In King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of Daniel 4, seven times are prophesied. Daniel gave the king the literal interpretation, in which Nebuchadnezzar was represented by the tree which grew large, strong, and tall. This represented King Nebuchadnezzar’s life, power, and dominion when he was attributing his power to his own human strength.
Then, the “tree” was hewn down, and a band was put around its base. The dream foretold how Nebuchadnezzar would live with the beasts of the field for “seven periods of time” or literally seven years. This was fulfilled, and after seven years, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled. He learned to praise the Lord and recognized God as the supreme LORD – not himself. (Daniel 4:34-37) There is significance, however, in the wording of “seven times” or “seven periods of time” instead of seven years. This leads us to consider a symbolic interpretation.
The phrase, “seven times,” is also used in Leviticus 26. God promised if Israel would obey God’s laws, they would be blessed above other nations; if not, punishments would befall them. The conclusion is stated thus: “And I will walk among you and be your God, and ye shall be my people;…but if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, …I will set my face against you,…they that hate you shall reign over you.” “And ye shall sow your seed in vain; for your enemies shall eat it.” “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more (further) for your sins.” Leviticus 26:17-18, 24, 28. (These “seven times” of punishment are mentioned three times.)
A prophetic principle of interpretation is found in Ezekiel 4:6, “…I have appointed thee each day for a year.” Other time prophesies in Daniel foretell periods of 2,300 days, 70 weeks, etc. None of these periods were literal, but each day represented a year. Therefore, in Daniel 4, we interpret 7 times as 7 prophetic years. 7 x 360 (days in a prophetic year) = 2520 years.
We recognize Daniel 4 and Daniel 7 as parallel pictures. In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar, the ruling empire – specifically over the Jews – is represented as beastly. In Daniel 7, earth’s empires (over the Jews) are symbolized as horrible beasts. Thus, the beastly rulership of Daniel 4 is detailed by the beastly Gentile governments of Daniel 7.
Jesus also referred to this period of punishment in Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Essentially, Gentile governments began brutal rule over Judah when Judah’s King Zedekiah lost his crown in 606 B.C. This dates the victory of the King of Babylon over the Jews living in Israel and 70 years of the land’s desolation. The end of the Gentile rule over Israel is 2520 years after 606 B.C., which is 1914 A.D. History shows 1914 began a further step leading to the Jews reestablishing self-rule in their homeland of Israel.