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31 December 2018

The Seventieth Week – (Daniel 9:26-27)

Synopsis:  An analysis of the final week of the prophecy of Daniel

Bible - Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com
We now come to the climax of the prophecy of the “Seventy Weeks,” its final week. The Hebrew preposition rendered “after” locates the events of this last paragraph in the seventieth “week,” theoretically, one of seven years duration (Daniel 9:26-27).
The text states that an anointed one will be cut off “after the sixty-two weeks.” Note well the omission of the first “seven weeks” in this accounting, the forty-nine years that end with the arrival of “an anointed one, a leader.” Whether that first period runs consecutively or concurrently with the second one or the sixty-two weeks, it does not figure into the chronology of this last paragraph, but its omission is noteworthy.
An anointed one is to be “cut off and it is not to him.” As before, the text reads “an anointed one,” not “the anointed one.” This cannot be the same “anointed ruler” found in verse 25, for this one appears after the sixty-two “weeks.” 
After Sixty-two Weeks:
(Daniel 9:26) – “And after the sixty and two weeks an anointed one is cut off and it is not to him: and the people of the coming leader will destroy the city and the sanctuary; and his end with a flood, and even to the end will be war; desolations are determined.”
If the first two segments run consecutively, then this “cutting off” occurs 483 years after the start of the seventy weeks; if concurrently, then it is after 434 years. Since the first “anointed one” appears at the end of the first seven “weeks,” the two cannot be identical. Moreover, a person distinct from the “anointed one” is now called a “leader” or nagid in verse 26, whereas, in verse 25, one person was identified as “an anointed one, a leader (nagid).”
Cut off” may mean death but not necessarily so. Possibly, the word is borrowed from Leviticus with its repeated warnings that “the soul” that violated ritual regulations would be “cut off” from the people of Israel, presumably, cast out from the covenant community (Leviticus 7:20-27).
The King James Version renders the clause, “Shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.” Neither the reflexive pronoun (“himself”) nor the preposition “for” is found in the Hebrew text. This translation reflects the later interpretation that identified the “anointed one” with Jesus and his death for the sake of others.
The clause more accurately reads, “will be cut off and will not be to him,” or, “and he will have nothing.” The idea is that this “anointed one” will lose city and sanctuary, not that he is “cut off” from the living. That is, he loses his place or function as an “anointed one.”
The focus of the seventieth week is not on this “anointed one”; no connection is made between him and the redemptive goals of verse 24. From this point, the attention is on the desolation of the city and sanctuary by a coming “leader.” The “cutting off” of the “anointed one” is a chronological marker for the start of this final period; otherwise, he plays no part in what follows.
A Leader Corrupts City and Temple
The people of the coming leader will corrupt the city and the sanctuary, “People” translates the common noun ‘am (עם). In Daniel, the term can refer to pagan nations or to the “people” of Israel. Here, “people” is connected to “the coming leader,” apparently, the group that assaults the city and profanes the Sanctuary on his behalf.
Destroy” or “corrupt” (shahath) does not necessarily mean destruction or annihilation; it has the sense, “corrupt, spoil, ruin, pervert.” It is the same term found in Daniel 8:24-25 where the malevolent king “corrupts mighty ones and the people of holy ones.”
In the Hebrew text, “leader” is modified by the participle “coming,” which also has a definite article. He is a known figure to Daniel; based on verbal links, this must refer to the malevolent figure of the “horn with a mouth speaking great things,” the “little horn” from the visions of chapters 7 and 8. “His end will come with a flood”; that is, his end is set against his “coming.”
There are difficulties when attempting to link this prediction to a known event in which Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed. In the passage, the cessation of the daily sacrifices and the pollution of the Sanctuary occur AFTER “the Leader who will come corrupts the city and the sanctuary” (verse 27). There would be no sanctuary to pollute or sacrifices to stop if the Temple already had been destroyed.
A problem with linking the predictions to the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem forty years later is that the sequences of events do not match. Further, in the prophecy of Daniel, this corruption or “destruction” of the city occurs during the seventieth “week,” not forty years later.
Determined” or harats is an important word in the visions of Daniel. Note its use here (“even until the consummation, and that a determined one”) and in Daniel 11:36 ("he will prosper until the indignation is accomplished, for that which is determined will be done”).
Until the end will be war.” The “end” refers to the close of the seventieth week. The vision of Chapter 7 predicted a malevolent king, the “little horn” that would wage “war” against the saints and prevail over them, the one who would “wear out the saints” and endeavor to change “seasons and law” until a “time, times, and part of a time.” Then judgment would come, and its dominion would be “destroyed unto the end.” The “time, times and part of a time” is enigmatic but may represent a three-and-one half year period (Daniel 7:21-27).
Desolations
Desolations are determined”: “Desolations” (shamem) is the same word used four times in Daniel to refer to the “abomination that desolates” (Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). It does not mean “destroyed” but, instead, “made desolate, deserted, abandoned.”
