The 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 refers to the decree that liberated the exiles in Babylon, allowing them to return to rebuild their temple and the city of Jerusalem. It was the start of the prophecy that foretold the appearance of the Messiah.
The prophecy was given in "the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans." History has no information on this Darius. However professor Donald J. Wiseman, professor of Assyriology in the University of London, suggested that "Darius," and "Cyrus," the Persian king who liberated Babylon, are the same person. Cyrus was "of the seed of the Medes" as he was the son of a Median princess according to the ancient historian Herodotus.
In 1957 I put forward as a working hypothesis the possibility that Darius the Mede is to be identified with Cyrus the Persian king. It may be helpful to review this theory in the light of criticism made of it by Dr. Whitcomb. The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated 'Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.' Such a use of the appositional or explicative Hebrew wa~w construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 ('So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria') and else where. Granted such an interpretation it remains to examine how far Darius might be a bi-name of Cyrus in the light of the scriptural statements.
Cyrus as much as Gubaru could have been called 'a Mede' by the Babylonians. By 550 BC Cyrus had taken over Media and joined it to the 'Persian' federation. When Nabonidus in 546 BC declared that the 'King of the Medes' welcomed his proposed return from exile he could at this time refer to no other than to Cyrus, and presumably this title was known as far as Tema' even though it has not been found yet in other inscriptions. Although Cyrus only uses 'King of Anshan', 'King of Persia', 'King of Babylonia' or 'King of the lands' in his inscriptions, it cannot be denied that he might also have incorporated the title 'King of Media' but that, if of Median stock, he did not stress it in view of the unity of the Aryan Medo-Persian coalition under his rule. It is noteworthy that nowhere does the writer of Daniel claim that Darius was 'King of Media'.
It has been argued that 'the phrase "seed of the Medes" in Daniel 9:1 means that the paternal (as opposed to the maternal) ancestry of Darius was Median.' While descent from Achaemenes and Persian lineage is normally emphasized it need not be surprising that the grandson of Cyrus I (vassal of the Medes) through the marriage of Cambyses I to Mandane, daughter of Astyages, should not despise or renounce a claim to be 'of Median descent', which is all that need be implied by the phrase. Herodotus represents Cyrus correctly as son of a Median princess and Xenophon as heir to the Median throne. While the unusual nature of 'Darius (the Mede)' as an appellation of Cyrus the Persian could be a reason for the explanatory note in Daniel 6:28, it should be also noted that the description of the later Darius (II) as 'the Persian' (Ne. 12:22) could imply the need to distinguish the king of that name from one who was already known in Babylonia as 'Darius the Mede'. The identification of Cyrus the Persian king with Darius the Mede accords well with the prophecies of Isaiah (13:17) and Jeremiah (51:11, 28), who saw in the Medes the conquerors of Babylon. My argument here, however, is directed to show that the traditional close connection of Medes and Persians under Cyrus by marriage, conquest or inheritance, and language makes him a stronger candidate for the appellation 'the Mede' than Gubaru, for whom the argument for such a description is one of total silence.
See: Donald J. Wiseman, Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (London, 1965),
History confirms that Cyrus was about 62 years old in 538 BC when Babylon was conquered. Daniel says Darius was about 62 years old when he took the kingdom, Daniel 5:31. The number 62 is featured in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks.
Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 44:28 says Cyrus would be the one to give the word for rebuilding Jerusalem, and its temple. Daniel must have been aware of this prophecy. He may have even showed it to Cyrus. Josephus says God "stirred up the mind of Cyrus" by means of Isaiah's prophecy about him.
And these things God did afford them; for he stirred up the mind of
Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia: "Thus saith Cyrus the king: Since God
Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that
God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the
prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea."
This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his
prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: "My
will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send
back my people to their own land, and build my temple." This was foretold by Isaiah one
hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read
this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to
fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon,
and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild
their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God, for that he would be their assistant, and
that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighborhood of their
country of Judea, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of
the temple, and besides that, beasts for their sacrifices.
Why was Cyrus featured so prominently in the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel? In the book of Revelation, Babylon represents worldly human civilization, which is subdued by Christ. So the role of Cyrus was parallel to that of Christ, who liberates his people from this world.
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The 70 weeks prophecy is related to the 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecy, mentioned in Daniel 9:4. Jeremiah said there would be 70 years of desolations of Jerusalem.
And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Jeremiah applied his 70 years prophecy to "all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth," Jeremiah 25:26.
The city of Babylon did not become "perpetual desolations" after 70 years; it remained for many centuries. Peter wrote his first epistle from Babylon. Neither did the desolations of Jerusalem cease. So the 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecy were not fulfilled literally.
