I contend that these sixty-two weeks in verse 26 are completely different than the sixty-two weeks in verse 25. This interpretation significantly impacts the meaning of the prophecy.
What is the starting point to the prophecy? Verse 25 specifies that the intervals begin from "the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem."
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament contain historical details of the Jews efforts to rebuild Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity. The books were written well before 165 B.C. They specify four possible decrees or commandments:
1) the decree from Cyrus, king of Persia, issued in about 538 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4);
2) Darius' decree that confirmed Cyrus' decree issued in 520 B.C. (Ezra 6:6-12);
3) Artaxerxes' decree issued to Ezra in 458-7 B.C. (Ezra 7:11-26); and
4) Artaxerxes' decree issued to Nehemiah in 445-4 B.C. (Neh. 2:1-6).
The key to deciding which of these four decrees might be a suitable starting point, is by examining this language in verse 25: "the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." In other words, as a result of the commandment, the street and wall would be rebuilt. It can be shown by carefully reading Ezra and Nehemiah that two of the aforementioned decrees qualify: both 3 and 4. Some scholars contend that decree 1, Cyrus' decree, was the decree that authorized the rebuilding of the street and wall of Jerusalem. The decree is described in Ezra 1 and there is not a hint that this decree had anything to do with rebuilding the street and wall of Jerusalem. The Hebrew words for "street" and "wall" in Daniel 9:25 are never mentioned in relation to this decree. Expositors who claim this decree was the one envisioned by Daniel usually rely on statements in Isaiah suggesting that a king named "Cyrus" would rebuild Jerusalem. Cyrus rebuilt the temple but not the city itself. In the book of Ezra a rebuilt "street" or "wall" is never noted in Cyrus' time.
The same is true of the second decree from Darius. The building of a street or wall is not noted in relation to his decree. Both decrees 3 and 4 authorized the rebuilding of the street and wall of Jerusalem. Both were issued in Nisan (Ezra 7:9; Neh. 2:1). Regarding decree 3, we find two passages that reveal this decree authorized the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem.
The first passage is found in Ezra 4:7-23. Scholars have suggested that in Ezra 4 the author digressed and described events that occurred later in time. The passage states that "in the days of Artaxerxes", king of Persia, a letter was written to Artaxerxes (verse 7). The letter suggested that the Jews were rebuilding the city during Artaxerxes' reign. The letter states in part:
Be it known now unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. (Ezra 4:12)
The letter clearly states that Artaxerxes had authorized the Jews to return to Jerusalem and the Jews were in the process of setting up the walls of the city and building the city. Later in Ezra 7 we are told that Artaxerxes, king of Persia, issued a decree to Ezra in the seventh year of his reign. The king gave Ezra silver and gold to beautify the temple in Jerusalem. In addition, the letter from the king to Ezra also stated, "And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and gold, that do after the will of your God" (Ezra 7:18). In other words, this was a broad decree that authorized Ezra to do whatever he deemed proper with the gold and silver.
The only possible conclusion one can draw is that pursuant to this decree Ezra used some of the gold and silver to begin work on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. We must conclude this because Artaxerxes, after reading the letter written to him, ordered that the rebuilding of the city cease:
Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. (Ezra 4:21)
It was not until Artaxerxes issued the decree to Nehemiah in the twentieth year of his reign that the walls were completely rebuilt as described in the book of Nehemiah (Neh. 2). Since Artaxerxes stated that the city would not be rebuilt until he issued another commandment to that effect, we realize that his decree to Ezra resulted in a partial rebuilding. He later authorized Nehemiah to complete the building of the walls of Jerusalem in the king's twentieth year.
The second passage that confirms this interpretation is Ezra 9:9. In this verse Ezra prays to God after he had received the decree from Artaxerxes. He states:
(O)ur God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. (Ezra 9:9)
In the verse Ezra clearly states that the kings of Persia had already authorized the rebuilding of a wall in Jerusalem. Since Darius' decree was about sixty years before Artaxerxes' decree to Ezra, we must conclude that Ezra understood Artaxerxes' decree to Ezra authorized the building of a wall in Jerusalem. Some scholars will object that the word for "wall" in Daniel 9:25 is not the same word used in either of the Ezra passages. However, the same is true of the word used throughout Nehemiah to describe the "wall" Nehemiah was rebuilding; it is not the same word used in Daniel 9:25 either.
