1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, 2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years about which the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years. 3 I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and petitions, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to Yahweh my God, and made confession, and said, Oh, Lord, the great and dreadful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned, and have dealt perversely, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even turning aside from your precepts and from your ordinances; 6 neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us confusion of face, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, who are near, and who are far off, through all the countries where you have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against you. 8 Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness; for we have rebelled against him; 10 neither have we obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel have transgressed your law, turning aside, that they should not obey your voice: therefore the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses the servant of God has been poured out on us; for we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges who judged us, by bringing on us a great evil; for under the whole sky, such has not been done as has been done to Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come on us: yet have we not entreated the favor of Yahweh our God, that we should turn from our iniquities, and have discernment in your truth. 14 Therefore has Yahweh watched over the evil, and brought it on us; for Yahweh our God is righteous in all his works which he does, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 Now, Lord our God, who has brought your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have gotten yourself renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 Lord, according to all your righteousness, let your anger and please let your wrath be turned away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a reproach to all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant, and to his petitions, and cause your face to shine on your sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. 18 My God, turn your ear, and hear; open your eyes, and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name: for we do not present our petitions before you for our righteousness, but for your great mercies' sake. 19 Lord, hear; Lord, forgive; Lord, listen and do; don't defer, for your own sake, my God, because your city and your people are called by your name. 20 While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Yahweh my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, 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 offering. 22 He instructed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to give you wisdom and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your petitions the commandment went forth, and I have come to tell you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision. 24 Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25 Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Anointed One, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times. 26 After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined. 27 He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations (shall come) one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall (wrath) be poured out on the desolate.
Analysis of the Chapter
This chapter is properly divided into three parts, or comprises three things:
I. The inquiry of Daniel into the time that the desolations of Jerusalem were to continue, and his determination to seek the Lord, to pray that his purpose in regard to the restoration of the city and temple might be speedily accomplished, Daniel 9:1-3. Daniel says Daniel 9:1, that this occurred in the first year of Darius of the seed of the Medes. He was engaged in the study of the books of Jeremiah. He learned from these books that seventy years were to elapse during which the temple, the city, and the land were to be desolate. By a calculation as to the time when this commenced, he was enabled to ascertain the period when it would close, and he found that that period was near, and that, according to the prediction, it might be expected that the time of the restoration was at hand. His mind was, of course, filled with the deepest solicitude. It would seem not improbable that he did not perceive any preparation for this, or any tendency to it, and it could not but be that he would be filled with anxiety in regard to it.
He does not appear to have entertained any doubt that the predictions would be fulfilled, and the fact that they were so clear and so positive was a strong reason why he should pray, and was the reason why he prayed so earnestly at this time. The prayer which he offered is an illustration of the truth that men will pray more earnestly when they have reason to suppose that God intends to impart a blessing, and that an assurance that an event is to occur is one of the strongest encouragements and incitements to prayer. So men will pray with more faith when they see that God is blessing the means of restoration to health, or when they see indications of an abundant harvest; so they will pray with the more fervour for God to bless his Word when they see evidences of a revival of religion, or that the time has come when God is about to display his power in the conversion of sinners; and so undoubtedly they will pray with the more earnestness as the proofs shall be multiplied that God is about to fulfill all his ancient predictions in the conversion of the whole world to himself. A belief that God intends to do a thing is never any hinderance to real prayer; a belief that he is in fact about to do it does more than anything else can do to arouse the soul to call with earnestness on his name.
II. The prayer of Daniel, Daniel. 9:4-19. This prayer is remarkable for its simplicity, its fervour, its appropriateness, its earnestness. It is a frank confession that the Hebrew people, in whose name it was offered, had deserved all the calamities which had come upon them, accompanied with earnest intercession that God would now hear this prayer, and remove the judgments from the people, and accomplish his purpose of mercy toward the city and temple. The long captivity of nearly seventy years; the utter desolation of the city and temple during that time; the numberless privations and evils to which during that period they had been exposed, had demonstrated the greatness of the sins for which these calamities had come upon the nation, and Daniel now, in the name, and uttering the sentiments, of the captive people, confessed their guilt, and the justness of the Divine dealings with them. Never has there been an instance in which punishment has had more of its designed and appropriate effect than in prompting to the sentiments which are uttered in this prayer: and the prayer, therefore, is just the expression of what we "should" feel when the hand of the Lord has been long and severely laid upon us on account of our sins. The burden of the prayer is confession; the object which he who offers it seeks is, that God would cause the severity of his judgments to cease, and the city and temple to be restored. The particular points in the prayer will be more appropriately elucidated in the exposition of this part of the chapter.
