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Updated on August 3, 2013

The book of Daniel in the Old Testament was written approximately six hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Despite the vast time difference, Daniel gives a startling prediction of when the Jewish Messiah would appear in a very precise mathematical formula (Daniel 9/24-27). Daniel’s prophecy was specific to the Jewish people and to Jerusalem (v24) but it also has implications for the whole of humanity since it describes the 'Great Tribulation', the return of the Messiah and the end of the present age in a time period known as ‘seventy weeks’. (Daniel 9/24).

The use of the term 'weeks' or 'sevens' refers to 'weeks of years' or 'sevens of years’ in Jewish literature. Therefore ‘seventy weeks’ means 70 sevens. Literally 70x7=490. The 70 sevens must refer to 490 years for the prophecy to make sense. It is clear that Daniel was thinking in literal years in Daniel 9/2 and that this prophecy is not symbolic.

The calculations are relevant to the Jewish calendar which is based on the number of lunar cycles in a year, making an approximate 360 day lunar year with each month lasting 30 days each. (Genesis 7/24; 8/3,4; Daniel 9/27; 12/6; Revelation 11/2,3).

The seventy weeks begins when there is a decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9/25). If we take the decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-8) the calculations are startling. The Messiah comes 433 years after the decree to rebuild is issued [calculated by adding 7 weeks (49 years) + 62 weeks (434 years)]. The sixty nine weeks coincide exactly with the time of Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem on the 10th day of Nisan 32 AD which corresponds to the 6th of April 32 AD. Therefore Daniel 9/25 gives a specific time for the arrival of the first coming of the Jewish Messiah since it accurately predicts his crucifixion from the decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in 445 BC.

The time period of 3.5 years is also referred to as 'time, times and half a time' i.e. 1 + 2 + 1/2= 31/2 by Daniel and also in the book of Revelation (Daniel 7/25; 12/7; Revelation 12/14). This period of time is also referred to as 42 months (Revelation 11/2; 13/5); 1260 days (Revelation 11/3; Daniel 12/6). It is this last half of the 'week' which is known as the 'great tribulation' i.e. the final 3.5 years prior to the return of Christ. The Bible is so detailed about the time periods involved that it is obviously meant to be clearly understood and stands as a stark warning to humanity.

Future Prophecies and the End of the Age

There are specific biblical prophecies indicating the things which will happen prior to the 'seventieth week' i.e. the final seven years of history. Most significant is the regathering of Israel (Jeremiah 30/11; 31/10,28,35-37; Ezekiel 37/1-14). Isaiah the prophet spoke of Israel being born in a single day (Isaiah 66/7-8). On May 14th 1948 the nation of Israel was quite literally born in a single day when the Jews declared independence for Israel as a united and sovereign nation for the first time in 2,900 years. Jerusalem returned to Jewish control in 1967 after the six day war. Other prophecies speak of alliances between Libya, Ethiopia, Persia (Iran) (Ezekiel 38/5; Daniel 11/43). More specifically, Damascus will be destroyed (Isaiah 17/1). Israel will have a false sense of security and will be living in ‘unwalled villages’ prior to the attack by Russia and its allies (Ezekiel 38, 39). The final indicator is of course when Israel makes a ‘strong covenant’ for seven years with the leader of a revived Roman Empire i.e. ‘the prince who is to come’.



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    • ELIORA profile image


      If you do the math the first two decrees do not work literally i.e. they did not produce the Messiah in the time frame stated by Daniel.

    • ELIORA profile image


      There were actually four decrees:

      1. The decree from Cyrus in 539 BC. (Ezra 1:1-4)

      2. The decree from Darius in 519 BC. (Ezra 5:3-7)

      3. The decree from Artaxerxes to Ezra in 457/458 BC. (Ezra 7:11-16)

      4. The decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in 445 BC. (Nehemiah 2:1-8)

      The first two can be discounted because unless we take it symbolically they do not work. The decree of King Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457/458 BC (Ezra 7)is problematic since this decree does not specify the rebuilding of Jerusalem which the text infers. The Hebrew rechob means 'street' and charuts means 'wall' or 'moat' are taken to mean the whole city of Jerusalem. The decree from Artaxerxes to Ezra in 457/458 BC. (Ezra 7:11-16) was to convey silver and gold to buy provisions in order to offer them on the altar of the house of God (temple) in Jerusalem.

      If we accept the authority of the Jewish scriptures and the literal view, we must accept that Daniel’s seventy week prophecy has been fulfilled due to the calculations which do not allow the last decree (445 BC) to have been fulfilled any later than 33 AD. Logically it does seem that the 445 BC decree is the obvious candidate since the earlier decrees have not produced a Messiah.