DANIEL’S 70 WEEKS
Most dispensationalists agree that there is a parenthetical period of time of nearly two thousand years in the 70 weeks written about in Daniel chapter nine. That is to say, between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week there is a break. If there were no break we should have already seen the antichrist and the tribulation, which is the subject of the last half of the 70 weeks of Daniel nine.
Daniel 9:25-27 reads, verse 25 “Know therefore, and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. The street shall be built again, even in troubulous times. Verse 26, And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off but not for Himself. (This is where the parenthetical period interrupts the prophecy.) Verse 26b, And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end thereof shall be with a flood: and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. Verse 27, He will confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”.
In order to understand this prophecy correctly we must understand three very important Hebrew phrases used in this prophecy. They are 1) “cut off”, 2) “after”, and 3) “Messiah the Prince”. These words will be addressed in the sections below.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “CUT OFF”?
The definition of the Hebrew word, “karath” (cut off) found in Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary is, “to cut. By implication, to destroy or consume”. It is a well-established principle of word study, however, that words get their meaning from usage. As we will see, the usage does not substantiate the definition given above. It is imperative that we study how the word is used by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. The word occurs over two hundred times. We will not study each occurrence, only those which will help in determining its basic meaning.
The word “karath” is used in several contexts. Consider for example Exodus 4:25 where we are told of the circumcision of the son of Moses. “But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it”. Obviously, nothing was destroyed, it was simply cut. There is no implication of destruction in the word “karath” in this passage.
Another passage where “karath” does not mean or imply destruction is Numbers 13:23. In verse one we read that “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites”. In verses 17-18 we see that Moses sent men to explore the land and told them, among other things, to “do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land”. And in verse 23, “When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off (karath) a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole, between them along with some pomegranates and figs”. This passage makes it very clear that far from wanting to destroy the branch that they had cut off, they wanted to preserve the branch and it’s fruit. Again, we must conclude that “karath” does not always mean or imply destruction or consumption.
Let us confine our study for now, to two ways in which “karath’ is used. It is used 54 times in the context of killing. That obviously fits the implication of destruction. But the word is also used over 30 times of one being “cut off from his people”, from “Israel” and “from the land”. I believe that as we consider some of these verses where “karath” is used we shall see that destruction was not what was meant, or implied in these verses.
Numbers 19:13. “That person must be cut off from Israel“. In the next sentence we are told that his “uncleanness remains on him“. Obviously, he must remain alive if his uncleanness remains on him.
Ex. 12:15, “….whoever eats anything with yeast in it…. must be cut off from Israel.” The fact that he is “cut off from Israel” means just that, and no more. There is no Scriptural reason to assume that the person will be destroyed.
Ex. 30:33, “whosoever compoundeth any like it (holy ointment –verse 25) to smell thereunto, shall even be cut off from his people”. Again, there is no Scriptural evidence to assume destruction. The word “karath” itself does not imply destruction.
Ex. 30:38, “Whosoever shall make like unto that (perfume of verse 35) to smell thereunto shall even be cut off from his people”.
Lev. 7:20, “…the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering….. having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people”.
Consider Proverbs 2:21-22, “For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain in it. But the wicked will be cut off from the land and the unfaithful will be torn from it”. The question is: are the wicked who are being torn from the land, destroyed? This verse is a prophecy concerning the millennial reign of Christ. The parables of Matthew 13 concern that same period, i.e. the millennial reign of Christ. We read of some, at the time of His return, being cast into “outer darkness” where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. The paper on The Kingdom Of Heaven found on this web-site presents the Scriptural evidence for the fact that “outer darkness” where “there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” refers to the nations outside the land of Israel during the millennial reign of Christ. Those people who are cast into outer darkness are not destroyed; they are cast out of Israel because they were not faithful. But they were cast out of the land to live among the Gentiles.
