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.”
9:26 prince that shall come. The “prince that shall come” is obviously not “Messiah the prince,” for He will have been cut off.” In the context of the previous prophecies given by Daniel, this prince can be none other than “the king of fierce countenance” of the preceding chapter (Daniel 8:23).
9:26 the sanctuary. The city and sanctuary were destroyed by the Roman general (later emperor) Titus in A.D. 70. This would indicate that the coming evil prince would be a great leader from one of the many nations which eventually developed out of the old Roman empire.
9:26 a flood. The “flood” marking the end of the destruction of Jerusalem can also be translated “overflowing,” probably referring to the great dispersion of the Jews into all nations, enforced by the Romans in A.D. 135.
9:26 desolations are determined. A better translation might be, “and unto the end wars and desolations are determined.” When Messiah, the Prince of Peace, was “cut off,” peace was permanently cut off from the world as well. This is another remarkable prophecy. In the 1900-plus years since, there have been “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6) in one part of the world or another practically every year since that time. In the current world (2004), probably over forty local wars are raging in various parts of the world.
9:27 he shall confirm. The antecedent of “he” must be the person last mentioned, that is, “the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), the one whose “people” had destroyed the city. The context in these verses seems clearly to preclude any reference to Messiah. This can be none other than the future Antichrist.
9:27 one week. Finally the seventieth week begins, with a treaty made by the Antichrist with the Jews, apparently allowing them to reestablish their temple and its ceremonies in Jerusalem. But note that this “week” of seven years only begins after the following events have taken place after the sixty-ninth week was finished: (1) The Messiah has been cut off, or put to death (A.D. 30); (2) Jerusalem and its temple have been destroyed (A.D. 70); (3) The Jewish people have been exiled into all the nations (A.D. 135); (4) Wars and desolations persist in the world to the end (at least from A.D. 135 to the present, and beyond).
9:27 overspreading of abominations. The “overspreading of abominations” can be paraphrased as the “ultimate in blasphemous idolatry.” “Abomination” is a word often used in Scripture for an idol, and “overspreading” refers to wings. Replacing the mercy-seat in the holy place in the temple will be the image of the Beast, and the wings shadowing his image will replace the out-stretched wings of the cherubim. Christ called this “the abomination of desolation” (Mark 13:14). In citing this event as still future, Christ acknowledged that Daniel was, indeed, a prophet.