What does Daniel 9 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
This chapter is another of Daniel's prophetic messages. The beginning of Darius' reign came when the Babylonian kingdom failed and the Medo-Persians took control (Daniel 5:30–31). Knowing the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10–11), Daniel realized that Israel's exile was likely nearing its end. At this moment, Daniel had likely been a captive for around sixty-six years (Daniel 1:1–7). Since Jeremiah predicted a seventy-year timespan, Daniel had reasons for excitement and hope (Daniel 9:1–2).

Daniel began to pray fervently for the restoration of his people. He does this from a posture of deep humility. Not only does he use traditional signs of humbleness, such as rough clothing and smearing himself with ashes, but he also prays with meekness. Daniel is not associated with any named sin, though he will note later that he is not morally perfect (Daniel 9:20). Given his recorded actions, Daniel is very likely not guilty of sins like idolatry and perversity (Daniel 1:8; 6:5), which were the sins Israel committed that led to their capture by foreign nations (2 Kings 17:1–8; Jeremiah 25:7–11; Daniel 1:1–7). Yet Daniel fully identifies with his people. He prays using words such as "we" and "our" as he pleads for the Lord's mercy. God tied Israel's eventual rescue, in part (Jeremiah 29:12–14), to such pleas for restoration (Daniel 9:3–10).

When Israel first entered the Promised Land, God warned of the consequences of betraying their Lord (Deuteronomy 28:15–24, 48–50, 63–64; 29:25). Yet the people followed evil rulers into widespread sin and evil (1 Kings 15—16; 2 Kings 8—16). Daniel confesses these sins on behalf of the people of Israel. He acknowledges the Lord's response as justified and righteous. Israel was given multiple opportunities and ample alerts, but they turned aside. Their exile was exactly what God told them would happen (Daniel 9:11–15).

The prayer offered by Daniel shifts to a direct plea for the Lord's merciful rescue. Daniel notes that the people of Israel have become a "byword"—a shorthand reference—used to imply deep humiliation and suffering. This suffering is the result of Israel's errors. The nation absolutely does not deserve mercy; they have done nothing which would earn them a "right" to be restored. And yet, Daniel notes that it will be to God's glory to do just that. So, Daniel boldly and faithfully begs the Lord to restore Israel (Daniel 9:16–19).

As Daniel makes these prayers, he makes no effort to claim moral perfection. He includes both "my sin and the sin of my people Israel" in his prayer (Daniel 9:20). Suddenly, the angel Gabriel arrives (Daniel 8:15–17). He compliments Daniel by referring to him as "greatly loved," and promises to give further understanding of what is to happen in the future (Daniel 9:20–23).

What Gabriel offers here is among the most important prophecies in the entire Bible. He speaks of various trials and troubles which will come on both Israel and the city of Jerusalem. These are part of the Lord's plan to accomplish certain goals with respect to the Jewish people. Gabriel also speaks of an "anointed one," using the same Hebrew word from which we derive words such as "Messiah" and, from the Greek, "Christ." According to Gabriel, this figure will arrive and be "cut off" at a certain time. After this, another ruler will arise to both make and break an agreement, leading to ultimate destruction (Daniel 9:24–27).

Historians note two dates crucial to this prophecy. One is March 4, 444 BC: the date when Artaxerxes Longimanus proclaimed that Israelites could rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1–8). The other is March 30, AD 33: likely the day Jesus made the "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem as an open demonstration of His role as Messiah (Matthew 21:9–11). Using a "prophetic year" of 360 days—twelve months of thirty days each—Gabriel's prediction bridges these two moments perfectly. As promised, the Messiah would be killed and left with nothing, only to be resurrected (Matthew 16:21; Luke 18:31–33; John 19:23; 20:11–18).

Other aspects of Gabriel's prediction seem to point further ahead. The seventieth set of seven seems reserved for the end times. A ruler will arise, desolate the city of Jerusalem, and usher in the eternal fate of all evil (Revelation 13:11–15; 19:11–21). Part of this prophecy may also refer to the same trauma which Daniel observed in an earlier vision (Daniel 8:9–14), and which Jesus noted during His teaching (Matthew 24:15).

After this comes the last of Daniel's prophetic messages (Daniel 10:1), covering the rest of his book.
Verse Context:
Daniel 9:1–19 records a prayer of confession on behalf of God's rebellious people; Daniel includes himself by using terms such as "us" and "we." After the fall of Babylon, Daniel sees evidence in the writings of Jeremiah that Israel's exile may be nearing an end. He prays for forgiveness and restoration, referring to God as righteous, merciful, and forgiving. This prayer leads to an appearance from the angel Gabriel. Gabriel will deliver a prophetic message about Israel's future.
Daniel 9:20–23 comes in response to Daniel's heartfelt prayers on behalf of his people (Daniel 9:3–19). The angel Gabriel arrives on a mission to provide Daniel with greater understanding. After this brief introduction, Gabriel will relate one of the most famous prophecies in the Bible. His message depicts the fate of Israel and gives insight into the end times.
Daniel 9:24–27 is a divine look into the future. This is the Lord's timetable for making all things right pertaining to Israel. It comes in response to Daniel's heartfelt prayers on behalf of his people (Daniel 9:3–19). What's recorded in this passage is among the more important and often-examined prophecies in all of Scripture. This section includes famous references to the "seventy weeks" which relate to the appearance of the Messiah and to the schedule of the end times.
Chapter Summary:
Darius became king when Babylon fell to Medo-Persia. Daniel compared this to writings from Jeremiah, and realized the exile of Israel was almost over. As he prayed for God's intervention, the angel Gabriel arrived to provide further explanation. Gabriel's prophecy ties the arrival of an "anointed one," or "Messiah," or "Christ," to a moment in history followed by a set interval of time. This prediction includes dire moments for Israel and Jerusalem.
Chapter Context:
This chapter forms part of the prophetic section of Daniel's writing. After confessing the sins of both Israel and his own life, Daniel received a visit from the angel Gabriel. Gabriel revealed a message about Israel's then-future. This includes reference to the arrival of Christ and information about the still-future end times. Chapter 10 begins the last of Daniel's prophetic messages.
Book Summary:
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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