|At Issue Index Table of Contents Previous Next|
Relation of Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 to 2300 Days of Daniel 8
Inasmuch as these questions center chiefly in Daniel 9, let us survey the
chapter briefly in order to get the over-all picture, and thus have the
necessary background for the answers. This prophecy of the seventy weeks of
years is one of the most fascinating and vital to be found in the entire
prophetic Word. It deals with God's plan for the redemption of man, and
foretells the time of the first advent of Christ, as the Messiah, also the time
of His death, when He made a complete, vicarious atoning sacrifice for the sins
of the world.
was on the throne. Daniel was praying and interceding with God concerning the
tragic condition of His back-slidden and disobedient people, and the desolation
of Jerusalem and the sanctuary (verses 3-19).
Later, as Daniel meditated on the vision and its relationship to the
condition of his people, he pleaded earnestly with God for the termination of
Israel's captivity and their return to Palestine. His prayer brought a speedy
answer, for Gabriel was sent to bring him comfort and to unfold the plan of God
Daniel 8:14. This special scene is referred to as "the vision [mar'eh] of
the evening and the morning" (verse 26).
laid it down in his previous appearance to the prophet, recorded in chapter 8.
His last words, on the former occasion, had been to the effect that "the
vision" (mar'eh) of the 2300 evenings-mornings was "true," and
that the period involved was to extend over "many days," far into the
3. "Determined" Means "Allotted,"
"decreed'" "Cut Off."—Gabriel turns immediately to the time feature of the
vision, and declares, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people [the
Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem]" (verse 24). The Hebrew word
chathak, translated "determined," appears nowhere else in the Bible;
consequently it is not possible to bring other Biblical usages of this word to
bear on the present passage in clarifying its meaning.
LXX) renders chathak by sunetmethesan, to "cut off," "cut
short." (See also Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, vol. 2, p.
1726.) The Vulgate uses the verb abbreviare, "to cut short." Hitzig
renders it "appointed"; others, "destined," or
This concept, in this particular case, is recognized by certain Biblical authorities. Barnes, when commenting on verse 24, states: "The meaning would seem to be, that this portion of time—the seventy weeks—was cut off [italics his] from the whole of duration, or cut out of it, as it were, and set by itself for a definite purpose." Still further, the Pulpit Commentary on this verse agrees with this thought, for it remarks: "It means 'to cut off.' It may thus refer to these weeks being `cut off' from time generally; hence 'determined.'"
With this recognition of the significance of the use of "cut off," we
might well inquire, Is the seventy-week period "cut off" from time in
a general or in a specific sense? We need to remember that in the symbolic
vision of Daniel 8, reference was made to the 2300-day period. This was left
unexplained. If Daniel 9 is the explanation of this unexplained portion of the
vision, the explanation would inevitably have to deal with time. But the only
prophetic time mentioned in the vision of Daniel 9 is the seventy weeks. Could
we not logically conclude, then, that when Gabriel deals with the seventy
weeks, or 490 years, he is explaining the first part of the 2300-days prophecy?
This period (490 years) was allotted to the Jews with their sanctuary on earth;
the remainder of the period (2300 years) would then reach into the Christian
church period, with the sanctuary in heaven.
With this concept, scores of scholars in various communions in many lands,
from the time of Johann Petri, of Germany, in 1768
onward, were in full but independent agreement.
prophet used shabua' to designate a period of seven literal years. The
following are, to us, compelling reasons:
It is generally agreed among Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant, scholars alike that if
shabua' on Daniel 9:24 has the meaning "seven years," then seventy
shabu'im clearly indicates a period of 490 years.
The Temple was finished on 515 B.C., on the sixth year of Darius (Ezra 6:15).
But it was not until 457 B.C. that the authorization was given for the complete
restoration of the city. This looked forward to the Jewish state's receiving
full autonomy, with provision for enforcing its own laws—subject, of course,
to the overlordship of the Persian Empire (Ezra 7:11-26). It therefore took all
three decrees, and particularly that of Artaxerxes, to complete and to
constitute the "commandment" or purpose of God.*
|Click for a Diagram of the 70 weeks in a new window.|
The 483 years (69 "weeks"), it will be seen, reach to the anointing
of Jesus as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit at His baptism
(Luke 3:21, 22). We believe that He began His public ministry in A.D. 27,
following His anointing (Mark 1:14; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; Heb. 9:12). But the
seventy weeks of years were not to close until the atoning death of Christ had
occurred (see Section 9), resulting in six specific developments—indicated by
the six consecutive clauses of verse 24. These were: (1) the Jews were to
finish their transgression through the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, (2)
the Messiah was to make an end of sin offerings, (3) He was to make
reconciliation for iniquity, (4) He was to bring in everlasting righteousness,
(5) the vision was to be sealed or authenticated, and (6) the most holy was to
on earth during the second half of the seventieth week. But His message and
mission continued to be preached for a little time (possibly three and a half
years) to the Jews in Jerusalem by the first evangelists. Thus Israel's day of
grace continued for a short space, and the seventy weeks ran their allotted
The Messiah was cut off by man for man. Such was the means whereby this
prophecy was to be fulfilled.
human priest, because Christ, and Christ alone, constituted the new and living
"way" (John 14:6). The fulfillment completely met the specifications
of the prophecy that said, "He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation
to cease" (Dan 9:27).
