Daniel’s Seventy Weeks And The Old Testament Sabbath-Year Cycle -- By: Robert C. Newman

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 16:4 (Fall 1973)
Article: Daniel’s Seventy Weeks And The Old Testament Sabbath-Year Cycle
Author: Robert C. Newman


Daniel’s Seventy Weeks
And The Old Testament Sabbath-Year Cycle

Robert C. Newman

Biblical School Of Theology, Hatfield, Pennsylvania

According to contemporary historians, the first century A.D. was a time of great Messianic expectation among the Jews. The feeling was widespread that some prophecy regarding the time of his coming was now fulfilled. According to the Roman Suetonius:

There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the Emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judaea took to themselves.1

His compatriot Tacitus is more specific regarding the source of this prophecy:

…in most there was a firm persuasion, that in the ancient records of their priests was contained a prediction of how at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers, coming from Judaea, were to acquire universal empire. These mysterious propheeies had pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, with the usual blindness of ambition, had interpreted these mighty destines of themselves, and could not be brought even by disasters to believe the truth.2

Closer to the scene, and writing within ten years of the fall of Jerusalem, was the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who indicates that only a single ruler was expected:

But now, what did most elevate them in undertaking this war was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular; and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now, this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian who was appointed emperor in Judea.3

Josephus’ application of this prophecy to his patron is understandable,

but it is not likely that his defeated countrymen agreed. In any case, many Jews were ready to follow Bar Kokhba to disaster only sixty years later, when Rabbi Akiba proclaimed him the Messiah.4

By the middle of the third century, a mood of resignation seems to have set in, as Rab admits that “all the predestined dates have passed.” He explains the delay by suggesting that the Messiah’s coming now depends only on Israel’s repentance and...

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