These things happened during the first year Darius son of Xerxes was king over Babylon. He was a descendant of the Medes.
During Darius' first year as king, I, Daniel, was reading the Scriptures. I saw that the Lord told Jeremiah that Jerusalem would be empty ruins for seventy years.
Then I turned to the Lord God and prayed and asked him for help. I did not eat any food. To show my sadness, I put on rough cloth and sat in ashes.
I prayed to the Lord my God and told him about all of our sins. I said, "Lord, you are a great God who causes fear and wonder. You keep your agreement of love with all who love you and obey your commands.
"But we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and turned against you, your commands, and your laws.
We did not listen to your servants, the prophets, who spoke for you to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors, and all the people of the land.
"Lord, you are good and right, but we are full of shame today -- the people of Judah and Jerusalem, all the people of Israel, those near and far whom you scattered among many nations because they were not loyal to you.
Lord, we are all ashamed. Our kings and leaders and our fathers are ashamed, because we have sinned against you.
"But, Lord our God, you show us mercy and forgive us even though we have turned against you.
We have not obeyed the Lord our God or the teachings he gave us through his servants, the prophets.
All the people of Israel have disobeyed your teachings and have turned away, refusing to obey you. So you brought on us the curses and promises of punishment written in the Teachings of Moses, the servant of God, because we sinned against you.
"You said these things would happen to us and our leaders, and you made them happen; you brought on us a great disaster. Nothing has ever been done on earth like what was done to Jerusalem.
All this disaster came to us just as it is written in the Teachings of Moses. But we have not pleaded with the Lord our God. We have not stopped sinning. We have not paid attention to your truth.
The Lord was ready to bring the disaster on us, and he did it because the Lord our God is right in everything he does. But we still did not obey him.
"Lord our God, you used your power and brought us out of Egypt. Because of that, your name is known even today. But we have sinned and have done wrong.
Lord, you do what is right, but please do not be angry with Jerusalem, your city on your holy hill. Because of our sins and the evil things done by our ancestors, people all around insult and make fun of Jerusalem and your people.
"Now, our God, hear the prayers of your servant. Listen to my prayer for help, and for your sake do good things for your holy place that is in ruins.
My God, pay attention and hear me. Open your eyes and see all the terrible things that have happened to us. See how our lives have been ruined and what has happened to the city that is called by your name. We do not ask these things because we are good; instead, we ask because of your mercy.
Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear us and do something! For your sake, don't wait, because your city and your people are called by your name."
While I was saying these things in my prayer to the Lord, my God, confessing my sins and the sins of the people of Israel and praying for God's holy hill,
Gabriel came to me. (I had seen him in my last vision.) He came flying quickly to me about the time of the evening sacrifice, while I was still praying.
He taught me and said to me, "Daniel, I have come to give you wisdom and to help you understand.
When you first started praying, an answer was given, and I came to tell you, because God loves you very much. So think about the message and understand the vision.
"God has ordered four hundred ninety years for your people and your holy city for these reasons: to stop people from turning against God; to put an end to sin; to take away evil; to bring in goodness that continues forever; to bring about the vision and prophecy; and to appoint a most holy place.
"Learn and understand these things. A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem. The time from this command until the appointed leader comes will be forty-nine years and four hundred thirty-four years. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and a trench filled with water around it, but it will be built in times of trouble.
After the four hundred thirty-four years the appointed leader will be killed; he will have nothing. The people of the leader who is to come will destroy the city and the holy place. The end of the city will come like a flood, and war will continue until the end. God has ordered that place to be completely destroyed.
That leader will make firm an agreement with many people for seven years. He will stop the offerings and sacrifices after three and one-half years. A destroyer will do terrible things until the ordered end comes to the destroyed city."