And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate - This clause is remarkably obscure. משמם שקוצים כנף kenaph shikkutsim meshomem, "And upon the wing of abominations causing amazement." This is a literal translation of the place; but still there is no determinate sense. A Hebrews MS., written in the thirteenth century, has preserved a very remarkable reading here, which frees the place from all embarrassment. Instead of the above reading, this valuable MS. has שיקוץ יהיה ובהיכל ubeheychal yihyey shikkuts ; that is, "And in the temple (of the Lord) there shall be abomination." This makes the passage plain, and is strictly conformable to the facts themselves, for the temple was profaned; and it agrees with the prediction of our Lord, who said that the abomination that maketh desolate should stand in the holy place, Matthew 24:15, and quotes the words as spoken δια Δανιηλ του φροφητου, by Daniel the prophet. That the above reading gives the true sense, there can be little doubt, because it is countenanced by the most eminent ancient versions.
The Vulgate reads, Et erit in templo abominatio, "And in the temple there shall be abomination."
The Septuagint, Και επι το ἱερον βδελυγμα των ερημωσεων, "And upon the temple there shall be the abomination of desolation."
The Arabic, "And upon the sanctuary there shall be the abomination of ruin."
The above reading is celebrated by J. D. Michaelis, Epist. De Ebdom. Dan., p. 120: Vix insignius exemplum reperiri posse autumem, ostensuro in codicibus Hebraeis latere lectiones dignissimas quae eruantur, etc. "A more illustrious example can, I think, hardly be found, to show that various readings lie hid in Hebrew MSS., which are most worthy of being exhibited." Vid. Bib. Hebrews Kennicott, Dis. Gen.
I have only to add that this mode of reckoning years and periods by weeks is not solely Jewish. Macrobius, in his book on Scipio's dream, has these remarkable words: Sed a sexta usque ad septimam septimanam fit quidem diminutio, sed occulta, et quae detrimentum suum aperta defectione non prodat: ideo nonnullarum rerumpublicarum hic mos est, ut post sextam ad militiam nemo cogatur; Somn. Scip., lib. 1 c. vi., in fine. "From the sixth to the seventh week, there is a diminution of strength; but it is hidden, and does not manifest itself by any outward defect. Hence it was the custom in some republics not to oblige a man to go to the wars after the sixth week, i.e., after forty-two years of age."
Various Readings of Daniel 9:24-27;
Having now gone through the whole of this important prophecy, and given that interpretation which the original seemed best to warrant, I shall next proceed to notice the principal various readings found in the Collections of Kennicott and De Rossi, with those from my own MSS., which the reader may collate with the words of the common printed text.
קדשך עיר ועל עמך על נחתך שבעים שבעים
חטאות ולחתם הפשע לכלא
עלמים צדק ולהביא עו ולכפר
קדשים׃ קדש ולמשח ונביא חזו ובצלחתם
ירושלם ולבנות להשיב דבר מצא מן
שבעה שבעים נגיד משיח עד
תשוב ושנים ששים ושבעים
העתים׃ ובצוק וחרוץ רחוב ונבנתה
ושנים ששים השבעים ואחרי
לו ואין משיח יכרת
הבא נגיד עם ישחית והקדש והעיר
שממות׃ נחרצת מלחמה קץ ועד
אחד שבוע לרבים ברית והגביר
ומנחה זבח ישבית השבוע וחצי
משמם שקוצים כנף ועל
שומם׃ על תתך ונחרצה כלה ועד
Houbigant's Translation of Daniel 9:24-27;
Of the whole passage Houbigant gives the following translation: -
Daniel 9:24; Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and the city of thy sanctuary:
That sin may be restrained, and transgressions have an end;
That iniquity may be expiated, and an everlasting righteousness brought in;
That visions and prophecies may be sealed up, and the Holy of holies anointed.
Daniel 9:25; Know therefore and understand: -
From the edict which shall be promulgated, to return and rebuild Jerusalem, there shall be seven weeks.
Then it shall be fully rebuilt, with anxiety, in difficult times.
Thence, to the Prince Messiah, there shall be sixty-two weeks.
Daniel 9:26; And after sixty-two weeks the Messiah shall be slain, and have no justice.
Afterwards he shall waste the city and the sanctuary, by the prince that is to come.
And his end shall be in straits; and to the end of the war desolation is appointed.
Daniel 9:27; And for one week he shall confirm a covenant with many;
And in the middle of the week he shall abrogate sacrifice and offering; And in the temple there shall be the abomination of desolation,
Until the ruin which is decreed rush on after the desolation.
In this translation there are some peculiarities.
Instead of "the street shall be built again, and the wall," Daniel 9:26, he translates וחרוץ רחוב (with the prefix ב beth instead of ו vau in the latter word), "it shall be fully (the city and all its walls) rebuilt with anxiety."
