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.
I would be interested to see your interaction with Peter Gentry in the latest issue of SBTJ. His article on Dan 9 is available for download. Thanks.
nice article – it anticipates in some ways the bibliography I’m going to include at the end of the 70 weeks discussion. There are two recent articles by J. Paul Tanner that defend the messianic flavor of Dan 9. Gentry’s article chalks up the accent issue to an anti-messianic move by the scribes, but this actually isn’t completely coherent. The bibliography I’ll give all of you includes another article by McComiskey that address that issue in more detail. I’ll comment more on Gentry in a bit. I’d also quibble with him about there being no identification for an anointed one if one takes the Masroetic pointing. Not really true (over the years there have been proposals). All this goes to show my point — good arguments in both (or several) directions. Thanks for the heads up on the article!
Timothy, please provide a link.
The link to the article is here. http://www.sbts.edu/resources/files/2010/05/sbjt_v14_n1_gentry.pdf
thanks for the link – see my reply to Tim.
Thanks for the feedback. I also like the article by Block in Calvin Theological Journal. CTJ 41 (2006): 17-52. The whole issue is useful on this obsession!
Read the whole of chapter nine once again. In my efforts to understand the weeks, I admit that I really missed the boat on Daniels’s prayer and confession of covenant failure. I want to give due consideration to Daniel’s broken and contrite heart, the place where Yahweh dwells, the state of affairs in Jerusalem and the exiles. His intercession is moving, powerful and profound. Speaks to Jesus heartbreak and weeping over Jerusalem.
If this has been covered previously, please ignore or delete, hopefully I’m adding something to the discussion…
Two things strike me about this discussion of Dan 9 (which I appreciate)
1. It seems like an amazing coincidence that if Dan 9 was not talking about the messiah, then the timeline that predicts his death to the day (ok ok I know, because of calendar backflips, and other things that there are a range of options, and at best its only close, but sir robert anderson wasnt THAT far off. ) 483 years later is one whopper of a coincidence.
2. There was a brief discussion on a previous post in this series that made mention of the “cyclical” nature of bible prophecy. Could this prophecy be one of the cases, and indeed have multiple fufillments?
p.s. does MSH or anyone else perhaps have any literature on the cyclical nature of bible prophecy? I am to understand that many Jews believed scripture and prophecy to be just this way, but I can’t find anything good on it…
as for #1 – it would only be a coincidence if the Daniel 9 seventy weeks was supposed to start (intended to start) around a time that allows the “coincidence” to occur. If that wasn’t the intention, then there is no coincidence, since for there to be a coincidence, the “time sequence” has to be the one assumed. If the intent was the time sequence to start 140 years earlier than Nehemiah’s time, it wouldn’t even be close – no coincidence possible.
As for #2 – this is closer to what may be the point (at least I consider that a more coherent way to look at it).
We’ll get to the “kinds of fulfillment” thing later ( of which cyclical is one).
To clarify on thing in the above
when I said “at best its only close”
should be read, “at best our understanding of the exact day is only close”
The Masoretic “break” in the ESV, RSV, and NRSV tanslations put the seven weeks between the 1) building of the temple and 2) the coming of the anointed one – but then the 62 weeks are apparently used for the 3) building of the squares and moat in a troubled time? One break, and three actions happening. I like Gentry’s discussion – unless I’m wrong, it seemed to indicate that the verse contained a break, and really two subjects, 1) the process of building of the temple, and 2) the coming of the anointed one, which goes along with the breaking down of the time frames into two sections, 7 weeks and 62 weeks. My simplified interpretation of this would go along with one time frame for one event, and the second time frame with the second event. Thus the KJV could indicate that the break would be used to signify the association of the two time periods with the two events.
“(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.”
So the 1st event “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” took 7 weeks, and the 2nd event “the Messiah” coming happened after an additional 62 weeks.
The one thing I do not agree with Gentry is the date of Daniel. He thinks Daniel was written in 600 BC. I think, because of the different languages, and the different abominations (one in 167 BC, and one in 70 AD), it is a combination of ~167 BC and 600 BC authors. Maybe this is why the book is such a hogepoge of confusion. The only thing I am sure of (my opinion), is that Daniel ties in with the Olivet Discourse for one of the abominations, which for sure refers to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
sure – could be – many options are on the table. The break is just one reason why. My only goal is to simply illustrate the myth of certainty with respect to prophetic material like this.
I have been researching this prophecy for a class on Daniel/Revelation and I must admit I was taken back by the number of variants. There are quite a few takes I was unaware of, some seem ridiculous but I am humbled by the fact that others are quite compelling. I had always assumed that the Sir Robert Anderson view was the only serious one. I feel like I have been misled by some past teachers.
