Notes on Daniel
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 8 February 2010; Revised 30 October 2015
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). The text for this chapter may be found here. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Most versions can be accessed on the Internet.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here. Citations for Talmud tractates are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebraic and Jewish nature of Scripture I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament) and Besekh (New Testament), as well as the terms Yeshua (Jesus) and Messiah (Christ).
Vocabulary: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB."
Please see the Introduction for background information on the book of Daniel, interpretative approaches and historical context.
1- Darius: This is the same Darius who succeeded Belshazzar (5:31) and who was manipulated into sentencing Daniel to the lion's den (6:6-7). See the notes on Chapter Six for the viewpoints for identifying this king. Darius is identified as the son of Ahasuerus, an attempt at reproducing the sound of the Hebrew word, which itself is an approximation of the Persian word. The NIV has Xerxes, which is a Greek name. Like Darius, Xerxes (Ahasuerus) was a title applied to his father (Miller). The first year may have been the second year, since the accession year was often not counted in numbering the years of kings.
2- Books: Heb. sÍpherim (pl. of sÍpher) means a missive, document, writing or book (BDB 706). The NIV translates the word as "Scriptures." SÍpher could be anything written, such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document. While hard surfaces, such as stone, often received writing, the main materials available for writing the text of the Scriptures were skins, papyrus and vellum (NIBD 1110). The use of prepared leather for recording documents dates well into antiquity and was used by the Hebrew prophets (Jer 36:23). In the LXX sÍpher is rendered by biblion and is used for both individual sacred writings as here or the Torah (Deut 17:18; 28:58; cf. Heb 9:19). The plural mention of "books" could refer to the prophecies of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, although Jeremiah's prophecy is the original source.
Desolations, pl. of Heb. chorbah , means waste, desolation or ruin (BDB 352). Miller suggests the plural emphasizes the intensity of the desolations suffered. It would no doubt refer to the destroyed cities, dwellings and fields in Judah. The expression of seventy years first appears as the length of Kenan's life (Gen 5:12) and later meant as an expectation of a normal life-span, as in Psalm 90:10, "As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years." In later Scripture writings the expression is used as a definite period of prophetic significance pertaining to the exile of the Jews (2Chr 36:21; Jer 25:11-12; 29:10, Dan 9:2; Zech 1:12; 7:5).
Daniel, who is at least 80 years of age at this point, takes note of the mention of seventy years in the book of Jeremiah. The context of the great prophet affirms the historical setting of this chapter and Daniel's book. Scholars who cast doubt on the predictive nature of Daniel's book by placing its authorship in the Maccabean years likewise impugn Jeremiah's prophecy.
Jeremiah (627-585 B.C.) was a prophet of judgment, since he warned his people about the coming destruction by Babylon. Many of his contemporaries regarded him as a traitor. In spite of his gloomy message, he also soared to heights of future hope and Messianic prophecy. Apparently his writings were brought to Babylon by someone in the last group of exiles in 586 B.C.
Jeremiah (Heb. Yirmeyahu) means "Yah loosens" (BDB 941). He was the son of a priest, Hilkiah, from Anathoth in Benjamin. He was forbidden to marry or have children (Jer 16:2). He was appointed as prophet before he was born, (Jer 1:5) and served during the reigns of Josiah to Gedaliah, (Jer 1:2-3). He prophesied to Judah, exiles and Gentile nations, and apparently ended his ministry in Egypt. He was assisted with writing by Baruch, (Jer 36:1-4, 32; 45:1).
While Jeremiah warned Judah of judgment via Babylon, he also taught that Adonai is in control of Israelís destiny and promised that Adonai would make all things new. There are several memorable passages in Jeremiah, such as "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you," 29:7; "I know the plans I have for you," 29:11; "I will make a new covenant," 31:31; but the message that stood out to Daniel was "When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place" (29:10).
The message of Jeremiah in fact offered considerable future hope. The expression "Days are coming" occurs 16 times in Jeremiah whereas it only occurs 5 times elsewhere in the Bible. Several passages promise a Davidic Messiah (23:5-6; 30:8-9, 21-24; 33:14-26); the return of exiles (16:14; 23:7-8; 30:3; 31:1-14; 32:36-37); the renewal of the Land (31:27-28; 32:42-44); a New covenant (31:31-34; 32:38-40); the rebuilding of Jerusalem (31:38-40), the restoration of Levitical ministry (33:18); and judgment on Judah's enemies (48:12-13; 49:2; 51:47-52).
Such passages would no doubt stir up Daniel with sudden hope as he began to calculate the years. However, determining the beginning and ending dates of the prophetic seventy years has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate across the centuries. Both Daniel and Zechariah (1:12) relate the expression to the period of the desolation of Jerusalem, which is normally thought to last from the destruction of the temple to its rebuilding (587Ė515 B.C.).
"Then the angel of the LORD said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?" (Zech 1:12)
The first mention of "seventy years" in Jeremiah 25:8-12 also associates the seventy years with the period of Babylonian rule, which could be dated from the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. to the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. (73 years) or the accession of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. to the fall of Babylon (66 years) or to the edict of Cyrus the following year.
"This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, `for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation." (Jer 25:11-12)
In fact, when giving the termination of the seventy years in Jeremiah 29:10 the Lord says, "When seventy years have been completed for Babylon," NOT "when seventy years have been completed for you."
"For thus says the LORD, `When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place." (Jer 29:10)
Thus, the prediction of seventy years in Jeremiah may not be intended as an exact number, but as a round number of approximation (Miller). Daniel realizes from reading the Scripture that the prophetic time period was nearing its conclusion.
3- Daniel gave his attention, lit. "face," to the source of wisdom and understanding of Scripture. While translations treat "face" metaphorically, it also has a literal meaning as in 6:10. He turned his face toward Jerusalem, following the injunction of Solomon. His mention of praying toward Jerusalem is set in the context of the probability (if not prophecy) of Israel being taken into captivity:
46 "When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, `We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly'; 48 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; 49 then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause. (1Kgs 8:46-49)
Lord is Heb. Adōnai, an emphatic form of adōn and means lord, master or owner (BDB 11). As a title for God it occurs 456 times in the Tanakh. God is Heb. Elōhim, the plural form of Elōah (BDB 43). One of the principal names for God occurring 2,340 times in the Tanakh, Elohim emphasizes the divine majesty and his creative powers. Daniel's seeking his God was manifest by four means: prayer (Heb. tephillah, a petition, used for prayers of all kinds) and supplications (Heb. tachanun, request for favor, BDB 337), with fasting, (Heb. tsōm, which in Scripture refers to refraining from food and drink), and sackcloth and ashes, which symbolically represents humility, either in intense grief (Jer 6:26; Est 4:1-3) or repentance (Jonah 3:5-10; Job 42:6; Matt 11:21). Sackcloth was a course rough cloth and often accompanied fasting (Ps 35:13; Neh 9:1; Est 4:3 and here). Ashes are infrequently mentioned with sackcloth in the Tanakh, so the combination represents an intense emotional state.
4- Prayed, Heb. palal means to intervene or interpose and has a range of application both in a legal sense of arbitrate, judge and intercede, and in the religious sense to pray on behalf of or intercede for someone with God (BDB 813). Confessed, Heb. yadah lit. means to throw or cast. As a form of address to God it means to offer thanks, or to give praise (BDB 392). Daniel is not saying that he began with confessing sin, as the English verb normally means, but with adoration, acknowledging God's faithfulness as a covenant-keeping God. In this one verse Daniel uses four different names for God. He says he prayed to the LORD, Heb. YHVH. Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (%&%*) is the proper name of the God of Israel (BDB 217) and the most frequent name for God in the Tanakh - 6,824 times, 3 times more than Elohim (NASBEC 1401). It is rendered LORD in upper case or small caps in Bible versions. The third letter, Vav, is usually translated as a "W" in Gentile scholarly works. According to a Biblical Hebrew textbook the name of the letter is "Waw," but it is pronounced "Vahv." (Allen P. Ross, Introducing Biblical Hebrew, Baker Academic, 2001, p. 20) There is no "w" sound in Hebrew. The term "waw" is not used among Jews, so why Gentiles use it to form a pronunciation of Yahweh I canít explain.
The actual pronunciation of YHVH is unknown. The presumed root is hava, which means "to be" or "being" or "to become" (NASBEC 3112). This same verb construction is behind Yeshua's statement of "I AM." The shortened form "Yah" occurs 50 times. So YHVH may be pronounced as Yah-Vah or Yah-Veh. In post-biblical times Jews interpreted the warning of Leviticus 24:16 against blaspheming the Name as including pronunciation and substituted Adonai (Lord) or even HaShem (the Name) in synagogue readings. Jews donít want to accidentally misuse the sacred name. The scribes who produced the Masoretic Text assigned vowel pointing for Adonai, and actual writing resulted in YaHoVaH (rendered as "Jehovah" in several verses in the KJV). This same scrupulousness is evident in the Besekh. There is no attempt to translate the Name or say it. Yeshua following Jewish custom taught his disciples to say, "Our Father" instead of using Godís proper name.
YHVH reveals a number of qualities of the nature and personality of God. (1) He is self-existent. No one created Him and He did not evolve into existence (Ex 3:14-15). (2) YHVH is alone. There are no other gods. That is one meaning of echad, "one" the essence of "one" in the Shema (Isa 43:10-11). (3) YHVH is a holy God who imposes standards of holiness upon His people (Lev 19:2). (4) YHVH is unchangeable (Mal 3:6).
The importance of the name YHVH to Israel cannot be overstated. The first mention of YHVH occurs in Genesis 2:4, "the LORD God made earth and heaven." The Name was certainly known very early since it was spoken by Abraham (Gen 15:2, 7). However, the redemptive significance was not revealed until Moses (Ex 3:14; 6:2-3). Of interest is that Daniel uses YHVH only in this prayer. It occurs no where else in his book. He must have known how to pronounce it.
YHVH has a direct connection with the covenant and promises to Israel, His chosen people. (1) YHVH is a personal name (Ex 3:15; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). Other Semitic peoples used El, but for most He was just the chief god. No other people knew God as YHVH. (2) YHVH is the deliverer (Gen 15:7; Ex 20:2; Isa 43:11); YHVH is a faithful presence with His people (Ex 33:14). (3) YHVH is a covenant-keeper (Deut 7:9). (4) YHVH is the One who promised the Land to the descendants of Jacob (Gen 28:13; Deut 4:14).
God is Elohim. In the actual opening address to YHVH Elohim, Daniel says Lord (Adonai) God (El). El was used by pagan nations to refer to the supreme being, but in Israel El was the only God and the true God of Israel (BDB 42). By using El, Daniel emphasizes that God is the God of the nations and the God of Israel.
Covenant, Heb. b'rit, pact, compact, covenant (BDB 136). In the Tanakh a covenant may between men, such as (1) an alliance or treaty between competing parties or (2) a constitution or ordinance between a monarch and his subjects. The most significant usage is a covenant between God and man and may be identified with the specific covenants God made with Noah, the patriarchs, Israel, Aaron and David. Here "covenant" likely summarizes all five covenants God made with his people through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and David.
Lovingkindness (KJV "mercy") is Heb. hesed, and lit. means goodness or kindness (BDB 338). This kindness may be extended to the lowly and miserable, hence meaning "merciful" as in the KJV. When used of God hesed emphasizes His kindness in condescending to the needs of his creatures, but more specifically in redemption from enemies and troubles. Hesed is often grouped with other divine attributes, all of which are given in the context of God's relationship with Israel or those who receive His favor.
Daniel emphasizes at this point in his prayer that God's covenant hesed is directed toward those who are faithful to him, those who love him and keep his commandments. However, God had been faithful even when his people had been unfaithful.
Miller sees Daniel's prayer as a model for prayer. After adoration Daniel proceeds with confession of personal and national sin (5-14) and concludes with petition (15-19). The assumption is that only after the Lord is praised and sin confessed is the person qualified to make requests of God. In the prayer taught by Yeshua adoration of God comes first, but the request for bread precedes confessing sin (Matt 6:11-12). Of course, there are Psalms in which the writer begins with a request (Ps 5:1) or manages to combine a request with adoration (Ps 16:1). There is no cookie-cutter formula for prayer in the Bible. God knows our hearts.
5- We emphasizes the corporate nature of the people for whom Daniel is interceding. The same identification with the congregation occurs in the petition of the Lord's Prayer, "forgive us" (Matt 6:12). See the note on verse 20 where Daniel confesses his own sin. Daniel's litany of Israel's disobedience covers a broad range of offenses with increasing severity from sinned (Heb. hata, to miss the mark, BDB 306) to rebelled (Heb. marad, to rebel or revolt, BDB 597).
Commit iniquity, Heb. avah lit. means to bend or twist (BDB 730). The verb may suggest that a sin is something twisted or perverted (Miller), but the idea could also be that sinning is justified by twisting Scripture to make it mean what we want. Acted wickedly is Heb. rasha may refer to being condemned as guilty in civil relations, in ethical and religious relations or to act wickedly in ethics and religion (BDB 957). Sinning can be unintentional (Lev 4:2) but the rest of the offenses would be considered deliberate.
The combination of commandments and ordinances covers the various codes and specific statutes given to Israel through Moses, the Torah, which is the standard that defines sinful behavior. Sin is not imputed where there is no Law (Rom 4:15; 7:7). Daniel could have said, "what commandment didn't we break?" His summary probably reflects the condemnation on Israel as recorded by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In Jeremiah the captivity is the result of rampant idolatry and many forms of injustice (Jer 11:10; 22:3-9; 25:4-9). Ezekiel (as confirmed by Ezra writing in 2 Chronicles) adds the interpretation of the captivity being a judgment for failing to keep the sabbath years.
"Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans Ö 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete." (2Chr 36:17, 21)
"Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. 13 "But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes and they rejected My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; and My sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them." (Ezek 20:12-13)
The Torah specified a number of sabbaths, the most important of which was the seventh day Sabbath (Ex 20:8). Every major festival functioned as a sabbath, since work was prohibited during those times (Leviticus 23). In addition, a sabbath was enjoined for the land, which required the people to allow the land to lie fallow every seventh year (Ex 23:11) and also in the fiftieth year (Lev 25:8-11). God had intended these sabbaths as a sign of the covenantal relationship with Israel, but the sabbath observances were sorely neglected in the years of evil kings.
According to Ezra, the seventy years of exile represent allowing the land to "enjoy its sabbaths." While Ezra's explanation could be a reference to an accumulation of missed sabbatical and jubilee years, but this would suggest that these years had not been observed since the time of Samuel. (Interestingly, there is no mention in the Tanakh of Israel ever observing the land sabbath requirement.) However, the "sabbaths" could refer to all the missed sabbaths and only pertain to the years of spiritual apostasy. While we may lose track of what we owe God, He does not.
