Seventy Weeks - Redemptive Goals

The interpreting angel outlined six redemptive goals that would be achieved by the end of the "Seventy Weeks" – Daniel 9:24

Rainbow - Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash
The period of the “
seventy weeks” is divided into three divisions. First, the initial period of “seven weeks,” second, a division of “sixty-two weeks,” and third, a concluding period of “one week” that is subdivided into two “half weeks.” At the start of the prophecy, six redemptive goals are listed that must be completed by the end of all seventy “weeks.” - [Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash].

The angel Gabriel began by declaring that “seventy weeks are divided” for Jerusalem and its people:
  • (Daniel 9:24) - “Weeks, seventy have been divided upon your people and upon your holy city, to put an end to the transgression, to seal up sin, to cover iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the holy of holies.”
Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, the term “sevens” or shabua is used either to refer to seven-day weeks, or to time periods divided into seven segments, however long each segment is - (Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:9).

The “seventy sevens” is related to prophecy from Jeremiah about the seventy years of captivity in Babylon. The book of Chronicles interprets this period as the fulfillment of a warning to Israel from the book of Leviticus:
  • (Leviticus 26:33-35) - “And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you. And your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. Then shall the land enjoy its Sabbaths, as long as it lies desolate, and you are in your enemies’ land; even then will the land rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, even the rest which it had not in your Sabbaths, when you dwelt upon it” - (See 2 Chronicles 36:19-21, Jeremiah 25:10-13Daniel 9:1-2).
As far as the book of Daniel is concerned, the prophetic period of “seventy weeks” represents seven weeks of years, or a total period of 490-years.

Seventy sevens are divided.” The term rendered “divided” represents a Hebrew verb found only here in the Bible, one with a basic sense of “cut, divide, partition” (hathak – Strong’s - #H2852). And this is exactly what the angel proceeded to do, to divide the total number into three subdivisions of “seven,” “sixty-two,” and “one” weeks.

As the angel explained, a period of “seventy sevens” or 490 years was needed to complete the promised restoration. The mere trickle of Jews that began to return to Jerusalem after the decree by Cyrus was only the beginning of a much longer process.

The start of the “seventy weeks” coincides with the prophetic word “to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Restoration is in view, not punishment. This distinguishes the period of “seventy sevens” from the original pronouncement of seventy years of captivity. Israel remained “desolate” for seventy years, but Jerusalem would be restored by the end of the “seventy weeks of years.”

The two periods were related. They may have had the same starting point and began to unfold concurrently. But their purposes differed. One was to punish Jerusalem, the other, to restore it.

The “seventy sevens” are declared “divided,” and six redemptive acts must be achieved by the end of the period. The angel used six Hebrew infinitive clauses to present a single pair of predictions, with each pair consisting of three parts:

     To put an end to the transgression,
          To seal up sin and,
          To cover iniquity.
     To bring in everlasting righteousness,
          To seal up vision and prophecy,
          To anoint the holy of holies.

There is a literary structure to the list. The first section deals with sin, the second with restoration. In the first section, the second and third parts correspond to the second and third parts the second section; that is, to “seal up sin” corresponds to “seal up vision and prophecy, and to “cover iniquity” corresponds to “anoint the holy of holies.”
All six goals were redemptive. Again, the goal is restoration, not destruction. The first and last goals are the more important ones: “to finish the transgression,” and “to anoint the holy of holies.” This is indicated by their positions as the first and last parts of the series.

In the Hebrew text, “the transgression” is singular and definite; that is, it is “the” transgression, something specific and known. The Hebrew noun pesha or “transgression” occurs in Daniel only here and in the vision of the goat with a “little horn”:
  • (Daniel 8:12-13) - “Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who spoke, How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that desolates, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?”
In chapter 8, the “transgression cast truth to the ground” and profaned the Sanctuary. The profanation occurred on the orders of the “little horn,” the “king of fierce countenance,” the one who “destroyed the mighty and the holy people” - (Daniel 8:9, 8:23-25).

To finish” the transgression represents the Hebrew verb kala - (Strong’s - #H3607), more correctly, to “restrict, restrain, confine.” In other words, “to shut up the transgression” and restrain it from causing more destruction.

To seal up sin” is to remove it from view, to conceal it, an idea that dovetails with that of “restraining” the transgression. For example, in chapter, the king “sealed” the lions’ den into which Daniel was cast. Thus, sin was to be removed from the sight of God and set aside.

To cover iniquity” alludes to the collective iniquity of Israel that necessitated the Babylonian Captivity. “Cover” translates the Hebrew kâphar - (Strong’s - #H3722), “cover over, to overlay,” as was done when pitch was used to cover the outer surface of Noah’s Ark - (Genesis 6:14).

To “cover over” sin is to atone for it. This represents the same Hebrew word used by Leviticus for expiating the guilt of sin through animal sacrifices. In his prayer, Daniel acknowledged that the captivity came upon Israel so “we might turn from our iniquities,” then prayed for God to turn His anger away from Jerusalem, which had endured punishment “for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers.”

To bring in everlasting righteousness” is redemptive. In chapter 8, the profanation of the Sanctuary would continue until it was “justified.” This translates the Hebrew verb tsadaq - (Strong’s - #H6664) related to the noun for “righteousness.” It refers to the return of the Sanctuary to a state of holiness.

To seal up vision and prophecy.” The clause uses the same verb found in “seal up sin” (hatham). The same word occurred when Daniel was told to “shut up the words and seal the book, even to the latter days.” The idea is to close or “seal” something until the appropriate time - (Daniel 12:4).

To anoint the holy of holies.” This represents the Hebrew phrase qodesh qadashim, a combination of the singular and plural forms of qodesh or “holy,” the same noun rendered “holy place” or “holy of holies” in Daniel 8:13.

Elsewhere, “holy of holies” is applied to the altar of burnt offering (Exodus 29:37), the altar of incense (Exodus 30:10), the Tabernacle (Numbers 4:4), the show-bread (Leviticus 24:9), the flesh of sin offerings (Leviticus 6:17-25, 7:1-6), things devoted to Yahweh (Leviticus 27:28), and the inner sanctum of the Temple (Exodus 26:33-34, 1 Kings 7:50, 8:6, 1 Chronicles 6:49, 2 Chronicles 5:7, Ezekiel 45:3) - Always to objects, and NOT to persons.

The “holy of holies” refers either to the inner sanctum of the Temple or to the altar of burnt offering that was defiled by the “little horn.” In context, “to anoint the holy of holies” means to consecrate or re-consecrate, either the inner sanctum or the altar.

We must remember that the “seventy sevens” are “divided upon your people and upon your holy city,” that is, Jerusalem. The goal of these redemptive acts is to restore Jerusalem and to rededicate the “Holy Place” by the end of the period of “seventy weeks,” presumably, 490-years.

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