Setting Date Overview Commentary
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 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.
26 And after threescore and two weeks 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.
27 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 this chapter, Babylon has recently fallen to the Medes and Persians, and Darius the Mede is on the throne in Babylon. For the historical information on this period and a discussion of Darius the Mede see the setting for chapter 6.
Chapter 9 is dated the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus (verse 1), which was 538 B.C. This was the same year in which Daniel was thrown into the lions' den. (See on chapter 6.) This is interesting because most of chapter 9 is a sincere prayer of petition by Daniel concerning vital issues. The greatest time prophecies in the Bible were explained to Daniel as a result of this very prayer. With this example of the kind of prayers Daniel prayed, we can understand why the plotting of jealous men in chapter 6 could not turn the prophet from his regular, earnest communion with God.
This chapter follows chapter 8 by thirteen years. The impact of that statement is grasped when we compare the last verse of chapter 8 with what takes place in chapter 9. Chapter 8 ends with the words, "I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it." In chapter 9, the angel Gabriel, whom he had seen in the previous vision, visits Daniel with the words, "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding . . . . Therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision" (verses 21-23). For thirteen years (551-538 B.C.) Daniel had been left without understanding the most vital aspect of the prophecy of chapter 8, the cleansing of the sanctuary.
Chronology Chart of Daniel 9 and 10
Chapter 9 finds Daniel studying the prophecies of Jeremiah, which reveal that the Lord would "accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem" (verse 2).
Daniel does his math and realizes that those seventy years are just about up. But instead of rejoicing, he is deeply troubled, because the vision he had received in chapter 8 indicated that it would be 2300 years before the sanctuary would be restored. Knowing that the promises and threatenings of God are often conditional upon the response of the people, he probably wondered if Jeremiah's seventy-year prophecy had been replaced with the 2300-year period. Then, too, it must have occurred to him that God might reconsider and go with the seventy-year period if His people repented of their sins.
Whatever his thoughts may have been, his deep anxiety over the situation drove him to earnest prayer and supplication before the throne of grace. It is one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible. The prophet humbles himself before his Maker, confessing his sins and the sins of God's people. Specifically, he prays that God's anger might be turned away from His holy city, Jerusalem, and that the Lord's temple, lying in ruins, might soon be re-established.
As he prayed, the angel Gabriel who had brought the explanation in chapter 8, appeared again and announced that he had come to give Daniel the rest of the story. Then, in just four verses of explanation Gabriel unlocked the remaining mystery of the vision of chapter 8, and provided perhaps the greatest Messianic prophecy in Scripture.
Verse 2 Text
The seventy-year captivity was predicted in Jeremiah 25:11, 12. The date given in Jeremiah 25:1 is the fourth year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Daniel 1:1), which was 606/605 B.C. Jeremiah's prophecy was given the next year, 605/604 B.C.
The seventy years was mentioned again in Jeremiah 29:10, written probably around 596 B.C., shortly after the second deportation of Jews to Babylon. In that verse God promised that after the seventy years God would bring his people back again to Jerusalem.
Both references point to the same period. The seventy years began in 605 B.C. with Daniel's captivity and extended inclusively until 536 B.C., at which time nearly fifty thousand Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple by the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia (Ezra 1:1).
Why did God specify 70 years? In Leviticus 26 God warned Israel that if they did not remain loyal to Him and keep His commandments, their cities and their sanctuary would be destroyed, they would be carried away to the land of their enemies, and their own land would be brought to desolation.
"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; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it." Leviticus 26:34, 35.
God had instructed His people to let the land rest every seventh year. They were to plant no crops that year. It was the sabbath of the land. But Israel had ignored God's instructions, and failed to give the land its sabbaths. Therefore, in explanation for the 70 years of captivity, the Bible says, "To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years." 2 Chronicles 36:21.
How did it happen to be 70 years? Ezekiel tells us that the years of Israel's iniquity were 390, and the years of Judah's iniquity were 40 (Ezekiel 4:4-6). That adds up to 430 combined years during which the two nations had evidently failed to keep God's commandments.
How many sabbath years would have been missed during 430 years?
Rounded to the nearest whole number, 430 divided by 7 equals 61.
Also every 50th year was to be a sabbath for the land, called the year of Jubilee. On that year also the land was to rest. Assuming that for those 430 years neither the 7th year nor the 50th year was observed, we must add those 50th years into our equation.
