|DANIEL - Chapter 9 Commentary
The book of Daniel and Revelation, as you have found, have many similarities and yet are very different. The detail study of Revelation will uncover many new prophecies and understandings of the end times. This chapter 9 is one of the most powerful chapters of prophecy in the entire Bible. It should be understood there are differences in opinion to the prophecies of Daniel. It is not against Daniel's being a prophet but there are differences in the references in his prophecies.
The first couple of verses bring back history, again. Then there is a prayer of Daniel to verse 19. This is a powerful prayer of dedication to God and care for others. It is a confession of Israel's sin and then his petition to God for Israel.
For the next 4 verses there is an interface with the angel Gabriel. The rest of chapter 9 is THE very powerful prophecy of "70 weeks". Most do not understand some of the symbolism and references because of lack of knowledge of interfacing with the rest of the Bible. Most ministers, pastors, etc. are afraid to talk about these prophecies because of lack of understanding, lack of belief, or refusal to talk about end times.
In Dan. 7:14, the eternal kingdom was of God ("Ancient of Days")is brought in by the "Son of Man". From this point in Daniel and on, the book describes a delay in the arrival of God's eternal kingdom by means of the 70 weeks description. In the mean time, His people would endure severe persecution and trials even to death. In chapter 12 there is a reassurance that all suffering is temporary. All those who persevere will participate in His final victory.
It should be noted there is some concern about whether Daniel's "end of time" should be the time of the end of Antiochus Epiphanes or should refer to the "end times" as referenced in Revelation. I believe after the study of Revelation, after having studied the book of Daniel, will clear up some of the questions.
In chapter 5:31, recall that Darius "received" or "took" the kingdom of Babylon from Belshazzar. The words "received" and "took" come from the base words to mean to received or accept or acquire. This is not the normal words used for conquer. This would appear that he may not have actually conquered Babylon. Actually, he did not. Cyrus did the conquering of Babylon in 538 B.C. He then assigned Darius as viceroy (acts as a governor who rules as a representative of his king) of Babylon. Later in 536 - 535 B.C. Cyrus becamse king of Palestine which included the Babylonian empire. At that time Darius took over Babylon.
Daniel was looking at the book (scrolls) of Jeremiah. Daniel understood, from his knowledge of Jeremiah that it was about time for the desolation of Jerusalem to be finished. Some critics question the authenticity of Daniel by referring to this verse as referencing OT Bible canonized scriptures. There was no canon at the time. However, there were many scrolls and other written material that were studied by many. Many people probably had copies of various writings of the highly respected teachers and leaders. There is no justification for saying Daniel did not know what his contemporaries were doing. They were writing as Daniel was.
Daniel's discovery of the purpose of God for the Jewish people was made through the study of Jeremiah's prophecy. This was in the first year of the reign of Darius (Gubaru), the son of Ahasuerus (not the same as the Persian king of Esther 1:1) who was "made king", probably by Cyrus, in 539 B.C. (see notes for 5:31). Interestingly, Daniel did not make his next discovery by means of visions. He read the revelation already provided by God to Jeremiah. He "understood by the books the number of the years" of the Exile. This information of 70 hears of captivity followed by restoration is recorded in Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10.
The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years (605-536 B.C.) evidently because this was the number of seventh-year rests for the land the Jews failed to observe. (i.e., over a period of 490 years they failed to keep the law and let the land lie fallow every seventh year).
Every seventh year the land was to have a Sabbath, a rest. Whatever grew during that year was freely available to all alike. It was also a time of special instruction in the law of God. Therefore, Daniel is referring to God allowing them to remain in captivity for 70 years, one year for each seven years God's people did not let the land rest.
Deut. 31:10-13; 2 Chron. 36:14-21
Daniel "set my face" or "gave my attention" (yielded) to God in this start of a prayer. In this remarkable prayer of confession, Daniel associated himself with the sins of his people 32 times.
He was dressed in sackcloth. This is a body covering of coarse material made from goat or camel hair. It was worn at a ceremonial time as a sign of mourning or anguish. This time was also marked by fasting and sitting on a ash heap. The shape of the garment could have been either a loose-fitting sack placed over the shoulders or a loin cloth. The word sack is a transliteration (word-for-word) of the Hebrew words rather than a translation (words in context).
