The teaching of “the seven years of tribulation” comes from Daniel chapter 9. The Christian belief is that this prophecy is yet to come, but the Jewish belief is that Daniel chapter 9 has been fulfilled. A typical answer I hear from time to time is that prophecy can be fulfilled in multiple periods. I don’t throw that answer out, but I do believe that it’s best to put all Scripture into context and let it unfold itself. Lets look at this prophecy and let it unfold itself. I will try and present a short version of both sides of the view.
The seven year period, or what the Christian belief refers to as “the tribulation period”, of Daniel chapter 9 is part of a larger picture of time periods in the chapter. To break out this 7 year period we need to look at the meaning of the other periods. Both beliefs do this but the conclusions are very different. I will present both views in the next few paragraphs with a comparison and summary.
The Israelites are in captivity in Persia, which according to Jeremiah was to last for 70 years. Daniel, while studying this prophecy, takes notice of the time and becomes concerned about the time period, he wonders why isn’t something happening? This is when the angle Gabriel comes to explain to him that he was miscalculating the prophecy from Jeremiah. Keep in mind that Jeremiah mentions a 70 year period in two different passages. The first is Jeremiah 25:11,12 and the second is 29:10. Daniel thought both referred to the same time period, but they don’t. Lets look at what the angle Gabriel has to say.
Daniel 9:22 to 27 KJV
(22) And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. (23) At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Note: Gabriel is informing Daniel as to why he has come, bringing reassurance so he can understand what is, and will transpire. To do this he needs to give Daniel a complete overview, of a time line, because life for the Jewish people will be changing.
(24) 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. (25) 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 threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Note: 70 weeks is actually 70 weeks of years (70×7=490 years). So Jerusalem will be under another authority for 490 years, to finish reconciliation for the iniquity. They were presently under Persian control, this will be followed by Greek, and then Roman control, with only a very short period of self governing. This period is actually from 3338 to 3829, using the Hebrew Calendar. The angle Gabriel is explaining in verse 25 that from the going forth of the commandment, or going forth of the word דבר (dabar) Hebrew for word, he is speaking of 49 years (7 weeks of years or 7×7=49). It is interesting to note that the translators of the King James Bible do not translate anywhere else משיח (moshich) as Messiah, they always translate it as anointed, or anointed one. Of the approximately 33 times this word appears in the Tanach, only here the King James translator use the word messiah and capitalizes it! The Jewish view presents the anointed one or moshich as referring to the Persian King Cyrus who is called “anointed one” in Isaiah 45:1. This fits in here because Cyrus orders the Jews to return for the rebuilding of Jerusalem for a period of 7 weeks, or 49 years. This period is from 3338 to 3391. The Christian view is that he is referring to Jesus. The Christian view also adds the seven plus three score and the two with a total of 69. However the Hebrew text calculates it very differently. The seven, and the three score plus two are separate. The original text translates, “…..an anointed Prince will be seven weeks, and for sixty two weeks it will be rebuilt”,……….”. The seven and the sixty two are separated by “and”. This is referencing 62 weeks of years or 434 years (62×7= 434). This period is from, 3391 when Cyrus calls for the Temple to be rebuilt to 3829 (3829 is when the Second Temple was destroyed).
(26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Note: After the sixty two weeks of years or the 434 years the “anointed one” will be cut off. This is referring to the High Priest. At the end of the 434 year period the Temple was destroyed and the function of the High Priest had stopped – the anointed one was cut off. However seven years prior to the destruction of the Temple a deal was made between the High Priest and Rome, there would be no interference from Rome with the Temple worship. For the first 3 1/2 years Temple sacrifices were not interrupted, but 3 1/2 years later the agreement was squelched by Rome, “the people of the prince” the legions of Vespasian and Titus destroyed the Second Temple in 3829 (70 AD). The Christian view is that at some point the Christens will go through a 7 year tribulation. This period will be divided in half, and in the middle a antichrist, will come forth and rule the world. At the end of this period Jesus will return, and his kingdom will commence.
I have prepared a chart of the above for a visual aid. You can view it on the web site at http://www.studyingtorah.wordpress.com
Below lists 6 time segments pertaining to this prophecy in Daniel 9:
1. 3320 – 3391 70 years ref. Jeremiah 25:12
2. 3320 – 3338 18 years Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar
3. 3338 – 3329 490 years ref Dan 9:24
4. 3338 – 3391 49 years ref 9:25
5. 3391 – 3829 434 years ref 9:25
6. 3822 – 3829 7 years ref Dan 9:27
The two Jeremiah 70 year periods:
1. 25:12 3323-3391 Babylon subjuates Jerusalem until Cyrus calls for rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple.
2. 29:10 3338-3408 The destruction of the first Temple until the building of the second Temple.
The Jewish view aligns with history to the year, and there is no fudging with the figures. I believe G-d was preparing His people for what was to come, just as He always had, and still does. The Bible is full of prophecies, some we will find having been fulfilled, and others yet to come. I enjoy reading the prophets, especially Isaiah, and Ezekiel and reflect on the various prophecies. The latter part of Ezekiel describes the next Temple, how exciting to study what is to come. Much of what is happening in the Middle East today is recorded as prophecy. Again G-d has given us a road map, it’s our choice to study it or not. In any case a road map has to be read in the proper context, or you may miss some important turns.
by, Jim Behnke