John Gill’s Exposition On The 70 Weeks Of Daniel 9

This 70th week of Daniel Bible study provides the study notes from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on the Holy Bible for the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 prophecy.

John Gill (November 23, 1697-October 14, 1771) was a profound scholar and a prolific author. His most important works are:

  • The Doctrine of the Trinity Stated and Vindicated (London, 1731)
  • The Cause of God and Truth (4 parts, 1735-8), a retort to Daniel Whitby’s Five Points
  • An Exposition of the New Testament (3 vols., 1746-8), which with his Exposition of the Old Testament (6 vols., 1748-63) forms his magnum opus
  • A Dissertation on the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language (1767)\
  • A Body of Doctrinal Divinity (1767)
  • A Body of Practical Divinity (1770).

Daniel 9:24

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city,…. Or, “concerning thy people, and concerning thy holy city”; that is, such a space of time is fixed upon; “cut out”, as the word signifies; or appointed of God for the accomplishment of certain events, relative to the temporal good of the city and people of the Jews; as the rebuilding of their city and temple; the continuance of them as a people, and of their city;

the coming of the Messiah to them, to obtain spiritual blessings for them, and for all the people of God; who also were Daniel’s people and city in a spiritual sense, to which he belonged; and likewise what was relative to the utter ruin and destruction of the Jews as a people, and of their city: and this space of “seventy” weeks is not to be understood of weeks of days;

which is too short a time for the fulfilment of so many events as are mentioned; nor were they fulfilled within such a space of time; but of weeks of years, and make up four hundred and ninety years; within which time, beginning from a date after mentioned, all the things prophesied of were accomplished; and this way of reckoning of years by days is not unusual in the sacred writings; see Genesis 29:27.

The verb used is singular, and, joined with the noun plural, shows that every week was cut out and appointed for some event or another; and the word, as it signifies “to cut”, aptly expresses the division, or section of these weeks into distinct periods, as seven, sixty two, and one. The first events mentioned are spiritual ones, and are not ascribed to any particular period; but are what should be done within this compass of time in general, and were done toward the close of it; and are first observed because of the greatest importance, and are as follow:

to finish the transgression; not the transgression of Adam, or original sin, which, though took away by Christ from his people, yet not from all men; nor the actual transgression of man in general, which never more abounded than in the age in which Christ lived; but rather the transgressions of his people he undertook to satisfy for, and which were laid on him, and bore by him, and carried away, so as not to be seen more, or to have no damning power over them.

The word used signifies “to restrain”; now, though sin greatly abounded, both among Jews and Gentiles, in the age of the Messiah; yet there never was an age in which greater restraints were laid on it than in this, by the ministry of John the Baptist, and of Christ in Judea and by the apostles in the Gentile world:

and to make an end of sins; so that they shall be no more, but put away and abolished by the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ for them, as to guilt and punishment; so that those, for whose sins satisfaction is made, no charge can be brought against them, nor the curse of the law reach them, nor any sentence of it be executed, or any punishment inflicted on them;

but are entirely and completely saved from all their sins, and the sad effects of them. Our version follows the marginal reading; but the textual writing is, “to seal up sins”; which is expressive of the pardon of them procured by Christ; for things sealed are hid and covered, and so are sins forgiven, Psalm 32:1,

and to make reconciliation for iniquity: to expiate it, and make atonement for it; which was made by the sacrifice of Christ, by his sufferings and death; whereby the law and justice of God were fully satisfied, full reparation being made for the injury done by sin; and this was made for all kind of sin, expressed here by several words; and for all the sins, iniquities, and transgressions of the Lord’s people;

to do which was the grand end of Christ’s coming into the world; see Hebrews 2:17, and to bring in everlasting righteousness; which is true only of the righteousness of Christ, by which the law is magnified and made honourable, justice satisfied, and all that believe in him justified from all their sins: this Christ, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, has wrought out, and brought into the world;

and which phase designs, not the manifestation of it in the Gospel; nor the act of imputation of it, which is Jehovah the Father’s act; nor the application of it, which is by the Spirit of God; but Christ’s actual working of it out by obeying the precept and bearing the penalty of the law: and this may be truly called “everlasting”, or “the righteousness of ages”, of ages past; the righteousness by which the saints in all ages from the beginning of the world are justified;

and which endures, and will endure, throughout all ages, to the justification of all that believe; it is a robe of righteousness that will never wear out; its virtue to justify will ever continue, being perfect; it will answer for the justified ones in a time to come, and has eternal life connected with it:

and to seal up the vision and prophecy; not to shut it up out of sight; rather to set a mark on it, by which it might be more clearly known; but to consummate and fulfil it: all prophecy is sealed up in Christ, and by him; he is the sum and substance of it;

