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A lot of theologians take Daniel's seventy weeks and interpret the seventy weeks to be 490 years, a year for each day. From a hermeneutic standpoint, I seek to know if this type of calculation is good hermeneutics. The only other place in scripture where I can find days equaling years is in Ezekiel 4:6, which explicitly calls out the day=year concept.

Below are some references to that refer to the seventy weeks as 490 years. (I'm not interested in the eschatology views of these articles, but rather the general consensus that the seventy weeks = 490 years)

Edit: By asking if this is "good hermeneutics", I'm asking if rendering seventy weeks to mean 490 years is what the author meant (or in this case, what Gabriel meant). I'm also curious if there is anywhere else in the Bible where this type of day->year conversion occurs.

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Man, two great answers. Was a tough choice. –  contactmatt Mar 19 '13 at 3:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The Hebrew word for week is literally a time period of seven (Strong's #7620).

  • In Deuteronomy 16:9 it is certainly used to refer to a time period of seven days.
  • In Genesis 29:18-30 it is clearly used to refer to a time period of seven years!

Thus, Upon seeing this word one must ask, "a time period of seven whats?" We are dependent upon textual and historical context to discern which time period of seven is referred to. Prophetically, any time period of seven is a possibility. This is source of ambiguity and much diversity in regards to interpreting the prophecy in Daniel.

YHWH delivered a calendar to the Hebrews that contains several distinct time periods of seven. These are marked by notable days that are "shadows of things to come" (Colossians 2:16-17).

  • Seven days Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11)
  • Seven times seven weeks *Pentecost* (Deuteronomy 16:9)
  • Seven months--containing all the yearly Holy Days of YHWH (Leviticus 23)
  • Seven years--Sabbatical (Leviticus 25:1-7, Deuteronomy 31:10)
  • Seven times seven years Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-17)

Daniel's time period of seven may logically employ one of these or some other time period of seven.

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The citation in Ezekiel 4:6 is exactly identical with a similar case of judgment in Numbers 14:34, where the Israelites were confined to the wilderness for 40 years so that each year corresponded with each day that the spies were in the land. In both Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34, the expansion of "days into years" stemmed from the iniquity of the Israelites according to the context. In Daniel 9:24 the context specifically concerns "iniquity." That is, in the context the expansion of "days into years" was due to the transgression, sin, [and] "atonement for iniquity" of the Jewish people that had gone into exile (Daniel 9:24).

For example, in Genesis 4:24 we such a principle of "compound interest" at work for the vengeance of iniquity. A similar result is found in Matthew 18:22, but in the reverse.

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This is a good argument. As years of judgment from days of iniquity was a history, prophetic symbolism can logically draw from it making a 'day' to symbolize a 'year' as a form of punishment. Good one. –  Mike Jul 14 '13 at 3:51

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