(1) To finish the transgression (verse 24). The thought in this phrase
is that of bringing transgression to the full. The
filling up of the cup of iniquity by the Jews was referred to by our Lord, who
said, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers" (Matt. 23:32;
compare Gen. 15:16). Their crowning sin was, of course, the rejection and the
crucifixion of the Messiah. Thus the nation passed the line of no return.
"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate," declared Jesus (Matt.
23:38). This fulfilled the Master's prophecy, "The kingdom of God shall be
taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof"
(Matt. 21: 43).
(4) To bring in everlasting righteousness. The death of Christ did not
immediately make all men righteous, but His sacrifice provided the means both
to impute and to impart the righteousness of His sinless, holy life to the
penitent sinner. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). And now we can
"declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past"
(Rom. 3:25). He came to "fulfil all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). And
in Him we have the assurance that righteousness shall soon fill the earth, and
sin shall be banished forever, when He comes in glory with all His holy angels.
And since Christ's ministry is in the heavenly sanctuary, not in the earthly,
we take this to be an obvious reference to the anointing or consecration of the
heavenly sanctuary preparatory to, or in connection with, Christ's coronation
and inauguration as priest-king (Heb. 8:2; 9:23, 24)—following His atoning
death, resurrection, and ascension, and preceding His mediatorial ministry in
behalf of sinners.
8. Seventieth "Week" Confirms Covenant.—Two different renderings of
Daniel 9:27 are current. One states that "he shall confirm the
covenant" (K.J.V.); the other, taking "week" as the subject,
reads, "One week shall establish the covenant" (LXX, Theodotion's
Greek version). There appears to be about equal linguistic support for each
rendering—one Hebraist referring to it as a fifty-fifty division of
determinative evidence. The historic Protestant position applies the
"he" to Christ.
Christ is the one who confirms the new covenant by His death. So, irrespective
of the subject—"he" or "week"—Christ is the central
figure in that seventieth week. And whether the emphasis is on Christ Himself,
who confirms the covenant, or whether it is on the week in which tremendous
events occur, centering in Christ and the transaction of Calvary which confirms
the covenant, Christ remains the central figure of verse 27. This position
gives to the last week of the seventy the importance it should have, and which
the prophecy as a whole demands, inasmuch as all the predictions of verse 24
depend on the concomitant events of that last fateful week.
connection the question arises, Is it really necessary to pinpoint some event as
marking the close of the 70 weeks? No specific event is predicted in the
prophecy, and it would therefore seem that no historic event is actually called
for to indicate its close.
the last, or seventieth, hebdomad. And these all occurred at the scheduled
time. But, we repeat, no predicted event is called for to mark the close of the
last unit. The first 69 hebdomads reach to the manifestation of the Messiah,
and the seventieth—the one remaining hebdomad—is accounted for as a unit by
the events clustering about Calvary, occurring in its "midst." If
some event were to take place at midday on a specified day, and it occurred at
noon on that precise day, would not the expectation be perfectly fulfilled,
irrespective of what happened during, or at the close of, the remaining half of
10. Further Woes to Fall Upon the Jews.—Next is foretold the appalling
adversities to follow, after the close of the 70 weeks. These came as a
consequence of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah, and involved the
destruction of the Temple, the razing of the city of Jerusalem, the scattering
of the Jewish people, and a succession of calamities sweeping over Jerusalem
like a flood of desolation (Dan. 9:26). The exact time was not predicted, but
the events would take place after the 70 weeks of years had closed, by A.D. 34.
And it should be particularly noted that this tragic visitation was not one of
the specified acts that were to mark the seventieth week—finishing the
transgression, making an end of sins, making reconciliation, bringing in
everlasting righteousness, sealing the vision, and anointing the most holy. It
was the fearful aftermath and inevitable consequence of Israel's rejection of
mounting iniquities, declared, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23:36). These prophesied judgments upon Jerusalem and the Temple fell beyond the close of the 70 Weeks, but within the generation specified. They were the inevitable consequence of the supreme sin of Israel in their rejection of the Messiah. Thus their cup of iniquity was filled (verse 32). As our Lord looked into the immediate future, He wept over the city, saying:
Beginning in A.D. 66, wars broke out between the Jews and the Romans, reaching
their climax in A.D. 70. The Temple was no longer the dwelling place of God,
and its earthly sacrifices had lost their significance. The Zealots were
denounced by Josephus as the direct cause of the destruction (Wars iv. 3. 3).
These sicarii ("assassins") desecrated everything that was holy, and
their activities were characterized by atrocities, profanation, and violence.
The consummation ended in utter destruction.
|Click for a Diagram of the 2300 Days in a new window.|
slaughtered—their blood, according to Josephus, flowing in streams down the steps.
The desolater had come. The city and Temple were in ruins; the desolation
|At Issue Index Table of Contents Previous Next|