6- Daniel continues the corporate first person plural. Daniel is not saying that there were never any obedient Israelites. Listened, Heb. shama, to hear points to a serious fault, because to hear also implied to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT, II, 173). One has not heard unless he has obeyed. Servants, Heb. ebed, which may mean slave or servant, often identified those that served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT, III, 593ff). The great Hebrew and Jewish heroes of the faith considered themselves servants of God the King and it was considered a high honor for a person to be called a servant of God. Abraham was the first to use this title (Gen 18:3; 26:24), but the most frequent usage is in relation to Moses and over 40 citations remind Jews of his status, including 18 in the book of Joshua alone. Many other Israelite leaders also bore this title. Others called "servant of the Lord" include Job (Job 1:8), Caleb (Num 14:24), Joshua (Josh 24:29), Samson (Judg 15:18), Samuel (1 Sam 3:10), David (2 Sam 3:18), Elijah (2 Kgs 9:36), Jonah (2 Kgs 14:25), Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:16), Nehemiah (Neh 1:11), Isaiah (Isa 20:3), Zerubbabel (Hag 2:23), Daniel (Dan 6:20) and all the Hebrew prophets (Jer 25:4). Servants of God generally possessed authority to speak for God.
Prophets, Heb. nabi, means spokesman, speaker or prophet (BDB 611), is one with authority to speak for God. Israel's prophets have generally been classified as either non-canonical (non-writing) or canonical (writing). The non-writing prophets included such notables as Elijah and Elisha. In addition, Gad, Nathan and Ahijah served in the important role of being court prophets and advisors to kings. The writing prophets are those who authored books included in the Tanakh.
The first one to be called a prophet is Abraham (Gen 20:7), and the second Aaron (Ex 7:1) and the third Moses (Deut 18:15). In this passage Daniel probably considers those prophets who called Israel and Judah to repentance and warned of God's judgment. Many servants of God in the Tanakh might be listed, but Daniel no doubt has Isaiah and Jeremiah particularly in mind and perhaps the "minor" prophets who prophesied and wrote before the exile (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah).
During the post-Solomon age prophets offered four types of messages: (1) Allegation, naming sins and warning Israel and Judah of the sins that will lead to judgment; (2) Judgment, announcing consequences in the form of disasters and foreign oppression; (3) Instruction, teaching how to avoid wrath and turn back to God; and (4) Future Hope, promises of restoration and revival, including promises of Messiah.
Kings, Heb. melek, likely refers to kings after Solomon who turned toward idolatry and were rebuked by various prophets. Princes, Heb. sar, which occurs slightly over 400 times in the Tanakh, can mean chieftain, chief, ruler, official, captain or prince (BDB 978). It had a wide application in reference to significant social stature and authority, whether nobles, military generals and captains, government officials, tribal leaders, or priests. In this verse sar likely has a wide application for all the leaders of the nation under the authority of the king.
7- Righteousness, Heb. tsedeq, means rightness or righteousness (BDB 841). Tsedeq refers to right character and right actions, esp. as they impact one's neighbor. It is based on an absolute standard specified in the Torah. It also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice). Daniel points out that righteousness begins with God, both in his character of faithfulness and in his prescribed standards. Open is Heb. panim, lit. faces (BDB 815). Shame, Heb. boshet, means shame or a shameful thing (BDB 102). In other words, their faces were filled with shame. In Hebrew culture the values of honor and shame governed much of their life. Honor meant a claim to worth that is acknowledged before the family and community. To "have honor" is to have publicly acknowledged worth. It is a group-given value, not just self-respect. One's self-respect could be high, but honor low. On the other hand shame is a challenge to worth that is publicly denied or denied before others. To "be shamed" means to be denied or diminished in honor. The Talmud strongly condemns causing shame.
"He who publicly shames his neighbor is as though he shed blood. Ö He who publicly puts his neighbor to shame has no portion in the world to come. (Baba Meziía 58b)
Captivity was certainly a sign of shame, but the tragedy is that the Israelites brought it upon themselves.
Driven, Heb. nadach means to impel, thrust or banish (BDB 626). The verb emphasizes that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea were forced to leave the Land against their will.
8- Daniel could mean that if the former generations of leaders were alive they would feel ashamed at the disobedience of their descendants.
9- Compassion (Heb. racham, compassion, orig. brotherly feeling as those born from the same womb, BDB 933) and forgiveness (Heb. selichah, forgiveness, BDB 699) are both plural nouns so they could be translated as mercies and forgivenesses. The plural makes the nouns especially intensive. God had provided "manifold mercies and abundant forgiveness" (Miller). Daniel notes that God extended his favor in the face of Israel's rebellion, which illustrates the fact that there is no cause and effect relationship between Israel's faithfulness and God's election (see Deut 7:7-8; Jer 30:11; Hos 1:6-11; 2:23; Rom 9:16, 24-26). They are still his people.
10- Daniel repeats similar thoughts expressed in vv. 5-6.
11- All Israel does not mean every Israelite in the nation. There is a Jewish saying, "If five sons are faithful and two are not, you may cry, ĎWoe is me, for my sons are unfaithful!í" (Stern 386) The curse Daniel apparently alludes to the curses announced for disobedience and found in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. The list is extensive, specific and horrifying, including captivity and being scattered among the nations (vv. 41, 64). Yet the Torah also provided future hope:
"So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back." (Deut 30:1-4)
12- God keeps his promises, the negative as well as the positive. However, Daniel considers the temple and the city of Jerusalem lying in ruins as unique. Yes, other peoples had been taken captive and cities destroyed in the clash of empires, but Jerusalem was the place of God's presence, the apple of his eye in all the earth. It boggled Daniel's mind to consider the extent of God's judgment.
13- Daniel inaugurates the expression as it is written, which is common in the New Testament and Rabbinic literature (Miller). The expression indicates a Scriptural source for an argument or a reference for fulfilled prophecy. Daniel reiterates the tragedy of captivity mentioned in previous verses, based on God fulfilling the word given to Israel through Moses. Turning alludes to the Hebraic concept of repentance, which is more than recognizing and admitting sins, but stopping the sinful practice (cf. Job 1:8; John 5:14; 8:11; 1 Cor 15:34; 1 John 2:1). Perhaps a greater tragedy than captivity is that the people had not fully repented from their previous error.
Giving attention means to listen and obey, since to the Hebraic mind hearing should always lead to doing. Your truth, God's teachings found in Scripture, the infallible inspired Word of God, stands in contrast with the cultural values, philosophies and mythologies of the Babylonians, Persians and later the Greeks, still so popular today. As Jeremiah said,
"My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer 2:13).
Paul warns the discerning disciple:
"Watch out, so that no one will take you captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit, following human tradition which accords with the elemental spirits of the world but does not accord with the Messiah." (Col 2:8 CJB)
14- Daniel points out God's sovereign control over history. The Lord plans far in advance and can bring about His will as he desires. Implied in this statement is that if Israel had obeyed God and lived by his Torah, then they would never have had to worry about the Babylonians. God is righteous in that he lives by the standard he imposes on us. Fulfilling his word concerning the curses was a matter of integrity. What sort of God would he be if he kept only his promises of blessing?
15- Daniel recounts God's great deliverance of Israel, the landmark event that seems to be imprinted on Jewish consciousness in the Old Testament. It was in that day using the hand of Moses and his staff that the God of Israel showed himself greater than all the powers of Egypt. The Lord had made a name or preserved his reputation by keeping the promise made to Abraham to rescue his descendants after they sojourned in Egypt for 430 years. Yet, now Israel has shamed themselves and embarrassed the Lord by their sinning.
16- Daniel can make this request for God's mercy because God is faithful even to his unfaithful people (Jer 30:11; 31:31-34; 32:37-41; 33:25-26; Hos 1:6-11; 2:23; Rom 9:16, 24-26). Little considered by Christian theologians is that the New Covenant is a declaration of God's faithfulness to Israel despite Israel's unfaithfulness.