the visions and prophecies of the Old Testament relate to him, and have their accomplishment in him; some relate to his person and office; others to his coming into the world, the time, place, and manner of it; others to the great work of redemption and salvation he came about; and others to his miracles, sufferings, and death, and the glory that should follow; all which have been fulfilled: or, “to seal up the vision and prophet”;

the prophets were until John, and then to cease, and have ceased ever since the times of Jesus; there has been no prophet among the Jews, they themselves do not deny it; Christ is come, the last and great Prophet of all, with a full revelation of the divine will, and no other is to be expected; all that pretend to set up a new scheme of things, either as to doctrine or worship, through pretended vision or prophecy, are to be disregarded:

and to anoint the most Holy; not literally the most holy place in the temple; figuratively, either heaven itself, anointed, and prepared for his people by the Messiah’s ascension thither, and entrance into it; or rather most holy persons, the church and people of God, typified by the sanctuary, the temple of God;

and in a comparative sense are most holy, and absolutely so, as washed in the blood of Christ, clothed with his righteousness, and sanctified by his Spirit; and by whom they are anointed, some in an extraordinary and others in an ordinary way, and all by the grace of Christ: or it may be best of all to understand this of the Messiah, as Aben Ezra and others do; who is holy in his person, in both his natures, human and divine;

sanctified and set apart to his office, and holy in the execution of it; equal in holiness to the Father and the Spirit; superior in it to angels and men, who have all their holiness from him, and by whom they are sanctified;

and of whom the sanctuary or temple was a type; and who was anointed with the Holy Ghost as man, at his incarnation, baptism, and ascension to heaven; and Abarbinel owns it may be interpreted of the Messiah, who may be called the Holy of holies, because he is holier than all other Israelites.

Daniel 9:25

Know, therefore, and understand,… Take notice and observe, for the clearer understanding of these seventy weeks, and the events to be fulfilled in them, what will be further said concerning them, the beginning of them, their distinct periods, and what shall be accomplished in them:

that from the time of the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem; this commandment is the beginning of the seventy weeks or four hundred and ninety years, and from it they are to be reckoned; and which designs not the proclamation of Cyrus in the first year of his reign, which was only to rebuild the temple, and not the city of Jerusalem, Ezra 1:1, nor the decree of Darius Hystaspes, which also only regards the temple, and is only a confirmation of the decree of Cyrus, Ezra 6:1 and for the same reasons it cannot be the decree in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes;

which only confirmed what his predecessors had granted concerning the temple, and provision for sacrifices, and exemption of the priests from toll, tribute, or custom, Ezra 7:7, but has not a word of building the wall and streets of Jerusalem, as that has, which was made in the twentieth year of his reign; and seems therefore to be the commandment or decree here referred to, Nehemiah 2:1, and this is the general epoch of the seventy weeks, and where the first seven begin; though Gussetius thinks that the word דבר does not signify any edict or decree, but a “thing”;

and designs the thing itself, restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem; and that the following date is to be reckoned, not from any order to rebuild that city, but from the thing itself, from the moment when it first began to be rebuilt: and as singular is the notion of Tirinus, who is of opinion that this is to be understood of the going out, or the end of the word; not whereby the holy city was ordered to be built, but when it was really built; and so begins the account from the dedication of the new city, in the twenty third year of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 12:27.

There are others who suppose that not any human word, decree, commandment, or order, is here meant, but a divine one; either the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, foretelling the seventy years’ captivity of the Jews, and their deliverance from it; and reckon these four hundred and ninety years from the destruction of the first temple, to the destruction of the second temple, as Jarchi, Saadiah, Jacchiades, and others; but between these two destructions was a course of six hundred and fifty six or six hundred and fifty seven years: others take the beginning of the seventy weeks to be from the going forth of the commandment to the angel, at the beginning of Daniel’s prayers, as Aben Ezra; and to end at the destruction of the second temple;

but, for a like reason, this must be rejected as the other; since this space of time will outrun the seventy weeks near one hundred and twenty years: it is best therefore to interpret this of a royal edict, the order or commandment of a king of Persia to rebuild Jerusalem; and it seems correct to reckon the number given, either from the seventh, or rather from the twentieth, of Artaxerxes Longimanus before mentioned; and either these reckonings, as Bishop Chandler observes, are sufficient for our purpose, to show the completion of the prophecy in Christ:

“the commencement of the weeks (as he remarks) must be either from the seventh of Artaxerxes, which falls on 457 B.C. or from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; (add to 457 B.C., twenty six years after Christ, which is the number that four hundred and eighty three years, or sixty nine weeks, exceeds four hundred and fifty seven years); and you are brought to the beginning of John the Baptist’s preaching up the advent of the Messiah;

add seven years or one week to the former, and you come to the thirty third year of A.D. which was the year of Jesus Christ’s death or else compute four hundred and ninety years, the whole seventy weeks, from the seventh of Artaxerxes, by subtracting four hundred and fifty seven years (the space of time between that year and the beginning of A.D.) from four hundred and ninety, and there remains thirty three, the year of our Lord’s death.

