A COMMENTARY ON DANIEL 9

Many years later we find the prophet praying about three things: The hoped for restoration to take place after the 70 years of captivity (9:2,16), the spiritually desolate condition of the people (9:4-16), and the desolate city and sanctuary (9:12,16,17).

Notice especially that the angel, by the command of God, returns and immediately replies to Daniel’s prayer interrupting him just after he says: "O my God, do not delay, because Thy people and Thy city are called by Thy name." It is precisely this: Time, the people, and the city, that is the subject the angel addresses as he answers Daniel’s prayer and continues the explanation of the vision. The only possible answer to Daniel’s prayer must be one of hope for his disobedient people. We find just that—Christ and His infinite sacrifice.

"O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision" (9:22,23).

The heavenly messenger has now returned to complete his explanation of "the vision." Remember that, in Daniel’s mind, the conflict and seeming contradiction of Da 8 was that "the appointed time of the end" comes at the end of the Greek kingdom, not the Roman. This key point is now finally clarified within the very first words of the following remarkable verse. 

24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.

The angel here explains that the vision of Daniel 8 concerns a time period of seven seventies and that this time had been decreed upon the Jews and the holy city Jerusalem. We now ask, how was this represented in the vision so that Gabriel’s words can be understood as an explanation? The answer is obvious. A complete sweep of future history (the four kingdoms of man and the final kingdom of God) was first presented in the dreams of chapters 2 and 7. Then the vision of Daniel 8 narrowed the wide perspective by only considering two kingdoms, specifically, Medo-Persia and Greece. The focus of attention given this time period means that it was "determined" and "decreed" and "cut off" for special consideration. We may conclude immediately therefore that what was seen in the vision spans a period of 70 weeks. It also follows that the vision of Da 8 begins with the decree mentioned in 9:25—in harmony with our remarks on Lev 26. The rest of the 24th verse tells us what was to occur in this specifically appointed time. We have already seen that Daniel’s people have been represented by the host and stars of heaven and that the place of the sanctuary is the city Jerusalem. This was the high point of the vision of Da 8 and is the concern here. Our analysis therefore confirms previous exegesis. 

The 70 weeks is a probationary period decreed upon the Jews. Within the stated time limit, and no doubt with the cooperation of God, the Jewish nation was to accomplish an incredible task. In the words: "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy" we have God’s eager desire clearly expressed for the consummation of all things within this definite period of time. Unfortunately, the disastrous outcome presented in the verses that follow clearly illustrate that the people were to fail in fulfilling the divine purpose. Evidently, time was not to end when appointed because the necessary response was to be lacking.

25a Know therefore and understand that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, a Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;

25b it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26a Then after the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing, 26b and the people of the ruler who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end (or his end) will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27a And He will confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the middle of the week He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; 27b and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed is poured out on the desolate/r.


Regarding vs. 26b, We ask: Whose end comes with a flood? There are three grammatically admissible possibilities. (We accept all three possibilities as the primary intent of the passage).

First: A flood (literally: "an overflow") may describe the wrath of divine anger (Nah 1:8; Isa 10:22,23; 28:2,15,17,18; 30:28; 54:8 Ezk 13:11,13; 38:22), so the above text can be taken to mean: the end of the desolater comes with a flood. Thus, the little horn tyrant dies by no human hand (8:25; 11:45). 

Second: The Hebrew grammar may point to the flood coming against the sanctuary, but not against the city and sanctuary. Keil struggles with the seemingly arbitrary separation of the city from the sanctuary but the meaning is clear to us. An emphasis is being placed directly on the rebellious Jews. And this should be expected. After all, everything pivots around their response. The people of God are identified with the sanctuary. The emphasis on the sanctuary therefore, since qodesh represents the people in Da 8, merely continues the description of the coming wrath (cf. Luke 21:23). And this representation appropriately fits the context:

A probationary period is decreed for the Jews and the city Jerusalem in 9:24, and there is no hint of repentance by the people. A failure to comply therefore must result in action against the city and that people. Action is taken; it is against the city and the sanctuary. We therefore have an equation: ‘The sanctuary = The people.’ This identification suggested by the context is supported further in that the result forms a nice chiastic structure:

C & P 9:19 Thy city & Thy people
P & C 9:24 your people & your city
C & P 9:26 the city & the sanctuary

Jesus understood similarly. He referred to this prophecy and paired the people & city together. I quote: "The king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire" (Mt 22:7).

