Home > Daniel's 70 Weeks, Leviticus > The 70 weeks and four periods of 7 times in Leviticus 26

The 70 weeks and four periods of 7 times in Leviticus 26

January 21, 2011

Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy is related to a prediction contained in the Law of Moses, in Leviticus 26. This connection is explored below.

The author of 2 Chronicles describes the 70 years captivity of the Jews in Babylon as a consequence of the transgressions of Zedekiah, and of all the chief of the priests, and of the people. They had mocked the messengers of God, and misused his prophets. [2 Chronicles 36:11-16]

According to the Old Covenant, and the Law of Moses, blessings would follow if Israel kept the covenant, but if they failed to do all the commandments, and broke the covenant, a curse, including exile from the land, and the punishments described in Leviticus 26, would overtake them.

In his prayer of confession, Daniel said the curse written in the law of Moses had been poured out:

Daniel 9:11
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

The exile in Babylon and the destruction wrought by the Chaldeans was the first of four periods of seven times.

2 Chronicles 36:17-23
Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.
And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.

The 70 years of exile was a period when “the land enjoyed her sabbaths.” This alludes to the sabbath years and jubilee years, when the land was supposed to rest.

The 70 weeks of Daniel incorporate “weeks” or periods of “seven times.” Each section consists of one or more of some kind of “seven,” usually called “weeks,” but what the units of those weeks are supposed to be is not stated. Very likely, they include weeks of seven years. Most expositors assume that the weeks are the same in each section, but that is not necessarily true. The 70 years of exile correspond to “seven times,” which implies that a “time” was ten years. The “times” may have different units the three sections of the 70 weeks. Meredith G. Kline stated, [1]

The conclusion that the seventy weeks framework is sabbatical, naturally suggested by the numerical features of the passage, is confirmed by the relationship of this seventy weeks prophecy to the seventy years prophecy of Jeremiah. Though the former is not an interpretation, and certainly not a corrective reinterpretation, of the latter, it was given in response to a prayer that was prompted by the reading of Jeremiah’s prophecy and, as we shall see, it employs the same symbolic model as that prophecy.

Expounding the seventy years of exile in terms of the explanation of the exile given in Leviticus 26:43, the Chronicler depicts it as a time of sabbatical rest for the land: “To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” (II Chron. 36:21). Here each of the seventy years is seen as functioning as a sabbatical year so that the seventy years are the equivalent of seventy weeks of years. Under the exile’s condition of continuing desolation, 490 years were telescoped into 70 because the desolate land leaped without the normal six-year intervals of labor from one seventh year of rest immediately to its next sabbatical year. Thus, Gabriel’s seventy weeks prophecy actually made use of the very same symbol as the seventy years prophecy of Jeremiah — and that symbol is explained in II Chronicles 36:21 as sabbatical.

Kline suggested that the sabbatical years and periods of seven times of Leviticus 25 and 26 are a source of the 70 weeks prophecy. He wrote:

It has become increasingly clear that Leviticus 25 and 26 is an important source standing behind Daniel 9:24 ff. The seventy weeks prophecy is built on the sabbath-jubilee structure of Leviticus 25 (cf. 26:43). Daniel 9 as a whole follows the covenant administration pattern of Leviticus 26. The prayer (vss. 4 ff.) corresponds to the Todah-confession of Leviticus 26:40 f., and the prophecy (vss. 24 ff.) corresponds to the covenant restitution and renewal of Leviticus 26:42 ff. This last equivalence is reinforced by the connection made between the seventy weeks and Leviticus 26:43 in II Chronicles 36:21.

The 70 years of captivity in Babylon, plus the three sections of the 70 weeks, together are the four periods of “seven times” outlined in Leviticus 26.

