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is the plain intention of the prophecy to answer Daniel's questionings and supplication (vv. 2, 18, 19, 22), by assigning certain dates, marking stages in the future history of Jerusalem and ending with the consummation of the Divine purpose towards it; and if these dates were to be fixed by variable standards, or if the stages were to be taken as following one another in an inverted order, not indicated in the terms of the text, no definite information would be conveyed by the vision, and the intention of the prophecy would be frustrated.
(i) The traditional explanation of the passage makes it a prediction of the Advent (v. 25) and Death (v. 26) of Christ, of the abolition of Levitical sacrifices by His sacrifice, once for all, upon the Cross (v. 27), and of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus (v. 26). There are, no doubt, expressions in the version of Theodotion and the Vulgate, and still more in the Authorized Version, which directly suggest this interpretation,-for instance, 'to anoint the most Holy: (Toll xploai öylov aylwv, ut...ungatur sanctus sanctorum), 'unto the Messiah the Prince' (ws Xplotoû nyovuévou, usque ad Christum ducem), • shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself' (occidetur Christus; et non erit eius populus, qui eum negaturus est; Theod. here to loopevanσεται χρίσμα', και κρίμα ουκ έστιν εν αυτώ), 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' (Theod. and Vulg. here, somewhat less pointedly, και δυναμώσει διαθήκην πολλοίς εβδομάς μία και εν το ήμισυ της εβδομάδος αρθήσεται μου θυσία και σπονδή, confirmabit autem pactum multis hebdomada una ; et in dimidio hebdomadis deficiet hostia et sacrificium); but these renderings are interpretations, of which one ( but not for himself ') is impossible, while the others are, to say the least, exegetically doubtful, and certainly in no case necessary (see the notes ad locc.). Thus, to take here but one expression, the crucial term “Messiah' depends upon a wholly uncertain exegesis : nowhere else in the O.T. does māshiaḥ, used absolutely, denote the ideal, or even the actual, ruler of Israel: the expression used is always either ‘Jehovah's anointed,' or 'my, thy, his anointed'; and though the later Jews unquestionably used the term meshiḥā 'the anointed one' (the Meoclas of the N.T.) to denote Israel's expected ideal king, it is just the question when this usage began, and whether it was current as early as when the book of Daniel was written: certainly, if the book was written by Daniel himself, its appearance in it would be extremely unlikely. Even, indeed, if more than this were conceded, and it were granted that the word might have this sense in Daniel, there would be no proof that it must have it, and the rendering would still remain exegetically a matter of uncertainty.
When, moreover, the passage is examined in detail, positive objections of a serious, not to say fatal kind, reveal themselves.
(1) If the Crucifixion (A.D. 29) is to fall (v. 27 A.V.) in the middle of the last week, the 490 years must begin c. 458 B.C., a date which coincides with the decree of Artaxerxes, and the mission of Ezra (Ezr. vii.), and which is accordingly assumed as the terminus a quo by Auberlen, Pusey, and li.c. num for nup:
1: So LΧΧ. (αποσταθήσεται χρίσμα και ουκ έσται).
others. Unfortunately, however, this decree is silent as to any command to restore and build Jerusalem '; nor was this one of the objects of Ezra's mission to Judah. Others, therefore, adopting the same general view of the meaning of the prophecy, assume as the terminus a quo the permission given by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah, in his 20th year, to visit Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the walls (Neh. i.-iii.). To urge the objection that at this time Jerusalem itself was already rebuilt (cf. Hag. i. 4), and that the work of Nehemiah was only to rebuild the walls of the city, might be deemed hypercritical : it is a more substantial objection that Artaxerxes' 20th year was B.C. 445, which brings the terminus ad quem 13 years too late, -a serious discrepancy, when the prediction is a minute one, and given (ex hyp.) by a special supernatural revelation. In so far also as this interpretation is usually adopted by those who believe the book to have been written by Daniel himself, it can hardly be considered probable that the terminus a quo should be a point some 80 years or more subsequent to the date (3.C. 538) at which the prophecy itself is stated to have been given (ch. ix. 1).