So what does this mean? It could mean that the word used to describe "wall" in the Daniel prophecy was broadly worded so it could apply to both of the walls that were described in Ezra and Nehemiah. Both were being built in Artaxerxes' reign. Since it applied to both, the word is not the same word used in either Nehemiah or Ezra.
What about the "street" that was noted in the prophecy? The word never appears in conjunction with decrees 1 and 2. But, again, the word appears in relation to both decrees 3 and 4. In Ezra 10:9 it states that, "the people sat in the street of the house of God." This event was after Artaxerxes had issued the decree to Ezra and after Ezra had already gone to Jerusalem. The same word for "street" also appears several times in Nehemiah (Neh. 8:1, 3, 16). We find strong evidence that both of the possible decrees from Artaxerxes resulted in a building of the street and wall in Jerusalem.
Some scholars claim that the Artaxerxes decree to Ezra in 458-7 B.C. is the terminus a quo of the interval leading to the Messiah. By the same token, a number of scholars claim that the one issued to Nehemiah in 445-4 B.C. is the starting point. The evidence suggests that either could work. This is a key to discovering how we might interpret the prophecy, and how someone could forecast when the interval would expire.
The Jewish calendar is luni-solar. Months are determined based on the phases of the moon. The first day of a month closely follows a new moon. In any year there are either twelve or thirteen lunar months. The tropical year is 365.24219 days in duration. A lunar month is 29.530588 days long. A simple lunar calendar, presently used by Islam and believed to have been used by the early Hebrews, is twelve lunar months or 354.36 days long.
There are two New Year's Days in the Jewish calendar: Tishri 1 and Nisan 1. Nisan is the lunar month that occurs in the spring. Tishri is the lunar month that occurs in the fall. In the Jewish calendar an intercalary (or additional) lunar month is inserted in the calendar prior to Nisan— allowing the luni-solar calendar to remain in step with the seasons of the year. In the Jewish calendar, there are always six lunar months between Nisan 1 and Tishri 1. Between Tishri 1 and Nisan 1 there could be either six or seven lunar months depending on whether the year included an intercalary month. Passover occurs on Nisan 15. The vernal equinox is the first day of spring and it occurs on March 21 of the Gregorian calendar. In classical times Passover was deemed a spring festival.
It is known that in the second temple era, the period from about 536 B.C. to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, the Jews frequently intercalated the lunar months so that Nisan 15 always arrived on or after the vernal equinox. (1) Some have speculated that the ancient Jews possessed accurate knowledge of the length of the lunar month and solar year. (2) Based on this knowledge they could consistently intercalate lunar months so that Nisan 15 always arrived in the spring and on or after the vernal equinox. With accurate astronomical knowledge, one can even project the dates of new moons well into the future.
Some have argued that a 360-day calendar is used in parts of the Bible. Proponents of this theory argue that such a calendar might have been used as a type of "prophetic-year" calendar. (3) There is no evidence that the Hebrews ever used a calendar where 360 civil days comprised the year. Such a calendar cannot be synchronized with either a luni-solar or lunar calendar. The sole basis for making this claim is because thirty-day intervals appear in various biblical passages. For example, thirty-day intervals appear in Genesis 8:3 (150 days), Daniel 12:11 (1,290 days), Esther 1:4 (180 days), and Revelation 11:3 (1,260 days).
5. THE TWO INTERVALS IN DANIEL 9:25
Secular records reveal that Artaxerxes I ruled from 464 to 424 B.C. Most scholars place the seventh year of his reign in 458 B.C. and the twentieth year in 445 B.C. Others place them a year later in 457 and 444 B.C. However, regardless of which years are selected the terminating point to the 49 and 434 year interval could still be the same. When measured from either decree 3 or decree 4, 49 years will expire after the latest event that can be fixed in the Old Testament. This suggests that the 49 years do not lead to any noteworthy event in the Old Testament.
So, why are there two intervals in Daniel 9:25?