Ezek. 20 also tells of the purging of Israel so that only the faithful will enter the land for His reign. Ezek. 20:38, “I will purge you of those who rebel and revolt against Me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel”. There is no Scriptural evidence to assume that these unfaithful will be brought out of their lands to be destroyed. They will not be allowed entrance into the land for that blessed 1,000 years of Christ’s reign, but they will live outside the land, not be destroyed.
Consider also Psalms 101:8, “Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evil doer from the city of the Lord”. The phrase “cut off from the city of the Lord”, tells us that it was not destruction the Psalmist had in mind, but a purging of evil doers from the kingdom of Heaven, which is Christ’s rule centered on and in Israel. (Please see the above mentioned paper on the kingdom of Heaven for the Scriptural proof of that statement).
Consider Psalms 37:9, “For the evildoers shall be cut off. But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Note the contrast is not between life and death. The contrast in this passage is about evildoers who shall be cut off and those who will inherit the land. (The Companion Bible note agrees that it is the land of Israel that is the subject here, not the earth.)
Verse 22 of this Psalm speaks of the same contrast, “For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth (should be land); and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off“. Again, the contrast is not between life and death; it is between those who shall inherit the land and those who shall be cut off. To say that they will be destroyed is to take this verse out of context and there is no Scriptural evidence to show that those not allowed in the land will be destroyed.
Verse 34 makes the same point. “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off thou shalt see it”. Once again, the contrast is between inheriting the land and being cut off, i.e. not between life and death.
The scriptures quoted above show that “karath” does not always imply destruction or consumption. To be sure, “karath” does, in some contexts, imply destruction, but not in all occurrences. Therefore, because there are so many passages where “karath” does not imply destruction, we may not automatically assume that “karath” always implies destruction, as suggested by Strong’s Dictionary. Having seen that, we are ready to consider other scriptures in which the context speaks of being “cut off”, from Israel.
So the term ‘cut off” implies being cut off from some thing or some one, the context will tell us from what or from whom. When the context is clear that to be cut off means to be put to death, then we may understand that to mean that one is cut off from life. And when the context tells us that one is cut off from one’s nation, we must understand that the term “cut off” does not imply death because we are specifically told from what that person will be cut off, the nation. In short, the Hebrew term “cut off” does not necessarily mean to be put to death any more than the English term means to be put to death.
Once we recognize the fact that “karath” does not always mean or imply destruction or consumption, and that it is used of being cut off from the People of Israel, we are ready to study the usage of the word in Dan. 9:26 where Messiah is said to be “cut off“”. Let us consider this phrase as it appears in the NIV. “…..The Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing“. The King James Version has, “will be cut off, but not for Himself”. The NIV Hebrew-English Interlinear translates the word literally as, “and there will be nothing”. I believe that the NIV is the better translation because in my opinion, it is more in keeping with the literal translation of the Hebrew.
As mentioned above, “cut off” does not always imply destruction (death) and often means simply “to be cut off from the Land and/or the people of Israel”. I believe that in Daniel nine the phrase “cut off and will have nothing” refers to Israel’s rejection of their risen Messiah at the end of the Acts period (this will be proved as we consider the word “after” in the phrase “after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off”). After the crucifixion, all during the Acts period, Israel was given the opportunity to accept their risen Messiah. I believe that that was in answer to our Lord’s prayer on the cross asking the Father to forgive them (Israel). In spite of that nation’s heinous crime of crucifying the Lord, He still loved them and they were still His people. It wasn’t until the end of the Acts period when Paul gave the Jewish leaders one more chance to accept Christ and they refused (Acts 28:23-28) that Christ, the “Messiah had nothing“.
Is. 53:8 speaks of Messiah being “cut off out of the land of the living”. This is obviously a reference to His crucifixion. But the Hebrew word translated “cut off” is not the same as the one used in Dan. 9. The Hebrew word in Dan. 9 is “karath”, the Hebrew word in Is. 53 is “gahzar”. I believe that the Holy Spirit used two different words for two very different events. That belief is based, in part because the phrase “and will have nothing” makes no sense if Dan. 9:26 is in reference to His death. “Gahzar” is used of Christ’s death, but “karath” is used of the risen Christ being cut off (rejected) at the end of the Acts period from His people, Israel.
