Capsule Commentary—Daniel's Seventy Weeks

Daniel's Seventy Weeks
Capsule Commentary


Many have interpreted Daniel's seventy weeks in many different ways. Most of the time the interpretations are twisted to fit a preconceived theory so that “proof” may be offered to support the theory. I want to take a straight forward approach to these scriptures without trying to prove any theory. Let's lay aside any previously held ideas and simply look at what these verses say and depend on the word to explain itself.



(Daniel 9:24 NASB)

"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, 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.


In the original “70 weeks” is actually “70 sevens”. This is determined to be 70 series of 7 years or 490 years total.1

“your people” = the Jews

“your holy city” = Jerusalem

A definite time period is established by the prophecy to accomplish certain things:

  1. finish the transgression

  2. make an end of sin

  3. make atonement for iniquity

  4. bring in everlasting righteousness

  5. seal up vision and prophecy

  6. anoint the most holy ('place' added by the translators—not in original)

Over the time period of the prophecy we can expect all six of these goals to be accomplished or fulfilled.

This verse gives us the scope and purpose of the prophecy with the following verses giving us the details.

(Daniel 9:25 NASB)

"So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.


Beginning of the 70 weeks = “from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”. Jerusalem, the city, not the temple and its functions.

70 weeks are now broken into 3 time components:

  • 7 weeks or 49 years

  • 62 weeks or 434 years

  • leaving the final 1 week or 7 years to complete the 70 weeks

We should expect to see major prophetic significance for each of these components that will fit together to complete the overall scope and purpose given in the previous verse

From the beginning of the 70 weeks until Messiah (Jesus) the time component is 7 weeks (49 years) plus 62 weeks (434 years) for a total of 483 years.

Since the time frame begins with the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, it makes sense that the first component of 7 weeks (49 years) involves the completion of the restoration including plaza and moat. Jerusalem was to be restored to its previous condition and strength, which included defenses such as wall and moat. This would be done in perilous times. Reading Nehemiah gives us a picture of some of the difficulties and resistance encountered.


(A.) When did the 70 weeks start? Which decree is meant by the verse?

First it had to be a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem not just the Temple. The Scriptures list several decrees relating to the rebuilding of the Temple and of Jerusalem.

  1. Ezra 1:1& F. shows the decree of Cyrus but it was only to rebuild the Temple and not the city.

  2. Ezra 6:1& F. shows the decree of Darius Hystaspes but it only regards the Temple and confirms the decree of Cyrus

  3. Ezra 7:7 & F. shows the decree of Artaxerxes during his seventh year of reign but it only confirmed the decrees of his predecessors concerning the Temple and the things related to it and nothing about rebuilding the walls and streets of the city.

  4. Nehemiah 2:1& F. shows the decree of Artaxerxes during his twentieth year of reign which allows Nehemiah to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore the city.

Only the decree in Nehemiah fits; therefore, the 70 weeks begin with the decree of Artaxerxes in his twentieth year of reign. While there is some discrepancies in determining when this twentieth year was, they all fall within a 10 year span. The most likely is 454 B.C., which would mark the beginning of the prophetic time sequence.

(B.) What does “until Messiah, the Prince” mean? Does it refer to the birth of Jesus or to His anointing as Messiah?

There are many Old Testament Scriptures that refer to the birth of Jesus but this verse in Daniel doesn't seem to do that but instead refer to His work as Messiah, literally the “anointed one”. The reign of a king is not counted from his birth but rather from his anointing as king. That seems to be the intent here—until the time that Messiah is anointed. This would have occurred at His water baptism when the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove and God spoke from Heaven confirming Him as His Son. It was at that point that Jesus entered into His public ministry.

If we take 454 B.C. as the beginning of the time sequence and add to it the 483 years “until Messiah” we come to 29 A.D., which is about the time of Jesus' baptism and the beginning of His ministry.

(Daniel 9:26 NASB)

"Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, 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.


