Prophecy of Seventy Weeks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Christian eschatology
Eschatology views
Christianity portal
Jump to: navigation, search

The Prophecy of Seventy Weeks or Seventy Septets (literally 'seventy times seven') is a prophecy in Daniel 9:22–27, that was given to Daniel by Gabriel.


Daniel 9

Narrative analysis

Jack Newton Lawson's analysis of Daniel 9:24-27 states that the Seventy Weeks passage is a reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the desolation of Jerusalem lasting seventy years.[1]

According to John J. Collins, the Chronologists[clarification needed] of Jeremiah and Daniel both take into account the Jubilee year. Leviticus 25 stipulates that seven Sabbaths (weeks) of years is the maximum period that land could remain outside the possession of its original owner or heirs. of 2 Chronicles 36:21 states that the land of Israel ran the full term of its Sabbaths. Daniel extends this period of desolation to seventy weeks of years, or 490 years, the equivalent of ten jubilees. Thus, the passage can be interpreted as seventy weeks of Sabbatical years. Leviticus 26:18, 21, 28 also states that God would punish the people sevenfold for their transgressions.[2]

Michael Fishbane views that from the time the scriptures originated, there arose the ‘concern to preserve, or reinterpret these teachings or traditions in explicit ways for new times and circumstances.[3] It must also be considered that when reinterpreting scripture, it is done through the process of translation, which involves moving from one cultural context into the another.[1]

Literary structure

Historicist William H. Shea notes that verses 25-27 forms a chiasm:[4]

A. Daniel 9:25a (ASV)
Jerusalem Construction:
Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
B. Daniel 9:25b
Anointed one:
unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
C. Daniel 9:25c
Jerusalem Construction:
it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.
D. Daniel 9:26a
Anointed one:
And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing:
C'. Daniel 9:26b
Jerusalem Destroyed:
and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined.
B'. Daniel 9:27a
Anointed one:
And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease;
A'. Daniel 9:27b
Jerusalem Destroyed:
and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.

Analysis of 'sevens'

The Hebrew word 'sevens' in Daniel 9:24-26 is present in a less common grammatical form. Its normal plural form is feminine, however in these verses it appears in the masculine form. It suggests the concept of a heptad being a series or combination of seven.[5]

Johannes Hofmann and Theodor Kliefoth remark that the use of 'sevens' does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven. In the Mosaic law, there is mention not only of the Sabbath-year, but also of periods of seven times seven years, after the expiry of which a year of jubilee was always to be celebrated (Lev. 25:8ff). These, as well as the Sabbath-years, might be called 'sevens'.[6]


Coin of Antiochus Epiphanes. Reverse shows Apollo on an omphalos. The inscription ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ means ("of Antiochus, God Manifest, Bearer of Victory").

The seventy weeks has often been applied to the period between the exile and the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BCE.[7] This view is supported by the Jewish Encyclopedia,[8] the Jewish Publication Society study bible, the Catholic New American Bible commentary[9] and some Evangelical Christian scholars (Vanderwaal, Goldingay, Lucas).


Daniel 9 is traditionally interpreted by Rashi as foretelling events that will happen regarding the end of the Babylonian exile and the rebuilding of the Second Temple along with the Roman invasion. Rashi explains that the phrase "Seventy weeks", in verse 24, refers to seventy times seven years, or 490 years. "This refers to the seventy years of exile that have passed from the Destruction of the First Temple until this vision, and the entire 420 year period of the Second Temple."[10]

Jewish exegetes interpret the first "anointed" as Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1) whose decree to rebuild Jerusalem came forty-nine years after the destruction of the city and the Temple, which is the time when an "anointed one" (Daniel 9:25) is to come to fulfill the prophecy (586-49=537 BC). It follows that the second segment of the Seventy Weeks period, sixty-two weeks long, covered by verse 26, culminates in 103 BC (586-49-434=103 BC) and that "after sixty-two weeks an anointed one shall be cut off." This "anointed one" would thus have been the High Priest Alexander Yannai (103-76 BC) who came to power just at the end of the sixty-two week period in 103 BC and was the last of the important Hasmonean leaders. The phrase "after sixty-two weeks" indicates the time frame during which the "anointed one shall be cut off," that is, suffer "excision" (karet). The penalty accompanying karet is here aptly described as "to have nothing," or "be no more." This punishment is given to Alexander Yannai, infamous for his unjust, tyrannical, and bloody rule. He is notorious for his open violent animosity against the Pharisees and his brazen rejection of the Oral Law. For example, Josephus records that Alexander Yannai fought against the Pharisees for six years, "and . . . slew no fewer than fifty thousand of them" (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 13. 5. [373]). He also "ordered some eight hundred of the Jews to be crucified, and slaughtered their children and wives before the eyes of the still living wretches" (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 14. 2. [380]).[11][12][13]


Christian eschatology
Eschatology views
Christianity portal


In Martin Luther's commentary of Daniel, Preface to the Prophet Daniel, Luther also follows the day-year principle to calculate the timespan of the prophecy of seventy weeks as weeks of years. Thus, he explains that seven days in a week multiplied by seventy weeks gives 490 years. At the end of this period, comes the first coming of Christ. Luther calculates the first 69 weeks (483 years), by starting the prophecy in the "second year of King Darius also known as 'the long handed'",[14] in a period when Jeruselum was being rebuilt (according to Luther, also mentioned in Haggai 1:1-15; Zechariah 1:1-17). From Darius, Luther calculates 456 years to Christ's birth and another 30 years to Christ's baptism (Luke 3:23), totaling 486 years. Any discrepancies in time, Luther dismisses with, "We cannot find and determine all days and hours so precisely, when we write history it is enough for us that we come pretty close, ...". The prophecy ends in the 70th week, which according to Luther, is the 4th year after Christ's death during the Ministry of Jesus.[15]

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Artaxerxes' first year of rule was 474 BCE. Based on Nehemiah 2:1, 5-8, Nehemiah went forth to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem “in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king.” Thus, Jehovah Witness theologians have added 20 years to 474 BCE, pinpointing 455 BCE as the starting point for Daniel’s Messianic prophecy.[16][17]

Jehovah’s Witnesses agree with the 69 weeks of years principle, where each “week” represents “seven years”. Therefore 69 weeks translates as 483 years of which is added to 455 BCE, the 20th year of Artaxerxes reign. That pinpoints the return of the Messiah to the year 29 CE. To Jehovah’s Witnesses, this is a significant year because it was Jesus’ baptismal year, just three years before his crucifixion. (Luke 3:1, 2, 21, 22) The remaining week of seven years, from 29 CE, is the duration of Jesus being “cut off”. To Jehovah’s witnesses, Daniel’s prophecy is fulfilled in 36 CE.[17][18]


In historic premillennialism,[19] Philip Mauro (1921) associated the discourse on the Mount Olivet (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) to be an expansion of Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy. His research on the Daniel prophecy was in part, influenced by the works of Martin Anstey (1913). He fully supported Ezra 1:1 and viewed the decree of Cyrus, exhorting the Jews to return to their land, as a real event. Like many others, he agreed that the period designation of the Daniel prophesy was “seventy sevens of years” (490 years). However, he also points to the significance of 69 sevens, for a 483 year period, as being the length of time to the Messiah. Thus, in the remaining “seven years” the Messiah would be “cut off and have nothing”.[20]

Mauro agreed with Anstey that the angel Gabriel of the Hebrew Bible, who visited Daniel, is the same angel who visited Mary in the New Testament (Luke 1:11-19; 26). He compared Gabriel’s expression to Daniel “thou art greatly beloved” as an exact equivalent to “thou art highly favored” which was spoken to Mary by her visiting angel, also known as Gabriel.[21] By establishing Gabriel as visiting both Daniel and Mary in his commentary, Mauro further expounds on the words of Gabriel: “seventy weeks are determined upon thy people to finish the transgression” (Daniel 9:24), thus making a comparison to the Christ’s words: “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” (Matthew 23:32). Mauro interpreted these narratives as referring to the rejection and crucifixion of the Christ. Further relates that, “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;” (9:25) is prophetic of the “desolation” of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD (Matthew 24:1-22; Luke 21:20-24)[20]

In dispensational premillennialism, the 'hiatus' by which some refer to as a 'biblical parenthesis', occurs between the 69th and 70th week of the prophecy, into which the "church age" is inserted (also known as the "gap theory" of Daniel 9). The seventieth week of the prophecy is expected to commence after the rapture of the church, which will incorporate the establishment of an economic system using the number '666', the reign of the beast (the Antichrist), the false religious system (the harlot), the Great Tribulation and Armageddon.[22]