Babylon is symbolic of human society and civilization. Daniel shows that it is God who sets up kings and rulers; "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." (Daniel 4:25)
What was the significance of the 70 years? When God's people were taken into captivity for 70 years, they basically received a life sentence. Jeremiah's prophecy that Babylon would be punished after the 70 years were finished was little comfort, as most of the exiles would not have lived to see it! However, when they are raised up in the judgment, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Babylon will be gone, and human rule will end.
The 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecy was symbolic; in scripture, 70 years represents a normal human lifetime.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
The history of Jerusalem shows that after the exiles returned, the city was subject to Persian, Greek, and then Roman rule. When Jesus was there, he said, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Matt 23:38). So the desolations of Jerusalem continued. Finally the city and temple were destroyed in 70 AD. In the 70 weeks prophecy, that occurs in the "midst" of the last week.
Jerusalem is called the "city of the great King," and the "holy city" that the patriarchs and prophets looked forward to:
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
The NT shows the literal city of Jerusalem is a type of the Church, and I suggest the "desolation" mentioned in Daniel 9:27 means the desolation of the Church. The "flood" in that verse is not a literal water flood. It is the "flood" of flawed teachings and interpretations, that engulfs us today. This is shown by Revelation 12:15, where a "flood" is spewed out of the mouth of the serpent. It is a flood of "propaganda" and an "information flood" against the truth. Who can deny that such a flood threatens to carry away the Church today?
The three sections of the 70 weeks correspond to the last three periods of "seven times" in Leviticus 26. Daniel says that this curse that was poured out on Israel, Daniel 9:11. The first of these periods of "seven times" was fulfilled during the captivity in Babylon.
Daniel's 70 weeks begin with the decree of Cyrus, given in the same year that he took Babylon, or soon afterwards, in 538 BC. The prophecy works out correctly, if the units in the various sections of the 70 weeks vary. Months were lunar months in the ancient Hebrew and Babylonian calendars. Years were either 12 of 13 lunar months. Years of 12 months are called regular years, and years of 13 months are called leap years. The first 7 weeks of the 70 weeks may be weeks of leap years, that have an extra month. There are 7 of these in 19 years. In that case, the first 7 weeks span 133 years.
The age of Cyrus when he took Babylon are the units of the second section of the 70 weeks, which are 7 x 62 years. The prophecy foretold the appearance of Christ at the end of the second section of 7 x 62 years. The appearance of Christ occurred 133 + 434 = 567 years from the decree of Cyrus, in 28 AD.
Cyrus is called God's "anointed" In Isaiah 45:1. Christ was anointed at his baptism by John, in 28 AD. During his ministry, Christ "confirmed his covenant with many," which is the gospel, and he continues to confirm it, so the 70th week continues today. I suggest the final half-week is symbolic of the age of the Church, when the gospel goes to the world. It is the "time, times and a half" of Daniel 12:7.
Dispensationalists dispute this, claiming the fulfillment of Daniel's 70th week was "postponed." They see a gap between the 69th week, when Christ appeared, and the 70th week, which they claim is yet future. But no one following the "plain sense of Scripture," when reading Daniel 9, would get the idea a gap of thousands of years should be inserted between the 69th and 70th week of verses 24-27. It violates even their own principles of hermeneutics!
The idea of a "gap" in the 70 weeks prophecy was invented by Jesuit priest Francisco Ribera in the 16th century. He claimed the Antichrist will be a single human individual who would appear at the end time. This was a clever attempt to deflect the attacks of the Reformers who identified the papacy with the Antichrist and the little horn of Daniel 7.
However, scripture discredits the idea of a gap, as the 70 weeks correspond to the duration of the curse described in Leviticus 26. Daniel refers to this in his prayer of confession, a prelude to the 70 weeks prophecy, in verse 11. Jeremiah's prophecy of the 70 years of desolations of Jerusalem is also mentioned in verse 4. Those prophecies provide the background setting of the 70 weeks prophecy. How could there be a pause in the desolations of Jerusalem? And how could the chastisement or curse of Leviticus 26, that Daniel says began during the captivity in Babylon, be temporarily suspended? If the curse was suspended temporarily, (as required by the 'gap' theory) then Israel would have to be (temporarily) reconciled to God; and all Jews would be (temporarily) Christians. But that has not happened.
Christ, like Cyrus, is a liberator. Cyrus liberated the Jewish captives in Babylon; Christ liberates his people from the captivity of this world, which is the "Babylon" of Revelation, and from sin. Jesus preached "deliverance to the captives" from Isaiah's prophecy, at the beginning of his ministry:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Isaiah said Cyrus "shall perform all my pleasure," and in the NT, the voice from heaven said of Jesus, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11)
Jesus said it was "the Father's good pleasure" to give us the kingdom.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Paul said God works in us, to do "his good pleasure."
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Copyright © 2010 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.