“Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.” Daniel 9:24
An obscure 300-year old interpretation of the Book of Daniel presents a precise calculation which indicates the prophet spoke of this year as bringing the end of days. One rabbi agrees, believing that Daniel’s ancient, hidden secrets are being revealed now as never before.
Certainly one of the most prominent sources for prophecies concerning the end of days, Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks clearly refers to the end of times, but it is enigmatic and difficult to understand.
One explanation was recently offered by a blogger known as Yeranen Yaakov, who refers to an esoteric source called Aggadat Ribbi Yishmael (the fables of Rabbi Ishmael), written by 17th century Rabbi Meir Halevi Horowitz. Rabbi Horowitz collected teachings about the end of days and formulated a theory about the Book of Daniel.
And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he lifted up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. Daniel 12:7
Rabbi Horowitz interpreted a ‘time’ as 700 years. He based this on three reasons:
1) It corresponds to the number of years that Israel angered God from the time Joshua brought the Israelites into the land, which, according to Rabbi Horowitz, totalled 700 years.
2) According to the Talmud, non-Jews were given 1000 years to subjugate the Jews. Rabbi Horowitz subtracted the 300 years of exile in Babylonia, Greece, and Persia from the total that Israel should have suffered.
3) Rabbi Horowitz also interpreted the seventy weeks described in the Book of Daniel as a total of 50 cycles of double shmittah (sabbatical) cycles. One cycle is seven years. A double sabbatical is 14 years. 50 cycles of 14 years equals 700 years.
Rabbi Horowitz then did a calculation based on the phrase from Daniel, “time, times, and a half”, adding “time” (moed), meaning one, “times” (moadim), meaning two, and then “a half” of one. This is a total of 3.5 times. Rabbi Horowitz calculated this as meaning 700 multiplied by 3.5, or 2450.
Rabbi Horowitz calculated the beginning of the exile from the first stage of the Babylonian Exile, which began in the Hebrew year 3327 (434 BCE). He added 2,450, the result of his calculations for “time, times, and a half” from the Book of Daniel, and arrived at the result that the Hebrew year in which the Messiah should arrive is 5777 – the current year.
Yeranen Yaakov goes on to bring another verse which refers to the Babylonian Exile using the expression moadim (times), similar to the Book of Daniel. The prophecy in Jeremiah contains a hint that this year, 5777, will be the final year before Messiah. It describes a prophetic vision that after the exile, there will be a return to the Land of Israel.
Hashem showed me, and behold two baskets of figs set before the temple of Hashem; after that Nevuchadretzar king of Bavel had carried away captive Yechonyah the son of Yehoyakim, king of Yehudah, and the princes of Yehudah, with the craftsmen and smiths, from Yerushalayim, and had brought them to Bavel. Jeremiah 24:1
The gematria (numerology) in Hebrew, of the words of the verse, beginning with the words “before the Temple”, equals 5777.
לִפְנֵי הֵיכַל יְהוָה: אַחֲרֵי הַגְלוֹת נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל אֶת-יְכָנְיָהוּ בֶן-יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְ-יְהוּדָה וְאֶת-שָׂרֵי יְהוּדָה וְאֶת-הֶחָרָשׁ וְאֶת-הַמַּסְגֵּר, מִירוּשָׁלִַם, וַיְבִאֵם, בָּבֶל.
Biblical scholars have struggled with the Book of Daniel for thousands of years, so what makes these interpretations any different? Rabbi Yosef Berger, rabbi of the Tomb of King David on Mount Zion, explained why ancient prophecies like Daniel are being studied with new understanding today.
“What Daniel wrote about the End of Days, our greatest sages have been trying to understand for generations. But the real meanings were intentionally hidden. Daniel himself said that these things will remain hidden until the end,” he told Breaking Israel News.
And he said: ‘Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end.’ Daniel 12:9
Rabbi Berger noted that Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, the preeminent medieval Sephardic Torah authority known by the acronym Rambam, forbade attempts to figure an exact date for the arrival of the Messiah. But Rabbi Berger believes that this does not apply to our times.
“It is written in the Zohar (the foundational source for Jewish mysticism) that in the days preceding the Messiah, all secrets will be revealed, and even small children will be able to explain explain prophecies and the most obscure sources,” Rabbi Berger concluded. “Now, in our day, everything is being opened up. We are discovering these sources that hint at the Messiah that have existed for generations, and only now can we interpret them properly. This is a clear sign that they are now being intentionally revealed.”