1These things happened during the first year Darius son of Xerxes was king. He was a descendant of the Medes. 2During Darius’ first year as king, I, Daniel, was reading the Scriptures. In them I saw what the Lord told Jeremiah. He said Jerusalem would be an empty desert for 70 years.
3Then I turned to the Lord God. I prayed to him and asked him for help. I did not eat any food. To show how sad I was I put on rough cloth and sat in ashes. 4I prayed to the Lord my God. I told him about all of my sins. I said, “Lord, you are a great God. You cause fear and wonder. You keep your agreement of love with all who love you and obey your commands.
5“But we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and turned against you. We have not obeyed your commands and laws. 6We did not listen to your servants, the prophets. They spoke for you to our kings, our leaders and our ancestors. They spoke to all the people of the land.
7“Lord, you are good and right. But we are full of shame today. The people of Judah and Jerusalem and all the people of Israel are ashamed. People near and far whom you scattered among many nations are ashamed. We were not loyal to you. 8Lord, we are all ashamed. Our kings and leaders and our fathers are ashamed. This is because we have sinned against you.
9“But, Lord our God, you show us mercy. You forgive us even though we have turned against you. 10We have not obeyed the Lord our God. We have not obeyed the teachings he gave us through his servants, the prophets. 11All the people of Israel have disobeyed your teachings. They all have turned away and refused to obey you. So you brought on us the curses and promises of punishment written in the Teachings of Moses, the servant of God. These things have happened to us because we sinned against you.
12“God said these things would happen to us and our leaders. And he made them happen. You brought on us a great disaster. Nothing has ever been done here on earth like what was done to Jerusalem. 13All this disaster came to us just as it is written in the Teachings of Moses. But we still have not stopped sinning. We still do not pay attention to your truth. 14The Lord was ready to bring the disaster on us. This is because he is right in everything he does. But we still have not obeyed him.
15“Lord our God, you used your power and brought us out of Egypt. Because of that, your name is known even today. Lord, we have sinned. We have done wrong. 16Lord, you do the right things. So do not be angry with Jerusalem. Jerusalem is your city on your holy hill. All this has happened because of our sins and the evil things done by our ancestors. So now people all around insult and make fun of Jerusalem and your people.
17“Now, our God, hear my prayers. I am your servant. Listen to my prayer for help. Do good things for your holy place that is in ruins. Do this for your sake. 18My God, pay attention and hear me. Open your eyes and see all the terrible things that have happened to us. See what has happened to the city that is called by your name. We do not ask these things because we are good. We ask because of your mercy. 19Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear us and do something! For your sake, don’t wait! Your city and your people are called by your name.”
20I was saying those things in my prayer to the Lord, my God. I was confessing my sins and the sins of the people of Israel. I was praying for God’s holy hill. 21While I was still praying, Gabriel came to me. Gabriel was the person I had seen in my last vision. He came flying quickly to me about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22Gabriel said to me, “Daniel, I have come to give you wisdom and to help you understand. 23When 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.
24“God has ordered 490 years for your people and your holy city. These years are ordered 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 make the vision and prophecy come true; and to appoint a most holy place.
25“Learn and understand these things. A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem. The time from this command until the appointed leader comes will be 49 years and 434 years. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and a trench around it. But it will be built in times of trouble. 26After the 434 years the appointed leader will be killed. He will have nothing. The people of the leader who is to come will destroy the city. They will also destroy the holy place. That end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end. God has ordered that place to be completely destroyed. 27That leader will make an agreement with many people for 7 years. He will put a stop to offerings and sacrifices after 3½ years. And the horrible thing that destroys will be placed on the highest point of the Temple. But God has ordered him to be destroyed!”