There are many different views on how the seventy weeks prophecy should
Those views which have been seriously considered share a common line of
Let us review this common reasoning and briefly consider the merits of
the various events postulated as fulfilling this prophecy.
COMMON REASONING - 490 YEARS
Almost all interpretations of the seventy weeks prophecy have centred on
the rebuilding of Jerusalem that took place some four to five centuries
This is only natural considering,
a) the wording of the text
and b) the timing of the announcement of the prophecy.
As this prophecy contains an apparent reference to the future appearance
of Jesus Christ, 'an anointed one' mentioned in the third of the four
verses, it was deemed necessary to link to an appropriate event in
These factors have tended to decide how this prophecy has been explained.
[ NB: There was also a desire to have evidence in the Old Testament
of a time based prediction of the arrival of Jesus Christ.
(If as proposed by this web site, the 70 weeks prophecy does
not refer to Jesus Christ, there exists no time oriented
prophecy in Scripture predicting precisely the arrival of
Jesus Christ.) ]
Scholars today pick up on the thoughts of their predecessors and looking
back on history perceive a period of approximately 500 years between the
rebuilding of Jerusalem and the events in the life of Jesus Christ.
This period of approximately 500 years could easily be derived from the
seventy weeks (or sixty-nine weeks) mentioned in the text. All that was
necessary was to consider each week as a period of seven years.
So nowadays, it is commonly believed the period of seventy weeks refers
to a period of 490 years.
70 weeks = 70 x 7 years = 490 years.
Indeed, this is quite a logical interpretation. Allowing each day to
represent a year is a principle supported by Ezekiel 4:6.
Following this reasoning, the shorter periods mentioned in the text were
also multiplied by 7 years.
7 weeks = 7 x 7 years = 49 years
62 weeks = 62 x 7 years = 434 years
7+62 weeks = 69 x 7 years = 483 years
1 week = 1 x 7 years = 7 years
The period of seventy 'weeks' needed a starting point.
The text apparently supplied;
'the issuing of the word to turn and build Jerusalem'
From this point, it was only a matter of sequencing the shorter periods
comprising the seventy weeks.
However, having decided the period of seventy weeks started with the
command to rebuild Jerusalem, the order was a forgone conclusion.
1st Period - 7 weeks = 49 years
2nd Period - 62 weeks = 434 years
3rd Period - 1 week = 7 years
70 weeks = 490 years
This also happened to correspond to the sequence these three periods
were discussed in the text,
verse 25 - mentions 7 weeks + 62 weeks,
verse 27 - mentions 1 week.
Today, the majority of theories revolve around this common reasoning.
Upon these common threads of thought have arisen various more detailed
Generally, each interpretation has been a composite of the conclusions
reached in regard to the following.
A) Which command should be used as the starting point for
the seventy weeks?
B) What event in the life of Jesus Christ represented the
end of the first 69 weeks?
C) Where in time should the two halves of the final week
A) THE STARTING POINT - THE DECREE
Three decrees have been seriously considered.
1) The decree of Cyrus in the time of Daniel
2) The decree of Artaxerxes in the book of Ezra
3) The decree of Artaxerxes in the book of Nehemiah.
1) In the earlier years of the study of this prophecy, the decree issued
by Cyrus (in the first year of his reign) was the favoured starting
Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that
the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah
might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of
Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation
throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing,
:2 "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the
earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has
commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is
:3 Who is there among you of all His people? May his God
be with him! Now let him go up to Jerusalem, which is
in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel
(He is God), which is in Jerusalem.
:4 And whoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let
the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with
goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for
the house of God which is in Jerusalem."
A portion of the above quotation is also repeated in 2 Chron 36:22-23.
Additional information is given in Ezra 6:3-5.
The Medes and Persians had recently overthrown the throne of the
Chaldeans and this decree signalled the release of the captives of
This decree was the most significant and the most logical of the
three options to choose as a starting point for this prophecy.
However, following archaeological findings and research into other
historical writings, historians now generally date the first year
of Cyrus at 538 BC.
Such an early date would of course require an interval of at least
530 years to reach to the birth of Jesus Christ. Since a maximum
of only 490 years is possible the decree of Cyrus has lost favour
amongst many biblical scholars.
2) The next proposed decree is recorded by Artaxerxes in the form of a
letter given to Ezra.
The content of this decree is recorded in Ezra 7:12-26. This decree,
like the former decree, focuses primarily upon the needs of the
house of God. The time of the issuing of this decree is the 7th
year of King Artaxerxes. Ezra 7:7.
This decree is generally the preferred option. It is commonly dated
at around 457 BC.
This 457 BC dating allows 69 weeks (or 483 years) to pass before
conveniently arriving at 27 AD (the date commonly accepted for the
baptism of Jesus Christ).
69 Weeks 483 Years
Less Date of Decree 457 BC
Plus Adjustment for
BC to AD 1 year
Baptism of Christ 27 AD
3) The last option, the letters of authority given to Nehemiah by
The letters of authority were delivered to Nehemiah in the 20th year
of King Artaxerxes. Neh 2:1. This event is frequently ascribed the
historical date of 446 BC. The background to these events is recorded
in the first two chapters of the book of Nehemiah. The issue which
sparked the desire of Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem was news that due
to the action of their enemies the wall and gates of Jerusalem had
been broken down and burned. Neh 1:3.
This repair work was performed by Nehemiah and the citizens of
Jerusalem and was completed in 52 days. Neh 6:15.
Those wishing to view this option as the decree referred to in Daniel
9:25 usually date this event at 455 BC.
B) THE EVENT IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST
The event in the life of Jesus Christ which marks the end of the sixty-
nine weeks is usually deemed to be His baptism.
C) THE TIME PLACEMENT OF THE FINAL SEVEN
1) Seeing a final 7 year period after the appearance of the Messiah some
have located it around the death of Jesus Christ.
Views which place the final week around the death of Christ, refer to
the 3.5 years between his baptism and his crucifixion, followed by a
further period of 3.5 years which they consider would reach to the time
of the apostle Paul (and presumably the giving of the gospel to the
Gentiles). Gal 1:11-18.
2) Currently, most modern scholarship tends to place the final seven year
week in the future. This approach is chosen, because the terminology
of the prophecy is considered to continue to portray the end time theme
present in the other prophecies of the book of Daniel.
3) Another perspective is to place the first half of the 70th week in
the time of Jesus Christ. Baptism to death.
Then place the second half of the 70th week in the end time.
All views would have some form of the sacrifices being brought to an
end after the first 3.5 years.
THE POPULAR VIEW
Modern opinion tends to prefer the following mixture of options.
Ezra going to Jerusalem in 7th Artaxerxes (457 BC)
to Completion of Jerusalem 49 yrs (408 BC)
to Baptism of Christ 434 yrs ( 27 AD)
*** Long Time Gap *** ?
Beginning of final week
to Glorified Return of Christ 7 yrs
DO ANY OF THE TRADITIONAL VIEWS HAVE MERIT?
Well it all depends.
If the prophecy is NOT trying to link the rebuilding of Jerusalem to
the coming of Jesus Christ then all the views will be in error.
If the prophecy is affirming this association, then one of the solutions
may have merit.