Instead of לו ואי "but not for himself," he translates, "Nor shall justice be done him;" supposing that די "justice" was originally in the verse.
Instead of "the people of the prince," Daniel 9:26, he translates "by the prince," using עם im as a preposition, instead of עם am, "the people."
Instead of "and for the overspreading," he translates כנף ועל "in the temple;" following the Septuagint, και επι το ἱερον . This rendering is at least as good as ours: but see the marginal readings here, and the preceding notes.
Houbigant contends also that the arrangement of the several members in these passages is confused. He proposes one alteration, which is important, viz., From the promulgation of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem shall be seven weeks; and unto Messiah the prince, sixty-two weeks. All these alterations he vindicates in his notes at the end of this chapter. In the text I have inserted Houbigant's dots, or marks of distinction between the different members of the verses.
שבעים שבוים weeks written full, so to prevent mistakes, in thirteen of Kennicott's, four of De Rossi's, and one ancient of my own.
שבעים Seventy-one of Kennicott's, and one of De Rossi's, have שבועים "weeks, weeks, weeks;" that is, "many weeks:" but this is a mere mistake.
לכלא "to restrain." לכלח "to consume," is the reading of twenty-nine of Kennicott's, thirteen of De Rossi's, and one ancient of my own.
ולחתם "and to seal up." Forty-three of Kennicott's, twelve of De Rossi's, and one of my own, have ולחתם "to make an end." One reads ולחתום , more full.
חטאות "sins." חטאת "sin," in the singular, is the reading of twenty-six of De Rossi's; and so, in the second instance where this word occurs, two of my MSS.
עלמים "everlasting." Two of my oldest MSS read שלמים , and so in the next instance.
ונביא "and the prophet." The conjunction is omitted by two of Kennicott's.
ותשכל "and understand." One of my MSS. has ותשכיל .
מוצא מן "from the publication." One MS. of De Rossi's omits the מן "from," and instead of either, one of my oldest MSS. has למוצא "to the publication."
משיה "Messiah." Nine MSS. read the word with the point sheva, which makes it read, in regimine, "the anointed of the prince." But this is evidently the effect of carelessness, or rather design.
שבעה "seven." Two MSS. add the conjunction ו vau, "and."
ולבנות "and to build." One of mine omits the conjunction.
שבעה שבעים "seven weeks." One of Kennicott's has שבה שבעים "seventy years."
ושבעים "and weeks." One of Kennicott's has ושבוע and a week."
ששים "sixty." A few add the conjunction ו vau, "and sixty;" and another has ששה "six;" and another שבעים "seventy." Wherever this word signifies weeks, two of my oldest MSS. write it full שבועים . In one of my MSS. ששים השבועים are omitted in the text, but added by a later hand in the margin.
וחרוץ "and the ditch." One MS. has העיר "the city." And for רחב "street," one of mine has רחוב of the same meaning, but more full.
ובצוק "and in straits," or anxiety. One MS. without and, as the Vulgate and Septuagint.
והקדש "and the holy place or sanctuary." But two of my most ancient MSS., and four of Kennicott's, leave out the ו vau, and read הקדש והעיר "and the holy city," or "city of holiness," instead of "the city and sanctuary." In one MS. ו is omitted in והעיר .
וקצו "and its end." One MS. omits the conjunction ו and; one omits the following קץ "the end;" reading thus:" and unto the war." But a more singular reading is that of one of my own MSS. written about a.d. 1136, which has וקיצו "and its summer."
ששים "sixty." But one of Kennicott's MSS. has שבעים ששים "sixty weeks;" and another adds the conjunction, And sixty.
ישחית shall destroy." But one of De Rossi's has ישחת "shall be destroyed."
עם "the people." עם im, "with," is the reading of one of Kennicott's, with the Septuagint, Theodotion, Syriac, Hexapla, Vulgate, and Arabic.
בשטף "with a flood." One MS. has השטף "the flood."
כנף ועל "and upon the wing." Nearly twenty MSS. have ועד "and unto," etc.
קץ ועד "and unto the end." עד־ "to the end;" and one has ועל "and upon."
קץ "the end." One has עת "the time;" and another both, קץ עת "the time of the end."
