Friday, October 09, 2009

Seventy Weeks

Daniel 9:24-27
(24) "Seventy weeks are decreed about 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.
(25) Know therefore and understand that from the going out 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.
(26) 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.
(27) And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."

What does this mean? I can't say that I rightly know. I'm not even going to venture an opinion because I feel like this is a topic deep enough that it merits some serious study before chiming in.

However, I do appreciate something that my ESV Study Bible says at the end of the very long footnote regarding this passage. No matter how you see this all playing out the point is that God is sovereign over kings and kingdoms. Therefore, we can be sure that this passage means that God has a plan and He is going to carry it out. It would be nice if we could have more clarity about it, but ultimately it still gives us a place to bolster our faith.


tom sheepandgoats said...

In my opinion, the ESJ study Bible muddies the water and makes understanding of the prophesy more difficult. Other translations not only render it more clearly, but they agree with each other: KJV, ASV, NIV, NWT. ESJ creates an unnecessary and confusing division between the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks; the four I mentioned presents the sixty two as immediately following the seven.

Jehovah's Witnesses view the prophesy this way, in keeping with its purpose expressed at 9:24: "to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness..."

The weeks are weeks of years, not our normal weeks of days. Not a difficult interpretation for Hebrews, who were used to every seventh year being a sabbath year. If the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Neh 2:4-8) went forth in 455BC, seven and sixty two weeks of years (back to back periods, the actual city apparently completed 49 years - seven weeks - after the order) is 483 years, and takes us to 29 CE. This is the year that the Messiah makes his appearance, being baptized in the Jordan. Luke 3:15 indicates that the Jews at that time expected the Messiah, were they up to speed on this prophesy?

The seventieth week runs from 29CE to 36CE. At the half of the week, the Messiah causes sacrifice to cease; with Jesus' death, the Mosaic law was fulfilled, with its required animal sacrifices. But the Abrahamic covenant with the Jews was still in force till the end of the week, till 36CE, when Cornelius, the first non-Jew, accepted Christ and was baptized.

Jason said...

I'm not sure that the ESV text really makes this any more complicated. I will agree that the JW interpretation is simple enough. From what I understand, it sounds like the preterist or maybe partial preterist view of how to read this prophecy.

My point is just that there is enough disagreement about this passage throughout historical Christendom that I think it unwise to state with any dogmatic certainty about how this plays out. Of course, given your surety about the Watchtower organization being the discreet and faithful servant, I'm sure that you do not share my misgivings.