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MORE ON DANIEL’S MESSIANIC TIMELINE

I cited scholarly references in respect to the precise timeline that the prophet Daniel gave for the coming of the Messiah, and how this perfectly ties in with the appearance of Jesus. In this post I will be quoting another scholarly source to confirm that Jesus alone perfectly fulfills the exact time given by Daniel in regards to when the Messiah was supposed to appear, and what would happen to him.

The following excerpt is taken from the Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, edited by Michael Rydelnik and Edwin Blum and published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 2019. I will be citing the chapter contributed by Kevin D. Zuber, titled “Daniel 9:24-27: When Will Messiah Come?”, pp. 1139-1152. I will be specifically quoting pp. 1142-1147 and 1150-1152.

THE OVERALL SUMMARY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS (9:24B)

Following the introductory issues is a summary of the entire period of the 70 weeks. In six infinitival phrases, Gabriel reveals that six objectives would be accomplished over the course of these 70 weeks. These six objectives are listed in two groups of three; the main concern of group one is the matter of sin (“to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity” NASB) and the main concern of group two is the matter of righteousness (“to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the most holy place”).23 The first objective is “to finish the transgression.” The term “to finish” is the term kalah “to bring to an end, to finish.”24 In the form found here (Piel) it has an intensive nuance—“to finish completely.” Some take the meaning “to restrain”25 but “it is better to understand it as the removal of sin from God’s sight.”26 The term “transgression” is hepesha27 (with the article) and “it probably refers to sin in an all-inclusive sense.”28

The second objective is “to make an end of sin.” The Hebrew term for “make an end” (hatam) has the idea of “to seal up,” and the term for sin is actually a plural (hatta’ot) of a common term for sin as “missing the mark.”29 The third objective is “to make atonement for iniquity.” “The verb here is kapar, ‘to cover’ … [and] means ‘to atone, expiate.’ This is the principal Old Testament word for the idea of ‘atonement.’”30 While there may be some debate about the precise point in the first two objectives, there is no question that this refers to “the Messiah’s once for all death for sin.”31 In summarizing these first three objectives, Wood notes, “All three refer to the riddance of sin—that which brought the Israelites into their state of captivity in Babylon.” “Though Christ is not mentioned in the verse, the meaning is certain, especially in view of verse twenty-six, that He would be the One making this atonement … It is clear that reference in these first three items is mainly to Christ’s first coming, when sin was brought to an end in principle.” However, “Since Gabriel was speaking primarily in reference to Jews, rather than Gentiles … this fact requires the interpretation to include also Christ’s second coming, because only then does Israel as a nation turn to Christ (cf. Jer. 31:33, 34; Ezk. 37:23; Zch. 13:1; Rm. 11:25-27).”32

The fourth objective is “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” The key term here is “everlasting” (‘olamim) and has the core meaning of “long duration [in the direction of] antiquity, [or] futurity.”33 The term can have the nuance of “continuous existence” (cf. Ps 78:69 as of the earth; 148:3-6 as of the heavens). The term “righteousness” (sedeq)34 denotes “a state or quality of that which accords with some recognized standard”35 and in Scripture that standard is God Himself (cf. Isa 45:24; Jer 23:6; 33:16). The concepts “righteousness and justice” are often paired together (Isa 5:16), and both are grounded in God’s holiness (qodes), that is, His absolute moral purity (cf. Lv 18-20) and total separation from evil (cf. Hab 1:13). Thus, the righteousness expected will be the manifestation of the very holiness of God brought to fruition on the earth in judgment on all His enemies (cf. Isa 13-23; Jer 46-51; Ezk 25-32) and blessing for God’s people (cf. Isa 6–62, 66); and it will not be temporary or sporadic (as had been the case for the nation in its history of good and bad kings) but it “will be permanent.”36

The fifth objective is “to seal up vision and prophecy.” The idea of “seal up” (hatam) is “to affix a seal”37 as on an official document to indicate a completed transaction (as on a deed, cf. Jer 32:10, 11). Here the idea is that there will be a “seal on a book of prophecy”38 (cf. Dan 12:4; cf. Isa 8:16) to indicate “that the prophecy was complete.”39 In other words, when these (prophetic) objectives have been fulfilled there will be a “seal affixed” to officially mark that fact.