We have seen that “karath” means both to be put to death and to be cut off from one’s People, Israel. How can we determine how it should be understood in Dan. 9:26? I believe that as we continue with a study of the word translated “after” in that verse, it will be extremely obvious how we are to understand the word “karath” in Dan. 9:26.
A STUDY OF THE WORD “AFTER”
This section will be devoted to the Hebrew terms translated “at the end of” and “after”. This study may seem tedious but let me give an example of why the correct understanding of these terms is crucial to this study. Let us say that Joe’s basketball team is playing for the state championship. In the last second of the game Joe’s team is behind by two points. But Joe makes a three point basket. If Joe’s three point basket came at the end of the game his team would win. But if Joe had made it after the end of the game, his team would have lost. In other words, there is a big difference between something occurring “at the end of” a period of time, and occurring “after” it.
We read in Dan. 9:26, “And after three score and two weeks, shall Messiah be cut off”. What does the “after” tell us? The Hebrew word translated “after” in this verse is “ahghar”. But in order to best understand that word let us first consider another Hebrew word “kahtzeh” which is often translated “uttermost”, or “edge”, or “brink”. What is most helpful in this study is that “kahtzeh” is translated seven times “at the end of” in reference to a certain period of time. Consider for example Gen. 8:3, “…..and after the end of 150 days the waters were abated”. In other words, it was not after the 150 days but it was at the end of them that the waters abated. Let us consider all seven times where “kahtzeh” is used in this same sense.
Deut. 14:28, “At the end of the three years thou shalt bring forth all thy tithe….”. This tells us that at the end of three years they were to bring their tithes. They were not to bring them after three years, but rather at the end of them.
Josh. 9:16, “And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelt among them”. This verse speaks of what was accomplished at the end of the three days, not after the end of that time.
II Sam. 24:8, “…..they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days”. Again, they did not come to Jerusalem after the nine months and twenty days, but rather as that time came to an end.
II Kings 8:3, “And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines…..”. So it was not after seven years that the woman returned, but rather at the end of seven years.
II Kings 18:10, “And at the end of three years they took it…..”. Again, this refers to the end of three years, not after the end of three years.
Ezek. 3:16, “And it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me…”. Once again, the word is used to indicate a time, i.e. the end of seven days, not after the end of them.
We are now ready to return to Dan. 9:26, “And after three score and two weeks, shall Messiah…. be cut off”. If the Holy Spirit wanted us to understand that Christ was cut off at the end of 62 weeks He would have used the word we looked at in the passages quoted above, i.e. “kahtzeh”. But He did not use that word. He used instead the Hebrew word “ahghar”. Therefore we must conclude that the Holy Spirit did not want us to conclude that Messiah was cut off when the 62 years had ended, He wanted us to understand that Messiah was cut off some time after the 62 weeks had ended.
Let us consider the Hebrew word translated “after” in Dan. 9:26. As mentioned above, that word is “ahghar”. It occurs approximately 500 hundred times. I am guessing that at least 90% of the occurrences are translated “after”,”afterward” “follow” and “behind”. Let us consider the first few occurrences of the Hebrew word.
The first occurrence is found in Gen. 5:4 where we read, “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years…..”. In other words Adam lived 800 years after Seth was born. This verse does not say that Adam lived until Seth was born, it says that Adam lived 800 years after, i.e. following Seth’s birth.
The second occurrence is in Gen. 5:7, “And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years….”. That is to say, following Enos’ birth, Seth lived eight hundred years.
Let us skip now to Gen. 9:28 where we read, “And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years”. After the flood ( i.e. following the flood), Noah lived 350 years.
Many times we read the phrase “thy seed after thee”. For example we read in Gen. 17:7, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee”. The ones referred to as “thy seed after thee” are obviously those who come after Abraham, i.e. those who followed him.
The word is also translated many times “follow” as in I Kings 14:8, “….and yet thou hast not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart….”. The note in the Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance reads, “literally, ‘went after me'”.
It is also translated one time “hinder end” in II Sam. 2:23 where we read, “…wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him….”. Some have taken the translation of “hinder end” in this verse to mean “the last part of something”. They have said therefore, that when we read in Dan. 9:26 that Messiah was cut off after 69 weeks, it means that He was cut off at the “hinder end”, i.e. at the end of the 69th week. Let us consider that suggestion.
All words have a basic meaning and shades of meanings. But we cannot take the translation of one verse and change the basic meaning of that word. But neither can we disregard a usage. We must, if we are to be true to every word, fit the exception such as we read in II Sam. 2:23 to the basic meaning.
If we maintain the basic meaning of “ahghar” in this verse and translate it literally, we have a man being smitten with the after part of the spear, i.e. with the part of the spear that comes after the spear itself. That makes no sense. Because that makes no sense, we may conclude that in II Sam. 2:23 the word is used as a figure of speech. The figure of speech used is Hyperbole, which is defined in the Companion Bible as, “When more is said than is literally meant”. One example of that is found in Matt. 5:29 where our Lord said, “if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off….”. The Lord Jesus Christ was certainly not advocating self mutilation, this is an exaggeration. So the usage by the Holy Spirit of “ahghar” in II Sam. 2:23 is, of course perfectly consistent if that verse is understood as a figure of speech. The figure of speech is used to enhance the truth that the spear was planted very deeply into the person who was attacked.
What is important to note in relation to our present study is that whenever “ahghar” is used in connection with an event, it is always translated and always means “after” that event had been completed. Dan. 9:26 uses the word in connection with an event, i.e. 62nd week. Therefore, the cutting off of Messiah must have been some time after the 62nd week had been completed, i.e. some time following the completion of the 62nd week.
But we know that Messiah was crucified at the end of the 62nd week not after it. Therefore, we must conclude that the Messiah being “cut off” cannot refer to His crucifixion. Because the word translated “cut off” also means to be cut off from Israel, I believe we must conclude that Messiah was crucified at the end of the 62nd week and cut off from Israel after that, i.e. some time following the completion of the 62nd seek. I believe that Acts 28 records that occasion when the risen Christ was cut off from His people, Israel.
We read in Acts 28:17, “And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together”. Then in verse 23 that Paul “expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus….”. and in verse 24 we read that “some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agree not among themselves they departed”. The paper on the dispensational boundary proves from Scripture that it was at that time that Israel “cut off” their Messiah.
WHAT DOES THE PHRASE “MESSIAH THE PRINCE” TELL US?
There is another fact which I believe points to the cutting off of Messiah referring to His being cut off from Israel. Let us consider the phrase “Messiah the Prince”. I believe that the title “Messiah the Prince” in verse 25 suggests His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem as Israel’s Messiah and King. So when we read in verse 25 that it will be 69 weeks from the going forth of the commandment until Messiah the Prince, we know that during that 69th week, Christ presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah and Prince.
I am suggesting therefore, that because the prophecy centers on Christ as “Messiah the Prince”, i.e. the “Anointed Ruler” (which is the literal meaning of the Hebrew term) rather than as Savior of the world, it lends credence to the suggestion that the cutting off had to do with Christ being rejected by His People, Israel rather than his death at the cross.
Continuing with verse 26 we read that Messiah the Prince will be cut off after 62 weeks. There does seem to be a contradiction in these two verses. That is to say, verse 25 tells us that it will be 69 weeks until Messiah the Prince and verse 26 tells us that He will be cut off after 62 weeks. He can’t have been cut off before He came. What can we learn from these verses?
I believe that when verse 25 speaks of the 69 weeks between the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah, that those 69 weeks are counted while Israel is still lo-ammi. But when verse 26 speaks of the 62 weeks after which He will be cut off, those 62 weeks are counted from the time the temple is rebuilt, i.e. when Israel is no longer lo-ammi. In other words, the 69 weeks are counted from the time Israel was lo-ammi and the 62 weeks are counted from the time that Israel was once again reckoned as God’s chosen people.
If that is the case, and I believe it is, perhaps by reckoning from two different starting points, the Holy Spirit gives us a clue as to the meaning of “cut off” in verse 26. That is to say, Israel was lo-ammi at the commencement of the 69 weeks, but became “ammi” at the commencement of the 62 weeks. And Israel was ammi during the 69th week, but became lo-ammi when Messiah was cut off, after the 62 weeks. Is this a clue given us by the Holy Spirit that the cutting off of Christ was when Israel rejected their risen Messiah and as a result Israel became once again, lo-ammi? This is conjecture, of course, but it does explain why there were two different starting points given.
(Does this clue mean that the dispensation of the mystery was not unique? No, the mystery that had been hid in God was not that Israel would be set aside, but that God would see all the nations of the earth, including Israel, as the same. Please see the paper on the uniqueness of the dispensation of the mystery for the Scriptural evidence of that statement).
THE SIX ELEMENTS OF DAN. 9:24
Let me quote Dan. 9:24 in order to refresh our memories. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy People and thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy”.
It has been argued that all the things that were “determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” were accomplished by Christ’s shed blood on the cross. Therefore, it is argued, the cutting off of Messiah the Prince must refer to the cross. Let us examine that thought.
We are, so to speak, on holy ground because the cross of Christ is central to God’s plan of salvation. I absolutely do not want to give the impression of demeaning that sacrifice in any way. But I do believe that we should be thorough in search for truth lest we demean the written Word of God. With that said, let us do just that, i.e. search for truth.
The most obvious problem with the assertion given above is that what was determined was to be accomplished in 70 weeks. That is to say, Christ’s death on the cross took three hours, not 70 weeks. But let us continue.
I beg the reader’s indulgence as we consider the elements of this verse in a different order in which they appear. The reason for that is that I believe the most immediate (if I may) “knee jerk” reaction as to what these element concern is that they are connected to the cross. I am presenting the different elements of this prophecy out of order so that that “knee jerk” reaction may be stemmed, for the moment.
Consider for example, the phrase, “to seal up the vision and prophecy”. The prophecy includes, of course, the end times tribulation (see vs. 27). That points to this element as being fulfilled in the end times. But let us continue with the other elements.
Consider also the phrase “the transgression”, i.e. “to finish the transgression. This does not speak of all transgressions, it specifically speaks of one transgression with the phrase “the transgression”. Given that the passage concerns, as will be proved, elements of the end times, I believe we may conclude that “the transgression” is the end time tribulation.
We also read, “to make reconciliation for iniquity”. The Hebrew word translated “reconciliation is “kaphar” and is usually translated “atonement” and is sometimes translated, “forgive”. If this element had not appeared in the context of five other elements that have to do with the end times, I would be very much inclined to think it referred to the cross. But it does occur in the context of the end times, so let us consider a few passages which speak of God forgiving the iniquity of Israel in the end times.
We read in Jer. 33:8, “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned against Me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned and whereby they have transgressed against Me”.
And in Ezek. 36:33 we read, “Thus saith the Lord; ‘In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities and the wastes shall be builded’”.
These are prophecies that will be fulfilled in the millennial reign of Christ, i.e. they are end time prophecies. I believe therefore, that we may conclude that this element of the prophecy of Dan. 9:24 will be fulfilled in the end times.
Consider also the phrase “and to make an end of sins”. Christ did not “make an end of sins” at the cross, but He will do so at a yet future time.
Consider also the phrase “to anoint the most holy”. I will quote Dr. E. W. Bullinger’s note in the Companion Bible on this phrase which reads, “most holy= a Holy of Holies. Never used of a person. This answers to the cleansing of the sanctuary (8:14) which immediately precedes the end”. In other words this element is about the temple and also concerns the end times.
Another element which pertains to the 70 weeks is “to bring in everlasting righteousness”. This speaks, of course, of the millennial reign of Christ which is another end time fulfillment.