Third: The Hebrew grammar may point to the flood coming against the Anointed One. This also fits the context. See 11:22.

Flood imagery may denote advancing armies (Daniel 11:10,22,26,40 cf. Isa 8:8; Jer 47:2). Since the word wing is a reference to armies (Isa 8:8; 18:1; Jer 48:40; 49:22; Hos 8:1; Hab 1:8; Ezk 17:3,7,12,17), the flood of armies/wing imagery most certainly represents the advancing armies of the enemy prince. 

A destruction is poured out on the desolate/r. We have suggested a double meaning here. The Hebrew word means either "desolater" or "that which makes desolate". It is also translated as "desolate" or "desolation" by the KJV, ASV, MLB, NEB and others. So "that which makes desolate," "the desolate" or "desolation" may refer to the people of Da 8. This makes sense. Their rebellion is referred to as the "transgression of desolation" in 8:13.


PARALLELISM: A KEY TO INTERPRETATION


Daniel 9:26 ~ Daniel 9:27
Then after the sixty two weeks ~
the Anointed One will be cut off ~ And He will confirm the covenant
and have nothing, ~ with many
~ for one week,
After the sixty two weeks ~ and in the middle of the week,
the Anointed One will be cut off ~ He will put a stop to
~ sacrifice and grain offering;
and the people of the ruler ~ and on the wing of abominations
who is to come will ~ will come one who
destroy the city and the sanctuary. ~ makes desolate,
And its end will come with a flood; ~
even to the end there will be war; ~ even until a complete destruction,
desolations are determined. ~ one that is decreed,
~ is poured out on the desolate.

A Perfect Correlation:

~
After the sixty two weeks ~ And in the middle of the week
The Anointed One will be cut off ~ And He will confirm the covenant
and have nothing (or no one) ~ With many
The people of the ruler ~ The wing of abominations
Who is to come will ~ Will come one who
Destroys the city and sanctuary ~ Makes desolate
And its end will come with a flood ~ Poured out on the desolate
Even to the end there will be war ~ Even until a complete destruction
Desolations are determined ~ One that is decreed


"Upon The Wing Of Abominations Shall Come One That Makes Desolate." 

The "one who makes desolate" is poetically pictured as riding swiftly upon that which he commands; perhaps in parody of God in Ps 18:10. Or does he merely come upon the wing of abominations, meaning, following after? The above parallelism supports both interpretations! If the word wing refers to armies, then, the wing of abominations is a fit expression for the idolatrous forces of the little horn which desecrate the sanctuary, do away with the "continual", and set up the sacred symbol of their worship in Daniel 11.

"And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate." This, the KJV rendering of 9:26, suggests that because of the spreading around of abominations, desolations will come, or, in order that abominations may be spread everywhere, he makes desolate. These two ideas are linked together in Daniel grammatically. We have "the transgression that makes desolate" (8:13) and "the abomination that makes desolate" (11:31).

Confirm the covenant is correct for the phrase can only be translated: "to make a covenant firm" or "he shall cause the covenant to prevail." This cannot be said of the little horn if he was to break a covenant with the Jews in the middle of the week. Hence, it must be the prince of the covenant who confirms the covenant. All nine elements of the parallelism therefore match with remarkable precision. The implications are far reaching: It suggests the usual Messianic interpretation: that the death of the Anointed One confirms the covenant.