The reason is because the two decrees were separated by 13 years and 434 simple lunar years almost equal 421 luni-solar years. This is significant because we can assume that the first 49 years measured from both decrees 3 and 4 were intended to be measured as luni-solar years. But the second interval of 434 years was intended to be measured as luni-solar years from decree 3, and as simple lunar years from decree 4. This explains why the intervals were divided. The second interval is measured using two different calendars. This means that the intervals from both decrees 3 and 4 could expire at precisely the same point in time.
The number of lunar months in 434 lunar years is 434 x 12 or 5,208. When multiplying this number by 29.530588 days the total is precisely 153,795.3 days. Dividing this number by 365.24219 days/solar year equals 421 solar years and 28.34 days.
Earlier we noted that in the second temple era the Jews regularly intercalated months so that Nisan 15 would arrive on or after the vernal equinox. Decree 4 was issued either in Nisan, 445 or Nisan, 444 B.C. If we add 49 luni-solar years to 445 we arrive at 396 B.C. The key fact is that in the year 396 B.C. Nisan 14 arrived on the vernal equinox if we assume that the Jews intercalated lunar months based on the foregoing rule. I confirmed this with calendrical software. (4)
With the intercalating scheme that the Jews used in this era, in only about five percent of the cases will 434 lunar years convert to exactly 421 luni-solar years. For this to occur, Nisan 15 must arrive within a day or two following the vernal equinox in the year that begins the sequence.
Why? The reason is because the vernal equinox will regress about two days in the lunar month and arrive on the 16th day of the month 421 years later. But this month cannot be Nisan because the vernal equinox would arrive after Nisan 15. This means the month must be an intercalary month and the following month is Nisan.
When this occurs precisely 5,208 lunar months will elapse in the sequence between the Nisan 1 dates that are separated by 421 years. So, in the vast majority of the cases the number of lunar months between Nisan 1 dates separated by 421 years will be 5,207. Only in a small number of cases will it work out precisely. The conditions just happen to exist in 396 B.C. This is the only year that works in the period from about 400-390 B.C.
If we add 421 years to 396 B.C. we arrive at A.D. 26. There was no year 0 B.C. or A.D. 0. So we add the numbers and subtract one to determine the number of solar years in the sequence (396 + 26 -1 = 421). I also confirmed that in A.D. 26 Nisan 1 would have arrived 28 days later than in 396 B.C. using the Jewish intercalary system. (5)
The significance of this fact is that a person who had some astronomical knowledge could have forecast that the 434 lunar-year interval must begin in 396 B.C. Therefore, he could know precisely when the interval would expire! In this case it doesn't matter whether the decree was issued in 445 or 444 B.C. In the Bible scholars know that intervals are expressed using either non-accession or accession dating. In one case we would count the year when the decree was issued as the first year in the sequence. In the other case we count the year immediately following the decree as the first year. If the decree was in 445 B.C. we count the year following the decree as the first year. If the interval is from 444 B.C. we count that year as the first year. In either case the 49 luni-solar years will expire in 396 B.C.
But would an early reader have counted years from Nisan 1 or Tishri 1? Since Sabbatical years were measured from Tishri, Tishri years would be the logical choice. Moreover, since there are always six lunar months between Nisan 1 and Tishri 1 in the Jewish calendar, this means that the Tishri 1 dates will also be separated by precisely 434 lunar years. Since both decrees were issued in Nisan, if they were issued in 458 and 445 B.C. Tishri 1 of those years would be the first year in the sequence.
In short, the following chart reflects the sequence. From both decrees 3 and 4 the expiration date for the 49 and 434-year intervals will arrive conclusively on Tishri 1, A.D. 26.
Decree 3: Tishri 1 to Tishri 1
49 luni-solar yrs + 434 luni-solar yrs
Tishri 1 to Tishri 1 to Tishri 1
49 luni-solar yrs precisely 434 lunar yrs
Not only was a simple lunar calendar used in early times, but there is evidence that the Genesis 5 numbers were simple lunar years as well. I explain this in more detail in chapter 10 of my book The Millennium Chronology. (6) It is believed that the earliest Hebrew calendar was purely lunar. This coincidence is the strongest evidence that the intervals were recorded so that a reader could determine in advance when the intervals would expire.