שקוצים כנף ועל "and upon the wing (or battlement) abomination." Instead of this, one of the Parisian MSS. numbered three hundred and thirteen in Kennicott's, has שיקוץ יהיה ובהיכל "and in the temple there shall be abomination." See the preceding notes. This is a similar reading to Theodotion, the Vulgate, Septuagint, Syriac, Hexapla, and the Arabic; and is countenanced by our Lord, Matthew 24:15. After all that has been said on this reading, (which may be genuine, but is less liable to suspicion, as the MS. appears to be the work of some Christian; it is written from the left to the right hand, and is accompanied by the Vulgate Latin), if this be an attempt to accommodate the Hebrew to the Vulgate, it should be stated that they who have examined this MS. closely, have asserted that there is no evidence that the writer has endeavored to conform the Hebrew to the Latin text, unless this be accounted such. The ancient versions give this reading great credit.
שקוצים "abominations." One of mine has less fully שקצים .
משמם "desolation." One of mine has more fully משימם .
ועד "and unto," is wanting in one of mine;
ועל "and upon" is the reading in one other.
שומם על "until the desolation." שומם "the desolation." One of mine has שמם without the ו vau . על is wanting; but is added in the margin, by a later hand, in another of these ancient MSS.
I have thus set down almost all the variations mentioned by Kennicott and De Rossi, and those furnished by three ancient MSS. of my own, that the learned reader may avail himself of every help to examine thoroughly this important prophecy. Upwards of thirty various readings in the compass of four verses, and several of them of great moment.
And he shall confirm the covenant - literally, “he shall make strong” - והגביר vehı̂gebı̂yr The idea is that of giving strength, or stability; of making firm and sure. The Hebrew word here evidently refers to the “covenant” which God is said to establish with his people - so often referred to in the Scriptures as expressing the relation between Him and them, and hence used, in general, to denote the laws and institutions of the true religion - the laws which God has made for his church; his promises to be their protector, etc., and the institutions which grow out of that relation. The margin reads it, more in accordance with the Hebrew, “a,” meaning that he would confirm or establish “a covenant” with the many. According to this, it is not necessary to suppose that it was any existing covenant that it referred to, but that he would ratify what was understood by the word “covenant;” that is, that he would lead many to enter into a true and real covenant with God. This would be fulfilled if he should perform such a work as would bring the “many” into a relation to God corresponding to what was sustained to him by his ancient people; that is, bring them to be his true friends and worshippers.
The meaning of the expression here cannot be mistaken, that during the time specified, “he” (whoever may be referred to) would, for “one week” - pursue such a course as would tend to establish the true religion; to render it more stable and firm; to give it higher sanctions in the approbation of the “many,” and to bring it to bear more decidedly and powerfully on the heart. Whether this would be by some law enacted in its favor; or by protection extended over the nation; or by present example; or by instruction; or by some work of a new kind, and new influences which he would set forth, is not mentioned, and beforehand perhaps it could not have been well anticipated in what way this would be. There has been a difference of opinion, however, as to the proper nominative to the verb “confirm” - הגביר hı̂gebı̂yr - whether it is the Messiah, or the foreign prince, or the “one week.” Hengstenberg prefers the latter, and renders it, “And one week shall confirm the covenant; with many.”
So also Lengerke renders it. Bertholdt renders it “he,” that is, “he shall unite himself firmly with many for one week” - or, a period of seven years, ein Jahrsiebend lang. It seems to me that it is an unnatural construction to make the word “week” the nominative to the verb, and that the more obvious interpretation is to refer it to some person to whom the whole subject relates. It is not usual to represent time as an agent in accomplishing a work. In poetic and metaphorical language, indeed, we personate time as cutting down men, as a destroyer, &e., but this usage would not justify the expression that “time would confirm a covenant with many.” That is, evidently, the work of conscious, intelligent agent; and it is most natural, therefore, to understand this as of one of the two agents who are spoken of in the passage. These two agents are the “Messiah,” and the “prince that should come.”
But it is not reasonable to suppose that the latter is referred to, because it is said Daniel 9:26 that the effect and the purpose of his coming would be to “destroy the city and the sanctuary.” He was to come “with a flood,” and the effect of his coming would be only desolation. The more correct interpretation, therefore, is to refer it to the Messiah, who is the principal subject of the prophecy; and the work which, according to this, he was to perform was, during that “one week,” to exert such an influence as would tend to establish a covenant between the people and God. The effect of his work during that one week would be to secure their adhesion to the “true religion;” to confirm to them the Divine promises, and to establish the principles of that religion which would lead them to God. Nothing is said of the mode by which that would be done; and anything, therefore, which would secure this would be a fulfillment of the prophecy. As a matter of fact, if it refers to the Lord Jesus, this was done by his personal instructions, his example, his sufferings and death, and the arrangements which he made to secure the proper effect of his work on the minds of the people - all designed to procure for them the friendship and favor of God, and to unite them to him in the bonds of an enduring covenant.
