|1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;||
The first year of Darius is 539 BC. It is 9 years since Daniel’s vision in chapter 8. The Jews had been subjected to the Babylonians since 609 BC. In 539 BC, Babylon was conquered by Medo-Persia and the captives were subject to a new ruling government.
Darius the Mede is the same person as Cyaxares II, who was an uncle to Cyrus the Great and son of Astyages. Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC at which point Cyaxares II became its king. In about 537, Cyaxares II gave his daughter in marriage to Cyrus and the Median kingdom as her dowry, which further cemented the merged Median and Persian kingdoms. Cyaxares II, under the throne name of Darius, died about 537, and Cyrus then took the throne. The reference to Darius the Mede differentiates this Darius from the Darius (I) who ruled after Cyrus.
|2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.||Daniel was studying the prophecy of the 70 year captivity. This refers to a separate prophecy by Jeremiah that specified the length of time Israel would be in captivity by Babylon (Jer. 25:9-13, 29:10-14).|
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
Knowing the captivity would soon be over according to the prophecy, Daniel prays to God, seeking deliverance of his people and the restoration of their city, Jerusalem.
Daniel’s earnestness brings to light the conditional nature of certain prophecies (Jer. 18:1-10, Lev. 26:14-18,40-46). He did not sit still, just awaiting the prophetic word to be fulfilled. He knew that repentance, honesty of heart and seeking God made a difference. Plus, in this prophecy, the act of God’s people in seeking Him, was part of the prophecy. God said “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12-13).
In the same way, today we should be praying for God’s apostatizing people and for deliverance from end-time powers. The loyalty and repentance of God’s end-time people are also prophesied in Revelation.
As Daniel prays, he acknowledges God’s faithfulness, mercy and longsuffering. He also acknowledges Israel’s sins and that they have rebelled, ignored prophets and broken the covenant. Daniel seeks with all his heart, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He takes the situation seriously.
11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
Daniel realizes that the curse of the law of Moses is upon them because of their transgressions. The curse that Daniel refers to can be read in Deuteronomy 28. Verses 1 to 14 outline the blessings for obedience. Verses 15 onward reveal what will happen if Israel disobeys. Read verses 45-51. Notice in verse 50 that a nation of fierce countenance will come against them as a result of their rebellion. In Daniel’s vision in chapter 8, the one the angel is returning to explain here in Daniel 9, Daniel saw a king (kingdom) of fierce countenance stand up and come against God’s people (“And in the latter time of their [4 divisions of Greece] kingdom, when the transgressors [Israel] are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance [Rome], and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” Daniel 8:23). As we studied the succession of kingdoms in Daniel 8, we saw that the little horn, which is also described as the king of fierce countenance, represents Rome.
Read on in Deuteronomy 28:52-57. This section describes the actions of the nation of fierce countenance and that it brings a siege to the gates of the Jew’s city, Jerusalem. This is describing Rome, which besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD. It is recorded in history that cannibalism really did occur during the siege (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 3, Section 4).
Daniel’s references to the curse of Deut 28, where the nation of fierce countenance refers to Rome’s future siege of Jerusalem, provides additional evidence that the king of fierce countenance in Daniel 8:23 represents Rome. We can imagine this greatly startled Daniel, as he knows they have transgressed and fears things will be put in motion so the king of fierce countenance will stand up and cause destruction.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
|Daniel pleads with God to forgive them and remove their reproach, for God’s own sake (v. 17, 19). This situation was effecting God’s people and therefore God Himself. Those under reproach are called by God’s name. The actions of those claiming to be followers of God affect other peoples’ view of God. Misdeeds and selfish actions, don’t only affect the perpetrator and those hurt by the perpetrator, but it misrepresents the true character of God to others, possibly turning them away from pursuing God in their own lives.|
20 And whiles 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;
21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even 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.
22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 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.
