My question deals with Daniel 9:24-27 and 12:9ff. I don't understand the significance of the numbers. What I do understand is that some parts of it deal with Titus, the Roman emperor in 70 A.D., & the destruction of the rebuilt Temple. Are the numbers symbols or do they imply specific dates? What role do the numbers play in this prophecy? -- Peter Lang (Atlanta)

Tough question. My view is that the numbers are symbolic, though many Bible believers think the seventy weeks passage predicts the very year of the crucifixion. The difficulty--and you put your finger on this--is knowing when the numbers are symbolic and when they are literal, especially in a book, like Daniel, so fraught with symbolism.

While a "seventy" suggests a symbolic time period and a "week" may imply a seven-year period, it is far from certain that seventy weeks means 490 years or that the sixty-nine weeks mean 483 years. Rather than take my word for the interpretation of a difficult passage--and there are other difficulties in this passage--I suggest you read some good commentaries on Daniel, such as Jim McGuiggan s Daniel or John Oakes Daniel: Prophet to the Nations. Incidentally, Vespasian was the Roman emperor 69-79 AD; his son Titus--who led the armies which destroyed Jerusalem in 70--took over as Caesar in 79.

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