on Daniel 9 :25
From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem - The foregoing events being all accomplished by Jesus Christ, they of course determine the prophecy to him. And if we reckon back four hundred and ninety years, we shall find the time of the going forth of this command.
Most learned men agree that the death of Christ happened at the passover in the month Nisan, in the four thousand seven hundred and forty-sixth year of the Julian period. Four hundred and ninety years, reckoned back from the above year, leads us directly to the month Nisan in the four thousand two hundred and fifty-sixth year of the same period; the very month and year in which Ezra had his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, (see Ezra 7:9), to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. See the commission in Ezra 7:11-26 (note), and Prideaux's Connexions, vol. 2 p.
The above seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, are divided, in Ezra 7:25, into three distinct periods, to each of which particular events are assigned. The three periods are: -
I. Seven weeks, that is, forty-nine years.
II.-Sixty-two weeks, that is, four hundred and thirty-four years.
III. One week, that is, seven years.
To the first period of seven weeks the restoration and repairing of Jerusalem are referred; and so long were Ezra and Nehemiah employed in restoring the sacred constitutions and civil establishments of the Jews, for this work lasted forty-nine years after the commission was given by Artaxerxes.
From the above seven weeks the second period of sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years more, commences, at the end of which the prophecy says, Messiah the Prince should come, that is, seven weeks, or forty-nine years, should be allowed for the restoration of the Jewish state; from which time till the public entrance of the Messiah on the work of the ministry should be sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years, in all four hundred and eighty-three years.
From the coming of our Lord, the third period is to be dated, viz., "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week," that is seven years, Daniel 9:27.
This confirmation of the covenant must take in the ministry of John the Baptist with that of our Lord, comprehending the term of seven years, during the whole of which he might be well said to confirm or ratify the new covenant with mankind. Our Lord says, "The law was until John;" but from his first public preaching the kingdom of God, or Gospel dispensation, commenced.
These seven years, added to the four hundred and eighty-three, complete the four hundred and ninety years, or seventy prophetic weeks; so that the whole of this prophecy, from the times and corresponding events, has been fulfilled to the very letter.
Some imagine that the half of the last seven years is to be referred to the total destruction of the Jews by Titus, when the daily sacrifice for ever ceased to be offered; and that the intermediate space of thirty-seven years, from our Lord's death till the destruction of the city, is passed over as being of no account in relation to the prophecy, and that it was on this account that the last seven years are divided. But Dean Prideaux thinks that the whole refers to our Lord's preaching connected with that of the Baptist. וחצי vachatsi, says he, signifies in the half part of the week; that is, in the latter three years and a half in which he exercised himself in the public ministry, he caused, by the sacrifice of himself, all other sacrifices and oblations to cease, which were instituted to signify his.
In the latter parts of Daniel 9:26 and Daniel 9:27 we find the Third Part of this great prophecy, which refers to what should be done after the completion of these seventy weeks.
on Daniel 9 :25
Know, therefore, and understand - Hengstenberg renders this, "and thou wilt know and understand;" and supposes that the design of Gabriel is to awaken the attention and interest of Daniel by the assurance that, if he would give attention, he would understand the subject by the explanation which he was about to give. So also Theodotion renders it in the future tense. The Hebrew is in the future tense, and would probably convey the idea that he might, or would know and understand the matter. So Lengerke renders it, "Und so mogest du wissen," etc. The object is doubtless to call the attention of Daniel to the subject, with the assurance that he might comprehend the great points of the communication which he was about to make respecting the seventy weeks. In the previous verse, the statement was a general one; in this, the angel states the time when the period of the seventy weeks was to commence, and then that the whole period was to be broken up or divided into three smaller portions or epochs, each evidently marking some important event, or constituting an important era. The first period of seven weeks was evidently to be characterized by something in which it would be different from what would follow, or it would reach to some important epoch, and then would follow a continuous period of sixty-two weeks, after which, during the remaining one week, to complete the whole number of seventy, the Messiah would come and would be cut off, and the series of desolations would commence which would result in the entire destruction of the city.
