Continuing on with our series, “why the seventy weeks of Daniel is more complicated than popular prophecy writers tell you — or even know.”

This Daniel 9 issue requires especially close attention. It runs so contrary to what all the popular end times experts have planted in your mind that it may go right past you. The focus now is the context of Daniel 9:25 — i.e., what context is set in Daniel 9? (What a novel idea — view verse 25 in light of what has preceded in the chapter).

Here’s how Daniel 9 begins:

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying…

Notice that Daniel tells us he had been reading the book of Jeremiah — specifically, the word of the prophet about the 70 year exile. The exile is referred to as a time of “desolations” for Jerusalem. The passage Daniel refers to is Jeremiah 29:10-14:

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Now take a look at Daniel 9:25 – “Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”

The relationship between Daniel 9:1-4 (with its allusion to Jeremiah 29) and Daniel 9:25 isn’t readily apparent. Let me try to make it clear.

Typically, Daniel 9:25 is viewed as Daniel looking into the future to a time when Jerusalem will be rebuilt by its people. That rebuilding campaign would be the starting point of the 70 weeks prophecy. Those who hold to a trib/pre-mill view usually debate over dates in the mid-400s BC as the time of this rebuilding, and hence the commencement of the 70 weeks prophecy. This allows the 69 weeks to end at the crucifixion, leaving a yet future 70th week still out there in prophecy.

But what if Daniel wasn’t looking AHEAD? What if he saw the beginning of the seventy weeks prophecy BEFORE his own time?

Here’s what I mean. What if the seventy weeks prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel began with the decree of Jeremiah?  Jeremiah would have uttered this “word” sometime before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. This would mean that as soon as Jeremiah prophesied what he did in Jeremiah 29, the 70 weeks started ticking down.  That’s over a century before the popular view starts the 70 weeks, and it therefore destroys a connection with the crucifixion.

Now, I know this is quite foreign to what many of you have heard. It’s actually a simple matter of which phrase in Daniel 9:25 one focuses on. Let me illustrate (note the boldfacing for which words are considered to mark the beginning of the 70 weeks):

Popular View, where the 70 weeks begins with Nehemiah’s rebuilding so that the 70 weeks end with Jesus’ death:

“from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one (mashiach), a prince (nagid), there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”

“Jeremiah View” – If Daniel, who we know was reading Jeremiah (Dan 9:2) was thinking of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the end of Jerusalem’s desolations (Jer 29:10-14):

“from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one (mashiach), a prince (nagid), there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”

(in this view, the “word that went forth” in Dan. 9:25 = Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jer. 29:10-14)

Given the context of Daniel 9:1-4, it is entirely possible that Daniel was thinking BACK to Jeremiah’s decree — that Gabriel was telling him that the clock started ticking as soon as God gave Jeremiah that word.

So how would that work in chronology? It’s pretty straightforward, actually.

1. Let’s say Jeremiah got the Jeremiah 29 prophecy right before Jerusalem was destroyed, say 588 BC. We don’t know, but logic says it would have been close to the end of Jerusalem, which was 586 BC.
2. From 588 to Cyrus’ rise to power over Babylone in 539 = 49 years, or the first seven sevens of Daniel 9:25. Cyrus was the guy who liberated the Jews and ended the exile.
3. If we go with the Masoretic accenting (see the post prior to this one), then the anointed one immediately follows those 49 years. The identity of the anointed one is obvious: Cyrus himself. Why? We need an anointed “prince” [ruler] from Daniel 9:25, and Cyrus is called by God “my anointed” in Isaiah 45:1. It is he who would deliver the exiled nation (and he did). It’s quite explicit.
4. Following Cyrus’ decree to let the Jews return, there are 62 more periods of seven years to follow.  That brings us to 104 BC.
5. Some could (and have) argued that 104 BC is significant since it marks the death of John Hyrcanus, the last of the Hasmonean (Maccabeean) rulers (ethnarch and high priest).  At the end of his reign, John Hyrcanus had built a kingdom that rivaled the size of Israel under King Solomon. After Hyrcanus, his son and successor (they were not Davidic) took the title of “king,” something they had no claim to. Not good. The Romans were (in this view) God’s instrument of punishment for that.

At any rate, any attempt to rationalize the chronology with the events of history has its points of special pleading. The trib/pre-mill view has been trying to work out its own chronology since the late 19th century. Other views have the same task.

The point here is *not* to argue for any specific chronology. Rather, it is to point out that the beginning of the 70th week in the mid-400s is *not* a self-evident starting point, especially since Daniel tells us he was reading Jeremiah 29 when Gabriel unloaded on him.

Only omniscience could give us certainty here.  I’m running short on that.