“Seventy weeks are decreed regarding your people, and regarding your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of Holies.” – Daniel 9:24
“Know, therefore, and understand [that] from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem, to Messiah [the] Prince, [shall be] seven weeks and sixty two [that is, 69] weeks.” – Daniel 9:25
Since this prophecy is cryptic, I'll present the meaning briefly on this page, and reserve all the explanations and justifications for a separate clarifications page. Arguments that are justified in the clarifications page are in blue.
Here, then, is the meaning of this prophecy and its fulfillment:
There is a time-frame of seventy weeks (490 years, since each week is a period of seven years) for “your people”, that is, the nation of Israel, to put an end to their sins, and bring in righteousness, and to anoint the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctuary in the Jewish temple). Even if you’re only a little familiar with Israel, you know that this has not happened. Evil happens in Israel just like anywhere else, and thanks to Islam, the temple has not been rebuilt, let alone the Holy of Holies. Thus, the 70-week program is not yet completed. Has it already started?
Yes. This prophetic clock starts “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”. According to the Bible, this commandment was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus to Nehemiah, on 1st Nisan, 445 BC, that is, March 14th, 445 BC (see Nehemiah 2).
Verse 25 above says that the time interval between two events that were yet future (Daniel was writing in 538 BC) would be exactly 69 weeks, or 483 prophetic years.
When did these events take place?
Now the time interval between these two events turns out to be exactly 69 weeks (483 Jewish prophetic years of 360 days each). This is just as Daniel recorded the angel saying!
So this is what we have:- The time interval between two events, one in 445 BC and the other in 32 AD, is predicted to the day, in 538 BC!
Such a phenomenon is absolutely unparalleled in any other book in the world, and clearly shows that the Bible is divinely inspired. Only God knows the precise days on which events centuries in the future will occur.
The sad part is that many people will not believe despite the evidence. This is true of people today, and it was certainly true of the Jews of Jesus' day. If only the orthodox Jews had bothered to count 483 years from the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah! Jesus reproved them for not knowing "the time of [their] visitation" (Luke 19:44).
In case you're interested, here's a piece of Jewish trivia for you. In the second century AD, Rabbi Yose ben Halafta compiled the Seder Olam Rabbah or the Book of the Order of the World, which is the chronology used by many Jews even today. Among other things, the Jews responsible for this record fudged Persian history so that Daniel's 69 weeks led to Simon Bar Kochba (whom many Jews thought was the Messiah), the leader of the Jewish revolt of 135 AD! Look at what Rabbi Simon Schwab has to say:
"It should have been possible that our sages - for some unknown reason - had covered up a certain historic period and purposely eliminated and suppressed all records and other material pertaining thereto. If so, what might have been their compelling reason for so unusual a procedure? Nothing short of a divine mandate..." [Simon Schwab, Dr Joseph Breuer Jubilee volume, "Comparative Jewish Chronology", p 188, cited by Floyd Nolen Jones in Appendix G of James Ussher's Annals of the World]
Yeah right!! Anything except accepting the word of God, and Jesus His Son. Dear reader, what about you?
There is another interesting fulfillment in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Nisan 10th. Four days later was the Jewish Passover. The Passover was instituted by God through Moses to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt. The procedure was as follows:
When Jesus started his ministry, his forerunner, John the Baptist proclaimed:
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” - John 1:29
Christ was –the– Passover Lamb! On the 10th of the month, just as thousands of lambs all over Jerusalem were put on display, Jesus entered Jerusalem and was on display. In fact, the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to find fault with him, but they couldn’t (see Matthew 21:23 to 22:46).
Since Jesus had claimed that He was the Messiah and also upbraided the Jewish religious authorities for their hypocrisy and failure to see God fulfilling prophecy in front of their eyes, they wanted him killed and so they arrested him and presented him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea at that time (they had to take Jesus to Pilate since the Jews had lost the right to administer capital punishment).
Roman officials didn’t care too much about Jewish religious beliefs, so there would be no point accusing Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God (which was the real reason they wanted him killed). So the Jews tried to convince Pilate that Jesus was a threat to the Roman Empire, a supposed king of the Jews:
“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, Are You the King of the Jews? …Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” – John 18: 33, 34
Pilate was not convinced that Jesus was a threat to Rome.
“[Pilate] went out and said to the Jews: I find no fault in Him at all” – John 18:38
Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but the chief priests and scribes instigated the people to demand that Jesus be crucified. Wanting to avoid a law and order problem, Pilate handed over Jesus to be crucified.
Thus, on the same afternoon on which thousands of Passover lambs were slain, Jesus was crucified. There goes Prophecy # 11! The Messiah was cut off!
What about the last four words: “but not for himself”? This raises the question: Why did Jesus die? Was he a victim or martyr?
Jesus was neither a victim nor martyr. When he was taken to be crucified, he asked his disciples:
“Do you think that I am not able now to pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way? – Mt 26: 53, 54
“I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” – John 10: 17, 18
Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan, as Daniel’s Prophecy # 11 also suggests. But what was the purpose of his death? It was announced 700 years in advance!! Look at what another Hebrew prophet, Isaiah has to say:
"But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. He [God the Father] shall see of the travail of his [Jesus’] soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." – Isaiah 53: 5, 6, 11
Dear reader, Messiah was cut off not for himself but for you! You and I are sinners, and Jesus died, bearing the punishment of our sins! Has anyone else loved you enough to die for you? I’m overwhelmed by his love for me, and I want you to experience his love as well – that’s the purpose of writing this!
I hope you’re getting this straight: you and I have a problem called sin, and God’s justice demands punishment. But God gives us His Son Jesus to die for us – He took the punishment that we deserved. If we repent and believe on Him, then we will be justified. That is, when God the Father looks at us, He looks through the blood of Jesus, and sees our sins paid for. Just like the Israelis in Egypt who survived the angel of death because of the blood splashed on their door posts, we escape God’s wrath because of Jesus’ blood applied to our hearts!
Surely you don’t think that Isaiah (who lived around 700 BC) conspired with Daniel (who lived around 600 BC), Zechariah (500 BC) and the Persian king Artaxerxes (450 BC) to tell a bunch of lies. And then comes along a masochist carpenter who likes the idea of 6 inch nails piercing his wrists and ankles, bribes hundreds of Jewish commoners to give him a hero’s welcome as he enters Jerusalem and also bribes Pilate and the Roman soldiers on duty that day to treat him just like David predicted (see Psalm 22) they would in 1000 BC! That would require –lots– of BLIND FAITH!
Daniel must have felt really bad when he got to know this. He was a Jewish exile in whose lifetime Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed. He was expecting Jerusalem to be rebuilt, and it was rebuilt, but here is a prediction that it will be destroyed again!
Jesus’ death marked the completion of 69 weeks (7 year periods) of Daniel’s prophecy. The Bible gives a lot of details concerning the 70th week, and so looking at history, we can say for sure that it has not happened so far. But in the meantime, the city and the sanctuary will be destroyed. How did this happen?
Gessius Florus, the governor of Judea appointed by Emperor Nero in AD 66, was a wicked man who wasted the Jews. This prompted fiery Jewish revolutionaries to kill Roman soldiers in Judea and capture Jerusalem for themselves. Of course, this invited retribution from the mighty Romans. The Roman Legions invaded Israel, slowly but surely re-conquering one city after the other. In AD 70, their siege of Jerusalem was concluded, and the Roman soldiers completely destroyed Jerusalem (the city) and the temple (the sanctuary). For a more detailed account of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, refer to “The Jewish War” by Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived at that time. The image is of the Titus arch in Rome which shows the Romans taking away plunder from Jerusalem.
Thus, prophecy # 12, delivered in 538 BC, was fulfilled on September 26th, 70 AD! Strangely enough, it was on the same day that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in 588 BC. Even today, this day is a day of mourning in Israel. The Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva reported that in 2007, "Over one hundred thousand Jews flooded the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza on Monday night and Tuesday to say traditional Tisha B'Av lamentations for the loss of the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. Thousands encircled the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, as well, to mark the day of mourning - the 9th of Av"
Notice that Daniel refers to the Romans as “the people of a coming ruler” – the Bible has lots more to say about this ruler – he has not come as yet!
Prophecy # 12 also says that there will be wars and desolations till the end. Has not history authenticated this? After 70 AD, Canaan (which the Romans rechristened Palestine in honor of the Philistines, the ancient enemies of the Israelites) was left desolate as the Jews were driven out of their homeland. In 1948, the Jewish state of Israel was established and there have been wars ever since. You only have to read or listen to the daily news to realize that the prophet Daniel was bang on target – although he did not know anything about the PLO, Islamic fundamentalism and Arab oil!
Sir Robert Anderson wrote the following after his analysis of prophecies 10 to 12: "There is a point beyond which unbelief is impossible, and the mind in refusing truth must take refuge in an unbelief which is sheer credulity." I believe this point is reached by anyone who has read Daniel's prophecies. Only God can give the kind of detailed, precise information about the distant future that we find in Daniel.