While discounted generally by Christians, Jerusalem is reputed in Jewish circles to have been built on seven hills (cf. Ps 125:1-2). Rev. James Neil, formerly incumbent of Christ Church in Jerusalem (1871-1874), enumerated on a map the seven hills on which the city was built as Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Palestine Explored, James Nisbet & Co., 1882, p. 289). Your holy mountain might refer to Mount Zion in the southwestern quarter of the city and site of where the king's palace once stood (Miller) or it could Mount Moriah where the temple was located. However, Daniel identifies the entire city of seven hills as a holy mountain. The whole city is holy to the Lord, the God of Israel. It still is.
17- Daniel pleads for God's response, and offers three reasons for God to respond favorably. First, Daniel wished to see that God's face would shine with pleasure once more on the ground he had set apart for his Name.
18- The second reason to grant favor is that God's nature is to have compassion. Daniel can offer no merit on the part of the people. He doesn't even try to offer his own merit. We all know that we have received of God's mercy because of his free decision to forgive, not because we deserved it.
19- The third reason Daniel gives for God granting favor is that Israel is still God's people. Your name refers to the name "Israel" which the Lord gave to Jacob (Gen 32:28), but also to the startling fact that the only people to whom God revealed his personal name YHVH was to the Israelites. God's Name is forever connected to the Jews.
20- Confessing my sin reflects the humility of this godly man. We may ask what one of the top three saints in the Tanakh (the others being Noah and Job, Ezek 14:20) would have to confess? Solomon spoke the truth when he said, "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins" (Eccl 7:20). Daniel does not satisfy our curiosity, but then are we comfortable airing our shortcomings before others? We all fall short [present tense] of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Since the broad meaning of hata is to miss the mark, then Daniel could have unintentionally violated any number of Torah statutes. On the other hand he could simply be voicing his unworthiness to ask anything of the holy God. We are all sinners simply by being of Adam's seed.
21- Gabriel (Heb. Gavri'el) responds to Daniel's prayer. Whom I had seen Ö previously alludes to their encounter at 8:16. (See my comment there.) Miller comments that Gabriel is called a man because he appeared in human form and that he "seems" to be the one who appeared in bodily form to Zechariah (Luke 1:19) and to Mary (Luke 1:26-27). That this heavenly being looked like a man does not mean that an angel is a science-fiction creature from outer space that can transmute into a human being. An angel has a physical form that looks very human. And, why not? Angels were created before Adam (Job 38:4-7), but that doesn't mean they were created to look different than Adam.
In other words, like Adam, angels have flesh, bones and body parts, including two arms, two hands with ten fingers, two legs, two feet with ten toes, one head with two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and two ears and walk upright. Unlike Adam (and his descendants) angels have the ability to transfer between dimensions, between the seen world and the unseen world, as is recorded of the glorified Yeshua (Luke 24:31, 36). Angels who appeared at the resurrection and ascension are described as "men" (Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10). Yeshua reminded his disciples that he was still flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), so surely that fact applies to angels as well. Paul summed up the essential difference between the glorified Yeshua and the angels and those alive on the earth:
"There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another." (1 Cor 15:40)
With the resurrection we will gain the same powers as Yeshua and the angels (Matt 22:30; 1 John 3:2).
Bible versions and scholars are divided over the translation of a phrase in the last half of the verse. Where the NASB has extreme weariness, the KJV has "caused to fly swiftly." The NIV has similar words "came to me in swift flight." The CJB says it even more dramatically - "swooped down on me in full flight." The NASB is supported by Keil, BDB (419) and Miller. Archer, Morris and Sevener (138) support the KJV/NIV/CJB translation. The difference over translation results from a dispute over the correct root of the verb, one which means "to fly" and the other which means "weariness or faintness" (Miller). Of interest is that the LXX, translated by Jewish rabbis long before any English versions were produced, translated the verb with the Greek petomenos, "flying," which is reflected in the standard Jewish version of the Bible.
Sevener seems to like both alternatives and attributes the reason for Gabriel's swift flight to Daniel's physical, emotional and spiritual state rather than the urgency of his intercession. Unlike 8:27, 12 years before this chapter, where Daniel described himself as exhausted and sick for days, there is no actual testimony of Daniel being in such a depleted condition in chapter nine. Morris comments that "angels fly very swiftly, but not instantaneously. Gabriel flew from God's presence above all heavens to Daniel's presence on Earth in the time it took for Daniel to pray his prayer of seventeen verses in length."
The evening offering alludes to the daily prayer practice of exiled Jews. We learn in 6:10 that Daniel prayed three times a day. (See the note there.) The Talmud says that since Jews were not able to sacrifice in the Temple during the exile, they used prayer as a substitute for sacrifice (Bírakhot 26b. People got together to pray three times a day, two of which corresponded with the time of the morning and evening sacrifices. The three services are called shacharit ("morning"), minchah ("afternoon") and maíariv ("evening"). Keil (631) says these services were held at the third, sixth and ninth hours of the day. Praying three times a day predated the exile as David refers to praying "evening and morning and at noon" (Ps 55:17). In Acts 3:1 the minchah prayers were at the ninth hour or about 3:00 pm. After the rebuilding of the temple prayer three times a day at the temple was institutionalized.
22- Gabriel informs Daniel of his mission. He will provide first insight (KJV "skill), Heb. sakal, lit. to be prudent (BDB 968). In Tanakh usage sakal may mean to give attention to, to cause to ponder or consider, to give insight or to teach. Gabriel will also provide understanding, Heb. binah, which means understanding (BDB 108). In application binah may refer to the faculty to get understanding or the object of knowledge. Miller sees the two words as synonyms, but the distinction seems to be Gabriel function on the one hand to teach Daniel the mystery of God's planning and the enablement of Daniel on the other hand to use his intellectual abilities to a heightened degree in understanding.
23- At the beginning: No sooner had Daniel begun to pray God commanded Gabriel to go. God knew the content of the prayer before Daniel did, so in the space of time that it took Daniel to pray verses 4 to 20 Gabriel was en route from heaven to earth and arrived at this point. Highly esteemed reflects God's opinion of Daniel, regardless of his own self-evaluation. Daniel was greatly valued by the Lord. These words are similar to the greeting Gabriel gave Mary, "Greetings, favored one" (Luke 1:28). Give heed or pay attention, I'm only going to say this once.
Vision, Heb. mareh, means sight, appearance or vision (BDB 909). The NASB translators, as the KJV and NIV, interpret mareh as vision, perhaps assuming that the word refers to Gabriel appearance in vision form. In Tanakh usage mareh often refers to a physical phenomenon or personal presence (e.g., Gen 2:9; Lev 13:3; Num 9:15; 12:8; Judg 13:6; SS 5:15). In this context, then, mareh does not denote a vision like those in chapters seven and eight, but rather the revelation that Gabriel is going to provide. It could well be that "give heed to the message" and "gain understanding of the vision" is a Hebraic parallelism with the second part repeating and emphasizing the meaning of the first part.
24- As Miller notes, verses 24 to 27 are four of the most controversial verses in the Bible. Miller identifies four basic interpretations: (1) The weeks are literal years commencing with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and extending through the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 B.C. (2) The weeks are symbolic/literal periods of time ending in the first century A.D. with the first coming of Yeshua. (3) The weeks are symbolic periods ending at Messiah's Second Coming. (4) The weeks are literal years ending with Messiah's Second Coming.
Weeks: Heb. shavua literally means a period of seven or heptad (group or series of seven) (BDB 988). Thus, shavua could be seven days or seven years. The translation of "weeks" (CJB, HCSB, KJV, NASB, NKJV) while technically correct for the general usage of shavua in the Tanakh, does not reflect the intent of the prophecy given to Daniel. Nothing of historical significance happened for the Jewish people 70 weeks after this revelation. More accurate to the literal meaning of shavua and the context are such translations as "seventy sevens" (NIV, The Message), "seventy weeks of years" (RSV) and "a period of seventy sets of seven" (NLT).