With many - לרבים lârabı̂ym Or, for many; or, unto many. He would perform a work which would pertain to many, or which would bear on many, leading them to God. There is nothing in the word here which would indicate who they were, whether his own immediate followers, or those who already were in the covenant. The simple idea is, that this would pertain to “many” persons, and it would be fulfilled if the effect of his work were to confirm “many” who were already in the covenant, or if he should bring “many” others into a covenant relation with God. Nothing could be determined from the meaning of the word used here as to which of these things was designed, and consequently a fair fulfillment would be found if either of them occurred. If it refers to the Messiah, it would be fulfilled if in fact the effect of his coming should be either by statute or by instructions to confirm and establish those who already sustained this relation to God, or if he gathered other followers, and confirmed them in their allegiance to God.
For one week - The fair interpretation of this, according to the principles adopted throughout this exposition, is, that this includes the space of seven years. See the notes at Daniel 9:24. This is the one week that makes up the seventy - seven of them, or forty-nine years, embracing the period from the command to rebuild the city and temple to its completion under Nehemiah; sixty-two, or four hundred and thirty-four years, to the public appearing of the Messiah, and this one week to complete the whole seventy, or four hundred and ninety years “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness,” etc., Daniel 9:24. It is essential, therefore, to find something done, occupying these seven years, that would go to “confirm the covenant” in the sense above explained. In the consideration of this, the attention is arrested by the announcement of an important event which was to occur “in the midst of the week,” to wit, in causing the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, showing that there was to be an important change occurring during the “week,” or that while he would be, in fact, confirming the covenant through the week in some proper sense, the sacrifice and oblation would cease, and therefore the confirming of the many in the covenant must depend on something else than the continuation of the sacrifice and oblation. In regard to this language, as in respect to all the rest of the prophecy, there are, in fact, just two questions: one is, what is fairly to be understood by the words, or what is the proper interpretation, independent of anything in the result; the other is, whether anything occurred in what is regarded as the fulfillment which corresponds with the language so interpreted.
(1) The first inquiry then, is, What is the fair meaning of the language? Or what would one who had a correct knowledge of the proper principles of interpretation understand by this? Now, in regard to this, while it may be admitted, perhaps, that there would be some liability to a difference of view in interpreting it with no reference to the event, or no shaping of its meaning by the event, the following things seem to be clear:
(a) that the “one week,” would comprise seven years, immediately succeeding the appearance of the Messiah, or the sixty-two weeks, and that there was something which he would do in “confirming the covenant,” or in establishing the principles of religion, which would extend through that period of seven years, or that that would be, in some proper sense, “a period” of time, having a beginning - to wit, his appearing, and some proper close or termination at the end of the seven years: that is, that there would be some reason why that should be a marked period, or why the whole should terminate there, and not at some other time.
(b) That in the middle of that period of seven years, another important event would occur, serving to divide that time into two portions, and especially to be known as causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease; in some way affecting the public offering of sacrifice, so that from that time there would be in fact a cessation.
(c) And that this would be succeeded by the consummation of the whole matter expressed in the words, “and for the overspreading of abomination he shall make it desolate,” etc. It is not said, however, that this latter would immediately occur, but this would be one of the events that would pertain to the fulfillment of the prophecy. There is nothing, indeed, in the prediction to forbid the expectation that this would occur at once, nor is there anything in the words which makes it imperative that we should so understand it. It may be admitted that this would be the most natural interpretation, but it cannot be shown that that is required. It may be added, also, that this may not have pertained to the direct design of the prophecy - which was to foretell the coming of the Messiah, but that this was appended to show the end of the whole thing. When the Messiah should have come, and should have made an atonement for sin, the great design of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple would have been accomplished, and both might pass away. Whether that would occur immediately or not might be in itself a matter of indifference; but it was important to state here that it would occur, for that was properly a completion of the design of rebuilding the city, and of the purpose for which it had ever been set apart as a holy city.
(2) The other inquiry is whether there was that in what is regarded as the fulfillment of this, which fairly corresponds with the prediction. I have attempted above (on Daniel 9:25) to show that this refers to the Messiah properly so called - the Lord Jesus Christ. The inquiry now is, therefore, whether we can find in his life and death what is a fair fulfillment of these reasonable expectations. In order to see this, it is proper to review these points in their order:
(a) The period, then, which is embraced in the prophecy, is seven years, and it is necessary to find in his life and work something which would be accomplished during these seven years which could be properly referred to as “confirming the covenant with many.” The main difficulty in the case is on this point, and I acknowledge that this seems to me to be the most embarrassing portion of the prophecy, and that the solutions which can be given of this are less satisfactory than those that pertain to any other part. Were it not that the remarkable clause “in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” were added, I admit that the natural interpretation would be, that he would do this personally, and that we might look for something which he would himself accomplish during the whole period of seven years. That clause, however, looks as if some remarkable event were to occur in the middle of that period, for the fact that he would tense the sacrifice and oblation to cease - that is, would bring the rites of the temple to a close - shows that what is meant by “confirming the covenant” is different from the ordinary worship under the ancient economy. No Jew would think of expressing himself thus, or would see how it was practicable to “confirm the covenant” at the same time that all his sacrifices were to cease. The confirming of the covenant, therefore, during that “one week,” must be consistent with some work or event that would cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease in the middle of that period.
