The Seventy Weeks prophecy is often (though not exclusively) interpreted as meaning that the countdown began with Artaxerxes’ permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and that the “anointed one” who is “cut off without nothing” is Jesus the Messiah at the crucifixion. Chris White, drawing on the work of Charles Cooper, presents a different model of interpretation here (though the final week is analysed in much the same way as the earlier model).
The reader is advised to consult the article if he wishes to examine the reasoning involved in the theory. However, since the article is thirty-four pages long, a summary of the main points are presented here, for the sake of brevity. While I enjoy reading Charles Cooper’s work and, like him, subscribe to pre-wrath eschatology, I do not necessarily agree with all his views or those of Chris White. For example, I do not agree with Chris White regarding his interpretation of Mystery Babylon or his response to the central theses of the Islamic Antichrist paradigm. Nor do I have a settled position regarding the interpretation of Daniel 9 presented here. Rather, the position is put forward as worthy of consideration in its diligence of reasoning and engagement with the Hebrew language.
The decree to rebuild the city and sanctuary, which commences the seven weeks, is the decree of Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and its Temple, not a decree issued under Artaxerxes or any other Persian ruler. The seven weeks end with the coming of Nehemiah to complete the decree’s tasks. Nehemiah is the anointed prince: a governor of Yehud (Judah), anointed by God for the purpose of rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple.
The sixty-two weeks, in which Jerusalem is troubled, existing with a moat and city squares, is the period from Nehemiah to the destruction of the city and Temple in 70 AD. The prophecy states that this destruction comes after the sixty-two weeks have expired, which is the case according to certain calculations given in the article: the city was sacked around two months after the expiry of those weeks. The “flood” reference in the prophecy does not mean that Jerusalem was destroyed by water. It is a simile: Jerusalem was destroyed with the suddenness and devastating power that characterise floods. This is an accurate reflection of the sack, which happened in a short space of time, and utterly ruined the city.
The reference to cutting off an anointed one refers not to Christ’s crucifixion, but the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The Temple is an anointed place (and the Seventy Weeks are described as being about anointing a holy place, among other things). God cuts off the Temple, through the agency of the Romans and rebellious Jews, as a consequence of their breaches of the covenant. “Cut off” here means to end: the Temple no longer exists or functions; it is removed from Israel (and Israel from it). The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD is analogous to the former Temple’s destruction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies (this is the position of Josephus).
The “people of the prince who is to come” are the destroyers of the Temple. The prince is Titus, a Roman general and son of Emperor Vespasian. He commanded the armies that sacked Jerusalem. The emphasis is on the people (or host), because the army destroyed the Temple, in its frenzy and hatred, against the wishes of Titus, who wished to preserve it, as Josephus describes.
The seventieth week is still future. It will probably commence with the confirmation of an already existing treaty. In the middle of the seven years specified in the treaty, the Antichrist will desecrate a rebuilt Jewish Temple, making it desolate. The Antichrist, though not given a name or noun or pronoun, is the subject of “confirm”, which does not refer back to the “people” (the Roman armies) or “the prince who is to come” (Titus). This verse cannot, therefore, be used to settle questions about the ethnicity of the Antichrist or the possibility that he will rule a “revived Roman empire”. Other parts of Scripture must be employed regarding those and related questions.
The Temple desecrated by the Antichrist will be destroyed at the Parousia. It will be replaced with a new Temple (the one described in the closing chapters of Ezekiel), which is to be anointed with oil, as per the beginning of the Seventy Weeks prophecy.