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I struggle when I see learned theologians affirming the Messiah or a Messiah is the one making a covenant in verse 27. It seems it is just the eagerness to debunk a key factor for those who embrace dispensationalism.

Daniel 9:26-27

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” ESV

By basic grammar rules, the antecedent of the pronoun He is the prince of the people.

The CEV and the NLT already translate in order to make the antecedent understood. Many people mock these versions, but these are translated by scholars, they may chop the beauty and literality, but regarding grammar those are very useful.

26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. 27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” NLT

At the end of the 62 weeks, the Chosen Leader will be killed and left with nothing.A foreign ruler and his army will sweep down like a mighty flood, leaving both the city and the temple in ruins, and war and destruction will continue until the end, just as God has decided. 27 For one week this foreigner will make a firm agreement with many people, and halfway through this week, he will end all sacrifices and offerings. Then the “Horrible Thing” that causes destruction will be put there. And it will stay there until the time God has decided to destroy this one who destroys CEV

In Hebrew neither Ruler, People or Messiah have any definite article, the three of them are in masculine and singular grammatically. Keeping in mind that the Messiah already is dead in verse 26, the only possible option is the Ruler or the Ruler with the people.

Are there any possible sound hermeneutics by which the ( or a) Messiah is the one making the covenant in Dan 9:27?

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  • This subject has a HUGE literature. This question will not resolve the thousands of books written on this subject.
    – Dottard
    Dec 21, 2023 at 21:05
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    Welcome to the group, Agustinian23. This site welcomes various perspectives as long as they deal with the text seriously. Your headline tends to denigrate those who differ from you theologically. Your final question represents a more appropriate way of asking. Can you edit the main question please? Dec 21, 2023 at 22:08
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    One way to read “χρίσμα /χριστου” is as the required oiling (Exodus 30:22-33) and so it just points to the place or a contraption before the clean room “το αγιον” (with the ark of knowledge “κιβωτὸν τοῦ μαρτυρίου” ). The reason why it has the same root as messiah is because messiah is said to have access to the ark of knowledge as the first priest who must oil himself and wear gold ephod and so look super shiny - in Ancient Greek that is “Χριστός”.
    – grammaplow
    Dec 22, 2023 at 0:32
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    @ Augustinian23 - Eagerness to debunk? This is offensive. Most commentators have a pure motive to interpret the Holy Bible as faithfully as possible. Even though they may come to differing conclusions. They are eager to be good scholars. I would recommend reading more commentaries to better understand this awesome book! Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Dec 22, 2023 at 22:08
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    As per 1st comment, this subject does indeed have a HUGE literature. I, myself, have been obsessed with this highly prominent and exacting prophecy, commencing with the 24th verse of Ch. 9. From my studies, the antecedent of the "he" is the subject of the 1st sentence of v. 26, i.e. the Messiah (the initial Prince/Leader). The "conjunction" involving the second mention of a "prince/leader" (the one who makes desolate), i.e. Titus, is merely of secondary consideration. It is, after all, "he", the *Messiah**(Jesus), who *will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering. Jan 21 at 13:13

4 Answers 4

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There are large books written on this subject and this will not resolve the matters. So, here is my briefest way to understand the complex literary matters involved.

Daniel was a literary genius and write with great precision. The prophecy of the 70 weeks is one of the great literary masterpieces of such literary density, I am sure that human wisdom will never plumb its full depths.

A simplified literary structure of Dan 9:24-27 looks something like this:

70 weeks are determined for

A: Your people [2 word phrase]

  • B: Your Holy City [3 word phrase]

A: Finish the-transgression, end sin, expiate iniquity [2 word phrases]

  • B: Introduce eternal righteousness, seal vision & prophecy, anoint most holy [3 word phrases]

A: From the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem till Messiah – 7 weeks + 62 weeks

  • B: Rebuilt in times of trouble

A: After 62 weeks Messiah cut off and will have nothing

  • B: People of prince destroy city & sanctuary, end like a flood, war & desolations

A: He confirms covenant with many for 1 week, cut off mid-week & stops sacrifice & offering

  • B: On the wing will come abomination that makes desolate until the end

I have produced a rather literal rendering of the passage to demonstrate the Hebrew literary structures. Here is a more detailed Literary Structure of Daniel 9:24 - 27

A: 70 sevens (weeks) are “cut off” on your people [2 word phrase];

  • B: & your holy city [3 word phrase]

A: to: finish transgression, seal sin, expiate wickedness [2 word phrases]

  • B: introduce everlasting righteousness, seal vision & prophet, anoint holy sanctuary [3 word phrases]

A1: Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes,

A2: there will be seven sevens (weeks) and 62 sevens (weeks)

  • B1: It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench,
  • B2: but in times of trouble.

