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(4) The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (A.D. 70), which is supposed upon this view to be predicted in v. 266, 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 at all. 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 I. the 'Just' (ib. XII. ii. 4); 10. Oniasi II. (ib. xII. iv. 1); 11. 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 Schürer2, 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 years3. There seems in fact, as Schürer 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 Jüd. 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 medieval) example of the opposite error (327 years from 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. 11f. 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 7x7 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; 7 × 7 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— 1651 (vv. 26—27). The '7 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 50 literal years.
(2) Delitzsch (1878): terminus a quo, Jehoiakim's fourth year, B.C. 605 (Jer. xxv.): 62 weeks thence end with 171 (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. The '70
1 Different authorities vary by a year or so in the dates assigned by them to the
weeks,' however, are 'quadratic sabbath-periods,' each consisting of 7×7=49 years; there are thus 49 × 70=3430 years from B.C. 605 to the Advent of Christ (the first and second advents being not distinguished). This result, it is added, is recommended by the fact that, as there were 3595 years from the Creation to Jehoiakim's fourth year, the entire duration of the world would be not appreciably in excess of 7000 years.
(3) Kranichfeld (1868)1: terminus a quo, c. 592 (Jer. xxix.) or 588 (destruction of Jerusalem). The 7 weeks end in 539 (the year of Daniel's vision). The anointed one, the prince' is Cyrus. The 62 weeks begin in 539, and end with the death of Christ (the anointed one' of v. 26). Certainly, in point of fact the 62 weeks end with B.C. 105, vv. 26b, 27 referring to the time of Maccabees: there is thus a lacuna of 135 years (from B.C. 105 to A.D. 30), which Daniel, in accordance with the laws of 'perspective' prophecy, did not see.
(4) Von Orelli (1882)2: terminus a quo, B.C. 588: end of 7 weeks, B.C. 536; end of 62 weeks, A. D. 29 (the death of Christ, to whom the 'anointed one' in both v. 25 and v. 26 refers); 434 years from 536 is indeed only c. B.C. 100, but the 'weeks' are typical weeks, and are not to be taken as mere mathematical quantities. The 'redactor' of the Book of Daniel (who lived in the age of Antiochus Epiphanes) identified the last week' with his own time; and it seems to be Orelli's opinion that he modified the terms of vv. 26, 27 so as to introduce into them allusions to the events of B.C. 171-164.
(5) Nägelsbach (1858): terminus a quo, B.C. 536; end of 7 weeks, the dedication of the walls of Nehemiah (Neh. xii.), B. C. 434-2; end of 62 weeks thence, the birth of Christ; the last week, from birth of Christ to destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. v, 'week,' upon this theory may denote any 'heptad,' not one of 7 years only, but also one of any multiple of 7; in the first 7 weeks, it is of about 14 years; in the last week, of about 70 years.
(6) Kliefoth (1868), and Keil (1869): terminus a quo, the edict of Cyrus, B.C. 537; the weeks are to be understood symbolically, not of chronologically definite periods of time. The seven weeks extend from 537 to the advent of Christ; the 62 weeks from Christ to the appearance of Antichrist; during this time Jerusalem (in a spiritual sense, i.e. the Church) is built; the last week is the period of the great apostasy, ending with the second Coming of Christ. The words, 'an anointed one shall be cut off,' refer to the ruin of Christ's kingdom upon earth in the days of Antichrist (the 'prince that shall come'); v. 27 (the 70th week) relates throughout to the high-handed dealings of Antichrist; v. 24 to his final overthrow.
(7) Julius Africanus, the chronographer (c. 200 A.D.), ap. Jerome, l.c.: terminus a quo, the 20th year of Artaxerxes (B.C. 445); end of 70 weeks (reckoned as 490 lunar years of 354 days = (nearly) 475 solar years), death of Christ. This view has been revived recently, in a slightly modified form, by Dr Robert Anderson3, according to whom the 'year'
1 Das Buch Daniel erklärt, 1868.
2 O.T. Prophecy, Engl. tr. (1885), p. 434 f.
of Daniel was the ancient luni-solar year of 360 days; reckoning, then, 483 years (=69 'weeks'), of 360 days each, from 1 Nisan B.C. 445, the date of the edict of Artaxerxes, Dr Anderson arrives at the 10th of Nisan, in the 18th year of Tiberius Caesar, the day on which our Lord made His public entry into Jerusalem (Luke xix. 37 ff.). Upon this theory, however, even supposing the objections against B.C. 445 as the terminus a quo (see above) to be waived, the 70th week remains unexplained; for the 7 years following the Crucifixion are marked by no events tallying with the description given in v. 27.
It is impossible to regard any of these interpretations as satisfactory, or, in fact, as being anything else than a resort of desperation. Even of the interpretation adopted in this Commentary, it must be owned that, like the rival traditional interpretation, it is not free from objection. When, however, it is asked, which of these two interpretations labours under the most serious objection, it can hardly be denied that it is the traditional one. As has been shewn (p. 144 ff.), there are points of crucial significance, at which the supposed fulfilment does not tally at all with the terms of the prediction. On the other hand, a chronological error, which would be in principle inconsistent with a prediction given by direct supernatural revelation, is not a conclusive objection to an interpretation in which (ex hyp.) the prediction does not extend to the figures here in question, but is limited to the announcement of the approaching fall of Antiochus (v. 26b, 27), and of the advent of the ideal age of righteousness which is then to commence (v. 24). The general parallelism of vv. 266, 27,-especially the suspension of the Temple services for 'half of the week,'-with other passages of the book where the persecutions of Antiochus are alluded to (as vii. 25, viii. II, 13, xi. 31, xii. 7, 11), and the fact that elsewhere in c. vii.-xii. Antiochus is the prominent figure, and his age is that in which the prophecies culminate, are arguments which support the modern interpretation. The prophecy does not, upon this interpretation, cease to be a Messianic one: it promises an ideal end of the sin and trouble under which the people of God are at present suffering; and is thus Messianic in the broader sense of Is. iv. 3 f., and the other passages quoted in the note on 'everlasting righteousness' in v. 24. See further the Introduction, pp. lxxxvi f., lxxxix.
Additional Note on the Expression 'The abomination of desolation?' The following expressions occur in Daniel :—
I. viii. 13 D vạn; LXX. Theod. ǹ åμaprla èpnμwoews.
ix. 27 DDWP D'Yıpr; LXX. Theod. ßdéλvyμa тŵv épnμúσewv. 3. xi. 31 Dpvp rɔpwin; LXX. ßdéλvyμa épηuwσews (so 1 Macc. i. 54, of the heathen altar built by Antiochus on the altar of burntoffering), Theod. βδέλυγμα ἠφανισμένον.
4. xii. 11 Dap; LXX. Tò ßôéλvyua τîs épnμwσews (so Matth. xxiv. 15, Mk xiii. 141), Theod. ẞôéλvyμa èpημwσews.
1 In the parallel in St Luke (xxi. 20) the expression is paraphrased ('when ye see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand').