And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary - By the "prince" Titus, the son of Vespasian, is plainly intended; and "the people of that prince" are no other than the Romans, who, according to the prophecy, destroyed the sanctuary, הקדש hakkodesh, the holy place or temple, and, as a flood, swept away all, till the total destruction of that obstinate people finished the war.
And after threescore and two weeks - After the completion of the last period of four hundred and thirty-four years. The angel had shown in the previous verse what would be the characteristic of the first period of “seven weeks” - that during that time the wall and the street would be built in circumstances of general distress and anxiety, and he now proceeds to state what would occur in relation to the remaining sixty-two weeks. The particular thing which would characterize that period would be, that the Messiah would be cut off, and that the series of events would commence which would terminate in the destruction of the city and the temple. He does not say that this would be immediately on the termination of the sixty-two weeks, but he says that it would be “after” אחרי 'achărēy - “subsequent” to the close of that period. The word does not mean necessarily immediately, but it denotes what is to succeed - to follow - and would be well expressed by the word “afterward:” Genesis 15:14; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:26, et al. See Gesenius, Lexicon The natural meaning here would be, that this would be the “next event” in the order of events to be reckoned; it would be that on which the prophetic eye would rest subsequent to the close of the period of sixty-two weeks. There are two circumstances in the prophecy itself which go to show that it is not meant that this would immediately follow:
(a) One is, that in the previous verse it is said that the “sixty-two weeks” would extend “unto the Messiah;” that is, either to his birth or to his manifestation as such; and it is not implied anywhere that he would be “cut off” at once on his appearing, nor is such a supposition reasonable, or one that would have been embraced by an ancient student of the prophecies;
(b) the other is, that, in the subsequent verse, it is expressly said that what he would accomplish in causing the oblation to cease would occur “in the midst of the week;” that is, of the remaining one week that would complete the seventy. This could not occur if he were to be “cut off” immediately at the close of the sixty-two weeks.
The careful student of this prophecy, therefore, would anticipate that the Messiah would appear at the close of the sixty-two weeks, and that he would continue during a part, at least, of the remaining one week before he would be cut off. This point could have been clearly made out from the prophecy before the Messiah came.
Shall Messiah - Notes, Daniel 9:25.
Be cut off - The word used here (כרת kârath ) means, properly, to cut, to cut off, as a part of a garment, 1 Samuel 24:5 (6), 11 (12); a branch of a tree, Numbers 13:23; the prepuce, Exodus 4:25; the head, 1 Samuel 17:51; 1 Samuel 5:4; to cut down trees, Deuteronomy 19:5; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 44:14; Jeremiah 10:3; Jeremiah 22:7. Then it means to cut off persons, to destroy, Deuteronomy 20:20; Jeremiah 11:19; Genesis 9:11; Psalm 37:9; Proverbs 2:22; Proverbs 10:31, et al. scepe. The phrase, “that soul shall be cut off from his people,” “from the midst of the people,” “from Israel,” “from the congregation,” etc., occurs frequently in the Scriptures (compare Genesis 17:14; Leviticus 7:20-21; Numbers 15:30; Numbers 19:13, Numbers 19:20; Exodus 12:19, et al.), and denotes the punishment of death in general, without defining the manner. “It is never the punishment of exile.” - Gesenius, Lexicon The proper notion or meaning here is, undoubtedly, that of being cut off by death, and would suggest the idea of a “violent” death, or a death by the agency of others.
It would apply to one who was assassinated, or murdered by a mob, or who was appointed to death by a judicial decree; or it might be applied to one who was cut down in battle, or by the pestilence, or by lightning, or by shipwreck, but it would not naturally or properly be applied to one who had lived out his days, and died a peaceful death. We always now connect with the word the idea of some unusual interposition, as when we speak of one who is cut down in middle life. The ancient translators understood it of a violent death. So the Latin “Vulgate, occidetur Christus;” Syriac, “the Messiah shall be slain,” or put to death. It need not be here said that this phrase would find a complete fulfillment in the manner in which the Lord Jesus was put to death, nor that this is the very language in which it is proper now to describe the manner in which he was removed. He was cut off by violence; by a judicial decree: by a mob; in the midst of his way, etc. If it should be admitted that the angel meant to describe the manner of his death, he could not have found a single word that would have better expressed it.
