Chapter 2: The 70 Weeks

Chapter 2: The 70 Weeks - an Exposition

In Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks, God gives a timetable for Israel’s full Salvation and Restoration (in the Messianic Kingdom). This is a difficult yet vital foundational Prophecy, that Jesus refers to and expounds in His End-Time Prophecy (Matthew 24:15). Israel is given 70 Sevens (or ‘Weeks’) of Years (490 Years), after which all things would be fulfilled in answer to Daniel’s prayers:

Daniel 9:24: "70 Weeks (‘Sevens’ of years) are determined (by God) for your People (Israel) and for your holy City (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”

Israel was in dispersion in Babylon and Daniel was praying for the Restoration of Israel: her People from sin and her City (Jerusalem) from desolation (Daniel 9). God’s answer is in the form of a Prophecy giving the timing of her full Restoration in terms of 70 ‘Sevens’.

God's answer to Daniel comes in v24a: "70 Weeks (‘Sevens’) are determined (divided, marked and cut off) for your People (Israel), and for your holy City (Jerusalem).”

Notice that the focus of the Prophecy is ISRAEL and JERUSALEM, giving a Timetable for their spiritual Salvation and natural Restoration in response to Daniel’s prayers. It soon becomes clear that this is the promised full Salvation and Restoration, that can only be accomplished by the Messiah.

Therefore it is also a Timetable for the Coming of the Messiah, and it is this fact that gives this Prophecy its great importance. If we can show that Jesus came and fulfilled this Prophecy at the exact time predicted, this will furnish a strong proof of His Messianic claims.

We shall see in v25,26 that Messiah will come to Israel, but be cut off (killed by Capital Punishment) to provide Atonement for our sins (see v24). Then after that Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed. Now since this destruction came to pass in AD 70, it follows that the Messiah had to come to Israel before AD 70. This alone provides strong confirmation of the Messiahship of Jesus. We will also show that the 70 Weeks Prophecy was fulfilled to the day by the Death and Resurrection of Christ providing absolute proof of His Messiahship.

“70 Weeks are determined” (v24). The first issue is the meaning of this term: ‘Weeks’. It’s generally agreed that this Hebrew phrase should be rendered as ‘70 Sevens.’ Literally, ‘70 Weeks’ are ‘70 Sevens’ i.e. 70x7 = 490. The ‘70 sevens’ must refer to years for the Prophecy to make sense. Moreover, we have seen that Daniel was thinking in years in v2. Thus these are 70 sevens of years (490 years).

The word translated ‘determined’ or ‘decreed’ means ‘cut off’, as you would measure, divide and cut-off an exact length of wood. This word emphasises that God was carefully determining the length of Israel’s history until the Messiah accomplishes His work. It points to a fixed, limited period of definite duration, forming part of a longer period of time. God has sovereignly marked out and cut off these 490 years from the rest of history, through which He would accomplish His Messianic Purposes, especially for Israel.

The Unity of the ‘490 Years’. The whole 70 Weeks are ‘cut off’ as a single piece of time. Thus, this Period of 70 Weeks constitutes a SINGLE exact predetermined Time-Period of 490 years that is determined upon Daniel’s people - Israel. It only speaks of the ‘70 Weeks’ being cut out by God (not its various sub-divisions). Although it goes on to describe different parts of these 70 Weeks, it never says (for example) that the 69 Weeks (483 years) and the 70th Week (of 7 Years) are separately ‘cut out.’ Any valid interpretation must fundamentally treat the ‘70 Weeks’ as a single piece of time. Thus these 70 Weeks must run consecutively. This is the main weakness of the standard dispensational interpretation which ignores this requirement, breaking the ‘70 Weeks’ (in their essential nature) into two parts (separating the 69th and 70th Week). I will develop a literal and dispensational interpretation that will also satisfy this vital requirement of the Unity of the 70 Weeks (490 years).

This time-period is measured out: “for your People (Israel) and for your holy City.” The 70 Weeks of years are specifically measured out and decreed for Israel and Jerusalem (not the Church).

A Week of days or Years? A ‘Week’ means a ‘Seven’. Thus it can either mean a ‘week of days’ or ‘a week of years.’ From the context, it is generally accepted that Daniel’s 70 Weeks must be Weeks of Years, and so refer to 70 ‘Sevens’ of years or 490 years.

It is generally agreed that YEARS are intended - the evidence is clear:

(1) It could not and did not happen in 490 days.

(2) If ‘weeks (sevens) of days’ would have been intended, then
it would have been expressed in this way, as it was later on in Daniel 10:3, where: “till 3 whole ‘weeks’ were fulfilled”
is literally: “till 3 ‘sevens of days’ were fulfilled.”

(3) Moreover YEARS (the 70 Years of Captivity in Babylon) had been the subject of Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:2) which precipitated the revelation. Daniel had been praying about the end of this period of 70 YEARS (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10-14) and in response to this prayer, he was given revelation about a further 7x70 Years to come.

