EXCERPT: Daniel 9 has two parts; Daniel’s prayer, and the vision which Daniel received while still praying. These two parts form a unit: Through Jeremiah, God promised to restore Jerusalem after 70 years. After Babylon fell, Daniel prayed for the fulfillment of the promise. Through the 70 weeks prophecy, God assured Daniel that He will.
A summary of this article is available HERE.
Daniel 9 consists of two parts; Daniel’s prayer, and the vision which Daniel received while still praying. Higher criticism does not accept that Daniel 9 forms a unit. According to such scholars, Daniel’s prayer and prophecy do not fit, and the prayer was added later. Their argument goes as follows:
(a) Axiomatically (as a point of departure) they reject the sixth-century origin of the book as a whole. They believe the book was compiled in the second century BC, during the persecution of the Jews by the Greek king Antiochus.
(b) They must, therefore, find a reason for the inclusion of Daniel 9 in the book by a second-century writer. A proposed solution is that the 70 Weeks-prophecy was produced to clarify the meaning of Jeremiah’s 70-years prophecy (Daniel 9:2).
(c) But then, they argue, in his prayer recorded in Daniel 9, Daniel should have asked for such illumination. Since he did not, it does not correspond to the prophecy and must have been added later.
The purpose of this article is to show that Daniel 9 does indeed form a unit.
Firstly, the assumption that the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” is a reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s 70 years should not be accepted because, in the second century BC, there was no uncertainty over the plain words of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah prophesied that the end of the 70 years would coincide with the fall of Babylon (Jer 25:11 ff.). Consistent with this, Cyrus issued a decree in the first year after the fall of Babylon, allowing the Jews to return, and, a few years later, the restoration of the temple was actually underway.
The rebuilding of the temple and the city was completed hundreds of years before the crisis in the second century. In other words, there was no failure in the historical realization of the 70-years prophecy that called for a reinterpretation of its simple sense.
Secondly, if one accepts that the book was written in the sixth century BC, as claimed by the book itself (Dan 9:2), then the link between the prayer and prophecy is clear:
We understand why Daniel prayed: Babylon fell the previous year (539 BC; cf. Dan 9:1). Its reign of 70 years (Jer 25:9, 11) has come to an end. The clear meaning of Daniel 9:2 ff. is that Daniel prayed for the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophetic promise to restore Israel.
God gave the prophecy in Daniel 9 through “the man Gabriel.” It is clear from the prophecy (Dan 9:20 ff.) that Gabriel did not interpret or reinterpret Jeremiah’s prophecy of restoration but, through the “seventy weeks”-prophecy, God assured Daniel that Jeremiah’s prophecy was about to be fulfilled.
The link is clear: The prophecy promised what Daniel prayed for.
Thirdly, various expressions link prayer and prophecy. The prophecy repeats or plays on the sound of various words in the prayer. The two parts of the chapter share certain expressions not found elsewhere in the book.
But, as explained, the most persuasive evidence for the unity of Daniel 9 is the fact that Yahweh’s covenant is the thread that binds both prayer and prophecy together in a single unit:
(1) The exile to Babylon was the penalty for unfaithfulness prescribed by the covenant.
(2) The duration of the exile, namely 70 years, was also determined by the covenant, namely one year of exile for every Sabbath year not observed.
(3) Daniel’s prayer was Israel’s confession of guilt, as required by the covenant for covenant renewal.
(4) Through the prophecy, God promised to renew the covenant.