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THE PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS
Daniel 9. 25-27:
“24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
According to John 12. 1-19, on 8 Nisan AD 33 = sunset 27 March to sunset 28 March (Julian), 6 days before Passover on 14 Nisan = 3 April (Julian), in the evening of 27 March, Jesus stayed at Bethany and was anointed by Mary for his burial (John 12. 7). The next morning (Greek epaurion, John 12. 12, not the “next day” in the sense of the next complete Jewish Day, but the next morning, the word denoting the time of the cool morning breeze), and, it is implied, still within that same Jewish Day, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That was the morning of the Sabbath 28 March AD 33, which should be called Palm Sabbath instead of Palm Sunday. Daniel prophesied 69 weeks of years between the going forth of a Decree to rebuild Jerusalem and Messiah the Prince, who would be “cut off” (= killed) on the completion of that period (Daniel 9. 25-26). Hoehner dates the Passion to AD 33 and the Decree to BC 444 Nisan, identifying it as the Decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus of Nehemiah 2. 1-8 which authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem — this being the only Decree known to have issued in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem as opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple: “Christ’s crucifixion occurred on Friday, Nisan 14, in A.D. 33. Reckoning His death according to the Julian calendar, Christ died on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. As discussed above, the terminus a quo occurred in Nisan, 444 B.C. Although Nehemiah 2. 1 does not specify which day of Nisan the decree to rebuild Jerusalem occurred, it cannot have occurred before Nisan 1. This study will assume Nisan 1 as the terminus a quo although realizing it could have occurred on some other day in Nisan. Nisan 1 in 444 B.C. was March 4, or more likely March 5 since the crescent of the new moon would have been first visible so late at night (ca. 10 p.m.) on March 4 and could easily have been missed.” When the Hebrews did not specify a day within a month, it can be assumed that the day intended is the first day of the month, since the word “month” in Hebrew (khodesh) properly means “New Moon,” i.e. the first visible crescent of the new moon by which the first day of a new month was calculated. In March 444 B.C. the actual new moon was at 2 March 18.57 hrs., but light would not have begun to show as a crescent in the evening and night sky till the evening of 5 March according to Hoehner. In this case, therefore, the Scripture reads: Nehemiah 2. 1 “And it came to pass in the month [lit. New Moon, khodesh, of] Nisan [i.e. 1 Nisan], in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king ….” Artaxerxes’ ascension year was 465 B.C., and his first year 464 B.C. Therefore his 20th year was 444 B.C. (Strictly speaking, it was 445/444 BC, as it included parts of two successive years in the Julian calendar. This regnal year is usually referred to as “444 BC,” but the more correct form, according to Thiele, would probably be “445 BC.”) The day of the sighting of the first visible crescent of the New Moon in the evening or night sky was the first day of the new month, and the day was reckoned from sunset to sunset. Therefore Nisan 1 in BC 444 was the Jewish Day sunset 5 to sunset 6 March. The interview between Artaxerxes and Nehemiah would have transpired, most probably, some time in the daylight hours of 6 March. Regardless altogether of the date of 1 Nisan, we would expect the seventy weeks to begin some time within the period 2 March, at the very earliest, to 4 April, at the latest, 444 BC, that is, some time in Nisan of the 20th year of Artaxerxes II.
69 Weeks Till Messiah the Prince
Between the Decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (Nehemiah 2. 1), on the New Moon 1 Nisan = 5/6 March (Julian) BC 444, and the Jewish Day, 27/28 March AD 33, when Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem, was a period of precisely 69 weeks of years, as prophesied by Daniel, i.e. 69 × 7 × 360:
173880 Jewish Days, viz. from 6/7 March BC 444 to 26/27 March AD 33 inclusive. I.e. nz = 1733197.5 (00.00 hrs. 28 March AD 33), ny = 1733196.5 (00.00 hrs. 27 March AD 33), between these two at 1733197.25 falls the end of the 173880 Jewish Days. ps is at n = ny ‒ p = 1733196.5 ‒ 173880 = 1559316.5 (00.00 hrs. 6 March BC 444).
