I understand that "threescore" is 3 x 20, thus threescore and two is 62, but why seven plus threescore and two? Wouldn't be more preferable threescore and nine?
Is there a linguistic or other explanation behind this construct?
Context is critical to understand this. All the following is quoted from Young's Literal Translation.
What started Daniel's conversation with Gabriel?
In the first year of Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who hath been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans,
in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, have understood by books the number of the years, in that a word of Jehovah hath been unto Jeremiah the prophet, concerning the fulfilling of the wastes of Jerusalem – seventy years;
Daniel was reading Jeremiah 25:9-13 where it says the same thing it says here - God sentenced the land of Judah to destruction for 70 years.
Afterward Daniel was moved to pray, and what does he pray about for 16 verses?
and I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.
And I pray to Jehovah my God, and confess, and say: ‘I beseech Thee, O Lord God, the great and the fearful, keeping the covenant and the kindness to those loving Him, and to those keeping His commands;
we have sinned, and done perversely, and done wickedly, and rebelled, to turn aside from Thy commands, and from Thy judgments:
and we have not hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, who have spoken in Thy name unto our kings, our heads, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
‘To Thee, O Lord, is the righteousness, and to us the shame of face, as at this day, to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, who are near, and who are far off, in all the lands whither Thou hast driven them, in their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.
‘O Lord, to us is shame of face, to our kings, to our heads, and to our fathers, in that we have sinned against Thee.
‘To the Lord our God are the mercies and the forgivenesses, for we have rebelled against Him,
and have not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah our God, to walk in His laws, that He hath set before us by the hand of His servants the prophets;
and all Israel have transgressed Thy law, to turn aside so as not to hearken to Thy voice; and poured on us in the execration, and the oath, that is written in the law of Moses, servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.
‘And He confirmeth His words that He hath spoken against us, and against our judges who have judged us, to bring in upon us great evil, in that it hath not been done under the whole heaven as it hath been done in Jerusalem,
as it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil hath come upon us, and we have not appeased the face of Jehovah our God to turn back from our iniquities, and to act wisely in Thy truth.
And Jehovah doth watch for the evil, and bringeth it upon us, for righteous is Jehovah our God concerning all His works that He hath done, and we have not hearkened to His voice.
And now, O Lord our God, who hast brought forth Thy people from the land of Egypt by a strong hand, and dost make for Thee a name as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
Pay extra attention to this part:
‘O Lord, according to all Thy righteous acts, let turn back, I pray Thee, Thine anger and Thy fury from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mount, for by our sins, and by the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are for a reproach to all our neighbours;
and now, hearken, O our God, unto the prayer of Thy servant, and unto his supplication, and cause Thy face to shine on Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
‘Incline, O my God, Thine ear, and hear, open Thine eyes and see our desolations, and the city on which Thy name is called; for not for our righteous acts are we causing our supplications to fall before Thee, but for Thy mercies that are many.
O lord, hear, O Lord, forgive; O Lord, attend and do; do not delay, for Thine own sake, O my God, for Thy name is called on Thy city, and on Thy people.’
Daniel started this chapter reading Jeremiah’s prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and how long before the destruction would end. Daniel then prayed to God about the destruction of Jerusalem and begged him to bring the destruction to an end. And then what happened?
And while I am speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and causing my supplication to fall before Jehovah my God, for the holy mount of my God,
yea, while I am speaking in prayer, then that one Gabriel, whom I had seen in vision at the commencement, being caused to fly swiftly, is coming unto me at the time of the evening present.
And he giveth understanding, and speaketh with me, and saith, ‘O Daniel, now I have come forth to cause thee to consider understanding wisely;
at the commencement of thy supplications [again, what was Daniel praying about?] hath the word come forth, and I have come to declare it, for thou art greatly desired, and understand thou concerning the matter, and consider concerning the appearance.
weeks[sevens] are determined for thy people, and for thy holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover inquity, and to bring in everlasting judgment[ancient justice], and to seal up vision and prophet and to anoint the holy of holies.
Here is an excerpt from Gesenius Lexicon that shows the "everlasting judgment" should be "ancient justice". I love how he says it has to have this meaning and then he says it can't have this meaning.
And that bring us to the verses you asked about - Daniel 9:25-26 (the edits are mine):
And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till
Messiah the Leader[anointed prince] is seven weeks[sevens], and sixty and two weeks[sevens]: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times.