(2) The interpretation depends upon the unnatural interpunction of v. 25 adopted in A.V., viz.' unto an anointed one, a prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, and that in strait of times': the division of the 69 weeks into 7 weeks and 62 weeks, without the mention of anything to mark the close of the 7 weeks, is improbable, while at the same time
7. some mention of the time at which or during which the city is to be 'built again' is desiderated. Those who adopt this interpretation generally suppose the 49 years (which would end c. 409 B.c.) to mark the close of the rebuilding of Jerusalem which was begun by Nehemiah: but there is really no ground for the supposition that this work continued till then. Nehemiah rebuilt, not the city, but the walls, and that, not after the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, but after some more recent catastrophe?; the work was accomplished rapidly (Neh. vi. 15), and even on the occasion of his second visit to Jerusalem in 432 (Neh. xiii. 6 ff.), there is no indication that any rebuilding, whether of the city or the walls, was still going on. With the interpretation and rendering of V. 25 adopted in R. V., the possibility ceases of identifying the anointed one, the prince' of v. 25 with the anointed one' of v. 26, and also of referring either—except upon such strained interpretations as those quoted below, pp. 148, 149-to Christ. (3) Christ did not 'confirm a covenant with many for one week’ (=7 years); His ministry lasted at most somewhat over 3 years; and if, in the years following, He is regarded as carrying on His work through the agency of His apostles, the limit, 'seven years,' seems an arbitrary one; for the apostles continued to gain converts from Judaism for many years subsequently. The preaching of the Gospel to the Samaritans (Acts viii.), which may have happened 3-4 years after the Crucifixion, and which has been suggested as the limit intended in the prophecy, did not mark such an epoch in the establishment of Christianity as could be naturally regarded as closing the period during which the Messiah would make a firm covenant with many.'
1 See Ryle on Neh. i. 3. On Neh. ii. 5 end, and vii. 4, see also Ryle's notes.
(4) The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (A.D. 70), which is supposed upon this view to be predicted in v. 26), follows the date of the Crucifixion by 40—41 years. It not only, therefore, is out of place before v. 27, but does not even come within the limits of the 490 years
Were the prophecy perfectly general in its terms, it would, no doubt, be unreasonable to press an objection of this kind; but where periods of 7 and 3 years, in the distant future, are (ex hyp.) exactly discriminated, à fortiori a period of 40 years should be so discriminated. Auberlen, it is true, argues that the final destruction of Jerusalem is rightly excluded from the 70 weeks, because after Israel rejected the Messiah it was no longer an object of sacred but only of profane history; but if such an argument be a sound one, it surely ought to apply to the prophecy, not less than to the history, and the event in question ought not to be referred to in the prophecy at all. It is, however (ex hyp.), referred to in it; and is there, to all appearance, placed before the commencement of the 70th week.
(5) If the R.V. of v. 27 be correct, -and it is certainly the natural meaning of the Heb.,-a reference to the death of Christ is excluded altogether; for the verse does not then describe the final abolition of material sacrifices, but their temporary suspension for 'half of the week.'
