Posted in Daniel

The First Sixty-nine ‘Sevens’

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city…“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’…After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.” Daniel 9:24-26

 One of the most remarkable prophecies of the Old Testament is found in Daniel 9:24-27.  The seventy years of captivity in Babylon are finished, so Daniel is praying for the deliverance from their exile when the angel Gabriel appears to him and gives the message above.  After telling about the first 69 ‘sevens’ he describes the 70th ‘seven’ but makes it clear that there will be a gap – Messiah will be “put to death and have nothing” after the 69 ‘sevens,’ but before the 70th seven.  The seven ‘sevens’ and the sixty-two ‘sevens’ are consecutive and are only split up so Daniel will know how long it will take to restore and rebuild the Jerusalem – 49 years (seven ‘sevens’).  The 62 ‘sevens’ or 434 years immediately follow the 49 after which Messiah will be put to death and have nothing.  Forty-nine and 434 equals 483 years – not solar years which we use today, but the 360 day lunar years they used then.

 We find the decree Gabriel references in the book of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah is the Persian king Artaxerxes’ cupbearer and he is sad because “the city, the place of my father’s tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire.” (2:3)  So in Artaxerxes 20th year, in the month of Nisan (April), a decree is made to rebuild the city. (2:1-9)

 Artaxerxes began his reign in 465 BC (Encyclopedia Britannica), so his 20th year would be 445 BC according to our calendar (444 BC because Daniel used accessional dating to count his reign).  To convert from lunar to solar we begin by figuring out how many days there are in 483 lunar years: 483 times 360 equals 173,880 days.  Then we divide 173,880 by 365.242 (the days in a solar year) to determine the number of solar years so we can get a date that corresponds to our dates in history – it comes to 476 solar years.  So when we start the prophetic clock in 444 BC and  begin with the first 444 years we come to 1 AD because there is no year “0”. (The year after 1 BC is 1 AD)  That leaves 32 (476 minus 444 equals 32) years which when added to 1 AD brings us to 33 AD.  The Messiah would die after the 69 sevens – the time most scholars give for Jesus’ death is Passover of 33 AD.


Pastor at City Church in Madison, Wisconsin