And after sixty and two
weeks[sevens], cut off is Messiah[anointed], and the city and the holy place are not his[literally, "and he has not"], the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end is with a flood, and till the end is war, determined are desolations.
There is such a strong tradition saying that this must refer to Jesus Christ that even Robert Young did not translate this literally in his literal translation. For instance, the word "Messiah" only shows up in these two verses (Daniel 9:25-26) and Psalms 2. (In King James, the word Messiah is only used in Daniel 9-25-26.) Everywhere else that Hebrew word (משיח) appears, Young translated that word into "anointed". He should have done that here too. Also there is no definite article - no "the" (in Hebrew, no ה) - in that phrase. It should just be "anointed leader", not "the anointed leader".
In addition, Gabriel said the 7 sevens was "from the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" to the anointed leader. Which word was Gabrial referring to? The same word that started this scenario.
Read Daniel 9:2 again:
in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, have understood by books the number of the years, in that a word of Jehovah hath been unto Jeremiah the prophet, concerning the fulfilling of the wastes of Jerusalem -- seventy years;
The same Hebrew word (דבר) is translated into "word" in verse 2 and 25.
There would be 70 years between when Jerusalem was destroyed and then rebuilt, but 7 sevens into it - or 49 years into it - an anointed leader would come on the scene. Who was that?
Isaiah 44:26-28, 45:1
Confirming the word of His servant, The counsel of His messengers it perfecteth, Who is saying of Jerusalem, She is inhabited, And of cities of Judah, They shall be built, and her wastes I raise up,
Who is saying to the deep, Be dry, and thy rivers I cause to dry up,
Who is saying of Cyrus, My shepherd, And all my delight He doth perfect, So as to say of Jerusalem, Thou art built, And of the temple, Thou art founded.
Thus said Jehovah, To His anointed, to Cyrus, Whose right hand I have laid hold on, To subdue nations before him, Yea, loins of kings I loose, To open before him two-leaved doors, Yea, gates are not shut:
Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians around 585 BC. Cyrus took power around 536 BC. That is a 49 year difference. And it was in the first year of his reign that he decreed the Jews could return to their land.
And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, at the completion of the word of Jehovah in the mouth of Jeremiah, hath Jehovah waked up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, and he causeth an intimation to pass over into all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying,
'Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, All kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, God of the heavens, given to me, and He hath laid a charge on me to build to Him a house in Jerusalem, that is in Judah; who is among you of all His people? Jehovah his God is with him, and he doth go up.'
Also Ezra 1:1-4:
And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, at the completion of the word of Jehovah from the mouth of Jeremiah, hath Jehovah waked up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, and he causeth an intimation to pass over into all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying,
'Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, All kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, God of the heavens, given to me, and He hath laid a charge on me to build to Him a house in Jerusalem, that is in Judah;
who is among you of all His people? His God is with him, and he doth go up to Jerusalem, that is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, God of Israel -- He is God -- that is in Jerusalem.
'And every one who is left, of any of the places where he is a sojourner, assist him do the men of his place with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, along with a free-will offering for the house of God, that is in Jerusalem.'
After this period of 7 sevens (49 years), there would be another period of 62 sevens (434 years) in which the broad place (plaza) and the walls/moat would be rebuilt. Josephus says Pompey had a hard time filling in the moat to conquer Jerusalem and take the temple because of its immense size. Strabo says the moat was 60 feet deep and 250 feet wide. The city walls and the moat around the walls were huge. It would have taken some time to finish them, especially with all the political turmoil that nation had to deal with in that interval.
If this paragraph breaks the rules for this site we can take it out, but I realize a lot of people who read this might have a hard time agreeing with this because, like Gesenius, they have a very ingrained belief that this passage must refer to Jesus Christ. If you are one of those people (I was one of those people), consider all the places in the New Testament where Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul highlight a prophecy that Jesus Christ fulfilled. Those men expend a great deal of effort to prove that He fulfilled even small details like riding the donkey and identifying the city He was born in, but never - not once - do any of them ever point to how Daniel 9 applies to Jesus Christ. My answer does not say Jesus Christ is not the Messiah - the Anointed. My answer does say the anointed leader mentioned in Daniel 9 refers a different anointed person (Cyrus). In addition, the anointed leader in verse 26 refers to yet another anointed person.
Since this question only asks about the 7 and the 62 specifically, I am going to stop here.
