12.—Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
About fifteen years after beholding the vision of the Ram and Goat, Daniel’s mind was particularly attracted to the subject of the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem (Dan. 9). The seventy years divinely appointed for the continuance of the Chaldean dynasty of the kingdom of Babylon had expired, and with them its last king had fallen. Judah’s destroyer had been punished, and Daniel, instructed by Jeremiah, began to look for his people’s deliverance. Isaiah informed him that one Koresh, or Cyrus, should appear as a shepherd of Yahweh, and perform His pleasure: “Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa. 44:28; Ezra 1). With this Cyrus, thus named so long before his birth, Daniel was now personally acquainted. The first year of Darius the Mede had come, and with it the 68th year of the prophet’s exile from Judea. He was aware that the Holy Land was to rest ten heptades, or seventy years; he could not therefore but be singularly interested in the times, for only two years were wanting to their completion. At last they too had passed away. After reigning two years his friend Darius died, and was succeeded by his nephew Cyrus, the representative of the higher horn of the Ram; and Daniel had the satisfaction of reading his proclamation for the return of Judah, and the rebuilding of the temple.
Under the full and lively expectation of the restoration of his people, Daniel confessed with deep and sincere repentance the rebellion for which they had been righteously punished through the Chaldeans; and besought Yahweh that he would turn away his anger and fury from his city Jerusalem, his holy mountain; and cause his face to shine upon his sanctuary mikdosh, then in ruins, for His own sake; seeing that the people and the city were called by His name.
While he was yet speaking in prayer, Gabriel appeared to him at the time of the evening sacrifice. Fifteen or sixteen years before, Gabriel had been authorized to make Daniel understand the vision concerning the tahmid, or evening-morning sacrifice (Dan. 8:15). But as we have seen, he only accomplished this to a limited extent. He had left Daniel “astonished at the vision, but none understood”. He saw the destruction of the people of the holy ones; the greatness of their destroyer’s power; his presumption in contending in battle with their Commander-in-Chief; and his final overthrow; but of what was to occur in relation to Messiah the Prince, before the taking away of the evening and morning sacrifice, and the casting down of the foundation of the temple—of these things he had no understanding. Gabriel was therefore sent a second time “to make him skilful of understanding”, that he might “discern the word” he then brought to him, “and understand the thing seen (marah)”, in respect to the evening-morning, or tahmid, rendered “the daily”.
Having directed Daniel’s attention to their last interview, Gabriel proceeded to declare “the word” he had received, of which the following is a corrected version.