Well to be honest the 360 day “prophetic” years (Gleason Archer debunks this in the Expositors commentary) and throwing the last week into the future did seem sort of ad hoc. My view has changed.
i. Decree: My new works from the decree to Ezra in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7:1126).
ii. First week: This seven is forty none years and would end in 409 B.C. and perhaps finds some relevance in the completed work of Ezra and Nehemiah.
iii. Anointed One: Anointed One is a translation of the Hebrew m?îa? also rendered Messiah. Of course this is Jesus Christ.
iv. Sixty-two weeks: The sixty-two sevens (434 years) extend from the end of the first group of sevens to Christs baptism in A.D. 26. This agrees nicely with Lukes 15th year of Tiberius. Jesus anointing for ministry was his baptism (cf. Matt 3:16); thus he literally became the Anointed One. This should astound even one who holds the Maccabean conjecture.
v. Seventieth Week: This begins with Jesus ministry when he inaugurates the Seventieth Week opened with Christs baptism, that Christ confirmed the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah (31:31). John’s gospel gives us exactly 3.5 years for Jesus ministry – half a week. Then Christ was then “cut off” causing the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, from here there are two possibilities:
1)the week continued with the apostles for 3½ more years, and then came to a close with the stoning of Stephen. Then the focus left Israel as the gospel began to go out to the Gentiles. The destruction of Jerusalem and Diaspora are part of the desolations until the decreed end.
2)Alternately, because the book of Revelation really only mentions three and half years, I am compelled to think that perhaps the first half of the seventieth week ran during Jesus three and a half year ministry, ending at the cross. If this is so, then there is only half a week remaining.
I have two good arguments (so far) that support the gap theory:
i. The events prophesied in verse 26 such as the destruction of the city were fulfilled, forty years after the close of the sixty-ninth week but are before the beginning of the seventieth week prophesied in verse 27. If the continuous view is the correct view, then verse 27 should precede verse 26.
ii. Daniel taught that the abomination of desolation, Dan. 12:11, would be set up at the mid-point of the seventieth week, Dan. 9:27, and Christ taught that it would be set up at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15, 21), so it seems to follow that the abomination, the seventieth week, and the Great Tribulation will all be present at the same time.
“My only goal is to simply illustrate the myth of certainty with respect to prophetic material like this.”
I agree and I appreciate what you are doing, it is making me evaluate my beliefs more critically, yet certainty is a rare commodity in any area of religious belief is it not?
I mean we can not truly even claim certainty on the very fundamentals, or we wouldn’t have so many atheists writing books. I am fairly confident that the 70 weeks prophecy is Christological, but maybe not as confident as I am about Jesus’ physical resurrection.
Still the fact that there are two candidates for a decree (458 or 454 BC) that land us on Jesus makes this prophecy convincing evidence for a supernatural revelation from God who transcends time by writing the future in advance. Compelling but not certain.
I hurt a little inside (well, not really :-)) when you wrote: “the fact that there are two candidates for a decree (458 or 454 BC) that land us on Jesus makes this prophecy convincing evidence for a supernatural revelation from God who transcends time by writing the future in advance.” Why? Because the point of 9:25 – the kickoff point of these seventy sevens — may not even be a rebuilding, which would do serious injury to either of those dates, and of course demolish the idea that this is messianic at all. But realize that none of this has anything to do with whether prophecy is “real” (God showing prophets a glimpse of the future) or not. Any view of all this (and you’re getting an idea of how complicated and nuanced it is) has the writer (Daniel or not, early date or not – there is such a thing as “prophecy after the fact” in terms of a literary genre, but we won’t be bothering with that) saying *something* that is future. The only way to deny that is to have Daniel writing *everything* after the fact, but that then forces one to conclude that the writer made serious *historical* (not prophetic future) errors in Daniel 11. We likely won’t get into much of that since it really revolves around the controversy of the dating of Daniel. Other than Genesis and Isaiah, this is a major battleground in biblical studies when theological conservatives are in the discussion.
So, every time I think I have it together, it moves!! Really am enjoying your blog and await the final chapter(s) of Myth book. I wonder it I really want to take the Daniel course I signed up for since it is being taught by a rigid pretribber….. O well.
I had heard some of the possible conflicts in the interpretation of dates, etc, but didn’t have a clue how much controversy there was in the area. Can’t wait for your view although I have a hunch it will be pretty noncommittal. One thing I have learned is that humility in this area is required. God is way bigger than our pea brains can comprehend and this is from a person who spends some time examining those peabrains clinically. 🙂
oh, it gets worse than this; we’re just getting started.