After the “62 weeks” Messiah is cut off; that is, put to death. Since the prophetic time sequence was divided into three components, it follows that after the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks would be the final or 70th week. So, Messiah is cut off at some point in the “last week”. There is absolutely no justification in these verses for the insertion of any time delay between the components as they are presented as the parts of a whole. Since there is no break between the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks, why would anyone think that there would be a break between the 62 weeks and the final week, unless it was simply to justify some theory that they developed?

The Latin Vulgate has this rendering for “and have nothing”-- “and they shall not be his people who shall deny him.” When the Jews rejected Messiah, they ceased to be His people. Jesus said, "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord!'" [Mat 23:38-39] Now, the only people of God are those who believe and obey Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile.

Since Messiah and His Kingdom are rejected, the people of a foreign prince will come and destroy the city and the temple. They will be like a flood, sweeping away all that is before it making everything desolate to the end. This has been determined or decreed by God.

The cutting off of Messiah, His rejection, was the beginning or the trigger that set in motion the events that ended in the destruction of the city and temple. The trigger occurred during the 70th or final week but the completion of the judgment was in 70 A.D.

This covers the scope of the prophecy, which began with the rebuilding of Jerusalem and culminates with the destruction of Jerusalem. This was the time sequence that the Angel had told Daniel was decreed for his people and his city. When Messiah was rejected, judgment was fixed and could not be avoided—destruction was assured.

(Daniel 9:27 NASB)

"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."


Now the narrative continues with work of Messiah. The previous gave us the negative aspect of Messiah—He would be cut off and have nothing, which would trigger judgment resulting in destruction of the city. This verse gives us the positive aspect of Messiah followed by the details of judgment and destruction.

Messiah makes a firm covenant; that is, He confirms and establishes with many a true covenant with God. This is offered to Daniel's people exclusively for the final week of the 70 weeks. Jesus was sent He said “to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. After His death and resurrection, the disciples continued to go to the Jews. This went on exclusively until Peter received his vision and went to Cornelius' house and the first Gentiles came into the covenant.

Messiah, as we saw earlier, was cut off after the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks. Now we find that this occurred in the middle of the 70th week. His death as the Lamb of God put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering. He had been offered once and for all, Now all offerings in the Jewish temple are ineffective, of no value. The type and shadow have been replaced with the real thing.

Consider for a moment. Those who rejected Messiah continued to offer the blood of bulls and lambs as a sacrifice. Yet, Jesus had offered His own blood as full propitiation, complete atonement, and this had been presented in the Heavenly Tabernacle. After this, how would God look at the blood of bulls? I think that it would be an abomination to Him, an affront to the sacrifice of Jesus. These abominations would make the city and the temple desolate until complete destruction is accomplished as decreed by God.



The scope of prophecy as stated in verse 24 included six objectives or goals that would be completed during the time sequence of the prophecy. All six were accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah.

The Angel was bringing to Daniel God's answer to his prayers and to provide him assurance about the future and his people and city. The single most anticipated event for the Jews was the coming of Messiah and His work. It would make sense then that what the Angel delivered to Daniel would relate to Messiah and what would happen when Messiah came. This appears to me to be exactly what the Angel spoke to Daniel. Why would we want to read into this anything that would be about the Antichrist and the end of our age? These scriptures deal with the end of the Old Covenant, the coming of the Messiah, the implementation of the New Covenant, the rejection of Messiah, the judgment of those that reject Him from the Old Covenant, the end of the Jewish age and sacrificial system, and the confirming of a better covenant with permanent sacrifice and an everlasting Priest.

1How 70 weeks are determined to be 70 series of 7 years or 490 years. Daniel was inquiring of the Lord concerning the 70 years of captivity spoken of by Jeremiah. The Angel's answer was 70 sevens. It then is reasonable to think that the Angel carried forward the idea of years and meant 70 sevens of years. Also, historically, the time sequence only fits the events that occurred if the time frames are years.

© 2010 Art Nelson