Description
Daniel receives an important timeline of future events and reveals that seven years before the end of the age, the Antichrist will make a seven-year treaty. After three and a half years, he will break it and set up an abomination in the temple.
Commentary
In this chapter, Daniel records his confession of the sins of the Jewish nation (v4-15), and his prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem and its temple (v16-19). In response, he is visited by the Angel Gabriel, who gives him a prophetic timeline of future events (v24-27).

Historical background
The chapter is set in the first year of Darius the Mede who Daniel says was appointed as king over Babylonia (v1). At this time, Cyrus the Persian was the supreme king of the Medo-Persian Empire which conquered Babylonia in 539 BC, but Cyrus governed his huge empire by appointing kings or governors over kingdoms within it. Historical records outside the Bible have no record of Darius the Mede, unless he is to be equated with Ugbaru, the general who first entered Babylon and deposed Belshazzar (and Nabonidus). According to Daniel 5:31, Darius took control immediately after the Medo-Persian conquest in 539 BC, but he would have been subordinate to Cyrus the Persian, who is mentioned in Daniel 10:1. So the year is 539 BC. It is 47 years since the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and 66 years since Daniel was deported to Babylon in the first deportation of 605 BC (Daniel 1:1-2). According to Ezra 1:1, in the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, Cyrus issued a decree allowing the return of the Jewish exiles. Most scholars also equate the first year of Cyrus with 539 BC, although Daniel 6:28 and 10:1 give the impression this was later. Daniel's prayer is prompted (v2) by his reading of Jeremiah 25, in which Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would be desolate for 70 years.

Timeline of Seventy Weeks (v24-27)
The angel tells Daniel that seventy 'weeks' have been determined concerning his people (Israel) and the holy city (Jerusalem). 'Weeks' are literally 'sevens', and a week in this context is understood by scholars to mean 'seven years' (as in Leviticus 25:8) rather than seven days. Daniel was already thinking about Jeremiah's 70 years, so it is natural to also interpret these sevens as periods of years. Where we think in terms of decades, they thought in terms of heptads of 7 years. This period of 70 heptads, or 490 years is divided into three time periods of 7 heptads (49 years), followed by 62 heptads (another 434 years), and one final heptad (7 years). A total of 70 heptads have been determined to:

1) put an end to rebellion - I believe this looks forward to Jesus' defeat of the end-time rebellion by the Antichrist.

2) to bring sin to completion - In Genesis 15:16, God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham's descendants. He told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in a foreign country for four hundred years, after which they would return to the land of Canaan, "for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit". In the end times, Jesus will announce the day of God's vengeance (Isaiah 61:2) when he will put an end to all rebellion. But as in antiquity, he first waits for sin to reach its full measure.

3) to atone for iniquity - This looks forward to the crucifixion of Jesus.

4) to bring in perpetual righteousness - although this began at the Cross, it will be completed at the second coming when Jesus begins to reign on the earth (Revelation 11:17).

5) to seal up the prophetic vision - Seals were used to authenticate official documents. The second coming of Jesus is the grand focus of Old Testament prophecy, when biblical prophecy in general will be authenticated by its fulfilment.

6) to anoint the most holy - this expression is used of places, not people (see NET Bible notes) and I believe is speaking about the dedication of the Millennial temple. Jews celebrate the Festival of Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the second temple in 164 BC, after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it with his idol of Zeus, which Daniel 11:31 calls the 'abomination that causes desolation'. The third temple will be similarly desecrated by the end-time Antichrist (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15), but Jesus will dedicate a new Millennial temple (Isaiah 56:5-7, 60:7, 62:9, 66:6, Jeremiah 33:11).

According to verse 25, the timeline begins with the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. There would then be 7 weeks and 62 weeks, totalling 69 weeks, until the arrival of an anointed prince (the Messiah). The historical fulfilment of this timeline is a matter of debate between scholars. Over the next 100 years or so, there were in fact three decrees relating to the rebuilding of Jerusalem or its temple:
1) In 539 BC, Cyrus the Persian conquered the Babylonian Empire, and in the first year of his reign over Babylon he issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, if they wished to (2 Chronicles 36:23, Ezra 1:2-4). If this is the promised decree, then Messiah should have appeared 483 years after 539 BC, that is in 56 BC. But it is noteworthy that Cyrus' decree related to the rebuilding of the temple, not of the city. This same decree was later reaffirmed in 520 BC by Darius I (Ezra 6:1, 6-12).

2) In 457-456 BC, in the seventh year of his reign, King Artaxerxes I (464-424) issued a further decree (Ezra 7:12-26). This decree related to provisions for the temple and its system of sacrificial worship. But Ezra responded in prayer saying, "Although we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our servitude. He has extended kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, in that he has revived us to restore the temple of our God and to raise up its ruins and to give us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem" (Ezra 9:9). He understood the king's decree to extend beyond the rebuilding of the temple, to include a wall around the city of Jerusalem. If this is the awaited decree, the Messiah was due to appear 483 years after 457-456 BC, which is 27-28 BC (accounting for the transition from 1 BC to 1 AD without any year zero). In 28 AD, John the Baptist began his ministry (Luke 3:1), in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (14-37). John's opening message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 2:2). This is the same message that Jesus proclaimed about two years later at the start of his own ministry (Mark 1:15). The kingdom of heaven was near because its king was near or present. Jesus added the insight that "The time is fulfilled", pointing to the fact that Daniel's 69 heptads had been completed. If we understand that the public appearance of Jesus to Israel began in 28 AD with the ministry of his herald, John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12, John 1:6-9, Luke 3:1-22), then Daniel's 69 weeks were fulfilled more or less perfectly.