But not for himself - Margin, “and shall have nothing.” This phrase has given rise to not a little discussion, and not a little diversity of opinion. The Latin Vulgate is, “et non erit ejus populus, qui eum negaturus est” - “and they shall not be his people who shall deny him.” Theodotion (in the Septuagint), καὶ κρίμα οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἀυτῷ kai krima ouk estin en autō - “and there is no crime in him.” Syriac, “And it is not with him.” The Hebrew is לו ואין ve'ēyn lô - and the interpretation turns on the meaning of the word אין 'ēyn Hengstenberg maintains that it is never used in the sense of לא lo' (not), but that it always conveys the idea of “nothing,” or “non-existence,” and that the meaning here is, that, then, “there was nothing to him;” that is, that he ceased to have authority and power, as in the cutting off of a prince or ruler whose power comes to an end.
Accordingly he renders it, “and is not to him;” that is, his dominion, authority, or power over the covenant people as an anointed prince, would cease when he was cut off, and another one would come and desolate the sanctuary, and take possession. Bertholdt renders it, Ohne Nachfolger von den Seinigen zu haben- “without any successors of his own “ - meaning that his family, or that the dynasty would be cut off, or would end with him. He maintains that the whole phrase denotes “a sudden and an unexpected death,” and that it here means that he would have no successor of his own family. He applies it to Alexander the Great. Lengerke renders it, Und nicht ist vorhanden, der ihm, angehoret- and explains the whole to mean, “The anointed one (as the lawful king) shall be cut off, but it shall not then be one who belongs to his family (to wit, upon the throne), but a Prince shall come to whom the crown did not belong, to whom the name anointed could not properly belong.”
Maurer explains it, “There shall be to him no successor or lawful heir.” Prof. Stuart renders it, “One shall be cut off, and there shall be none for it” (the people). C. B. Michaelis, “and not to be will be his lot.” Jacch. and Hitzig, “and no one remained to him.” Rosch, “and no one was present for him.” Our translation - “but not for himself” - was undoubtedly adopted from the common view of the atonement - that the Messiah did not die for himself, but that his life was given as a ransom for others. There can be no doubt of that fact to those who hold the common doctrine of the atonement, and yet it maybe doubted whether the translators did not undesignedly allow their views of the atonement to shape the interpretation of this passage, and whether it can be fairly made out from the Hebrew. The ordinary meaning of the Hebrew word אין 'ēyn is, undoubtedly, “nothing, emptiness” - in the sense of there being nothing (see Gesenius, Lexicon); and, thus applied, the sense here would be, that after he was cut off, or in consequence of his being cut off, what he before possessed would cease, or there would be “nothing” to him; that is, either his life would cease, or his dominion would cease, or he would be cut off as the Prince - the Messiah. This interpretation appears to be confirmed by what is immediately said, that another would come and would destroy the city and the sanctuary, or that the possession would pass into his bands.
It seems probable to me that this is the fair interpretation. The Messiah would come as a “Prince.” It might be expected that he would come to rule - to set up a kingdom. But he would be suddenly cut off by a violent death. The anticipated dominion over the people as a prince would not be set up. It would not pertain to him. Thus suddenly cut off, the expectations of such a rule would be disappointed and blasted. He would in fact set up no such dominion as might naturally be expected of an anointed prince; he would have no successor; the dynasty would not remain in his hands or his family, and soon the people of a foreign prince would come and would sweep all away. This interpretation does not suppose that the real object of his coming would be thwarted, or that he would not set up a kingdom in accordance with the prediction properly explained, but that such a kingdom as would be expected by the people would not be set up.
