Why do so many of the Bible versions translate Daniel 9:26 as "the Messiah" or "Messiah" when instead the more literal translation seems to be "a messiah"?

King James Bible

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

New American Standard Bible

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.

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    There is no article in the original Hebrew Therefore 'Messiah' is correct and 'the Messiah' is wrong. Trying to add the English 'a', the so-called 'indefinite article', is (in my view) always a mistake conceptually. Hebrew has no such thing and nor does Greek and that ought to be a lesson to those of us to whom English is our first language. Hebrew and Greek both have the article. It is neither 'definite' nor 'indefinite''. It is locative being associated with the demonstrative pronoun (this, that, these, those).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 21:10
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    The grammatical rules covering the use of definite and indefinite articles in English are very different from Greek and Hebrew. The latter two languages do not have an indefinite article. Further, the lack of a definite article do NOT imply the indefinite article.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 21:24
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    We capitalize it because it is a title : such as King, Earl, President, Prime Minister, Mayor, Apostle, Minister etc etc.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 21:52
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    On the subject of both titles and articles, see Peter Masters in regard to 'I am King' being a stronger statement than either 'I am a King' (very weak) or 'I am the King'. Acquisition of the zero and null articles in English. It can be argued that 'Messiah etc etc' is a stronger statement than 'the Messiah etc etc'. (Question up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 21:56
  • 1
    @NigelJ Thank You. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


Messiah The grammatical reasons are established. But beyond those, the translators are taking into consideration the historical fulfilments of the chapter 9 prophesies. "The Anointed One" (NIV) was seen to be the Jewish Messiah who arrived in the first century because this fit the "Time period" of the Seventy Weeks mentioned in this chapter. Hence the "capital M."

This Anointed One, (Messiah) was cut off after 3 and 1/2 years (crucified) just as chapter 9 declared. (Matthew 27:32-44). And just before the crucifixion, this Anointed One (Messiah) made a Covenant with the Many. (Daniel 9:27, Mark 14:24) So the translators felt justified in applying these Daniel prophecies to Jesus, the Messiah, and therefore, in using a capital "M."

Addendum The Book of John gave two revealing incidents of directly addressing this issue of articles preceding the noun, Messiah, in grammar construction.

1. Andrew and Simon Conversation After John the Baptist revealed Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew went to his brother, Simon Peter, and reported: We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ! (John 1:41)

In front of Messiah, Andrew placed the article, the; and also in front of Christ he placed another. [tou messian and 'o christos = the Messiah and the Christ] A strong emphasis of identity: The One, that is, the Messiah!

2. Woman at the Well and Christ In this conversation, the woman just used the titles without any article: I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ; when He comes He will tell us all things. Jesus responded, I who speaks to you, am (he). (John 4:25-6)

[messias and christos = Messiah and Christ] Here again, even without an article, emphasis must be deduced. Jesus isn't "a messiah" (one of many, although there are many false messiahs). He is Messiah!

In neither instance was the simple indefinite, "a" used. Rather, all the people were expecting a definite person, Redeemer, Covenant confirmer, just as Daniel prophesied.

  • Thank You. I understand now. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 0:30

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