Seventh-day Adventists

Following the Historicist line of interpretation during the 19th century the Seventh-day Adventist Church interprets the 70 weeks as a 490 year period, according to the day-year principle. The first 69 weeks (483 years) begins with the decree of Artaxerxes I to rebuild Jerusalem in 457 BC (Daniel 9:25) and ends in AD 27. Jesus Christ's ministry begins at His baptism that year, at which time he is anointed by the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38) in the form of a dove. Jesus is crucified in the middle of the final week (AD 31) (Daniel 9:27), and the gospel is preached to the Gentiles in AD 34, the close of the 70 week period.[23]

Passover letter

The discovery in 1907 among the Elephantine papyri of the “Passover letter”[24] provided the basis for an alternative 490-year timeline beginning with the Passover of 418 BC and ending with the fall of Masada to the Romans in 73 AD. The observance of Passover may have been in part, commanded by Darius II to commemorate the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.[25]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Porter, ed., Stanley E (2006). Dictionary of biblical criticism and interpretation (1. publ. 2007, transferred to digital printing. ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0415201004.
  2. ^ Cross, John J. Collins. With an essay "The influence of Daniel on the New Testament" by Adela Yarbro Collins. Ed. by Frank Moore (1994). Daniel : a commentary on the book of Daniel ([Nachdr.] ed.). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 352. ISBN 0-8006-6040-4.
  3. ^ Fishbane, Michael (1985). Biblical interpretation in ancient Israel (Repr. with corrections ed.). Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-19-826325-2.
  4. ^ Holbrook, Frank B. (1986). The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy (Volume 3 of Daniel and Revelation Committee Series ed.). Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. ISBN 0925675024.
  5. ^ Archer, Gleason L.; foreword by Kenneth S. Kantzer (1982). Encyclopedia of Bible difficulties. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. p. 289. ISBN 0310435706.
  6. ^ Commentary on the Old Testament by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, volume 9, Translated by James Martin and M.G. Easton, Hendrickson Publishers Inc, ISBN 0-913573-88-4, First Printing 1996, page 718.
  7. ^ Seow, C.L. (2003). Daniel (1st ed. ed.). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 150. ISBN 0664256759.
  8. ^ "Jewish Encyclopedia Online". Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  9. ^ "New American Bible". 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  10. ^ Shahar, transl. by Ravi (1994 Reprint). Shield of the spirit: the Book of Daniel; the commentaries of Rashi and Rabbi Moshe Alshich on Sefer Daniel (Alshich Tanach series ed.). Jerusalem [u.a.]: Feldheim. ISBN 0873066987.
  11. ^ "Jews for Judaism FAQ #119". Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  12. ^ "Jews for Judaism FAQ, #120". Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  13. ^ "Jews for Judaism FAQ, #43". Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  14. ^ Beckwith, Carl L., Editor; general editor, Timothy George ; associate general editor, Scott M. Manetsch (2012). Ezekiel, Daniel: Volume 12 of Reformation Commentary on Scripture Series. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic. p. 368. ISBN 9780830829620.
  15. ^ Beckwith, Carl L., Editor; general editor, Timothy George ; associate general editor, Scott M. Manetsch (2012). Ezekiel, Daniel: Volume 12 of Reformation Commentary on Scripture Series. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic. pp. 368–369. ISBN 9780830829620.
  16. ^ "11". Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
  17. ^ a b "How Daniel’s Prophecy Foretells the Messiah’s Arrival". Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 2009.
  18. ^ Insight on the Scriptures (Vol. II ed.). Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. pp. 899–901.
  19. ^ Mauro, Philip (1921, revised 1944). The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation. Philip Mauro Library. pp. 136:3.
  20. ^ a b Mauro, Philip (1921). The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation (1988 Revised ed.). Grace Abounding Ministries. pp. 1–4.
  21. ^ Anstey, Martin (1913). The Romance of Bible chronology. Marshall Bros. p. 276.
  22. ^ Pentecost, J. Dwight (1958). Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Zondervan reprint ed.). Dunham Publishing Co.. ISBN 0310873959.
  23. ^ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (2005), Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed.), pp. 358–359
  24. ^ Rescript of Darius II in the “Passover letter” A Passover Letter.
  25. ^ "The compiler, unable to distinguish between the Persian kings thought "year seven of Darius" meant Darius I. It was impossible, so he rejected it in favour of Artaxerxes, who had already been mentioned in the context of Nehemiah, because the two men were together at the dedication. Ezra really came in year seven of Darius II specially to dedicate the walls and to introduce the new law" from extracted 26/5/2011

Further reading

External links