Let the twentieth of Artaxerxes be the date of the seventy weeks, which is 455 B.C. and reckon sixty nine weeks of Chaldean years; seventy Chaldee years being equal to sixty nine Julian; and so four hundred and seventy eight Julian years making four hundred and eighty three Chaldee years, and they end in the thirty third year after Christ, or the passover following”;

the several particulars into which these seventy weeks are divided:

unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; by whom is meant, not Cyrus, as Jarchi and Jacchiades; who, though called Messiah or anointed, Isaiah 44:28, cannot be intended; for this prince was to be cut off after seven, and sixty two weeks, or four hundred and eighty three years; whereas Cyrus died ages before this, and even died before the expiration of the seven weeks, or forty nine years; nor Joshua the high priest, or Zerubbabel, as Ben Gersom and others nor Nehemiah as Aben Ezra;

nor Artaxerxes, which R. Azariah thinks probable; for to none of these will this character agree, which denotes some eminent person known by this name; nor the work ascribed to him, Da 9:24, nor can it be said of either of them that they were cut off, and much less at such a period as is here fixed: it is right to interpret it of the promised and expected Saviour, whom the Psalmist David had frequently spoken of under the name of the Messiah, and as a King and Prince; see Psalm 2:2 and who is David, the Prince Ezekiel before this had prophesied of, Ezekeil 34:24, and is the same with the Prince of peace in the famous prophecy of him in Isa 9:6.

The Syriac version, though not a literal one, gives the true sense of the passage, rendering it,

“unto the coming of the King Messiah;”

unto which there were to be seven, and sixty two weeks, or sixty nine weeks, which make four hundred and eighty three years; and these being understood of eastern years, used by the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Persians, consisting of three hundred and sixty days, reckoning thirty days to a month, and twelve months to a year, there were just four hundred and eighty three of these from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the thirty third of the vulgar era of Christ, and the nineteenth of Tiberius Caesar, in which he suffered.

Sir Isaac Newton thinks the seven weeks unto Messiah, which he detaches from the sixty two, respects the second coming of Christ, when he shall come as a Prince, and destroy antichrist, and that it takes in the compass of a jubilee; but when it will begin and end he does not pretend to say; but the true reason of the sixty nine weeks being divided into seven, and sixty two, is on account of the particular and distinct events assigned to each period, as follows:

the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times; that is, within the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, reckoning from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; when the Jews had a grant to rebuild their city and wall, and were furnished with materials for it; and which was done in very troublesome times; Nehemiah, and the Jews with him, met with much trouble from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, while they were setting up the wall of the city, and filling the streets with ranges of houses, Nehemiah chapters four and five for which the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, were cut out and appointed; and that this event belongs solely to this period is clear from the Messiah’s coming being appropriated to the period of the sixty two weeks; which leaves this entirely where it is fixed.

Daniel 9:26

And after threescore and two weeks,… To be reckoned from the end of the seven weeks, or forty nine years, which, added to them, make four hundred and eighty three years:

shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; by whom is designed the same with Messiah the Prince in Daniel 9:25, not Onias the high priest, as a late writer would have it, an upright person, and of great holiness, taken off by an unjust death; since he was dead many years before the expiration of these weeks; nor Hyrcanus the high priest, slain by Herod, as Eusebius2 thinks; in whom the succession of the ancient priests terminated, and with whom the priestly unction perished; which indeed bids fairer than the former;

but he was not a person of so much note as to be pointed at in such a prophecy; besides, the priesthood continued much longer: nor is King Agrippa intended, as Jarchi and Abarbinel, who, they say, was the last king of the Jews, and was slain by Vespasian at the destruction of Jerusalem; which is not true; he was not properly king of the Jews, having only Galilee for his jurisdiction; was not slain by Vespasian; was a confederate of the Romans, lived some years after the destruction of the city, and at last died in peace;

but Jesus the true Messiah is intended, with whom the character, dates, and death, and the manner of it, entirely agree: now to his death were to be four hundred and eighty three years; which years ended, as we have observed, in the thirty third year of the vulgar era of Christ, and the nineteenth of Tiberius; when Jesus the true Messiah was cut off in a judicial way; not for any sins of his own, but for the sins of his people, to make satisfaction for them, and to obtain their redemption and salvation; see Isaiah 53:8, or “he is not”, as Jarchi, no more in the land of the living, is dead; see Jeremiah 31:15, or “there is”, or “will be, none for him”, or “with him”, to help and assist him in his great work, Isaiah 63:5. The Vulgate Latin version is, “they shall not be his people”; the Jews rejecting him shall have a “loammi” upon them, and be no more the people of God.