Jesus understood that He was the Anointed One. He applied the prophecy to Himself. At the last supper, He said of a cup of wine: "This is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of the many" (Mt 26:28). Mauro makes this comment: 

"In these words we find four things which agree with the prophecy: 1st, the One who was to confirm the covenant, Christ; 2nd, "the covenant" itself; 3rd, that which confirmed the covenant, the blood of Christ; 4th, those who receive the benefits of the covenant, the "many." The identification is complete; for the words correspond perfectly with those of the prophecy. "He shall confirm the covenant with many." There could not be a more perfect agreement" (Ford, Daniel, p. 201).

Goodspeed translates Mt 26:28:

"You must all drink from it, for this is my blood which ratifies the agreement, and is to be poured out for many people, for the forgiveness of their sins."

Ford comments: "This translation rightly represents the concepts implicit in Christ’s words, particularly by its use of ‘ratifies.’ The ‘blood of the covenant’ can only mean the blood which ratifies the covenant" (Ford, Daniel, p. 201). 
 

What Does Daniel 9:24 Point To?

The seventy weeks was the time limit for the eradication of sin, the completion of atonement, the fulfillment of every vision, the establishment of an everlasting right order, and a holy sanctuary — the Messianic community of the redeemed. To "seal up vision and prophet" is nothing more than the end of visions and prophets at the end of the world. See 1 Cor 13:8-12.

Like the term qodesh (sanctuary), the phrase: most holy almost never refers to persons. The expression usually applies to holy things. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary makes this point: "The most Holy. Heb. qodesh qodashim, ‘something most holy,’ or, ‘someone most holy.’ The Hebrew phrase is applied to the altar (Ex. 29:37; 40:10), other vessels and furniture pertaining to the tabernacle (Ex. 30:29), the holy perfume (Ex. 30:36), specified meat offerings (Lev. 2:3,10; 6:17; 10:12), trespass offerings (Lev. 7:1,6), the shewbread (Lev. 24:5-9), devoted things (Lev. 27:28), the holy district (Num. 18:10; Eze. 43:12), and the most holy place of the sanctuary (Ex. 26:33,34). The phrase is nowhere applied to persons, unless, as some suggest, it is so applied in the text under consideration... Jewish expositors and many Christian commentators have held that the Messiah is referred to."

This is our position. In the New Testament Christ is called that Holy Thing (Lk 1:35)


The Sequential Unfolding of 9:24

Verse 25 says: "Know therefore and understand." These words point to the further opening up of the contents of verse 24. This unfolding, displayed below, is linear: (i) —> (i)' i=1,2,...6. It tells us the extent to which the divine purpose would be fulfilled.

24 "Seventy weeks
have been decreed for 
your people and your holy city,

(1)
to finish
the transgression,

(2)
to seal sins,

(3)
to make atonement
for iniquity,

(4)
to bring in
everlasting righteousness,

(5)
to seal up
vision and prophet,
(6)
and to anoint
the most holy.
25 "Know therefore
and understand that:

(1)'

25a from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, a Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;

(2)'

25b it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

(3)' 

26a Then after the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing,

(4)'

26b and the people of the ruler who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end (or his end) will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

(5)'

27a And He will confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the middle of the week He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;

(6)'

27b and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed is poured out upon the desolate/r.

Comparison

1. Daniel was praying for the end to the desolations of Jerusalem (9:2,16-20). He was confessing his sins and the sins of his people. And it was very clear to Daniel that the great sins of the people led to the destruction of the city. The destruction of the city was very much an emblem of their rebellion (9:11-12) and the desolations ever before him were a constant reminder of their transgression. Desolation and transgression, as Daniel understood them, are linked together by the covenant. Thus God’s promise to end the desolation and His command to end the transgression are one. This repeats the first step of the sequence. There was to be a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem if the people were to cooperate by repentance.