The Hebrews used a septenary scale as to time, just as Western culture uses decennary scale to reckon time. The Torah prescribed sabbatic years (Leviticus 25), by which years were divided into weeks of years, each containing seven years. The origin of this practice may be found in the first use of shavua in Genesis 29:27 where Laban says, "Complete the week [shavua] of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years." Shavua is a form of the word sheva ("seven"), which occurs in Leviticus 25:8, so the 70 weeks here equals 490 years.
The seventy years of captivity not only point backwards to Babylonian rule and Jewish rebellion, but also forwards. The purpose of the "seventy sevens" or seventy sabbatic periods is to accomplish six goals for the Holy City and for God's covenant people. The first three relate to the removal of sin and the second three to the restoration of righteousness (Archer). Sevener (141) suggests that the seventy sevens represented the immediate future of Israel, if, as a nation they repented and became obedient to God's commands, or they would represent the distant future of Israel if they continued in unbelief and disobedience. There is merit to this approach. Even with a specific number of sabbatic periods the prophecy has enough ambiguity built in to allow God to fulfill the prophecy as he chooses.
The first goal is to finish the transgression. "Finish", Heb. kala, means to shut up, to restrain or to withhold (BDB 467). The intent in this goal appears to be to confine, to contain or to hinder, rather than eradicate from existence. "Transgression" is Heb. pesha, which means to rebel or transgress (BDB 833). It has the sense of revolting against authority. The question here is "what transgression?" The chief or national transgression that sent Israel into captivity was idolatry. One could say that the captivity contained idolatry among the Jews, at least in the sense of the widespread practice on every high hill that occurred before the captivity (Jer 2:20; Ezek 6:13).
However, the pre-captivity idolatry was replaced with a post-captivity idolatry of a philosophical nature, namely Hellenism which began under Alexander the Great and was imposed with a vengeance by Antiochus. The chief transgression of the Jews under the Greek empire was embracing a culture and philosophy that would reject the revealed truth of Scripture and abandon the covenantal obligations of Torah. A Hellenistic Jew might not bow down to idols, but he would abandon the signs of the covenant with his God, namely circumcision, sabbath observance and kashrut. He would exchange his unique Jewish culture and heritage in order to amalgamate with the Gentile world.
With the victory of the Maccabees came a new pietistic movement that would eventually overturn Hellenistic dominance among Jews in the holy land. The kingdom of God inaugurated by Yeshua sought to end the rebellion of Israel and Judah against God by fulfilling the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34). Yeshua came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that tens of thousands of Jews embraced Messiah Yeshua (Acts 12:20), political Israel did not and this rejection became the great enigma for the apostle Paul, which he addresses in Romans 9―11. This national transgression will not end until Messiah Yeshua returns and he won't return until Israel says, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Luke 13:35).
The second goal is to make an end of sin, lit. "make an end of sins." The Heb. verb tamam means to be complete or finished (BDB 1070). The finality of the action may be qualified with such adverbs as wholly, completely or entirely. The LXX translates tamam, with suntelesthÍnai, (aorist passive infinitive of sunteleō) to finish off. "Sin" is Heb. hatah, which may refer either to sin as an act (Ex 32:31) or to a sin offering (Lev 6:10; BDB 307). These two widely different uses of hatah can result in very different interpretations of this goal. If hatah were understood as sins, then this goal could only be fulfilled by the Second Coming and kingly reign of the Messiah (so Archer, Miller & Morris). On the other hand, this statement could refer to the end of sacrificial offerings for sin as accomplished by the atonement of Yeshua (so Clarke). The atonement did end the power or domination of sin (Rom 8:1-2). The second interpretation seems preferable.
The third goal is to make atonement, Heb. kaphar, to pacify, to cover, to make propitiation, to atone for sin (BDB 497). The full and final atonement was accomplished on Calvary with Yeshua as the sin offering. Iniquity, Heb. avōn, means iniquity, guilt or consequences of or punishment for iniquity (BDB 730). Iniquity is another word for sin, in that it refers to a violation of Torah commandments, particularly the serious breaches of the moral and justice codes. However, iniquity emphasizes the quality of sin as unfaithfulness to one's relationship with God (Lev 26:40). Fortunately, iniquity is forgivable upon confession or priestly intercession (Ex 34:6-7; Num 14:17-20; Lev 26:40-42).
The fourth goal is to bring in (Heb. bō, to come in or go in, BDB 97) everlasting righteousness. Everlasting is Heb. ōlamim, the pl. of ōlam, which lit. means long duration, futurity or antiquity (BDB 761). Ōlam can point backwards to ancient times or to the future, either in the context of legislating regular observance of an event, such as the Sabbath, or the distant future in the sense of eternity. Righteousness is Heb. tsedeq. See note on verse 7 above. God's goal is to establish a kingdom whose hallmark is righteousness, where the second great commandment to love one's neighbor is the principal community value. For Morris this goal is only possible with the second coming of Messiah.
However, the verb "bring in" doesn't mean to complete or finish as in the first goal, but to inaugurate or commence. In his first coming Yeshua announced the presence of a kingdom of righteousness (Matt 6:33). The plural intensive ōlamim would point to the eternity of the Messianic kingdom as in Daniel 2:44; 7:18, 27 and 2 Peter 3:13 (Keil), but Kohlenberger translates the plural noun as "everlasting ones," which suggests the expression relates to people who are righteous for eternity.
Indeed ōlam is used to refer to ancient people (Isa 44:7), so it could point to a future people. Tsedeq ōlamim or "everlasting ones of righteousness," are the true people of God who have surrendered their lives to the authority of the King of the Jews and seek his righteousness. These righteous ones would include Gentiles because as Paul argues in Romans the rejection of Israel brought salvation to the Gentiles (Rom 11:11-24). However, as Sevener points out, "God has placed upon the Gentiles the responsibility of seeing that the Jewish people themselves are included as the message of His Divine program of redemption is shared" (Sevener, 143).
The fifth goal is to seal up vision and prophecy. "Seal up" is Heb. hatam, meaning to seal, affix a seal or seal up (BDB 367). The verb refers to the action of a king affixing the royal seal to a letter to indicate its completion (Sevener 143). "Seal up" then indicates that no further discussion is needed of the matter. That is, this prophecy summarizes in succinct fashion the entire timeline of God for the redemption of his people. Daniel would not be the last prophet to offer future hope in the person of the Messiah (such as Zechariah and Malachi), so sealing up does not mean ending prophecy. However, Daniel is the only one to offer a time table.
And, the sixth goal is to anoint, Heb. mashach, to smear or anoint (BDB 602). In the Tanakh mashach generally refers to an act of consecration in which oil was poured on the head of a prophet (1 Kgs 19:16; Isa 61:1), a king (1 Sam 16:3; 1 Kgs 1:39), or a priest (Ex 28:41; 29:7; 30:30; 40:13). Sacred things, such as the tabernacle, altar or vessels could also be anointed (Ex 29:36; 30:26; 40:9-11). The NASB (also CJB, HCSB, NCV, NLT, RSV & TEV) makes an interpretation that the object of the anointing, kōdesh kōdashim, to be the holy place, implying either the temple or the area where the temple stood.
Anointing the temple in a dedicatory sense occurred on three occasions: the original tabernacle, the temple Solomon built and the temple Herod built. The future temple as anticipated in Ezekiel 43 for the millennial reign of the Messiah would also be anointed before use. It's possible this prophecy relates to Herod's temple, but Archer, Miller and Sevener interpret the holy place to be the Messiah's temple.