The sixth objective is “to anoint the most holy place.” The “most holy place” refers to the “holy of holies” in the Tabernacle and Temple (cf. Ex 26:33 NASB). “The phrase ‘holy of holies’ (qodesh qadashim) occurs … thirty-nine times in the Old Testament, always with reference to the Tabernacle or Temple or to the holy articles in them.”40 The idea of anointing would have been well known from the rituals and services of the Tabernacle (Ex 40:9; Lv 8:10). The single clear implication of this objective is that there will be (as Ezekiel certainly indicates, Ezk 38–40) a temple and a “holy of holies” to anoint—“a yet future literal, millennial temple.”41

In sum, it seems best to understand that the first three objectives were fulfilled in principle at Christ’s first coming and that all six will be fulfilled “completely for Israel by the time of the return of the Messiah and the establishment of the messianic kingdom.”42 These six objectives are in effect a summary of the entire period of the 70 weeks, and they are a survey of some (but certainly not all) of the significant details of this period.

THE SIXTY-NINE WEEKS: (9:25)

Gabriel began this portion of the revelation with an admonition to Daniel—“you are to know and discern” (NASB). This is a telling admonition for, as John Walvoord says, “The history of the interpretation of these verses is confirmation of the fact that this prophecy is difficult and requires spiritual discernment.”43 Even Daniel was encouraged to pay close attention.

Somewhat surprisingly, Gabriel revealed that the 70 weeks would be divided into three unequal portions. To begin, the divine agent noted the division of the “seven weeks and 62 weeks”; that is, there would be an initial 69 weeks which are divided into two parts. The first question to deal with is: “What is the significance of the first seven weeks (49 years)?” Most likely this span of time concerns the matter of restoring and rebuilding the city, “to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” If that is so, then the (semiparenthetical) phrase “it will be built again, with plaza and moat” probably refers to completion of that rebuilding, and the final phrase “even in times of distress” describes the circumstances that prevailed during that entire process. If the rebuilding process is in mind here, the one recorded in the book of Nehemiah (cf. Neh 4:1–6:14; see the discussion below), then that description is an apt one.

This initial seven weeks (49 years from the “decree to restore and rebuild” to the completion of a public square and moat) is followed by another 62 weeks (434 years) that end with “Messiah the Prince.” All told then, the seven weeks plus the 62 weeks yields a period of 69 weeks; taking the term “weeks” as “weeks of years” (as noted above) yields a period of years 49 years plus 434 years for a total of 483 years.

The second issue to deal with here is the meaning and significance of “Messiah the Prince.” “The Hebrew term mashiach (Messiah) is commonly and accurately translated ‘anointed.’ It is used 39 times in the Hebrew Bible and often has a technical meaning commonly translated as ‘the Messiah.’”44 The term “prince” is nagid and literally means “leader, lead one” or “one who goes before.”45 “Both terms are applied to various leaders in the Old Testament, but here they clearly refer to Jesus the Messiah. He is the supreme Ruler and Prince [and] no one else fits the chronology in this text.”46

The third concern to address is the timing, that is, to determine the beginning (terminus ad quo) and the end (terminus ad quem) of the 69 weeks. The 69 weeks begin with “the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” and end the time of “Messiah the Prince.” Walvoord writes, “The key to the interpretation of the entire passage is found in the phrase ‘from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.’”47 Determining the terminus ad quo “the date on which the seventy sevens begin, is obviously most important both in interpreting the prophecy and in finding suitable fulfillment.”48 Some have suggested that since the term for “decree” might also be translated “word,” then this “refers to Jeremiah’s prophetic word (Jer 30:18-22; 32:38-40) issued in 587 BC about Jerusalem’s restoration.”49 Thus the fulfillment would most likely be Joshua the high priest in the days of Zerubbabel (c. 538). However, this is untenable because “the passages cited from Jeremiah” are better understood as referring not “to the return from captivity” but are “eschatological, looking forward to the end time restoration of Israel.”50 Also, the dates proposed simply do not add up; that is, the time between 587 BC and 538 BC cannot be calculated so as to add up to 69 (or 70) years. Some interpreters posit the starting point (terminus ad quo) as the decree of Cyrus the Great to rebuild the Temple, given in 538 BC.51 But the decree Daniel has in mind is a decree to rebuild the city, Jerusalem, not the temple.52 Another decree was issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 458/7 BC (cf. Ezr 7:11-26), but this decree had to do with “the restoration of the temple’s utensils and permission to appoint civil leaders,”53 and was, again, not a decree to rebuild the city, Jerusalem. Yet another decree was also issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus, this one on March 5/4, 444 BC, and that decree is referenced in Neh 2:1-8. Hoehner makes the following arguments in support of this decree as the terminus a quo as recorded in Neh 2:1-8:

First, there is a direct reference to the restoration of the city (2:3, 5) and of the city gates and walls (2:3, 8). Second, Artaxerxes wrote a letter to Asaph to give materials to be used specifically for the walls (2:8). Third, the books of Nehemiah and Ezra 4:7-23 indicate that certainly the restoration of the walls was done in the most distressing circumstances, as predicted by Daniel (Dan. 9:25). Fourth, no later decrees were given by the Persian kings pertaining to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.54

Thus, the decree of March 5/4, 444 BC is the decree in view in Dan 9:25 and is the starting point of the first 69 weeks.