A2: After the sixty-two sevens (weeks),

A1: the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.

  • B1: The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
  • B2: The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

A1: He will confirm a covenant with many

A2: for one seven (week)

A2: In the middle of the seven (week)

A1: he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.

  • B2: And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation,
  • B1: until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

The prophecy of Dan 9:24-27 is clearly a dual prophecy about two related but distinct matters: “Your people” (the Messiah especially), and, “Your Holy City”, Jerusalem. The two prophecies are combined into an ingenious literary unit which complement each other but are always held in apposition. More commentators have come to grief on this issue than any other by ascribing aspects of one to the other.

The key to understanding is found in the first verse of the passage: “your people” is two words, and, “your holy city” is three words in the Hebrew. The destiny of these two entities is described by a list of six things, the first three of which use two-word phrases and refer to “your people”, and the last three use three-word phrases and refer to “your holy city”. See above. The remainder of this dual prophecy follows this distinction.

Thus, the prophecy appears to be a battle between two rulers - Messiah the ruler/prince, and the ruler/prince to come who destroys the city (ie, Jerusalem).

Lastly, it is Messiah the prince who confirms or strengthens [V27: גָּבַר ] a covenant. That is, He does not create the covenant but confirms or strengthens the existing covenant - presumably that declared in Ex 19-23.

It is the other prince whose people destroy the city and sanctuary (ie, Roman soldiers) that causes the "abomination of desolation."

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  • Thanks for answering Dec 21, 2023 at 22:50
  • Ok, while I think this warrants an upvote (now duly given), I think your reference to Ex 19-23 is mistakenly referenced, perhaps you meant a different verse. Also, the "Mosaic Covenant" promised punishment on the Jewish state, not the person (Titus) doing the desolating, despite what the NASB's take on Dan, 9:27 would have everyone believe. Jan 21 at 13:53
  • @OldeEnglish - the reference to Exodus ch 19 - ch23 is correct. The Israelite covenant is stated and confirmed in Ex 19 to 23. I also agree that the Israelite covenant promised punishment on Israel - Titus was God's instrument to deliver that punishment. However, Rome ultimately came to an end.
    – Dottard
    Jan 21 at 20:10
  • Whoops! My mistake, I was thinking you were referencing one verse, but I see now you were referencing Ex, Chapters 19 thru 23. Rome did ultimately come to an end but I still think the NASB translation of the Hebrew in Dan, 9:27 is in error (in two places, not just one), and there are many theologians who think the same. From your answer I can see that you agree about the first error (confirming covenant, NOT making). Jan 21 at 21:36
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Anointed One Yes, Augustinian 23, there is a book forthcoming that deals scholarly with the Prophecies of Daniel: You'll Never Guess What I Just Saw, by Ray Grant. And the main purpose was not a negative one (to debunk), but to present the awesome prophecy, with its historic fulfilment, as a great Apologetic for the supernatural character of the Bible! And to help in interpreting hermeneutically see the writings of John Calvin, E.B. Pusey, Mathew Henry, Philip Mauro, Patrick Fairbairn, James Farquharson, Ralph Woodrow, Charles Boutflower. I also refer you to the Septuagint version of Daniel 9, which the Apostles were familiar with: One week will establish the Covenant with many.

In the course of interpreting according to the rules of hermeneutics, great emphasis is placed on the word, Anointed One. And it is firmly noted that the word is not, "anti-anointed." That is, the subject is NOT antichrist! But Christ! And this is the grand mistake that Darbyist make when moving on down to the "week" of covenant-confirming, and wars.

Many scholars would conclude that the antecedent of "he" is "the Anointed One." And they note that it is not the Ruler (Prince) who destroys in verse 26, but the "people" of the Ruler. Anyone studying the Fall of Jerusalem, will note that more than the Romans, it was the tyranny of the Jewish people (Zealots) that caused the city to self-destruct! Thus the Roman general Titus, upon seeing the carnage done by the Jews themselves, pleaded to God that he was not the one guilty of the massacre! (Josephus, Wars of the Jews). [For research on the Messiah being considered a "ruler" consider Isaiah 9:6, where "the government is on His shoulders." And also, Matthew 2:2, Luke 23:38, "King of the Jews."]

