Daniel had assumed that a period of seventy years would finish ‘the desolations of Jerusalem’ (verse 2), and in his prayer had pleaded with God for this (verse 18). God sends Gabriel to give him fuller understanding (verses 20-23), by conveying to him ‘an answer’, which speaks not of seventy years, but of seventy weeks of years. The message is very condensed, and every clause is significant.
- Verse 24. What are the six things mentioned here? Notice that they all concern the Jews and the holy city, and are to come to pass at the end of the full seventy weeks of years.
- The seventy weeks of years are divided into three periods of seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one week, respectively. What the first period signifies is not known for certain, unless it is the time taken to build the city. What event, however, is stated as happening at the, end of the second period?
- The remainder of the passage has been variously interpreted, even by those who regard it as inspired prophecy. If verse 26a is a reference to the cross of Christ, then verse 26b seems to point to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in AD 70. But such questions as these arise: (a) Does the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 exhaust the prophecy? (b) Who is the ‘ruler who will come’, and is he to be identified with the little horn of 7:8, 24, 25? See Note 3 below
- Verse 24. ‘To finish transgression ‘and ‘to put an end to sin’ are parallel expressions meaning to bring Israel’s sinning to an end. Cf. Rom. 11:26, 27. ‘To seal up vision and prophecy’: i.e., to ratify them as being fulfilled. ‘To anoint the most holy’: i.e., the consecration of the Messianic temple, fulfilled in the establishment of the church, the body of Christ
- From the decree of Artaxerxes I, referred to in Ezra 7:11ff. (458 BC), sixty-nine weeks of years bring us to the period of Christ’s ministry. This prophecy of Daniel may account for the widespread expectation of a Messiah at the time Jesus appeared (cf. Matt. 2:1, 2; Luke 2:25, 26; 3:15), and may lie behind our Lord’s own words in Mark 1:15a.
- Verses 26, 27. Many hold that in this prophecy, as in other Old Testament passages, the beginning and end of the Christian era telescoped together, and that the prophecy here leaps forward to the end of the age. If so, the last ‘week’ is separated from the first sixty-nine by the whole interval between Christ’s first and second comings. With verse 27, cf. 2 Thess. 2:8.