed One who would come to end transgression, sin, and iniquity. Many dispensational premillennialists believe this prophecy is talking about Jesus’ second coming.

But verse 25b mentions “a prince,” so the two terms must be equated. It is more likely that the figure meant was Christ, Who alone can end sin and make atonement for it.

The Fourth Seventy Weeks

The climactic seventy weeks are set in motion by Gabriel’s decree (v. 25b). This decree played on the word “seventy” from the scroll of Jeremiah, which mentioned the desolation of Jerusalem for seventy years.

It is appropriate to note here that many Old Testament prophecies found precise fulfillment in Jesus Christ’s vicarious death and redemptive work. Certainly, this is true of Daniel’s remarkable oracle.

The Fifth Seventy Weeks

Gabriel told Daniel that a “word” had gone forth (yasa’). Some scholars have attempted to equate this word with the word of the Lord to Jeremiah in verse 2 of this chapter.

However, a closer examination shows that the two words have different referents. The word Gabriel mentions in this passage concerns the Messiah’s work to finish transgression, put an end to sin, and atone for iniquity.

The Sixty-Ninth Weeks

While Daniel was praying for Israel’s salvation, the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a prophecy. Gabriel informed Daniel that 69 weeks or 483 years must pass between two key events in Jewish history.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again with plaza and moat, even in troubled times.” (Dan. 9:25).

The Seventy-First Weeks

Some interpreters have tried to equate the seventy weeks with a similar decree mentioned by Jeremiah. This is problematic because the angel’s word to Daniel, like the message that came to Jeremiah, referred to Christ (cf. Luke 24:27,44).

The first segment of seventy weeks (multiplied by the jubilee principle in Leviticus 25) was to finish transgression, end sin, atone for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal both vision and prophet, and anoint a most holy place.

The Seventy-Second Weeks

The seventy-second week included the Messiah’s redemptive work. Gabriel said that “for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.”

He would make a strong covenant and bring an end to sacrifice. This accomplished the six remarkable effects of verse 24: finishing transgression, ending sin, atoning for iniquity, ushering in everlasting righteousness and confirming a prophetic vision.

The Seventy-Third Weeks

Many Christians have a difficult time grasping the seventy Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9. Jesus Christ emphatically declared that many Old Testament prophecies would find their fulfillment in Him.

In Leviticus 25 a multiplication of “seven sevens” resulted in a jubilee, a year of liberty and climactic freedom. This tenfold jubilee is the underlying principle of the seventy-week period. This is what Gabriel was announcing to Daniel.

The Seventy-Fourth Weeks

The seven and sixty-two weeks were to culminate in the coming of the anointed one (v. 26a), the one who would confirm a covenant for many and atone for iniquity. Gentry contends that this refers to Jesus Christ, who will be the priest and sacrifice.

This future work of the anointed one was designed to “finish transgression, and make an end to sin, and atone for iniquity.” This will bring in everlasting righteousness.

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