3) Although Ezra helped to re-establish the temple worship system, he made little if any progress in rebuilding the city wall. In his twentieth year (445-444 BC), Artaxerxes I issued a further decree to Nehemiah. This specifically related to the rebuilding of the city walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 483 years after 444 BC takes us to 40 AD, ten years after Jesus began his ministry, and seven years after his death and resurrection. However, some scholars argue that a Jewish year should be accounted as 360 days. According to that accounting, 483 years is 173,880 days, which is 476 years of 365 days each. That would take us to 33 AD, the year that Jesus died. In reality, although the Jews may have accounted for years as twelve months of 30 days, they also added intercalary months at regular intervals to adjust for the difference between lunar and solar years. Otherwise their calendar would have progressed forwards through the solar calendar, and not stayed in sync with the seasons.

It is likely that the second decree, that of Artaxerxes to Ezra, is the correct starting point for Daniel's 69 heptads, with their fulfilment in 28 AD when John the Baptist heralded the arrival of the Messiah. This is what Jesus was referring to when he declared in Mark 15, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!"
In verse 26a, Daniel is told that after 7 and 62 sevens (total 69 sevens), "the anointed one (the Messiah) will be cut off and have nothing (be killed)". He does not tell us how long after the 69 heptads this would be, but if we understand them to have ended in 28 AD (as above), then there was in fact a further 5 years until the fulfilment of his death on the cross.


Accounting for the 69 sevens, this is 483 years from 444 BC. Taking a Jewish year as 360 days, this is a total of 173,880 days. Dividing by 365, this is 476 years according to the Gregorian calendar. From 444 BC to 1 AD is 444 years, plus 32 more takes you to 33 AD. So this timeline correctly predicted Jesus' death on the cross in 33 AD. In Matthew 16:2-3, after the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign, he said, "When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,' and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.' You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times". His answer implies that they were failing to interpret the signs of his coming given in scripture, and it is likely that Daniel 9:26 is one of the signs that he had in mind.

Verse 26 goes on to say, "As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them". This destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was fulfilled in 70 AD, if one understands that there is a gap between the 69th seven and the 70th seven that is introduced in verse 27. Who is the coming prince? And who are his people that destroy Jerusalem and the temple? It was Roman legions under the command of General Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, but Titus is not the prince in view here. The coming prince is identified in verse 27 as the one who will confirm a covenant with many for one week (the 70th seven). This is the end-time Antichrist, who then breaks the covenant, brings a halt to sacrifices and offerings, and sets up the abomination in the temple. Given that the people who destroyed the temple in 70 AD were Roman legions, it is commonly assumed that the Antichrist will therefore be the ruler of a restored Roman Empire. However, the legions that destroyed Jerusalem were not actually from the Italian Peninsula. The Roman army recruited heavily from the regions it ruled over, which included much of the Middle East and North Africa. Titus commanded the eastern legions of the Roman Empire. The siege and destruction of Jerusalem is recorded in detail by the historians Josephus and Tacitus. Jerusalem was besieged by an army comprised of four legions, plus various Arab auxiliaries. The legions were Legion 10 from Turkey and Syria, Legion 15 from Syria, Legion 12 from Eastern Turkey and Syria, and Legion 5 from Serbia and Bulgaria. The legion in particular that breached the walls of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple was Legion 10. This legion was comprised of four cohorts: one of Syrians, one of Turks, one of Arabs from Petra in Jordan, and one of Arabs from Arabia. If these are the people of the coming prince (the Antichrist), then the Antichrist will be a Turk or Arab. This is consistent with Ezekiel 38:2, where the Antichrist is called Gog, and is identified as 'the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal'. Meshech and Tubal were regions of ancient Turkey. (Reference: ‘God’s War on Terror’ by Walid Shoebat, pages 349-353. He quotes extensively from the first century historians, Tacitus and Josephus).

Verse 26 continues, "But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction". The Antichrist's end-time war is described in more detail in Daniel 11:36-45. It says in verse 40, "He will invade lands, passing through them like an overflowing river". But when Jesus comes back, it will be the Antichrist's turn to be overwhelmed like a flood.

According to verse 27, "He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys". It is often assumed that the Antichrist is a great statesman who initiates this covenant. Daniel simply says that he 'confirms' it. In other words, he signs it, but it may be a pre-existing agreement, or one that is brokered by some other mediator. It is 'with many', implying that it is an international treaty with many nations. The statement that follows about sacrifices and offerings clearly indicates that the treaty involves Israel, and it suggests that it may facilitate a restoration of Jewish sacrificial practices. Or it could be that the Jews rebuild their temple and restore their sacrificial practices first, which creates an international crisis, and the peace treaty is necessary to resolve the crisis.