Some understand the Hebrew word khodesh here to mean generally “month” (of Nisan) rather than specifically “New Moon” (of Nisan). From the month Nisan 444 BC to the day of the Crucifixion (“cutting off”) of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, 3 April (Julian) AD 33, was also precisely 69 weeks of prophetic years (483 × 360 days), calculated as follows:
3 April AD 33 (00.00 hrs.) = Julian Day 1733203.5 (plus 1 supernatural day interposed by God on the afternoon of the Crucifixion, when the sun disappeared below the horizon, remaining invisible at Jerusalem from noon till 3 pm, then reappeared in the evening) = 1733203.5 + 1 = 1733204.5 minus 173880 Jewish Days (= 69 weeks = 69 × 7 × 360 days) = Julian Day 1559324.5 = 00.00 hrs. March 14 444 BC (that is, within the month of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes referred to as “444,” or, “445” BC, Nisan 1 being between 2 March and 5/6 March 444 BC).
I.e. nz = 1733204.5 (00.00 hrs. 4 April AD 33), ny = 1733203.5 (00.00 hrs. 3 April AD 33), between these two at 1733204.25 falls the end of the 173880 Jewish Days. That would normally be at sundown 3 April AD 33, but we must add 1 for the supernaturally interposed day. ps is at n = ny – p = 1733203.5 – 173880 = 1559323.5 (00.00 hrs. 13 March BC 444), plus 1 for the supernaturally interposed day = 1559324.5 (00.00 hrs. 14 March BC 444).
It is noticeable that the literal week covered by the termini of these two calculations, viz. the week from Sabbath 28 March AD 33 to Friday 3 April AD 33, was precisely the full week of the final rejection of the Messiah, from His betrayal to His “cutting off,” and two mentions of “threescore and two weeks” (the final portion of the 69 weeks) are made accordingly in the prophecy of Daniel 9, the first in verse 25 “unto Messiah the Prince” (speaking of the triumphal entry), and the second in verse 26 till Messiah was to be “cut off” (speaking of the Crucifixion).
69 Weeks as Two Periods of 7 Weeks and 62 Weeks
7 weeks = 7 × 7 × 360 = 17640 days. ps is at 1559316.5 (00.00 hrs. 6 March BC 444) and 1559316.5 + 17640 (i.e. 7 prophetic weeks following 6 March 444 BC) = 1576956.5 = 22 June 396 BC, or, alternatively, ps is at 1559324.5 (14 March 444 BC), and 1559324.5 + 17640 (i.e. 7 prophetic weeks following 14 March 444 BC) = 1576964.5 = 30 June 396 BC, viz., on either reckoning, harvest time in the Jewish agricultural year Tishri 397 to Tishri 396 BC. Ezra departed for Jerusalem in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (that is, Artaxerxes II Memnon, reigned 404-359 BC), therefore in 398/397 BC. The dedication of the walls of Jerusalem was celebrated by Ezra and Nehemiah in company (Nehemiah 12. 26f.). Since the reckoning in Nehemiah is in Tishri-to-Tishri years (see Neh. 1. 1 and 2. 1 referring to the months of Kislev and Nisan as both within the 20th year of Artaxerxes I), the year of the dedication of the walls, following the Feast of Tabernacles in Tishri, would be in 397 BC. Therefore the walls were complete in the year Tishri 397 to Tishri 396 BC, which is the 49th year from the going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445/444 BC. This explains why the first 69 weeks of the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel are divided into two periods comprising 7 weeks and 62 weeks respectively. The first 7 weeks are the 49 years of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem till the dedication of the walls, then the next 62 weeks are reckoned till the Prince Messiah. After the “cutting off” of the Messiah at the Crucifixion, the city and Temple were destroyed in AD 70 by the “prince that is to come” (the Emperor of Rome), and desolations followed till the end of that war.
The Confirming of the Covenant for One Week
The “Covenant” was to be “confirmed” to “multitudes” (but not “all”) of the Jews, according to Daniel’s prophecy, for a period of 1 week (7 prophetic years of 360 days each). Literally: “He [viz. the Prince that is to come] shall further [or, permit, allow] the confirming [or, prevailing, continuation] of the Covenant with many for one week”. The New Covenant under Jesus Christ was confirmed to multitudes of Jews, accordingly, but not to the nation’s rulers, by miraculous signs following the preaching of the Word, first by Jesus Himself for one half of a week (three and one half years of ministry from Tishri AD 29 till Nisan 14 AD 33), under the sway of the Roman Emperor, the pagan Pontifex Maximus (the Prince to come): Jesus’ ministry continued for three and one half years in the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Similarly the Covenant is yet to be confirmed, for the other half of the week, by the ministry of the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, who will prophesy to the Jews with miraculous confirmation for the remaining three and one half prophetic years of 1260 days, Rev. 11. 3. This will be at a time when the Prince to come (the Beast, the Papal Roman Pontifex Maximus) will once again be in political alliance with Israel, while the Temple is rebuilt and the sacrifices revived for three and one half years. At the Crucifixion the first half of the week terminated, and the Prince to come desecrated the Temple as the prophecy foretold in the “midst of the week”. This history is to repeat itself when the second half of the week is fulfilled.