The end point (terminus ad quem) of the first 69 weeks is identified in the phrase “until Messiah the Prince.”55 The 69 weeks of years (483 years) if calculated by “biblical/prophetic years of 360 days each”56 would yield 173,880 days. Starting with the decree of March 5/4, (Nisan 1) 444 BC and calculating the 173,880 days, the 69-week period ends on March 29/30, (Nisan 10), AD 33. This best fits with “the date of Jesus the Messiah’s triumphal entry (Lk 19:28-40).”57 That Dan 9:26 mentions the death of the Messiah (see below) supports this chronology, as Walvoord notes, “the best explanation of the time when the sixty-nine sevens ended is that it occurred shortly before the death of Christ anticipated in Daniel 9:26.”58

THE TIME AFTER THE 69 WEEKS (9:26)

Having established the timing of the 69 weeks, the angel Gabriel revealed the climactic events that will follow. Note that the very term “after” (“After those 62 weeks”) suggests a termination of the period (that is, after the 69th week) and points to a “chronologically distinct” event to follow. That is, if the end point (terminus ad quem) is the triumphal entry (Lk 19:28-40), then the event indicated by the words “the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing” takes place at an indistinct time after, that is beyond, the 69th week. That, plus there being no mention of the 70th week at this point, indicates that there is a pause (or gap) in the strict chronology of the prophecy to this point. As Robert Culver states, “There can be no honest difference of opinion about that: the cutting off of Messiah is ‘after’ the sixty-two weeks. It is not the concluding event of the series of sixty-two weeks. Neither is it said to be the opening event of the 70th. It is simply after the seven plus 62 weeks.”59

Daniel 9:26 reveals that “the Messiah will be cut off.” The term here is karat “to cut”60 and “is the regular OT term for the idea of ‘cutting off.’ It is used sometimes to express the thought of execution of a person deserving the death penalty (e.g., Lv 7:20; Ps 37:9; Prv 2:22 NASB).”61 The expression “and will have nothing” can be rendered “and have no one,” that is, the Messiah will be deserted and alone at the time of the “cutting off.” There can be no question that this refers to the crucifixion of Jesus; “He was despised and forsaken of men” (Isa 53:3; cf. Mk 14:50 NASB). It may also indicate “He did not receive the Messianic kingdom at that time.”62

The next event in this period after the 69th week concerns the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The phrase “the people of the prince to come” (lit. “people of the coming prince”) requires careful analysis. First, the “prince” here is not the same person as “Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25). This prince is yet to come, and Messiah the Prince has already come (and been cut off). The designation here indicates a prince (lit. “the prince”) or leader already familiar to Daniel (and the reader), someone “who has been noted in the book earlier.”63 And, “indeed this is the case” for this one is “identified with the ‘little horn’ of [Dan] 7:8”64 “also known as the beast or the antichrist.”65

But it is not this prince who comes; rather it is “the people of the prince.” Since the prince was identified (in the prophecy of Dan 7:7-8) as coming from the fourth great empire “the people of the prince” are also to be associated with this empire. This empire is none other than Rome.66 It is “the people of the prince” who will come to “destroy the city” and not the prince himself (as Wood notes, “the subject of the verb ‘will destroy’ is the ‘people’ not the ‘prince.’”67) The destruction is “the city and the sanctuary,” referring to Jerusalem and the Temple. Viewed historically— after the triumphal entry (“until Messiah the Prince” v. 25) and after the crucifixion (“the Messiah will be cut off” v. 26) —this can refer to nothing other than the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 by the Romans (the fourth empire). Since this event happened more than 40 years after the death of Jesus there can likewise be little question that there is a gap of time between the end of the 69th week (even beyond the gap noted already by the term “after” in v. 26a) and the beginning of the 70th week. Actually, there is nothing remarkable about this—those interpreters who “insert” this gap do so with contextual justification.68 As noted, Daniel’s own words require a “gap” between the end of the 69th week and the crucifixion; Daniel’s description of events requires a “gap” between the crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70; and Daniel’s chronology from chap. 7 seen in the light Dan 9:26 requires a “gap” between the destruction of the city “by people of the coming prince” and the appearance of that “prince” in history.69

