In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
In the first year on Darius - This is the same Darius the Mede, spoken of before, who succeeded Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans. See Daniel 5:31.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
I Daniel understood by books - The prophecy referred to here is found Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 29:10. The people must have been satisfied of the Divine inspiration of Jeremiah, or his prophecies would not have been so speedily collected nor so carefully preserved. It appears that there was a copy of them then in Daniel's hands.
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
I set my face - to seek by prayer - He found that the time of the promised deliverance could not be at any great distance; and as he saw nothing that indicated a speedy termination of their oppressive captivity, he was very much afflicted, and earnestly besought God to put a speedy end to it; and how earnestly he seeks, his own words show. He prayed, he supplicated, he fasted, he put sackcloth upon his body, and he put ashes upon his head. He uses that kind of prayer prescribed by Solomon in his prayer at the dedication of the temple. See 1 Kings 8:47, 1 Kings 8:48. ועד "and unto," is wanting in one of mine;
ועל "and upon" is the reading in one other.
על שומם "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 I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
Keeping the covenant - Fidelity and truth are characteristics of God. He had never yet broken his engagements to his followers, and was ever showing mercy to men.
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
All Israel, that are near, and that are far off - He prays both for Judah and Israel. The latter were more dispersed, and had been much longer in captivity.
O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Mercies and forgivenesses - From God's goodness flow God's mercies; from his mercies, forgivenesses.
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Therefore the curse is poured upon us - It is probable that he alludes here to the punishment of certain criminals by pouring melted metal upon them; therefore he uses the word תתך tittach. it is poured out, like melted metal, for this is the proper meaning of the root נתך nathach.
And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
The Lord watched upon the evil - In consequence of our manifold rebellions he hath now watched for an opportunity to bring these calamities upon us.
And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.
And cause thy face to shine - Give us proof that thou art reconciled to us.
O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Thy city and thy people are called by thy name - The holy city, the city of the great King. I think it scarcely possible for any serious man to read these impressive and pleading words without feeling a measure of the prophet's earnestness.
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
The man Gabriel - Or the angel Gabriel, who had appeared to me as a man. איש ish is the same here as person - the person Gabriel.
Being caused to fly swiftly - God hears with delight such earnest, humble, urgent prayers; and sends the speediest answer. Gabriel himself was ordered on this occasion to make more than usual speed.
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Seventy weeks 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.
Seventy weeks are determined - This is a most important prophecy, and has given rise to a variety of opinions relative to the proper mode of explanation; but the chief difficulty, if not the only one, is to find out the time from which these seventy weeks should be dated. What is here said by the angel is not a direct answer to Daniel's prayer. He prays to know when the seventy weeks of the captivity are to end. Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices. In the four following verses he enters into the particulars of this most important determination, and leaves them with Daniel for his comfort, who has left them to the Church of God for the confirmation of its faith, and a testimony to the truth of Divine revelation. They contain the fullest confirmation of Christianity, and a complete refutation of the Jewish cavils and blasphemies on this subject.
Of all the writers I have consulted on this most noble prophecy, Dean Prideaux appears to me the most clear and satisfactory. I shall therefore follow his method in my explanation, and often borrow his words.
Seventy weeks are determined - The Jews had Sabbatic years, Leviticus 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years.
In Daniel 9:24 there are six events mentioned which should be the consequences of the incarnation of our Lord: -
I. To finish (לכלא lechalle, to restrain), the transgression which was effected by the preaching of the Gospel, and pouring out of the Holy Ghost among men.
II. To make an end of sins; rather ולהתם חטאות ulehathem chataoth, "to make an end of sin-offerings," which our Lord did when he offered his spotless soul and body on the cross once for all.
III. To make reconciliation (ולכפר ulechapper, "to make atonement or expiation") for iniquity; which he did by the once offering up of himself.
IV. To bring in everlasting righteousness, צדק עלמים tsedek olamim, that is, "the righteousness, or righteous One, of ages;" that person who had been the object of the faith of mankind, and the subject of the predictions of the prophets through all the ages of the world.
V. To seal up (ולחתם velachtom, "to finish or complete") the vision and prophecy; that is, to put an end to the necessity of any farther revelations, by completing the canon of Scripture, and fulfilling the prophecies which related to his person, sacrifice, and the glory that should follow.
VI. And to anoint the Most Holy, קדש קדשים kodesh kodashim, "the Holy of holies." משיח mashach, to anoint, (from which comes משיח mashiach, the Messiah, the anointed one), signifies in general, to consecrate or appoint to some special office. Here it means the consecration or appointment of our blessed Lord, the Holy One of Israel, to be the Prophet, Priest, and King of mankind.
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.
From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem - The foregoing events being all accomplished by Jesus Christ, they of course determine the prophecy to him. And if we reckon back four hundred and ninety years, we shall find the time of the going forth of this command.
Most learned men agree that the death of Christ happened at the passover in the month Nisan, in the four thousand seven hundred and forty-sixth year of the Julian period. Four hundred and ninety years, reckoned back from the above year, leads us directly to the month Nisan in the four thousand two hundred and fifty-sixth year of the same period; the very month and year in which Ezra had his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, (see Ezra 7:9), to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. See the commission in Ezra 7:11-26 (note), and Prideaux's Connexions, vol. 2 p.
The above seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, are divided, in Ezra 7:25, into three distinct periods, to each of which particular events are assigned. The three periods are: -
I. Seven weeks, that is, forty-nine years.
II.-Sixty-two weeks, that is, four hundred and thirty-four years.
III. One week, that is, seven years.
To the first period of seven weeks the restoration and repairing of Jerusalem are referred; and so long were Ezra and Nehemiah employed in restoring the sacred constitutions and civil establishments of the Jews, for this work lasted forty-nine years after the commission was given by Artaxerxes.
From the above seven weeks the second period of sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years more, commences, at the end of which the prophecy says, Messiah the Prince should come, that is, seven weeks, or forty-nine years, should be allowed for the restoration of the Jewish state; from which time till the public entrance of the Messiah on the work of the ministry should be sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years, in all four hundred and eighty-three years.
From the coming of our Lord, the third period is to be dated, viz., "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week," that is seven years, Daniel 9:27.
This confirmation of the covenant must take in the ministry of John the Baptist with that of our Lord, comprehending the term of seven years, during the whole of which he might be well said to confirm or ratify the new covenant with mankind. Our Lord says, "The law was until John;" but from his first public preaching the kingdom of God, or Gospel dispensation, commenced.
These seven years, added to the four hundred and eighty-three, complete the four hundred and ninety years, or seventy prophetic weeks; so that the whole of this prophecy, from the times and corresponding events, has been fulfilled to the very letter.
Some imagine that the half of the last seven years is to be referred to the total destruction of the Jews by Titus, when the daily sacrifice for ever ceased to be offered; and that the intermediate space of thirty-seven years, from our Lord's death till the destruction of the city, is passed over as being of no account in relation to the prophecy, and that it was on this account that the last seven years are divided. But Dean Prideaux thinks that the whole refers to our Lord's preaching connected with that of the Baptist. וחצי vachatsi, says he, signifies in the half part of the week; that is, in the latter three years and a half in which he exercised himself in the public ministry, he caused, by the sacrifice of himself, all other sacrifices and oblations to cease, which were instituted to signify his.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
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.
Daniel 9:26ואחרי השבעים ששים ושנים
יכרת משיח ואין לו
והעיר והקדש ישחית עם נגיד הבא
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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate - This clause is remarkably obscure. כנף שקוצים משמם 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 ובהיכל יהיה שיקוץ 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. , 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.
Daniel 9:27והגביר ברית לרבים שבוע אחד
וחצי השבוע ישבית זבח ומנחה
ועל כנף שקוצים משמם