What happened at the expiration of the two intervals in Daniel 9:25?
Many scholars believe that Jesus turned 30 years old in the year beginning with Tishri 1, AD 26. This made him eligible to become a priest (Numbers 4). Moreover, David was 30 when he became king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4). It would make sense that the first interval would coincide with an event over which the Messiah had no control such as his birth or a certain age which would limit those candidates who might claim to be the Messiah. Jesus made this statement at the beginning of his ministry: "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). At the beginning of His ministry Christ already believed Daniel's time had been fulfilled.
Jesus did not begin his ministry in the year begining with Tishri 1, AD 26 but rather the following year because it coincided with a Sabbatical year.
6. THE ISSUE CONCERNING THE TERM "WEEKS"
The Hebrew word used to denote "week" in the prophecy also means "seven." In fact, in many translations the prophecy designates the intervals as "sevens" rather than weeks. Of course, the seventh year in a week of years was the Sabbatical year (Lev. 25:4). Daniel himself observed that the seventy-year captivity prophesied by Jeremiah was nearing its completion (Dan. 9:2). This served as the basis for the Seventy Sevens prophecy. The reason for the captivity was owing to Israel's failure to observe the Sabbatical-year law (2 Chron. 36:21). Thus, it would have been reasonable to assume that the author had envisioned some system involving either Sabbatical years, units of seven years, or both.
I contend that in verse 26 the term "weeks" or "sevens" meant Sabbatical years only: "And after threescore and two weeks [Sabbatical years]." In verse 27 the term meant both a unit of seven years and a Sabbatical year: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [or "seven"—either a Sabbatical year or a unit of seven years]: and in the midst of the week [or seven— Sabbatical year or unit of seven years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
An early reader could have concluded that the sixty-two weeks outlined in Daniel 9:26 were not the same interval specified in verse 25. The word for "weeks" in Daniel 9:26 is not written the same as the word appears in 9:25 in the original Hebrew. In verse 26 the Hebrew letter denoting the article "the" modifies the term "weeks." Arguably the author changed his definition for the term "weeks" in verse 26 so that it now meant Sabbatical years as opposed to units of seven years. So verse 26 was intended to read something like this: "And after threescore and two of the sevens (or Sabbatical years) " The use of the article was emphasizing a change in definition for the term "weeks."
Finally, the most compelling clue that suggests that the author was counting Sabbatical years in Daniel 9:26 pertains to this phrase found at the end of the verse: "and unto the end of the war, desolations are determined." The use of the phrase "desolations" in this verse suggests that Sabbatical years were determined or were to be observed until the end of the prophesied war. In Leviticus 26:32-35 God had warned the Jews that He would punish them if they failed to observe the Sabbatical laws. The punishment would consist of the land lying desolate:
I will bring the land unto desolation; and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest and enjoy her Sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest. (Lev. 26:32-35)
Based on this warning in Leviticus, it would have been most reasonable for a Jew to have interpreted the "weeks" in Daniel 9:26 to be Sabbatical years that extended until the end of the war.
(continued in part 2)
Did the Bible Predict when Christ would Appear?
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 2
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 2
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 1)
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 2)
The Millennium Chronology
Christ in the Clouds (1)
Christ in the Clouds (2)
Christ in the Clouds (3)
8. WHAT IS THE STARTING POINT FOR THE 62 SABBATICAL YEARS?
The question that now arises is this: if the author was counting Sabbatical years in Daniel 9:26, then at what starting point do we begin the count? The short answer is that the Sabbatical years were also counted from "the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem."
How can we infer that was the intent?
The primary reason is the way the prophecy is structured. In verse 25 the first two intervals are measured from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. Since there is only one specified starting point in the prophecy then one would assume that the sixty-two Sabbatical years in verse 26 were also to be counted from the same starting point. In other words, the prophecy should be read as follows:
 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.  And after threescore and two weeks [or "sevens"— i.e. Sabbatical years— also counted from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem] 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.