(b) The true fulfillment, it seems to me, is to be found in the bearing of the work of the Saviour on the Hebrew people - the ancient covenant people of God - for about the period of seven years after he entered on his work. Then the particular relation of his work to the Jewish people ceased. It may not be practicable to make out the exact time of “seven years” in reference to this, and it may be admitted that this would not be understood from the prophecy before the things occurred; but still there are a number of circumstances which will show that this interpretation is not only plausibIe, but that it has in its very nature strong probability in its favor. They are such as these:
(1) The ministry of the Saviour himself was wholly among the Jews, and his work was what would, in their common language, be spoken of as “confirming the covenant; “that is, it would be strengthening the principles of religion, bringing the Divine promises to bear on the mind, and leading men to God, etc.
(2) This same work was continued by the apostles as they labored among the Jews. They endeavored to do the same thing that their Lord and Master had done, with all the additional sanctions, now derived from his life and death. The whole tendency of their ministry would have been properly expressed in this language: that they endeavored to “confirm the covenant” with the Hebrew people; that is, to bring them to just views of the character of their natural covenant with God; to show them how it was confirmed in the Messiah; to establish the ancient promises; and to bring to bear upon them the sanctions of their law as it was now fulfilled, and ratified, and enlarged through the Messiah. Had the Saviour himself succeeded in this, or had his apostles, it would have been, in fact, only “confirming the ancient covenant” - the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the covenant established under Moses, and ratified by so many laws and customs among the people. The whole bearing of the Saviour‘s instructions, and of his followers, was to carry out and fulfill the real design of that ancient institution - to show its true nature and meaning, and to impress it on the hearts of men
(3) This was continued for about the period here referred to; at least for a period so long that it could properly be represented in round numbers as “one week,” or seven years. The Saviour‘s own ministry continued about half that time; and then the apostles prosecuted the same work, laboring with the Jews for about the other portion, before they turned their attention to the Gentiles, and before the purpose to endearour to bring in the Jewish people was abandoned. They remained in Jerusalem; they preached in the synagogues; they observed the rites of the temple service; they directed their first attention everywhere to the Hebrew people; they had not yet learned that they were to turn away from the “covenant people,” and to go to the Gentiles. It was a slow process by which they were led to this. It required a miracle to convince Peter of it, and to show him that it was right to go to Cornelius Daniel 9:25.
(4) When this occurred; when the apostles turned away from the Hebrew people, and gave themselves to their labors among the Gentiles, the work of “confirming the covenant” with those to whom the promises had been made, and to whom the law was given, ceased. They were regarded as “broken off” and left, and the hope of success was in the Gentile world. See the reasoning of the apostle Paul in Exodus 24:6; Numbers 12:12; then the middle, or the midst, Judges 16:3. The Vulgate renders it, in dimidio; the Greek, ἐν τῳ ἡμίσει en tō hēmisei Hengstenberg, “the half.” So Lengerke, die Halfte; Luther, mitten. The natural and obvious interpretation is what is expressed in our translation, and that will convey the essential idea in the original. It refers to something which was to occur at about the middle portion of this time, or when about half of this period was elapsed, or to something which it would require half of the “one week,” or seven years, to accomplish. The meaning of the passage is fully met by the supposition that it refers to the Lord Jesus and his work, and that the exact thing that was intended by the prophecy was his death, or his being “cut off,” and thus causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease.
Whatever difficulties there may be about the “precise” time of our Lord‘s ministry, and whether he celebrated three passovers or four after he entered on his public work, it is agreed on all hands that it lasted about three years and a half - the time referred to here. Though a few have supposed that a longer period was occupied, yet the general belief of the church has coincided in that, and there are few points in history better settled. On the supposition that this pertains to the death of the Lord Jesus, and that it was the design of the prophecy here to refer to the effects of that death, this is the very language which would have been used. If the period of “a week” were for any purpose mentioned, then it would be indispensable to suppose that there would be an allusion to the important event - in fact, the great event which was to occur in the middle of that period, when the ends of the types and ceremonies of the Hebrew people would be accomplished, and a sacrifice made for the sins of the whole world.
