THE SEVENTY WEEKS
All of these things are to take place within the scope of “seventy weeks” – literally, “seventy sevens.” Just as Daniel had been reading of 70 years of captivity, so now he is told that 70 weeks remain.
This reckoning of time seems very foreign to us since we count time by tens, adding up either decades or centuries. The Jews, on the other hand, were Sabbath oriented. It is for this reason that they counted time by parts of seven. Every seven years they had a year-long holiday. Every 49th year all of their debts were forgiven.
Such groups of sevens are not unusual in the Scriptures. Similar wording is used in Leviticus 25:6 where seven weeks of years is said to refer to the 49 years between Jubilees.
In Numbers 14:34, the Israelites were told that the 40 years they would spend in the Wilderness would correspond to the 40 days that the spies spent in the land of Canaan. Ezekiel was instructed to lie on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days. This was to be understood as a day for each year (Ezekiel 4:6).
I want to suggest that these 70 weeks are to be understood by each day of these “weeks” representing a single year. This means that we are dealing with a period of 70 weeks of years – a total of 490 years.
Thus, this was a prophecy to the discouraged Jewish believer who though they had sinned and been punished and had their temple destroyed by God as an act of Judgement, they had not lost the promise of the Messiah “Anointed One”. He was still coming and He would establish His eternal Kingdom and it was only 490 years away. But first other Kingdoms would arise, then finally the last world Kingdom which would belong to the Messiah would arrive. The Kingdom of God for all God’s elect.