That from the going forth of the commandment - Hebrew, "of the word" - דבר dâbâr. It is used, however, as in Daniel 9:23, in the sense of commandment or order. The expression "gone forth" (מצא môtsâ') would properly apply to the "issuing" of an order or decree. So in Daniel 9:23 - דבר יצא yâtsâ' dâbâr - "the commandment went forth." The word properly means a going forth, and is applied to the rising sun, that goes forth from the east, Psalm 19:6 (7); then a "place" of going forth, as a gate, a fountain of waters, the east, etc., Ezekiel 42:11; Isaiah 41:18; Psalm 75:6 (7). The word here has undoubted reference to the promulgation of a decree or command, but there is nothing in the words to determine "by whom" the command was to be issued. So far as the "language" is concerned, it would apply equally well to a command issued by God, or by the Persian king, and nothing but the circumstances can determine which is referred to. Hengstenberg supposes that it is the former, and that the reference is to the Divine purpose, or the command issued from the "heavenly council" to rebuild Jerusalem. But the more natural and obvious meaning is, to understand it of the command' actually issued by the Persian monarch to restore and build the city of Jerusalem. This has been the interpretation given by the great body of expositors, and the reasons for it seem to be perfectly clear:
(a) This would be the interpretation affixed to it naturally, if there were no theory to support, or if it did not open a chronological difficulty not easy to settle.
(b) This is the only interpretation which can give anything like definiteness to the passage. Its purpose is to designate some fixed and certain period from which a reckoning could be made as to the time when the Messiah would come. But, so far as appears, there was no such definite and marked command on the part of God; no period which can be fixed upon when he gave commandment to restore and build Jerusalem; no exact and settled point from which one could reckon as to the period when the Messiah would come. It seems to me, therefore, to be clear, that the allusion is to some order to rebuild the city, and as this order could come only from one who had at that time jurisdiction over Jerusalem, and Judea, and who could command the resources necessary to rebuild the ruined city, that order must be one that would emanate from the reigning power; that is, in fact, the Persian power - for that was the power that had jurisdiction at the close of the seventy years' exile. But, as there were several orders or commands in regard to the restoration of the city and the temple, and as there has been much difficulty in ascertaining the exact chronology of the events of that remote period, it has not been easy to determine the precise order referred to, or to relieve the whole subject from perplexity and difficulty. Lengerke supposes that the reference here is the same as in Daniel 9:2, to the promise made to Jeremiah, and that this is the true point from which the reckoning is to be made. The exact edict referred to will be more properly considered at the close of the verse. All that is necessarily implied here is, that the time from which the reckoning is to be commenced is some command or order issued to restore and build Jerusalem.
To restore - Margin, "build again." The Hebrew is, properly, "to cause to return" - להשׁיב lehâshı̂yb. The word might be applied to the return of the captives to their own land, but it is evidently used here with reference to the city of Jerusalem, and the meaning must be, "to restore it to its former condition." It was evidently the purpose to cause it to return, as it were, to its former spendour; to reinstate it in its former condition as a holy city - the city where the worship of God would be celebrated, and it is this purpose which is referred to here. The word, in Hiphil, is used in this sense of restoring to a former state, or to renew, in the following places: Psalm 80:3, "Turn us again - השׁיבנוּ hăshı̂ybēnû - and cause thy face to shine." So Psalm 80:7, Psalm 80:19. Isaiah 1:26, "And I will "restore" thy judges as at the first," etc. The meaning here would be met by the supposition that Jerusalem was to be put into its former condition.
And to build Jerusalem - It was then in ruins. The command, which is referred to here, must be one to build it up again - its houses, temple, walls; and the fair sense is, that some such order would be issued, and the reckoning of the seventy weeks must "begin" at the issuing of this command. The proper interpretation of the prophecy demands that "that" time shall be assumed in endeavoring to ascertain when the seventy weeks would terminate. In doing this, it is evidently required in all fairness that we should not take the time when the Messiah "did" appear - or the birth of the Lord Jesus, assuming that to be the "terminus ad quem" - the point to which the seventy weeks were to extend - and then reckon "backward" for a space of four hundred and ninety years, to see whether we cannot find some event which by a possible construction would bear to be applied as the "terminus a quo," the point from which we are to begin to reckon; but we are to ascertain when, in fact, the order was given to rebuild Jerusalem, and to make "that" the "terminus a quo" - the starting point in the reckoning. The consideration of the fulfillment of this may with propriety be reserved to the close of the verse.
Unto the Messiah - The word Messiah occurs but four times in the common version of the Scriptures: Daniel 9:25-26 : John 1:41; John 4:25. It is synonymous in meaning with the word "Christ," the Anointed. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Messiah is the Hebrew word; Christ the Greek. The Hebrew word (משׁיח mâshı̂yach) occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and, with the exception of these two places in Daniel, it is uniformly translated "anointed," and is applied to priests, to prophets, and to kings, as being originally set apart to their offices by solemn acts of anointing. So far as the "language" is concerned here, it might be applied to anyone who sustained these offices, and the proper application is to be determined from the connection. Our translators have introduced the article - "unto the Messiah." This is wanting in the Hebrew, and should not have been introduced, as it gives a definiteness to the prophecy which the original language does not necessarily demand.
Our translators undoubtedly understood it as referring to him who is known as the Messiah, but this is not necessarily implied in the original. All that the language fairly conveys is, "until an anointed one." Who "that" was to be is to be determined from other circumstances than the mere use of the language, and in the interpretation of the language it should not be assumed that the reference is to any particular individual. That some eminent personage is designated; some one who by way of eminence would be properly regarded as anointed of God; some one who would act so important a part as to characterize the age, or determine the epoch in which he should live; some one so prominent that he could be referred to as "anointed," with no more definite appellation; some one who would be understood to be referred to by the mere use of this language, may be fairly concluded from the expression used - for the angel clearly meant to imply this, and to direct the mind forward to some one who would have such a prominence in the history of the world.
The object now is merely to ascertain the meaning of the "language." All that is fairly implied is, that it refers to some one who would have such a prominence as anointed, or set apart to the office of prophet, priest, or king, that it could be understood that he was referred to by the use of this language. The reference is not to the anointed one, as of one who was already known or looked forward to as such - for then the article would have been used; but to some one who, when he appeared, would have such marked characteristics that there would be no difficulty in determining that he was the one intended. Hengstenberg well remarks, "We must, therefore, translate "an anointed one, a prince," and assume that the prophet, in accordance with the uniform character of his prophecy, chose the more indefinite, instead of the more definite designation, and spoke only of AN anointed one, a prince, instead of the anointed one, the prince - κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν kat' exochēn - and left his hearers to draw a deeper knowledge respecting him, from the prevailing expectations, grounded on earlier prophecies of a future great King, from the remaining declarations of the context, and from the fulfillment, the coincidence of which with the prophecy must here be the more obvious, since an accurate date had been given." - Christol. ii. 334, 335.
The Vulgate renders this, Usque ad Christum ducem - "even to Christ the leader," or ruler. The Syriac, "to the advent of Christ the king." Theodotion, ἕως Χριστοῦ ἡγουμένου heōs Christou hēgoumenou - "Christ the leader," or ruler. The question whether this refers to Christ will be more appropriately considered at the close of the verse. The inquiry will then occur, also, whether this refers to his birth, or to his appearance as the anointed one - his taking upon himself publicly the office. The language would apply to either, though it would perhaps more properly refer to the latter - to the time when he should appear as such - or should be anointed, crowned, or set apart to the office, and be fully instituted in it. It could not be demonstrated that either of these applications would be a departure from the fair interpretation of the words, and the application must be determined by some other circumstances, if any are expressed. What those are in the case will be considered at the close of the verse.
The Prince - נגיד nāgı̂yd. This word properly means a leader, a prefect, a prince. It is a word of very general character, and might be applied to any leader or ruler. It is applied to an overseer, or, as we should say, a "secretary" of the treasury, 1 Chronicles 26:24; 2 Chronicles 31:12; an overseer of the temple, 1 Chronicles 9:11; 2 Chronicles 31:13; of the palace, 2 Chronicles 28:7; and of military affairs, 1 Chronicles 13:1; 2 Chronicles 32:21. It is also used absolutely to denote a prince of a people, any one of royal dignity, 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 13:14. - Gesenius. So far as this word, therefore, is concerned, it would apply to any prince or leader, civil or military; any one of royal dignity, or who should distinguish himself, or make himself a leader in civil, ecclesiastical, or military affairs, or who should receive an appointment to any such station. It is a word which would be as applicable to the Messiah as to any other leader, but which has nothing in itself to make it necessary to apply it to him. All that can be fairly deduced from its use here is, that it would be some prominent leader; some one that would be known without anymore definite designation; someone on whom the mind would naturally rest, and someone to whom when he appeared it would be applied without hesitation and without difficulty. There can be no doubt that a Hebrew, in the circumstances of Daniel, and with the known views and expectations of the Hebrew people, would apply such a phrase to the Messiah.
Shall be seven weeks - See the notes at Daniel 9:24. The reason for dividing the whole period into seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week, is not formally stated, and will be considered at the close of the verse. All that is necessary here in order to an explanation of the language, and of what is to be anticipated in the fulfillment, is this:
(a) That, according to the above interpretation Daniel 9:24, the period would be forty-nine years.
(b) That this was to be the "first" portion of the whole time, not time that would be properly taken out of any part of the whole period.
on Daniel 9 :25
9:25 From the going forth - From the publication of the edict, whether of Cyrus or Darius, to restore and to build it.