Literally, the phrase is "seventy sevens" -- no units are
given. However, the only unit of measure which fits is years, as determined by
the 7 sevens (49 years) plus 62 sevens (434 years) to the coming "of the
anointed one", that is, Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Confirmation is found in the
split of the seventieth "week" into two three and one-half-year periods.
["The 'seventy weeks' prophecy is usually regarded as the
classic instance of 'a year for a day' in the understanding of prophetic
time-periods. It is nothing of the sort, for the original phrase is not 'seventy
weeks', but 'seventy sevens', the unit of time not being specified. (By
contrast, Dan 10:2 has the literal word: 'weeks')" (WDan).]
"In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice
and offering" (Dan 9:27) -- this refers to the sacrifice of Christ. His death
and resurrection, at the end of his ministry, terminated the first 3 1/2 years
-- leaving a final 3 1/2-year period to complete the full "week" or "seven".
See Lessons, 3 1/2 years and
1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days.)
The duration of Jesus' covenant with the faithful is said to
be "a week", or better, "one seven" (v 27). But clearly, Jesus' covenant lasts
more than seven literal years. The explanation is found in the "gap" or
"discontinuity" of Daniel's prophecies, which was seen to be characteristic in
Dan 2; 7; 8; and 11. Daniel goes from a first-century fulfillment to a "last
days" fulfillment, from one verse to the next (eg Dan 8:22,23; 11:39,40), or
even in the same verse (Dan 7:24, and here in Dan 9:27)! So from the beginning
of his ministry (the first 3 1/2 years) to the time of his Return (the final 3
1/2), Jesus will keep covenant with his disciples.
The details in Dan 9:24 -- "to finish the transgression, to
put an end to sin, etc" -- can all be interpreted as applying to Jesus at both
his first and second Coming.
The years between the first and second Coming are evidently
ignored by Daniel. His prophecy seems to focus only on the critical events of
Jesus' life dealing with the fulfillment of God's promises. In the first
century, Jesus by his death and resurrection conquered sin, so as to confirm the
promises (cp Rom 15:8; Acts 13:32,33). In the future, Jesus will judge the
world, restore the Kingdom to Israel, and grant eternal life to the faithful, ie
fulfill the promises (cp Acts 1:6,11; 3:19-21; Rev 11:18; 20:4; Dan 12:2,3).
Relatively speaking, the time between the two Comings of Jesus is unimportant,
and thus it is given little, if any, prophetic detail.