Again rounding to the nearest whole number, 430 divided by 49 equals 9. We used 49 because it was a 49-year cycle. The 50th year was actually the first year of the next cycle.
Now we have 61 regular sabbath years missed, and 9 Jubilee sabbath years missed. That totals 70 sabbath years which the land had not received. That is why the land needed to rest for 70 years.
Verse 23 Text
Two words for "vision" appear in chapter 8: hazon in verses 1 and 2, referring to the vision of the ram and the he-goat; and mareh in verse 13, referring to the conversation Daniel overheard regarding the 2300 days.
In Daniel 8:26, "the vision of the evening and the morning," i.e. the conversation regarding the 2300 days, is the word mareh, while the second word "vision" in that verse, referring to the entire chapter, is hazon.
When Gabriel appeared to Daniel in chapter 9, he said, "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision." Verses 22, 23. The word "vision" in this verse is mareh, which refers to the portion regarding the 2300 days. Specifically, Gabriel is saying, "Consider the prophecy of the 2300 days."
Verse 24 Text
Seventy weeks is 490 days. Utilizing the year-day principle commonly used in prophetic time periods, this is actually 490 literal years.
A good translation would be, "Seventy weeks are amputated." (See C. Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares I, p. 206; and Jacques Doukhan, "The Seventy-Weeks of Daniel 9: An Exegetical Study" Andrews University Seminary Studies 17, 1979: 1-22.)
This word indicates that the 70 weeks are "cut off" from the longer time period of the 2300 days.
"Upon thy people"
These 490 years were a probationary period for the Jewish nation. God had suffered long with them, sending them prophet after prophet to lead them back to God, but they were bent on going their own way. Their Babylonian captivity had been designed by God to cure them of their idolatry and backsliding. When they were permitted to return to their own land, they were placed on probation. If they turned from their wicked ways and embraced the truths of the gospel, they would continue to be God's special representatives on earth. But if they failed to meet the conditions of their probation, they would forever lose their distinction as His chosen people. The covenant blessings would be taken from them, "and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Matthew 21:43. By their course of action during these 490 years they would determine their own spiritual destiny as a nation.
Verse 25 Text
"From the going forth"
That is, not the issuing of the decree, but implementation or carrying out of it.
"The commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem"
The designated time period would begin with the going forth of official authorization for the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem. That authorization went into effect in the late summer or early autumn of 457 B.C. For more information on that, click here.
"Messiah the Prince"
Messiah in Hebrew means "anointed one." The Greek word for Messiah is Christos, or "Christ." Daniel 9:25 and 26 are the only verses in the Old Testament where we find the word "Messiah" (KJV). If the Jews ever expected the coming of someone called the "Messiah," it was because of this passage.
The day after Jesus was baptized, Andrew declared to Simon Peter, "We have found the Messias" (John 1:41). He was referring to "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 10:38). "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him" (John 1:32).
Thus Christ, the Messiah, appeared at the time of His baptism and anointing by the Holy Ghost.
The purpose of Jesus' anointing.
"Seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks"
A "score" is twenty. "Threescore" is sixty. So let's add up this period: 7 weeks + 62 weeks = 69 weeks, which is 483 days. Employing the year-day principle, this represents 483 years.
This verse was predicting that from the time of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the appearance of the Messiah, there would be 483 years. To check the fulfillment of this prediction, we need to know the year of Jesus' baptism.
Luke 3:1, 2 provides the information necessary for determining the time of John the Baptist's ministry. We need to find a period during which each of the following rulers were in power:
This limits it to the years A.D. 26-34. Now we must calculate "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1).
The sole rule of Tiberius as emperor began when Caesar Augustus died on August 19, A.D. 14. Since Rome was not legally a hereditary monarchy, Tiberius' accession verified the prediction that "he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries." Daniel 11:21.
The method of numbering the years of an emperor's reign differed widely among the various nations which were subject to Rome. Source documents indicate that the non-accession-year system was commonly used in the Near East in the early period of the Roman Empire. In other words, no accession year was counted. As soon as a ruler came to power, his "first" year began, which lasted only until the first New Year's Day. Josephus recorded the reigns of Herod the Great and his sons according to this method.