The final descriptive points in v. 26 indicate a swift execution of the destruction: “The end will come with a flood,” referring to Jerusalem. “‘Flood’ or ‘overflowing’ can refer only to the degree of destruction meted out. History records that the destruction of Jerusalem was devastatingly extensive. [The Roman general] Titus, with four legions, brought an overflowing ruin on the city, including the Temple.”70 The angel Gabriel concluded with the note that the effects and consequences of the destruction (“desolations are determined”) will extend far into the future (“even to the end there will be war”). Charles Feinberg accurately states, “The final words of verse 26 sum up the history of Israel since AD 70 … Surely the determined wars and desolations have come upon them (cf. Lk 21:24). Such has been the lot of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, and such will be the portion, until the ‘time of the Gentiles’ have been fulfilled.”71

  1. “The six items divide themselves into two groups. The first three are negative in force, speaking of undesirable factors to be removed; and the last three are positive, giving desirable factors to be effected.” Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 248.
  2. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 478. 25. So Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 248.
  3. C. L. Feinberg, A Commentary on Daniel(Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1981), 127.
  4. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 833.
  5. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 248. Some take the “definiteness” of the transgression (“the transgression”; “The article in Hebrew, as in Greek, is very definite and points clearly to some outstanding thing or object.” [David L. Cooper, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled, (Los Angeles: Biblical Research Society, 1939), 371]) The specific transgression refers to “Israel’s history of rebellion against God” (Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1305).
  6. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 249.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1305. “In the parallel section to follow, Christ is described as being ‘cut off’ (v. 26), a clear reference to His crucifixion, when atonement for sin was made.” Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 249.
  9. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 249. 33. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 761–62. Daniel 9:24 is noted as a plural intensive with the specific sense of “everlastingness, or eternity.”
  10. Ibid., 841.
  11. W. D. Mounce, “Righteous, Righteousness,” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 593.
  12. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 249.
  13. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 367.
  14. Ibid., 367. 39. Feinberg, A Commentary on Daniel, 128.
  15. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 250. “In view of these matters, it is highly likely that the phrase refers to the Temple also here, which, in view of the context, must be a future Temple; and, since the phrase is used without the article, reference must be to a complex of that Temple, rather than its most holy place.”
  16. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1305. 42. Ibid. 43. Walvoord, Daniel: Key to Prophetic Revelation, 224.
  17. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1305; “Throughout the history of interpretation [of this verse], overwhelmingly, the Church has understood ‘maschiach nagid’ to refer to the Messiah the Prince.” 45. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 251.
  18. Ibid. 47. Walvoord, Daniel: Key to Prophetic Revelation, 224.
  19. Ibid. 49. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1306. See Marvin C. Pate and Calvin B. Haines, Jr., Doomsday Delusions: What’s Wrong with Predictions About the End of the World(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995), 72–73.
  20. Ibid.
  21. See K. Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 152–53; cf. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 253; cf. Walvoord, Daniel: Key to Prophetic Revelation, 225.
  22. “Cyrus’s edict refers to the rebuilding of the temple and not to the city.” H. W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), Kindle edition; print edition, 115–39.
  23. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1306. 54. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, 126.
  24. In determining the terminus ad quemof Dan 9:25 many scholars rely on the work of Hoehner cited above and Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, 10th ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1957).
  25. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1306.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Walvoord, Daniel: Key to Prophetic Revelation, 228, 229 “the Messiah will be living at the end of the sixty-ninth seven and will be cut off, or die, soon after the end of it.”
  28. R. D. Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days(Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), 157.
  29. This term is often found in the phrase karat berith, “to cut a covenant” (see for instance Gn 15 where the making of a covenant involved some physical cutting). Its use here may be a subtle reference to the death of Jesus as covenant sacrifice (see Lk 22:20).
  30. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 255.
  31. C. L. Feinberg, Daniel: The Man and His Visions(Chappaqua, NY: Christian Herald Books, 1981), 132.
  32. Ibid., 256.
  33. Ibid. 65. Rydelnik, “Daniel,” 1307.
  34. Ibid., 1298, 1307.
  35. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 255.
  36. Contra Riddlebarger, who argues that there is no contextual justification for seeing a gap here in A Case for Amillennialism, 153.
  37. Other OT prophecies require a “gap” in time; see Zch 9:9-10 and Isa 61:1-2 with Lk 4:18-19.
  38. Wood, Commentary on Daniel, 256.
  39. Feinberg, Daniel: The Man and His Visions, 133. For an excellent history of the wars and devastation of Jerusalem, see Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem: The Biography(New York: Vintage Books, 2012).

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