The structure is similar to the two sequences described in Daniel 12:11-12:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
Clearly, in Daniel 12:12 the 1,335 days are also counted from "the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away" even though the author didn't explicitly state that. Since Daniel tells us that the Messiah will be cut off after the sixty-two weeks in verse 26, this means that the events described in that verse must occur after the appearance of the Messiah described in verse 25. In the same way that we know the 1,335 days must be counted from the starting point specified in the prior verse, we claim that the sixty-two weeks in 9:26 also should be counted from the commandment specified in verse 25.
But how would an early reader have possibly interpreted it that way since sixty-two Sabbatical years as counted from the original commandment will not extend beyond the
49 and 434 years outlined in verse 25? Let's discuss this in the following section.
If a Sabbatical year is every seven years then a period of 62 Sabbatical years only encompasses an interval of about 434 years. The events described in Daniel 9:26 must occur after the events described in Daniel 9:25. In Daniel 9:25 the author described the coming of the Messiah. In 9:26 he discussed the cutting-off of the Messiah. How can 62 Sabbatical years (or roughly 434 years) extend beyond the interval described in Daniel 9:25 of 434 plus 49 years or roughly 483 years?
The answer lies in recognizing the fact that years of release occurred every seven years but those years were comprised of both Jubilees and Sabbatical years. We define a year of release to be either a Sabbatical year or a Jubilee.
The year of Jubilee is described in Leviticus 25:8-11:
And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which growth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
Although the Sabbatical year was a year of rest for the land, the Jubilee was a more intensified Sabbatical year. It was the year when slaves were released. Although there has been disagreement among scholars, both interpretations of this provision require a Sabbatical year every seven years. (7) Moreover, either the seventh Sabbatical year was counted as a jubilee or else the seventh sabbatical year was a sabbatical and the next year was a jubilee. In other words, years of release are every seven years and a Jubilee is every 49th or 50th year:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7-S, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14-S, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21-S,
22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28-S, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35-S, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42-S,
43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49-J, (or 49-S and 50-J), 1 (or 2) ...
s= sabbatical, j= jubilee
(year #1 is the first year in another 49-year cycle; the 49th year is a Jubilee or a Sabbatical immediately followed by a jubilee)
One could reasonably conclude that the Daniel author was counting Sabbatical years in Daniel 9:26, but he excluded Sabbatical years that were either counted as Jubilees or immediately preceded Jubilees. With this scenario the interval must extend beyond the 49 and 434 years noted in Daniel 9:25.
The two recognized authorities for dating Sabbatical years in this era are Benedict Zuckermann and Ben Zion Wacholder. Both have published tables of Sabbatical years for the second temple period. (8) Wacholder also published a table of Jubilees where he speculated which Sabbatical years might have been designated as Jubilees during this era. His table of Jubilees follows a 49-year cycle.
Assume that the Daniel author was counting lone Sabbatical years only in 9:26. If he counted 62 Sabbatical years in the sequence, then he must have counted either ten or eleven Jubilees in the sequence. In other words, he either counted 62 lone Sabbatical years with ten Jubilees or he counted 62 Sabbatical years with eleven Jubilees. With the prophecy, one must count eleven jubilees in the sequence. This allows the interval to extend to AD 70.
10. WHEN WERE JUBILEES AND SABBATICAL YEARS?
In 1866 Zuckermann published a table of Sabbatical years for the second temple era. In 1973 Wacholder published a table of Sabbatical years for the same era. Zuckermann's dates are one year earlier than Wacholder's. In general, scholars are divided over which table is more likely correct. Certainly a preliminary issue is the starting year for counting the 62 Sabbatical years. The argument is that the author intended the count to begin from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. But we previously noted that two such commandments are candidates: one issued in 458-7 B.C. and the other in 445-4 B.C
Nehemiah 10:31 addresses this issue. After the wall was rebuilt in Nehemiah's time, the priests and people of Israel made a covenant with God. According to Nehemiah this was in the fall of 445-4 B.C. (Neh. 7:73, 9:1). The Israelites made a pledge, in part, that:
if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that [they] would not buy it of them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day: and that [they] would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. (Neh. 10:31)
The verse has been interpreted to mean that the Israelites reinstituted the observance of the Sabbatical year after the rebuilding of the wall in 445 B.C. If this is true then the first observed Sabbatical year in the sequence from either commandment (the one in 458 or 445 B.C.) must be the first Sabbatical year in the sequence following the rebuilding of the wall in 445 B.C. There is no evidence from Nehemiah that the year when the wall was completed was deemed a Sabbatical year.
