Daniel 9: Daniel's Seventy Weeks, Part 6
Jul 14, 2015
The last half of Daniel 9:25 tells us that the seventy weeks was subdivided into three sections: seven, sixty-two, and one week. Gabriel gave no explanation for this. The first seven weeks, of course, represent a Jubilee cycle of 49 years. During this time, from 458-409 B.C., there were some important events that took place. In 445 B.C. Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem to complete the prophecy by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Soon afterward, Malachi uttered his prophecies, closing out the canon of the Old Testament.
The next sixty-two week cycle (434 years) includes 62 Sabbath years but also 8 Jubilees, or a total of 70 rest years. Hence, it is like a 70-year period counting rest years only. This cycle takes us to April of 26 A.D., which is the start of the final week.
Judah’s Debt of Seventy Sabbaths
In the big picture, as shown in my book, Secrets of Time, I calculated that the 50th Jubilee from Adam occurred on the day that the twelve spies gave their report in Numbers 13:25, 26. Twenty Jubilees later was the year that Artaxerxes came to the throne (464 B.C.). My calculations, however, were based on cycles of 49 years, so technically Artaxerxes came to the throne in a 49th year, rather than the 50th year. The year 463 B.C. would actually be the Year of Jubilee and the first year of the next Jubilee cycle.
Daniel’s seventy weeks is a period of ten Jubilee cycles, ending in 26 A.D., and the Year of Jubilee began in September of 26, ending in September of 27. The problem is that the Jews never observed a Jubilee, nor did they ever free slaves or debtors, except for a few days in Jeremiah 34:8-11.
Jeremiah gave Judah the opportunity to release their servants and keep that final rest year before Jerusalem was destroyed. If they had done so, God would have released Judah from its own debt to the law and would have turned back the Babylonian armies. At first they obeyed, but then they took back their servants, refusing to observe that rest year. Babylon then destroyed Jerusalem.
In Secrets of Time, I showed how Judah owed God seventy rest years which they had never kept, and this is why they were sent into captivity for seventy years. So we read in 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21,
20 And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.
In other words, God enforced seventy Sabbaths upon the land by removing the people of Judah and sending them to Babylon. While the land was desolate, “it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.” These Sabbath years were consecutive years with no six-year work cycles between them.
Such judgment was specified in the Laws of Tribulation in Leviticus 26:34, 35, where God vowed to exile them from the land for their sin:
34 Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your Sabbaths, while you were living on it.
This is a new way of looking at the divine calendar, for normally we do not think of Sabbaths as running consecutively. Yet when God brings judgment upon the land for not observing His rest years or Jubilees, it would not be practical to judge the people one year out of seven during their captivity. God simply put Judah into a seventy-year captivity to pay their debt which they had incurred by violating the law.
The point is to show that a rest-year debt of seventy years occurred in the period of 62 weeks, or 434 years. So when Gabriel divided the seventy weeks into three sections, the main one being 434 years, we can begin to understand the significance of 434 years. It was the time it took for Judah to incur a time-debt of 70 years (Sabbaths and Jubilees).
During this 62-week period from 409 B.C. to 26 A.D., Judah kept rest years (as best they could) but not a single Jubilee. Therefore, their debt to the law continued to mount up, in spite of their religious zeal. God’s solution this time, however, was to send the Messiah to pay the debt by His own blood during the final week.
When God intervenes in such a manner, it is to fulfill His own promises, vows, and oaths which He made via the New Covenant. Hence, Jesus Christ was sent as the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6). One of the missions of the Messiah was to teach us how to enter into God’s rest (Jubilee). The original Joshua (Yeshua), who led Israel into the first kingdom (Canaan), was only a type of the greater Joshua (Yeshua) who would truly be able to give us “rest.”
