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A Justification of the Translation of Dan. 9:24-27 in the KJV

And of Related Questions Pertaining to the Coming of Messiah Jesus in A. D. 33.

By Thomas Ross

1.) Is the KJV correct in translating “seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,” or should the verse really read “seven weeks; and for sixty two weeks”?

a.) To divide the weeks changes the Hebrew.  To say “and for sixty two weeks” is to add to Scripture. The word “for” is not there. The only thing dividing the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks is wa, meaning “and.”

b.) One might object that one needs to add the word “for” and divide the two sets of weeks, although the word is not there, because a disjunctive Hebrew accent (of which there are a variety in every verse in the Bible), the athnach, is under the word “seven” (shibah) in “seven weeks” (Heb. “weeks seven”). However, this conclusion does not follow.

i.) Ancient translations, such as the LXX (Greek Old Testament; translated before the Lord Jesus’ day), as well as Theodotion, the Syriac, and the Vulgate all make the sixty-nine weeks continuous. The large majority of modern Bible versions also make the sixty-nine weeks continuous. To assert that in the Greek Old Testament (LXX), centuries before the Lord Jesus was born, people mistranslated Daniel 9 to make it a prophecy of Him is ridiculous. To assert that the body of ancient versions and modern translations all mess up the passage is an amazing assertion of universal mistranslation among those who disagree with each other on all kinds of theological issues and certainly did not get together to form some sort of conspiracy to mistranslate Daniel 9. The minority of modern versions that mistranslate the passage in question and make the seven weeks noncontinuous with the sixty two weeks generally do so because they want to destroy this Messianic prophecy, not because of the necessities of Hebrew grammar.

ii.) An athnach is sometimes places where one would not normally expect it. In the words of William Wickes’s standard work in English on the Hebrew accents:

In cases of specification, we often find the proper logical or syntactical division—particularly the latter—neglected, and the main musical pause introduced between the details or particulars given. Distinctness of enunciation, and emphasis (where necessary), were thus secured. The pause was introduced where it seemed likely to be most effective. Thus the logical division is disregarded[.] . . .  Syntactical clauses are treated in the same way, and subject, object, &c. are cut in two—or members that belong together, separated—by the dichotomy. (A logical pause may occur in the verse or not).[1]

A number of instances of the phenomena described above can be adduced. For example, Wickes cites Numbers 28:19: “And ye shall offer a burnt-offering unto the LORD, two young bullocks and one ram (athnach), and seven he-lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you  without blemish.” See also Gen 7:1325:20Ex 35:23Lev 16:2Is 49:2166:19. To try to use the athnach in Daniel 9:25 against the translation of the KJV is unjustified. Compare also the statement of a standard Hebrew grammar:

At the same time it must not be forgotten that the value of the accent as a mark of punctuation is always relative; thus, e. g., athnach as regards the logical structure of the sentence may at one time indicate a very important break (as in Gen 1:4); at another, one which is almost imperceptible (as in Gen 1:1).[2]

Note that in Genesis 1:1 the athnach is under Eloheim (God) and does not even receive a comma in the English text!

c.) Detaching the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks is nonsensical. Such a division would mean that it took 434 years to build the “street . . . and the wall” (9:25), which does not fit history and demolishes the context.

d.) The city and the sanctuary were to be destroyed in the generation when the Messiah was cut off, but not for Himself, but nothing in history even comes close to making sense of this fact if one divides the seven from the sixty two weeks.

e.) The first seven weeks, or 49 years, are probably set apart because it actually took that long to restore Jerusalem from being a ruin to a thriving city (which would justify the mention of rebuilding the “street” alongside the wall; the word “street” (rechob) has special reference to breadth, and so a wide street, marketplace, or other place of similar concourse would be in view, implying a restoration of the city to her former state.

f.) It is very difficult to make the text mean anything at all if one detaches the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks. The main reason one would divide the passage in this manner is to try desperately to avoid the Messianic conclusion intended by Daniel. Hebrew grammar or the plain meaning of the context will not stop such a person.

2.) Does the passage refer to two anointed ones, or to One who is the Messiah the Prince?

a.) Since the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks form one period, not two, the possibility that the Messiah/Anointed One of v. 25 and the Messiah/Anointed One of v. 26 are different is eliminated.

b.) It is plain in context that the Anointed One/Messiah of v. 25 and of v. 26 is the same person.  To deny this fact makes no sense at all, charges Daniel with error, and demolishes history. The only reason one would cut the verses in pieces like this is if he desperately wishes to avoid the Messianic conclusion the God of Israel revealed through the prophet Daniel. Attempts to interpret the whole text, which try to make the Anointed One/Messiah of v. 25 different from the One of v. 26, fail miserably.

c.) “The Messiah the Prince” is a better translation than “an anointed one, a prince” in Daniel 9:24-27 for the following reasons.