Gabriel had been seen before, in Daniel 8:16, which is the first time Gabriel is mentioned in the Bible. Both times he has appeared, his goal has been to make Daniel understand the vision. Notice that Daniel hadn’t received a vision since the one in Daniel 8. The vision of Daniel 8 is the one to which Gabriel is referring. He has come to give understanding regarding the vision, which is just what Gabriel wasn’t able to finish doing at the end of chapter 8. The vision, left partially unexplained in chapter 8, is now going to be explained. Specifically, the part that was not explained before was the 2300 days.
|24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” NASB: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city,”||
The 70 Weeks Prophecy is not a new vision, but actually part of the interpretation of the 2300 Days Prophecy. After the angel told Daniel about the prophecy of the 2300 days in Daniel chapter 8, Daniel was astonished and fainted. Gabriel had been commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, but chapter 8 ends with Daniel not understanding. Now, in Daniel 9, as Daniel’s mind is focused on the end of the 70 years of captivity and the rebellion of the Jews, the angel returns to explain the vision (Dan. 9:21-23). More specifically, he reveals the part of the vision that Daniel didn’t understand, the 2300 days.
Seventy weeks were "determined" (the Hebrew word means to cut off or decree) from the entire 2300 years. The angel is speaking to Daniel, so “thy people” refers to Daniel’s people, the Jews and their city, Jerusalem. There were to be 70 prophetic weeks, which is 490 literal years (1 day = 1 year), cut out of the 2300 years, designated especially for the Jews.
Note: When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). This other usage of “seventy sevens” would have likely reminded the Jews that the time allotted to them was a time of forgiveness and long-suffering of God.
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.
NASB: “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
The Jewish nation had been selected for a special work... to spread the news about the Messiah and provide the bloodline for Messiah to come into the world. Only the Messiah could accomplish all the tasks outlined in this prophecy:
1. Finish the "transgression". The Jew’s rebellion or revolt (pesha) would be allowed to proceed until the 70 weeks were over. Then Jesus would close their probation. According to Daniel 8:23, the transgression of the Jews had fully developed by the end of the Medo-Persian realm and the king of fierce countenance was allowed to stand up and initiate the destructions described as curses in the law of Moses. KJV: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” NASB: “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise” (Dan. 8:23).
2. Make an end to sins, make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness. Only Jesus’ sacrifice and ministry could bring about these accomplishments. Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, launched at the end of this 70 year time period, culminates in the “cleansing of the sanctuary”, launched at the end of the 2300 years (Dan. 8:14). It is then that:
(a) all sin is removed or blotted out,
(b) reconciliation or atonement is achieved,
(c) that which is right is proved right and declared right so that righteousness can reign forever.
3. Seal up the vision and prophecy. The word translated to “seal” means to close up or make an end. It is also used in the phrase translated to “make an end of sins”. As probation closed for the Jewish nation, Jesus would also bring an end to visions and prophets being sent to the Jewish leadership.
4. Anoint the most Holy. The word translated to “most Holy” is the same word translated to “sanctuary” in Dan. 8:13. After Christ was resurrected and ascended to heaven, He began His work in the sanctuary. Just like the earthly sanctuary was anointed before use, the heavenly sanctuary was to be anointed. The heavenly sanctuary service is what provides a way to end sins, reconcile iniquity and bring in righteousness that lasts forever.
|25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” NASB: So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”||
Gabriel proceeds to explain the start date for the 70 weeks. There were four decrees related to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. The date of 457 BC is the starting date for the time period as it is the culminating decree that enabled a restoration of independent government and control of religious and civil affairs.
|“unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:” NASB: “until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;”||
After 457 BC, the Messiah, or anointed one, could be expected in 69 prophetic weeks, which is 483 literal years.
+ 62 weeks (1 score = 20)
= 69 weeks (483 days)
= 483 days = 483 prophetic years
+ 483 years
= 27 AD
Christ was baptized and anointed with the Holy Spirit in 27 AD, which marked the beginning of His ministry (John 1:32-34, Acts 10:38, Luke 3:1,21), exactly 69 weeks into the prophecy. Right after Jesus was baptized, and began to preach, he announced the fulfillment of this time prophecy. He said that “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15).
Note 1: When calculating dates, remember that there is no “zero” year (1 BC is followed by 1 AD). Note 2: In Luke 3:1, it refers to the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius. In Judea, his reign began when he became co-princeps and given legal equality with Augustus in 12 AD, which makes his 15th year in 27 AD.
|the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.||It would be difficult and others would try to stop them (Neh. 2:19, 4:8,16), but the wall and the streets of Jerusalem would be built. The division of the 69 weeks into 7 and 62, indicates that the wall and streets would be built by the end of 7 prophetic weeks (49 literal years), or by 408 BC.|
|26 “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:” NASB: Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,”||
Sometime after 27 AD, the Messiah’s life would be cut short for the benefit of others. In looking forward to the time of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah also revealed that Messiah would be cut off, and that this meant he would die. “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8).
Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for others. Though innocent, He died a violent death, not accepted by His own people and alone. Isaiah also describes that the Messiah’s life would be one of service and sacrifice, affliction and grief. He would do everything possible to save others from sin and ruin, even to the point of giving His own life. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
“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.”
NASB: “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”
Jerusalem would be rebuilt, but its destruction is also here foretold. This was fulfilled in 70 AD, when the Romans besieged Jerusalem, destroyed the city and burned the sanctuary. This identifies Rome as “the prince that shall come”. Remember that Daniel 9 is explaining Daniel 8. The “king of fierce countenance” of Daniel 8 is the same power here brought to light (Rome). This is the prince/king that would come to fulfill the curse of Deuteronomy 28. Moses predicted that the Jew’s enemy would besiege them, parents would eat their children and families would turn upon one another. There would be sickness, fear and they would be dispersed among nations (Deut. 28:64). These were the exact results when Jerusalem was besieged by Rome, the “nation of fierce countenance” (Deut. 28:50).
Flood. The end is described as a flood, which is often used in the Bible to represent an invading army or overwhelming force (Is. 8:7-8, Is. 59:19, Jer. 46:6-8, Jer. 47:2-3, Nahum 1:8, Rev. 12:15-16, Dan. 11:22+40, Rev. 16:12, Rev. 17:1-5,15).
End of the war. The wars between the Jews and the Romans continued long after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. The Romans went on to desolate the land of Judea and disperse the Jews. When Jesus warned the Christians to flee from this siege of Jerusalem, He included the entire land of Judea in His warnings (Luke 21:20-24). There was terrible bloodshed on both sides, and the Jews, along with their homeland, were especially devastated in the wars of 115-117 and 132-135 AD. The Romans were determined to root out all traces of Judaism. They even officially ceased the name of Jerusalem in 130 AD and changed the name of the province to “Syria Palaestina”. During these struggles, many Jews fled to Parthia, which protected the Jews and fought against the Romans until their last battle in 217 AD.
|27 “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:” NASB: And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week,||
Christ and His apostles focused on taking the gospel message primarily to the Jews for 7 years (3-1/2 years during Jesus’ ministry and 3-1/2 years after), from 27 AD until the year 34 AD (v. 27) (Matt. 10:5-6). At the end of those seven years, Stephen preached a final, convincing sermon to the leaders of the Jewish nation, giving them one last chance to keep God’s everlasting covenant. After preaching, Steven looked up and saw Jesus in heaven (Acts 7:55). This enraged the Jewish leaders. They rejected the message (Acts 7:57-59) and stoned Stephen to death. After this, the apostles shifted their focus to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21). The 490 years (70 weeks), designated especially to the Jews, had come to an end. The Jews, while entitled to salvation just like everyone else (Rom. 11:23-24), lost their special privileges as a nation, and the responsibility of disseminating the truth to the world and caring for the growing body of believers was given to the Christian church (Matt. 21:33-45, Eph. 2:12,16, Rom. 9:6-8, Gal. 6:15-16).