Kōdesh means apartness, sacredness or holiness (BDB 871). Kōdashim is an intensive plural form of kōdesh and so kōdesh kōdashim could be comparable to the triple kōdesh kōdesh kōdesh proclaimed by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3. In whatever category the expression is applied, nothing could be more holy. The ASV, KJV, NKJV & NIV render kōdesh kōdashim simply as "most holy" without specifying the object. The expression is used many times in the Torah to refer to the altar of burnt offering (Ex 29:37), the Yom Kippur sacrifice (Ex 30:10), the ark, lampstand, altar of incense and various utensils (Ex 30:29), the portion of offerings that belonged to the priests (Lev 2:3) and places set apart for God's presence (Ex 40:9).
However, other interpretations are possible. Kodesh is applied to God (Ex 15:11; Isa 6:3), persons consecrated for service to God (Lev 21:6) and to Israel as a people (Ex 22:31; Isa 62:12). Archer says that phrase kōdesh kōdashim is never used of persons in the Tanakh. However, the NASB provides such a translation in 1 Chronicles 23:13,
"The sons of Amram were Aaron and Moses. And Aaron was set apart to sanctify him as [kōdesh kōdashim] most holy, he and his sons forever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister to Him and to bless in His name forever."
Both the standard Jewish Bible (JPS) and the Complete Jewish Bible (David Stern), translating the MT, concurs that Aaron is the one being declared kōdesh kōdashim in the above passage. The LXX translation also supports this interpretation. In that light there is no reason why the prophetic goal could not refer to Yeshua here, considering the prophecy of Messiah the Prince in the next verse (cf. Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38). Clarke connects the anointing to the first coming of Yeshua and observes that the anointing refers to "the consecration or appointment of our blessed Lord, the Holy One of Israel, to be the Prophet, Priest, and King of mankind." This anointing could then refer either to his anointing by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:18) or the anointing for his burial (Mark 14:8; John 12:7). However, Keil sees the fulfillment at the end of history as given in the vision of the New Jerusalem to John on Patmos (Rev 21:1-3). For Keil kōdesh kōdashim is God dwelling among his people.
Still another approach would be to consider Kohlenberger's translation of kōdesh kōdashim as "holy holy ones." The plural form of kodesh is translated "saints," referring to the people of God, the holy ones of Israel, in several passages (Ps 16:3; 34:9; Dan 7:18, 21, 22, 25, 27). An interesting note from the Torah is that the priests who came into contact with the most holy things were rendered most holy themselves (Ex 30:29). This prophetic anointing could then refer to the experience of New Covenant disciples who were anointed and cleansed by the Holy Spirit beginning at Pentecost (cf. 2 Cor 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27). God wants his people to be kōdesh kōdashim, a holy temple for his dwelling as expressed by the apostle Paul (Acts 17:24-25; 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21). As John says, "You have an anointing from the Holy One" (1 John 2:20).
25- Gabriel informs Daniel that the seventy weeks are divided into three distinct periods associated with historic milestones. What he doesn't say is how the six goals are connected to these three periods and the milestones. Whatever else may be said about the aforementioned goals there is no doubt that the eschatology envisioned is centered on Israel - its land, its chief city, its temple and its Messiah. Any eschatology that does not include God's plan for Israel is not biblical.
The period concludes with the appearance and work of the Messiah, Heb. Mashiach, which means Ďanointed oneí and refers to one who has been consecrated to office (BDB 603). Mashiach is used in the Tanakh principally for three men: the High Priest, Lev 4:5; the King, 1 Sam 12:3 (King Saul); 2 Sam 22:51 (King David); Isa 45:1 (King Cyrus); and the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and here. Being anointed in a special ceremony with olive oil invested them with the authority of their positions. Mashiach is also applied to the patriarchs (Ps 105:9-15) and to two special servants of the Lord (Zech 4:11-14).
Mashiach is translated with Christos in the LXX. In Greek culture christos came from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT, II, 334). The LXX translators elevated the word Christos to a title of great honor.
From the time of Daniel Jews eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies, establish His kingdom on the earth and fulfill the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Luke 1:69-75). Yeshua fulfilled all the Jewish expectations, being the great high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:10), the King of the Jews and Israel (Matt 2:2; 27:11; Luke 23:38; Rev 19:16) and the heavenly deliverer-savior of Israel (Luke 2:11; Acts 13:23; Phil 3:20). The use of Christos in the New Testament with its depth and breadth of meaning from the Tanakh, constantly points to the prophecy and promise in Daniel.
Inherent in the concept of "Messiah" is that Yeshua possesses Godís kingly and priestly authority. Yeshua was not physically anointed in his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark. 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry.
Unfortunately the word "Christ" has an alien and negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2). Among Christians "Christ" lost its association with the Messianic hope of the Jewish people and through many centuries of church-sponsored persecution of Jews, the title "Christ" became the name of their oppressor, not their Savior. And, the simple decision by translators to use "Christ" instead of "Messiah" in the many Gentile versions of the Bible has contributed to the failure of Gentiles to fully appreciate the Jewishness of Yeshua and the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.
The Messiah is also called Prince, Heb. nagid or leader, ruler or prince, lit. "one in front" (BDB 617). Sevener (157) considers nagid to be a weaker word than sar, since Yeshua is called Sar Shalom in Isaiah 9:6. However, actual Tanakh usage of these titles does not bear out this assumption, and in fact would suggest just the opposite. (See note on sar in verse 6 above.) Nagid is derived from the verb nagad, to be conspicuous or in front. Nagid occurs 45 times in the Tanakh, especially of kings of Israel. Consider the parallel prophecy given of Saul to Samuel: "About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint [mashach] him to be prince [nagid] over My people Israel" (1 Sam 9:16).
Likewise the title is given to David (1 Sam 13:14; 25:30), Solomon (1 Kgs 1:35), Jeroboam (1 Kgs 14:7), Baasha (1 Kgs 16:2), Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:5), and Abijah (2 Chron 11:22). The title is also given to the high priest (Neh 11:11) and Israelite military leaders (1 Chron 13:1; 27:1). Three times nagid refers to non-Jewish rulers (Dan 9:26; 11:22; Ezek 28:2). Thus, the Messiah could be a king, priest, or military leader. The New Testament identifies Yeshua as all three. Yeshua is the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2; 27:11; John 19:19), he is the great high priest (Heb 3:1; 6:20) and he is the great leader of armies who will defeat and destroy the Antichrist and his evil regime (Rev 19:11-15).
The 490 years are divided into three specific periods of unequal length, although the text is not clear as to why. The first period lasts seven weeks or 49 years and begins with an initiating event or milestone, to wit, the issuing of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. There is debate among scholars over whether the years of the seventy sevens are "prophetic" years of 360-days each (so Morris & Sevener) or 365 days each (so Archer and Miller). The answer is probably a combination of both. The principles of the Hebrew calendar are based on the Torah which coordinates four phenomena established by God in creation and further legislated at Sinai: the day, the seven day week, the month and the year. There is no direct physical correlation between these four phenomena, but as Morris points out the original created year was apparently twelve 30-day months (compare Gen 7:11, 24; 8:3-4). The civil calendar used today by most of the world arbitrarily sets the length of months to 28, 30 or 31 days.
For the Hebrew calendar the Torah stipulates the year to begin with the month of Aviv (Ex 12:2, called Nisan during the exile, Est 3:7) and each month to begin with the new moon (Num 10:10). Thus, the months are twenty-nine or thirty days. At least as early as Temple times and through the Tannaitic period (A.D. 70-200), the Hebrew calendar was observational, with the beginning of each month determined by the high court based on the testimony of witnesses who had observed a new crescent moon. Because of the roughly eleven-day difference between twelve lunar months and one solar year, the court would periodically ordered an extra month added to keep Passover in the spring, again based on observation of natural events. The insertion of the extra month occurred every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years. (For more information see the articles on the Hebrew calendar at Wikipedia and Judaism 101.)