He would be cut off soon after he came, and the anticipated dominion would not pertain to him, or there would be “nothing” of it found in him, and soon after a foreign prince would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. This interpretation, indeed, will take this passage away as a proof-text of the doctrine of the atonement, or as affirming the design of the death of the Messiah, but it furnishes a meaning as much in accordance with the general strain of the prophecy, and with the facts in the work of the Messiah. For it was a natural expectation that when he came he would set up a kingdom - a temporal reign - and this expectation was extensively cherished among the people. He was, however, soon cut off, and all such hopes at once perished in the minds of his true followers (compare Luke 24:21), and in the minds of the multitudes who, though not his true followers, began to inquire whether he might not be the predicted Messiah - the Prince to sit on the throne of David. But of such an anticipated dominion or rule, there was “nothing” to him.
All these expectations were blighted by his sudden death, and soon, instead of his delivering the nation from bondage and setting up a visible kingdom, a foreign prince would come with his forces and would sweep away everything. Whether this would be the interpretation affixed to these words before the advent of the Messiah cannot now be determined. We have few remains of the methods in which the Hebrews interpreted the ancient prophecies, and we may readily suppose that they would not be disposed to embrace an exposition which would show them that the reign of the Messiah, as they anticipated it, would not occur, but that almost as soon as he appeared, he would be put to death, and the dominion pass away, and the nation be subjected to the ravages of a foreign power. “And the people of the prince that shall come.” Margin, “And they (the Jews) shall be no more his people; or, the Prince‘s (Messiah‘s) future people.” This seems to be rather an explanation of the meaning, than a translation of the Hebrew. The literal rendering would be, “and the city, and the sanctuary, the people of a prince that comes, shall lay waste.” On the general supposition that this whole passage refers to the Messiah and his time, the language used here is not difficult of interpretation, and denotes with undoubted accuracy the events that soon followed the “cutting off” of the Messiah. The word “people” (עם ‛am ) is a word that may well be applied to subjects or armies - such a people as an invading prince or warrior would lead with him for purposes of conquest. It denotes properly
(a) a people, or tribe, or race in general; and then
(b) the people as opposed to kings, princes, rulers (compare λαός laos the people as opposed to chiefs in Homer, Iliad ii. 365, xiii. 108, xxiv. 28): and then as soldiers, Judges 5:2. Hence, it may be applied, as it would be understood to be here, to the soldiers of the prince that should come.
Of the prince that shall come - The word “prince” here (נגיד nāgı̂yd ) is the same which occurs in Daniel 9:25, “Messiah the prince.” It is clear, however, that another prince is meant here, for
(a) it is just said that that prince - the Messiah - would be “cut off,” and this clearly refers to one that was to follow;
(b) the phrase “that is to come” (הבא habbâ' ) would also imply this.
It would naturally suggest the idea that he would come from abroad, or that he would be a foreign prince - for he would “come” for the purposes of destruction. No one can fail to see the applicability of this to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman power, after the Lord Jesus was put to death. If that was the design of the prophecy, or if it be admitted that the prophecy contemplated that, the language could not have been better chosen, or the prediction more exact. No one can reasonably doubt that, if the ancient Hebrews had understood the former part of the prophecy, as meaning that the true Messiah would be put to death soon after his appearing, they could not fail to anticipate that a foreign prince would soon come and lay waste their city and sanctuary.
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary - The “holy place” - the temple. This is the termination of the prophecy. It begins with the command to “rebuild and restore” the city, and ends with its destruction. The time is not fixed, nor is there in the prophecy any direct intimation when it would occur, unless it be found in the general declaration in Daniel 9:24, that “seventy weeks were determined upon the people and the city.” The whole scope of the prophecy, however, would lead to the supposition that this was soon to occur after the Messiah should be “cut off.” The series of events under the Romans which led to the destruction of the city and temple, in fact, began very soon after the death of the Lord Jesus, and ceased only when the temple was wholly demolished, and the city was rased to its foundations.
