Strong’s Concordance defines this Hebrew word as: “literally sevened, that is, a week (specifically of
years):—seven, week.” In Daniel 9 this word is translated in the NIV as
in the KJV as ‘weeks’.
This word first appears in the Bible in Genesis 29:27 where it refers
Jacob’s bridal week with Leah, for which her father required seven
years of service from Jacob, twice, once for each of his wives. Daniel
uses the same word in another chapter (10:2,3) to refer to a week. In
almost all other cases in the Old Testament the word shabua is used to refer to the
Feast of Weeks.
The Feast of Weeks occurs on the 50th day from the Feast of
First Fruits, the Wave Sheaf offering. This offering is given on the
day after the weekly Sabbath during unleavened bread. Leviticus
23:15 explains that the feast of weeks is the day after counting off
seven Sabbaths. In referring to the Sabbath, the seventh day, this
the week. Where do we see this exact same pattern? It is the Jubilee
year where one counts off seven sabbatical years and then the following
year is a Jubilee to the Lord.
One definition of the Sabbath we find in the Bible is the 7th
day. It is a holy day and to be set aside as a sacred day of rest. We
see in Lev 23:27-32 that the Day of Atonement is also referred to as a
sabbath. The pattern of
the 7th in the 7th day Sabbath is also seen in
larger time cycles. In Leviticus 25:1-4 the Lord explains that every 7th
year is to be a sabbath rest for the land and calls it simply a
sabbath. And then to emphasize the importance of this cyclical rest,
the great Jubilee year is defined by counting off “seven sabbaths of
years” (Lev 23:8). Finally, we know that the 7th day also
refers to the future Sabbath rest of the 7th millennium for
So we see that the word sabbath
can refer to the 7th day of rest for God's people, to the 7th
year of rest for the land and also to the future millennial rest for
all. This word can refer to any of these, so it’s meaning is determined
by its context.
Since the word “shabua” is
used primarily to refer to the feast of weeks, there is a lot of
contextual meaning here. The feast of weeks is an annual reminder of
the great Jubilee year, which itself is a once or twice in a lifetime
reminder of the promise of the future rule of the Messiah. So the
definition of counting Sabbaths for the feast of weeks carries with it
the meaning of the weekly cycle of sabbaths and the yearly cycle of
sabbaths. It is the context again which tells you the level of meaning
that is being conveyed and often it is more than one at the same time.
When studying the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel chapter 9, the word “shabua” alone can refer to 7 days
or 7 years, so we must look at the context. Daniel is praying about
Jeremiah’s prophecy that Israel will be in captivity for 70 years, so
years is the likely time frame. Further, we know from Jeremiah 34:13-14
that one of the reasons for this penalty was the fact that the
Israelites did not remember the seven year sabbatical laws,
specifically to release their fellow Hebrew slaves. So this also points
When viewing the fulfillment of the first
69 weeks of the prophecy, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the
coming of Messiah, this time frame cannot possibly be in days. Since
shabua can refer to years, and years definitely fits the record of
history, then there can be no doubt that we are talking about weeks of
years in the 70 weeks prophecy.
The study and practice of Judaism helps one to
see and appreciate the various layers of context that are defined in
the Bible (Rom 1:16).
There is another insight we can gain from the
Hebrew language. A root word for “shabua” is “shaba”.
meaning according to Strong’s concordance is: “A primitive root;
properly to becomplete, … to seven oneself, …”. So carried within the
of the very word that defines the time period of the tribulation, is
of being completed, of being perfected, which is the same idea as the
of the silver and gold seen throughout the Bible. Why would God want to
remove us from something designed to complete us? The very word itself
a post-tribulation view of when we are to meet our Lord in the air.