Bridging the Last
Gap: Daniel's Seventy Weeks Revisited
by James B. Jordan
Biblical Chronology Vol.
4, No. 11 November, 1992
As we have seen in this series, each time there is a new covenant, there is
a break in the year-by-year chronology. At the same time, each time the
break is crossed by information provided in the text. Thus, the year-by-year
chronology breaks down at the birth of Abraham, but we can figure out when
Abraham was born from information contained elsewhere in the Bible. The
year-by-year chronology breaks down during the Egyptian Sojourn, but Exodus
12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17 bridge the gap. The year-by-year chronology
breaks down after the book of Judges, but 1 Kings 6:1 bridges the gap.
Now, the chronology also breaks down between Malachi and Matthew. The only
place the Bible bridges the gap is in Daniel 9:24-27, the "seventy weeks"
from Cyrus to Jesus. In the past we have taken up the question of whether
the 70 Weeks should be taken as literal years or as a symbolic chronology,
and we have opted in these studies to take them literally, thereby bridging
But exactly how is the gap bridged? There are three possibilities, as I see
it. One is that the cutting off of the Messiah after the 69th week refers to
the crucifixion, which for now we will put in A.D. 30. The second is that
the cutting off takes place in A.D. 67, followed by the 70th week, in the
middle of which Jerusalem is destroyed. The third possibility (and I hate to
admit this) is that there is a gap (yes, you read that right) between the
69th and 70th weeks.
Well, let's see what we can do with this.
Daniel 9:24. Seventy sevens [weeks] have been decreed for your people
[Israel] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, to
make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting
righteousness, to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy One.
This is an overall statement introducing the details to follow. The seventy
sevens are taken to be seventy weeks, and weeks of years, because as we
shall see, they clearly are units of years. This prophecy concerns Israel
and Jerusalem most pointedly, and in my opinion indicates that all that the
Bible prophesies about Israel and Jerusalem comes to pass by A.D. 70. I have
defended this thesis at length in Biblical Horizons Nos. 27-29, and if you
don't have a copy of this essay, you can obtain it by sending a donation of
$5.00 to Biblical Horizons, Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588.
While the details of the rest of verse 24 are at some points unclear,
certainly the coming of the Covenant in its fullness in Christ is what is
being spoken of. But the New Covenant arrives in stages. There are two
stages that interest us, and that are interpretive possibilities. The first
stage is the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of
Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit in A.D. 30. These events can be
seen to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, to atone for iniquity,
and to bring in everlasting righteousness. If anointing the Most Holy refers
to Jesus' baptism, and it probably does, this was also accomplished by A.D.
30. If it refers to Pentecost, the same is true.
But sealing vision and prophet seems to point beyond that date, because what
we call the New Testament still had to be written. It was not until just
before A.D. 70 that the new writings had been completed. Thus, one might
argue that the 70 Weeks carry down to A.D. 70. On the other hand, it can be
argued that though there were visions and prophets between 30 and 70, yet
the definitive fulfillment of vision and prophecy took place in Christ and
was finished by A.D. 30.
Yet, "finishing the transgression and making an end of sin" has reference to
Israel and Jerusalem, not to the whole world. It can be argued that Israel's
transgression and sin did not reach their fullness until just before A.D.
70. At that point, the iniquity of the Canaanites was full, and Israel was
eliminated from the scene of prophecy and special history.
25. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a word to
restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, seven sevens and
sixty-two sevens; it will be built again, with streets and moat, even in
times of distress.
The seven weeks of 49 years we have seen run from Cyrus's decree to the end
of Nehemiah. The fact that these were literally 49 years establishes that
the "sevens" or "weeks" of this passage are groups of years. The prophecies
concerning Jerusalem's rebuilding were fulfilled in this period. Then there
are 62 more weeks of years, the period "between the testaments" as it is
usually and unfortunately called.
26. Then after the 62 sevens, the Messiah [Jesus] will be cut off
[excommunicated by the religious rulers of Israel] and have nothing [the
cross, Phil. 2:7]; and the people of the Prince [the enthroned Christ] Who
is to come will destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [Temple]. And
its end will come with a flood [like Noah, like the threats of Deut. 28;
like the locust flood of Joel]; even to the end there will be war [the
Jewish War of A.D. 66-70]; desolations are determined.
"After the 62 weeks" must mean during the 70th. I have provided the standard
interpretation in the text, which is that the cutting off of the Messiah
refers to the events of A.D. 30, Jesus' excommunication and crucifixion. It
might be argued, however, that Jesus was cut off and had nothing around the
year 66, when Paul supposedly died, if we also believe that there was a
great massacre of other Christians also at this time. In that case, it is a
kind of "death" of the early Church that is in view. But, and it is a big
"but," the Bible says nothing about such a massacre, and does not record the
death of Paul.
