Historical-Messianic Interpretation of Daniel 9; The 490 years are 70 seven-year cycles, where every seventh was a Sabbath Year.

Sabbath YearsThe Historical-Messianic interpretation is the traditional understanding of Daniel 9.  In this interpretation the 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, which was based on Israel’s Sabbath Year cycle.  Jesus confirmed God’s covenant with Israel during the last seven of the 490 years. 

This interpretation is called Messianic because it understands the Messiah to be the one who confirms the covenant for the seven last years.  It is called historical because the full 490 years is interpreted as past history.

Daniel 9 has been understood in such way ever since the early church.  It is only in the recent centuries that Dispensationalism and Liberal Criticism have become the dominant views.

Below the Daniel 9 prophecy is explained from the Historical-Messianic perspective. The explanation will be phrase by phrase.

For discussions of the other interpretations of Daniel 9, see:

Dispensationalism
Critical Interpretation
Consistent Symbolical Interpretation

24a Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city (9:24)

Gabriel appears to DanielThese were Gabriel’s opening words.

Israel’s calendar followed a seven-year cycle in which every seventh year was a Sabbath Year for the land (Lev. 25).  The 70 weeks are 70 of those Sabbath Year cycles, and consequently equal to 490 literal years.

By implication, these seventy weeks have decreed by God, for Gabriel brought this message from God (9:22).

Your people and your holy city” refer to Israel and Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the capital and symbol of the Jewish nation.

Covenant in Daniel 9

This concept is fundamental to understanding many things in this prophecy.  It also helps to explain the Seventy Weeks.  It is discussed in The Covenant in Daniel 9, but explained briefly below:

Sabbath Year

In Leviticus 25 God commanded Israel to allow the land to rest every seventh year (v2), similar to the weekly Sabbath day of rest.  Israel had to work the land for six years (v3), but in the seventh year was a Sabbath Year; the land had to rest (v4).  In this way the years on the Jewish calendar were divided into sevens, with each seventh is a Sabbath Year.

Covenant Exile Pattern

Leviticus 26 contains the covenant promises and warnings.  It states:

Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai

(1) Should Israel become unfaithful (Lev. 26:14-39);
(2) It will go in exile.  God will scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26:33).
(3) If Israel in exile (Lev. 26:41, 44) “confess their iniquity” (v40);
(4)Then I will remember My covenant … with Abraham” (v42) “that I might be their God” (v45).  God would renew His covenant with them

The Covenant Exile Pattern is therefore (1) Disobedience – (2) Exile – (3) Confession – (4) Covenant Renewal.

Leviticus 26 furthermore uses the seven-year cycle to count the number of years of exile (Lev. 26:34-35, 43).  Israel would be in exile for every Sabbath Year not observed.  While they are in exile, the land will enjoy its rest.  The Sabbath Year cycle was therefore made part of the covenant threat of exile. 

490 years of disobedience prior to exile

Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would be in exile for 70 years.  On the basis of Leviticus 26 we know that each of Jeremiah’s 70 years of exile was a Sabbath year.  This is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 36:21. Each of the 70 years therefore represent 7 years of disobedience.  Consequently, the 70 years represent the equivalent of Seventy Weeks (490 years) of disobedience, prior to the exile.

Daniel 9 follows this covenant pattern:

(1) This prophecy was received at a time when Jerusalem was in ruins and Israel in exile (9:2, 7).  The exile was the covenant penalty for disobedience: Israel was scattered to allow the land to have its rest (2Ch 36:21; Dan 9:11-13; cf. Lev. 25:2).

(2) In his prayer (9:4-19) Daniel confessed the guilt of His people (9:5-11, 15-16), acknowledged the exile as the covenant penalty for disobedience (9:11-13), acknowledged that God had acted fairly (9:7, 14), but also prayed for the promise of covenant renewal after exile (9:4).  He prayed for “Your city and Your people” (9:19, 16-17).  In this way Daniel fulfilled the condition for covenant renewal after exile (Leviticus 26:40-41).  On behalf of Israel, and he prayed for the renewal of Israel’s covenant privileges.

(3) This context means that, when Gabriel brought God’s answer, namely that “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city”, that this is a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel in terms of Leviticus 26:42, 45, for a new cycle of Seventy Weeks.

Implications

The important implications are:

(a) The covenant pattern forms the framework that binds together Daniel’s prayer in the first part of the chapter 9 and the prophecy at the end of it.  God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.

(b) The 490 years promised by Daniel 9 are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.

(c) The covenant that is confirmed during the “one week” (9:27) is the final seven years of God’s time-limited renewed covenant with Israel.

(d) God’s covenant with Israel comes to an end at the end of the Seventy Weeks of years.

(e) Since Daniel 9’s 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, and since the Sabbath year cycle is part of this covenant, every seventh year will be a Sabbath year.  This means that these are 490 literal years, not prophetic years, as in Dispensationalism.

Six goals

make atonement for iniquity
To make atonement for iniquity

Verse 24 lists 6 goals for the 490 years, namely, to:

Finish the transgression, to make an end of sin
Make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness
Seal up vision and prophecy
And to anoint the most holy place

These goals are discussed in When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?  However, the reader is advised to first read the explanation of verses 25 to 27 before reading the analysis of the goals.

NEXTDaniel 9:25  Decree to Restore
TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles

When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?

The main matter in this article is when the Daniel 9:24 goals have been or will be fulfilled.

This is the seventh and final article in the series on the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9.  The previous articles were:

(1) Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9: Overview of the text of Daniel 9 and of the Dispensational interpretation
(2) Time indications in Daniel 9: When was the decree issued, when did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?
(3) Whose covenant is confirmed in Daniel 9:27; God’s covenant with Israel or the devil’s?
(4) Who confirms the covenant for seven years; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) Is the last week the last seven u=years before Christ returns?
(6) Dispensationalism Daniel 9 and the Antichrist: Inconsistencies compared to the text

Daniel 9:24 Goals Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

Summary

The first two goals—“to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins”—do not mean that a complete and utter end will be made of sin in this world.  In the context of the prophecy these goals given to Israel.  Israel was to show its loyalty to God when the Messiah appears.  But Israel failed.

According to the New Testament the third and fourth goals—“to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”—were fulfilled by Christ’s death.

The fifth goal—“to seal up the vision and prophecy”—is understood as that the events of the final week, particularly the Cross, would validate the Old Testament promises of the coming Messiah.

The sixth goal— “to anoint the most Holy” —refers to heaven itself.  Christ’s death was a great victory over evil, and as we read in Revelation 5 and 12, Satan was cast out of heaven as a result (Rev. 12:5, 7-9).

Introduction

Daniel 9 goalsDispensationalism denies that Christ’s first advent (His earthly life, baptism, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven) fulfilled the Daniel 9:24 goals for the seventy week.  It consequently objects to the traditional Protestant interpretation of Daniel 9.

The following are proposed guidelines for interpreting these goals:

Firstly, these goals were given to Israel to fulfill, and Israel was given 490 years to fulfill them.  These goals must therefore be fulfilled during the 490 years; not at the end of that period.

Secondly, as discussed, the last seven years are the purpose and core of the 490 years.  It is therefore proposed that all six goals were to be fulfilled by the events of the last seven years.

Thirdly, the goals are probably listed in the sequence in which they were to be fulfilled.

1. To finish the transgression
2. To make an end of sin

In the parallelism of the prophecy, this seems to be a single thought, expressed in two ways.  One can see why Dispensationalism argues that these goals have not been fulfilled, for we still live in a world filled with transgression and sin.  But it is proposed that this does not refer to sin in general, but specifically to Israel’s sin, for the following reasons:

(a) In his prayer, Daniel prayed “we have sinned, committed iniquity” (9:5) and “we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity” (9:13).  He said, “I was … confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel” (9:20).  When he then hears that 490 years were decreed for Israel to fulfill these two goals (9:24), Daniel would have understood these two goals as a challenge to Israel, to manifest their loyalty toward Him and bring an end to the sinful state of their society that led to the exile.

(b) The definite article “the” identifies the transgression as some specific sin.

(c) The goals are probably listed in the sequence in which they were to be fulfilled, and these two goals are mentioned before the third goal, which is to make atonement of iniquity, which was certainly fulfilled by Christ’s death.

God gave Israel the opportunity to succeed where their fathers failed.  In particular, Israel was to show its loyalty to God when the Messiah would appear.  These two goals were therefore not fulfilled.

