Friday, February 20, 2015

Complications With Daniel's 70 Weeks

24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to shut up the transgression, to seal up sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint a most holy.
25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah, a Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
First and foremost, it is important to declare the fact that these weeks are to be seen as a whole, just as every other prediction of time made by God (slaves to Egypt, wandering the desert, captive to Babylon, etc.), and that no imaginary "gap" exists: "The sing. is simply explained by this, that שׁבעים שׁבעים is conceived of as the absolute idea, and then is taken up by the passive verb impersonal, to mark that the seventy sevenths are to be viewed as a whole, as a continued period of seventy seven times following each other."1 Second, it is important to acknowledge the fact that there are many difficulties in interpreting this passage.

First Problem
Keil & Delitzsch state that, "The two parts of v. 25 contain the statements regarding the first two portions of the whole period, the seven and the sixty-two שׁבעים, and are rightly separated by the Masoretes by placing the Atnach under שׁבעה. The first statement is: "from the going forth of the command to restore and to build Jerusalem unto a Messiah (Geslbten), a prince, shall be seven weeks."2 If this is in fact true, that a period should be placed after the "seven weeks," as the ESV Bible has done, then there are two problems we encounter in attempts to interpret the prophecy correctly. First, if we are calculating these weeks as year-weeks, as is typically accepted, there is no way that Messiah was born or baptized 49 years after any of the decrees: the first decree given to Ezra was approximately 536 B.C. (2 Chr. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4); the second decree given to Ezra was approximately 519 B.C. (Ezra 6:1-12); the third decree given to Ezra was approximately 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:11-26); the first decree given to Nehemiah was approximately 445 B.C. (Neh. 2).

Second, if we accept these weeks merely as a period divisible by 70, from the command until the Messiah, how then do we accurately determine the other weeks? Keil & Delitzsch state that "The 'sixty-two weeks' are not united antithetically to the 'seven weeks' . . . but are connected simply as following the seven; so that that which is named as the contents of the 'sixty-two weeks' is to be interpreted as happening first after the appearance of the Maschiach Nagid."3 So, after Messiah appears these things shall happen. They then go on to say, "That event which brings the close of the sixty-two weeks is spoken of in v. 26 in the words...Messiah shall be cut off."4 So, the sixty-two weeks last Jesus' entire life or entire ministry??? They end their section by saying, "the words do not refer to the building of the walls and bulwarks of the earthly Jerusalem which was accomplished by Nehemiah, but are to be understood, according to Ps. 51:20, of the spiritual building of the City of God."5 So, if 7 weeks times 70 gives us 490 years between the command and the Messiah (or some division of 70), following the same pattern, 62 weeks times 70 gives us 4,340 years before the fulfilling of the second portion of verse 25.

Apparently we have another 2,000 years for the expansion of the City of God before whatever Keil & Delitzsch understand "Messiah shall be cut off" to mean, which apparently is not the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. They state, "יכּרת does not denote the putting to death, or cutting off of existence, but only the annihilation of His place as Maschiach among His people and in His kingdom. For if after His 'cutting off' He has not what He should have, it is clear that annihilation does not apply to Him personally, but only that He has lost His place and function as the Maschiach."6 Now, this makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever since Jesus was, is, and will always be the Messiah, the Christ.

Second Problem
Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. Some people interpret "after" to mean "immediately after" rather than "any time after." By taking it to mean "immediately after," they conclude the 483 year-weeks to conclude at the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. By doing such, they then need to introduce a "gap" into the context because nothing after the crucifixion, except the destruction of Jerusalem, fits the remaining information of the prophecy. However, three and a half years after the sixty-two weeks is still "after."

Third Problem
It is generally accepted that verse 25 and the first half of verse 26 are speaking about one and the same individual: the Messiah, Christ Jesus. But then verse 26 says, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Because of this, many people assume that verse 27 is talking about this second person. As a result of this assumption, they then need to introduce a "gap" into the context because they do not find a fulfillment for verse 27 in the actions of Titus. However, accepting the "he" in verse 27 as referring back to the last mentioned person in verse 26, "the prince," we encounter a further problem. If this "he" is "the prince" from verse 26, what do we do about this: and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate. This "one" is distinct from the "he." If it was talking about the same person, why not say "and on the wing of abominations he makes desolate"? The problem is, you cannot impose English rules of grammar onto another language. Both verse 26 and verse 27 have a division of two people. Why is it so difficult to consider that perhaps verse 27 is merely an expansion of information relating to verse 26? It would not be the first time we have seen such in the Bible. We see it in Genesis 1 and 2, and we see it frequently throughout Revelation.

My Position
I read Keil & Delitzsch's commentary on Daniel 9:24-27 and it just complicated things further as they gave no clear interpretation to the understanding of this passage. I have quoted just some of the confusion above. Overall, they seem to conclude that these verses find their conclusion at the end of the age. They do not believe in the eisegetical "gap" introduced into the context by Dispensationalists, but the information they provide is very confusing and only further complicates the difficulty involved with attempting to properly interpret this passage.

I do not believe placing a period after "seven weeks" is correct. It causes too many problems with the interpretation of the prophecy. I believe the text gives us two portions for a reason, because two different things occur during each portion. I believe the text is informing us that from the decree until the anointed prince, shall be two portions—seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Why? Because the Messiah did not appear after 49 years. So placing a period after the "seven weeks" is preposterous. The expansion of Jerusalem would be built in the following 434 years, during perilous times (Greece and Rome taking control of the world after the Medo-Persians).

I believe verse 25 refers to the baptism of Jesus because He was not anointed until His baptism (when the Spirit came down in the appearance of a dove), and He was not known as the Messiah publicly until after His baptism. I believe the phrase "after the sixty-two weeks" does not mean "immediately after" but "any time after," and thus 3.5 years after His ministry Jesus was "cut off." I believe verse 27 is an addition of information to verse 26 as the only person who can erect covenants is God. Furthermore, nowhere in the entire Bible is there reference to the covenant erected in verse 27 being broken. This is eisegetical addition by Dispensationalists. It states that in the middle of the final week, sacrifices and offerings would cease. When Jesus was crucified, the veil was torn in two and thus sacrifices and offerings were no longer acceptable and no longer accomplished anything. They were finished as far as God was concerned because the sacrifice to end all sacrifices had been made.

1 Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 9:718.
2 Ibid, 725.
3 Ibid, 730.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid, 731.
6 Ibid, 733.