I guess it because I have a high view of inspiration and the cannon. I believe the entire Bible points to Jesus Christ. Because of that it is not hard for me to have faith — I admit it is my faith — that the prophecy is Messianic. In fact, because my belief in the supremacy of Christ, it seems incoherent that it would not be Messianic.
none of those things are tied to a particular view of eschatology (or at least they shouldn’t be).
May name is Eleazar. I dont know to speak english very well.
The Atnah dont is just divider sense (disjunctive). Look at Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The atnah appears in the word God. Is there a breakdown of thought there? No.
In Daniel 9:25 speaks of “seven weeks and sixty-two week. ” There exists a conjunctive WAW that connects the two time periods.
On Daniel 9, please see McComiskey’s article on the 70 weeks. He discusses the accenting; the accents are (a) late and (b) a Masoretic tradition. Other versions of the Hebrew text may and do differ in that regard.
On Genesis, the thought of the creator is not “cut off” from the direct object of the clause as though they weren’t related. If there was “a breakdown of thought” the first half of the verse would have no grammatical object; the second half object would have no predicator or subject. Accents also serve for reading cadence and metrics. They are not strict “arbiters of thought.”
The Jewish Masoretes who centuries later prepared Daniel for reading put in various accents. In Daniel 9:25 the used the accent by the name of atnah after the “seven weeks”, but before the “sixty-two weeks”. Usually the atnah is disjunctive, that is, it separates the entities. Would that fact not indicate that the two periods of 7 and 62 weeks are separated and not read together, and that the anointed one would come after the 7 weeks or 49 years?
This is a common claim, not least by those scholars who understand the prophecy to begin with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. A period of 49 years would then take us to 537 in which year the Persian king Cyrus let the Jewish people return from the exile. As Cyrus is called the anointed in Isaiah 45:1, he then would fit the description.
Let us first point out that the atnah and other accents are not part of the original. Second, though the atnah in general is disjunctive, it also at times, especially in enumerations and in numbers, may function like a conjunctive accent (examples are Lev 12:5 and Num 1:46). The literary structure of the oracle in Daniel 9:25-27 is a strong argument in favour of keeping the two periods together (see further the article to Study Guide number 11 on Daniel 9 Verse by Verse).
The theory that the anointed on in Daniel 9 is Cyrus runs into problems on several accounts. The year 586 marked the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, not the decree of its restoration. Moreover, the calculation of the total period seems unfit to any significant historical reality. 490 years counted from 586 B.C. would take us to the year 96 B.C. What happened then? Nothing!
all of this is old material; it isn’t like I haven’t read it before. I don’t care if the anointed is Cyrus or not. I don’t care about eschatology in general. If you want to dispute Peter Gentry’s work on Daniel 9, have at it. The article is posted in my archive. That would make for a more brief, focused discussion — IF you go point for point with him (and you ought to read McComiskey as well). If you interact specifically with both those articles, I might join in. It may be the only thing that can temporarily stir me from my apathy over eschatology.
Personally, you also need to deal with Leslie McFalls’ recent article on the chronological issues, but I didn’t have access to that article in PDF at the time I was going through this topic. I found it today on his personal website (didn’t know he had one). See my most recent post.
MSH does not care about Eschatology. 30 percent of the Bible is Eschatology and this loser known as MSH does not care about the First or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This Dr of Theology is dead and going to the lake of fire and brimestone. He does not care if Jesus died on the cross. He does not care if Jesus is Lord and King. He hates God and Jesus because he does not care about Eschatology.
As long as we’re throwing around unverified statistics, here’s one:
80% of what you think is eschatology was already fulfilled in Israel’s return from exile, the first coming, and the events in Acts.
Note there’s 20% left in my faux-statistic, so don’t accuse me of being a preterist or amiller or whatever. The point is that many students of prophecy read passages in the OT and ASSUME they speak of the second coming, or a millennium, etc. and NEVER look to see where NT writers actually cite them and assign them a meaning.
Sorry, but I’ve read enough prophecy books to know that is precisely the case.
What part of Lev 23 says it’s a prophetic calendar? Yes, the calendar was observed in OT times, but where does the text connect it to messiah and a second coming?
If what you say about Lev 23 is true, why does Paul quote Lev 26 of the Church (2 Cor 6:14-18; specifically v. 16)? If Paul thought the Spirit had “returned” to a circumcision neutral people of God, why would he (or we) use Lev 23 for a rapture of the Church distinct from Israel?
We can start there.