The translations listed in the Question take too much liberty with the text! "The people of the ruler (prince)" is changed to "armies." This is unacceptable hermeneutically. The "people" of the Ruler to come, (the Anointed One) is more likely the Jews (barbarous Zealots), who were the "people of the Ruler," as noted by Josephus and Titus.

Covenant Also note that "He" makes (confirms, Heb.) a covenant. Whereas the Darbyists teach a "breaking of the Covenant" by an alleged "antichrist." Just the opposite of what the angel told Daniel! [There is no breaking, and no anti-] Yes, "making a covenant" is sound hermeneutics. It was "in the midst" (middle) of the week, that is 3 1/2 years that Jesus did put an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system, and as Jeremiah prophesied, a New Covenant was established.

The Hebrew word for "confirm a covenant" (vs 27) gives the idea of "strengthening" that is, "establishing" a covenant. And notice that this is for "the many", the exact words Jesus used at the Las Supper! This is the blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for Many. (Mark 14:24) [To discern whether the Messiah is merely giving strength to the old Mosaic covenant, or confirming a New Covenant, read Hebrews 8:13, By calling this covenant "new", He has made the first one obsolete.]

Amillennialist, Basilaist (kingdom of God), do not jettison the Principles of Hermeneutics, but are amazed at how a correct use of them leads us to the foot of the Cross!

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  • While the Jews (Barbarous Zealots) were indeed guilty of gross misconduct, within the city of Jerusalem itself, made abundantly clear by Josephus' "Wars of the Jews", the people of the "ruler to come" IMHO, were indeed the Roman "armies" headed up by the Roman general Titus, who should NOT be confused with the actual "Anointed One", i.e. Jesus, the "Messiah", in v. 25. There are two distinct "rulers/leaders" in this highly important prophecy and only one can be considered anointed. Josephus does indeed point out that Titus had initial misgivings towards destroying Jerusalem...tbc... Feb 24 at 16:44
  • ... but he, and particularly his "armies", in the end, more than contributed to the massacre of the city's inhabitants, the Jews own self-destruction notwithstanding. Feb 24 at 16:48
  • As to the covenant that was to be confirmed with the many for one week (70th Week), which was to end at the "cross" IMO (see my comments to the OP): this could be in reference to the "Mosaic" covenant, which ended at the "cross", which then heralded the "New" covenant, or, it could even have been with regard to the "Abrahamic" covenant, to be superseded by the "New" covenant. Feb 24 at 17:23
  • @ Olde English - Thanks for the input! The "end result" is awesome (New Covenant for Many), whichever way it was accomplished. The reason I leaned toward Jesus (the Anointed one) coming as the Ruler to destroy the Temple is because in the Old Testament, God is pictured, by the prophets, as leading armies and coming in Judgment against Israel. So Daniel's statement would not be out of the question. Jesus even warned the Chief Priests that He was "coming" (in judgment?) to them in their lifetime (Matthew 26:64). Either way, history proved Daniel's vision correct, with a new dimension beginning
    – ray grant
    Feb 24 at 21:54
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It is not sound to think 9:27 is about a shavua that is 2000 years into the future.

This is clearly tied to the Jubilee and forgiveness of debts, hence 490 lunar solar years.

Genesis 14 defines how to reckon a year, it is based on the Sun, Moon, and stars. This is how days, months, years, and moedim are reckoned.

Therefore, it "360 day "prophetic" years" cannot be inserted as some try to do. Jewish calendars have no such years. Not one piece of scripture to validate a 360 day year.

If you throw 1 shavua 2000 years into the future, you no longer have a prophecy that is 490 lunar solar years.

Also in verse 26, it clearly tells us AFTER 69 weeks are completed, that Messiah is cut off. So that means the 69 weeks are PASSED before he is slain, putting him outside the first 69 weeks.

Now we are only left with the last week (shavua) for him to be slain in.

If you think His death on the cross fulfills anything in verse 24, then He cannot die within a "2000 gap" because nothing in the gap can be part of the fulfillment.

