The prophet Daniel lived between 605 B.C. and 530 B.C. He and his fellow Israelites were captives in Babylon under the King Nebuchadnezzar. After correctly explaining one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, he was given a position of power under him.
He often prayed to God while in this position and the Lord gave him numerous visions and prophecies. In Daniel 9, Daniel begins with a prayer and a confession to the Lord. He says, “we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land…Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you…For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your name. We do not make requests of you because you are righteous, but because of your great mercy!”
The angel Gabriel suddenly appeared to Daniel and gave him a prophecy. Daniel 9:24-27: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out 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. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the Temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
According to the Jews for Jesus, “seventy sevens of years” equals a period of 490 years, which is seventy times seven. A 490-year period was decreed for the accomplishment of the final restoration of Israel. The Jews for Jesus link of the purposes of the seventy sevens as follows: (1) to finish transgression (c.f., Isaiah 59:20; (2) to make an end of sins (c.f., Isaiah 27:9; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34); (3) to make reconciliation or atonement for iniquity; (4) to bring an everlasting righteousness (c.f., Isaiah 1:26; 11;2-5; 32:17; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-18); (5) to seal up vision and prophecy; and (6) to anoint a most holy place, the Jewish Temple (c.f., Ezekiel 40-48).
There are several times when the “word” went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The first option to start the countdown is in 539 B.C. with the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, which permitted the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36; 22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6: 1-5). A second option is in the decree of Darius, king of Persia, which let the Israelites continue their building project in 515 B.C. Another option is in 458 B.C. when King Artaxerxes of Persia decreed that “any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including the priests and Levites, who volunteer to go to Jerusalem with you, may go (Ezra 7:13). The final option is when King Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem (with letters to the governors of the Trans-Euphrates for protection) to rebuild its structures in the month of Nisan in the year 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 2:1-8. Biblical scholars have supported the latter option and the start date of 444 B.C. (e.g., Hoehner, 1978).
The final option seems the most likely because Nehemiah and Ezra were instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing back its exiles. With the blessings of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem and became its governor in 444 B.C. He worked with numerous Israelites to rebuild its walls and structures. Though he faced much opposition, he persisted, knowing that his efforts were supported by the Lord.
Once the walls were rebuilt, 42,360 exiles returned. Ezra spent much time carefully reading them the book of the Law of the Lord. Many seemed unaware of the Laws and their many transgressions. They confessed their sins and repented, promising to carefully follow the Law in the future by not intermarrying with other groups of people, not working on the Sabbath, and keeping the Lord’s house purified. They also purified themselves ceremonially and offered great sacrifices to the Lord.
Nehemiah 12:27 says “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres.”
“The seventy sevens are divided into three separate units – seven sevens, 62 sevens, and one seven. During the first time period (49 years), Jerusalem would be ‘built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.’ The second block of time (62 sevens, a total of 434 years) immediately following the first for a total of 69 sevens, or 483 years” (Jews for Jesus, 2018). At the end of the 483-year time period, “unto the Messiah, the Prince.”
In the time of Daniel, people believed years contained only 360 days, which when multiplied by 483 comes to 173,880 days. Dividing that by 365.25 gives us 476 years. Adding that to 444 B.C. (and accounting for no “zero” year) results in the year 33.
According to Hoehner (1978), the report to Nehemiah occurred in Chislev (November/December) 445, and the decree of Artaxerxes (c.f., Ezra 7; Nehemiah 1,2) occurred in Nisan 10 (March 30) of 444 B.C. Using a spring start date in 444 results in the prediction that Jesus would be put to death in the spring of 33. Numerous scholars have supported the following date for Jesus’ crucifixion: April 3, 33. Furthermore, as predicted by Daniel, the Temple that had been rebuilt was destroyed by the rulers (i.e., Romans). This event occurred in 70 A.D.