The phrase "a time, times, and a half" mentioned in Daniel's prophecies is a key that unlocks the meaning of other prophecies in both Old and New Testaments. Daniel wrote that when this period is up, all the events foretold in his prophecies will be finished (Daniel 12.5-7):
Then I, Daniel, looked, and two others appeared, one standing on this bank of the stream and one on the other. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was upstream, "How long shall it be until the end of these wonders?" The man clothed in linen, who was upstream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven. And I heard him swear by the one who lives forever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished.
The "time, times, and a half" is usually understood as representing three and a half years. The phrase occurs in Revelation 12:14, and similar periods of 42 months, and 1,260 days, are mentioned by John elsewhere in Revelation. Note that 1,260 days are not the exact equivalent of three and one half years; in modern calendars a period of three and a half years is approximately 1,278 days. Even when counting lunar months, there is no precise correspondence. The calendar used by the Hebrews and Babylonians was a solar-lunar one, in which some years consisted of 13 months. There were 12 years with 12 months, and 7 years with 13 months in 19 years. This 19-year cycle was known to the Babylonians in the time of Daniel.
Using appropriate combinations of 12 and 13-month years, the mysterious numbers mentioned in Daniel 12:11-12 can be shown to be equivalent to "time, times, and a half", where each section has different units, some years being 12 months, and others being 13 months. Daniel refers to 1,290 days and 1,335 days. The first line of the table below shows 1 year of 13 months, 2 years of 12 months, plus a half year of 12 months, for a total of 1,290 days. Similarly the second line shows 1 year of 12 months, 2 years of 13 months, and a half year of 13 months, for a total of 1,335 days. The extra months can be added in other combinations, besides the ones shown here.
|13 x 30 = 390||2 x 12 x 30 = 720||12 x 30 / 2 = 180||Total: 1,290 days|
|12 x 30 = 360||2 x 13 x 30 = 780||13 x 30 / 2 = 195||Total: 1,335 days|
Since Daniel provides two different numbers for the duration of the "time, times, and a half", it cannot be a literal three and a half years.
The 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 is related to the "time, times, and a half". The 70 weeks are also broken down into 3 sections, consisting of 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and one week, and the final week can be subdivided into 2 half-weeks. Each of these sections may require different units, just as various units are required in the calculation of the 1,290 days, and the 1,335 days, as shown in the table above.
There is also a link between the "time, times, and a half" and the writing on the wall that appeared during Belshazzar's feast, described in Daniel 5. This writing consisted of monetary units, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin". The Columbia Encyclopedia says:
These Aramaic words may be translated literally as, "It has been counted and counted, weighed and divided."
Daniel interpreted the writing as follows (Daniel 5:26-28):
Mene: God has numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
Tekel: Thou are weighed in the balances, and found wanting.
Upharsin: Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Note the correspondence between the pattern in the words "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin", which have a structure or pattern similar to one in the phrase "time, times, and a half" and the pattern of the 70 weeks.
The phrase "time, times, and a half" is mentioned in Daniel 7:25. Here the saints are pictured as being subject to the sinister little horn of the fourth beast in Daniel's vision, that has "eyes like the eyes of a man" and "a mouth speaking great things." I suggest the "eyes like the eyes of a man" represent a human point of view, that contrasts with the divine one. The prophecy depicts God's people as being subject to the little horn, until the "time, times, and the dividing of time".
In the interpretation of the 70 weeks prophecy, the final week presents the most difficulty for bible scholars. The first 69 weeks culminate in the appearance of the Messiah, in approximately 28 AD. In the gospel accounts, we can find evidence for a three and a half year ministry of Jesus, by carefully noting the annual feast days. The ministry of Jesus is the first half of the 70th week, and the "time, times, and a half" completes the 70 weeks. During the last week, Christ "confirms the covenant with many." (Daniel 9:27) This is the gospel being preached in the world. The gospel is called the new covenant in Hebrews 8:13 and in Hebrews 12:24, which refers to Jesus as the "mediator of the new covenant."
The final half-week cannot be a real three and a half year period, since Daniel identifies it with two different numbers, but "time, times, and a half" is a label, or sign, representing the time during which Christ confirms his covenant with believers. Christ was "cut off" or crucified in the midst of the final week. The sacrifice and the oblation ceased; the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans during the final half-week. The 42 months, and 1,260 days, and 1,290 days, and 1,335 days all represent this same period. In the first century AD, the apostle John wrote that it was already "the last time" (1 John 2:18):
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
No doubt John here refers to the final "time, times, and a half" of Daniel's 70 weeks, which spans the entire period in which Christ confirms the covenant and the gospel is proclaimed by the Church.
Some scholars try to insert an immense gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy, but time has no gaps! A far more satisfactory explanation of Daniel's 70 weeks is that there are different units in the various sections. The final half-week of the 70 weeks corresponds to the mystical "time, times, and a half", representing the time remaining for the Church to take the gospel to the world.
|The 70 Weeks of
x 7 leap years = 133 years
(1 leap year = 13 months)
| 538 BC - 405 BC
x 7 years = 434 years
||405 BC - 28 AD
year ministry of Jesus
||28 AD - 31 AD
|"time, times and a half"
The holy city is the Church
|31 AD - ?
Copyright © 2001 by Douglas E. Cox
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