As you read this, bear in mind again I am not taking a position or describing where I’m at with all this. My goal is to show the ins-and-outs of how Daniel 9:24-27 could be viewed (i.e., the “self evident” problem).
Taking another look at Daniel 9…
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.
Our focus this time around is the “anointed prince” (or is it princes?).
In verse 25: “an anointed one, a prince” shall come (after either the first seven weeks, followed by 62 more, or after the 69 weeks)
- Let’s assume (with the standard pre-trib view) that “the anointed one, the prince” comes after the 69 weeks.
In verse 26a: after the 62 weeks (69 in total by the above reckoning), “an anointed one” shall be “cut off” and “have nothing”
QUESTION: Is the “anointed one / the prince” in verse 26 the same as the one in verse 25? This is certainly possible (and probably the easiest reading) if one presumes the 7 + 62 weeks are not to be split up via the Masoretic accenting.
In verse 26b: now we read of “the people of the prince who shall come”…
QUESTION: Is this prince (26b) the same as the anointed prince in 26a?
If YES — then …
(1) the same prince who is “cut off” in 26a is still alive in 26b to “come and destroy the city and the sanctuary.” That would mean “cutting off” cannot refer to death (ruling out crucifixion).
(2) if one wants to identify the prince of 26a as Jesus (interpreting the “cutting off” with the crucifixion), then if one wants the prince of 26a to be the same prince of 26b, one has to posit a resurrection in between. That might sound good, but look at what it produces — the people of the prince of 26b (meaning, the followers of the resurrected Jesus) then destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the temple (sanctuary). Not only did this not happen in history, but it would be completley out of character for the followers of Jesus.
CONCLUSION: If you want Jesus to be the prince of 26a, you cannot also have him be the prince of 26b. There must be two different princes. This is the way most pre-tribbers take the passage, assuming the second prince to be the antichrist, since “his people” destroy Jerusalem and the temple.
So is there a problem with that? To say the least, it’s an odd reading because we aren’t TOLD there are two princes — that has to be read INTO the passage. Rather, there is one prince mentioned (v. 26a) and then we meet “the people of the prince who is to come” (and since the prince we’re actually told about is being predicted as coming, one would more naturally assume the same prince is in view). In other words, one can ASSUME that these “people” and their “prince” are separate characters (and chronologically separated to boot), but it would be very easy (and natural), since we just read about a coming prince to assume that “the people of this prince that will come” refers to the same prince in 26a. But again, if they are the same, we cannot be talking about Jesus.
But let’s assume that we have a separation. The prince of 26a is Jesus, who is “cut off.” Then there is a second prince (with “his people”) who destroys Jerusalem and the temple, and then, in v. 27 “HE” (the second prince – the bad one, the antichrist — makes a covenant with many for one seven … and then we get the abomination. Standard pre-trib reading.
How could that be a problem for the standard pre-trib view? I’d say it can work, but it needs to work WITHOUT verse 24 — and verse 24 is the main reason anyone is thinking of Jesus as a candidate to be the prince of verse 26. Why do I say this? Look at verse 24 (note my boldfacing):
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”
Here’s the point: All of these conditions only happen AFTER all 70 weeks. Pre-tribbers assume that some of them are accomplished at the end point of verse 26a, when the anointed prince [Jesus in that view] is “cut off” — but the text doesn’t say that. The natural (literal? face value? plain?) reading of verse 24 is that when the 70 weeks are up, all these things will be true. We have no warrant for attaching *some* of them to a time before the 70 weeks are fulfilled. It’s just done to make the system work.
And think about the list. Did ANY of them come to pass with the crucifixion?
— was all transgression and sin ended at the cross? No. We all still sin.
— to atone for iniquity — one could argue that was accomplished, but since it is the ONLY possible connection to the cross (the others didn’t happen with the cross as we’ll see below), one ought to wonder if the phrase was intended to speak of the crucifixion. (Why would one work well and not the others?) Maybe it referred to the sacrificial system or Yom Kippur. If Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed (see vv. 25-26) you would need an end to those circumstances to be able to make atonement for iniquity again. And that would certainly be the case after the 70 weeks were done.
— “to bring in everlasting righteousness” — did that happen at the cross? This is kingdom language, but only an amillennialist *might* say that the cross and resurrection brought the kingdom about in this way. And one wonders, if everlasting righteousness was brought in at the cross, what’s left to bring about in terms of righteousness? I don’t know what we’d be waiting for if it was already accomplished. It seems if you’re premill, you can’t equate this with the cross event.
— to seal the vision — this couldn’t be done with the cross event since there were events still subsequent to the cross that had to come to pass (like antichrist and what he does).
— “to anoint a most holy place” – I don’t know how the crucifixion did this. It reads like the holy place had been desecrated and needed to be sanctified. That would be the case after the 70 weeks horror (all of it) were over — and that speaks to interpreting the atonement language the way I outline above — not having to do with the crucifixion.
