The prophecy of the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 is an important passage to the Christian who wishes to demonstrate the supernatural accuracy of Scripture, as it predicted, half a millennium in advance, to the very day the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.


But understanding which books of the Bible apply to the fulfillment of the prophecy given in Daniel 9 can be confusing. I’ve even heard ordained pastors get bogged down in this issue. Hopefully, the following summary information will help out the Christian who isn’t thoroughly familiar with Daniel 9 and the later books of the Bible to which the prophecy applies.


The prophecy itself is given in Daniel 9:20-27, while Daniel was in the God-imposed 70-year exile in Babylon begun between 606 and 605 B.C. under the reign of Babylonian King Nebudchadnezzar.:


“And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord, my God, for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.


“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.


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. [Daniel 9:25]


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. 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.”


As in this posting the primary concern is the fulfillment of the timing of Messiah’s appearance in Jerusalem, the particular verse of most importance is Daniel 9:25:


“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 sixty two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”


The term “weeks” in this passage is universally interpreted as 7-year periods; a year in this context is also commonly interpreted as the prophetic interval of 360 days. Thus, 7 weeks amounts to 49 prophetic years, 62 weeks is 434 prophetic years, and the two periods together is 69 weeks, or 483 years. The equivalent number of days in the total is the product 483x360 or 173,880.


There were two kings involved in the return of the Jews from their Babylonian exile. After 70 years of captivity from 606-605 B.C. as foretold by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11), King Cyrus of Persia around 536-535 B.C. permitted a group of exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. This account, foretold by the prophet Isaiah about two centuries earlier, in which he specifically named Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28), is given in the Book of Ezra. Note carefully in Daniel 9:25 above that the commandment of interest here is the one to restore the city of Jerusalem. As Cyrus’ decree involved the temple only, it is not the commandment of interest.


The commandment in which we are interested here is a later one, a decree issued by King Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This event is detailed in the Book of Nehemiah. The situation is summarized in Chapter 2:


“And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the king, that wine was before him; and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. Wherefore, the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very much afraid. And said unto the king, Let the king live forever. Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ supulchers, lieth waste, and its gates are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to God of heave. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant hath found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it. And the king said unto me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall thy journey be? And when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.”


The walls were rebuilt in troublous times indeed; in Nehemiah’s account, the workers had to have their weapons ready at hand as they worked. The rebuilding project took 49 prophetic years (the first 7 weeks of Daniel 9:25). After the additional 62 weeks (434 prophetic years) prophesied in Daniel 9:25, the time to Messiah from Artaxerxes’ decree was 173,880 days, which agrees with astonishing precision with the estimated date of April 6, 32 A.D. for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Further details can be obtained by Googling “Jesus’ triumphal entry 69 weeks after Artaxerxes’ decree”. 


Published by Art Perkins