The Last Half of the Week
The “one week” of confirming the Covenant is cut into two by the desecration of the Temple by the Prince to come. Of this it is said “in the midst” of the week the Prince will cause the sacrifices to cease. At the Crucifixion God’s protection of Jerusalem was lifted and thereafter the city was destroyed by the Romans (AD 70). The city is not to be sanctified again till the second half of the week commences. However, the Hebrew phrase translated “in the midst of the week” also means “for one half week”. As elsewhere in prophecy, both meanings are in view and must be taken into account. That is why two phrases immediately follow the words “in the midst of the week,” or, “for one half week” (whichever way it is interpreted). The two following phrases, though similar, apply to different time-periods: the first phrase applies to the time-period indicated by the first interpretation, “in the midst of the week”, and the second phrase to the second interpretation, “for one half week”. Thus, “in the midst of the week, he [the Prince to come, Antichrist] shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, making it desolate to the limit of abominations.” (In the King James version this phrase is translated “for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate”, but this fails to bring out the full power of the Hebrew, which reads literally: “and to the edge, or, limit, or, border [Heb. kanaf] of abominations …”) Here there is a “limit” to the abominations. After AD 70 the Romans caused filth (“abominations”) to be put on the devastated Temple site, and then the Muslim Dome of the Rock became the standing abomination. But there is a “limit” to that time of “abominations”, because finally the city will be sanctified by the restoration of the Temple sacrifices, along with faith in the Messiah Jesus, when the second half of the week commences. This, then, is the limited period of abominations “in the midst” of the week, between the two halves of the week. The next phrase is different: now reading “for one half week …”, he (the Prince to come) “shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, … even until the consummation ….” That has no limit, except the consummation, which means, the consummation of all things. This occurs after the second half of the week is complete, and brings in the end of the age. The Temple site remains desecrated until the very end; though something is “poured out” from Heaven on the site, as we shall see. So, the whole of verse 27 now reads: “And he [the Prince to come, Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week (and/or) for one half week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, making it desolate both to the limit of abominations, and even to the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”.
Now also, the second meaning (“for one half week”) could only apply if the first half of the week ran concurrently with the last half of the 69th week, — which is historically what it did, — since now we have: 69 weeks up to the Crucifixion, one week of confirming the Covenant (split into two parts), plus one half week of desecration and desolation. This would make seventy and one half weeks, rather than seventy weeks only, if there was not an overlapping in the count. Jesus ministered for three and one half years at the end of the 69th week, then He was crucified, and the Romans destroyed the City and the Temple in the interval between that first half of the confirmation week and the still-to-come second half (“in the midst of the week”). Thus we have 69 weeks already passed, plus one half week to come with the ministry of the Two Witnesses, 69 and one half weeks in total. Then the Prince to come (Antichrist, the Beast) “for one half week” will desecrate the restored Temple “even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”.
This half week of desecration does not relate to Daniel’s “holy city” as the 70 weeks do, since the city is defiled (not “holy”) at that time. Rather, as demonstrated by the phrase “that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”, this is a period also of God’s poured-out judgment, a demonstration of Kingdom power. It is the beginning of the establishment of the Kingdom on earth. Daniel’s holy city (verse 24 “thy holy city”) now switches to “the Holy City”, the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is confirmed by the Book of Revelation (19. 11ff.), which relates that Jesus returns to earth with His redeemed Bride on heavenly white horses when the 1260 days of the Two Witnesses are complete at the “pouring” out of the bowls of judgment (Rev. 16). The last part of the week commences with the appearance of the Two Witnesses, and is cut short by the desecration of the restored Jewish Temple by the Prince to come (Antichrist). The seventy weeks, therefore, end with the “consummation”, that is, as it calls it in verse 24, with the Anointing of the Most Holy (not Daniel’s Most Holy in the earthly Temple), and with the bringing in of “everlasting righteousness”. The restored Kingdom of God, otherwise the New Jerusalem, the Bride-Body of Jesus the Messiah, is the Most Holy referred to, as it is the Holy of Holies in the original Temple in Heaven (Hebrews 10. 19f.). Thus the seventy weeks end with the return to the earth of Jesus, Who then takes His seat, as the Anointing of God, in the New Jerusalem for the Millennial reign. It is His Bride Body, composed of both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2. 15), anointed to reign for one thousand years. Time thus fades into eternity at the end of the seventieth week.