3. To make atonement for iniquity
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness

Lamb of GodThese two goals are also related; by making atonement, Jesus brought in everlasting righteousness.

Consider firstly “make atonement for iniquity”.  Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  His blood was “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).  He was sacrificed for our sins and did away “with sin” once for all when he offered himself (Heb. 7:27, 9:26-28).  Through His own blood He has obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).  See also Hebrews 10:10, 12, and 14.

We might be inclined to think that Christ did not bring in “everlasting righteousness” because this world is still dominated by sin.  But note how the Bible speaks of the everlasting consequences of the cross as a current reality:

Hebrews 9:12 – “Eternal redemption” already exist.
Rom. 5:10, 11; Col. 1:20 – We are already reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
2Co 5:19 – He already does not count our trespasses against us (See also; Col 1:22).
Rom 5:18 – Justification of life to all men is already obtained.
John 3:17 – The world is already saved.
Col. 1:19-20 – God already reconciled all things to Himself, and already made peace through the blood of His cross.

These two goals were not conditional and were fulfilled through His death.

5. To seal up vision and prophecy

“Nabi” is actually is the word for prophet, not for prophecy.  Hatam (“seal up”) can have different meanings.

To hide – “Seal up” may mean to hide something, for instance “conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time” (Daniel 12:4).  But to conceal vision and prophet seems hardly appropriate as a goal for the 490 years.

To end – “Seal up” can also mean to make an end of something.  This goal could therefore be that there would be no further vision and prophet for Israel.  The end of the 490 years was also the end of Israel’s special status as people of God.  However, these goals were to be fulfilled through Israel, during the 490 years; not at the end of that period.  One consequence of their failure may have been to bring an end to vision and prophecy for Israel, but it does not make sense to say it was a goal set for Israel, to be fulfilled during the 490 years.

To validate – A third possible meaning of hatam is to validate something, and since the other possible meanings do not fit, this is proposed as the intended meaning.  It is proposed that it means that the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah in general were to be validated or authenticated by Cross, for instance:

Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers” (Rom 15:8).

6. To anoint the most holy place

Most Holy PlaceThe word “place” is added by the translators, but accepted here.  The phrase translated “most holy” (qodes qodasim) occurs more than 40 times in the Old Testament, and in every instance it refers to the sanctuary, with the possible exception of 1 Chronicles 23:13.  The most holy place is the central chamber of the tabernacle, where God is present.  To anoint the most holy place means to inaugurate it (Heb. 9:18-23).

But which temple is intended?  If it referred to the temple that was rebuilt after the exile, the anointing should have been listed prior to the third goal of “atonement”.  Furthermore, since the last seven years are the core and focus of the prophecy, all six goals should be fulfilled by the events of those seven years.

Temple in heaven

The letter to the Hebrews is significantly different from other letters in the New Testament.  None of the other letters mention a temple in heaven, or Jesus as our high priest in that temple, but this is the main message of the letter to the Hebrews:

This is the “true tabernacle” (8:2), not made with hands (Heb. 9:24; cf. 8:1-2).  The earthly tabernacle was a copy of this true tabernacle (Heb. 8:5; 9:24).

Similar to the words in Daniel 9:24, the temple in heaven is also called the “holy place” (Heb. 9:24; 10:19).

The first covenant was inaugurated by sprinkling the tabernacle with the blood (Heb. 9:21) of the calves and the goats (Heb. 9:19).  But Hebrews tells us that the “heavens”—therefore the sanctuary in heaven—were “cleansed”, but with “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23), namely “through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).

In other words, in Hebrews, Jesus entered the holy place after He obtained eternal redemption at the cross (Heb. 9:12).  We find the same sequence in Daniel 9:24—the goal of anointing of the most holy is mentioned after the goal “to make atonement for iniquity”.

Revelation

It is not proposed that there is a literal temple in heaven.  The point of Hebrews is rather that the earthly temple and its ceremonies were images of the real events in heaven.  The New Testament often quotes Psalm 110:1 to say that Jesus sat down at His Father’s right hand at His ascension.  This event is visually presented by Revelation 5 and 12.  See Introduction to the Seven Seals.  Revelation 12 describes Jesus’ ascension to His Father’s throne (12:5).  Then a “war in heaven” ensued (v7).  The outcome was that “the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb” (v10-11).  “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath”.

