Daniel in the Lion's Den. James Tissot (1836-1902), French painter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel Video
Daniel 9: 24 -27 gives a specific prophecy concerning the Messiah which is often referred to as "The Seventy Weeks of Daniel".
[Dan 9:24-27 KJV] 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.
The prophecy is really about Israel and two Princes. One is "Messiah the Prince" in verse 25 who we know as Jesus. The other is " the prince that shall come" in verse 26. This prince has been identified with the Roman prince Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. He has also been identified as the Antichrist of prophecy.
There have been many interpretations of these verses so we shall just look at one as an example. This is based on the interpretation given in "Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ" by Harold Hoehner.
The time period we are looking at is seventy weeks. The Hebrew word for week literally means a "seven" and the context of the passage means that we are clearly looking at weeks of years. That is, a week signifies seven years. We see a similar principle in Leviticus 25:8. In prophecy a year is often a 360 day year. See the section on "The 360 Day Year" for more on this. Consequently we are looking at 70 times 7 years of 360 days each.
Harold Hoehner settles on the decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in the twentieth year of his reign (Nehemiah 2:1-8 ) as the starting point for the seventy weeks. See the section on Sir Robert Anderson for more on this as there are at least four possible start dates for the decree. Suffice to say that Hoehner agrees with Sir Robert that this is the only decree which commands the restoration of both the temple and the city. Unlike Sir Robert he says this was in 444 B.C. rather than 445 B.C. Artaxerxes' father Xerxes is thought to have died shortly after December 17th 465 B.C. The Persians had an accession-year system which meant that Artaxerxes would have acceded to the throne in Nisan 464 B.C. as their New Year corresponded with Nisan. His first year would have been Nisan 464 to Nisan 463 B.C. The twentieth year of his reign would have started in 444 B.C. If you are interested in exploring this further Harold Hoehner explains it in detail in his book. His conclusion is that the report to Nehemiah (1:1) occurred in Nisan (March/April) of 444 B.C. Therefore Nisan 444 B.C. marks the starting point of the seventy weeks of Daniel.
Using the same assumption that Sir Robert Anderson used, that the Jewish practise was to date a prophetic period from the first of the month, Harold Hoehner assumes that the decree should be dated from Nisan 1. Our equivalent date is March 5th 444 B.C.
We now have a start date of March 5th 444 B.C. and a time period of 70 times 7 years of 360 days each. The prophecy talks about three time periods:
A seven week or 49 year period
A sixty two week or 434 year period
A one week or 7 year period
The seven week period and the sixty two week period add up to sixty nine weeks. After the sixty nine year period the messiah is cut off. If we add 483 years (69 x 7 years) of 360 days each to our start date of March 5th 444 B.C. that should bring us to the date of the Messiah's "cutting off".
483 prophetic years x 360 days = 173,880 days
A true solar year = 365.24219879.
173,880 days divided by 365.24219879 = 476.067662981 solar years
This is approximately 476 years 24.7134 days or 476 years and 25 days.
March 5th 444 B.C. plus 476 years 25 days comes to March 30th 33 A.D. Harold Hoehner believes this is the date of Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Nisan 10. In other words the day when he as the Passover lamb was selected, or cut of, in preparation to be slaughtered on Nisan 14 the date of the crucifixion.
The final week of the prophecy remains unfulfilled.