Agreeing to a seven year treaty but then breaking it is consistent with the Antichrist being a muslim, and the Islamic practice known as 'hudna'. In 628 AD, the Prophet Mohammed agreed to a ten-year peace treaty with the Quraish tribe of Mecca, known as the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. At that time, the Muslims were only 1,400 strong, and were too weak to conquer Mecca militarily, so Mohammed agreed to the treaty, even though many of his followers were unhappy about its terms. Two years later, when his movement had grown to 10,000, keeping the treaty was no longer to his advantage, so he attacked Mecca and conquered it. As such, Mohammed set an unfortunate precedent within Islam. Muslims can agree to a peace treaty (a 'hudna') while they are the weaker party, but if they subsequently gain strength, by their prophet's own example they are not duty-bound to honour it.

The statement "On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys" is not completely clear from this verse alone. Some translations interpret the wing as a wing of the temple, which is reasonable, given that the temple is the place where sacrifices and offerings are made. The Apostle Paul clearly understood it this way, for he says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, "He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God's temple, displaying himself as God". And Daniel 11:31 says, "His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation". In this verse, the subject is Antiochus Epiphanes, who setup his statue of Zeus in the temple in 168 BC. Here in chapter 9, it is a similar act of abomination that is fulfilled by the end-time Antichrist. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus stressed the importance of understanding the abomination that causes desolation.

It is also not immediately obvious from the text here in chapter 9 that there is an indefinite time gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. Otherwise, the whole timeline would have been fulfilled in 40 AD. When Daniel was given the timeline, he didn't know when it would start, except that it would start with a decree for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. This was a sign that the Jews needed to watch for, and they should then have anticipated the Messiah coming and being killed in 33 AD. Similarly, we don't know when the 70th week will start, except that it will start with a treaty being signed, and when that happens, we need to watch carefully, anticipating the treaty being broken after three and a half years. And we must not be fooled by what the world thinks about the Antichrist.

The abomination will remain in place "until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys". Daniel 12:11 indicates that it will remain in place for 1,290 days.
Tags
Places: Jerusalem, Temple
Symbols: Abomination that causes desolation
Tags: Timeline of 70 weeks, Antichrist peace treaty, Abomination that causes desolation, Death of Jesus prophesied, Destruction of second temple prophesied
Daniel Prays for His People
9 In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, who was of Median descent and who had been appointed king over the Babylonian empire –
2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, came to understand from the sacred books that the number of years for the fulfilling of the desolation of Jerusalem, which had come as the Lord’s message to the prophet Jeremiah, would be 70 years.
3 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to implore him by prayer and requests, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
4 I prayed to the Lord my God, confessing in this way:
“O Lord, great and awesome God who is faithful to his covenant with those who love him and keep his commandments,
5 we have sinned! We have done what is wrong and wicked; we have rebelled by turning away from your commandments and standards.
6 We have not paid attention to your servants the prophets, who spoke by your authority to our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors, and to all the inhabitants of the land as well.
7 “You are righteous, O Lord, but we are humiliated this day – the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far away in all the countries in which you have scattered them, because they have behaved unfaithfully toward you.
8 O Lord, we have been humiliated – our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors – because we have sinned against you.
9 Yet the Lord our God is compassionate and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.
10 We have not obeyed the Lord our God by living according to his laws that he set before us through his servants the prophets.
11 “All Israel has broken your law and turned away by not obeying you. Therefore you have poured out on us the judgment solemnly threatened in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against you.
12 He has carried out his threats against us and our rulers who were over us by bringing great calamity on us – what has happened to Jerusalem has never been equaled under all heaven!
13 Just as it is written in the law of Moses, so all this calamity has come on us. Still we have not tried to pacify the Lord our God by turning back from our sin and by seeking wisdom from your reliable moral standards. 14 The Lord was mindful of the calamity, and he brought it on us. For the Lord our God is just in all he has done, and we have not obeyed him.
15 “Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with great power and made a name for yourself that is remembered to this day – we have sinned and behaved wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all your justice, please turn your raging anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. For due to our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors, Jerusalem and your people are mocked by all our neighbors.
17 “So now, our God, accept the prayer and requests of your servant, and show favor to your devastated sanctuary for your own sake.
18 Listen attentively, my God, and hear! Open your eyes and look on our desolated ruins and the city called by your name. For it is not because of our own righteous deeds that we are praying to you, but because your compassion is abundant.
19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, pay attention, and act! Don’t delay, for your own sake, O my God! For your city and your people are called by your name.”

Gabriel Gives to Daniel a Prophecy of Seventy Weeks

20 While I was still speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my request before the Lord my God concerning his holy mountain –
21 yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen previously in a vision, was approaching me in my state of extreme weariness, around the time of the evening offering.
22 He spoke with me, instructing me as follows: “Daniel, I have now come to impart understanding to you.
23 At the beginning of your requests a message went out, and I have come to convey it to you, for you are of great value in God’s sight. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision:
24 “Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place.
25 So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.
26 Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction.
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.”
(NET)