III. The answer to the prayer, Daniel 9:20-27. The principal difficulty in the exposition of the chapter is in this portion; and indeed there is perhaps no part of the prophecies of the Old Testament that is, on some accounts, more difficult of exposition, as there is, in some respects, none more clear, and none more important. It is remarkable, among other things, as not being a direct answer to the prayer, and as seeming to have no bearing on the subject of the petition - that the city of Jerusalem might be rebuilt, and the temple restored; but it directs the mind onward to another and more important event - the coming of the Messiah, and the final closing of sacrifice and oblation, and a more entire and enduring destruction of the temple and city, after it should have been rebuilt, than had yet occurred. To give this information, an angel - the same one whom Daniel had seen before - was sent forth from heaven, and came near to him and touched him, and said that he was commissioned to impart to him skill and understanding, Daniel 9:20-23. "The speediness of his coming indicates a joyful messenger. The substance of that message is as follows: As a compensation for the seventy years in which the people, the city, and the temple had been entirely prostrate, seventy weeks of years, seven times seventy years of a renewed existence would be secured to them by the Lord; and the end of this period, far from bringing the mercies of God to a close, would for the first time bestow them on the theocracy in their complete and full measure." - Hengstenberg, "Christology," it. 293. The "points" of information which the angel gives in regard to the future condition of the city are these:
(a) That the whole period determined in respect to the holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for the people, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy, was seventy weeks - evidently seventy prophetic weeks, that is, regarding each day as a year, four hundred and ninety years, Daniel 9:24. The time when this period would "commence" - the "terminus a quo" - is not indeed distinctly specified, but the fair interpretation is, from that time when the vision appeared to Daniel, the first year of Darius, Daniel 9:1. The literal meaning of the phrase "seventy weeks," according to Prof. Stuart ("Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy," p. 82), is seventy sevens, that is, seventy sevens of years, or four hundred and ninety years. "Daniel," says he, "had been meditating on the accomplishment of the seventy years of exile for the Jews, which Jeremiah had predicted. At the close of the fervent supplication for the people which he makes, in connection with his meditation, Gabriel appears, and announces to him that'" seventy sevens" are appointed for his people,' as it respects the time then future, in which very serious and very important events are to take place. Daniel had been meditating on the close of the seventy years of Hebrew exile, and the angel now discloses to him a new period of seventy times seven, in which still more important events are to take place."
(b) This period of seventy sevens, or four hundred and ninety years, is divided by the angel into smaller portions, each of them determining some important event in the future. He says, therefore Daniel 9:25, that from the going forth of the command to rebuild the temple, until the time when the Messiah should appear, the whole period might be divided into two portions - one of "seven sevens," or forty-nine years, and the other of "threescore and two sevens" - sixty-two sevens, or four hundred and thirty-four years, making together four hundred and eighty-three years. This statement is accompanied with the assurance that the "street would be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." Of these periods of seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week, the close of the first is distinguished by the completion of the rebuilding of the city; that of the second by the appearing of the Anointed One, or the Messiah, the Prince; that of the third by the finished confirmation of the covenant with the many for whom the saving blessings designated in Daniel 9:24, as belonging to the end of the whole period, are designed. The last period of one week is again divided into two halves. While the confirmation of the covenant extends through it, from beginning to end, the cessation of the sacrifice and meat-offering, and the death of the Anointed One, on which this depends, take place in the middle of it.
(c) The Messiah would appear after the seven weeks - reaching to the time of completing the rebuilding of the city - and the sixty-two weeks following that (that is, sixty-nine weeks altogether) would have been finished. Throughout half of the other week, after his appearing, he would labor to confirm the covenant with many, and then die a violent death, by which the sacrifices would be made to cease, while the confirmation of the covenant would continue even after his death.