(ii) The principal alternative interpretation is the one adopted in this Commentary in the notes on ix. 24–27. According to this view the terminus a quo is B.C. 587–6, the probable date of the promises that Jerusalem should be rebuilt contained in Jer. xxx. 18, xxxi. 38–40; the 7 weeks of v. 25 end with B.C. 538, the date of the edict of Cyrus (the 'anointed one, the prince of this verse); the 62 weeks, reckoned from 538, end with B.c. 171 (the date of the murder of Onias III., the 'anointed one' of v. 26); the last week extends from B.C. 171 to B.C. 164, the reference in vv. 266, 27, being to Antiochus Epiphanes, and to his acts of violence and persecution against the Jews. This interpretation does entire justice to the terms of the text: but it labours under one serious difficulty. The number of years from 538 to 171 is not 434 (=62 'weeks'), but 367; the number assigned in the prophecy is thus too large by 67. The difficulty is usually met, on the part of those who adopt this explanation, by the supposition that the author of Daniel followed an incorrect computation. There is no intrinsic improbability, it is urged, in such a supposition: for (1) the difficulty of calculating dates in the ancient world was much greater than is often supposed. Until the establishment of the Seleucid era, in B.C. 312, the Jews had no fixed era whatever; and a writer living in Jerusalem (ex hyp.) under Antiochus Epiphanes would have very imperfect materials for estimating correctly the chronology of the period here in question; the continuous chronology of the O.T. ceases with the destruction of Jerusalem B.C. 586,--or at least (2 K. xxv. 27) with the 37th year of the captivity of Jehoiachin (=B.C. 562): and though mention is made in the O.T. of the 70 years of the Chaldaean supremacy, or (cf. on ch. ix. 2) of the desolation of Judah, the length of the period between Cyrus and Alexander the Great could be ascertained exactly only by means of a knowledge of secular history which a Jew, living in such an age, was
not likely to possess. There would thus be nothing unreasonable in the assumption of a mis-computation for the interval between 538 and 171.
Cornill makes the clever suggestion that, in the absence of any fixed era for the period before B.C. 312, the 490 years were arrived at by a calculation based on the generations of high-priests. From the destruction of Jerusalem to Onias III. there were just 12 generations in the high-priestly family: 1. Jehozadak (1 Ch. vi. 15); 2. Jeshua (Ezr. iii. 2); 3: Joiakim; 4. Eliashib; 5. Joiada; 6. Jonathan; 7. Jaddua (Neh. xii. 10, 11); 8. Onias I. (Jos. Ant. XI. viii. 7); 9. Simon 1. the "Just' (ib. XII. ii. 4); 10. Oniast II. (ib. xii. iv. I); Simon II.; and 12. his son Onias III. (ib. XII. iv, 10): and a generation being reckoned at 40 years, 12 generations (=480 years) might readily suggest 69 weeks (= 483 years) for the period from the destruction of Jerusalem to the date of the death of Onias, and 70 weeks (= 490 years) for the entire interval contemplated by the author.
(2) It is remarkable that, as has been pointed out by Schürer?, precisely similar chronological mistakes are made by other Jewish writers. Thus Josephus (B. 7. vi. iv. 8) says that there were 639 years between the second year of Cyrus (B.C. 537 or 536) and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (A.D. 70): the real interval was thus reckoned by him as longer by some 30 years than it should be. Further, the same writer reckons (Ant. xx. x.) 434 years from the Return from the Captivity (B.C. 538) to the reign of Antiochus Eupator (B.C. 164–162), i.e. 374 years, and (Ant. XIII. xi. 1) 481 years from the same date to the time of Aristobulus (B.C. 105—4) i.e. 433 years,—the former calculation being 60 years, and the latter nearly 50 years, in excess of the true amount. The Hellenistic Jew, Demetrius (Clem. Al. Strom. i. 21, § 141), reckons 573 years from the Captivity of the Ten Tribes (B.C. 722) to the time of Ptolemy IV. (B.C. 222), i.e. 500 years; he thus overestimates the true period by 73 years. There seems in fact, as Schiirer has remarked, to have been a traditional error in the ancient chronology of the period here in question: it was over-estimated,—by Demetrius to approximately the same extent as by the author of Daniel. There is thus nothing astonishing in the fact that an apocalyptic writer of the date of Epiphanes, basing his calculations on uncertain data to give an allegoric interpretation to an ancient prophecy, should have lacked the records which would alone have enabled him to calculate with exact precision’ (Farrar, Daniel, p. 291).
What may be termed a modification of this interpretation has been adopted by Hilgenfeld “, also by Behrmann, the most recent commentator on Daniel. According to this view, the terminus a quo is B.C. 606 or
1 Son of Simon I., though not his immediate successor in the high-priestly office: being an infant at the time of his father's death, he was preceded in the office first by his own uncle Eleazar, and then by Eleazar's uncle, Manasseh (Ant. XII. ii. 4, iv. 10).