He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease - The word “he,” in this place, refers to the Messiah, if the interpretation of the former part of the verse is correct, for there can be no doubt that it is the same person who is mentioned in the phrase “he shall confirm the covenant with many.” The words “sacrifice” and “oblation” refer to the offerings made in the temple. The former word more properly denotes “bloody” offerings; the latter “offerings” of any kind - whether of flour, fruits, grain, etc. See these words explained in the notes at Isaiah 1:11, Isaiah 1:13. The word rendered “cease” (ישׁבית yashebı̂yt ) means, properly, to rest (from the word Sabbath), and then in Hiphil, to cause to rest, or to cause to cease. It conveys the idea of “putting an end to” - as, for example, “war,” Psalm 46:9; “contention,” Proverbs 18:18; “exultation,” Isaiah 16:10. - Gesenius. The literal signification here would be met by the supposition that an end would be made of these sacrifices, and this would occur either by their being made wholly to cease to be offered at that time, or by the fact that the object of their appointment was accomplished, and that henceforward they would be useless and would die away.
As a matter of fact, so far as the Divine intention in the appointment of these sacrifices and offerings was concerned, they “ceased” at the death of Christ - in the middle of the “week.” Then the great sacrifice which they had adumbrated was offered. Then they ceased to have any significancy, no reason existing for their longer continuance. Then, as they never had had any efficacy in themselves, they ceased also to have any propriety as types - for the thing which they had prefigured had been accomplished. Then, too, began a series of events and influences which led to their abolition, for soon they were interrupted by the Romans, and the temple and the altars were swept away to be rebuilt no more. The death of Christ was, in fact, the thing which made them to cease, and the fact that the great atonement has been made, and that there is now no further need of those offerings, is the only philosophical reason which can be given why the Jews have never been able again to rebuild the temple, and why for eighteen hundred years they have found no place where they could again offer a bloody sacrifice. The “sacrifice and the oblation” were made, as the result of the coming of the Messiah, to “cease” for ever, and no power of man will be able to restore them again in Jerusalem. Compare Gibbon‘s account of the attempt of Julian to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem: Dec. and Fall, ii. 35-37.
And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate - The marginal reading here is very different, showing clearly the perplexity of the translators: “Upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator.” There is great variety, also, in the ancient versions in rendering this passage. The Latin Vulgate is, “And there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation.” The Greek, “And upon the temple shall be an abomination of desolations.” The Syriac. “And upon the extremities of the abomination shall rest desolation.” The Arabic, “And over the sanctuary shall there be the abomination of ruin.” Luther renders it, “And upon the wings shall stand the abomination of desolation.” Lengerke and Hengstenberg render it, “And upon the summit of abomination comes the destroyer.” Prof. Stuart, “And the water shall be over a winged fowl of abominations.” These different translations show that there is great obscurity in the original, and perhaps exclude the hope of being able entirely to free the passage from all difficulties. An examination of the words, however, may perhaps enable us to form a judgment of its meaning. The “literal” and “obvious” sense of the original, as I understand it, is, “And upon the wing of the abominations one causing desolation” - משׁמם שׁקיצים כנף ועל ve‛al kenap shı̂qqytsı̂ym meshomēm The word rendered “overspreading” (כנף kânâp ) means, properly, a “wing;” so called as “covering,” or because it “covers” - from כנף kânap ), to cover, to hide. Then it denotes anything having a resemblance to a wing, as an extremity, a corner, as
(a) of a garment, the skirt, or flap, 1 Samuel 24:4 (5), 11 (12); Numbers 15:38, and hence, as the outer garment was used by the Orientals to wrap themselves in at night, the word is used for the extremity or border of a bed-covering, Deuteronomy 22:30 Deuteronomy 23:1; Rth 3:9 .
(c) It is used to denote the highest point, or a battlement, a pinnacle - as having a resemblance to a wing spread out.
So the word πτερύγιον pterugion is used in Matthew 4:5. See the notes at that passage. It would seem most probable that the allusion by the word as applied to a building would not be, as supposed by Gesenius (Lexicon), and by Hengstenberg and Lengerke, to the “pinnacle or summit,” but to some roof, porch, or piazza that had a resemblance to the wings of a bird as spread out - a use of the word that would be very natural and obvious. The extended porch that Solomon built on the eastern side of the temple would, not improbably, have, to one standing on the opposite Mount of Olives, much the appearance of the wings of a bird spread out. Nothing certain can be determined about the allusion here from the use of this word, but the connection would lead us to suppose that the reference was to something pertaining to the city or temple, for the whole prophecy has a reference to the city and temple, and it is natural to suppose that in its close there would be an allusion to it.
