Daniel 9:25 Translation

What is It?

What is the translation of Daniel 9:25? Why is it different from other Christian Bible translations? Let’s find out.

QUESTION: I have noticed that there are many differences between Jewish Bible translations of Daniel 9:25-26 and several different Christian Bible translations. What should be the correct readings of the disputed words and phrases?

ANSWER:

In our study of the different translations we will compare the Hebrew text with |that of the King James Version of the Bible. It contains the grossest errors, which are, in |whole or in part, duplicated by other Christian versions of the Bible.

First, the King James Version puts a definite article before “Messiah the Prince” (9:25). |The original Hebrew text does not read “the Messiah the Prince,” but, having no article, |it is to be rendered “a mashiach  [“anointed one,” “messiah“], a prince,” i.e., Cyrus |(Isaiah 45:1, 13; Ezra 1:1-2).

The word mashiach  is nowhere used in the Jewish Scriptures as a proper name, but as a |title of authority of a king or a high priest. Therefore, a correct rendering of the original |Hebrew should be: “an anointed one, a prince.”

Second, the King James Version disregards the Hebrew punctuation. The punctuation |mark ‘atnach functions as the main pause within a sentence. The ‘atnach is the appropriate |equivalent of the semicolon in the modern system of punctuation. It thus has the effect of |separating the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks: “. . . until an anointed one, a |prince, shall be seven weeks; then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again . . .” (9:25).

By creating a sixty-nine week period, which is not divided into two separate periods of |seven weeks and sixty-two weeks respectively, Christians reach an incorrect conclusion, |i.e., that the Messiah will come 483 years after the destruction of the First Temple.

Some Christians claim that there is something called a “prophetic year” of 360 days, thus |shortening the interval between the beginning of the 483 years which they claim began in |444 B.C.E., and the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. They do this in order to make the |dates coincide, but the claim of a “prophetic year” is without any scriptural foundation.
Third, the King James Version omits the definite article in Daniel 9:26, which should |read: “And after the threescore and two weeks. . . .” By treating the sixty-two weeks as a |distinct period, this verse, in the original Hebrew, shows that the sixty-two weeks |mentioned in verse 25 are correctly separated from the seven weeks by the ‘atnach. |Hence, two anointed ones are spoken of in this chapter, one of whom comes after seven |weeks (Cyrus), and the other after a further period of sixty-two weeks (Alexander |Yannai).

Fourth, the words v’ayn lo (9:26) are incorrectly translated by the King James Version as |”but not for himself.” They should be translated as “he has nothing” or “he shall have |nothing.” There are Christian commentators who maintain this phrase has both meanings, |but that claim cannot be supported grammatically.

Answer:In our study of the different translations we will compare the Hebrew text with
that of the King James Version of the Bible. It contains the grossest errors, which are, in
whole or in part, duplicated by other Christian versions of the Bible.First, the King James Version puts a definite article before “Messiah the Prince” (9:25).
The original Hebrew text does not read “the   Messiah the Prince,” but, having no article,
it is to be rendered “a mashiach  [“anointed one,” “messiah”], a prince,” i.e., Cyrus
(Isaiah 45:1, 13; Ezra 1:1-2).The word mashiach  is nowhere used in the Jewish Scriptures as a proper name, but as a
title of authority of a king or a high priest. Therefore, a correct rendering of the original
Hebrew should be: “an anointed one, a prince.”Second, the King James Version disregards the Hebrew punctuation. The punctuation
mark ‘atnach functions as the main pause within a sentence. The ‘atnach is the appropriate
equivalent of the semicolon in the modern system of punctuation. It thus has the effect of
separating the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks: “. . . until an anointed one, a
prince, shall be seven weeks; then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again . . .” (9:25).

By creating a sixty-nine week period, which is not divided into two separate periods of
seven weeks and sixty-two weeks respectively, Christians reach an incorrect conclusion,
i.e., that the Messiah will come 483 years after the destruction of the First Temple.

Some Christians claim that there is something called a “prophetic year” of 360 days, thus
shortening the interval between the beginning of the 483 years which they claim began in
444 B.C.E., and the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. They do this in order to make the
dates coincide, but the claim of a “prophetic year” is without any scriptural foundation.