(d) A people of a foreign prince would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of all would be a "flood" - an overflowing calamity, until the end of the desolations should be determined, Daniel 9:26-27. This fearful desolation is all that the prophet sees in the end, except that there is an obscure intimation that there would be a termination of that. But the design of the vision evidently did not reach thus far. It was to show the series of events after the rebuilding of the city and temple up to the time when the Messiah would come; when the great atonement would be made for sin, and when the oblations and sacrifices of the temple would finally cease; cease in fact and naturally, for the one great sacrifice, superseding them all, would have been offered and because the people of a foreign prince would come and sweep the temple and the altar away.
The design of the whole annunciation is, evidently, to produce consolation in the mind of the prophet. He was engaged in profound meditation on the present state, and the long-continued desolations of the city and temple. He gave his mind to the study of the prophecies to learn whether these desolations were not soon to end. He ascertained beyond a doubt that the period drew near. He devoted himself to earnest prayer that the desolation might not longer continue; that God, provoked by the sins of the nation, would no longer execute his fearful judgments, but would graciously interpose, and restore the city and temple. He confessed ingenuously and humbly the sins of his people; acknowledged that the judgments of God were just but pleaded earnestly, in view of his former mercies to the same people, that he would now have compassion, and fulfill his promises that the city and temple should be restored.
An answer is not given "directly," and in the exact form in which it might have been hoped for; but an answer is given, in which it is "implied" that these blessings so earnestly sought would be bestowed, and in which it is "promised" that there would be far greater blessings. It is "assumed" in the answer Daniel 9:25 that the city would be rebuilt, and then the mind is directed onward to the assurance that it would stand through seven times seventy years - seven times as long as it had now been desolate, and that "then" what had been the object of the desire of the people of God would be accomplished; that for which the city and temple had been built would be fulfilled - the Messiah would come, the great sacrifice for sin would be made, and all the typical arrangements of the temple would come to an end. Thus, in fact, though not in form, the communication of the angel was an answer to prayer, and that occurred to Daniel which often occurs to those who pray - that the direct prayer which is offered receives a gracious answer, and that; there accompanies the answer numberless other mercies which are drawn along in the train; or, in other words, that God gives us manymore blessings than we ask of him.
Daniel, understanding from the prophecies of Jeremiah that the seventy years' captivity was now terminating, pours out his soul in fervent prayer to God, and earnestly supplicates pardon and restoration for his captive people, Daniel 9:1-12. When thus supplicating God in behalf of Israel, the angel Gabriel is sent to inform him of the seventy prophetic weeks, or four hundred and ninety natural years, which should elapse from the date of the edict to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple to the death of the Messiah, Daniel 9:20-27; a prophecy most exactly fulfilled by the event, according to the computation of the best chronologers. Dean Prideaux states the commencement of these seventy prophetic weeks to have been in the month Nisan, in the year of the Julian period 4256, which corresponds with A.M. 3546, b.c. 458, according to the Usherian account. How awfully are the Jews blinded, who, in contradiction to so clear a prophecy, still expect the Messiah who was cut off, and, after suffering, is entered into his glory!
INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 9
This chapter contains a prayer of Daniel, and the answer to it. The time, occasion, and manner of his prayer, or circumstances of it, are observed, Daniel 9:1, the parts of it, an address unto God, under various suitable epithets and characters, Daniel 9:4 confession of sin, of his own, of the inhabitants of the land, kings, princes, and people, which are largely dwelt upon and exaggerated, Daniel 9:5 and petitions for mercy, Daniel 9:16, then the answer follows; the time when it was ordered and given, and the person by whom it was sent, are expressed, Daniel 9:20 who delivered to him the vision of the seventy weeks to be considered by him; in which both the work of the Messiah, and the time of his coming, are clearly pointed out, Daniel 9:24.
The Seventy Weeks
In the first year of Darius the Median, Daniel, by a diligent study of the prophecies of Jeremiah as to the number of years during which Jerusalem must lie desolate (Daniel 9:1, Daniel 9:2), was led to pour forth a penitential prayer, in which he acknowledges the justice of the divine chastisement which hung over Israel on account of their sins, and entreats the mercy of God in behalf of his people (vv. 3-19). In consequence of this prayer, the angel Gabriel (Daniel 9:20-23) must pass over his people and the holy city before the consummation of the kingdom of God.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.