Ashes often were associated with sacrifices, mourning, and fasting. Grief, humiliation, and repentance were expressed by placing ashes on the head or by sitting in ashes. Dirt, sackcloth, fasting, the tearing of clothing, and ashes visibly demonstrated the person's emotions. At times the ashes that remained from a sacrifice were kept and used for ritual purification. They also symbolized the results of divine destruction. The use of ashes to express grief and repentance continued in the New Testament period. Their use in purification rites is contrasted with the cleansing brought by Christ's blood. Jesus even used the terms in referencing the devastating effect of God's wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah.
The bottom line is Daniel is humbling himself greatly in this prayer to God.
Isa. 58:5; Matt. 11:21; Luke 10:13; Rom. 3:8; 2 Peter 2:6
He approaches God on the basis of His loyal love in His covenant with Israel. Here is Daniel's humble, serious, devout address to God; in which he gives glory to him as a God to be feared, and as a God to be trusted to keep His covenants. This prayer goes to verse 19. It is a powerful prayer in which Daniel prays for Israel. He admits all their faults and asks for mercy. Remember that this portion of the book of Daniel is written in Hebrew and is directed at the Hebrews.
These verses are the finest example of prayer in the O.T. Daniel poured out his heart to God in confession for his sins and the sins of Israel, proclaiming God as wholly righteous in the punishment He had given.
Most of the words in these verses are clear and understandable. Just think of what you would say if you got on your knees in remorse for your sins. The term "precepts" refers to laws and commands of God. Daniel confesses his and the other Hebrew sins. God "judges" what is right for us to do and we do not do them.
Daniel says that they have not listened or harkened to the words of the prophets. They spoke to the people and especially to the leaders of empires and countries. His words and works were not heeded.
Daniel says that the Lord is righteous and we bring nothing but shame (confusion). The Hebrew: is “to thee is righteousness, to us shame, etc.”). Although the Jews were dispersed (diaspora) over the land, Daniel is praying for all: people of Judah, Jerusalem, Israel, and all other Hebrews in other places. He says that God caused or allowed the Jews to be dispersed because of their transgressions against the laws of God.
Daniel says they and all the kings, princes, and other leaders deserve all the shame that can occur to them because of their sins against the Lord. All the people; whether they are of high and low status, rich and poor, the rulers, or the ruled; have been people in guilt. All had sinned; the judgments had come upon all; therefore, it was proper that the confession should be made in the name of all.
Only God can forgive. Although we are sinners, we can be assured of forgiveness as long as we repent and ask for forgiveness. We have not listened to, obeyed, and heeded His laws given to all the Hebrews from the prophets.
Daniel acknowledges the Israelites deserved judgment. Therefore, they deserve all that is poured on them. The curse declared comes from the curses declared by God to Moses if the people did not obey God (Deut. 28:15-68). The root of the word "poured" is nathach which means to pour or rain or melt. The reference of pouring is most likely referring to punishments given to some criminals. They would have liquid metal poured on them for punishment. With the curses and punishments, one would think we would behave ourselves. Pretty horrible; isn't it?? But that is what we deserve.
God "confirmed" of fulfilled as promised the delivering upon the Hebrews "evil" and "calamity" (distress, sorrow). "For under the whole heaven" means "In all the world". The city of Jerusalem was in a state of complete desolation; its temple was in ruins; its people had been slain or borne into captivity. I believe that If it not were not for Daniel being in the middle of things in Babylon and, indirectly, representing the Jews, they would have been oppressed even more.
When all the catastrophes were occurring to the Jews, they were not following the laws as set down through Moses. The Law (first five books of the Bible) was not followed. The prophets told them all what would happen. The Jews were told to repent. With all the problems they had, the people did not bow and beg for forgiveness and turn from their evil ways. Therefore, they were all getting what God had promised.
The Lord "watched" (kept looking for repentance and instead saw iniquity and therefore saw the opportunity to "pour" the punishment) the Jews and waited patiently for repentance. He carefully watched the course of events; then He had to follow through because He HAS to keep His promises. That is His character.
Now Daniel humbly requests God for His mercy. He describes to God the people as those who God brought out of Egypt with His mighty hand. Dan states in no uncertain terms that "we have sinned, we have been wicked".
Daniel pleads with God. For all that is in in God's righteousness, please forgive us all. Take away all your anger and wrath and fury from Your holy mountain on which Jerusalem is located (one of the highest places in that area [2,500 feet (762 meters) above sea level, and 3,700 feet (1,128 meters) above the Jordan River; also Mount Zion and Mount Moriah]. The Hebrew people had become a disgrace and shame to those around them. They were not the good representatives of God's will; i.e. they have not very good "Chosen People".
Daniel interceded in earnest petition for the restoration of the nation in the land of God's promise. His supplications (prayers for himself and the others) were strong and from the heart. He asks God for proof of forgiveness by allowing the Temple to become a reality again. In the Bible the symbolism of light and dark are related to the sun shining on something (God's favor) and the dark (God's wrath). For the Lord's "sake", means for His purpose or intent.
Astonishing insight into the depravity of man and the merciful nature of God is indicated in v 18, as Daniel based his plea for restoration not upon the past or even the future righteousness of Israel, but upon God's great mercies and covenantal faithfulness. He asked for his prayer to be heard. Please look at the city which we consecrated or dedicated to you and your name. The pleas to the Lord to hear, hearken, forgive, and not put off (listen, look, and take action) taking action to do away with the punishment..
While Daniel was still praying, confessing his and Israel's sins, and presenting his requests to God, he gets a visitor. An answer was immediately sent to Daniel's prayer, and it is a very memorable one. We cannot now expect that God should send answers to our prayers by angels, but if we pray fervently for that which God has promised, we may by faith take the promise as an immediate answer to the prayer; for He is faithful that has promised. Daniel had a far greater and more glorious redemption discovered to him, which God would work out for His church in the latter days.
Gabriel now comes to him again (Dan. 8:16). The "time of the evening oblation (offering or sacrifice)" is normally about the ninth hour of the day (about 3 P.M). The Jews started their day a 6 AM; so the ninth hour would be 3 AM. Literally means between the evenings (of the same day). So how could you have two evenings in the same day? Some scholars understand this to probably mean between sunset and nightfall (about 6 to 7 P.M.); others, between the sun's decline and sunset (abut 3 to 5 P.M.). The answer to Daniel's prayer came quickly. Most likely it is closer to the 3 PM timeframe to give them light to perform the sacrificial actions.
See also Exod. 12:6; 29:39; 1 Kings 18:36 for more information about morning and evening sacrifices.
Daniel was told by Gabriel was there to give Daniel prudence, intelligence, and skill in the understanding of much more. He asked for understanding; now he was to get it from Gabriel. A decree from God went out as soon as he started praying. The decree was actually accomplished as Daniel requested.
God so loved Daniel that he is going to get information that has never been given to any. He will be given the understanding and wisdom to know how to use it. We don't know how long Daniel was praying. When he documented the prayer, he most likely put in the high points, probably not word-for-word. Somewhere at the beginning of his supplications (prayers asking for help for himself and Israel) a decree went out for Gabriel to visit Daniel.
HERE IT IS!! The next four verses have one of the most powerful prophecies in the Bible - the seventy weeks. Verses 24-27 document one of the most remarkable prophecies concerning Christ: his coming and his salvation. It shows that the Jews are guilty of most obstinate unbelief, in expecting another Messiah, so long after the time expressly fixed for his coming. This verse 24 is a quick summary of the seventy weeks. The next verses detail the meanings.
Seventy weeks was used because the Hebrews would understand the symbolism of a week meaning seven years, depending on the context, of course. This means a day us used for a year. Therefore, 70 weeks times 7years/week is 490 years. About the end of this period a sacrifice will be offered, making full atonement for sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness for the complete justification of every believer. Then the Jews, in the crucifixion of Jesus, would commit that crime by which the measure of their guilt would be filled up, and troubles would come upon their nation. This seals the sum of prophecy, and confirms the covenant with many; and while we rejoice in the blessings of salvation, we should remember what they cost the Redeemer. How can those escape who neglect so great salvation!
Seventy weeks were decreed upon Daniel's people. In the Bible, sometimes, depending on the context especially in prophecy, a day can be a year, therefore, a "week" can mean seven years. Seventy weeks means literally 70 sevens (70 X 7). It may be obvious years are meant because Daniel had been thinking of the years of the captivity in v 9:2 (70 years of captivity). If the timing is 490 days, that would be 16 months; 490 weeks would be 9-1/2 years. They are both too short to accommodate the events of the prophecy. When the Jews mean days, they say days (will be seen in next chapter).
This period of 490 years concerns your people (the Jews) and your holy city (Jerusalem). "to finish the transgression" refers to end the apostasy (turning their backs on Jesus) of the Jews and gentiles. "to make an end of sin" means, literally, to make an end to sin offerings and to atone for sin or to seal up sin in the sense of judging it finally. "to make atonement for iniquity" for Christians this refers to the death of Christ on the cross, which is the basis for Israel's future forgiveness. For Jews it is a belief of reconciliation. "to bring in everlasting righteousness" to bring in the millennial kingdom of Messiah. "to seal up vision and prophecy" means to set God's seal of fulfillment on all the prophecies concerning the Jewish people and Jerusalem. The lines are different in the KJV and other versions. "to anoint the most holy place" (others) and "to anoint the most holy" (KJV). For the "other" versions, this refers to the anointing (or painting) of the Holy of Holies (some believe the whole Temple) in the millennial Temple. For the KJV, it could be referring to anointing Jesus. To anoint was to prepare a person for a high position of office. I am more apt to consider the "holy place" because there is a great deal of importance placed on the new Temple. Revelation refers to a new Temple. Jesus is already "anointed" or appointed to the most high position. I do not believe anointing Him would have the same meaning. There are a lots of things which will and must happen before the end when Christ finally rules.
The most difficult thing in the understanding of this prophecy is where does it start? If one could know that for sure, we would know when Christ would come again (if that is for what the seventy weeks actually stand).
Lev. 25:8; Zech. 12:10; Jer. 23:5-6; Rom. 11:26-27
Gabriel tells Daniel to pay attention and he will be allowed to understand fully what God wants him to know. The 490 years begins "from the going forth of the commandment" (KJV) or "from the issuing of a decree" (NASB). What decree was this? The decree was to start the restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem. Remember, Jerusalem was totally destroyed, including the destruction of the First or Solomon's Temple, in 586 B.C. There really was to be a three part "reconstruction". The Temple, the public square and the moat, and the city were to be reconstructed and restored to their original stature. The commandment of Artaxerxes Longimanus was given for the reconstruction of the city in 445 B.C. Cyrus had earlier (538 B.C.) authorized the rebuilding of the Temple. The public square and moat were rebuilt by the time the first seven weeks (49 years) were completed.
Neh. 2:5; 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4
From the time of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem until the coming of Messiah would be 7 weeks (49 years) plus 62 weeks (434 years), yielding 69 weeks or 483 years, all but 7 of the 490 years involved in the 70 weeks. The coming of Messiah could mean the actual start of the active ministry of Jesus. Note the following chronology:
Using the "actual years" technique, one starts calculating from 457 B.C. Then 49 years are subtracted for restoration. Then 434 years brings the years calculation to 26 A.D. However, this is due to prophetic time reckonings. For actual years, the years must be adjusted to the solar year of the Gregorian calendar of 365 days; whereas the Jewish calendar was based upon lunar years of 360 days. This is clearly seen in the account of the Flood, which lasted 5 months or 150 days (Gen. 7:11,24; 8:3-4). When the two calendars are adjusted, about 6.7 years must be added. Removing an additional year for the transition from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D., the date of 32 - 33 A.D. This is the date at the end of the 69th week, when Christ entered Jerusalem and was welcomed as King and was crucified. During all of these years, including a couple of hundred of the non-testament time wars and distress (1 Macc. and 2 Macc.), the Jews are oppressed tragically. Using the "prophetic years" technique, one starts calculating from 457 B.C. Then 49 years are subtracted for restoration. Then 434 years brings the years calculation to 26 - 27 A.D. This would probably be the start of Jesus' ministry. Giving Him three years of preaching puts Him dying 29 - 30 A.D. This generally considered the death date of Jesus. However, this is in concern also.
Much of these discussions must be somewhat, but not too much, tempered with knowing the exact date of the start. Most consider a variance of about 3 years for the starting (460 - 457 B.C.). However, a few go as far as a variance of 10 years. I have no problems with the variance in believing exactly what Daniel predicted. Maybe we ought to predict what will happen 490 years from now within plus or minus 5 years and be exactly right.
Certain important events were to happen after the 62 weeks (plus the 7 weeks, or a total of 69 weeks): the "cutting down" (destroying, killing, perish) of Messiah. The killing of the Messiah is the end of the 69th week point in time. Then the scripture says the prince "shall come" or "who is to come" and the destruction of Jerusalem will occur. The original words mean the destruction will be "subsequent" or "after". That means the destruction of Jerusalem does not have to be immediately after the "downing" of the Messiah. In 70 A.D. (some 35 - 40 years after the crucifixion) Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans who are the people of the prince come. This destruction was done by Titus, the son of the emperor Vespasian. Therefore, there appears to be a gap between the "downing" of the Messiah and the destruction of the Temple. Because these events were to occur after the 69 weeks had run their course and before the 70th week began, there also must be a space of time between the conclusion of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th.
The words "but not of himself" or "and have nothing" are understood by most scholars to mean not having any guilt or crime in Him. It also closely resembles “there was nothing to him;” that is, that he ceased to have authority and power, as in the "cutting off" of a prince or ruler whose power comes to an end. We know it did not stop His power. As a matter of fact, it has been growing since then. However, as far as the people of the time were concerned, before the resurrection, was that He was dead.
The words referring to a flood are probably descriptive words to mean the destruction of Jerusalem would be like the destruction a flood would bring. All who believe in the global flood of Noah know the terrible damage, destruction, reforming of the water and land masses, and other environmental changes that a serious flood can cause. The word used here means a “gushing, outpouring,” as of rain, Job 38:25; of a torrent, Prov. 27:4; an overflowing, flood, Ps. 32:6; Nahum 1:8. Therefore, it would appropriately denote the ravages of an army, sweeping everything away.
The 70th week is the subject of discussion here. Daniel describes what happens after the 69th week and before the 70th week, implying a temporal gap between the 69th and 70th weeks. The last week has certain things occur that are related to the end times. The "prince who is to come" is the beast from the sea (Dan 8:23-27), and the "little horn" (Dan7:8) is the antichrist. A covenant will be made with "many". There is nothing that clearly defines who "many" is. However, most scholars seem to think that the reference covenant could only reference covenant people. Therefore, most believe Israel is the "many". That makes sense because the destruction of the the Temple and Jerusalem would most affect them. This one week now becomes what has classically been called the Tribulation. It is to be seven years long. The antichrist, who makes the covenant with Israel, will break the covenant in the middle of the week (3-1/2 years into the seven years), cause sacrifice to cease, and destroy the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and desecrate the Temple and demand worship of him. The length of time between the time of the end of the 69th week and the start of the 70th week is not revealed to Daniel or to any other of the O.T. prophets. Even Jesus said He did not know; only the Father knew the exact time. This intervening time span incorporates the age of the church, in which we now live and work. The event is of 69 weeks, including the cutting off of Messiah, have passed. The events of the 70th week remain for the future. They will be realized during the age of the Tribulation with the major horrors occurring during the Great Tribulation (generally considered the last 3-1/2 years of the 7 year Tribulation. This is just prior to the bringing in of "everlasting righteousness".
The Abomination of Desolation (AOB) is used uniquely in Daniel. The word abomination means to stink or be detestable. The word desolation means to be ravaged, desolated, or appalled. Putting them together is a God hated ravaging or something that stinks and is detestable. Some of the things that Antiochus Epiphanes did and the Antichrist will do are desecration of th Temple by idols, killing of swine on the altars, spreading the blood over the Temple and insides, and stopping the sacrifices in the Temple by the Jews. Many more details of this are to be studied in Revelation which will make these verses more understood. That is why understanding prophecy must include tying together prophecies in several books rather than stand alone readings. The secret to understanding to whom and to what these prophecies refer (for example: to Antiochus or to the Antichrist) is the context and understanding of the history before and after the prophecies. Of course, we have 20-20 hindsight. We know what happened in history. The people of those days did not have the knowledge from the prophecy to today as we do. However, we still don't know about the future. That we take from faith and using our intellect to try to understand what God is trying to tell us.
Matt. 24:15; 2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 19:20; Dan. 9:27
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