The division was to distinguish different events that would happen during the entire 70 "sevens". The first distinction was 7 "sevens" and the purpose was to rebuild the street and the wall.
"And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader [is] seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times." (YLT)
The counting of the years began from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem. It took 49 years to do because of the opposition of the neighboring people who did not like the Judeans and did not want Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Some of these difficulties are listed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
Excerpt from Benson Commentary on vs. 25:
"“In our English version, the sense of the twenty-fifth verse is somewhat obscured by the punctuation. It is easily rectified thus: From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks — The angel then specifies the great events of each of these intervals. In the first, of seven weeks, the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And thus it was; the city and the walls were rebuilt in forty-nine years, not without much opposition and various impediments. Nothing can be more exact than this period of the completion, both for the interval of forty-nine years, ending with the sixteenth of Darius; and for the troublous times in which the Jewish patriots restored and rebuilt their city.” — Dr. Apthorp." Source: BibleHub
The next division of the 62 "sevens" of troublesome times is detailed in Dan. c. 11 where the angel Gabriel provides a brief preview of the events that would transpire through the remaining kingdoms unto the coming of Christ - Persia, Alexander the Great, the split of Alexander's kingdom at his death, the Seleucid dynasty (kings of the north - north of Judea / Palestine), the Ptolemaic dynasty (kings of the south - those south of Judea / Palestine), and through Antiochus Epiphanes, the revolt of the Macabees, and finally the occupation of Judea under Rome. A good detail of this history is available here.
We can picture the restoration and rebuilding as the Judeans anxiously watched the armies of the kings of the north (the Seleucids) march directly by, and then the retaliation of the Ptolemy kings marching north - again in front of Jerusalem. They each took turns sacking Jerusalem and the temple was also ransacked at one point. Antiochus Epiphanes - called Antiochus Epimanes by the Judeans as he was a mad man - tried to destroy all of the scriptures and force the Judeans to embrace the Greek customs and gods. (See here)
The last division of the final "week" or seven years was the coming of the Messiah, His anointing at His baptism and His crucifixion, or cutting off.
There is a great deal of opinion over which edict of which king was the beginning point for the counting of the 490 years, but most center around Artaxerxes I, also called Artaxerxes Longimanus because his right arm was longer than his left. "Arta" means "son of"... so son of Xerxes. He is thought to have ruled Persia from 465 to 425 BC and so fits with the necessary time line for the coming of Christ. Some information on Artaxerxes I can be found here.
Because of his kindness to both Ezra and Nehemiah, some have speculated that this Artaxerxes I was also king Ahaseurus of the book of Esther, and that the queen referenced in Neh. 2:6 was Esther.
Excerpt from Benson Commentary:
" Josephus with great probability, supposes the famous Esther to have been the queen of Artaxerxes. By her influence both the edicts of the seventh and twentieth of his reign were obtained: which is almost demonstrable from Nehemiah’s prayer, Nehemiah 1:5-11; and relation, Nehemiah 2:1-11. Thus the providence of God raised a Jewish heroine to the throne of Persia, first to preserve his people from massacre and extermination, and afterward to facilitate and complete their resettlement." Source: BibleHub
The long discussion over the centuries has been concerned with when the 490 years began and under which king. But, the dates provided by secular history are tossed around by different scholars with different opinions. We also have to contend with human errors that may build upon each other due to wedge marks or perceived wedge marks in cuneiform writing, as well as the correct correlation of the events of years of kings and campaigns against one country or another.
They weren't counting backward from an event that had not yet happened. The records we have are all cross referenced to events in years and reigns of kings. Some are cross referenced to the Olympiad years, but that involves the very best efforts of men, and none of which can be relied upon as much as we can rely upon the word of God.
So, the better method is starting at the end and working backward. We have a better understanding of when Christ was cut off: approximately 30 - 33 AD. And as Dan. 9:27 said that He would be cut off in the middle of the last week, we can know that the command to rebuild Jerusalem would have been 3-1/2 years, plus 483 years, or 486-1/2 years before the crucifixion. That works out to be about 455 - 453 BC. And that falls within Artaxerxes I reign.
I have more information on the prophesy of the 70 "sevens" at my blog. See the post "Seventy Weeks of Daniel chap. 9" at ShreddingTheVeil.
Nehemiah 12:22 explains the 7 weeks and 62 weeks.
The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.
