Catalogue Entry: THEM00204

Part I, Chapter X: Of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (London: 1733).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]

[1] Chap. ix. 24, 25, 26, 27.

[2] Cut upon. A phrase in Hebrew, taken from the practise of numbring by cutting notches.

[3] Heb. to seal, i.e. to finish or consummate: a metaphor taken from sealing what is finished. So the Jews compute, ad obsignatum Misna, ad obsignatum Talmud, that is, ad absolutum.

[4] Heb. the Prophet, not the Prophecy.

[5] Heb. the Messiah, that is, in Greek, the Christ; in English, the Anointed. I use the English word, that the relation of this clause to the former may appear.

[6] Jerusalem.

[7] Jerusalem.

[8] See Isa. xxiii. 13.

[9] Iren. l. 5. Hær. c. 25.

[10] Apud Hieron. in h. l.

[11] 1 Kings xi. 7.


The antient solar years of the eastern nations consisted of 12 months, and every month of 30 days: and hence came the division of a circle into 360 degrees. This year seems to be used by Moses <138> in his history of the Flood, and by John in the Apocalypse, where a time, times and half a time, 42 months and 1260 days, are put equipollent. But in reckoning by many of these years together, an account is to be kept of the odd days which were added to the end of these years. For the Egyptians added five days to the end of this year; and so did the Chaldeans long before the times of Daniel, as appears by the Æra, of Nabonassar: and the Persian Magi used the same year of 365 days, till the Empire of the Arabians. The antient Greeks also used the same solar year of 12 equal months, or 360 days; but every other year added an intercalary month, consisting of 10 and 11 days alternately.

The year of the Jews, even from their coming out of Egypt, was Luni-solar. It was solar, for the harvest always followed the Passover, and the fruits of the land were always gathered before the feast of Tabernacles, Levit. xxiii. But the months were lunar, for the people were commanded by Moses in the beginning of every month to blow with trumpets, and offer burnt offerings with their drink offerings, Num. x. 10. xxviii. 11, 14. and this solemnity was kept on the new moons, Psal. lxxxi. 3, 4, 5.    1 Chron. xxiii. 31. These months were called by Moses the first, second, third, fourth month, &c. and the first month was also called Abib, the second Zif, the seventh Ethanim, the eighth Bull, Exod. xiii. 4.    1 Kings vi. 37, 38. viii. 2. But in the Babylonian captivity the Jews used the names of the Chaldean months, and by those names understood the months of their own year; so that the Jewish months then lost their old names, and are now called by those of the Chaldeans.

The Jews began their civil year from the autumnal Equinox, and their sacred year from the vernal: and the first day of the first month was on the visible new moon, which was nearest the Equinox.

Whether Daniel used the Chaldaick or Jewish year, is not very material; the difference being but six hours in a year, and 4 months in 480 years. But I take his months to be Jewish: first, because Daniel was a Jew, and the Jews even by the names of the Chaldean months understood the months of their own year: secondly, because this Prophecy is grounded on Jeremiah's concerning the 70 years captivity, and therefore must be understood of the same sort of years with the seventy; and those are Jewish, since that Prophecy was given in Judea before the captivity: and lastly, because Daniel reckons by weeks of years, which is a way of reckoning peculiar to the Jewish years. For as their days ran by sevens, and the last day of every seven was a sabbath; so their years ran by sevens, and the last year of every seven was a sabbatical year, and seven such weeks of years made a Jubilee.

© 2023 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

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