Daniel’s 70 Weeks – Timing is Everything

26May11

In this post we will examine the timing around the events described in the rest of the passage. We will look at the different proposed start dates and discuss the implications of each. We will also discuss in a little more detail the division of the weeks and how they may apply historically. The division and the timing is found in the second verse of the passage – verse 25 of Daniel 9. Again, we will be using the New King James Version for it’s simplicity and natural beauty of the poetic language the passage includes.

Dan 9:25 ” Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem

Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.

So, as the passage states from the time a decree is made to restore and build Jerusalem to the time of the Messiah will be 7 week (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years) for a total of 69 weeks (483 years). There have been several options postulated regarding the date of the decree, but two have remained the most popular and the most reliable. The two options, though, lead one to two potentiall different interpretations of the passage.

EARLY DATE OPTION (CYRUS DECREE)

The early date option, also know as the Cyrus Decree option, places the start date of the Daniel passage at 538 BC with a decree from Cyrus. This decree is found at the end of 2 Chronicles

2 Chron 36:22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,

23 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:

All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!

The result of the early date theory is that it means the passage in Daniel has nothing to do with Jesus and has a scope limited to the Macabean Revolt in the second century BC. If the early date is accurate then the Daniel passage is referencing the Antiochus persecution and abomination (which it may) and that the Messiah (generic) the Prince would be a Jewish leader in the first or second century BC that threw off the yoke of the Syrian captors.

There is a major problem with this and that is the Messiah described in the Daniel passage does more than just throw off the physical captors of the Jewish people, but is to bring in everlasting righteousness, put an end to sacrifices and to be anointed in a more specific Messianic term, and not the generic Messianic thought of a political savior.

There is also one historical point that makes the early date and Cyrus decree option less of an option. I have bolded in the 2 Chronicles passage above that the decree sent forth by Cyrus was to build the temple. But note below the Daniel passage states that the decree in question would be to rebuild the city.

Dan 9:25 ” Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem

This may be a bit nit picky, but the truth of the matter is that there were different decrees sent forth for different aspects of returning Jerusalem to it’s former glory. This leads us to the late date option, also know as the Artaxerxes Decree.

LATE DATE OPTION (ARTAXERXES I DECREE)

Throughout history there were several attempts to rebuild the city and fortify it’s walls, but all came to ruin except one. In fact, when the one group of men returned to the city they found small groups of inhabitants throughout the region who had previously attempted to rebuild the city but failed. The most successful attempt came under the guidance of Nehemiah and is found in the later chapters of the book of Ezra. This venture to rebuild the city came as a result of a decree sent forth by the Persian King Artaxerxes I in 457 BC. We find his declaration in Ezra 7.

This start date would take the first 69 weeks (483 years) up to the year 26 or 27 AD and match perfectly the date of Jesus baptism and the start of His 3 1/2 year ministry. This means that the first half of the last week (3 1/2 years) would match the timing of Jesus’ earthly ministry and would also match, as we will discover later, the fact that the Messiah is “cut off” (killed) half way through the last week! The timing of this view is perfect.

So if the later date view is correct as i propose, then the Messiah appears at the beginning of the 70th week, or as the passage states, after the 69th week. His appearance would not be His birth but rather His anointing which we see take place at His baptism.

THE 7 AND THE 62 WEEKS

What should we make of the division between the 7 years and the 62 years. there seems to be a reason for this division, but what could this timing be? Again, several different proposals have been placed on the table, but I have found one the most convincing.

The first seven years would be the time it took to build the wall around the city of Jerusalem. This would be needed to be done before the restoration of the city so that the city could be fortified against attack since the passage also dictates this would be done during troublesome times.

The 62 weeks may be in reference to the “Inter-Testamonial” time period between the last of the prophets and the birth of Jesus which most historians and theologians place as a time lasting between 400 and 450 years. During this time the city of would be rebuilt to it’s previous grandeur and the temple actually rebuilt under the guidance of King Herod.

MESSIAH the PRINCE

Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;

The last thing to mention in this portion of the passage is the introduction of the ONLY character to be found in the entire passage, the Messiah the Prince. His entrance takes placed, as proven above, in either late 26 or early 27 AD and is undeniable the Lord Jesus Christ. Please note that ONLY He can be called Messiah the Prince as He is introduced and any other use of the term Messiah, Prince or He must relate back to the only character introduced, Messiah the Prince – Jesus Christ.

You may be wondering why I am stressing this so much. We will discover as we go through the rest of the passage why this concept is so important!

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