The New Testament writers make it clear that God’s covenant promises are to be fulfilled to those who are part of Christ’s body/church. This group is often referred to as “Spiritual Israel” or the “Israel of God”. These are they which live according to the Spirit of God instead of their own selfish desires (Rom. 2:29). It’s not your lineage that’s important to God, it’s your decision for Christ that allows Him to count you as His child (Gal. 3:29).
|“and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,” NASB: but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;||
In the spring of 31 AD (precisely half way through, or in the midst of, week 69) Christ died on the cross. This occurred on the exact day of the Jewish Passover (14th day of the 1st month), perfectly fulfilling the symbolism of the feast. Jesus, identified as the innocent Lamb of God (John 1:29), eliminated the need for animal sacrifices, because His great sacrifice was what all the animal sacrifices foreshadowed. A visible sign emphasized this point at the moment Jesus died, as the veil in the Jewish temple was torn in half from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51).
Just as Jesus fulfilled the Passover on the exact day of the Jewish feast, He fulfills the remaining feasts on the exact day of the type. He was resurrected on the 16th day of the 1st month, fulfilling the symbolism of the Feast of Firstfruits and He poured out the Holy Spirit 50 days later on the 6th day of the 3rd month to fulfill the Feast of Weeks. In the same way, He began the judgment to cleanse the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14), which is a fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, on the 22nd day of the 7th month.
|“and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,” NASB: “and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate,”||
After the 70 weeks, Rome (“people of the prince that shall come” - v. 26) will spread abominations and desolations. This is referring to the same “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 11:31, 12:11) and the “transgression of desolation” (Dan. 8:13) elsewhere in Daniel.
Jesus told the Jews that their temple was left to them desolate (Matt. 23:38). Their rejection of Jesus, shown over the course of many centuries and epitomized in His crucifixion, resulted in the lack of His presence in the temple, leaving it desolate. In this sense, Jesus and the Jews caused the temple to be desolate. However, Jesus identified the Roman armies as the abomination of desolation. The Romans crucified Christ, and continued on with the work of desolating the sanctuary and filling it with abominations. This was foretold elsewhere in Daniel and by Jesus Himself (Matt. 24:15, Luke 21:20, Dan. 8:13, 11:31, 12:11). The word translated to abominations means filthy, disgusting and idolatrous. It is something that interferes with the mediatorial work in the sanctuary. The Bible highlights two specific times when a desolation would occur. One, when the Roman military surrounded Jerusalem and desolated the earthly sanctuary in 70 AD, and two, when Divided Rome’s military powers “surrounded” the heavenly sanctuary and desolated it as state powers established the Papacy’s substitute mediatorial system (2 Thess. 2:3-4, Dan. 8:11-14, 11:31, 12:11) in place of Jesus' mediation in heaven. This began in 508 when Clovis of the Franks became the first official Christian Nicene King of divided Rome and integrated church officials into government.
|“even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” NASB: even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”||
The phrase “until the consummation” means “until the full end”. The NASB renders it “until a complete destruction”. Destruction is poured out, similar to the 7 plagues that are poured out and described as God’s wrath in Revelation 16:1. Those who cause the desolation and bring in abominations will eventually be destroyed. Since the Roman realm is the desolator, it will be the recipient of God’s wrath.
Note that the identity of “he” in the first half of verse 27 refers to Christ Himself, but the “he” in the last half of the verse refers to Rome (the prince that shall come). Notice how the NASB reads that the second “he” comes on the wings of abominations. Also, destruction is poured out on the one who makes the desolation. This last half of verse 27 wouldn’t then be referring to Jesus as the desolator or the one who is made desolate. Also, Jesus wouldn’t be “on the wings of abominations”. This is instead referring to the prince who is to come from verse 26. This is the same as the fierce king of Dan. 8:13 who we already know is tied to the transgression of desolation. The NIV translates Daniel 8:13 as “the rebellion that causes desolation.” Jesus certainly wouldn’t be part of a rebellion or identify with abominations. While Jesus was on earth He referred to the abomination of desolation as Roman armies, of which he had no part.