Daniel's '70 Weeks' Prophecy was Fulfilled by AD 70
A series on eschatology would be incomplete without Daniel’s '70 Weeks' Prophecy.
I will endeavour to explain why Daniel's prophecy is the most fascinating and controversial in the Old Testament, and why I believe its fulfilment was AD 70.
Psa 137:1-4 KJV By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?
Till there was no Remedy
2Ch 36:14-16 KJV Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
The Reasons for the 70 Years of Babylonian Captivity
The kingdom of Judah had forsaken the Lord; their transgressions had degenerated to such an extent ‘till there was no remedy’. Not only had they maltreated the prophets, they neglected their stewardship of the land.
Lev 25:4 KJV But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
To continue in the blessing of the Lord the Children of Israel had to obey the Old Covenant Law, which included allowing the land to rest for a year every seventh year.
2Ch 36:21 KJV To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.
On at least 70 occasions, Old Covenant Israel worked the land on the Sabbath year with total disregard for the Law. The 70 years of Babylonian captivity was the result of their disobedience.
A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
2 Chronicles 36:21 'Sabbaths - …Many a time had they ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have rested: and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years. Yet even this might encourage them to hope, that they should in due time return to it again. Had others come and taken possession of it, they might have despaired of ever recovering it. But while it lay desolate, it, as it were, waited for them, and refused to acknowledge any other owners.’
2 Chronicles 36:21 'Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths - Between the time of Moses and the commencement of the captivity, there had been (about) 70 occasions on which the Law of the sabbatical year had been violated…Leviticus 25:4-7.’— Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible
Artaxerxes Granting Liberty to the Jews
The Return from the Babylonian Captivity
Isa 44:28 KJV That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and proclaimed that a man by the name of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to their land.
This prophecy was approximately 150 years before Cyrus ascended to the throne.
Jer 25:11-12 KJV And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Jer 29:10 KJV For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
Jeremiah lived approximately 100 years after Isaiah and prophesied from 626 BC, he predicted the captivity would last for 70 years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place during 606-586 BC and the first decree to return was in 536 BC.
Daniel's '70 Weeks Prophecy'
Dan 9:22 KJV And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
Daniel sought the Lord on behalf of his people and the angel Gabriel explained what the future held for them.
Dan 9:24 KJV Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
The 70 weeks was literally 70 sevens, generally understood to mean 490 years. The captivity had been 70 years, the period between the return from captivity and the time of the Messiah would be 70 times seven...Leviticus 26:18.
A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Daniel 9:24 'Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices…….Seventy weeks are determined -The Jews had Sabbatic years, Lev 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years…'
The Commission of the Messiah …Daniel 9:24
Jesus the Saviour Dealt With Sin
'to finish the transgression' The seventy years exile was punishment, but not full atonement for the sin of the people. Only the Messiah could pay that debt.
'to make an end of sins' Perhaps a reference to sin-offerings, Jesus accomplished this when He offered Himself on the cross.
'to make reconciliation for iniquity' Through His suffering and death the Law of God was fully satisfied and the sinner reconciled.
'to bring in everlasting righteousness' Christ brought everlasting righteousness whereby the saints of all the ages would be justified by faith.
Jesus the King Is on His Throne
'to seal up the vision and prophecy' Christ fulfilled all prophecy.
'to anoint the most Holy' Christ was consecrated Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Messiah accomplished all required of Him by AD 70.
Dan 10:14 KJV Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
Dan 9:25-27 KJV Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: 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 unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
'Messiah the Prince' In the KJV, it is interesting to note that the word ‘Prince’ in Daniel 9:25, which is emphasised by a capital ‘P’, is the same Hebrew word ‘nagid’ used in Daniel 9:26, but with a lowercase ‘p’.
Dispensationalism takes this opportunity to propose that the 'inferior' prince is the future 'antichrist'. However, the KJV 1611 has a capital ‘P’ on both occasions, and in Young’s Literal Translation ‘Prince’ is translated ‘Leader’ with a capital ‘L’ on both occasions.
In my opinion, 'the Prince' in both verses referred to the Messiah, there was no justification for the substitution of a lower case ‘p’ in Daniel 9:26.
Numerous commentators agree the timeline was AD 70, although some believe 'the prince' was Titus.
A Quote from gotquestions.org
Daniel 9:26 'The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.' This speaks of the Roman Empire destroying Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. It should be noted that the prince was yet to come; only the people of the prince were the ones who destroyed Jerusalem. This also tells us that the antichrist/beast will come from a future revived Roman Empire.'
There was a time when I would have accepted this answer. However, I never cease to be amazed at my naivety. 'Got Questions' dissected this verse and inserted a 2000 years gap without explanation or scriptural support.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown provides a balanced view of the text:
A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary
Daniel 9:26 'the people of the prince — the Romans, led by Titus, the representative of the world power, ultimately to be transferred to Messiah, and so called by Messiah’s title, “the Prince”; as also because sent by Him, as His instrument of judgment (Matt 22:7).'
'The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary’ The Messiah the Prince used the Roman Army commanded by Titus to carry out His judgement upon Jerusalem at His parousia. On certain occasions, the Lord used Gentile nations to fulfil His 'Day of the Lord' prophecies, for example:
- Isa 13:10 KJV For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Isaiah prophesied God’s judgement on Babylon and described it metaphorically...Isaiah 13:10-16.
Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
He then explained how God would perform it ‘I will stir up the Medes against them’...Isaiah 13:17.
The Fulfillment of Daniel's '70 Weeks Prophecy'
There were three decrees issued by the Persian kings, 536 BC, 457 BC, and 444 BC. Many scholars contend that the principle one was 457 BC.
The first 49 years (seven weeks) added to 457 BC equates to 408 BC when the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt.
The next 434 years (62 Weeks) added to 408 BC, brings the timeline to AD 26 when Jesus began His public ministry.
The final 7 years (one Week) added to AD 26, corresponds to AD 33.
Some scholars teach that the prophecy ended in AD 33 when the Gospel was extended to the Gentiles, and that does have merit.
In my opinion, Christ's ministry ended at the cross half way through, and the final three and a half years of the 70th week was the duration of the Jewish/Roman war from AD 66 to AD 70. My premise is that Daniel's prophecy included the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.
Christ reigned from heaven over Old Covenant Israel during the intervening 40 years, the transition period from the Old Covenant to the New. Subsequently, the elect was gathered and delivered from judgement prior to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.
It is interesting that Old Covenant Israel began with 40 years in the wilderness, while that unbelieving generation passed away, and ended with Christ reigning with a rod of iron for 40 years, until His unbelieving generation passed away.
- Act 2:33-37 KJV Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
A Quote from Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 2:36 'Both Lord and Christ - Not only the Messiah, but the supreme Governor of all things and all persons, Jews and Gentiles, angels and men. In the preceding discourse, Peter assumes a fact which none would attempt to deny, viz. that Jesus had been lately crucified by them. He then,
1. Proves his resurrection.
2. His ascension.
3. His exaltation to the right hand of God.
4. The effusion of the Holy Spirit, which was the fruit of his glorification, and which had not only been promised by himself, but foretold by their own prophets: in consequence of which,
5. It was indisputably proved that this same Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the promised Messiah; and if so,
6. The Governor of the universe, from whose power and justice they had every thing to dread, as they refused to receive his proffered mercy and kindness.'
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All was fulfilled by AD 70, and Daniel’s ‘70 Weeks Prophecy' was consigned to history! Jesus kept His promises, just as He said He would.
Luk 21:32 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
What do you think?
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