Gussetius better renders it, “he hath not”; or he has nothing, so Cocceius; all things were wanted by him, that is, by Christ; he had neither riches, nor clothes, nor any to stand by him, or to accompany him:

and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; that is, the people of the Romans, under Vespasian their prince, emperor, and general, should, in a little time after the cutting off of the Messiah, enter into the land of Judea, and destroy the city of Jerusalem, and the temple that stood in it;

though some understand this of Messiah the Prince that should come in his power, and in a way of judgment upon the Jewish nation, and destroy them for their rejection of him; whose people the Romans would be, and under whose direction, and by whose orders, all these judgments should be brought upon the Jews; but many of the Jewish writers themselves interpret it of Vespasian, as Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Abarbinel, and Jacchiades:

and the end thereof shall be with a flood: the end of the city and temple, and of the whole nation, should be by the Roman army, which, like a flood, would overspread the land, and carry all before it. It denotes the number, power, and irresistible force of the enemy, and the sad devastation made by them:

and unto the end of the war desolations are determined; from the beginning of the war by the Romans with the Jews, to the end of it, there would be nothing but continual desolations; a dreadful havoc and ruin everywhere; and all this appointed and determined by the Lord, as a just punishment for their sins.

Daniel 9:27

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week,… Sixty nine of the seventy weeks being accounted for, and the several events observed to be fulfilled in them; the angel proceeds to take notice of the remaining “one” week, or seven years, and what should be done within that space of time: a covenant should be confirmed with many; which is not to be understood of the Messiah’s confirming the covenant of grace with many, or on account of all his people, by fulfilling the conditions of it, and by his blood and sacrifice, through which all the blessings of it come to them;

for this is not for one week only, but for ever; but this is to be interpreted of the Roman people, spoken of in the latter part of the preceding verse; who, in order to accomplish their design to destroy the city and temple of Jerusalem, made peace with many nations, entered into covenant and alliance with them, particularly the Medes, Parthians, and Armenians, for the space of one week, or seven years; as it appears they did at the beginning of this week:

and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; the daily sacrifice of the Jews, and all their other offerings; and which was literally fulfilled “in the half part” of this week, as it may be rendered; towards the close of the latter half of it, when the city of Jerusalem, being closely besieged by Titus, what through the closeness of the siege, the divisions of the people, and the want both of time and men, and beasts to offer, the daily sacrifice ceased, as Josephus says, to the great grief of the people; nor have the Jews, ever since the destruction of their city and temple, offered any sacrifice, esteeming it unlawful so to do in a strange land:

and at the same time, in the same half part of the week,

for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate; that is, the Roman people shall make the land of Judea desolate, for the overspreading of their abominations or idolatries in it. The words may be rendered, as by some, “upon the wing”, the battlements of the temple,

shall be the abominations, or “idols of the desolator”, or “of him that makes desolate”4; so Bishop Lloyd; meaning either the ensigns of the Roman army, which had upon them the images of their gods or emperors; and being set up in the holy place, and sacrificed to, nothing could be a greater abomination to the Jews; or else the blood of the zealots slain on these battlements, by which the holy place was polluted; see Matthew 24:15,

even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate; that is, either these abominations shall continue in the place where they are set until the utter destruction of the city and temple; or the desolation made there should continue until the consummation of God’s wrath and vengeance upon them; until the whole he has determined is poured out on this desolate people; and which continues unto this day, and will till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, Luke 21:24.

Some, as Bishop Lloyd, render it, “upon the desolator”; meaning the Romans; and the sense they take to be is, that this vengeance shall continue upon the Jews until it is turned upon the head of those who have made them desolate: now this “one week”, according to the sense given, must begin in the sixty third year of the vulgar era of Christ, about thirty years after the expiration of the sixty nine weeks; since it ends in the seventieth year of the same era, in which was the destruction of Jerusalem, the grand event assigned to it in this famous prophecy; when it might have been expected it should have begun at the end of the sixty nine weeks, and run on in a direct line from them.

The true reason of its being thus separated from them is the longsuffering and forbearance of God to the people of the Jews, who gave them, as to the old world, space to repent; but his grace and goodness being slighted, things began to work at the beginning of this week towards their final ruin, which, in the close of it, was fully accomplished: from the whole of this prophecy it clearly appears that the Messiah must be come many hundred years ago.

The Jews are sensible of the force of this reasoning; so that, to terrify persons from considering this prophecy, they denounce the following curse, “let them burst, or their bones rot, that compute the times”.

R. Nehemiah, who lived about fifty years before the coming of Christ, declared the time of the Messiah, as signified by Daniel, could not be protracted longer than those fifty years. The Jews also say the world is divided into six parts, and the last part is from Daniel to the Messiah.

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