In the vision of the Ram and the Goat, the “little horn” removed the daily sacrifice and defiled the Sanctuary, the “transgression that desolates.” Its defilement would continue for “two thousand and three hundred evenings-mornings,” or 1,150 days, then the “sanctuary will be cleansed” (Daniel 8:13). In view, is not the Temple’s destruction but its pollution, rendering it ritually unclean. The fact that it is “cleansed” after approximately three and a half years demonstrates it was not destroyed.
 In Chapter 11, a malevolent king arrives in Jerusalem to “pollute the sanctuary, take away the daily sacrifice, and place the abomination that desolates.” He would “speak marvelous things against the God of gods and prosper until the indignation was accomplished, for that which is determined (harats) will be done” (Daniel 11:31-36).
To this point, the verbal links in Daniel 9:26 connect it to the events described in Daniel 7:15-24 and 8:9-26. The “coming leader” is identical to the “little horn” of Daniel 7:15-24. He is also the same as the “little horn” described in Daniel 8:9-26 that replaced the daily burnt-offering with the “transgression that desolates” and “corrupted” the holy people.
Covenant with the Many
(Daniel 9:27) – “And he will strengthen a covenant with the many for one week -- and in the half of the week he causes the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and on the wings of abomination he comes desolating; even until the end and that a determined one, which will pour down upon the desolater.”
The “leader” is the subject of the verb who “confirms a covenant with the many.” He is not the “anointed one” of verse 26. He will “confirm” (gabar) or, perhaps better, “strengthen” a covenant.
The many” refers to the majority of the city’s occupants (compare Daniel 11:30-32, 12:10); the definite article signifies “the many,” the great mass of the people in contrast to the few who remain faithful to God.
This “covenant” has the same event in view as does Daniel 8:23-25 where the king with a fierce countenance corrupted the people of the saints; “By his cunning he caused deceit to succeed in his hand…and by their careless security will he destroy the many.”
The “leader” strengthens the covenant for the entire final seven years. This is problematic to interpretations that see this as a reference to the new covenant established by Christ’s death after a ministry of three and one-half years. That “the many” are still present demonstrates that the “destruction” of the city in verse 26 was not its total demolishment; the city is still occupied in verse 27.
Sacrifices Cease – Abomination Set Up
He causes the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” This is a verbal link to the previous and subsequent visions. In the vision of the ram and goat, the “little horn” that desecrates the Temple, removes the daily sacrifice and sets up the “transgression that desolates.”
In Chapter 11, a “king of the south,” likewise, sets up the “abomination that desolates” and removes the daily burnt offering. Note the links from the following passages:
(Daniel 8:11-13) - “It took away from him the continual burnt-offering, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down…How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that desolates, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?”
(Daniel 11:31) - “And forces shall stand on his part and they shall profane the sanctuary…and take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the abomination that desolates”.
(Daniel 12:10-11) - “Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but they that are wise shall understand. And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that desolates set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days”.
The verbal links make clear that the same events are in view in all three visions, especially, events that impact the Sanctuary. The concluding events occur in the last “half of the week.” This same period is mentioned elsewhere and becomes another verbal link to the present passage. Note well the following:
(Daniel 7:25-26) - “And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.
(Daniel 12:6-8) - “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?...it will be for a time, times and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things will be finished.”
(Daniel 8:19-26) - “Behold, I will make you know what will be in the latter time of the indignation; for it belongs to the appointed time of the end…And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance…he also will stand up against the prince of princes but will be broken without handbut shut up the vision; for it belongs to many days to come.”
On the wings of abomination he comes desolating.” The Hebrew noun rendered “abomination” refers not to acts but to ritually unclean objects (e.g., idols, heathen altars, foreign sacrifices). “Wings” may refer to how a pagan altar or another unclean object helped to implement the “abominating desolation.
Even until the end, and that a determined one, which will pour down upon the desolater.” This malevolent “leader” who desolates the Sanctuary will be desolated as “determined,” presumably, by God. The term figures twice in the passage: “desolations are determined…until the end, a determined one.”
Determined” occurs in a similar context in Chapter 11: “The king will do according to his will…he will prosper until the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined (harats) will be done” (Daniel 11:36).
These verbal links are important; they establish that the same events are in view in the visions of chapters 7, 8, 9 and 11, including the desecration of the Sanctuary and the “abomination that desolates.”

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