This is why I think if you’re going to take the standard pre-trib view of Daniel 9:25-26, you need to forget verse 24, but that amounts to dispensing with the very thing that fuels your view.
More briefly to the point: If you think the standard pre-trib view is a straightforward reading that is completely clear and coherent, think again. You would need to account for all these issues that arise from the text. It might be possible, but it isn’t self-evident. To me the biggest issue is the arbitrariness of having two princes. Again, that’s possible, but it feels dicey.
Next up – last post on Daniel 9. I’ll finish up the Gentry article and have some notes on it, as well as two others. Then (finally) on to the rapture idea.
Since I view myself a “partial preterist”, I won’t comment directly on Daniel, since I already commented previously. Although partial preterists can be pre, post, or amillennialist (I probably lean toward a-), the premillennial dispensationalists seem to make the least sense to me. I don’t take a negative (you are going to hell) view of them. Everyone can believe whatever they want, since much of this is so nebulous. But the one thing I find strange in premil dispen views – they think the temple will be re-built, the antichrist will sit in the new temple, and the most far out view – Christ will sit in the temple during the 2000 years, presiding over the Jewish sacrifical system (butcher shop revisited). Even though it is clear in Hebrews that that system no longer applies with the one-time sacrifice of Christ. I guess I do not understand their position at all.
a lot of that weirdness is forced by “logic” – if you have a temple, you “need” to be doing something there — and, for newly-born people during the millennium, they have to learn about substitutionary death. One idea just leads to another.
This has been my favorite topic so far in the blog (are we really at #11? Whew!). And I’m so happy for the timing–my pastor is about to start a new “End Times” series he’s concocted (utilizing the popular pre-mill framework) and I need something to keep me sane until it dies down. He’s actually made mention, by way of a “sneak-peek”, that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico correlates to John of Patmos’ vision of the waters turning to blood…yeah. I’m also reading the incredibly concise, and well-thought out book “Left Behind? The Facts Behind The Fiction” by Dr. LeAnn Snow Flesher (judsonpress.com). Another anchor to keep my common sense from being dragged by the tides of (Lord help us) pop fiction as theology. Nice work Dr. Heiser!
*ahem* Except for “The Facade”…there’s one place were fiction as theology would not be such a bad idea (heck of a lot more interesting, anyway) lol.
The aforementioned book by Dr. Flesher has a time line of Daniel 9:25-27 (pg.120-121) that is extremely germane to the discussion we’re having. In brief (using each verse as a point) it states:
Dan 9:25–From the time of the decree of Cyrus in 583 BCE until the time of an anointed prince (author says could be either High Priest Joshua or Zerubabbel) shall be 7 weeks (49 years); and for 62 weeks (434 years) Jerusalem built again in troubled times.
Dan 9:26–After 62 wks an anointed one shall be cut off (author says reference to the murder of high priest Onias III in 171 BCE) and troops of prince who is to come (Antiochus Epiphanes IV ruling from 175-164 BCE) destroys city/sanctuary.
Dan 9:27–He will make a strong covenant with many (here author states–which I’ve always wondered–Antiochus Epiphanes IV entered into agreement with hellenizing Jews who lived in Jerusalem) for one week (7 yrs) and for half of the week (3 1/2 yrs) he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates (Antiochus plundered temple, set up statue of Zeus on altar of sacrifice) until decreed end poured out on desolator (prediction of death of Antiochus). Color me impressed; this is the kind of stuff (along with Dr. H’s blog) that needs to have mainstream attention vs. pre-mill etc. The book of Daniel mashes up with subsequent history just fine, thank you.
Dr. Flesher states that the 70 wks in Daniel are the prophet reinterpreting Jeremiah’s prediction that Judah will be exiled in Babylon for 70 years (as Dr. Heiser has also pointed out as a possible alternative); she goes on to say the exile really lasted 49 years (587/6 to 538 BCE) and that Daniel extends the duration of the desolation in Jerusalem until the city and its temple where once again under Jewish control (about 164 BCE when Maccabees took back the temple and city by force). As she says, “…the number of years do not add up exactly but they seldom do in the OT.”
Food for thought, people.
the only real bone to pick with Flesher’s reconstruction is that Jesus, living well after the time of Antiochus, references the abomination as yet future (Matt 24). My own view here is that Flesher’s reconstruction is quite coherent, but we also need to allow for a cyclical fulfillment – Antiochus was a warm up for a yet future (to Jesus) abomination fulfillment.
Some more food for thought that I came upon…
“Josephus, the Complete Works” translated by William Whiston.
from “The Antiquities of the Jews”, section 10.11.7(276)
“And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. All these things did this man leave in writing, as God had showed them to him, insomuch, that such as read his prophecies, and see how they have been fulfilled, would wonder at the honor wherewith God honored Daniel.”