Zuckermann places a Sabbatical in the year that began with Tishri 1, 444 B.C. Wacholder places a Sabbatical in the year that began with Tishri 1, 443 B.C. (9) We do not know how the Israelites determined when the first Sabbatical year should begin following the rebuilding of the wall in 445. Possibly they knew when the early Hebrews counted prior Sabbatical years and they then used those dates to reinstitute the seven-year cycle. This could explain why a Sabbatical year began with Tishri 1, 443 B.C. — two years after the rebuilding of the wall.
If Wacholder's dates are correct then Tishri 1, A.D. 69 was the beginning of a Sabbatical year. It was in the midst of that Sabbatical year that Jerusalem was destroyed. That was 511 years after the first observed Sabbatical year in the sequence (443 + 69 - 1 = 511). Excluding the potential A.D. 69 Sabbatical year and counting 443 B.C. as the first year, the years of release in the sequence total exactly 73 (i.e., 73 x 7 = 511).
Moreover, if Wacholder's Sabbatical dates are correct, then an early reader could have forecast that the 62nd Sabbatical year after the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem would either begin with Tishri 1, A.D. 55 or Tishri 1, A.D. 62. The precise year would depend on whether the author counted ten or eleven Jubilees in the sequence. Another issue is whether historical records confirm when Jubilees were actually observed in this era. Although the Daniel author might have envisioned 62 Sabbatical years and either ten or eleven Jubilees, if records revealed when the Jubilees were actually observed, this would impact an early interpretation of the prophecy.
In this case, scholars have argued that historical records are inadequate in this regard. We cannot determine what years, if any, were actually observed as Jubilees. (10) It is possible that Jubilees were not observed at all in the era. For purposes of the prophecy they might have been counted simply to determine when the 62 sevens would expire.
11. THE MESSIAH IS "CUT OFF"
What did the author have in mind by the statement "shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself" in verse 26? Likely it simply meant that the Messiah would be "dead" after those sixty-two sevens. Daniel was indicating that the Messiah would no longer be around after the sixty-two sabbatical years. Of course this was true since Christ was already crucified some thirty years earlier.
12. WHAT ABOUT THE FINAL WEEK?
We are now ready to discuss the final week of the prophecy:
 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.
In verse 26 the author mentioned two individuals: the Messiah and the prince who would come. The ambiguous pronoun "he" in verse 27 means that both the Messiah and the prince who would come would confirm the covenant with many for a final seven or week. In this case the "covenant" is in reference to one of God's covenants with Israel previously alluded to in Daniel 9:4 ("the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant"). In other words, the prophecy should be read as follows. Verse 27 is an additional seven years to be added to the numbers in verse 25 to bring the total to 70. But it is also true that verse 27 is an additional Sabbatical year to be added to the 62 Sabbatical years in verse 26 to bring that total to 63.
In the midst of that final seven both the Messiah and the prince who would come will cause sacrificing and oblation to cease. Both will consummate one of God's covenants with Israel.
First, let's briefly review when the intervals expired in verses 25 and 26. In section 5 we established that an early reader could have forecast that the intervals in verse 25 would expire on Tishri 1, A.D. 26. In section 10 we saw that the 62 Sabbatical years would have expired in one of two years: the Sabbatical year beginning with Tishri 1, A.D. 55 or Tishri 1, A.D. 62.
If one adds another seven-year period to Tishri 1, A.D. 26, that seven years will expire on Tishri 1, A.D. 33. But verse 27 clarifies that in the midst of that final week the Messiah would cause sacrificing to cease. In several other verses the author noted a period of time equal to three-and-one-half years. There are references to a period of "a time and times and the dividing of time" (Dan. 7:25) and "a time, times, and an half" (Dan. 12:7). Scholars know these periods designate 31/2 years.