This verse tells us when the Old Testament was completed before the 62 weeks of Prophetic Silence between the Testaments. The OT was completed in about 408 BC, 7 weeks after the Decree of Artaxerxes I in 458 BC as described in Ezra 7:7.
I agree with the first post, it is better to start with the crucifixion and work back 490 years.
Luke 3:1 tells us that the ministry of John the Baptist began about 28 or 29 AD. We know there were 3 Passovers in our Lord's ministry, so the ministry of our Lord was about 3 years plus. The exact date of Passover is calculated by the lunar cycle. Astronomy can tell us which Passovers were starting on a Friday evening in the valid date range. The only year that fits all criteria is 33 AD when the Passover started on Friday evening, 3rd April. Three days and three nights is a Jewish idiom meaning a continuous period including a portion from three 24 hour periods but not necessarily the whole of three nights and three days.
33 minus 491 (because there is no year 0 we need to subtract 1 extra when crossing between AD and BC; and add one extra when crossing forwards from BC to AD) gives 458 BC.
This is the year of the decree of Artaxerxes I as described in Ezra 7. (Ezra went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:7) starting the first day of the year (Ezra 7:9), so the decree must have been given in the sixth year.)
Artaxerxes is reasserting the original decree of Cyrus the Great.
7 weeks after 458 BC is 409 BC, and 69 weeks after 458 BC is 26 AD. 28/29 AD is the year of the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. If the book of Nehemiah was completed 408 BC (7 sevens, plus one year) that would make it 62 sevens plus one year to the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist.
About 408 BC, then, is the year of the end of the Old Testament with the completion of the book of Nehemiah.
Is there any evidence the book of Nehemiah was finished around 408 BC? Yes:-
It follows from above four points that Jaddua became High Priest after 411 BC and before 404 BC and after Jaddua became High Priest and before Darius died the book of Nehemiah was completed, sometime after 411 BC and before 404 BC.
"The wall will be rebuilt in troublous times" is pointing to the events in the book of Nehemiah. (It bears a striking similarity to a cryptic crossword clue from The Times Newspaper, London.) The streets? Streets have gates through the city wall, so it is also referring to the book of Nehemiah.
But it is not telling us the date when Jerusalem was rebuilt (- How could you possibly give a date for such a thing? As others have said, London and Hamburg were bombed during World War II: how do you decide when their rebuilding was finished?): instead it is pointing the date that the book containing those events was finished, it is saying which book completed the Old Testament and when; it is saying when God's 434 year period of Prophetic Silence would begin.
The week after the 69 weeks is the whole of the New Testament period until the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the world.
Daniel 9:27 is clear - the Messiah will come, and then the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, never to be rebuilt.
In 363 AD the Emperor Julian gave money to help the Jews rebuild the Temple - but an earthquake leading in turn to a fire destroyed their efforts, and Julian was killed in battle before he could offer any more money.
After that Islam arose, and the Muslims built their holy building on the site, the Dome of the Rock, the only site where a Jewish Temple would be acceptable to Jewish orthodoxy - and there is no way a Jewish Temple is going to be built any time soon.
This prophecy is still being fulfilled right now: the Temple, "it shall be made desolate, and shall be even until the consummation". (Daniel 9:27).
The Hebrew word for weeks is sabuim meaning a period of time, week of (days, years). This same word is in Genesis 29:27-28 where Jacob was to work seven years for Laban for Rachel. Gen.29:27-28 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
This is a prophesy of the length of time that was determined on Daniels people (Israel) and the holy city (Jerusalem) The meaning of the numbers is, seven weeks is seven weeks of years = 49 years Threescore weeks = 420 years and two week = 14 years, together they are 434 years together with the 49 years they are 483 years of the 490 years Prophesy leaving 1 year. Most biblical years are counted for 360 day year so the length of time would be shorter, solar years and lunar years are both kept by Israel.
So 490 solar years would be 490 x 365 = 178850 days 490 lunar years would be 490 x 360 = 176700 days you then divide that with 365 or(365.2422) to get the solar years time which gives you 483.3 years. If you go from B.C. to A.D. subtract 1 for there was no O year. You can break each set of numbers the same 7x7=49, 60 +2 x 7=434 =483 with one year left. This is the meaning of the numbers, the numbers were broken for different things in the prophecy 49 years was determined and 434 was, and 483 was unto the Messiah (anointed one) and 490 for the whole length of prophecy.