3. An atonement is to be made for iniquity. This parallels the death of the Messiah.

5. To seal up vision and prophet is to authenticate the message of all the prophets. See Jn 3:33, 6:27; 1 Cor 9:2. "This common metaphor is derived from the ancient custom of attaching a seal to a document to attest to its genuineness (1 Ki 21:8, Jer 32:10-11)." But instead of the complete fulfillment of all prophecy and vision, the most the Messiah would be able to do is to confirm and ratify His covenant with many. The link between (5) and (5)' is the word pair, to seal/ to confirm.

2. In (5), to seal runs parallel with confirm. Here the key words run opposite: Sin is to be bound, shut up, sealed, but the building of the city prevails, "even in times of distress."

4. At the terminus of the seventy weeks, the people and the Prince of heaven were to bring in everlasting peace and righteousness. But the failure of Israel was to cancel the promise and bring disaster: The spiritual weakness of God’s people gives way to the forces of the prince of unrighteousness. He brings a great tribulation such as never was and desolations continue "even until the consummation" (KJV cf. Mt 24:21, Lk 21:20-24). The key word is "everlasting". 

6. The entire nation was to anoint Jesus and consider Him special by their faith in Him as the Messiah. And it was God’s desire to anoint the entire nation (Joel 2:28,29 cf. 1 Jn 2:20,27; 2 Cor 1:21,22). The Holy Spirit was to be poured out like a flood (cf. Acts 2:17,18, 2:33, 10:45, Ro 5:5, Tit 3:5,6). The divine purpose would still be fulfilled — but not in the way it was originally intended. The irony is that all would be anointed: Anointed by a flood of destruction. God’s wrath (and not His Spirit) was poured out.

 

A BRIEF SUMMARY

The answer to the question of 8:13 might suggest to some that the continual sacrifices would be restored at the conclusion of the 2300 prophetic days. The angel Gabriel clarifies the answer as he remarks on each component of that question:

"How much of the vision was seen?" — "70 weeks" 9:24.

"How long is the continual interrupted?" — No longer applies. "In the middle of the week He (The Anointed One) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." 9:27a.

History and Scripture (Heb 10:3-10) identify Jesus as the Anointed One who put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering, "the bloody and unbloody sacrifice, the two chief parts of the service of sacrifice, the whole system of worship by sacrifice" (Keil, pp 368). The little horn only removed the "continual" (8:11,12,13, 11:31, 12:11): the outward expression; Not the substance.
 

PARALLELS BETWEEN THE MESSIAH AND HIS PEOPLE

(1) The one like a son of man in Daniel 7:13,14 receives his kingdom at the end of time. In the angelic explanation, the saints are said to take possession of the kingdom (Daniel 7:22,27). The parallel is so pronounced that it suggests to many critical scholars that the heavenly being is simply a representation of the saints. They endorse our position. Jesus identified Himself as this son of man (Mt 26:64 cf. Lk 19:9-10).

 (2) The promise of a king given authority over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron is a Messianic prophecy but it will be fulfilled by those who overcome trials on earth (Ps 2:7-9 cf. Rev 2:25-27, 3:21, 20:4).

 (3) The Messianic work described in Daniel 9:24 is stated as if to be fulfilled by the people. Actually, Christ with the cooperation of His people was to accomplish this within the stated time limit. 

(4) The Hebrew grammar surrounding the term "its end" in Daniel 9:26 is ambiguous. The term may be applied so that the flood of armies comes against the Messiah (thus fulfilling Daniel 11:22) or against the sanctuary, which stands for the people. 

(5) Christ is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, yet the expression: "My servant" also represents His people (Isa 49:3, 42:19). Study Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:5-7, 52:13-15.

(6) The parallelism between the Messiah and His people appears to have been obvious to NT writers: Matthew states that the return of the Christ child from Egypt was a fulfillment of prophecy and proves it by quoting, without explanation, a comment made by Hosea that refers exclusively to the exodus experience (Mt 2:15 cf. Hos 11:1).

 

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