In other words, the death of Christ enabled God to throw Satan and his angels out of heaven.  It is proposed that this is the meaning of the cleansing of the “heavens” with Christ’s blood (Heb. 9:23, 12).  It is also proposed that this is what is meant by the goal in Daniel 9, “to anoint the most holy place”.

Conclusion

It is therefore proposed that the last four goals were fulfilled through Jesus Christ on behalf of Israel.  This Hebrew man atoned for the sin of the whole world.  Through Israel, and particularly through this Hebrew Man Jesus that became the Lamb of God, God reconciled the world to Himself (Rom. 5:10, 11; 2Co 5:19; Col 1:19-20).

Book of Revelation

The vast majority of the people on earth do not believe in the supernatural, and since the Bible is a book about the supernatural, it is rejected.  Inside the Church one major school of thought shares this view, and believes that Daniel does not predict anything, but that it reflects the events of Antiochus, more than 100 years before Christ.  The Critical Interpretation of the 490 years promised by Daniel 9 is discussed in a separate article.

Dispensationalism is another major system of belief within the Church, and puts a vast gap of 2000 years between the first 69 sevens described in verses 25-26 and the last seven described in verse 27.  The book of Revelation has been built on the prophecies of Daniel.  An incorrect interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies inevitably distorts Revelation’s prophecies.  The typical Dispensational interpretation puts everything in the last 19 chapters of Revelation in the final seven years of Daniel 9, which are interpreted as the final seven years before the return of Christ.  Since this article has shown that those seven years do not describe end time events, but the Messiah-events 2000 years ago, the whole Dispensational interpretation of Revelation and of eschatology collapses.

The historical view of Daniel 9, as defended in this article, which interprets the last seven years as fulfilled in the time of Christ, was once held by the majority in the Church.  But today it is nearly non-existent.  But Daniel was promised:

… seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase”. (12:4)

Summary

Daniel 9:24 goals Fulfilled in Jesus ChristDispensationalism objects to the traditional Protestant interpretation of Daniel 9 by claiming that Christ’s first advent did not fulfill the Daniel 9:24 goals set for the seventy weeks (9:24).  This is true, but remember, Israel failed.  There is something which God must do through His people to end the sinful state of this world, and it was His intention to do it through Israel 2000 years ago, but Israel failed.

RevelationThe book of Revelation is built on the foundation of the prophecies of Daniel.  An incorrect interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies inevitably distorts Revelation’s prophecies. Dispensationalism puts the last 19 chapters of Revelation in the final seven years of Daniel 9, which are interpreted as the final seven years before the return of Christ.  But this article has shown that those seven years describe the Messiah-events 2000 years ago.

NEXTHistorical Messianic Interpretation
TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles
TO: General Table of Contents

Seventy weeks have been decreed: WHEN did the 490 years begin and when did the first 483 years end?

DispensationalismThis second article in the series compares the time indications for the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9 to the Dispensational interpretation.  Dispensationalism takes the second decree of Artaxerxes (445/4 BC) as the one that restored Jerusalem.  But since this decree does not fit the time of Christ, Dispensationalism reduces the 483 years by about 7 years by interpreting these as 360-day years.  This brings us to Christ’s  triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the appearance of the Messiah in 9:25.  Dispensationalism assumes that God suspended His covenant with Israel at the Cross.

Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem

9:25 reads:

from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem …” (NASB).

Seventy WeeksThe Seventy Weeks began with this decree.  As stated in the previous article, restore, in the original text, does not mean the same as rebuild.  Restore means to give the city back to its previous owner.

In the article Which decree four decrees by three different Persian kings over a period of about 90 years, are considered.

Cyrus:

King CyrusThe decree by Cyrus in 538/7 BC allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and therefore to rebuild Jerusalem, but it did not restore Jerusalem to the nation to serve as their national capital.

Darius:

The decree by Darius I 520 BC simply confirmed Cyrus’ edict.    

