Continuing on with the assumptions made in regard to the 70 weeks of Daniel…
In the last post we jumped into Daniel 9:24-27 and saw (to the surprise of some I am sure) that, although so many people are sure that the 70 weeks prophecy was about a timeline that had the 69th week end with the crucifixion, no New Testament writer ever quotes Daniel 9:24-27 as a fulfillment of the crucifixion (or resurrection). If that prophecy was so incredibly accurate *on that point and for that reason* then it seems nothing short of amazing that no NT writer ever put that together.
As we proceed, I’m going to ask a series of questions about how to interpret Daniel 9:24-27. Here’s the first:
Does the text of Daniel 9:24-27 have the mashiach (“anointed one”) coming after the first seven weeks, followed by 62 more (=69) before the 70th week, or does the “anointed one” come in conjunction with / toward the end of the 69th?
To many readers this no doubt sounds like a dumb question, since many will consider the second option to be self-evident from the passage. That is because they assume that the “anointed one” in the passage is the messiah, Jesus. No way he could have come only 49 years after Daniel has the prophecy beginning (which most take to be around the time of Nehemiah. I should say here that it is *not* self evident that the “anointed one” here is Jesus the messiah. As we go through some other posts it will become clear why this is the case. It is also not self evidence that the 70 weeks is to begin at the time or Nehemiah’s rebuilding — or ANY rebuilding. That may sound amazing, but we’ll hit that on in the next post. For now, we’ll stick to one issue — the question posed above: Does the text of Daniel 9:24-27 have the mashiach (“anointed one”) coming after the first seven weeks, followed by 62 more (=69) before the 70th week, or does the “anointed one” come in conjunction with / toward the end of the 69th?
This question arises from how the text of Daniel 9:24-27 was accented by the Masoretic scribes.
In Dan 9:25 the Massoretic tradition places what is called a disjunctive accent (atnah) between the words for “seven sevens / weeks” and “sixty-two sevens.” A disjunctive accent served to separate items on either side of the accent. That means the Masoretes saw a break (a disjunction) between the 7 weeks and the following 62. This in turn means that the “anointed one” comes at the end of the seven weeks, before the other 62 occur. The ESV, RSV, and NRSV translate the text according to this Masoretic division. Here they are — note how these translations (due to the accenting) has the “anointed one” coming in conjunction with the end of the first seven weeks:
(ESV) 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.
(RSV) 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth 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.
(NRSV) 25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time.
This understanding of the verse is known from early Christian sources (e.g., Eusebius) so it is not coherent to chalk this up to an anti-Jesus fiddling with the text by Jewish scribes, as some have charged. Besides, the accents were added centuries after the church began, making the presence of this translation / interpretation of the verse in early Christian sources all the more striking.
Other English translations ignore the Masoretic accent (for one reason or another). Here are some examples. Note how in these translations the “anointed one” comes after the 69 weeks (7 + 62).
(NIV): 25 Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens, and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
(NLT): 25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a rulerthe Anointed Onecomes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.
(KJV): 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Getting back to our question, here’s the point. The neat 69 weeks from (whatever starting point) that culminate in the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus, assumed by so many end times teachers, may not be the intended meaning of the prophecy at all. In fact, if the Masoretic accenting of the text is accurate, then the prophecy isnt even messianic (or at least that idea is weakened considerably). The anointed one would not be Jesus the messiah, but another anointed one (and there were a number of these in the OT, even pagans, like Cyrus the Persian king cf. Isa 45:1).
So . . . which is it? Does Daniel 9:25 have the “anointed one” coming after the first seven weeks, or after the 69 weeks? And how can we know *for sure*? Answer: we can’t know for sure. It would sure have been nice for at least one NT writer to quote the passage in such a way that we could know. Granted, in my first post on this I sketched out the speculation that Luke may have been seeing Daniel 9 that way, but that doesn’t actually help those who want the 69th week to end with the crucifixion (when the “anointed one” is “cut off”). If Luke was angling for what I sketched out, to him the 69th week went up to the birth of Jesus, not the death. That seems incongruous with the “cut off” language (but maybe . . . just maybe . . . the “anointed one” WAS a figure in the past — not Jesus — but the NT writers see an analogy . . . that’s future fodder). I hope you see that there is more to this than you’ve been told in the Left Behind novels and XYZ (take your pick) prophecy book.