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circumstances under which it was given, does not in point of fact refer to the times of the Babylonish captivity, or to the deliverance of the people from thence; but reveals far better things, even the great and everlasting blessings, which were ordained in after ages, to be brought to light under the gospel. And it is well worthy of observation, how, in this, as in many other parts of Scripture, different prophetical periods will be found to run parallel to each other. Seventy years was the period appointed for the Babylonish captivity, and seventy weeks of years (or 490 years) the time for the continuance of the Jewish Church under the dispensation of the Second Temple. The words of the angel were as follows:-V. 22, “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplication the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 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
three score and two weeks, the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times,"-or, in strait of times, see margin.
The interpretation may thus be traced in the way of paraphrase upon the words of the text
V. 24. Seventy weeks of years (490 years) are the time appointed unto the Jewish people, and their Church. Then shall the transgression be finished, and an end shall be made of sin; then, also, shall the atonement, and reconciliation for iniquity be completed, by the offering up of the one and only true sin offering, even by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world; then, also, shall the true and everlasting righteousness, which God himself hath prepared for his people, be made manifest in him, who is their sinbearer, and their law-fulfiller; the prophecy and the vision also shall be fulfilled, and the anointing of Messiah, as King and High Priest of his people, shall be made perfect.
V. 25. Know therefore, and understand, that from the date of an edict for the reform of the Jewish Church, which hereafter shall be placed upon record, and the object of which shall be to bring back
that Church to the due observance of those things, which are ordained by the law of Moses, unto the commencement of the new dispensation which Messiah the Prince shall establish, there will be 483 years; which are divided into two periods, the one, seven weeks of years, (49 years) and the other sixty-two weeks of years, (434 years.) But it is in the strait of times, in the narrower, or the shorter one of these two periods, that the reform of the Jewish Church shall be effected.
In support of the foregoing interpretation, it is to be remarked, that the words "thy people and thy holy city," in v. 24, thus addressed to the prophet, can only be referred to the Jews and their Church; and consequently Jerusalem, in v. 25, can be no other than their Church, or civil and ecclesiastical polity, in its ceremonial and legal observances, according to the law of Moses. To refer this expression to the houses, the buildings, or the walls of the literal city, were to lose sight of the plainest principles of interpretation of prophecy. Now the commandment for reforming the Jewish Church, is the decree of Artaxerxes, which will be found in Ezra vii. 7-26; and the object of it was to reestablish the due observance of the ceremonial law, which had been very grievously departed from under
the Babylonish captivity.
The date of this decree,
stated in the margin of the English Bible, is 457, before Christ, being 490 years before the crucifixion : compute from thence 483 years, the product of the seven, and the sixty weeks in v.25, and we are brought to the twenty-sixth year of the Christian era, in which year, as is also stated in the margin of the Bible, "came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew iii. 1, 2. That this is to be considered as the coming of Messiah, the Prince, according to the signification of the present prophecy, is evident from other, Scriptures, for we read, “The law and the prophets were until John : since that time the kingdom of God is preached." Luke xvi. 16. And again," All the prophets and the law prophesied until John." Matthew xi. 13. The commencement of John's ministry was then the beginning of that new dispensation, which was afterwards established under Messiah, the Prince, fully and finally by his crucifixion, seven years afterwards, in the year thirty-three, when the seventieth week ended, d
It was during the first and shorter period of forty-nine years, that the Jewish Church was reformed, and Scripture will be found to mark this
date also. The last act of that reformation is mentioned in Nehemiah xiii. viz. the putting away of the wives, and of the offspring of the unlawful marriages, which had been contracted during the captivity. The margin of the English Bible places the date of this transaction, and several others, about 434 years before Christ. The same date, however, cannot belong to all the events there mentioned, and a more critical inquiry demonstrates, that this particular act of reform by Nehemiah was rather more than fortyfive years after the decree of Artaxerxes, although the precise date of it, is not ascertained.*
The angel continues thus, according to the marginal reading of the English Bible :-v. 26. "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the prince's future people shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary. And the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war, it shall be cut off with desolations.". V. 27. "And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and upon
*The reader who desires to examine this more critically, may refer to Mr. Faber's Dissertation upon the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, where the subject is treated of at considerable length. See p. 327,