question-clockI received the following question:

I’m looking into some prophecy claims.  One of the claims is that when the bible refers to ‘times’ as in ‘7 times’ that one time equals 360 years.  So 7 times would be 7 x 360 years.  Is there anything in the bible to back up this claim of a time being the same as 360 years?

The word for “time” that they are referring to is, somewhat unfortunately, Aramaic, so it only really occurs in the book of Daniel (Daniel chapters 2-7 are in Aramaic, whereas only one other chapter and a few scattered verses are Aramaic elsewhere.) But it is pretty easy to establish from its usage in Daniel that a “time” is not 360 years.

The passage they are probably trying to make to be 7 X 360 years is Daniel 7:25.

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.

The word here for “time,” times,” and “time” is the Aramaic word ‘iddan (the first word “times” is a different Aramaic word.) Those who are setting this forth are probably trying to make this to be a prophecy leading up to the return of Christ, and claiming that from some point in the past this is predicting 1,260 years until his return.

The fact that the word ‘iddan cannot possibly be used for 360 years is clear from its use in Daniel 4, where it is used in verses 16, 23, 25, and 32 to declare a seven-‘iddan punishment upon Nebuchadnezzar. It is clear that this must have been an extensive period of time, since his “hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws” during this time. It could not, then, have been seven days, as some have foolishly suggested. But it clearly could not mean 2,520 years, either, as verse 34 makes clear, “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.” Clearly this seven-‘iddan period ended during Nebuchadnezzar’s lifetime. He did not undergo his punishment for 2,520 years.

Ultimately, I think ‘iddan must mean years, and the prophecy in Daniel 7:25 is referring to a 3.5 year period. This is probably the second half of the seven year period that is several times mentioned in Daniel.