27a. And He [Messiah the Prince] will confirm a covenant [The Covenant] with
the many [the Church] during one week [the 70th week]. But in the middle of
the week He will put a stop to sacrifice [peace offerings] and tribute
[grain offerings] [by dying on the cross, and thereby ending the sacrificial
This is the traditional view, and I am still generally happy with it. The
assumption is that Christ confirms the Covenant during His 3-year ministry,
and then dies in A.D. 30 in the middle of the 70th week.
But there is an alternative possibility. The fact is that peace offerings
and tribute offerings did not stop with the cross. We see Paul going to the
Temple and offering sacrifices to fulfill his Nazirite vow in Acts 21:26.
Perhaps the confirming of the covenant with Israel is the conversion of the
(symbolic) 144,000 Jews as recorded in Revelation 7, what Paul calls the
"fullness of Israel coming in" in Romans 11. Perhaps the cessation of
sacrifices refers to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.
Still, confirming the covenant is exactly what the gospels show Jesus doing.
Thus, I am happier viewing the 70th week as beginning with the baptism of
Jesus. Jesus' work put a definitive and judicial "stop" to the sacrificial
system, though His people were free to continue offering memorials until the
Temple was actually destroyed.
27b. And on the detestable wing comes one who desolates, even until a
complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who
The detestable wing is the polluted garment of the Israelite as priest, most
pointedly the garments of the High Priest (Num. 15:37-41). Only Israelites
could commit detestable acts, for by definition such acts are priestly.
Israel's sins caused God to desolate His sanctuary and leave it for
destruction at the hands of the Romans. Destruction was poured out on the
desolators, on apostate Israel. The detestable act, I suggest, is the
massacre of the "144,000" converts as recorded in Revelation 14-15, whose
blood was poured out upon Jerusalem in Revelation 16, because Jerusalem had
drunk their blood (Rev. 17).
Now, traditionally, Daniel 9:27b is seen as happening after the completion
of the 70 Weeks. That is, Jesus' death in the middle of the 70th week ended
the sacrificial system, in principle and that is the last thing prophesied
as part of the 70 Weeks. What verse 27b predicts is not part of the 70
Weeks, but comes later. This is a perfectly reasonable interpretation.
But of course, it is not the only possibility. Possibly, as we have noted,
the 70 Weeks go down to A.D. 70. In this case, the events described in verse
27b simply explain the method used by Messiah to put a stop to peace and
tribute offerings (v. 27a).
I lean strongly toward the traditional view. Verse 26 clearly states that
the Messiah is cut off after the 62nd (= 69th) week. This refers to A.D. 30.
Thus, if the 70 Weeks do indeed include the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.
70, we must put a gap of 36-37 years between the 69th and 70th weeks (30-66
A.D.). The 70th week would be the years 67-73 A.D., with the destruction of
the temple in the middle of the week.
A gap is not as unreasonable as it appears, because Acts and the epistles do
provide chronological information from A.D. 30 forward. Thus, the gap is
filled. The chronology is not actually broken, because the 69 weeks carry us
from Cyrus to Christ, Acts takes us up to just before the destruction of
Jerusalem, and the first half of the 70th week takes us to A.D. 70. But,
Acts does not completely cover this period, and who wants a gap if we can
Another corroboration of the traditional view comes from the interesting
fact that if we go with it, there are 1000 years between the completion of
the Temple and its destruction. The Temple was completed in the year Anno
Mundi 3000. The middle of the 70th week came in A.M. 3960. If this was A.D.
30, the Temple was destroyed 1000 years after it was first built. If the
middle of the 70th week (A.M. 3960) was when the Temple was destroyed, then
we don't have an even millennium for the Temple.
Of course, the preceding is a tenuous argument, but this whole discussion is
tenuous. The only way we can arrive at a proper interpretation of Daniel
9:24-27 is to try to compare the whole systems of each alternative
interpretation. It is very striking that the Temple was completed in A.M.
3000, and this figure is unassailable. The fact that the traditional view
puts the destruction of the Temple, and the end of the first creation, in
the year 4000 A.M. is also striking, and should be considered as evidence,
though perhaps not very weighty, in favor of the traditional interpretation.
Daniel 9:24-27 bridges the gap between Malachi and Matthew by providing a
chronology of 490 years. The period begins with the decree of Cyrus in
around A.M. 3474, and ends in A.M. 3964. The death of Christ happened midway
through the last seven years, or in A.M. 3960. There is good reason, as we
shall see, for making this the same as A.D. 30, in which case the
destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was the year A.M. 4000.
What do YOU think ?
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