Daniel 9:2-3, Counting down to the Messiah, II of III

I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

//We continue our discussion from yesterday, and Daniel’s prediction of 490 years until the Messiah’s arrival.

Note the reference to Jeremiah in today’s verse. God told Jeremiah that Babylon would rule for 70 years (see Jeremiah 25:11-12), but Daniel asks again about the 70 years and is given a different answer. Does this mean Daniel’s 490-year prediction should also date from Jeremiah’s time? Yesterday, we assumed Daniel was counting the years from Xerxes’ command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, but Jeremiah, too, predicted the rebuilding of Jerusalem:

I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. –Jeremiah 33:7

So, did Daniel’s 490 years begin with Xerxes or Jeremiah? Let’s switch from Xerxes to Jeremiah and see where that takes us. Judah’s captivity began in the year 586 BC, and 70 years later in the year 516 BC, the temple was rebuilt as Jeremiah prophesied. But if we instead add 490 years to 586 BC, we reach the year 96 BC. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help us at all; nothing spectacular happened that year. No Messiah then.

Instead, we need to read Daniel’s prophecy a little closer. Skipping ahead to verse 9:25, we read:

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. –Daniel 9:25

Aha! So the 490 years begin from the date Jeremiah makes his prophecy, not from the date Jerusalem is conquered! In other words, we need to date today’s verse: Jeremiah 33:7. That will tell us when to begin counting.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know precisely when this was supposedly penned, because Jeremiah’s warnings are not in chronological order, but the majority of his writings center around the first deportation of the Jews under Nebechednezzer (597 BC). Some prophecies appear to be after this date (see chapters 23-25), and some before (see chapter 35). If we add Daniel’s 490 years to roughly this period, we come to about the year 107 BC.

Sigh. Another dead end. Nothing spectacular happened in 107 BC either. I’ll give you time to contemplate, and we’ll solve the puzzle tomorrow.



  1. Daniel 9:24-27, and the Hardest Passage in Lee Harmon’s Book | James' Ramblings - [...] Where do you end up?  Well, they take you to dead ends, as Lee Harmon on his blog discusses …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>