Foretelling of Jesus being cut off childless after 70 weeks (Daniel 9:26)

Daniel 9:26, "And after threescore and two weeks shall an anointed man be cut off, and shall have nothing, and a noble people cometh that shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and its end shall be in a flood, and until the end war is ordained to devastate." It is asserted by Christians that this verse reveals the fate of Jesus, who is to be cut off childless.

Refutation – In order to see how untenable is the position of the interpreters who rest their faith on such grounds, we must follow again the only just rule that can be adopted, and explain the verse from its context. We find in the same chapter (verse 24), "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, to make an end of sins, and to make a reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring to everlasting righteousness, and to seal up visions and prophets, and to anoint the Holy of Holies." The seventy weeks are evidently a given period of time elapsing from the destruction of the first to the destruction of the second temple. See Jeremiah 29:10, "For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place." And Lamentations 4:22, "The punishment of thine iniquity is completed, O daughter of Zion, He will not again lead thee into captivity." According to the vision of Daniel mentioned in chapter 7 of his book (the seventh and following verses), he saw that the fourth animal (including Rome) would persecute Israel for a great length of time; and he meditated on the visions which were not clear to him, because he had not received a special revelation concerning the latter captivity of the Jews. Hence he says, at the conclusion of the seventh chapter, verse 28, "As for me, Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me, but I kept the matter in my heart." The same prophet had similar doubts regarding his visions when he heard the announcement (spoken of in chapter 8) of the cessation of the continual sacrifice, and of the destruction of the sanctuary, and of the overthrow of the people (see chapter 8:13-26). He then thought that the predicted length of Israel’s captivity related to that state into which his people then were precipitated; he therefore was told, "Conceal this vision, for it shall be for many days." This communication the prophet found at variance with the one made to Jeremiah, that the captivity would last for seventy years only. We have to explain on this occasion the meaning of "the evening and the morning," mentioned in the original Hebrew of chapter 8:14.* This expression is illustrated in Zechariah 14:7, "And in the eventide there shall be light." The prophet Daniel perceived in this that the darkness of Israel’s troubles would be dispelled by the light of Salvation. See, in addition to this Jeremiah 30:7, "And it is a time of trouble for Jacob, and he shall be saved from it." The reverse state of destruction is depicted by gloom and darkness. See Amos 8:9, "And I shall darken the earth on a day of light."

Chapter 8 verses 13, 14 of Daniel, amply show that the prophet labored originally under the opinion that the intended protraction of the captivity was owing to the iniquity of the people, and that they would pine in the state of banishment for two thousand three hundred days (signifying years); therefore he prayed to God to remove His wrath and anger. Neither did the angel of the Lord acquaint him of the actual termination of the last captivity. Daniel was only given to understand, that the cessation of prophecy would extend to the whole length of time necessary for the expiation of the sins of his people, for then would be fulfilled the prediction mentioned at the close of Lamentations 4:22, "Thy iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is ended; He shall no more cause thee to be led into captivity." Regarding the last exile of Israel, the prophet Ezekiel has recorded similar expressions in his book (chapter 22:15, "And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee." The complete restoration, which we expect during the latter days, will be crowned with "everlasting righteousness" (see Daniel 9:24). This is confirmed by the agreement of many prophecies. See Isaiah 51:6, "And my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." Jeremiah 23:5, "And I will raise up unto David a righteous scion, and a king shall reign and prosper, and he shall do justice and righteousness in the earth," Isaiah 11:4, 5, "And he shall judge the poor with righteousness, and righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins." And at that time all Israel will be designated by the term righteous. See Isaiah 60:21, "And thy people will altogether be righteous." Again, ibid, chapter 61:3, "And men shall call them oaks of righteousness." The Psalmist likewise affords a testimony, since we find in Psalm 72:7, "In his days the righteous man shall flourish, Jerusalem will then be called, the abode of righteousness, the holy mount." We shall then say, in the words of Jeremiah (chapter 23:6), "The Lord our righteousness." The Messiah himself, according to the same prophet (chapter 23:6), will assume the title, "The Lord our righteousness," as we have already shown in the Chapter 19 of this work.

The words of Daniel (chapter 9:24) may be taken in the following sense: -- "And vision [prophecy] shall be sealed up," that is to say, it will be finally determined and confirmed, for we find a repetition of the same words with the same signification in Job 33:16, "And he sealed up the chastisement." It cannot, therefore, be pretended that prophecy will then discontinue altogether, for we read in Joel 3:1, "And it will come to pass afterwards that I shall pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy." The epoch of the restoration will thus completely restore the forfeited boon of Prophecy.

We return now to the explanation of the conclusion of verse 24, in Daniel 9. "And to anoint the Holy of Holies," which means that at the restoration of Israel, the Holy of Holies, or the Temple, will receive its new consecration after having lain desolate during the whole period of the captivity. An extensive description of that solemnity is to be found in the prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 43.

The seventy weeks spoken of in Daniel 9, are enigmatic terms, conveying the various epochs of Israel’s fate during their second occupation of the Holy Land and their subsequent exile. The first epoch, designated in chapter 9, verse 25, expressed by seven weeks, is evidently in allusion to Cyrus; for it is said there, "Know and understand that from the giving forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the anointed prince there shall be seven weeks." Now, we know well from the prophecy in Isaiah 45:1, that Cyrus was called the anointed king, for we find there, "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed king" (to Cyrus), etc.; and in the same chapter the Lord announces, "he shall build my city and send back my captives." The termination of sixty-two weeks is remarkable for the cessation "of an anointed king," that is to say, Israel is according to that prophecy to be bereft of his last ruler. "And there is none for him, there is no anointed ruler for the people of Israel." The cessation of a ruler over Israel is simultaneous with the fall of the Temple, and, consequently, alluded to the conquest by Titus, when Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and was deprived of its Temple, its ruler, and its country. If the Christians take an impartial view of this chapter of Daniel, they cannot possibly imagine that it alludes to Jesus, who suffered on the cross nearly half a century before the exile of Israel.

The contradictory remarks made by Christian expositors on this chapter, afford ample proof of the scanty notions they have of its real signification. Scientific readers who are anxious to obtain a view of all the contradictions which beset the path of the Christian expounders of Daniel, will find an interesting account given in Abarbanel’s commentary on the book of Daniel, which bears the title Mangne Hayeschungah (the Fountains of Salvation).

With this chapter, we shall conclude the elucidation of Scriptural passages cited by Christians in support of their faith.

* It is singularly remarkable that these words, upon which the prophet laid peculiar stress (see ibid., verse 26), are omitted in the English version.

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