The spiritual significance of the number 490 comes from the fact that it is seven times seventy (7 x 70).
The prophet Daniel was a member of Judah’s royal family. When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon first attacked Jerusalem in 605 B.C. he took a very young Daniel, as well as others of the royal family, captive. This captivity of the Kingdom of Judah was allowed by God as punishment for their long history of sin and disobedience to him. After living several years in Babylon, Daniel discovers something very revealing while reading the word of God.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, which came according to the Word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years (Daniel 9:2 , HBFV).
Jeremiah’s prophecy foretold that the Jewish people (which included Daniel) would be taken captive for a period of time (Jeremiah 25:7 – 12). The desolation of Jerusalem began in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar, for the third time, attacked the city.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s previous two campaigns into Judean territory (605 and 597 B.C.) he left Jerusalem and the temple pretty much intact. In 586, however, he destroyed the city and burned the temple built by Solomon completely to the ground. God’s house of prayer stayed destroyed for seventy years until 516 B.C., when it was rebuilt under the reign of Persia’s Darius I.
The discovery of Jeremiah’s prophecy within the word of God brought Daniel to his knees in prayer. As he prayed something unique and rare occurred. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to him in order to give him understanding and wisdom regarding certain prophetic events.
It was revealed to Daniel that ANOTHER prophecy would affect both the Jews and Jerusalem. It is commonly referred to as Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy, “Seven times seventy years is the length of time God has set for freeing your people . . . ” (Daniel 9:24).
This symbolic period of seventy weeks (70 ‘weeks’ times 7 days in a week equals 490 prophetic years) would begin from the very “decree” (Nehemiah 2:1 – 6) which formally ended the 70 years of exile. And these should run their course, marked by certain incidents, before the full and final restoration of Daniel’s “people” and “holy city” should be accomplished. Thus, the number 490 marks the product of spiritual perfection (7) with regard to the working out of Jerusalem’s number (70).