Therefore, in reference to the phrase "in the midst of the week" a reader likely would have read that to mean a three-and-one-half-year period as well. If we add three and a half years to Tishri 1, A.D. 26 this brings us to Passover or the spring of A.D. 30. An early reader could have computed that this would be when the Messiah would cause sacrificing and oblation to cease.
Regarding the second prince, a final Sabbatical year would be added to the previous 62 in the sequence (i.e., the 63rd Sabbatical year from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem) and in the midst of that Sabbatical year he would cause sacrificing to cease.
13. WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN A.D. 30 AND A.D. 70? Did Christ cause sacrificing and oblation to cease?
This was indeed fulfilled. Christ caused sacrificing to cease for His followers at the time of His crucifixion in Nisan, A.D. 30. Albeit His followers comprised a small group, it was clearly the significant event in Christianity. Christians no longer offered sacrifices under the Old Testament law because Christ offered His blood as the one-time sacrifice.
Who was the second prince identified in the prophecy? He was Titus of Rome. He caused sacrificing to cease in A.D. 70 at the time the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The siege of Jerusalem under Titus began around Passover in A.D. 70. The siege lasted approximately five months. According to Josephus, 84 days after the siege began, in July, A.D. 70 the Jewish daily sacrifices ended (Wars of the Jews, bk. 6, chap. 2, sect. 1). Indeed this did occur in the midst of the Sabbatical year that began on Tishri 1, A.D. 69. Since the temple was destroyed, sacrificing ceased. That year marked the end of sacrificing.
The rest is history.
The aforementioned interpretation fixes certain key dates for the events described in the Seventy Sevens prophecy. The Messiah turned 30 (the same age when David became king) and became eligible to become a priest in the year beginning with Tishri 1, AD 26. The prophecy foretold that He would cause sacrificing to cease 31/2 years later in the spring of A.D. 30. The 63rd Sabbatical year from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem began on Tishri 1, A.D. 69, assuming Wacholder's Sabbatical tables are correct. It was in the midst of that Sabbatical year that the second prince noted in the prophecy, Titus of Rome, caused sacrificing to cease for all Jews.
(1) Edward Reingold and Nachum Dershowitz, Calendrical Calculations, The Millennium Edition (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001) page 207. The authors comment that in classical times the Jews intercalated lunar months so that Nisan 16 always arrived after the vernal equinox. Kenneth Doig, New Testament Chronology (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Publishers, 1990) Chapter 2.
(2) Jeffrey Satinover, Cracking the Bible Code (New York, NY: William Morrow, 1997), pages 265-266. Satinover remarks that the ancient Jews might have known the precise length of the lunar month— enabling them to properly intercalate lunar months into the luni-solar calendar.
(3) Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (5th ed.; London, 1895), pages 119-129.
(4) Reingold and Dershowitz. The book's software reveals that Nisan 14, 396 B.C. arrived on the vernal equinox.
(5) Reingold and Dershowitz, page 123. The Julian date for Passover is listed as April 20, A.D. 26 using the classical observational calendar.
(6) Doug Peterson, The Millennium Chronology (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2003), pages 135-150.
(7) Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (rev. ed.; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), pages 127-128.
(8) Ben Zion Wacholder, "The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles During the Second Temple and the Early Rabbinic Period," Hebrew Union College Annual 44 (1973), pages 153-196. Benedict Zuckermann, A Treatise on the Sabbatical Cycle and the Jubilee: A Contribution to the Archaeology and Chronology of the Time Anterior and Subsequent to the Captivity (trans. A. Lowy; London: Chronological Institute, 1866; repr. New York: Sepher Hermon Press, 1974).
(10) Donald Wilford Blosser, "Jesus and the Jubilee: Luke 4:16-30, The Year of Jubilee and its Significance in the Gospel of Luke" (Ph.D. diss., St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, 1979), pages 115-116. Blosser concludes that it is not possible to construct a Jubilee cycle nor to prove that any specific year during the Second Temple period or New Testament period was in fact a Jubilee year.
Did the Bible Predict when Christ would Appear?
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 1)
Seventy Sevens Prophecy (pt. 2)
The Millennium Chronology
Christ in the Clouds (1)
Christ in the Clouds (2)
Christ in the Clouds (3)
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