Daniel 9:25, Counting down to the Messiah, III of III

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

//I introduced today’s verse in yesterday’s post, and it holds the key to Daniel’s puzzle. We continue our discussion about Daniel’s 490-year prediction until the Messiah’s arrival.

To recap:  If we count 490 years from the date the Jews returned from exile and began rebuilding the temple according to the decree of Artaxerxes (457 BCE) we arrive at the year 33 CE … the year many believe Jesus died. That makes Jesus the Messiah. This solution to the puzzle satisfies Christians but not historians, who are required to work within the constraints of the non-supernatural. If, however, we begin counting the 490 years from the date Jeremiah prophesied of a new temple, we get an even worse answer: around 107 BC. No messiah that year, for certain. So what did Daniel mean?

Note that Daniel breaks his prediction period down into two chunks, and then afterward he introduces a final “week” (seven years) of tribulation. So that’s how the 490 years are broken down: 62×7 (434 years) plus 7×7 (49) plus 7. Most people add these figures up and reach 490 years. However, it may be that we are not supposed to count these periods consecutively, but concurrently. A 49-year period and a 434-year period, leading to a final 7-year period. If we do it this way, we get something like this:

Seven sevens from the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC) we reach year 537. Within a year of this date, Cyrus releases the Jews to return to Jerusalem. So set the 49-year prophecy aside; it’s a done deal, a completed prophecy.

Yesterday, we concluded that Jeremiah’s prophecy would have been assumed sometime before the year of deportation, 597 BC. Figure just a few years before that date. Adding 434 years to roughly this period, we come to about 167 BC.

You know the rest. Seven years of bloody war ensued as Judas Maccabeus, acclaimed as one of the greatest warriors of Jewish history, leads a revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Halfway through this 7-year war, Antiochus IV desecrates the temple as Daniel predicts. (see Daniel 9:27).

Pretty amazing again, huh? How Daniel predicts this victory hundreds of years earlier, and selects Judas Maccabeus as the coming savior? Well, with this interpretation Daniel’s prophecy is no longer quite that amazing. Scholars date the actual writing of the book of Daniel to precisely this time in history. Daniel’s biographer was not writing prophecy, but history.


  1. Many historical-critics say that the cut-off Messiah was Onias III, who lived in the second century B.C.E. When it’s pointed out to some that this does not coincide with 490 years, they respond that Daniel could have gotten the number of years wrong, as Josephus sometimes did. But your post actually provides a reason that it can work mathematically.

  2. This one is my own fiddling with a calculator. I’m sure someone will come along and poke holes in it! 😉

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