2 Gesch, des Füd. Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, ii. 616 (Engl. tr. ii. iii. p. 54);
As Behrmann, however, has pointed out, this mistake is not quite certain; for in the figures of Demetrius, as quoted by Clement, there is some confusion: he reckons, viz., from the Captivity of Israel to that of Judah 128 years, 8 months, and from that of Judah to Ptol. IV. 338 years, 3 months,-both together thus equalling 466 years, 11 months; and yet for the whole period from the Captivity of Israel to Ptol. iv. he assigns 573 years, 9 months !— König (Expos. Times, 1899, p. 256 f.) explains a curious (early mediæval) example of the opposite error (327 years froin Uzziah to Alexander, and the Persian period contracted to 52 years).
4 Die Jüdische Apokalyptik (1857), p. 29 f.
605, the date of Jer. xxv., the promise contained in vv. II f. being the
word' of v. 24 here; the 7 weeks (=49 years) end with B.C. 558; the 62 weeks (434 years), reckoned, not as following the 7 weeks, but as beginning from the same point that they do, end correctly with 171, the year in which Onias was murdered; and the last week ends with 164, the year of Antiochus's death. The 7 weeks are thus included in the 62 weeks, and the entire number of weeks, reckoned consecutively, is not 70, but 63; it is, however, urged that the stress lies not upon the length of the period concerned in itself, but upon the events embraced in it, in so far as these depend upon a Divine decree; and so the sum of the years remains 70, even though the years do not follow consecutively. No doubt, it is not expressly stated either that the 7 +62+1 weeks of vv. 25—27 make up the 70 weeks of v. 24, or that the 62 weeks of v. 25 begin at the close of the 7 weeks mentioned in the same verse; nevertheless, it may be doubted whether an explanation which assumes the contrary is altogether natural. It might further be objected to this interpretation, (1) that a promise for the rebuilding of Jerusalem is not contained in Jer. xxv. 11 f., except, at most, implicitly; and (2) that for the first 7 weeks' of the 62 (B.C. 606-558) no attempt whatever was made to 'rebuild' Jerusalem.
Van Lennep seeks to solve the difficulty by combining the historical with the symbolical interpretation : 60 weeks of years would have corresponded more exactly with the period from B.C. 588 to 164, but it would not have had the symbolical completeness of 70 x 7 (Gen. iv. 24; Matth. xviii. 22): the 7* 7 years at the beginning, and the 7 years at the end, though both agree substantially with the actual periods (B.C. 588-538, and B.C. 171-164), are also primarily symbolical ; 7x7 years is a jubile-period (Lev. xxv. 8 &c.), at the end of which Israel returns to Palestine, as the slave returns to his home; and the 7 years of trial are analogous to the 7 years of famine (Gen. xli. 30; 2 Sam. xxiv. 13; 2 Ki. viii. 1), or the seven 'times' of Nebuchadnezzar's madness, or the seven troubles of Job v. 19: the 62 intermediate weeks of years have thus no independent significance of their own, but are simply the residue which remains after the subtraction of 7 + 1 from 70.
Specimens of other interpretations:
(1) Wieseler (1846): terminus a quo, 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jer. xxv), B.C. 6061: 62 weeks thence end B.C. 1721; the last week is 172– 165? (vv. 26—27). They weeks' extend from 172 to the coming of Christ (the “anointed one, the prince'), and represent a jubile-period (Is. lxi. 1, 2), to be understood in a spiritual sense, and not limited to
(2) Delitzsch (1878): terminus a quo, Jehoiakim's fourth year, B.C. 605 (Jer. xxv.): 62 weeks thence end with 17(the deposition and murder of Onias, v. 26); one week thence carries us to the death of Antiochus in 164 (v. 27). The '7 weeks' follow the 62+1: the 'anointed one, the prince' of v. 25 is the Messiah; as, however, the Advent of Christ did not take place 7 weeks (=49 years) after B.C. 164, Delitzsch owns the 'riddle of the 7 weeks to be insoluble.
50 literal years.
1 Different authorities vary by a year or so in the dates assigned by them to the