The Seventy Weeks as Seventy Jubilees
This tremendous prophecy of the future given to Daniel was of seventy “sevens” or “cycles of seven” foretold to transpire in relation to “thy [Daniel’s] people” and to “thy [Daniel’s] holy city”. However, there were two chronological “cycles of seven” appointed to Israel and its land in the Law of Moses. One was a “cycle of seven” years: six years the land was sown, but in the seventh, or “sabbath”, year it was left to lie fallow, in order to give the land “rest” (Heb. shabbat, “sabbath”). This was a cycle of years analogous to the seven days of the week, and therefore the word “seven” or “cycle of seven” (Heb. shavua) in this prophecy is commonly translated “week”. The second chronological “cycle of seven” was the Jubilee cycle, a “cycle of seven” sabbaths of the land, whereby after 49 years, or 7 sabbath cycles, there followed a 50th Year of Jubilee, in which the land was left to lie fallow a second year (following the fallow year which was the 49th or 7th sabbath year). The Jubilee cycle was counted in “cycles of seven” sabbaths, that is in so many periods of 49 years, the 50th Jubilee Year being also the first of the next cycle of 49 years. Since God does not specify what He intended in this prophecy by the word “cycle of seven”, both cycles are included: the prophecy is compound, as God’s prophecies always are, and relates to two chronological schemes. This is confirmed by the dual application of the prophecy, as stated: one in relation to “thy [Daniel’s] people”, and the other to “thy [Daniel’s] holy city”. How the Jubilee cycle relates to the first of these applications, and the sabbath year count to the second, will be demonstrated in the following summary.
The prophecy is preceded by a description of how the earlier prophet Jeremiah foretold the Jews would be in captivity under Babylon for 70 years, and he said this would be so that the land of Israel could be rested whilst the Israelites were absent from their land, and thus could enjoy its sabbaths which had been neglected in the preceding centuries. In other words, the Israelites had not kept the Law of Moses in this regard and had not left the land fallow every seventh year, as they should have done: God, however, kept a count of how many times it should have been allowed to rest and lie fallow, that is, a total of 70 years altogether, then He sent the Israelites into captivity, away from their land, for 70 years, and gave the land its rest. What is noticeable here is that only sabbaths are mentioned by Jeremiah. Nothing is said of Jubilees. Every 50th year should have been a Jubilee year and the land that year got a second consecutive year of rest. But since the sabbaths were not kept, we can be sure the extra Jubilee years were likewise neglected, and, according to Rabbinic tradition, they were so neglected. The Jubilee year commenced in the seventh month, Tishri, and in that same month each year was celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (sukkoth): according to Nehemiah 8. 17 the Israelites did not make tabernacles or booths (sukkoth) for this feast, as they were required to do by the Law of Moses, all the way from the time of Moses’ successor Joshua ben Nun in the 15th century BC to the time of Nehemiah himself (beginning of the 4th century BC), and this proves the negligence of Israel over many centuries even in the celebration of the less demanding Biblical ordinances. Given the neglect similarly of the more personally taxing Jubilees, the Babylonian captivity of 70 years (for the sabbaths) did nothing to put it right. Here, then, in this prophecy of seventy “sevens” (“cycles of seven”) the “sevens” comprising seven years are applied to “thy [Daniel’s] holy city”, that is Jerusalem. Jerusalem was specifically Daniel’s holy city. They could only start running, of course, when the city was in existence, and so long as it was “holy” in God’s sight. That explains why the period of seventy weeks of years commenced with the rebuilding of Jerusalem (which had laid in ruins during the captivity and for several years thereafter) in the days of Nehemiah. Since Ezra had rebuilt the Temple (but not the city) before the time of Nehemiah, and had ensured the “holiness” of the site, then as soon as Nehemiah built the city, it was a “holy city” and therefore the conditions were met for the prophecy of seventy of weeks of years to begin running. Similarly, as soon as the city was spiritually “defiled”, or made “unholy”, by the cutting off of the Messiah at the end of sixty-nine weeks of years, as prophesied in the vision, then the condition failed, and the weeks of years were interrupted. Again at the end-time the Temple is prophesied to be rebuilt and the Covenant confirmed, therefore the confirmation week recommences then.
