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Daniel 9:24-27 Examined, Part 1: Verse 24

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WilliamL

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Daniel 9:24-27 Examined, Part 1: Verse 24

This series of articles will provide a detailed translation of the Hebrew text of Daniel 9:24-27. The hope is that this more explicit translation will help clear up some of the confusion, arguments, and presumptions that have long been associated with this prophecy. Another hope is that these articles will inspire more people to learn the Bibleʼs original languages.

A Word About Translation

Bible translators have always had to deal with this issue: how to balance between accuracy and brevity. Translations that lean too heavily toward brevity become over-simplified at best, and grossly inaccurate at worst. On the other hand, highly accurate translations become overly wordy, and thus boring or confusing to the average reader.

The translatorʼs dilemma is compounded when he has no clear understanding of the doctrine or prophecy being expressed! In such cases, the interpretation often reflects the presumptions of the translator. In such cases, the interpretation often reflects the presumptions of the translator.” Which presumptions are then used by others as the basis for their own misguided teachings, some of them becoming entrenched Church doctrines.

For much of the Bible, a translation that provides the basic meaning of the text is sufficient. But when it comes to texts that deal with prophecy and doctrine, every nuance of vocabulary, tense, and syntax becomes critical, and should never be ignored or glossed over. With respect to Daniel 9:24-27, God is speaking through His Divinely-appointed messenger: God speaks perfect Hebrew, and He doesnʼt waste words, nor speak in casual language.

The translations in these articles are made and explained accordingly.

Daniel 9:24

שָׁבֻעִים/weeks שִׁבְעִים/seventy נֶחְתַּךְ/have been decreed/determined [Niphal verb stem (passive voice) Perfect (completed action)] עַֽל־/upon עַמְּךָ/thy people [ךָ: second masc. sing. (2ms) suffix, “of thee, thy”] וְעַל־/and upon [ו: a prefix-conjunction meaning “and, but, even,” etc., according to context] עִיר/city קָדְשֶׁךָ/holy of thee…

Seventy weeks have been decreed/determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…”

Comment: Note that this prophecy is only for “thy people” – the Middle Eastern remnant of Judah and Israel – and for Jerusalem.

*          *          *

לְכַלֵּא/in order to utterly restrain/restrict [Piel verb stem (intensive) Infinitive Construct; with prefix ל: “in order to, for the purpose of”] הַפֶּשַׁע/the rebellion/transgression/apostasy [ה: prefix meaning “the”]…

“…(in order) to utterly restrain/restrict the rebellion/transgression/apostasy…”

Comment: כלא does not mean “finish,” despite what many translations say. (That is the meaning of the similar Hebrew word כלה.) Also,the rebellion/transgression/apostasy” is speaking of a specific revolt against authority, not merely sin/transgression in general; in that case, the prefix ה/“the” would not be used.

The specific rebellion/פשע being referred to is the culminating apostasy of the Jewish nationʼs priesthood and people, the פשע/pesha originally spoken of in Daniel 8:12, 13, 23. That pesha was the focus of Danielʼs “vision in the beginning” (9:21), for which Gabriel originally had been sent to him to explain. 8:16 In Daniel 9, Gabriel has returned “to make you skillful of understanding…[of] the vision” of Daniel 8. 9:22-23

This transgression of the priesthood took place when Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes, after being bribed, removed Onias III, the pious High Priest over the Jewish people, and installed his apostatizing brother Jason in the latter 170s B.C. Jason promoted Greek religious and social customs. See Antiochus Ephiphanes and the End Times, Part 1. 1 Maccabees 2:15 calls the subsequent debasement of the priesthood, Temple, and people “the apostasy” [apostasia]. Continuing corruptions of the priesthood, including bribes, took place during the later time of Roman rule. Jesus condemned these things, and prophesied the desolation of the religious establishment and the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple because of it. Matt. 23, esp. vs. 35-39. More on this later.

*          *          *

[Kethib:] ולחתם/and in order to close up/seal up [Qal verb stem (basic) Infinitive with ל prefix]; [Qere:] ולהתם/and in order to cause to complete [Hiphil verb stem (causative) Infinitive with ל prefix] [Kethib:] חטאות/sins/sin offerings [plural]; [Qere:] חטאת/sin(-fulness)/sin offering [singular]…

“…and (in order) to close up/seal up sins/sin offerings; or and (in order) to cause to complete sin(-fulness)/sin offering…”

Comment: This phrase contains two textual variants, the only ones found throughout verses 24-27. Kethib refers to the original written text; Qere refers to the generally-preferred amended text that is read aloud in synagogues.

