"Darius, son of Ahasuerus, born a Mede, became king over the land of Babylon.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy.
I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer - praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes.
I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God:
Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable. We've done evil things, rebelled, dodged and taken detours around your clearly marked paths.
We've turned a deaf ear to your servants the prophets, who preached your Word to our kings and leaders, our parents, and all the people in the land.
You have done everything right, Master, but all we have to show for our lives is guilt and shame, the whole lot of us - people of Judah, citizens of Jerusalem, Israel at home and Israel in exile in all the places we've been banished to because of our betrayal of you.
Oh yes, God, we've been exposed in our shame, all of us - our kings, leaders, parents - before the whole world. And deservedly so, because of our sin.
"'Compassion is our only hope, the compassion of you, the Master, our God, since in our rebellion we've forfeited our rights.
We paid no attention to you when you told us how to live, the clear teaching that came through your servants the prophets.
All of us in Israel ignored what you said. We defied your instructions and did what we pleased. And now we're paying for it: The solemn curse written out plainly in the revelation to God's servant Moses is now doing its work among us, the wages of our sin against you.
You did to us and our rulers what you said you would do: You brought this catastrophic disaster on us, the worst disaster on record - and in Jerusalem!
"'Just as written in God's revelation to Moses, the catastrophe was total. Nothing was held back. We kept at our sinning, never giving you a second thought, oblivious to your clear warning,
and so you had no choice but to let the disaster loose on us in full force. You, our God, had a perfect right to do this since we persistently and defiantly ignored you.
"'Master, you are our God, for you delivered your people from the land of Egypt in a show of power - people are still talking about it! We confess that we have sinned, that we have lived bad lives.
Following the lines of what you have always done in setting things right, setting people right, please stop being so angry with Jerusalem, your very own city, your holy mountain. We know it's our fault that this has happened, all because of our sins and our parents' sins, and now we're an embarrassment to everyone around us. We're a blot on the neighborhood.
So listen, God, to this determined prayer of your servant. Have mercy on your ruined Sanctuary. Act out of who you are, not out of what we are.
"'Turn your ears our way, God, and listen. Open your eyes and take a long look at our ruined city, this city named after you. We know that we don't deserve a hearing from you. Our appeal is to your compassion. This prayer is our last and only hope:
"'Master, listen to us! Master, forgive us! Master, look at us and do something! Master, don't put us off! Your city and your people are named after you: You have a stake in us!'
"While I was pouring out my heart, baring my sins and the sins of my people Israel, praying my life out before my God, interceding for the holy mountain of my God
- while I was absorbed in this praying, the humanlike Gabriel, the one I had seen in an earlier vision, approached me, flying in like a bird about the time of evening worship.
"He stood before me and said, 'Daniel, I have come to make things plain to you.
You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I'm here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved! So listen carefully to the answer, the plain meaning of what is revealed:
"'Seventy sevens are set for your people and for your holy city to throttle rebellion, stop sin, wipe out crime, set things right forever, confirm what the prophet saw, and anoint The Holy of Holies.
"'Here is what you must understand: From the time the word goes out to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Anointed Leader, there will be seven sevens. The rebuilding will take sixty-two sevens, including building streets and digging a moat. Those will be rough times.
After the sixty-two sevens, the Anointed Leader will be killed - the end of him. The city and Sanctuary will be laid in ruins by the army of the newly arriving leader. The end will come in a rush, like a flood. War will rage right up to the end, desolation the order of the day.
"'Then for one seven, he will forge many and strong alliances, but halfway through the seven he will banish worship and prayers. At the place of worship, a desecrating obscenity will be set up and remain until finally the desecrator himself is decisively destroyed.'"