In short, the six elements of the prophecy are indeed not centered on the cross, but on the end times. Therefore, the argument given above is null and void.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE 70 WEEKS
In the interest of clarifying my views I will offer the following brief explanation of what I understand the prophecy of the seventy weeks to mean.
Basically, the 70 weeks are divided into three sections. They are the first 7 weeks, the next 62 weeks, and the last week.
The first section of 7 weeks begins with the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. It ends with the rebuilding of the temple at which time Israel becomes God’s People once again, i.e. “ammi”. .
The second section of weeks ends at the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Then some years after the 62 weeks had been completed (the years of the Acts period) Messiah is cut off, i.e. rejected by His People Israel.
The last week will begin when the covenant is confirmed,
THE SEEMING DIFFICULTY
It is not surprising that Edward J. Young describes the passage of Daniel 9:20-27 as “one of the most difficult in all the Old Testament, and the interpretations which have been offered are almost legion”. And Stuart says, “it would require a volume of considerable magnitude even to give a history of the ever-varying and contradictory opinions that have been offered”.
I have not studied all of the interpretations of this passage, but of the ones I have studied, I find one common thought. That is, that because the seventy sevens add up to 490 years, the prophecy itself must cover a period of 490 years.
But my suggestion that Christ was cut off at the end of the Acts period adds those 33-35 years of the Acts period to the 490 years so that the 70 weeks last 523-525 years. I believe that there is a rather simple explanation that will eliminate this seeming difficulty. This explanation is, in my opinion, more true to the actual words of the Holy Spirit than other interpretations I have read. What is being overlooked is the fact that Daniel’s prophecy is not explained in years, it is explained in sevens. The Acts period is included in the “after” not the sevens themselves. Let me try to clarify that statement.
The length of time denoted by the word, “after” in verse 26 should not be included in the “sevens”. In other words, Daniel is told that first there will be seven sevens. Then there will be the next sixty-two sevens. and after those sixty-two sevens had been completed Messiah will be cut off, rejected by Israel. The sixty-two sevens do not include the period after them. Another way to put that is that the Acts period which comes after the sixty-two sevens is completed, should not be included in the sixty-two sevens.
Again, the Acts period is not included in the sevens, but takes place after the completion of the sixty-two sevens and before the last seven. The prophecy tells of events that will take place in terms of when a certain number of sevens have passed. The Acts period is not included in the events of the sevens, but takes place after the sixty-two sevens were competed.
The seventy sevens do indeed take 490 years to complete, but the Acts period is not included in the sevens, and therefore not included in the 490 year time period. Of course, the centuries between the end of the Acts period and the beginning of the 70th week is due to Israel having been put aside as God’s chosen people.
Let us look again at Dan. 9:26, “And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself”. This brings us to the end of the 69th week. The verse continues, “and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…”. In point of fact the second phrase (“the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city ….) does not begin the 70th week, it refers to the middle of the 70th week when the tribulation begins. That should, if we are open minded, give us at least a clue that the second of the two phrases of this verse does not follow immediately upon the first phrase. That is to say, there is a lapse of 3 and 1/2 years between the first phrase which describes the end of the 69th week and the second phrase which describes the middle of the 70th week.
I believe that the reason for the difficulty in understanding this passage comes because most have assumed that the Holy Spirit really meant to state the prophecy in years, i.e. 490 years. But He did not state the prophecy in years, He chose rather to put it in terms of sevens. Furthermore, I believe that if we take this passage quite literally, and not assume that the entire prophecy will be fulfilled in 490 years, the meaning of the prophecy will be much easier to understand.
Many believe that the 70 weeks didn’t begin until after the temple had been rebuilt. They base that view on the fact that Israel was lo-ammi at the time before the temple was rebuilt, and they believe that no prophecy can be fulfilled while Israel is lo-ammi. That is to say, the prophetic clock does not “tic” while Israel is lo-ammi. Let’s examine this view.