The term for sin/sinfulness/sin offering is at the root of the variant readings. The Kethib reading – “to close up/seal up sins or sin offerings” – presents some problems for the Jewish faith:

1) something closed or sealed can be reopened (if referring to sinfulness), and

2) if sin offerings on the altar are meant, that would mean the end of orthodox, Temple-centered Jewish religion, something unthinkable for most Jews of that era. In fact, that is exactly what occurred in 70 A.D. – but more on this later.

On the other hand, the preferred Qere reading – “to cause to complete sin or sinfulness” – is more in line with the Jewish belief that their coming Messiah, referred to in verse 26, is to deliver Israel from its sinfulness:

Isaiah 27:9 …the iniquity of Jacob shall be covered.

Likewise, this was the belief of the first-century followers of Jesus –

Luke 24:21 …we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.

and thus the Qere version of this phrase is found in most Christians translations. Both Jew and Christian have read into this what they prefer to find. However, other prophecies tell us that sinning will remain on earth until it is destroyed at the end of the Millennium, so the Kethib reading “to close up sin offerings” makes the most scriptural and historical sense. See Is. 65:20; Zech. 14:17-19; Rev. 20:7-11.

*          *          *

וּלְכַפֵּר/and in order to utterly atone for [Piel Infin. Constr. with ל prefix] עָוֹן/iniquity וּלְהָבִיא/and in order to cause to bring in [Hiphil Infin. with ל prefix] צֶדֶק/righteousness עֹֽלָמִים/everlasting

“…and (in order) to utterly atone for iniquity, and (in order) to cause to bring in everlasting righteousness…”

Comment: These things were undeniably accomplished by the Law-fulfilling sacrifice of the blood of Jesus: it made full atonement for sin, and brought everlasting righteousness to the believer.

*          *          *

וְלַחְתֹּם/and (in order) to close/seal up [Qal Infin. Constr. with ל prefix] חָזֹון/vision וְנָבִיא/and prophecy

“…and in order to close up vision and prophecy…”

Comment: Old Testament prophecy – that of Daniel’s people – ended at John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:13: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”

Luke 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.”

Old Testament prophets had the Holy Spirit “come upon” them. Beginning at John, prophets were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” The latter phrase is never used in the Old Testament, and the former is never used in the New. The old manner of prophesying had been closed up. However, the Latter Day acts of the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:3-6 are comparable to former acts of the prophets Moses and Elijah, so what was closed up may be restored in the future.

*          *          *

וְלִמְשֹׁחַ/and in order to anoint [Qal Infin. Constr. with ל prefix] קֹדֶשׁ/a Holy One קָֽדָשִֽׁים/of Holy Ones.

and (in order) to anoint a Most Holy One.”

Comment: Most translations erroneously add “the” – “the Most Holy” – which is incorrect, and leads to all kinds of false presumptions and speculations. The Hebrew prefix ה/“the” IS used when the Old Testament speaks about the Most Holy Place of the Temple. E.g. Ex. 26:33-34; 1 Kings 6:16; 7:50; 8:6; 1 Chr. 6:49; 2 Chr. 4:22; 5:7; Ezek. 41:4. But here an ה is notably omitted, because this phrase is yet another prophecy about the coming Messiah, not about a building. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in its fullness, and thereby became the Melchizedek-order High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary. John 3:34-35; Heb. 5:5-10; 8:1-2

Summary

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed/determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,

(in order) to utterly restrain/restrict the rebellion/transgression/apostasy,

and (in order) to close up/seal up sins/sin offerings or (in order) to cause to complete sin/sin offering,

and (in order) to utterly atone for iniquity, and to cause to bring in everlasting righteousness,

and (in order) to close up vision and prophecy,

and (in order) to anoint a Most Holy One.”

God provided this prophecy via Daniel to Jews living under the Law of Moses. Nothing in verse 24 makes any reference to the Church or to the End Times.

Gabriel has returned to provide Daniel further understanding about the consequences of his peopleʼs future pesha/rebellion against Godʼs law, which pesha was first shown to Daniel in his visionary revelation of Daniel 8. Therefore, before we go further along in this examination of Daniel 9:24-27, it will be helpful to review Daniel 8.

 

P.S. Am unable to correct the shifting type sizes. They were not in the original.

 

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