i.) The word “Messiah” means “anointed one.” The Messiah is a very special Anointed One prefigured by the others who bore this title. The priests were “anointed” because they foreshadowed Jesus Christ, the Anointed One or Messiah; David also typified Him, as did Solomon and others. First Samuel 2:1035Ps 2:2, etc. also refer to Jesus as the Anointed or the Messiah. For example, in Psalm 2, the Anointed One must be the Messiah, and not just king David, because all the unconverted and wicked men and their kings do not take counsel against king David, nor are they under his “bands” and “cords” (v. 1-3), but the wicked and their kings are certainly all against the Lord and His Messiah, and they are under His “bands” and “cords.” King David did not ask for or get “the uttermost parts of the earth” for his possession (v. 8), but the Messiah, the Son of God in Psalm 2 (cf. Dan 3:25), will. Nor did David break with a rod of iron and dash in pieces like a potter’s vessel nations that he never conquered at the uttermost parts of the earth (v. 9). Nor is it true that all the kings of the earth needed to tremble before David, and “Kiss the Son, let He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little” (v. 12). Most of the kings of the earth had no idea who David was; what was he to the king of Japan? Such kings certainly did not need to worry that they would perish if they kindled David’s wrath but a little. But all the kings of the earth do need to fear the Son of God, the Messiah. Furthermore, “blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (v. 12) is ridiculous if it were to refer to David; the Bible consistently says that we should not trust in fallible men, but in the Lord our God. How could all be blessed by trusting in David? Such a notion would contradict the rest of the Bible. However, both the Old and New Testaments teach salvation by trusting in the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah. All who trust in Him are blessed, for they are saved by faith alone, not by works, just as Abraham was saved by faith alone (Gen 15:6), not by works. Clearly the word anointed in Scripture can refer to the Great Anointed One, the Messiah. Such a reference in Daniel 9:25-26 is clear from the associated word “Prince.” This title refers to Christ, the Son of David, in Is 55:4 (KJV “leader”) as well. Daniel 9:25 is the only place where the words “Anointed One/Messiah” and “Prince/Ruler” are found together and used of the same individual. The passage does not refer to any old anointed one; it speaks of the Messiah, the Prince.

ii.) “The Messiah, the Prince” is a better translation than “an anointed one, a prince.” Hebrew does not have a definite and an indefinite article; it simply has an article, h. The use of this article usually means nouns are definite, and Mashiach Nagid does indeed lack the article. However, to equate nonarticularity and indefiniteness is to misunderstand Hebrew grammar. If it were an invalid adding of words to the passage to say “the” Messiah, “the” Prince, it would also be adding words to say “an” Anointed One, “a” Prince, for Hebrew has no indefinite article to correspond to the words “a/an,” and so such an article is obviously absent from the text. The lack of the h does not necessarily mean that the words are indefinite; indeed, since a noun without an article “is definite if it is definite in itself, [like] . . . a title . . . [or] a common noun that has acquired the value of a proper noun,”[3] the requirements of grammar make the translation “the Messiah the Prince” far superior to “an anointed one a prince” here. The phrase is a title and the word mashiach is a common noun that acquires the value of a proper noun. Compare “Omri, the captain of the host” (1 Kings 16:16sar shaba), where neither “captain” nor “host” have a h to indicate they are definite, but their status as titles makes them so. See also 1 Sam 2:8, “the world,” for an instance of a common noun made definite because of its acquisition of proper noun value, despite the lack of a h. To say that the KJV is in error in its translation in Daniel 9:25-26 is either to indicate a lack of understanding of Biblical Hebrew or intentional dishonesty with the text by one who refuses to accept that the Messiah the Prince is Jesus of Nazareth.

3.) Who are “the people of the prince that shall come?” The people are the Romans, the fourth empire of Daniel 2 & 7, and the prince the coming Antichrist. The “prince that shall come” of v. 26 is the one who confirms the covenant in v. 27. It is not Jesus Christ, and cannot be any other good man, because his people destroy Jerusalem and the sanctuary. It is not Christ because he never “confirmed” an already-existing covenant, never broke such a covenant, and while His death did render animal sacrifices inoperative it did not cause them to cease immediately; men continued to sacrifice until the City was destroyed in A. D. 70. The one in view in v. 27 causes the sacrifices to cease in the midst of the 70th week. The person in view in Daniel 9:27 correlates very well with the wicked person of Daniel 7:25, who there “changes times and laws” for “a time and times and the dividing of time,” that is, for a year, two years, and half a year, or 3 1/2 years, exactly the same length of time as the one in Daniel 9:27 changes times and laws by causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease; half of a “week” of seven years is also 3 1/2 years. Notice also Daniel 12:7, which also describes the second half of Daniel’s 70th week as “a time, times, and an half,” and indicates that this time period will be associated with a bodily resurrection (Daniel 12:2)—an event certainly yet future!

4.) It is necessary that a gap exists between the end of the 69th week and the commencement of the 70th week in Daniel 9. First, both the city and sanctuary are destroyed after the 69th week, but they are around again in the 70th week (v. 27). Second, the text records a great deal between the last mention of the 69th week and the first mention of the 70th week. Third, v. 24, which states what will happen at the end of the 70 weeks, is clearly yet future. Jews and Jerusalem still sin, so the transgression is not yet finished; permanent reconciliation for iniquity has not yet happened;  sins are not yet brought to an end; it is obvious that the world is not ruled by an everlasting righteousness; all vision and prophecy in Daniel (and elsewhere) has not yet been “sealed up” or fulfilled (cf. Dan 12:49, only other appearances of Mtj in Daniel, translated “seal” and “sealed”), and the Most Holy Place in the Temple is certainly not anointed (since there is no temple yet at all, nor will the Shekinah glory enter there again until the Messiah’s Millennial kingdom; cf. Eze 43:1-4, chaps. 40-48). Finally, the Messiah is cut off “after” the sixty ninth week, not “during” the seventieth week, providing even more proof that a gap is present.

[1] Pgs. 40-41, Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament, William Wickes. Brooklyn, NY: KTAV Publishing, 1881 (orig. ed.).

[2] Pg. 58, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Wilhelm Gesenius, ed. E. Kautzch, trans. Cowley, 2nd. ed, Oxford, 1910.

[3] Pgs. 187-188, A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar, C. van der Merwe, J. Naude, & J. Kroeze, Sheffield, England:  Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.

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