Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy

According to Christian prophecy, Daniel 9:24-27 is about the decree and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the coming of Jesus, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The prophecy comes to Daniel in a vision from the angel Gabriel. Let's evaluate.

v24. Seventy weeks of years equals 490 years (7 x 70). There will be 490 years from the time of the decree concerning the holy city, to to the end of time when there will be atonement, everlasting righteousness and an anointed holy place.

“Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. (Dan 9:24)

Let's first note the vagueness of the prediction, its optimistic certainty and the near impossiblity of predicting particular events a half century into the future. We are left to guess which events and persons Daniel was referring to. Otherwise there is still transgression, sin, iniquity and unrighteousness. From the time of the Babylonian Exile of 587 BCE, Jerusalem never regained independence, though the Persians let the Jews return and rebuild their temple around 536 BCE. Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

The book tries to give the impression that it was written during the Babylonian Exile. But it is more likely it was written during the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BCE. It shows precise detail of events of that time yet is vague and inaccurate outside that time. For argument's sake we will assume the Babylonian date and revisit the more probable date in the conclusion.

v25. The seventy weeks is divided into three periods: seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years) and one week (7 years). There will be 49 years from the time of the word to restore Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince. Then its construction will take 434 years during a troubled time.

Know therefore and understand that from the going forth 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. (Dan. 9:25)

The term "annointed one" applies to anyone who performs a royal function. Cyrus king of Persia gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple in 536 BCE (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1); construction began shortly thereafter. Thus the first period of 49 years has no known historical significance. Interpreters could ignore it or add it from the time of Cyrus. So we have two possible end dates, 53 BCE or 102 BCE (536-49-434=53 or 536-434=102). Jesus supposedly died 33 CE, 86 or 135 years afterwards.

v26. After 434 years, the anointed one shall be cut off with nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with flood and war causing desolation.

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. (Dan. 9:26)

There are two character descriptions, the anointed one and the prince. 1. Jesus had no royal blood and thus was not a prince. Contrary to the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, the Davidic bloodline died out. (See Jesus' Genealogy.) 2. He wasn't a Messiah to Jews like Daniel. 3. The prince whose people destroyed the city would have been a Roman prince. 4. What flood? There was no flood.

v27. He shall make a covenant with many for seven years. For half a week, he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease. and a desolator shall come until the decreed end.

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Dan. 9:27)

None of this fits Jesus, though it could fit the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. Above, I stated that Daniel was probably written around 164 BCE at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Verse 27 also parallels Antiochus, the Selucid King who first pretended peace then later entered the Temple and erected an altar to Zeus. Daniel leaves too much to imagination and prejudice to have any validity.