Daniel 9 is one of the strangest and most symbolically rich passages in all of the Bible. Learn about the history of this passage commonly known as "The Seventy Sevens" and why Jesus thought it was a big deal.
“Welcome to a fascinating industry in biblical scholarship. What we know is that every Jewish group that left a literary record, whether it’s the Qumran community, the Pharisees, the Zealots, and the early Christians—everyone is is talking about Daniel 9. And you can see why. It sets the clock."
In part 1 (0:00–8:20), Jon briefly recaps the conversation so far. Tim shares a verse from Isaiah, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). This verse, Tim says, is at the core of the theological claims behind the theme of seventh-day rest in the Bible.
In part 2 (8:20–27:30), Tim turns to the book of 2 Chronicles.
2 Chronicles 36:20-21
“He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.”
Tim says that the author of this passage would have had two prophecies from Jeremiah in mind when writing this.
“This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will make it desolate forever. I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.’”
“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’”
Tim notes that this is a very famous verse in the Bible, but many people aren’t aware of its original context—a promise from God that Israel will return from exile.
In part 3 (27:30–46:45), Tim dives into Daniel 9:20, a passage commonly known as “the seventy sevens.”
“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision: 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.’”
This passage, Tim says, maps directly onto the two Jeremiah prophecies.
Tim notes that Daniel would have been heartbroken because he was hoping that this would have been a proclamation of good news that Israel would return from exile. Instead, the message is that Israel has a long way to go in its exile.
There are many ways to read and interpret the 490 years (seventy sevens) in Daniel 9. Tim shares about a study from scholar Roger Beckwith, who has done an enormous study on the various interpretations of Daniel 9 in his paper, “Daniel 9 and the Date of Messiah’s Coming in Essene, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Zealot and Early Christian Computation” (see show resources for link).
In part 4 (46:45–end), Tim and Jon cover an important prophecy in Isaiah about a coming jubilee.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
Tim shares a quote from scholar Bradley Gregory in his essay on Isaiah 61, called “The Post Exilic Exile in Isaiah.”
“In Isaiah 40-55, the Babylonian exile is understood as an image of the Egyptian captivity. In the last ten chapters of Isaiah (56-66), the oppressive situation in Jerusalem after the exile has become another symbol. One gets the impression that the author doesn’t see the situation after the exile as any better than the situation in Babylon or enslaved in ancient Egypt. In all cases Israel is shackled because of sin, awaiting deliverance by Yahweh. The prescriptions for the jubilee have been eschatologized—the jubilee is now a metaphor and an image for a future hope. Isaiah has moved the concept for jubilee from a law to a concept of future deliverance.”
Produced by Dan Gummel.
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