Artaxerxes in 457 BC (Ezra 7:1-26):

As discussed in the article Which Decree, this decree, for the first time, granted autonomy of Judah.  It restored Jerusalem as judicial and executive capital to the nation.  In this decree the king said, “Whoever does not obey the law of your God … must surely be punished by death …” The Persian king thereby made the Mosaic Law part of his own law, and granted authority to the Jews to govern themselves on the basis of the law of God.  It provides for a measure of judicial and civil autonomy unknown since the Babylonian desolation of Jerusalem and Judea about 130 years earlier.

A further indication that this is the decree intended by 9:25 is the fact that, if we add Seventy Weeks (490 years) to 457 BC, we come to the time of Christ.

Artaxerxes in 445/4 BC (Neh. 1-2):

Nehemiah, cupbearer to Artaxerxes IDispensationalism takes this as the decree that restored Jerusalem.  This decree, however, did not “restore” Jerusalem.  This decree only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.  When Nehemiah asked for this decree, he did not even ask to rebuild the city.  He only asked for permission to go to Jerusalem (2:5) and for wood for the walls (2:8).  This decree was also too late to fit the time of Christ.

Dispensationalism claims that the second decree of Artaxerxes I for the first time authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but that is also not true.  All four decrees above, by allowing the Jews to return to Judah and to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4; cf. Is. 45:1), implicitly allowed the Jews to rebuild their cities.  Please see the article Which decree for a fuller discussion.

Seventy Weeks – Prophetic Years

9:25 continues:

 “until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (9:25 NASB)

Dispensationalism prophetic yearsDispensationalism proposes that the Messiah Prince is Jesus Christ and that He would appear 7+62=69×7= 483 years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (9:25), but 483 years from 445/4 BC brings us to about AD 40; far beyond the Cross.  Dispensationalism therefore proposes that the 483 years are “prophetic years” of 360 days each; not 365 days.  This gives a total of 173,880 days (483 x 360), which is equal to 476 solar years plus some days.  In this way the 483 years are shortened by 7 years to fit the actual historical time from Artaxerxes’ second decree to the crucifixion, assuming the crucifixion was in AD 33 or AD 32.

However, as discussed in The Covenant in Daniel 9, the covenant pattern forms the framework for the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9.  Since the covenant is based on Israel’s seven-year cycle, and since the Seventy Weeks are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, these must be literal years.  To explain:

Sabbath Years

In Leviticus 25 God commanded Israel to allow the land to rest every seventh year (v2), similar to the weekly Sabbath day of rest.  Israel had to work the land for six years (v3), but in the seventh year the land had to rest (v4).  In this way the years on the Jewish calendar were divided into sevens, where each seventh year is a Sabbath.

Warning of exile

Leviticus 26, which contains the covenant promises and warnings, warned Israel that it would be in exile for every Sabbath year not observed.  While they are in exile, the land will enjoy its rest.  The Sabbath years were therefore made part of the covenant threat of exile.

490 years of disobedience

Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would be in exile for 70 years.  Each of Jeremiah’s 70 years of exile therefore was a Sabbath year.  This is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 36:21. Each of the 70 years therefore represent 7 years of disobedience.  Consequently, the 70 years represent the equivalent of Seventy Weeks (490 years) of disobedience, prior to the exile.

Seventy Weeks renewed covenant

The prophecy of Daniel 9 therefore extended God’s covenant with Israel for a new cycle of Seventy Weeks, in which every seventh year will be a Sabbath year.  The Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 refer to these weeks of years, and therefore are literal solar years.

This confirms that the second decree of Artaxerxes does not fit the time of Christ.

Difference in dates

The second decree of Artaxerxes I is dated by most dispensationalists to 445 BC, but by some to 444 BC:

Interpreters that use March 14, 445 BC as the date of the decree (e.g. Sir Robert Anderson) count 173880 days to end on 6th April, AD 32 as the date for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Interpreters that use March 5, 444 BC as the date of the decree (e.g. Hoehner) count 173880 days to March 30, AD 33 as the date for the triumphal entry, and the crucifixion six days later on April 5, AD 33.

Dispensationalism sometimes claims that its calculations fit the historical events precisely, but the difference in the dates places doubt over such claims.

Triumphal entry

Daniel 9:25 reads:

from the issuing of a decree … until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks“.

In other words, the Messiah would appear 483 years after the decree.

In Dispensationalism the “Messiah the Prince” (the anointed in the KJV) is Jesus Christ and 9:25 refers to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; 5 days before His crucifixion.  However, 9:25 refers to the appearance of the Messiah; not His disappearance.  It seems to say that the Messiah will commence His ministry at the end of the 69 weeks; not end His ministry.