This means that, according to the most probable Jewish reckoning, Tiberius' first year extended only from August 19 to early October of A.D. 14, at which time the new year began. His fifteenth year, therefore, extended from the fall of A.D. 27 to the fall of A.D. 28. See calculations.
Luke 3:1 therefore assigns the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry to the fall of A.D. 27. We can now check the accuracy of Daniel 9:25.
457 years in B.C. time, plus 27 years in A.D. time, would seem to make a total of 484 years. But that would be the case only if the transition between B.C. time and A.D. time followed the kind of number lines we studied in math class, as illustrated below:
But when B.C. time switched over to A.D. time, there was no year "zero." 1 B.C was followed immediately by A.D. 1, as the diagram below illustrates:
Since there was no year "zero", we must subtract one year from the sum of 484 years which we had gotten by adding 457 B.C. and A.D. 27. That leaves 483 years, exactly 69 prophetic weeks, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the appearance of the Messiah, just as Daniel 9:25 had foretold.
"The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times"
This is evidently the significance of the seven weeks which precede the threescore and two weeks. It appears that the rebuilding of Jerusalem was completed within the first 7 prophetic weeks (49 years) of the period.
Verse 26 Text
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself"
Here prophecy slated the death of the Messiah to occur sometime after A.D. 27. Certainly His death was "not for himself." It was for you and me.
"And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary"
This prince is not "Messiah the Prince" mentioned above, but rather the "king of fierce countenance" mentioned in Daniel 8:23. Keep in mind that the purpose of chapter 9 is to provide a clearer explanation of the vision in chapter 8. So this reference in Daniel 9:26 to "the prince that shall come" should direct our thoughts back to the original prophecy. Daniel 8:23 says that he would "destroy the mighty and the holy people." Here in chapter 9 we are told that he "shall destroy the city and the sanctuary."
This "prince that shall come" is also the "he that cometh against him" in Daniel 11:16 who would "stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed." Thus chapters 8, 9, and 11 all make reference to Rome and its destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70.
Verse 27 Text
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week"
"He", a reference to a singular individual, cannot refer to "the people of the prince that shall come", and must be taken as a reference once again to "Messiah the Prince."
This was the 70th, and final, week of the prophecy, and therefore, the last seven years of Israel's probation. It extended from the fall of A.D. 27 to the fall of A.D. 34. Through the ministry of Jesus Himself, and later of His apostles, God presented His final appeal to the Jewish nation to accept the conditions for continuing as His covenant people. But they crucified the Saviour and denounced His followers. When the 70th week ended in A.D. 34, the Jewish leaders had demonstrated, by their stoning of Stephen, their absolute refusal to accept the terms of God's mercy (Acts 7). Henceforth, the nation of Israel would no longer hold the position of being God's chosen people. From that time on, God has shown no national or ethnic favoritism, "but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Acts 10:35.
"And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease"
The mid-point in the seven fall-to-fall years from A.D. 27 to A.D. 34 came in the spring of A.D. 31.
This verse foretold specifically when the Messiah would be cut off. Every animal sacrifice during Old Testament times had pointed forward symbolically to the substitutionary death of Jesus. And when the true "Lamb of God" (John 1:29) offered His unblemished life on the cross of Calvary, type met antitype, shadow surrendered to substance, and the great sacrificial system, which for thousands of years had foretold this very event, completed its purpose and came to its end. "And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51), denoting that its earthly services had come to an end. It is said that at the very moment Jesus died, the little Passover lamb under the knife of the priest leaped off the altar and escaped. The death of Jesus caused "the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
Did Jesus die exactly in the midst of the 70th week? The Gospel of John reveals that Jesus' ministry lasted exactly three and a half years. John mentions three Passovers (John 2:13; 6:4; 12:1) and an unnamed feast of the Jews (John 5:1) which is understood to be a Passover. Jesus was baptized several months prior to the first of these Passovers, and He was crucified at the time of the fourth. Thus His ministry lasted three and a half years. The four Passovers may be assigned to the springs of A.D. 28, 29, 30, and 31. Jesus, therefore, was crucified in the spring of A.D. 31, in the very midst of the 70th week of Daniel 9:27.
Determining the exact date of Jesus' crucifixion
The last half of verse 27 is another reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the direct result of her having grieved away the Spirit of God.