To begin with, we read in Jer. 25:11, “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years”. If the prophetic clock stopped ticking when Israel became lo-ammi that would mean that the 70 years would never have been completed. That is to say, if a clock is not running, time does not pass. If time does not pass, the 70 years could not have been completed. The seventy years were, of course completed, i.e. the prophetic clock continued to tic while Israel was lo-ammi. So there is a fundamental problem with the view stated above.
Certainly, the prophetic clock is not ticking in the present lo-ammi period, but there are several differences between the Old Testament lo-ammi period and the present one. For example, the clock has stopped ticking in the present lo-ammi period, but it obviously did not stop in the 70 year Babylonian captivity.
But let us continue. Dan. 9:25 reads, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem……”. This tells us when the 70 weeks will begin, i.e. at the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem. The sending forth of this commandment is implied in Neh. 2:7-9 and there is no doubt that Israel was still lo-ammi at the time. But we cannot change a statement that is so clear without doing great disservice to God’s Word. I suggest that it is a better understanding of lo-ammi that is required here.
The prophecy that Israel would become lo-ammi is found in Hosea 1:9 where we read, “Then the Lord said, ‘call him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God”. This prophecy was fulfilled approximately 100 years after it was given. And it was fulfilled again when Israel became lo-ammi at the end of the Acts period. That is to say, this prophecy had a double fulfillment. It would be very helpful in our search for Scriptural truth to study another prophecy that had a double fulfillment.
We read of such a prophecy in Is. 7:14-16, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings“. The last phrase of this verse, sets the fulfillment of the prophecy at the Babylonian destruction, when the kings of both Israel and Judah were carried into captivity.
The Hebrew word translated “virgin” is “ha-almah”. I will quote the note on this word that appears in the Companion Bible. “…..some definite well-known damsel whose identity was then unmistakable, though unknown to us. …..The Heb. for virgin (in our technical sense) is bethulah and occurs fifty times….. Its first occurrence is Gen. 24:16 where, compared with v. 43, shows that while every Bethulah (virgin) is indeed an almah (young maiden), yet not every almah (young maiden) is a Bethulah (virgin). …..As a sign to Ahaz this damsel was an almah (young maiden) . As a sign, when the prophecy was fulfilled (or filled full), it was Mary, the ….virgin”.
My point in bringing up this double fulfillment is that on the second fulfillment, (where Mary was a virgin in the technical sense) the prophecy was filled in a more profound manner, i.e. it was “filled full”.
Now let us compare the lo-ammi period of the Old Testament with the lo-ammi period of the New Testament that began at Acts 28. During the Old Testament lo-ammi period Daniel wrote his prophetic book. The book of Esther was also written in that lo-ammi period. God appeared to Daniel in the form of the pre-incarnate Christ. (Please see the paper on this web-site Who Is The Angel of Jehovah?). There were miracles performed such as when Daniel spent the night in the lion’s den and came out unharmed.
Now let’s look at the New Testament period of Israel’s lo-ammi period. There are no prophecies being written. There are no prophecies being fulfilled. Christ is appearing to no one. There are no miracles such as were seen in Daniel’s time. In short, the New Testament is a more profound fulfilling of the lo-ammi prophecy of Hosea 2.
In my opinion, we must not attempt to force the same conditions on the Old Testament lo-ammi period as are seen in the New Testament lo-ammi period. In other words, there is no reason to rewrite Dan. 9:24 which tells us that the rebuilding of Jerusalem will begin while Israel is still lo-ammi.
The most widely accepted view of the 70 weeks is that the cutting off of Messiah the Prince was the crucifixion of Christ. But if the cutting off of Messiah was at the cross, why didn’t the 70th week begin at the cross? There is no Scriptural evidence that tells us that the 70th week began at the cross.
I believe that Scripture is abundantly clear that Israel was set aside at Acts 28:25. It was because Israel was set aside that the prophetic clock stopped. If the cutting off of Messiah was the rejection of Christ by His people at Acts 28, and I believe it was, then there is Scriptural evidence for the stopping of the prophetic clock, i.e. the setting aside of Israel.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org