Daniel’s 70th Week Prophecy

Daniel’s 70th Week Prophecy     (RCW Edited 2024-06-25)

There are several well-produced YouTube videos in which Daniel’s prophecy of the 70th week is analyzed from several different eschatological perspectives  The scholarship is sometimes quite impressive. I appreciate the efforts and insight they provided.  There is a significant debate is over the identity of the “Prince who is to come” in Daniel 9:26,27.  Some say it is Jesus. Others say it is the Antichrist. I say it was Antiochus IV, and that this identification is the key to understanding the first half of the Olivet Discourse, which concerns the end of Herod’s Temple. Please allow me to explain what I see in these verses.

Daniel 9:26-27 (NASB)

 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.”

Because of a misunderstanding concerning the nature of the Roman Legions which destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD, for many years it has been assumed that the Antichrist will be a Roman. That is starting to change. The extent of the presence of Syrians in the Legions involved in the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem is becoming  better understood. But many still say this is about the Antichrist, although that cannot be determined by this passage alone. I think Gabriel was talking about Antiochus IV, not Jesus or the Antichrist in these two verses. Sometimes doing something backwards helps us to see things differently. Here are the features of Daniel 9:26-27 in reverse.

– A complete destruction is decreed for the one who makes desolate.

– The one who makes desolate is involved in and makes use of abominations (idols)

– This idolater stops the daily sacrifices and grain offerings in the Temple.

– He confirms  a 7-year treaty with the many (Jews assumed) which he breaks.

– Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed by soldiers coming in waves like a flood.

– The Temple will be desolate, and will remain desolate, due to its complete destruction.

– This great destruction is done by an army which includes people of the same race as the prince who is to come.

Here is some information that points to Antiochus IV and no one else. 

