It is God’s covenant with Israel, for Daniel 9 follows the covenant pattern of Disobey – Exile – Repent – Covenant Renewal. The 490 years, including the last seven, therefore are a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel. This is confirmed by the phrase “confirm the covenant” and by “the many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, who are God’s people.
Summary: God’s covenant with Israel is the backbone of the entire Daniel 9. The covenant in 9:27 must therefore also be God’s covenant with Israel.
Dispensationalism interprets the covenant in 9:27 as a covenant of an end time antichrist, but it is proposed here that it is God’s covenant with Israel because God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme throughout the entire Daniel 9. This is explained in ‘The Covenant in Daniel 9‘, as well as in the previous article under the heading Prophetic Years, but this matter is critical for understanding Daniel 9.
Covenant with Israel in brief
God commanded Israel to allow the land to rest every seventh year (Leviticus. 25:1-2). Israel was to work the land for six years (v3), but not on the seventh (v4).
God made this seven-year cycle part of the covenant by using it to count the number of years of exile (Lev. 26:35, 43). Should Israel become unfaithful (Lev. 26:14-39), God will scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26:33) to allow the land to have its rest (v34, 43). The period of exile would be equal to the number of years during which the land did not have its rest (v35, 43).
But if Israel confesses their sin (v40), God would renew His covenant with them (v42), that He might be their God (v45).
Daniel 9 follows this covenant pattern:
(1) The prophecy of Daniel 9 was received at the end of Israel’s exile of 70 years (Dan 9:2). The exile was the covenant penalty for unfaithfulness: 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 justice of the sentence, Yahweh’s righteousness (9:7) and Israel’s guilt (9:5-11). In this way, Daniel fulfilled the condition for covenant renewal after the exile (Leviticus 26:40-41). On behalf of Israel, and he prayed for the renewal of Israel’s covenant privileges.
(3) The announcement “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city” (9:24) renewed God’s covenant with Israel in terms of Leviticus 26:42, 45, but limited to 490 years.
God’s covenant with Israel is, therefore, the central theme in the entire Daniel 9. This implies that the promised 490 years is an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, and therefore that the last “one week” (9:27) is the final seven years of that time-limited renewed covenant.
Confirm the Covenant
Summary: The phrase “confirm the covenant” (9:27) means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week. Then it can only be God’s covenant with Israel.
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, it is 14 times translated 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 initial making of a 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” and “strengthen” imply a covenant that existed prior to the last seven years. If so, it can only refer to God’s faithful fulfillment of the covenant He has given to His people.
“The many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, 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.
Dispensationalism argues that the covenant in verse 27 is a new covenant made by an end-time Antichrist. But it is God’s covenant with Israel, for the following reasons:
Central Theme – An analysis of the covenant in Leviticus 25-26 and of Daniel 9 shows that Daniel 9 follows the covenant pattern of Disobedience – Repentance – Covenant Renewal, and that the 490 years are a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel.
Confirm the Covenant – The phrase “confirm the covenant” (9:27 KJC) reflects the meaning of the verb gâbar. It means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week.
The many – “The many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, most often refers to God’s people.
Of the six times that the word “covenant” appears in Daniel, it is four times explicitly God’s covenant with Israel.
Articles in this series
This series discusses the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9 and includes the following:
(1) Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9: Overview of the text of Daniel 9 and of the Dispensational interpretation
(2) WHEN: When did the 490 years begin? When was the decree issued, when did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?
(3) WHAT: Is it God’s or Satan’s covenant that is confirmed in Daniel 9:27?
(4) WHO: Who confirms that covenant for seven years; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) When are the last seven years? Are they the last seven years before Christ returns?
(6) Other inconsistencies between the text and the Dispensational Interpretation
(7) When will Christ fulfill the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years?