Josephus being a Jew from a High Priest family, as well as a Jewish general in the Jewish Wars 66-70 AD, and finally a Roman citizen, he seems to indicate that he thought Daniel referred to two abominations, Greek (Antiochus) and Roman (70 AD Jerusalem and temple destruction), as having ALREADY taken place. And since he was talking about the Ram and He-goat just in a previous paragraph, it APPEARS he is referring to Dan 8 (Greek) and Daniel 9 (Roman) abominations. Antiquities was supposedly written in 93 AD.
yes – and this second (Roman) abomination could be (they are all guesses) what JESUS was referring to as a yet future abomination (see my note to Jonathan below). This would be the preterist view. The remaining question then for the pre-trib/per-miller would be “could we see a repeat?” That might be theoretically possible, but basically all that Paul says (he died before 70 AD) about the appearance of the man of sin could be subsumed under the preterist view. The only issue is Revelation. If it’s written after 90 AD, then the writer didn’t see the events of 70 AD as the end of the prophetic picture (and so one would presume there will be another repeat). If it was written prior to 70 AD, Preterism basically can account for everything. We’ll get to the Revelation date thing in a subsequent post. It’s a toss up (like so much of everything else in this subject).
Isn’t any obsession a waste of time? Isn’t blogging to pursuade others that an obsession is a waste of time itself a waste of time?
Given that eschatological and prophetic matters consume about a third of the Hebrew text (don’t go all OCD on me and become a corrective mathematician) minimizing the importance of the subject to the stiz im leben recipients of the prophetic pronouncements or to the modern exposition of the Scripture (whether scholarly or pastoral) is foolish and smacks of mere personal dislike for the matter.
Israel’s religious establishment always had a prophetic element and later stratified roughly into priests, prophets and wise men. The prophetic element continued in the activities of John the Baptist, whose whole ministry was cast as prophetic fulfillment; in Jesus himself, who declared that Moses wrote of him; and in the New Testament church, founded upon the apostles and prophets and looking to a prophesied reappearance of Christ. I think even a cursory consideration of these facts should support the idea that study and appreciation of the prophetic/eschatological element is essential to understanding the Scripture and its impact through the centuries.
I’d much rather read you blogging about something else. Can I hope there will not be a 12th blog on this subject?
Kind and respectful regards.
then read something else. I blog because I like it. If you want to read another subject, do so.
I quite enjoy this topic.
There are many views out there that seem plausible at first but under deeper inspection become rather improbable.
Even highly linguistically or otherwise analytical views have elements forcing interpretation. I find Dr. Gentrys article falling into the same category.
Nothing is obvious and I think thats the point of this discussion.
For example who and when decided that the forth beast from the book of Daniel refers to Rome? It is not obvious from the Scripture at all.
thanks for this – and hope you all read this — what scholars do (the minutiae of the text) really matters. It’s called BIBLICAL theology – theology that derives from the text — the grammar, genre, syntax, etc. — as opposed to what passes for theology most everywhere, “systematic” theology, which is frequently a systematization of the English translation, with a bit of Hebrew and Greek sprinkled here and there when it’s needed. These approaches are quite different.
Just for completeness on Josephus which I should have mentioned. He believed Jesus was a man who produced many miracles, but was not the Messiah. So I doubt if he felt the prince or anointed one was the coming Jewish Messiah in Dan 9.
But he was political concerning the 4th kingdom, preceeding the coming kingdom of God in Daniel 2, since he was writing in Rome.
“The Antiquities of the Jews”, 10.10.4 ( 210), “Daniel did also declare the meaning of the stone: but I do not think proper to relate it, since I have only undertaken to describe things past or things present, but not things that are future; yet if anyone be so very desirous of knowing truth..(etc)…let him be diligent in reading the book of Daniel,..”
In the notes, the translator says “probably not safe for him to explain, as belonging to the destruction of the Roman empire by Jesus Christ…..for he had no mind to provoke the Romans…”
I mention this, since I find it interesting historically. I certainly do not take Josephus as true or not, since he was just one man that lived in an interesting time. Discussing these things on a blog, I find interesting and no different than discussing them in person. Not exactly dwelling on it, or an obsession. Better than wasting time on “facebook”, which is a real waste of the thought process. I look forward to a 12th episode.
Josephus was politicized? Nah… 🙂
@Gary Hear, hear!
Thanks Dr. Heiser, I was wrong to not check the timelines of Jesus and Antiochus. So, wasn’t Christ then referring to the 70 A.D. destruction as the desecration? How does this tie in to Daniel, should we see it as being cyclical as well and not a fulfilled prophecy? Thanks.
maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. That’s part of the debate. It would tie in (for Preterists) with a 70 AD “echo” of the Antiochus event.
Dr. Heiser, didn’t the site use to be able to post the name of the person you were responding to? I was hoping in future answers that could be implemented. thanks.
Actually, I don’t know. I’ve used several comments plugins, so maybe it did (I had to change a couple times when WP updated the OS).
I’ve asked for it twice now in this blog, let’s see if Mike does it this time 🙂
For the dating of Revelation, two books address this rather well.
I had mentioned them previously.
“The Last Days According to Jesus”, RC Sproul – A very good, and very unbiased, analysis of pretty much all the facts. RC Sproul is pretty analytical, and can be pretty hard to read. However, this book is very easy to follow.
“Before Jerusalem Fell” Kenneth Gentry. Ken Gentry is a partial preterist, so there is no doubt what his opinion is – but the book is good. The lastest edition can be bought from his website. However, there is an old, 1989 edition, which can be downloaded free from freebooks.com – the 1989 edition has some editing and typo stuff, which is the reason, I assume, that it is free. Location of the free site is
Just scroll down to gentry.
I’ll likely pull some sections from Beale’s NIGTC volume (New International Greek Text Commentary). It’s the most up-to-date scholarly resource on Revelation.
That is, scroll down, after you select “author” on the left hand side.
This is more of a paleo-sociology question (and dropping that term was my idea of a joke)!
Do you know what the second temple era Jews thought about Daniel 9 as far as ‘already fulfilled vs. yet to come?’ If we could get a glimpse of their interpretation that would be interesting. Thanks.
If Josephus is any indication, 2nd temple Jews were not looking for a future fulfillment of Daniel 9. They were, of course, looking for messiah, but those are separate issues (connected by the pre-trib/pre-miller in modern times – at least since the late 19th century).
Now this is getting interesting. Glad to hear you are planning to address Rev. with Daniel, etc. My mind in getting opened to more to the as it was so shall it be idea. hmmm.
Per the question, “Do you know what the second temple era Jews thought about Daniel 9 as far as already fulfilled vs. yet to come? If we could get a glimpse of their interpretation that would be interesting.”
At least as far as the right-wing, radical Essenes are concerned just before they are destroyed by the Romans, on the Roman’s march down to Mesada to eliminate the last Zealots around 70 AD…
I have to recommend another book. “Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls”, Craig A. Evans. Good, cheap ($14) book with great photos.
Under perharim (commentary) on Habakkuk 2:1-2 (1QpHab) dated between 88BC and 2 BC, to quote the book summary, “The Essenes believed the prophetic Scriptures spoke of their time, not some time in the past or some very distant future time” – “right-wing radical” is my term, sorry, Esennes were going to fight a spiritual war only, not a physical war…
Interpretation of Isaiah 11, in the Rule of War Scroll, “The Branch of David will kill the “king of Kittim”, that is, the Roman emperor.” The War Scroll says the Sons of Light fight a holy war against the Sons of Darkness, per the book, “the warriors are to be prepared for battle as though they were priests perparing to conduct a temple sacrifice. The slaughter of the Romans (the Kittim) was seen as sacred duty.”
In the Melchizedek Scroll, “This visitation is the Day of Salvation that He has decreed through Isaiah the prophet…. The messenger is the Anointed of the Spirit, of whom Daniel spoke, “After the 62 weeks, an Anointed one shall be cut off (Dan9:26). The messenger who brings good news, who announces salvation is the one whom it is written, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, the day of vengeance of our Lord…(Isa 61:1-2.”
What does it mean? Beats me. But very interesting reading.
Let me put in one personal opinion. All the very devout jews (bordering on being Zealots), seemed to believe their Jewish Messiah was going to save them when the Temple was surrounded by the Roman armies (of the known world – containing foreign conscripts as well). Per 2 Thess 2:11, this was their strong delusion. In the meantime, the followers of Jesus, per the Olivet Discourse, headed for the hills, during the pause that Cestius provided in the fighting (Josephus, “The War of the Jews”, 2.19.6-7, and note “the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction…”when they should see the abomination of desolation….in the holy place…or when they should see Jerusalem encompassed with armies…they should then fell to the mountains”. Anyway, my opinion only.
yep – forgot about 11QMelch. A strange text (it quotes psalm 82 as well).
I should proof read more….flee, not fell.
You’ve mentioned that “cyclical” aspect of various prophecies a time or two before in the preceding posts. Is there a book, JSTOR article, etc. or something coherent to read on this aspect of bible prophecy.
I’ll get to it.
Interesting take on the Essenes and the strong delusion. It makes me think, for a second about the folks who are so staunchly pre-trib, that their view on trying to uphold righteousness mercy and justice ends with “well I don’t have to worry because Jesus is just going to come back and fix it.”
That actually kind of a scary thought, the more I sit here and think about it, esp with the dominionist/kingdom now type theology that many of that camp tend to exemplify…