WHY “SEVENTY WEEKS”? So what were these “seventy weeks” that the angel predicted? How much time do they represent? The word translated “weeks” is the Hebrew word that also means “sevens.” And so, what Gabriel predicted was “seventy sevens.” But what did Gabriel mean when he spoke of this time of “seventy sevens”? Seventy literal weeks of seven days each would equal 490 days—far too brief a time for all of the events predicted in 9:24–27 to occur!78 That’s why most interpreters of this text take the “seventy sevens” as seven periods of seven years each, for a total of something like 490 years.
The Hebrew word translated “weeks” is simply the word “sevens,” and most interpreters view each “seven” as a period of seven years (exact or rounded), or as a symbolic number emphasizing completeness.
But why did Gabriel speak in terms of “sevens”? The Western mind is trained to estimate and to calculate in fives and tens. The ancient Jewish mind was more likely to think in terms of sevens. The number “seven” symbolized completeness or perfection, stemming from God’s choice to rest from his work of creation on the seventh day. But there is another reason for the emphasis on the number “seven” in this particular text: y God had commanded Israel to work the land for six years, then to let the land rest in the seventh year (Leviticus 25:4). y For nearly five centuries, the Israelites failed to obey these commands. As a result, God scattered them among foreign nations for seventy years, until every missed year of rest had passed (Leviticus 26:34–35; 2 Chronicles 36:20–21). The Israelites had treated God’s land like a slave for centuries. God sent them into exile so they could learn a seventy-year lesson and the land could enjoy a seventy-year rest—490 years divided by 7-year cycles equals 70 years of neglected rest. y Now, near the end of this seventy-year span of judgment, God decreed “seventy sevens” to deal with his people’s sin once and for all. The time it would take to resolve the problem of Israel’s sin would be the same that it had taken to create the problem in the first place: 490 years—or, “seventy sevens.”79 163
Published on Jul 20, 2011
Selected Sample Pages from the NEW Rose Guide to End Times Prophecy by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, Associate Professor, Southern Baptist Theolog...