"Days" and "Years"
The word usually translated as "day" is Strong's word number 3117.
It has several possible meanings. Meaning number 1e is "year".
(See also - 1260 literal, 24 hour days in church history)
Most people accept that the seventy "weeks" in chapter 9 refer
to periods of seven years. Daniel's visions were consistent. Daniel's
thousands of "days" actually cover thousands of years.
||What is the simplest
In some contexts, "days" are
not what they seem:
I believe in taking the simplest explanation for each part
of the Bible. Most of the time, there is no reason to take a
"day" as anything other than 24 hours. But in the
apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, the "24
hour" assumption has some difficulties:
- Why would Daniel (for example) pick just three years,
starting a hundred years after his death, as being
vitally important to prophecy? Much more important things
happened since then, lasting much greater lengths of
- Why use such obscure phrases as "a time, time, and
the dividing of a time" when saying "three and
a half years" would have made more sense?
- The "day" prophecies in Daniel are in the
context of other events (such as the return to rebuild
Jerusalem) that are firmly dated before the
Christian Era. So if the "days" meant 24 hour
periods, they would be over before Christ. Yet John,
writing in Revelation, referred to the 1260 period (using
much the same language as Daniel) as being still yet to
- The "days" prophecies refer both to events near
to Daniel's time, and to events in the last days, without
any hint of a gap in between.
- Traditional interpretations involving literal days only
work if you abuse the figures. Take for example the 2300
days. This is often applied to Antiochus' defiling of the
temple, but it only fits if you halve the figure and then
take off a couple of months. In contrast, the prophecies
are fulfilled precisely if we read "day"
- There are many places in the Bible where "day"
"day" represents, or mirrors, a year
- Genesis 5 - the genealogies frequently say "the days
of (name) were (x) years". Days and years seem to be
- Genesis 29:27 - Jacob served "a week" for
Rachel, meaning seven years.
- Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 25:3-4 - a seventh day Sabbath is
paralleled by a seventh year Sabbath.
- Exodus 13:10 - the annual Passover should be kept
"from days to days". Similar wording is used
regarding years in Numbers 9:22, Judges 1:40, 1 Samuel
1:21, 1 Samuel 2:19, 1 Samuel 27:7 and 1 Kings 1:1.
English translations often change these references to say
"year" or "years".
- Numbers 14:34 - The children of Israel wander in the
wilderness for forty years, to correspond to a previous
forty day period.
- Ezekiel 4:5-6 - This is probably
the key text, since it deals specifically with predictive
prophecy. Ezekiel is given a prophecy for the people,
where every day is to symbolize a year.
- (LDS readers should also compare JST Revelation 12:5 with
KJV revelation 12:6.)
Where a "day" represents a
"year" in Daniel:
- Daniel 1:5, 18 - the end of Daniel's three years'
training is referred to as the end of his
- Daniel 8:26 - many years in the future is described as
"many days" in the future.
- Daniel 9 - the "seventy weeks" prophecy, even
before we see its literal fulfillment, only makes sense
if a "week" is seven years. In fact, the Hebrew
word for "week" is just "seven".
In the light of the above, it seems entirely reasonable
that Daniel's "days", when in the context of
"end of the world" predictions, can be read as
Similarly, the 42 "months", given that they
equal 1260 "days", should be seen as 42 groups of
30 years (the ancient Jewish month had 30 days). And the
"time and times and dividing of a time", since
"a time" can be translated "a year", and
3 1/2 years contain 42 months, could be
treated in the same way.
Just because a single Jewish year had 360 days, this does not
mean that we should count 1260 years as 1260 times 360 days
(making something less than 1260 of the years that we are
used to). Just as we have "leap years", where an
extra day is added to keep us up with the solar year, so the
ancient Jews used to add an extra month when necessary,
called "second Adar" (after the normal month
"Adar"). So individual years come in as 360 days,
just as individual modern years are taken as 365 days. But
over large periods of time we can treat a year as a solar
year - that is, lasting slightly less than 365.25 days.
||Why the little horn's
1260 "days" cannot be literal "days"
- The context:
The prophecy of Daniel on which there is most agreement -
the messianic prophecy of chapter 9 - has
"weeks" meaning "periods of seven
years". The 1260 prophecies come either side of this
- No three and a half year period (past or yet to come)
can possibly fit:
Perhaps the Bible skips over these thousands of years
because the final three and a half years is so
unspeakably awful? No. As shown below, the church will
not be controlled by Satan. So the final three and a half
years cannot be said to be worse for the church than
anything that has gone before.
- No huge gap:
In Daniel 7, the little horn is shown as rising to power
at the time of the ten kingdoms that came after Rome. In
Daniel 8, we learn of the origin of the horn, which can
be traced right back to the end of the Greek world. This
takes us to the rise of Byzantium at the latest (see discussion). It is true
that the horn appears before the 1260
"days" begins, but is it credible to assume a
gap of one to two thousand years? before the horn
gets into gear?
- Too much happens:
Too much happens in this period to squash into such a
short space of time. The entire church is overcome -a
process that took centuries, or decades at the very least
- after the apostles died. Most people who hold to the
"literal years" theory place the period of
defeat right at the end, yet this is the same time that
the gospel has been preached to the whole world (Matthew
24:14), with the help of angels (Revelation 14:6-7). The
church is likely to be bigger than ever, and even less
likely to be quickly overcome. And if the process takes a
long time (a slow fall into apostasy followed by three
and a half years of death), this just conflicts even more
with the triumphal message referred to earlier.
the bottom line
The ancient prophecies were not talking about long-dead
peoples. They were talking about you!