As Sevener notes (148-152) there were four separate decrees issued in connection with restoration activity in Jerusalem after the end of the Babylonian captivity. The first decree was that of Cyrus in 536 B.C. permitting Jews to return to their Land and to build a temple (2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). The second decree was issued by Darius in 519 B.C. to allow resumption of the temple building (Ezra 6:1-5, 8-12), which had been halted by opposition of Israel's enemies. The rebuilding was completed in 516 B.C. The third decree was given by Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign (458 B.C.) and authorized considerable expenditure of funds for the maintenance of the temple and temple offerings, as well as an injunction to enforce obedience of the people to the "Law of your God" (Ezra 7:11-26).
None of these decrees specifically authorized rebuilding the city. However, when Nehemiah learned that after all the years of work on the temple the city still lay in ruins, he appealed to Artaxerxes to amend his order and specifically allow the rebuilding of the city, which he did in 445 B.C. (Neh 2:8). The straightforward meaning of Daniel's prophecy must refer to the last commission of Artaxerxes. Miller believes that permission to rebuild the city was implied in the former decrees, but this is an argument from silence. The first three decrees simply do not satisfy the specific wording of the prophecy. Historical evidence indicates that it took 49 years for all the construction of the city to be completed as predicted.
The second period of Daniel's prophecy lasts sixty-two weeks or 434 years, but the total span is given in terms of from the decree to rebuild to the Messiah, which would be 69 weeks or 483 years. Scholars are divided over the calculation, which is complicated by two assumptions. The first assumption is that the prophetic years are 365 days each and starting in 445 B.C. the total time would culminate in A.D. 39, well after Yeshua ascended to heaven. My assumption is that Yeshua was born in 3 B.C., was immersed in A.D. 26 and crucified in A.D. 30.
Miller attempts to resolve the calculation problem, accepting both assumptions above, and the assumption suggested by another commentator that the decree of Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. implied permission to rebuild the city and therefore should be the starting point. The 483 years would then culminate in A.D. 26, the date of Yeshua's baptism and anointing by the Spirit. Morris argues for a 360-day prophetic year based on the 30-day month used in Revelation 11:2-3. Sevener, following the same reasoning (153), resolves the problem by this simple formula: 483 prophetic years times 360 days each equals 173,880 days divided by 365 regular calendar days, which yields 476.38 years. In any event, Daniel was given a straightforward timeline of the future.
One might wonder why if the first period was entirely occupied with rebuilding the city how the second period could be associated with the Messiah. Assuming the fulfillment of this prophecy is Yeshua, he lived 33 years. So, what about the 400 years before he was born? Those years were occupied with preserving the Messianic line (Matt 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-38) so that the Messiah would be able to come. During those years the Jews faced extinction, first from Haman, the Persian official, and then from King Antiochus Epiphanes who ruthlessly oppressed the Jews. Indeed, both Purim and Hanukkah celebrate the reality that without divine intervention, the Jewish people would have ceased to exist before the first century. No Jewish people would have meant no Messiah.
26- The prophecy succinctly states that after (i.e., at the end of) the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off, Heb. karat, lit. to cut off or cut down (BDB 503). Outside of mundane uses of the word of cutting off things (such as foreskin, grapes or tree branch), karat is applied to persons in a negative sense. Karat sometimes refers to being barred from joining the congregation in worship (Num 15:20), but more generally means the imposition of death as a result of either divine or human judgment (Ex 9:15; 31:14). (Of interest is that a divorce certificate was called sepher keritut, a "bill of cutting off," Deut 24:1, a derivative form of karat.) Isaiah prophesied that the Lord's servant (the Messiah) would be "cut off from the land of living for the transgression of my people" (Isa 53:8). The Messiah Yeshua did not simply die, but was executed by the order of Pontius Pilate. He was "cut off."
Not only would the Messiah die, but have nothing (also NIV). Miller suggests that the Hebrew phrase ayin lo may be rendered as "and [but] not to [for] him." Similarly Kohlenberger translates the phrase as "and there will be nothing to him." The KJV has "but not for himself," suggesting that Messiah's death was for others but not for himself. Miller sees the "have nothing" associated with the desertion of the disciples and the seeming failure of his mission. Sevener (154) suggests a simple Jewish explanation. To have nothing would mean to have no children, no progeny, no one to carry on his name. This interpretation is supported by the prophecy of Isaiah, "By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? (Isa 53:8 NIV) To a religious Jew to be put to death before descendants could be born was (and is) one of the greatest tragedies.
The syntax of the translation "the people of the prince who is to come will destroy" could be misleading. People is the Hebrew word Ďam, which generally refers to any group whose relationship may be based on a variety of factors, such as ethnic, family, religious, military or political ties (TWOT 2:676). The verb destroy, Heb. shachat, means to go to ruin (BDB 1007). Shachat has a wide range of meaning including destroy, devastate, spoil, ruin, pervert, or corrupt. The verb is Hiphil imperfect, which conveys a causative effect, "shall cause to be destroyed."
For many commentators the phrase "people of the prince" refers to the Romans who devastated Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (cf. Luke 19:41-44). However, "people" could be the Jewish people if the prince in this verse were Yeshua. The sin of the nation brought destruction (Luke 13:34-35; 21:20). However, shachat is third person singular (Owens 4:744) and would be translated "he will destroy" (Kohlenberger). In other words, it is not the people who will destroy, but this prince (nagid) who is to come. The sentence could be rendered "the coming prince of the people" will destroy." Jewish leaders accused Yeshua of threatening to destroy the Temple and then rebuild it (Matt 26:61), which of course twisted his words. Just who is this destroying prince?
Prince: Danielís second reference to a prince (nagid) to come has naturally been the subject of much discussion and debate. Early church fathers generally believed that the entire section of Daniel 9:24-27 pertained to the first coming of Yeshua and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. See Jeromeís summary of the views of prominent early church fathers in Jeromeís Commentary on Daniel, (trans. Gleason Archer, Baker Book House, 1958, 94-110). Hippolytus represents a minority viewpoint that the completion of the seventieth week still lay in the future, though certainly not allowing a secret rapture of the saints before the seventieth week even begins, as advocated by Dispensationalists.
Historicist commentators, such as Matthew Henry, Robert Jamieson and John Wesley, likewise believed that Titus, who led the Roman army against Jerusalem and represented the world power, was the one referred to by the title Prince, because he was sent by God as an instrument of judgment. Many modern commentators, especially Dispensationalists, interpret this coming Prince as the Antichrist of the New Testament. Morris points out that the second prince to come cannot be the Messiah Prince, because he was "cut off."
The Douay-Rheims Version imposes Catholic replacement theology on Daniel 9:26,
"And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people, with their leader, that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation."
Robert Youngís Literal Translation (1862) has the ruler to come destroying the people (cf. Dan. 7:25) instead of the city (Jerusalem).
"And after the sixty and two weeks, cut off is Messiah, and the city and the holy place are not his, the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end [is] with a flood, and till the end [is] war, determined [are] desolations."
Another word-for-word translation could offer a different slant:
"And after the weeks sixty and two an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the city and the sanctuary, He shall destroy the people of the prince, who is to come; its end with a flood and unto the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed." (Mine)
The Hebrew syntax could associate the city and the sanctuary as being cut off along with the Messiah, such as happened when the city was destroyed in A.D. 70. Then, "He shall destroy" could refer to God, not a human leader. In other words, God will bring judgment on the "people of the anointed one," i.e., the Jews, as Yeshua prophesied (Luke 21:20-24). Some versions seem to infer that the ruler to come would be someone who would arrive shortly after the Messiahís ministry was completed on earth, rather than a figure at the end of history (CEV, DRA, NLT, TEV). Simon ben Kosiba (dubbed Bar Kokhba, "son of the star") led the last revolt against the Romans (132-136) and was hailed as the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva. Indeed, on some of Simon's coins and in his letters, he calls himself 'Prince' (Nasi), a word that had very strong Messianic overtones.