The use of the word “wing” here would lead to the supposition that what is said would pertain to something in connection with the temple having a resemblance to the wings of a bird, and the word “upon” (על ‛al ) would lead us to suppose that what was to occur would be somehow upon that. The word rendered “abominations” (שׁקוּצים shı̂qqûtsı̂ym ) means “abominable” things, things to be held in detestation, as things unclean, filthy garments, etc., and then idols, as things that are to be held in abhorrence. The word שׁקוּץ shı̂qûts is rendered abomination in Deuteronomy 29:17; 1 Kings 11:5, 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13, 2 Kings 23:24; Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 4:1; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 13:27; Jeremiah 32:34; Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 7:20; Ezekiel 20:7-8, Ezekiel 20:30; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; Hosea 9:10; Zechariah 9:7; abominable idols in 2 Chronicles 15:8 (in the margin abominations); “detestable” in Jeremiah 16:18; Ezekiel 11:18, Ezekiel 11:21; Ezekiel 37:23; and “abominable filth” in Nahum 3:6. It does not occur elsewhere.
In most of these places it is applied to “idols,” and the current usage would lead us so to apply it, if there were nothing in the connection to demand a different interpretation. It might refer to anything that was held in abomination, or that was detestable and offensive. The word is one that might be used of an idol god, or of anything that would pollute or defile, or that was from any cause offensive. It is not used in the Old Testament with reference to a “banner or military standard,” but there can be no doubt that it might be so applied as denoting the standard of a foe - of a pagan - planted on any part of the temple - a thing which would be particularly detestable and abominable in the sight of the Jews. The word rendered “he shall make IT desolate” - משׁמם meshomēm - is “he making desolate;” that is, “a desolator.” It is a Poel participle from שׁמם shâmēm - to be astonished, to be laid waste; and then, in an active sense, to lay waste, to make desolate. - Gesenius. The same word, and the same phrase, occur in Daniel 11:31: “And they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate,” or, as it is in the margin, “astonisheth.”
There, also, the expression is used in connection with “taking away the daily sacrifices.” The word would be more properly rendered in this place “desolator,” referring to some one who would produce desolation. There is great abruptness in the entire expression, and it is evident that it was not the intention to give so clear a prediction in this that it could be fully understood beforehand. The other portions of the prophecy respecting the building of the city, and the coming of the Messiah, and the work that he would accomplish, are much more clear, and their meaning could have been made out with much more certainty. But, in reference to this, it would seem, perhaps, that all that was designed was to throw out suggestions - fragments of thought, that would rather hint at the subject than give any continuous idea. Perhaps a much more “abrupt” method of translation than what attempts to express it in a continuous grammatical construction capable of being parsed easily, would better express the state of the mind of the speaker, and the language which he uses, than the ordinary versions.
The Masoretic pointing, also, may be disregarded, and then the real idea would be better expressed by some such translation as the following: “He shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And - upon the wing - the porch of the temple - abominations! And a desolator!” That is, after the ceasing of the sacrifice and the oblation, the mind is fixed upon the temple where they had been offered. The first thing that arrests the eye is some portion of the temple, here denoted by the word “wing.” The next is something abominable or detestable - an object to be hated and loathed in the very temple itself. The next is a desolator - one who had come to carry desolation to that very temple. Whether the “abomination” is connected with the “desolator” or not is not intimated by the language. It might or might not be. The angel uses language as these objects strike the eye, and he expresses himself in this abrupt manner as the eye rests on one or the other. The question then arises, What does this mean? Or what is to be regarded as the proper fulfillment? It seems to me that there can be no doubt that there is a reference to the Roman standard or banners planted on some part of the temple, or to the Roman army, or to some idols set up by the Romans - objects of abomination to the Jews - as attracting the eye of the angel in the distant future, and as indicating the close of the series of events here referred to in the prophecy. The reasons for this opinion are, summarily, the following:
(a) The “place or order” in which the passage stands in the prophecy. It is “after” the coming of the Messiah; “after” the proper cessation of the sacrifice and oblation, and at the close of the whole series of events - the termination of the whole design about rebuilding the city and the temple.
(b) The “language” is such as would properly represent that. Nothing could be more appropriate, in the common estimation of the Jews, than to speak of such an object as a Roman military standard planted in any part of the temple, as an “abomination,;” and no word would better denote the character of the Roman conqueror than the word “desolator” - for the effect of his coming, was to lay the whole city and temple in ruins.
(c) The language of the Saviour in his reference to this would seem to demand such an interpretation, Matthew 24:15: “When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place,” etc. There can be no reasonable doubt. that the Saviour refers to this passage in Daniel (see the notes at Matthew 24:15), or that events occurred in the attack on Jerusalem and the temple that would fully correspond with the language used here. Josephus, for instance, says, that when the city was taken, the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. “And now the Romans,” says he, “upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns into the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there they did offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus “Imperator” with the greatest acclamations of joy.” - “Jewish Wars,” b. vi. ch. vi. Section 1. This fact fully accords with the meaning of the language as above explained, and the reference to it was demanded in order that the purpose of the prophecy should be complete. Its proper termination is the destruction of the city and temple - as its beginning is the order to rebuild them.