Now all this applies to Daniel’s “holy city”. But the prophecy is also said to apply to “thy [Daniel’s] people”, that is to the faithful Israel of which Daniel was a part. This people, the faithful of Israel, were in existence whether the land was occupied or not (as Daniel remained faithful in Babylon), and therefore the condition was always met for the greater “sevens” to be considered running, so long as there was a people and a land, even if the people were absent from the land, that is, from the time they first occupied the land in 1406 BC, and chronological “cycles of seven” for the land started to be counted. Since the neglected sabbaths were rectified during the captivity, the neglected greater “sevens”, the Jubilees, had to be rectified in some subsequent captivity. That subsequent captivity is prophesied in this vision to commence after the cutting off of the Messiah. It did commence then historically, 37 years after Jesus was crucified in AD 33, in AD 70, when the Romans destroyed the national life of the Jews and left the land waste. The Jews were away from the land for almost 2000 years (till the twentieth century). Note, accordingly, that mention is made in Daniel 9. 26 in the course of the prophecy that “the people of the prince that shall come [Rome] shall destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood [of Roman troops], and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” Here it is said of the desolations following the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its environs in AD 70, that they are “determined”, that is, predetermined by God for a set period of years. This phrasing corresponds precisely to what one would expect of a series of years of desolation intended by God to replenish the land in compensation for neglected years of rest: the context of Jeremiah’s prophecy of 70 years in captivity to replenish the land for neglected sabbaths confirms that conclusion.
From the 70 years of captivity we can compute the number of sabbaths that had failed to be celebrated, that is 70 × 7 = 490 years of missed sabbaths, from around the time of the first kings (around 1100 BC), when the whole of the land fell under Israelite control, to the time of the Babylonian captivity in 606 BC. The Jubilees for the same period, and then for the succeeding centuries after the Return from Babylon to the time of Jesus, would cover approximately 1000 years, during which the Jubilee years failed to be celebrated. Since the Jubilee years were an additional second year of lying fallow (two years in a row, the 49th and the 50th year), when double rest was granted to the land, the period of captivity amounted to almost 2000 years, during which every 50th year throughout the period of 1000 years, was given a second time in the next 1000 years, to ensure a double rest for the land, as required in the Jubilee. This is comprised in the total of 70 greater “sevens”, that is 70 Jubilee cycles, which run from 1406 BC, when Israel first obtained the land of Canaan, and started the sabbath-count for the land and the Jubilee cycles, till the last Jubilee cycle in 1977-2026. In the Jubilee cycle immediately prior to that last one, in the Jubilee cycle 1928-1977, Israel regained the land.
The Anointing of the Most Holy is prophesied to be the terminus of the “cycles of seven”. That is the Anointing of the Heavenly Jerusalem for the Millennium reign of the Messiah on earth, the coming of the Day of the Lord, of the Jubilee of Universal Redemption, when creation will be liberated from the bondage of corruption, and the earth will enjoy its Sabbath of Millennium rest. One day with the Lord is equivalent to 1000 human years, and 1000 human years to one Day. That means the Day of the Lord is 1000 years long, but seems to a human being passing through it like 360,000,000 years. (Go to thislink for a detailed explanation of God’s cosmic Jubilee.) Since God tells Daniel the Anointing of the Most Holy, His Day of Rest, the great cosmic Jubilee, will be the terminus of the seventy Jubilees or “cycles of seven”, we see that the last Jubilee is the intersection of God’s time and man’s, of God’s 360,000,000 year cosmic Jubilee with the last of the seventy Jubilees AD 1977-2026. Thus the prophecy is for God’s faithful Israel only, Daniel’s people, not for the rest of the world. Only the faithful will be empowered to enter at that time on the higher plane of God’s Day of Rest. Time, for them, will be no more (Revelation 10. 6, echoing Daniel 12. 7), and will cease to be of significance. There is nothing in this prophecy which gives any space of time or “date-setting” for the Gentiles, the unbelievers of the world. Their only warning of the judgment to be visited upon them within a short space thereafter is the coming of the seventh angel in the spirit of Elijah according to Revelation 10. 7, Malachi 4. 5-6, Matthew 17. 11, and Acts 3. 21, whose ministry has already been fulfilled in that of the end-time Prophet, William Branham (1909-1965).
For the detailed computation of the 70 Jubilee cycles from 1406 BC to AD 1977-2026, go to the section titled The Prophecy of 1290 and 1335 Days infra.