(4) The last (70th) Week is divided into 2 halves of 3.5 years (1260 days) each. When Daniel 9:25-27 divides up the 70 Weeks, the last (70th Week) in v27 (describing the time of the antichrist) is clearly not a ‘week of days.’ In fact, it is clearly a ‘week (seven) of years’, being divided into two 3.5 YEAR periods of 42 months or 1260 days (Daniel 7:25, 12:7; Revelation 11:2,3, 12:6,14; 13:5).

(5) Moreover, the 70-year Captivity in Babylon (which is the context for Daniel’s 70-Weeks) was due to Israel violating 70 Sabbatical YEARS, and therefore sinning over a 490-YEAR period. Israel had broken the Sabbath Law in Leviticus 25. According to 2Chronicles 36:20,21, they were punished by this Exile to Babylon, so that their Land might enjoy the 70 sabbath rests, which had not been observed for 490 years (see also Leviticus 26:33-35,43; Jeremiah 34:12-22).

Daniel would have known that the 70 years of Exile represented 70 ‘sevens’ of years in which the Sabbath Year had been broken. So, when Daniel was told that another 70 ‘Sevens’ were decreed into Israel’s future, he knew that this must refer to another 490 YEARS. Since Daniel was thinking in terms of the 70-YEAR Captivity, based on the 490 YEARS of sabbatical disobedience, he would have naturally understood the 70 ‘Sevens’ to refer to ‘70 Sevens of Years’. Thus the 70 ‘Sevens’ of Daniel 9:24 are connected to the 70 Sevens of Years, during which Israel violated the keeping of sabbatical years. This confirms they must be ‘Sevens of Years’, and also that the kind of Years referred to in the 70 Weeks must be the same kind of Years that Israel had previously been using.


s 70 Weeks7


*Thus the whole period is 490 YEARS – One Great Jubilee Cycle.

*It is Daniel 9:24 that reveals on the surface of Scripture the Principle that God measures Israel’s time in Great Jubilee Cycles of 490 years.

*Daniel’s 70 Weeks (490 years) are connected to the JUBILEE that came every 49 years, for 490 years are 10 Jubilees. The Jubilee was a revelation of God’s forgiveness and grace. The Jubilee Year started on the Day of Atonement with God’s acceptance of the great Sin-Offering, which then provided forgiveness, release and blessing for all of Israel. Thus the blessings of Jubilee are based on Atonement. So we should expect the Great Jubilee Cycle of Daniel’s 70 Weeks to end in the final Atonement of the Messiah, releasing forgiveness and blessing to Israel, resulting in the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. This is confirmed by what we read in the rest of v24.

We shall show these 490 years indeed came to their climactic end in the supreme Jubilee event, the fulfilment of all Jubilees, in the Atoning Death and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus, which released forgiveness and grace to all, and laid the foundation for His Kingdom! The most outstanding and impressive aspect of this Prophecy is its use of NUMBERS measuring exact periods of time in which God would accomplish different things. These numbers should be taken LITERALLY. We have seen the Chapter opens with Daniel realising from Jeremiah’s writings that Israel’s Captivity would last 70 years.

These were literal years. Since the Prophecy delivered by Gabriel to Daniel in 9:24-27 is related to the 70-year Captivity, it follows that the 70 Weeks (‘Sevens’) of years are equally literal. Also, as definite numbers are used in the Prophecy (7, 62, and 1 ‘sevens’), it would be strange if these specific numbers did not have literal meaning. Why should definite numbers be applied to periods of indefinite lengths?

Understanding verse 24 is foundational to the Prophecy, for it is the overall summary statement of what would be accomplished by the end of these 490 years allotted to Israel, whereas the other 3 verses give a more detailed explanation of the development of these 490 years. Thus, they help us understand the main statement of verse 24.

Next, in Daniel 9:24, God gives the 6 things (goals) that will be accomplished by the end of this Time-Period of 490 Years:

The first 3 Messianic Accomplishments (Salvation from Sin):
(1) to finish the transgression,
(2) to make an end of sins,
(3) to make reconciliation for iniquity,
The final 3 Messianic Accomplishments (establishing His Kingdom):
(4) to bring in Everlasting Righteousness (or ‘Age of Righteousness’)
(5) to seal up Vision and Prophecy, and
(6) to anoint the Most Holy (Place).”

These 6 items are arranged into 2 groups of 3. The first group has to do with SIN (using the very words Daniel used in his prayer in 9:5). These answer Daniel’s prayer by revealing God’s solution to the problem of sin. The second group of 3 goals for the end of the 490 year period has to do with establishing God’s Kingdom of RIGHTEOUSNESS (see 9:7). The first 3 are negative, speaking of the removal of undesirable things; and the last 3 are the bringing in of the positive. The first 3 have to do with Salvation (from sin), and the second 3 with the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. Before the Kingdom can be established on earth, the issue of Salvation from sin had to be dealt with and full provision for man’s righteousness had to be made through the Atonement of the Messiah (Isaiah 53).