  1. Antiochus III, a king of Syria during the Seleucid empire, was the father of Antiochus IV, and had made a covenant/treaty with the Jews before he died. After Antiochus IV gained the Seleucid throne, he renewed (confirmed) that covenant/treaty for a period of 7 years. It was in the middle of that 7-year treaty that Antiochus IV stopped the normal daily sacrifices in the Jewish temple and installed a standing statue of Zeus in the temple, and sacrificed pigs to it. Shortly afterward, the temple was abandoned, left inactive, unoccupied and empty, for over 2 years. The image of Zeus was the ‘abomination’ and the consequential abandonment and vacancy of the temple while it still stood was the ‘desolation.’ It seems that few are aware that Antiochus IV had a 7-year treaty with the Jews. There is no reason to expect a repetition of this 7 year treaty in the future. 
  2. Jesus’ death did not stop the sacrifices in the Temple. They continued for 40 more years. We understand that they were no longer needed or accepted, but they did not stop. He did not ‘confirm a covenant’ with them. How can anyone believe that Jesus’ new  Covenant was only for 7 years?  Jesus’ blood created an eternal New Covenant, one that He would not break 3.5 years later.
  3. The ‘prince who is to come’ made use of ‘abominations’, ie, idols, and brutal violent acts of desecration. Jesus was not the ‘prince who is to come.’ Antiochus IV did all of this. There is nothing in the New Testament about the Antichrist being an idolater, placing statues or images in the temple, or repeating the abomination event again. There is only Paul’s statement that the Man of Sin will represent himself as God on His throne. This is really evil, perhaps even worse that than what Antiochus IV did, but it is not an idol (abomination), nor is there any future desolation of the Temple other than the one that began in AD70.  
  4. It was not the ‘people of Jesus’ who brought the destruction to the Temple. It was the people/race of the idolater who made and broke the 7 year covenant, that brought destruction to the Temple and Jerusalem.  It is unimaginable that there were lots of Jews in the Roman army.  
  5. The ‘people/race of the prince who is to come’ did destroy the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD. The 12th Roman Legion, led by Cestius Gallus, Legate of Syria, in the first wave of war against Judea in September AD66, was called ‘the Syrian Legion.’ It’s symbol was Zeus’ thunderbolt. That legion was also called the ‘Thunderbolt Legion’. Zeus’ lightning bolts were painted on their shields. The image of Zeus/Jupiter was on their breastplates. There is no record of a statue of Zeus being brought to Jerusalem, but even that is possible. It is known that this legion was made up of Syrian conscripts, and a subgroup of 3,000 infantry and 1,000 calvary were actually from the army led by the Syrian king Antiochus XIII, a direct descendant of Antiochus IV. Three years later, when the other legions had conquered most of Judea and were surrounding Jerusalem, many if not most of the Roman soldiers were Syrian recruits. And in AD70, at the final siege, Antiochus XIII showed up with 12,000 Syrian soldiers, and offered their service to Titus. He did not place them in the front lines but let them set up their camp inside the northern portion of the city that had already been captured. Several maps still show the location of that Syrian Camp. Titus had expressed admiration for Herod’s magnificent temple and did not order its destruction. The fire that consumed the temple was started by a single soldier, probably a Syrian conscript. It is not known if this was intentional or accidental. It does not matter. The Temple and the city were destroyed by the armies of Rome, which were full of Syrians, the people/race of Antiochus IV, the ‘prince who was to come.’ This prophecy was completely fulfilled in AD70, and was what Jesus was talking about when He said the Temple would be completely deconstructed to the last stone. There will not be a future repetition of this event. This prophecy will not have a second fulfillment. 
  6. In the Olivet discourse, Jesus was describing the coming destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem prophesied in Daniel 9:26. His reference to the ‘abomination of desolation’ had two purposes. It was to be a warning sign to any believers which were still in the city they should escape from Jerusalem immediately. Luke 21:20 equates this with the arrival of the armies around Jerusalem, without any reference to the ‘abomination of desolation.’ The last chance to escape Jerusalem was during a brief calm before Titus closed off access to the city at Passover in AD 70. From Luke’s account, the presence of the images and symbols of Zeus that accompanied the armies would have been confirmation enough.
  7. All English translations (I have found no exceptions) quote Jesus as saying “when you see the Abomination of desolation standing in the holy place…where it should not be’ then flee Jerusalem quickly. Antiochus IV had placed a statue of Zeus (standing) in the Temple, probably in the inner court near the Altar, not in the Holy of Holies where it could not be seen. It stood there, with a lightning bolt in its right hand. Statues of Zeus/Jupiter seated on a throne were placed in many pagan temples, and if the image set up by Antiochus IV was seated, it could still be described as ‘standing’, referring to the entire statue, including the throne. But the word ‘standing’ in this verse is wrong. The word translated ‘standing’ is not a present active participle. It is a perfect active participle. What Jesus said was “when you see the abomination of desolation, the one having stood in the holy place…” Jesus was not saying that the Zeus’ statue would be placed in the temple again, to be seen by the disciples as a sign to flee Jerusalem. He was saying that if the believers in Jerusalem ever saw the image of Zeus again they must escape quickly. Jesus was specifically referring to the idol of Antiochus IV, or its representation and symbols, not to any action of the still future Antichrist.

There is no basis for saying that Daniel 11:31 will have a future, second fulfillment. There will not be a future ‘abomination of desolation.’  The events of 167 BC in Jerusalem will never be repeated. The Antichrist may have some traits in common with Antiochus IV, but the situation will be very different. I will not be surprised if the future Antichrist/Mahdi is a Syrian.  

So, here is the passage again, this time with notes.

Daniel 9:26-27 (NASB)

 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks (the 70th week started in AD27), the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people (Syrians) of the prince who is to come (from Daniel’s time perspective, Antiochus IV) will destroy the city and the sanctuary (which they did in 70 AD). And its end will come with a flood (waves of soldiers), even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he (Antiochus IV, when he comes…) will confirm a covenant with the many (Judean Jews) for one week (7 years; he did this in 170 BC) but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; (he did this in 167 BC) and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.” (This happened in November 164 BC.) 

The most important truth for us is that Jesus, the Messiah, was ‘cut off’ during the literal 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy, and that was the end of the 70 week (490 year) prophecy. The destruction of the Temple was never included in the 70 Weeks, but simply came afterwards. When Jesus said, “It is finished” it was!  While there may be similarities between Daniel and the Book of Revelation, the 70 Weeks prophecy is fulfilled, and will not be repeated. There is a ‘Great Tribulation’ but it is not much longer than 7 years.  The Trumpets and Wrath of God described in Revelation are unfilled and will happen in the future, but they are described as taking longer than 7 years and make no reference to the 70th week of Daniel. We should read the Book of Revelation without the template of a limited 7 year period of time, and without expecting the Antichrist to repeat the actions of Antiochus IV.