1st “seven times” = 70 years of captivity in Babylon, ended 538 BC
2nd “seven times” = 7 weeks, 49 leap years of 13 months, 7 x 19 = 133 years
3rd “seven times” = 62 x 7 = 434 years, ended 28 AD
4th “seven times” = three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry, plus “a time, times and a half”

The “time, times and a half” (along with related periods of 1,335 days, 1,290 days, 1,260 days, and 42 months) are symbolic, representing the whole age of the church, which is called the “Jerusalem which is above” and “the heavenly Jerusalem” in the New Testament. For the portion of the 70 weeks that applies to the heavenly city, which is the final half of the 70th week, the “time, times and a half,” units of time are not earth days, or earth months, or earth years, but are symbolic. The time span it represents is not a literal three and a half years. The nature of the time in the last half week is different, perhaps because these last three years and a half apply to the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one. Once Jesus ascended to heaven, earth days, earth months, and earth years no longer apply. That is when Jerusalem was lifted up, as Isaiah foretold. [Isaiah 2:1-3] Isaiah said it would be exalted to the tops of the mountains; in the New Testament it is in heaven, above all the earth’s mountains. Jesus confirms the covenant for one week, but that week is partly on earth, and partly in heaven. He confirms the covenant by sending the Spirit to the church.

In the last half of the 70th week, the promised land is not the earthly territory of Canaan, but is described “a better country, that is, an heavenly.” [Hebrews 11:16] In the 4th period of “seven times” of Leviticus 26, God said he will remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and will be reconciled to his people Israel. This 4th period of “seven times” corresponds to the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy.

The 70 weeks prophecy concerns Jerusalem, but when Christ ascended to heaven, the units of time in the prophecy were changed. This is similar with other units applied to the heavenly city, described in Revelation 21. The dimensions given for it are not literal. The 144 cubits mentioned for the wall, are not meant literally, as John indicates that the units are angelic cubits. If we compare the height of the wall with the height of the city, supposing the 144 cubits refer to its height, it seems quite out of any reasonable proportion; the height of the city is about 36,666 times greater than the height of its wall! Really, the dimensions of a wall require a height, and a width, and a length, but here, only one dimension is given. That is because the wall is spiritual; it represents “salvation.” And each gate in the wall is a single pearl. So, are we to imagine huge oysters in heaven, where such pearls could grow? No, the pearls are figurative. So are the units of furlongs, and cubits, when these apply to a heavenly, and eternal city. And the same applies to the time periods that refer to the heavenly city. They are not earth days, earth months, or earth years, but spiritual or figurative. This, I think, helps to explain why the last half week of the 70 weeks differs from the previous 69  and ½ weeks.

Kline pointed out that the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 began with the decree of Cyrus, and follow immediately after the 70 years of exile. He wrote:

The seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 reflects yet another aspect of the Leviticus 26 forecast of covenant restoration after covenant breaking as that forecast is taken up and developed in II Chronicles 36. Immediately after the Chronicler has referred to the period of the exile as seventy sabbatical years (II Chron. 36:21), he makes mention of the decree of Cyrus issued in the first year of his reign, officially ending Israel’s exile. In these closing words of his historical work the Chronicler points to the figure of the restorer who accomplished the Lord’s word by Jeremiah concerning the divine visitation after seventy sabbath years (Jer. 29: 10) and introduced the post-exilic jubilee-restoration (II Chron. 36:22 f.; cf. Ezra 1:1 ff.). The Chronicler was at the same time recording the fulfillment of another prophetic word of God. Isaiah too had spoken of the one who should command the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple, even Cyrus, whom Isaiah designated as the Lord’s “anointed” (Isa. 44:28; 45:1).

Because the 70 weeks correspond to the last three of the four periods of “seven times” in Leviticus 26, which is the duration of the curse, clearly there are no gaps in the 70 weeks. Any gap would mean a lapse in the curse, and would require a temporary reconciliation of God with Israel, and a temporary restoration, but the restoration is to be permanent.

References

1. Meredith G. Kline, The Covenant of the Seventieth Week (pdf) in: The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Oswald T. Allis. ed. by J.H. Skilton. [Nutley, NJ]: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974, pp. 452-469.

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  1. January 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm
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