Jesus baptizedJesus did not begin His ministry at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  He began His work as Messiah about three years earlier at His baptism, where He was “anointed” and introduced to Israel:

John the baptist said, “so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water” (John 1:31).

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38).

God proclaimed this Anointed One to be His Son or King (Mark 1:9-11; cf. Ps. 2:6, 7) on the day of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist.

Covenant suspended at the Cross

As stated, in Dispensationalism the first 483 years came to an end at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (a few days before His death), with the last seven years postponed to the end of the age.

However, Seventy Weeks (490 years) are promised by God as years of Jewish preference (“for your people and your holy city”), and the preference which Jews enjoyed continued after the Cross.

Early Church History

During the first few years after the Cross the Holy Spirit only came on Jews and the gospel was preached only to Jews.  The church consisted only of the “circumcised” (cf. 10:45; i.e. Jews) and they did not associate with the uncircumcised (Acts 10:34-35).  See Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church.

About three or four years after the Cross the Jews persecuted these Jewish Christians, commencing with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7; 8:1). See Judea and Samaria Phase of the Early Church.

Immediately following this persecution (Acts 10) Peter received his dream of the unclean beasts (Acts 10:19-20).  Up to that point in time these Christian Jews kept their distance from Gentiles, as all Jews did.  But through this vision God told him, and the church, to preach the gospel also to Gentiles (v34-35).  Simultaneously the Holy Spirit suddenly and powerfully led the Christians to take the gospel to the uncircumcised (non-Jews).  At that time the period of Jewish preference came to an end.

End of the Seventy Weeks

The prophecy does not mention any specific event for the end of the Seventy Weeks, but it is more or less obvious that the end of the Seventy Weeks is also the end of God’s covenant with Israel.  In other words, we should be able to identify some event in history that indicates the end of God’s covenant with Israel.  It is proposed here that the Seventy Weeks came to an end when the Holy Spirit led the Christians to take the gospel to non-Jews.

Stoning of StephenThis conclusion is supported by Stephen’s speech.  Both Daniel’s prayer and Stephen’s speech are based on God’s covenant with Israel.  While Daniel confessed the sins of his people and prayed for the mercy promised in the covenant, Stephen’s speech was an announcement of God’s judgment in terms of the covenant.  In other words, Stephen announced the end of the Seventy Weeks.

These three or four years after the Cross were therefore part of the 490 years.  Please see the article, Stoning of Stephen, for more detail.

Summary

Decree The 490 years began with “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”.  Restore, in the original text, does not mean to rebuild.  Restore means to give the city back to its previous owner.  The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC restored Jerusalem as judicial and executive capital to Israel.  This decree also fit the time of Christ.  Dispensationalism takes the second of Artaxerxes (445/4 BC) as the decree that restored Jerusalem.  But this decree only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.  This decree also does not fit the time of Christ.

Prophetic Years The second decree of Artaxerxes does not fit the time of Christ.  Dispensationalism therefore reduces the first 483 years by about 7 years by interpreting these as “prophetic years” of 360 days each; rather than literal years of 365 days each.  However, the covenant pattern forms the framework for Daniel 9.  Since the covenant is based on Israel’s seven-year cycle, and since the 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, these are literal years.

Difference in datesDifferent Dispensational interpretations use different years for Artaxerxes’s decree and for the Cross.  This raises some doubt over to the calculations.

Triumphal entryMessiah the Prince” will appear after 69 weeks (9:25).  In Dispensationalism this is His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; 5 days prior to His crucifixion.  But that was not His appearance; it was His disappearance.  Jesus began His work as Messiah about three years earlier at His baptism, where He was anointed and introduced to Israel.

Covenant suspended at the CrossDispensationalism assumes that God suspended His covenant with Israel at the Cross, but for three or four years after the Cross, when the Holy Spirit came with power on the disciples, the gospel was preached only to Jews.  This period of Jewish preference only came to an and when Stephen announced God’s judgment in terms of the covenant.  These three or four years after the Cross were therefore part of the 490 years.

NEXT:  Whose covenant is confirmed in Daniel 9:27; God’s covenant with Israel or the devil’s?  The 490 years are a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel.  The last seven therefore are also God’s covenant with Israel.

TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles

Confirm the covenant in the 70th week; Who makes what covenant with whom?

During the last of the seventy weeks “he” will confirm the covenant with “many”.  This refers to God’s covenant with Israel.  Through the seventy weeks-prophecy God extended His covenant with Israel for a further 490 years.  But during those last seven years the Messiah will confirm the covenant with many from Israel.  After that the covenant comes to an end.

Daniel 9:27 reads:

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week

The “one week” is the last of the Seventy Weeks, but who is “he”?  What covenant is this and with whom does he make this covenant?

The Covenant of God

SinaiThrough Moses God made a covenant with Israel, but because of their disobedience, Israel went into exile.  At the end of Seventy Years of exile God, through the prophecy of Daniel 9, extended His covenant with Israel for a further seventy weeks of years (490 years).  On the basis of the arguments below it is proposed that the covenant in 9:27 refers to God’s covenant with Israel:

As discussed in the previous article (The Covenant in Daniel 9), the divine covenant is the central theme in Daniel 9 that integrates the prayer and prophecy into a unit.  This context speaks against the supposition that an altogether different covenant is abruptly introduced in the last 7 of the 490 years.

The word “covenant” appears in 6 verses in Daniel.  In four verses it is explicitly God’s covenant (9:4; 11:28, 30, 32.).

Some propose that covenant in 9:27 is not God’s covenant with Israel because of the absence of the article “the”, but in Daniel 11:28, 30, 32 “covenant” is also used without the article, while the reference is explicitly to God’s “holy covenant”.

He” refers to the Messiah.

The “he” in verse 27 must refer to a person mentioned in the previous verse.  This verse reads as follows:

Jerusalem destroyed
Jerusalem destroyed

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary …” (Daniel 9:26).

The “Messiah” is therefore the dominant figure in verse 26.  The “prince” is a subordinate figure.  It is not even the subject of the clause.  The subject of the clause is “the people.”

Dispensationalism proposes that the “he”, who will make a firm covenant with many in verse 27, is the “prince” of verse 26, and that this prince is an end time Antichrist.  He will enter into some pact at the beginning of the last seven years and then—in the course of those seven years—break his covenant.  Objections against this view:

(1) According to verse 26 “the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”.  This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century.  If his people refer to the first-century Romans, and if the prince is an end-time Antichrist, then the people and their prince live 2000 years apart, which is an unnatural interpretation.

(2) If “he” makes a new covenant for one week, then he cannot break his covenant in the middle of the week.

Confirm the covenant

The verb translated “make a firm” in the NASB is “gâbar”.  Strong’s short definition of this word is “prevailed“.  Of the 25 times this word appears in the OT, the NASB translates it 14 times as prevail. The evidence of the usage of gâbar in the Bible (“The covenant of the Seventieth Week” by Meredith G. Kline) indicates that verse 27 has in view the enforcing of a covenant previously granted.  It is not a verb for the making of a new covenant.  It should therefore be translated as “make firm a covenant”, and not as “make a firm covenant”.  The KJV translates it as confirm the covenant and Young’s Literal Translation reads “strengthening a covenant”.  Confirm a covenant implies a covenant that existed prior to the last seven years.  If so, it can only refer to God’s covenant with Israel.

The Many

The many”, with whom he will confirm the covenant, most often refers to God’s people.  For instance:

The Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities“ (Isa 53:11)

Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days” (Dan 11:33; See also Dan 11:39; 12:3; Matt. 26:28; Hebr. 9:26-28; Rom 5:15, 19; 1Co 10:33).

The covenant in 9:27 is therefore God’s covenant with Israel.

End of the week

Seventy weeksDaniel 9 does not specify a specific event for the end of the Seventy Weeks.  However, the Seventy Weeks was an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, as also indicated by the phrase, “Seventy weeks are cut off for your people and your holy city” (9:24).  The seventy weeks therefore end when God’s covenant with Israel ends.  It will be the end of all Jewish privileges as the covenant people.

This is confirmed by verse 27, which reads, he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.  This is last of the seventy weeks.  When that week comes to an end the messiah will no longer confirm the covenant with Israel.

NEXT:  Poetic Pattern and Chiasm
TO: Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles