Daniel 9

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 18, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Daniel’s Prayer for His People
  • Gabriel Brings an Answer
  • The Seventy Weeks


The chapter opens with Daniel speaking about how many weeks much pass before the end of Jerusalem’s desolations “according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah”. If Daniel was approximately fifteen when he went into captivity, he would have been about eighty-one years old at the time of this vision. Although the book of Jeremiah was completed only a generation before the events described in Dan. 9, Daniel already recognized it as Scripture. Jeremiah predicted that the desolation of Jerusalem would endure for seventy years (Jer. 25:11–13; Jer. 29:10). Daniel calculated that since the first captives had been taken to Babylon in 605 BC, the seventy years were nearly complete.

Dan. 9:3-19 represents Daniel’s prayer and pleas on behalf of the Israelites for mercy from God. Daniel confesses how Israel rebelled against God’s proscription on idolatry and also failed to observe the Sabbath rest of the land (see. Lev. 25; 2 Chron. 36:20-22; Jer. 25:6-7). The people had failed in listening to the guidance of God’s “servants”, the prophets (Dan. 9:6). Daniel contrasts the righteous, mercy and forgiveness of God with the open shame and rebellion of the people (Dan. 9:7-9). Daniel’s confession included the entire nation of Israel, demonstrating corporate guilt (see Dan. 6:4). He realizes that it was Israel’s disobedience that resulted in God sending the nation into exile, as the Law of Moses had warned (Lev. 26:27-33; Deut. 28:63-68). Daniel pleads with God to turn His wrath from Jerusalem. His pleas come not because of any inherent righteousness within them but because of God’s great mercy, appealing for God to act so that His own sake and because of His city and people called by His name (Dan. 9:19).

In the remaining verses (Dan. 9:20-27), Gabriel comes in “swift flight” to provide an answer to Daniel’s prayer. It will not be the answer he wants, but will give it to him because of his favor with Yahweh. Gabriel says that “Seventy weeks are decreed” about Daniel’s people. The Hebrew phrase used here (“70 sevens”) is sometimes translated “70 weeks” (see v. 2 and note). These words together likely represent “weeks” of years—70 periods of seven, or 490 years (e.g., Lev. 25:8). There will be an “anointed one, a prince” who will come and restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25). Those who advocate a symbolic interpretation of this verse identify it with Cyrus’s decree allowing the captives to return to their homeland (2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1:1–3) in 539–538 BC. Others hold a literal view of this verse and suggest that the starting point is Artaxerxes’s first decree in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11–26). Since neither of these decrees pertains to the restoration of Jerusalem, it is more likely that the decree that is the beginning point is Artaxerxes’s second decree in 444 BC, authorizing Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1–8). There will be a period of seven weeks of years (forty-nine years) followed by sixty-two weeks of years (434 years), making a total of sixty-nine weeks of years or 483 years from the decree until the coming of an Anointed One, the ruler.

The final verse (Dan. 9:27) describes “a strong covenant with many for one week”. This final seven-year period, or the seventieth week, will begin when he (the coming prince) will make a firm covenant of peace with many in the leadership of Israel. Although some consider the prince to be Messiah, he is more accurately identified as the antichrist, who will desecrate the future temple and put a stop to worship there. This covenant is yet future and will mark the beginning of a time of oppression of the Jewish people called “a time of trouble for Jacob” (Jer. 30:7) or the tribulation period (Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24). The antichrist’s oppression and abominations will continue until God’s decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator (Dan. 11:45; Rev. 19:20).


Daniel had perceived and calculated by the book of Jeremiah that the Israelite exile was nearly complete. He prayed and appealed to God to turn back His wrath, contrasting His great mercy and righteousness with the sin and rebellion of the people. Gabriel came to Daniel to provide understanding to his pleas for mercy. It would not be favorable as there was to be an extended period of suffering, but Gabriel would give it to Daniel because he is “greatly loved” (Dan. 9:23).

This chapter exemplifies a couple of important concepts. First is Daniel’s penitent, intercessory prayer on behalf of the people. Much like Daniel, we are to come to our Lord grief-stricken in our sin, realizing that it is no light matter to transgress against a holy God. Our posture should be one of both sorrow and immense gratitude that it has already been forgiven, washed away completely by the finished work of Jesus.

Another takeaway is that even when we do come to Him in contrition, His answer may be that there is yet more trial to come. God hears our prayers but also knows what is necessary to yield the intended outcome. This is difficult for us to lay hold of in the moment but we are to place our trust in the God who sees all, resting on His promises and that the suffering will end when He is done using it.

Scripture Journal Notes

Commentaries & Resources Used