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  • What you have said here, I believe to be a correct understanding, but It doesn't really answer the question regarding the two "he's" in verse 27. Do you believe that the antecedent of the pronouns was the subject of the 1st sentence of verse 26, i.e. the Messiah (the initial Prince/Leader), or not?? You also need to speak to the covenant also. Was he making or confirming? Feb 21 at 6:04
  • The thematic prominence of the verses dictates the "he" in daniel 9:27 is the messiah. There is only two entities being referred to, the Jewish people and the messiah. If you look at Young's Literal Translation, it looks pretty clear. Mar 2 at 7:10
  • BTW Olde English, I appreciate reading what you and Ray Grant wrote in another comment. I debated futurists/dispensationalists Daniel 9 on youtube debate shows, and there are some great points you both brought up in earlier comments that I will probably use in the future. Mar 2 at 7:35
  • Sorry, but I am not at all an advocate of "Young's LT". I have found that in their (the translators) efforts towards clarity, they take too many liberties and often get it wrong. Dan, 9:27, being a case in point. For instance, they throw a third "he" in there, which twists the narrative. Then... is poured on the desolate one... is often (in other translations) interpreted as ... the one lying desolate, or, poured upon the desolate (poured on the desolate, NOT the desolator. The MOSAIC COVENANT, promised punishment on the Jewish state, not the person doing the desolating). Mar 2 at 8:55
  • I just tried to delete from... Then...*is poured on the desolate one* but I was timed out. That part "Young's LT" got right, except for the word one. Mar 2 at 9:07
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Most Christian interpreters see the leader of Dan. 9 as evil, because

He shall destroy the city and the sanctuary...he shall abolish sacrifice and offering; In their place shall be the desolating abomination.

To interpret this as being Jesus (the Messiah) one would need to understand destroying the the city and the sanctuary as things that Jesus did. This might be plausible if one understands the Messiah to be a savior for Christians and a destroyer for Jews. And both of these things actually did happen a few decades after Jesus' death. In that case Jesus would also be the "anointed one who was cut down" in vs. 25. Abolishing sacrifices also fits with this scenario. The "covenant" he makes is not with the people of Israel; it is with the New Israel - Christians.

The primary sticking point here would be thinking that Jesus would see to it that "in their place shall be the desolating abomination." Another problem is that the Jerusalem Church, as described in the Book of Acts, participated in the Temple sacrifices. So when Jesus supposedly destroyed the Temple, he also destroyed the very place that the earliest Christians worshipped. Nevertheless, many people do believe this leader was Jesus. In my opinion the problem is not with their hermeneutics but with their historiography.

Daniel and the Maccabean Revolt

On the other hand, the matter is quite clear if one holds to a later date for Daniel. This hypothesis says that it was written in the mid second-century b.c.e. in support of the Maccabean Revolt. The history of that period involved a Greek ruler, Antiochus Ehiphanes IV, who in fact conquered Jerusalem at the time. (This is the story of Hanukkah.) He was supported by the Hellenized Jews, which the text refers to as his agreement or covenant with a large faction of the people.

Messiah or High Priest?

Another issue in this question is the term "anointed one." This can refer to either a king or a priest. Christians usually think of it as referring to Christ, but those who accept a late date for Daniel interpret that passage as pointing to the high priest Onias III, who was murdered in 171 B.C. in the runup to the Revolt. Thus the one who makes the covenant with people in this chapter is not the anointed one. It was Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the Greek ruler who conquered Jerusalem. He did indeed make some kind of agreement or covenant with the Hellenized Jews of the time but was soon overthrown by the more religious Jews centering on Judah Maccabee.

Conclusion: Although most of those who hold to both an early date and a late for Daniel reject the idea that the leader in chapter ch. 9 could be the Messiah, it is indeed possible to see it that way using sound hermeneutical principles. However, if a late date is presumed, it is certain that the leader was Antiochus IV and the "anointed one" was the high priest Onias III.

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  • You satated: "In my opinion the problem is not with their hermeneutics but with their historiography." "Daniel reject the idea that the leader in chapter ch. 9 could be the Messiah, it is indeed possible to see it that way using sound hermeneutical principles" My question: what about grammar? Dec 22, 2023 at 4:45
  • @Augustinian23 - My comments under your own answer speak to everything, including the grammar. If you do check out my Q and A, you will see that Dan gives an answer there also, I just don't happen to believe in his position/takes. Jan 21 at 13:31
  • @Augustinian23... I do not mean to imply that their hermeneutics are perfect, only that, given their understanding of Jesus' mission to end Temple sacrifice and make the Old Covenant obsolete, their interpretation is plausible. I disagree with this interpretation. My expertise on Hebrew grammar is not up to the task you mention unless you spell it our more definitely. Jan 21 at 15:40
  • "Anointed one" here cannot refer to Jesus, unless you think Daniel, and his Jewish audience, would have somehow known or be expected to know about Jesus. There is no doubt that Jesus can be found in various places in the OT, but this isn't one of them.
    – moron
    Feb 24 at 9:20

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