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490 Years

The opening words of this prophecy establish the time period it involves–"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city,..." Daniel 9:24  The historical background clarifies the purpose of this time period as a probationary time God was allotting the Jews to return to their homeland from their captivity in Babylon, rebuild their city and temple, reestablish their government, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  The Jews had been in captivity due to their previous rebellion against God.  Now God was renewing His covenant with them to make them His missionary people, provided they would use the "seventy weeks" (literally, "seventy sevens") allotted them to realign their lives with God's purposes for them and to prepare their hearts to receive the Messiah.  For during that "seventy weeks" period, "the Most Holy," the Messiah, would be anointed. Daniel 9:24

Seventy literal weeks, less than a year and a half, was never considered to be the time referred to in this prophecy.  By the time the Jews made preparation to leave Babylon and then journeyed back to their homeland, more than a year and a half would have already transpired!  The "seventy sevens" did not designate literal days or weeks, but referred to a period of years–490 years to be exact (70 x 7).  Thus the Revised Standard Version actually translates Daniel 9:24 as "seventy weeks of years."

In answer to Daniel's prayer for God to allow the Jews to be delivered from captivity and allowed to rebuild and repopulate their homeland, God allotted them 490 years to reestablish themselves in harmony with His commandments, to share the message of His love and salvation with the nations around them even to the ends of the earth, and to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah.

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