This sixty-nine weeks of Jewish time, followed by two millenniums of Gentile time, followed by another one-week Jewish time, is known to Christian theologians as the "Gap Theory". Needless to say, this is not how the observant Jews to Judaism view their scripture. And there are a lot of scriptural questions raised by such a view.
Orthodox Judaism agrees little with this pre-Millennium Christian view concerning the Daniel seventy-week prophecy, but there are some things they both agree on. Both views hold that Daniel was a Jewish prophet to his people the Jews, whereby they (the Jews) would play a major role in the fulfillment of this prophecy. Also, within Daniel's prophecy, each day of the seventy weeks are counted for a year based upon the Hebrew scriptures Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6.
People who know me, know that I am a stickler for staying with the context of scripture. That is one thing that I've learn to do in coming to embrace Judaism as the spiritual and religious concept closest to the heart of the God of Israel. One of my pet peeves is to see a Gentile (like myself) parachute into a verse of scripture and come up with a whole scenario from that verse that they parachuted into, that is totally outside the context that surrounds that very scripture, then have the audacity to claim "duel prophecy" when challenged on it.
One Hebrew text where this so frequently occurs is where Jesus is portrayed as being recognized by the Jews by his nailed "pierced" hands when he tells them that he received them in "the house of his friends" - his fellow countrymen, the Jews (Zechariah 13:6). This scripture is used on "witnessing" tracks to the Jewish people by the messianics and other Christian groups and organizations in order to get them to convert, of which no doubt works on Jews who don't know their scriptures. But when one examines the "whole text" (Zechariah 13:2-6) it then becomes very clear that the one with the wounds is nothing other that a lying false prophet trying to disguise his false prophethood! One could actually argue that it's talking about Muhammad rather than Jesus. And if this sounds offensive to you as a Christian, then I would invite you to read the entire context (Zechariah 13:2-6) out loud! To believe that this scripture is talking about the "anointed one" (mashiach in Hebrew) that is to come at the End of Days for the salvation of the nation of Israel gets even more outrageous when the context is read and understood in the original Hebrew.
This kind of "parachuting into the text" occurs almost every single time when the Seventy Weeks prophecy is expounded upon by dispensationalist Christians. It is always the last three verses in the entire chapter (Daniel 9:24-27) that is most mentioned without ever tying the preceding twenty-three verses to those last three verses (Daniel 9:1-23) together for an understanding of the complete context. After reading the complete context we must begin to analyze the context itself as a whole. There are three main subjects of which this text is concerned with and addresses:
- The Jews, a.k.a. "Israel / "God's People" in their breaking of the covenant (Daniel 9:5-16)
- Jerusalem, a.k.a. "God's city" (Daniel 9:16, 18,19)
- The Temple, a.k.a. "Holy Mountain" / "Sanctuary" (Daniel 9:16, 17)
Daniel was part of the Jewish refugees from the land of Israel living in Babylon. He knew that the Jewish prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that after 70 years the Jews would return to their homeland (Jeremiah 25:12). As the time of the 70 years was drawing close to expire, Daniel saw no change in his people and began to fear that God would decide not to bring them out of captivity even after the 70 years had expired. Thus, he began to cry out to God and confess the sins of his people.
I have often said that Psalms 51 is the best "sinners' prayer" that an individual can pray, but when it comes to the sinners' prayer for the nation of Israel, Daniel stands head and shoulders above everyone else. For twelve straight verses he cries out confessing the sins of Israel of not "rejecting the messiah" as the Jews are viewed among the Christian world today, but rather for forsaking their Law of Moses! This is key when it comes to understanding their redemption at the End of Days that the 70 weeks are to give way to. In staying with same mindset of the entire context, we can understand what righteousness is when it speaks of it in verse 24 (towards the end of the text) by what unrighteousness is at the beginning of the same exact text (verses 5-15). And get this: It will coincide perfectly with the Torah -Deuteronomy 6:25, and the prophets - Ezekiel 37:22-24 / Malachi 3:22 (4:1)
Daniel begins to pray for the sake of the three things most dear to him (1) Jerusalem (2) The Temple (3) His people, the Jews. Notice again that the three things that the text has Daniel being most concerned about does not include the messiah. Nor does Daniel pray for a "spiritual Israel" to come on the scene to "replace" the physical one. Rather Daniel followed like unto Moses and prayed for the nation of Israel to be spared judgment for her many sins and be brought to righteousness (Deuteronomy 9:13-29).
After Daniel's confession of his people's sins and his speedy intersession on their behalf because he knows the Jeremiah prophecy of 70 years is about up, it is then that the angel Gabriel visits Daniel to give him understanding concerning three things (1) Jerusalem (2) The Temple (3) The Jews - of which he just completed supplicating unto the Lord concerning. Notice again, Gabriel did not come to give Daniel understanding concerning "the messiah" or a "spiritual Israel" replacement. He only came to address the things Daniel had just inquired God about being that Daniel in his righteousness (such as keeping the "evening oblation") was so loved by God. We must stay with the context and only what the text states!
It is here that Gabriel announces a 70 week period concerning (1) Jerusalem (2) The Temple (3) the Jews. He gives Daniel the understanding that Jews would indeed return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple but that this would be during a time of trouble (verse 25). The 70 week period is a continued time of judgment towards Israel for her sins which didn't include a sin of "rejecting the messiah" but rather for forsaking the Law of Moses (verses 11-13). It is during this 70 week period that we learn three things concerning judgment of Daniel's rebuilt temple.
- From its beginning, the second temple did not hold the beauty and splendor of the Solomon temple it replaced (see Haggai 2:3).
- The second temple as Daniel 9:25 indicates, went through a time of trouble. Even Jerusalem's protection wall had to be built with "sword in hand" (see Nehemiah 4:18). This was just the opposite circumstance of the time of peace as when Solomon build the first temple while the other nations assisted in the project, and while no nation would dare attack Israel. It was during this 70 weeks of Daniel that Israel lost their sovereignty (including the spiritual center of Jerusalem) over their scriptural promised land to other nations (which in itself is a sign of judgment (Deut. 28:49 / Dan. 9:7) while the temple itself was desecrated with foreign gods and even pig's blood.
- The second temple was glorified with gold and the temple mount was doubled its original size by a non-Jewish murdering king who killed his own family members, picked non-Levitical priests to serve in the temple, and was a puppet for the Roman Empire. The Romans even had their own building (the Antonio Fortress) adjacent to the temple mount and the Holy of Holies to oversee that the temple services run according to Roman interests. This temple was destined to fall during Daniel's 70 weeks, along with its evil priests as the final verses of Daniel 9 indicates.
God had already hit Israel with a 70 years period of judgment as Jeremiah prophesied concerning Babylon (Jeremiah. 29:10). But because Israel did not hearken unto their God, He did as He promised in Leviticus 26:18, and issued a period of judgment of "seven times more" the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah (70 x 7 = 490 years). So when Christians claim that the second temple was destroyed because the Jews rejected Jesus, the biblical fact that the second temple was destroyed because the Jews rejected Moses' law (that reached its climax and the end of the 70 weeks) over four hundred years before Jesus, can be pointed out to answer that claim.
The Gap Theory (as pictured above) has a hard time holding water in light of the Jewish scriptures. To inject two thousand Gentile years (four times the amount) into the midst of a 490 year Jewish period seems far fetched, but this "revelation" was originally conceived in order to Christianize (therefore Gentile-izing) the Jewish text. If any outsiders from both Christian and Judaism influences were to read the text, they would never come away with the notion that "extra time" beyond the stated 490 years is present within the text! The fact is, one can no more place "extra time" inside the 490 years time period than they can place extra time inside the original 70 year Babylon period that Jeremiah prophesied of, for they are both connected together! To place an "undetermined" amount of Gentile time within a "determined" Jewish time (see Dan.9:24) makes the whole prophecy undetermined and therefore non-biblical. It's kind of like a little leaven leavens all the lump (I Cor. 5:6 / Gal. 5:9). Even though I righteously hate the Palestinian-loving / Jew-hating preterists, they do make a good case for Judaism on this issue without knowing or acknowledging it, as do the Seven Day Adventist concerning the Jewish Shabat (Sabbath).
In most Christian graphs of Daniel 70 weeks, the first 69 weeks are shown as one complete section of weeks. The picture above shows 483 years (the total number of 69 weeks). However, that is not how the Jewish text was given. In fact, the number "69" appears absolutely nowhere in the entire ninth chapter of Daniel. From the King James Version we have the following: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks..." -Daniel 9:25 There is an official split amidst the first 69 of the 70 weeks that Christian eschatologist refuse to acknowledge. In fact, the original 1611 edition of the King James Version didn't place a comma between the first seven weeks and the following sixty-two weeks as shown above, but instead actually placed a semicolon between the two sections of weeks. In no language, ancient or modern, would one express the number "69" as "7 and 62". The reason the Christian eschatologists don't acknowledge the two separate sections of weeks (one being seven weeks, the other being sixty-two weeks) is because they seek to emerge the two mashiachs "anointed ones" mentioned in both sets of weeks as being one "Messiah". This is also their reasoning for changing the Hebrew word "anointed" to "messiah", capitalizing the "M" of messiah (something they hadn't done nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible) and adding a definite article before their changed word in order to have the text referring to Jesus. However, if we wish to stay with the Hebrew text while continuing within the context is was written in, we have to acknowledge that there are two different anointed ones separated by 62 weeks (434 years).
This acknowledgment alone puts Jesus into question as to the one of whom the text is referring.
The Gentile Messiah
If the Hebrew word mashiach can mean the Latin word messiah with a capital "M", then Cyrus was indeed a Gentile Messiah! The following are Cyrus' biblical credentials as the "Messiah" of the first set of Seven weeks in Daniel 9:25:
- Cyrus is twice mentioned in two separate biblical writings (Ezra 1:1 / 2 Chron. 36:22) in connection with Jeremiah's 70 year prophecy of which is also mentioned in Daniel 9:2.
- Cyrus is named by the God of Israel Himself before Cyrus even came unto the scene as being "God's personal shepherd" (a title of messiahship) in connection with Jerusalem (the city) being built and the temple foundation laid. Compare the scriptures of Isaiah 44:28 and Daniel 9:25 while remembering the three main topics of Daniel's 70 weeks (1) Jerusalem (2) the Temple (3) the Jews.
- Isaiah 45:1 could be read this way: "Thus saith the LORD to His Messiah - Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." Cyrus' His right hand (of power) is held by God Himself to subdue the nations of the world before him, where kings honor him? Wow, what an endorsement for messiahship!
Cyrus fulfills the first set of weeks (seven) by declaring as the messiah the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple 49 years (seven, seven years) after the destruction of the first temple*: "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah." - Ezra 1:2
Notice, that Cyrus in his messianic role, does exactly what the Jewish messiah will do at the End of Days, which is to build the third and final temple (see Ezekiel 37:24-28).
The second set of weeks (sixty-two) speaks of the troubled times that would follow the rebuilding of the second temple. Not only did the construction workers of Jerusalem's wall have to carry a sword in hand (Neh. 4:18) and Antiochus Epiphanes murdered Jews including temple priests, outlaw the Torah and Judaism, and offer of pig in the temple, but the Jews themselves steeped into great sin. Many Jews during this sixty-two weeks embraced Antiochus and Hellenism much like the liberal Jews of today embrace the UN resolutions against Israel and join the peaceniks. Things got even worse after Israel lost there sovereignty to the Romans. The Gospels of the New Testament speaks a lot about the corruption among the spiritual leaders of Israel during the first century, but the "Works of Josephus" really spells out what happened spiritually to Israel towards the end. Murder, (like in the depiction of Hosea 4:2) was so widespread the Sanhedrin wouldn’t even judge them as homicide! In fact, the Sanhedrin Council was regarded as a “Killer's bias Den”. Even when they were under siege by the Roman army, the Jews in different groups were killing each other. They would be starving while rationing their food because they were under siege and different groups of Jews would destroy each others stored food supply. It is no wonder God cleared the land in judgment as He promised He would do in the last verse of Daniel 9! It is in the downgraded spiritual atmosphere after sixty-two weeks that the second mashiach (anointed) comes into view.
The Jewish view of the second mashiach that is noted after sixty-two weeks is not righteous just like the one in Zachariah 13:6 is not righteous. This mashiach is "cut off" in judgment for some of the same reasons of Israel's sins during the 1st century as listed above. It is note-worthy that the Hebrew word "karaat" for "cut off" as applied to this second mashiach is never applied to a righteous person throughout the Hebrew scriptures, but only towards an evil person as judgment. Also, the Hebrew words "va-ayn-lo" that depicts this second mashiach literally means, "and nothing (of) him" meaning, "nothing is left of him" for he is completely eradicated. This is also a judgment term. This mashiach is the anointed high priest (priests) of the doomed temple, anointed as in "ordained by the people". The word mashiach comes from the root word "mashach" meaning "to smear oil". Kings, prophets, and priests can be mashiachs due to their position and not necessarily by God's calling. Even the murderous King Saul was considered "anointed" (see I Samuel 24:10).
