Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Dr. Alva J. McClain, a renowned Bible teacher of the past, came to faith in Jesus Christ because he understood the very passage that we are considering. I have a copy of his little book, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, written in 1940.

Let’s continue in Daniel 9! Remember, Israel was experiencing the 5th cycle of discipline in Babylon for 70 years. They had failed to let their crops rest. They were now going home. Daniel is asking God for info concerning the Jews and Jerusalem. God sent Gabriel to give the answer. Gabriel told Daniel that 490 years had been determined on Israel to accomplish the six things mentioned in our last post.

We continue!  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Dan. 9:25). Where do we find such a command that begins this prophecy? Israel had been in the foreign land of Babylon for seventy years. They knew that the time for their departure to go home was drawing near. They awaited a command from the reigning king for permission to return and rebuild their own city.  

In the month of Nisan during the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (Persia), Nehemiah asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the ruined city of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1–3). One of the best-defined dates in ancient history is the date of the reign of Artaxerxes. Britannica Encyclopedia begins Artaxerxes’s reign at 465 BC, so the twentieth year would be 445 BC. When no day is given, it is assumed to be the first day of the month. So, the first day of Nisan would be equivalent to the fourteenth day of March on our Western calendar. On March 14, 445 BC, Artaxerxes issued a decree that Nehemiah could go and rebuild Jerusalem. This date punches the clock for the beginning of our prophecy.

Daniel said that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince comes would be seven weeks (7×7 = 49 years) and sixty-two weeks (62×7 = 434); 434+49=483 years.  This would be seven weeks (49 years) to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the street and the walls, and 62 weeks (434 more years) for Messiah to come. “Messiah the Prince” is obviously speaking of Jesus Christ. From the giving of the command until Jesus Christ would come, there would be 483 years (69 x 7=483 years). We are seven years short of the 490 years.

A Jewish calendar was 360 days. If you multiply 360 days times 483 years, you get 173,880 days. What was the exact date 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC? It was April 6, 32. What happened on that date? That is the day that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The Jews could have known this date. They could have done the math just like we have. Jesus said, “If you had known, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).  

Using our calendar, if you add the days of the prophecy from 445 BC to AD 32, you get 476 years. Then if you multiply 476 years times 365 days (our days per year), you will get 173,740 days, which is 140 days short. But if 116 days are added for the leap years (parts of days lost by the sun time added every four years) and then the days from March 14 to April 6 (twenty-four days), you get exactly 173,880 days. Amazing!  

The prophecy continues. “After the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26). After the 483 years, three things are going to happen.

(1) The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. “Cut off” is carath, as in cut off in death. This is speaking of the crucifixion. Again, had the Jews studied the Old Testament, they could have calculated the exact time that Messiah was to die. They could have numbered three days past His march into Jerusalem on the donkey which would have been April 9 A.D. 32.

(2) The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Two different princes are mentioned in this prophecy: Messiah the Prince and the prince who is to come. “The prince who is to come” is not speaking of the Messiah. His prophecy has already been fulfilled. How do we know what people it is speaking of? We know it is speaking of the Romans because in 70 A.D. the Romans, led by Titus Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Therefore, we know that the people of the prince that will come are Romans. Therefore, we can know that the prince that is to come (Antichrist) will come out of the Roman empire.

We will look at number 3 next time! Stay safe and stay tuned.