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Ben Masada

The 70 Years Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27

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THE 70 WEEK/YEARS OF THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL 9:24-27

This prophetic frame of Daniel 9:24-27 ought to be interepreted on a double manner. Both ways starting on the same point in History: The destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

Both facets of the frame belong to two different visions of Daniel. First, the angel is commanded to make Daniel understand about the end of the exile in Babylon, whose 70 years of Jeremiah 25:11 are referred to as 70 weeks in that vision; being one week equal to one year. Historically, the exile lasted 70 years and not 490 years, as Christians wish it had been. (Dan. 9:23)

The second vision concerns with events that befall God's People in the days to follow. (Dan. 10:14) The computation of the time on this second vision follows the method of days as years

The 70 week/years of the exile started officially in 586 BCE with the destruction of the Temple. I say officially because Jews were being exiled even before the final destructon. As an evidence of the fact, Daniel and Ezekiel had been taken to Babylon ten years prior to the destruction of the Temple. Verse 24 is read as a preface to the frame which starts properly with verse 25.

So, "From the utterance of the 'word' that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt until one who is anointed and a leader, there shall be 7 weeks." Utterance of the word, not commandment or decree as KJV translates. The original in Hebrew brings "Davar" which means prophetic word and not decree or edit. And that prophetic word was uttered by Jeremiah according to chapters 30 and 31, and 33:7,8. And the text does not say after but from. From the utterance of the word.

Jerusalem is used as a synonym for Israel, the People, the Community, the nation. It was to be rebuilt as we have from Jeremiah 31:4 and 33:7. And in a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon, he explains when and where the rebuilding of Jerusalem should proceed: Right there and then. (Jer. 29:4-10)

"Until one who is anointed and a leader" according to the original and not as KJV brings: "Unto the Messiah, the Prince." That's quite another matter. So, until this anointed and leader, there will be 7 weeks or 49 years. From 586 BCE down through 49 years, we will be in 537 BCE when Cyrus, that anointed and leader, according to Isaiah 45:1-4, tried to effect the fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophectic word. (Ezra 1:1-4) But 70 years must be fulfilled according to Daniel 9:2, and in 537, we have only 49 years. How to account for the 21 years left?

It was familiar to Daniel that Judaism, symbolically, would apply protecting angels to various groups of human society or countries. Such angels would be represented not only as guardians of a country respectively, but also to guide them in wars according to Divine will.

So, Persia started the conquest of Babylon in 538 BCE. In 537 BCE, Cyrus prematurely, tried to force the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah by proclaiming the end of the exile. However, according to Jeremiah 29:10, "Only after 70 years have elapsed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place." So, the injunction that 70 years had to be fulfilled of Daniel 9:2 is solved by another vision that Daniel had in chapter 10.

The war between Persia and Babylon was not really over in 537 BCE. The fight continued until 516, as we can see by the words in Daniel 10:13. "The Prince or angel of the Kingdom of Persia stood in my way. (Here speaks the angel of Babylon) for 21 days/years until finally Michael (the angel of Israel) came to help me." It was then that actually, the exile was over and the 70 years had been fulfilled. Remember that Michael had not come until the 70 years were over. Then, neither of the angels or princes of Persia and Babylon stood on each other's way. Israel was finaly free to return. The first part of Daniel's prophetic frame ends here.

The second part of that frame starts with Daniel 9:25, and at the same time of the first part: 586 BCE. The text does not say that the 62 weeks proceeds from the 7 weeks mentioned in the same verse. It simply says that "During 62 weeks it shall be rebuilt." Let's not forget that what is to be rebuilt since the beginning of the exile is the nation of Israel, whose process the author extends to his time. "In times of afflction" because of the captivity and difficulties to resettle the Land. Physically, Jerusalem, the city, or the walls, or the Temple, did not take so long to be rebuilt. In fact, the walls of Jerusalem took only 52 literal days, according to Nehemiah 6:15.

So, 62 weeks or 434 years will take us to 152 BCE when the High Priest Onias the Third was murdered. (II Mac. 4:30-38) The text says, "After 62 weeks an anointed shall be cut down when he does not possess the city." The High Priest is an anointed; and how about the statement, "when he does not possess the city?"

During the Hasmonian period, the High Priest would accumulate both the Pristhood and the Kingship offices. Onias the Third did not possess the Government of Israel, which was already at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes, the leader whose people had come to desecrate the sanctity of the Sanctuary when they put up the horrible abomination. To finish verse 26, we have, "Then the end shall come like a torrent; and till the end there shall be war, the desolation that is decreed." This last sentence of verse 26 referss to the escalation of the Maccabean wars which culminated with the end of the Hellenistic oppression in Israel.

Having understood about the 62 weeks or 434 years which ended in 152 BCE with the beginning of the Antiocus persecutions of the Jewish People, triggered by the assassination of the High Priest Onias the Third, we now proceed with the description of the events of that one week or 7 years intercepted half-way by the abolition of sacrifices and oblations. In verse 27 we see that for one week or 7 years, he shall make a covenant with the many. This week starts right after the 62 weeks or 152 BCE.

So, the leader of that people who had come to desecrate the Sanctuary succeeded to make a covenant with the majority of Jews, because Israel was in fact in danger of becoming totally Hellenistic. (I Mac. 1:43) The upper class had practically adopted the Greek customs and style of life. Those who had not bowed to Baal would be the ones to bring the decreed ruin upon the terror. They were the Maccabees.

The Country was in a literal desolaton during that week or 7 years. Those who would not submit to the deliberations of Antiocus were constantly on the run, driving into hiding, wherever places of refuge they could find. (I Mac. 1:36-53; II Mac. 5:11-20)

Roughly after three years, in 148 BCE, the horrible abomination was erected upon the altar of holocausts, besides all the pagan altars built in the surrounding cities of Judah; and the sacrifices and oblations were abolished. (I Mac. 1:45,54)

During that week or 7 years, chaos had fallen upon Israel. Especially Jerusalem was completely ravaged. Massacres of young and old was the order of the day. One occasion, in the span of three days "80,000 were lost; 40,000 met violent death, and the same number were sold into slavery." (II Mac. 5:13,14) At the end of that week, those who later became known as the Maccabees, who remained loyal to the Covenant, took strong action despite all odds. (Dan. 11:32)

"A time, times, and a half," literally, a year, two years and a half year, had also to be fulfilled according to Daniel 12:7. These are all references to that same week of Daniel 9:27. All to be counted from the day the horrible abomination was set up on the altar of holocausts till 145 when the altar was restored and the Temple rededicated. In a word Hanukkah.

The reference to the blessing on those who, patiently persevered until 1,335 days, means survival during that week of human devastation to see again the nation of Israel in full fledge. In fact, the restoration began in 145 BCE with the reconsecration of the Temple. (I Mac. 4:52,54)

The difference between 1,290 and 1,335 can be taken in terms of a year/day just to use commonsense. Therefore, 45 years from 145 BCE will take us to 100 BCE, roughly the time when the author of both books of Maccabees and Daniel finished writing them. That was just about after the death of John Hircanus in 104 BCE, who had been rulling since 134 BCE.

Ben

Edited by Ben Masada
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