The temple was suppose to be the spiritual center of the Jewish nation with the priests and high priest its guardians. However, because of Israel's deep sin God showed His displeasure by focusing in on and destroying the ones of the highest religious calling. The entire reading of verse 26 is concerning judgment, and judgment only! Immediately after the mashiach is cut off (down) look at the following words: "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...". First, the priestly function is cut off and tied in with that major event and to complete the last and final week, the whole city and temple mount is completely destroyed. The finial vengeance of God's anger of Israel's sin. Notice, that the cutting off of the high priests and the temple's total destruction are tied to the last week of 70 CE and not 40 years (about 5 1/2 weeks worth of Daniel weeks) earlier in Jesus' time.
Here is a question I have for the evangelical dispensationalists, gap-theory, tribulation-believing Christians regarding Daniel 9:27 and the finial 70 week of Daniel: Why would the Hebrew prophet Daniel (or the entire Hebrew Bible for that matter) go to great strains to write about the building and destruction of the first temple, the rebuilding of the second temple, but not one single word about the destruction of the second temple, especially since the duration of such a destruction of their second temple would be the longest lasting that the Jews would ever face (1938 years and counting)? Without question the destruction of the second temple was one of the greatest monumental events (if not the greatest event) in Jewish history, yet the Gap theorists ask people to believe Daniel never mentioned it, even though there are verses within Daniel that would appear as though he indeed did?
Likewise, why did Daniel write about the destruction of a third temple without mentioning a single word about its rebuilding as he did extensively about the second temple, when the building of the third temple would be an even greater event in Jewish prophecy? Doesn't that seem strange? Again, let me recap: In order for one to believe that Daniel's prophecy contains 69 weeks pertains only to the second temple era and that the last and seventieth week pertains only to the future tribulation period temple, you have to believe the following two things:
- Daniel wrote extensively concerning the building of the second temple and the period it which it was present, but absolutely nothing of its destruction and the events that transpired of such a extraordinary event.
- Daniel wrote in great detail of the events concerning the destruction of a third temple, but not one single word of how it came into being.
- Does the words, "he will abolish sacrifice and meal-offering" sound in anyway like what Titus did to the temple in 70CE, being that the temple sacrifices and meal-offerings did come to an abrupt halt in 70 CE?
- Can the words, "and the mute abominations will be upon soaring heights" be applied or identified with Hadrian's mute Temple of Jupiter that was erected upon the Temple Mount along with a statue of himself soon after 70CE?
- Is the pronoun "he" that is mentioned in verse 26 of whom most Gap-theory Christians will agree is the Roman General Titus as the one who destroys the city and sanctuary, the same "he" in the very next verse (27) who abolishes the sacrifice and meal-offering temple ritual in 70 CE?
- If we stay with the context from verse to verse, doesn't the "he" in verse 26 being identified by Daniel as the "people of the prince" continue of who the "he" is in verse 27, instead of it being someone totally different while jumping into the context with no introduction whatsoever?
- Does the destroying of the city (Jerusalem) and sanctuary, go together with the abolishment of the sacrifice and meal-offering temple ritual?
- If the 70CE destroying of the city (Jerusalem) and sanctuary can easily go together with the abolishment of the sacrifice and meal-offering in one single event, why wouldn't Daniel's prophesy include both happenings of the same event instead both events being separately fulfilled two-thousand years apart?
I can almost hear the Gap-theory Christians claiming "duel prophecy". What gets me about the duel prophecy claimers is that they only speak of duel prophesies when they find themselves in a prophecy jam and not until. When someone starts asking those tough questions like those of mine above, duel-prophecy becomes a quick-fix.
One thing that I've noticed about duel-prophecy claimers is that they pick and choose only a portion of prophecy that they feel fits their theology while discarding the rest of the prophecy as fulfilled ancient history. For example, the Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14 becomes a "duel prophecy" when any person of Judaism points out that Isaiah 7:15-16 are connected to verse 14 placing little Immanuel during the time of the "two kings" mentioned in verse 16, Pekah of Israel (of the divided kingdom) and Rezin, King of Syria (see II Kings 15:29-30, II Kings 16:5, 9). For some reason Isaiah 7:15-16 is not part of the duel-prophecy in their minds, just Isaiah 7:14 by itself is, even though all three verses are part of the same exact text. Likewise with Daniel's Seventy Weeks, all prior 69 weeks are ancient fulfilled prophecy, except for the last week which is duel so that the Gap-theory can be maintained. Go figure.
What seems to be a silent "gap" between the second and third temples really isn't. What the Seventy Weeks of Daniel did was, lay a foundation for the great messianic age (olam haba) to come that will give rise to an everlasting temple. Remember, Daniel's temple was doomed from its beginning, it was only given 490 years to be in existence according to prophecy. Ezekiel's temple however, is prophesied to last throughout the ages (see Ezekiel 37:26-28).
Daniel 9:24 spells out six things that the seventy weeks are to accomplish (1) to terminate transgression (2) to end sins (3) to wipe away iniquity (4) to bring everlasting righteousness (5) to confirm the visions and prophets (6) to anoint the Holy of Holies. These six glorious things that will no doubt benefit the Gentile nations but they are not centered around them. These six glorious things are centered around the Jews, Jerusalem, and the third and final temple, as Gabriel in verse 24, gave Daniel the understanding: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city..." The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied of this great time of the third and final temple and describes them in their prophesies the fulfillment of each of these six spiritual conditions:
(1) to terminate transgression - "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions" - Ezekiel 37:23
(2) to end sins - "I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God." - Ezekiel 37:23
(3) to wipe away iniquity - "And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." Jeremiah 33:7,8
(4) to bring everlasting righteousness - "And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." - Ezekiel 37:25, 26
(5) to confirm the visions and prophets - "And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." - Ezekiel 37:28 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. - Ezekiel 38:23
(6) to anoint the Holy of Holies - "So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house." - Ezekiel 43:5
The destruction of the second temple is still being strongly felt today. From the second temple's destruction came the Christian persecutions of the Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, and the finally the Holocaust. It is due to the second temple's destruction that we have today's situation in the Middle East. If Israel would have maintained their sovereignty over the land and temple throughout the first century and beyond, there wouldn't be the terrorists-Palestinian problem that Israel has to deal with today! Those horrific events of 70 CE has laid the foundation for all the nations of today to assemble themselves against the tiny nation of Israel for a final spiritual showdown that goes far beyond the spiritual application of 70 CE.
To understand what I'm saying in movie terms, picture the first Rocky motion picture as 70 CE and Rocky II as the Quartet verses Israel in the coming confrontation. This confrontation will end up causing the nations to know the true God of Israel. Just today I learned from the Associated Press' own admission that the Quartet (USA, UN, EU, Russia) was created solely for the purpose to deal with the Palestinian /Israeli issue. There is no doubt in my mine that the gathering of nations against Israel has been two-thousand years in coming from the destruction of the second temple. The core issue of this Palestinian / Israeli issue that has the nations gather together for one cause, and one purpose, is the Temple Mount! The most disputed piece of land in all the world is the Temple Mount, where the events of 70 CE and Daniel Seventy Weeks took place. And the end result will be the destruction of all Israel's enemies, and the emergence of the third and finial temple in the exact same place!
*Christians love to point to Antaxerxas' declaration to build a "security fence" around Jerusalem as the time the 70 weeks of Daniel time starts based upon Daniel 9:25 that states in the KJV:"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.... However, Antaxerxas was not God's mashiach as any Bible reader can see nothing even close was ascribed to him from God as it was to Cyrus. Furthermore, the Hebrew word that the KJV translates as "commandment" (davar) for the purpose of their Antaxerxas revelation, actually means "word". The "word"(davar) that appears in verse 25 is connected to the same "word" (davar) in verse 2 of the same text, which is the "word to Jeremiah" (staying with the context) of the destruction of the first temple.
- "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word (davar) toward you, in causing you to return to this place. -Jeremiah 29:10
- Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word (davar) of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia... -Ezra 1:1
- To fulfil the word (davar)of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. - 2 Chronicles 36:21
- In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word (davar) of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. - Daniel 9:2
- Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the word (davar) to restore and to build Jerusalem... -Daniel 9:25
- Jeremiah 25:12 speaks of the seventy years from Babylon's subjugation of the city of Jerusalem right after their kingdom arose to power, to Babylon's destruction and the rise of "God's shepherd" Cyrus. Basically, from the beginning to the end of the Babylonian Empire (non-biblical modern chronology 606BCE to 536BCE).
- Jeremiah 29:10 speaks of the 70 years between the destruction of the first temple to the completion of rebuilding of the second temple (non-biblical modern chronology 587BCE to 516BCE). This also is the start-time of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel (the fulfillment of the word (davar) of the Lord. It was after seven weeks (49 years) after the this seventy year period started that Cyrus "the Messiah" came on the scene to declare by God's power through him, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the second temple.