And the end thereof - Hebrew, “its end,” or “his end” - קצו qı̂tsô It is not certain as to what the word “it” (ו ô ) here refers. It may be either the end of the city, or of the prince, or of the prophecy, so far as the grammatical construction is concerned. As the principal and immediate subject of the prophecy, however, is the city, it is more natural to refer it to that. Hengstenberg renders it, “it will end,” supposing, with Vitringa, that it refers to the subject of the discourse: “the thing - the whole affair - all that is here predicted in this series of events - will end with a flood.” This accords well with the whole design of the prophecy.
With a flood - בשׁטף basheṭeph That is, it shall be like an overflowing flood. The word used here means a “gushing, outpouring,” as of rain, Job 38:25; of a torrent, Proverbs 27:4; an overflowing, inundation, flood, Psalm 32:6; Nahum 1:8. Hence, it would appropriately denote the ravages of an army, sweeping everything away. It would be like a sudden inundation, carrying everything before it. No one can doubt that this language is applicable in every respect to the desolations brought upon Jerusalem by the Roman armies.
And unto the end of the war desolations are determined - Margin, “it shall be cut off by desolations.” Hengstenberg renders this, “and unto the end is war, a decree of ruins.” So Lengerke - and his aufs Ende Krieg und Beschluss der Wusten. Bertholdt renders it, “and the great desolations shall continue unto the end of the war.” The Latin Vulgate renders it, et post finem belli statuta desolatio - “and after the end of the war desolation is determined.” Prof. Stuart translates it, “and unto the end shall be war, a decreed measure of desolations.” The literal meaning of the passage is, “and unto the end of the war desolations are decreed,” or determined. The word rendered “determined” (חרץ chârats ) means, properly, to cut, cut in, engrave; then to decide, to determine, to decree, to pass sentence. See the notes at Daniel 9:24. Here the meaning naturally is, that such desolations were settled or determined as by a decree or purpose. There was something which made them certain; that is, it was a part of the great plan here referred to in the vision of the seventy weeks, that there should be such desolations extending through the war. The things which would, therefore, be anticipated from this passage would be,
(a) that there would be war. This is implied also in the assurance that the people of a foreign prince would come and take the city.
(b) That this war would be of a “desolating” character, or that it would in a remarkable manner extend and spread ruin over the land. All wars are thus characterized; but it would seem that this would do it in a remarkable manner.
(c) That these desolations would extend through the war, or to its close. There would be no intermission; no cessation. It is hardly necessary to say that this was, in fact, precisely the character of the war which the Romans waged with the Jews after the death of the Saviour, and which ended in the destruction of the city and temple; the overthrow of the whole Hebrew polity; and the removal of great numbers of the people to a distant and perpetual captivity. No war, perhaps, has been in its progress more marked by desolation; in none has the purpose of destruction been more perseveringly manifested to its very close. The “language” here, indeed, might apply to many wars - in a certain sense to all wars; to none, however, would it be more appropriate than to the wars of the Romans with the Jews.
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »
The burden of Christ's preaching was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The “time” which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. “Seventy weeks,” said the angel, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Daniel 9:24. A day in prophecy stands for a year. See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,” sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel 9:25. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (see Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9, margin), went into effect in the autumn of B. C. 457. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A. D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. In A. D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and soon afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed. “The time is fulfilled.” DA 233.1
Then, said the angel, “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].” For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles. “In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease. DA 233.2
The one week—seven years—ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by persecution “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4); and shortly after, Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. DA 233.3Read in context »
With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devoted to the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importance and all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he could find no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel, though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave him only a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall the church was unfolded to the prophet's vision, physical strength gave way. He could endure no more, and the angel left him for a time. Daniel “fainted, and was sick certain days.” “And I was astonished at the vision,” he says, “but none understood it.” GC 325.1
Yet God had bidden His messenger: “Make this man to understand the vision.” That commission must be fulfilled. In obedience to it, the angel, some time afterward, returned to Daniel, saying: “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding;” “therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” Daniel 8:27, 16; 9:22, 23, 25-27. There was one important point in the vision of chapter 8 which had been left unexplained, namely, that relating to time—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuming his explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time: GC 325.2
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.... Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.... And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” GC 326.1Read in context »