Hebrews 3:11 quotes Psalm 95:11, saying, “They shall not enter My rest.” This idea is enlarged in Hebrews 4:8-10, saying,
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
So the Messiah, the greater Joshua, was sent to lead us into the “Sabbath rest” that the former Joshua failed to do. This “rest” is defined in verse 10 as resting “from his own works.” This, in turn, was the explanation of Isaiah 58:13, “and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word.” The book of Hebrews explains that the true “rest” is doing the works of God and speaking only His words. In other words, it is being an “Amen” people, doing only what we see the Father do, and speaking only what we hear the Father speak—not just one day a week, but continually, as a way of life.
So even as God was able to join seventy Sabbaths and eight Jubilees together into an unbroken sequence of years, we too are to enter into God’s rest continuously. This means we are to live from a position of rest all of the time, being led by the Spirit seven days a week, and not just observing a Sabbath once a week.
This is the lesson that we learn from the 62-week period mentioned in Daniel 9:25. We see it when we understand that Judah’s seventy-year sentence was set because the nation had not observed their rest years and Jubilees over a cycle of 434 years. There is more to this, of course, but I have already written a fuller account in the latter part of chapter 7 in my book, Secrets of Time.
The Plaza and the Moat
Daniel 9:25 also says about Jerusalem, “it will be built again with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”
Jerusalem did have a plaza (rechov), if we consider the outer court of the temple as such. But Jerusalem never had a moat around it. The Hebrew word translated “moat” here is charuwts, which is from the root word charats, “to cut, sharpen, decide, decree, determine.” The idea of cutting or digging is where it may apply to digging a moat, but the word usually had to do with digging a gold mine.
Since Jerusalem had no moat, it is obvious that Gabriel did not mean to convey this meaning of charuwts. In fact, the word is most often translated “gold” in Scripture. For example, Psalm 68:13 says,
13 When you lie down among the sheepfolds, you are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and its pinions with glistening gold [charuwts].
The word charuwts is used poetically to express the idea of gold, but more importantly, gold itself represented the divine nature or character. So Proverbs 3:13, 14 says,
13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. 14 For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold [charuwts].
We see here how silver and gold are compared and contrasted to wisdom and understanding. In other words, the true (spiritual) silver is wisdom, and the true (spiritual) gold is understanding. These are the things that men should seek, for these are the things that truly make us rich. Speaking of wisdom, we read again in Proverbs 8:17-21,
17 I love those who love me [wisdom]; and those who diligently seek me will find me. 18 Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 My fruit is better than gold [charuwts], even pure gold [paz], and my yield than choicest silver. 20 I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, 21 to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.
When we understand the poetic meaning of this “moat” as a reference to mining gold, our attention is then shifted to the true gold that Gabriel was revealing in Daniel 9:25. He was speaking in a poetic way about the temple grounds, with its plaza, or square, and the true gold of wisdom and understanding that was to flow out of that place.
In other words, the temple was to be God’s treasury, not simply of gold and silver, but of wisdom and understanding. But charuwts also refers to a sharp instrument with which men might cut into the earth and dig a moat or a gold mine. The word also applies to a teacher correctly dividing the word of truth and to a judge discerning truth from falsehood in order to issue a righteous decree. Hence, it means a decree, decision, or a determination. The word is used twice in this way in Joel 3:14,
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision [charuwts]! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision [charuwts].
This is, perhaps, the most important part of Gabriel’s prophecy, because, as we will see, the next verse (Daniel 9:26) prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem, saying, “desolations are determined” (charats, the root word of charuwts). So Gabriel was speaking on more than one level by prophesying of both the rebuilding of the city as well as its desolation in 70 A.D. Both were decreed in the divine court.
The rebuilding of the temple, Gabriel said, would come “in times of distress,” and so we see later that the work was opposed by “Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe” and certain other officials (Ezra 4:9), who appealed to the king by letter. Ezra 4:23, 24 says that “the work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” So the foundation of the temple was laid late in the year 534 B.C. and did not resume until 520 B.C.
Years later, the work of rebuilding the walls in the time of Nehemiah (445 B.C.) was opposed by “Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab” (Nehemiah 6:1), but nonetheless, the work continued and was finished in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15).
In both cases the building projects were done “in times of distress.” The same “distress” occurred, of course, in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
This is part 48 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones