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.
At the time of Christ's first advent the priests and scribes of the Holy City, to whom were entrusted the oracles of God, might have discerned the signs of the times and proclaimed the coming of the Promised One. The prophecy of Micah designated His birthplace; Daniel specified the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25. God committed these prophecies to the Jewish leaders; they were without excuse if they did not know and declare to the people that the Messiah's coming was at hand. Their ignorance was the result of sinful neglect. The Jews were building monuments for the slain prophets of God, while by their deference to the great men of earth they were paying homage to the servants of Satan. Absorbed in their ambitious strife for place and power among men, they lost sight of the divine honors proffered them by the King of heaven. GC 313.1
With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world's history—the coming of the Son of God to accomplish the redemption of man. All the people should have been watching and waiting that they might be among the first to welcome the world's Redeemer. But, lo, at Bethlehem two weary travelers from the hills of Nazareth traverse the whole length of the narrow street to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a place of rest and shelter for the night. No doors are open to receive them. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last find refuge, and there the Saviour of the world is born. GC 313.2
Heavenly angels had seen the glory which the Son of God shared with the Father before the world was, and they had looked forward with intense interest to His appearing on earth as an event fraught with the greatest joy to all people. Angels were appointed to carry the glad tidings to those who were prepared to receive it and who would joyfully make it known to the inhabitants of the earth. Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man's nature; He was to bear an infinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin; yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel's capital to greet His coming? Would legions of angels present Him to the expectant company? GC 313.3Read in context »
To accept this conclusion was to renounce the former reckoning of the prophetic periods. The 2300 days had been found to begin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300 years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ's baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ was crucified, in the spring of A.D. 31. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D. 34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years would remain. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. “Then,” said the angel, “shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” All the preceding specifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled at the time appointed. GC 410.1
With this reckoning, all was clear and harmonious, except that it was not seen that any event answering to the cleansing of the sanctuary had taken place in 1844. To deny that the days ended at that time was to involve the whole question in confusion, and to renounce positions which had been established by unmistakable fulfillments of prophecy. GC 410.2
But God had led His people in the great advent movement; His power and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a false and fanatical excitement. He would not leave His word involved in doubt and uncertainty. Though many abandoned their former reckoning of the prophetic periods and denied the correctness of the movement based thereon, others were unwilling to renounce points of faith and experience that were sustained by the Scriptures and by the witness of the Spirit of God. They believed that they had adopted sound principles of interpretation in their study of the prophecies, and that it was their duty to hold fast the truths already gained, and to continue the same course of Biblical research. With earnest prayer they reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary. GC 410.3Read in context »
Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15. That message was based on the prophecy of Daniel 9. The sixty-nine weeks were declared by the angel to extend to “the Messiah the Prince,” and with high hopes and joyful anticipations the disciples looked forward to the establishment of Messiah's kingdom at Jerusalem to rule over the whole earth. GC 345.1
They preached the message which Christ had committed to them, though they themselves misapprehended its meaning. While their announcement was founded on Daniel 9:25, they did not see, in the next verse of the same chapter, that Messiah was to be cut off. From their very birth their hearts had been set upon the anticipated glory of an earthly empire, and this blinded their understanding alike to the specifications of the prophecy and to the words of Christ. GC 345.2
They performed their duty in presenting to the Jewish nation the invitation of mercy, and then, at the very time when they expected to see their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seized as a malefactor, scourged, derided, and condemned, and lifted up on the cross of Calvary. What despair and anguish wrung the hearts of those disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in the tomb! GC 345.3Read in context »