The city's end will come with a flood (Heb. sheteph, an overflowing of water; fig. of judgment). In the Tanakh "flood" or an overflow of waters is a common metaphor used for various misfortunes or terrors, often the fear of death (Job 27:20; Ps 18:4; 32:6; 69:1-4, 15; 90:5; 124:2-5; Isa 43:2; Matt 7:25), but also intense opposition from military powers (1 Chron 14:11; Ps 144:7; Isa 8:7; 17:12-13; Jer 46:8-9; 47:1-2; 51:42; Ezek 26:3, 19; Nah 1:8; Hab 3:8-15; Rev 12:15-16). In Jeremiah 46:8-9 Egyptian armies are likened to the flooding Nile. To say that the city and the sanctuary will come to an end is a very distinctive prophecy. After the first revolt and destruction of the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70 Jews continued to live there. However, after the last revolt in the 2nd century Jerusalem came to an end as a Jewish city. Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina and named the land Palestine. From that point until the 20th century the land of Israel indeed suffered war and desolations.
We must also consider that prophecy has a dual character and what applied to the time of Messiah Yeshua would also apply to the last days in light of Yeshua's teaching in the Olivet Discourse.
27- The third period of the seventy weeks last one week or seven years. He: who is "he" referring to? Antiochus Epiphanes? The Roman General Titus? Yeshua? The Antichrist? We do need to carefully examine the prophecy of this verse. Someone he will make a covenant with "the many" for seven years and he will stop sacrifice and grain offering. Firm is Heb. gabar, to be strong or mighty (BDB 149). Gabar is a verb, not an adjective. KJV has "confirm" which is more accurate. Sevener (168) suggests that based on the word gabar and that this covenant (see note on verse 4 above) is not a new covenant but confirmation of an existing covenant that would allow Jews the right to Jerusalem and the Land (Abrahamic) and the right to a temple for worship (Davidic).
The covenant is made with the many, (the plural form of the Heb. adj. rav, "much, many or great" (BDB 912). Kohlenberger renders it as "the many ones." Who are the "many?" In Scripture the adjective has a broad usage but as a plural of persons generally refers either to common people whether Israelite (Ex 19:21) or members of pagan nations (Num 13:18) or even mankind in general as in Isaiah 53:11-12. It is noteworthy that there is no mention in this verse of a covenant with Israel as a political entity.
The term of the treaty is for one week, which means seven years. Interpretation is not without its problems. First, it is a puzzle that the focus on the prophecy of the coming Messiah should abruptly change to referring to a different coming ruler with the same title, an "Anti-Messiah." Second, the Hebrew text is not totally clear on some words as evidenced by interesting differences in translation of the major versions.
There are three interpretations of the covenant. First, the traditional Jewish position is that this refers to the action of Antiochus Epiphanies. Early in his reign Hellenistic Jewish leaders sought a covenant with him as reported in the book of Maccabees:
"In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, 'Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.' This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil." (1 Macc 1:11-15)
The weakness of this position is that this prophecy of the 70th week is to be fulfilled after the 63 weeks are completed when the Messiah the Prince is to come. Yeshua made it clear in his Olivet Discourse that the abomination of desolation, mentioned in the next verse, was still to come (Matt 24:15). The time period prophesied here also does not agree with the time period of Daniel 8:14 (see comment there).
Second, the interpretation first offered by the church fathers as noted above is that this is the New Covenant which Yeshua enacted with his blood (Luke 22:22). Matthew Henry (1662-1714), John Wesley (1703-1791) and Robert Jamieson (1802-1880), all great expositors of Scripture in their time, make strong arguments for the New Covenant. Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, "I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations" (Isa 42:6). An objection to this view is that the New Covenant as given in Jeremiah 31:31-34 specifically names Israel and Judah as the recipients. Yet, the apostolic message is that Gentiles have been incorporated into the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12).
Sevener (156) objects that the covenant here cannot be the New Covenant because it is unconditional and irrevocable. It should be noted that the text does not say that the covenant has specifically to do with offering sacrifices in the temple nor does it say that stopping sacrifices somehow canceled the covenant. In fact, stopping sacrifices in the Temple was necessary since the crucifixion of Yeshua was a once-for all atoning sacrifice. Nevertheless, the chief weakness of this position seems to be that this prophesied covenant is for seven years and the New Covenant is everlasting. Also, it was not three and half years, but 40 years after the New Covenant was inaugurated that animal sacrifices were ended with the destruction of the Temple.
Third, many modern commentators believe that this covenant is a treaty that the Antichrist makes with Israel (so Archer, Miller, Morris & Sevener) which allows building a temple or safeguarding a temple already built. More likely "the many" would indicate that the treaty is with other nations, particularly Islamic regimes, who would agree that a Jewish temple could be built in the vicinity of the sacred site claimed by Moslems. Jews would then resume sacrificial offerings.
David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, reports that Jewish groups have set up yeshivas to educate and train priests for the day that the Temple is restored and that many Arab homes in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount have been purchased in anticipation of an extensive building project. Another group, the Temple Mount Faithful, have cut a massive 4.5-ton limestone cornerstone to be ready to commence building at any moment. (Future Hope [Purple Pomegranate Productions, 1999], 62-63) The possibility of a Jewish temple seems almost fantasy, but the fulfillment of the earlier parts of Daniel's prophecy should urge caution in disputing this part of God's plan.
Middle, Heb. chatsi, means half (BDB 345); in other words, halfway through the prophesied seven. Daniel 12:11 confirms this general description by saying that from the time the sacrifices are stopped there will be 1,290 or three and a half years until the end. Dispensationalists typically refer to the seventieth seven as the "tribulation period," even though that designation occurs nowhere in Scripture. The only tribulation mentioned in connection with the Anti-Messiah of the end times lasts three and a half years, not seven years (Dan 7:25; 12:7, 12; Rev 11:2; 12:14; 13:5-7). In fact, those days will be "cut short" (Matt 24:22), so no one can be certain how long the great tribulation will actually last.
Desolate: Daniel prophesied that halfway into the "week" period, a shocking sacrilege would be committed in the Jerusalem temple and continued worship of God forbidden there (9:27; 11:31; cf. 12:11). The sacrilege or abomination of desolation is not really a title of the end-time ruler, but the description of a repugnant political and idolatrous decision. Antiochus Epiphanes is a good model of the Anti-Messiah. After ordering the cessation of regular sacrifices he had a statue devoted to Olympian Zeus erected in the temple and swine were sacrificed on the altar, an abomination which desecrated the Temple.
However, Yeshua repeated the revelation given to Daniel regarding the abomination of desolation as an anticipated event (Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14). He clearly claims that Antiochus did not fulfill Daniel's prophecy. The parallel section in Luke 21:20 does not repeat the prophecy of the abomination of desolation, but includes the destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of Jews into the nations and the power of the Gentiles over Jerusalem "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).
Danielís prophecy clearly states that the abomination follows the arrival and death of the Messiah. While the actions of Antiochus may have paralleled Danielís prophecy, Yeshua indicated that the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation lay in the future. Further, the Romans had no interest in using the temple for idolatrous worship as Antiochus and in A.D. 70 destroyed the city and the temple. Danielís prophecy of future coming perilous times must of necessity, then, be associated with the last days prophesied by Yeshua. This viewpoint, I might add, does not lend credence to the Dispensationalist doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture.
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