9:24 Seventy weeks. The word for “weeks” is actually “sevens;” in the context, it obviously means “seven-year periods.” Daniel had been meditating on God’s promise that the captivity of his people would be seventy years, but then Gabriel brought the message that, not just seventy years, but seventy sevens of years, were determined on his people. That is, God would be dealing with Israel as His covenant people for a period of 490 years. The events prophesied for these 490 years are critical for the proper understanding of eschatology and prophecy. Furthermore, the remarkable fulfillment of the key portions of the prophecy of the seventy weeks is certainly one of the strongest evidences for the supernatural inspiration of Scripture.
9:24 finish the transgression. Much of the prophecy has been fulfilled, but not all. Its complete accomplishment (e.g., “an end of sins,” “everlasting righteousness”) awaits the second coming of Christ. Consequently, since far more than 490 years have already passed, there must be at least one significant gap implied in its development. This seems to be clear in the following verses. However, many eminent expositors have understood it as an unbroken sequence, terminating in the first coming and death of Christ.
9:25 commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. The 490-year period begins with the commandment to rebuild the holy city. Some have taken this to be the decree of the emperor Cyrus, in about 536 B.C., recorded by Ezra. This is unlikely, because that commandment only decreed the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 1:3). Evidently there was no formal commandment to rebuild the city itself until the time of Nehemiah, when a later Persian emperor, Artaxerxes, did make such a decree (Nehemiah 2:4-8). This was in about 446 B.C.
9:25 seven weeks. The 490-year period is divided into three components, 49 years, 434 years, and 7 years, respectively, in duration. The first was evidently to be occupied with the actual completion of the streets and walls of the city, in “troublous times,” as described in the books of Nehemiah and Malachi. Perhaps most significantly, the 49-year period did terminate with Malachi’s prophecy, which marked the close of Old Testament revelation.
9:25 threescore and two weeks. After the 49-year period was to be another period of 434 years before Messiah would come as Prince of Israel. This period between the two Testaments was marked by the fulfillment of some of Daniel’s other prophecies—the fall of Persia, the rise of Greece, then of the great Roman empire and, in Israel, the conflicts with Egypt and Syria and the wars of the Maccabees. In all, there would be 69 weeks, or 483 years, “unto the Messiah the prince.”