Even until the consummation - Until the completion - ועד־כלה ye‛ad -kâlâh That is, the series of events in the prophecy shall in fact reach to the completion of everything pertaining to the city and temple. The whole purpose in regard to that shall be completed. The design for which it is robe rebuilt shall be consummated; the sacrifices to be offered there shall be finished, and they shall be no longer efficacious or proper; the whole civil and religious polity connected with the city and temple shall pass away.
And that determined - ונחרצה venechĕrâtsâh See this word explained in the notes at Daniel 9:24, Daniel 9:26. See also the notes at Isaiah 10:23. There seems to be an allusion in the word here to its former use, as denoting that this is the fulfillment of the determination in regard to the city and temple. The idea is, that what was determined, or decided on, to wit, with reference to the closing scenes of the city and temple, would be accomplished.
Shall be poured - תתך tı̂ttak The word used here means to pour, to pour out, to overflow - as rain, water, curses, anger, etc. It may be properly applied to calamity or desolation, as these things may be represented as “poured down” upon a people, in the manner of a storm. Compare 2 Samuel 21:10; Exodus 9:33; Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel 38:22; 2 Chronicles 34:21; 2 Chronicles 12:7; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:6.
Upon the desolate - Margin, desolator. The Hebrew word (שׁומם shômēm ) is the same, though in another form (כל kal instead of פל pēl ) which is used in the previous part of the verse, and rendered “he shall make it desolate,” but which is proposed above to be rendered “desolator.” The verb שׁמם shâmēm is an intransitive verb, and means, in “Kal,” the form used here, to be astonished or amazed; then “to be laid waste, to be made desolate” (Gesenius); and the meaning in this place, therefore, is that which is desolate or laid waste - the wasted, the perishing, the solitary. The reference is to Jerusalem viewed as desolate or reduced to ruins. The angel perhaps contemplates it, as he is speaking, in ruins or as desolate, and he sees this also as the termination of the entire series of predictions, and, in view of the whole, speaks of Jerusalem appropriately as “the desolate.”
Though it would be rebuilt, yet it would be again reduced to desolation, for the purpose of the rebuilding - the coming of the Messiah - would be accomplished. As the prophecy finds Jerusalem a scene of ruins, so it leaves it, and the last word in the prophecy, therefore, is appropriately the word “desolate.” The intermediate state indeed between the condition of the city as seen at first and at the close is glorious - for it embraces the whole work of the Messiah; but the beginning is a scene of ruins, and so is the close. The sum of the whole in the latter part of the verse may be expressed in a free paraphrase: “He, the Messiah, shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” by having fulfilled in his own dcath the design of the ancient offerings, thus rendering them now useless, and upon the outspreading - upon the temple regarded as spread out, or some wing or portico, there are seen abominable things - idolatrous ensigns, and the worship of foreigners. A desolator is there, also, come to spread destruction - a foreign army or leader. And this shall continue even to the end of the whole matter - the end of the events contemplated by the prophecy - the end of the city and the temple. And what is determined on - the destruction decreed - shall be poured out like a tempest on the city doomed to desolation - desolate as surveyed at the beginning of the prophecy - desolate at the close, and therefore appropriately called “the desolate.”
After this protracted examination of the meaning of this prophecy, all the remark which it seems proper to make is, that this prediction could have been the result only of inspiration. There is the clearest evidence that the prophecy was recorded long before the time of the Messiah, and it is manifest that it could not have been the result of any natural sagacity. There is not the slightest proof that it was uttered as late as the coming of Christ, and there is nothing better determined in relation to any ancient matter than that it was recorded long before the birth of the Lord Jesus. But it is equally clear that it could have been the result of no mere natural sagacity. How could such events have been foreseen except by Him who knows all things? How could the order have been determined? How could the time have been fixed? How could it have been anticipated that the Messiah, the Prince, would be cut off? How could it have been known that he would cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease? How could it have been ascertained that the period during which he would be engaged in this would be one week - or about seven years? How could it be predicted that a remarkable event would occur in the middle of that period that would in fact cause the sacrifice and oblation ultimately to cease? And how could it be conjectured that a foreign prince would come, and plant the standard of abomination in the holy city, and sweep all away - laying the city and the temple in ruins, and bringing the whole polity to an end? These things lie beyond the range of natural sagacity, and if they are fairly implied in this prophecy, they demonstrate that this portion of the book is from God.
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 »