Third, the King James Version omits the definite article in Daniel 9:26, which should
read: “And after the threescore and two weeks. . . .” By treating the sixty-two weeks as a
distinct period, this verse, in the original Hebrew, shows that the sixty-two weeks
mentioned in verse 25 are correctly separated from the seven weeks by the ‘atnach.
Hence, two anointed ones are spoken of in this chapter, one of whom comes after seven
weeks (Cyrus), and the other after a further period of sixty-two weeks (Alexander
Yannai).

Fourth, the words v’ayn lo (9:26) are incorrectly translated by the King James Version as
“but not for himself.” They should be translated as “he has nothing” or “he shall have
nothing.” There are Christian commentators who maintain this phrase has both meanings,
but that claim cannot be supported grammatically.

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Question: How can Christians apply the phrase v’ayn lo,  “he has nothing” or “he
shall have nothing” (Daniel 9:26) and Isaiah 53:12, where the suffering servant
receives “a portion with the great,” to Jesus?

Answer: One needs to understand that both references, when read in the context of
Christian theology, refer to Jesus after his death and supposed resurrection: Daniel 9:26
referring to after he is “cut off” and Isaiah 53:12 as a reward for his suffering and death.

Yet, v’ayn lo, “he has nothing” or “he shall have nothing” cannot refer to Jesus’ situation
at or after death, if one takes the New Testament seriously. Christianity claims that unlike
mere mortal bodies which decay after death Jesus rose bodily into heaven, where he sits
at the “right hand of the throne of the Majesty.”

V’ayn lo certainly could not refer to a lack of wealth or followers, for this would not
distinguish Jesus from the great majority of the world’s population. One who “has
nothing” or “shall have nothing” (Daniel 9:26) does not receive “a portion with the great”
(Isaiah 53:12), does not rise bodily to heaven (Acts 1:9), and does not sit at the “right
hand of the throne of the Majesty” (Hebrews 8:1). It is precisely with his death that Jesus
was allegedly able to attain his rewards (Philippians 2: 8-9). Therefore, the application of
both verses to Jesus is untenable.
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Question: Is it true that sixty-nine “weeks” of the Seventy Weeks countdown of
Daniel 9 starts in 444 B.C.E. and ends with the death of Jesus (30/33 C.E.)?
Answer: Christian commentators prefer to start the Seventy Weeks countdown with 444
or 445 B.C.E. because it brings their calculations closer to the time period in which Jesus
died (30/33 C.E.). A far better starting date is the decree of Cyrus (537 B.C.E) upon
which all subsequent grants of approval were based (Isaiah 44:28). A correct reading of
the passage and some simple arithmetic dispels any attempt to claim 444 B.C.E. as a
starting date and Jesus’ death in 30/33 C.E. as a terminus.

First, the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks are really two separate periods and speak
of two separate “anointed” ones. Second, even if we were to count 483 years from 444
B.C.E. we get to the year 38 C.E. Jesus is crucified in the period ranging from 30 to 33
C.E. But, the text of Daniel 9:26 says, “And after the sixty-two weeks an anointed one
shall be cut off.” This shows that if we use 444 B.C.E. as a starting date the alleged
second “anointed one” was “cut off” in the period following the year 38 C.E. (that is,
“after the sixty-two weeks”). There would be no connection to anyone “cut off” prior to
that year. Thus, there is no reference here to Jesus.
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Question: Why do Jews say that the Seventy Weeks countdown begins with the
Persian king Cyrus?
Answer: It is Isaiah who proclaims that Cyrus would give the actual command to rebuild
Jerusalem. God declares through the prophet, “He [Cyrus] shall build My city” (Isaiah
45:13; see also Ezra 1:1-8, 6:1-5). Indeed, it was Cyrus who issued a proclamation (ca.
537 B.C.E.) for the return, and for the rebuilding to start. This occurred forty-nine years
after the destruction of Jerusalem.
God declares concerning Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasures;
even saying of Jerusalem: ‘She shall be built’; and to the Temple: ‘Your foundation shall
be laid'” (Isaiah 44:28). Hence, the Scriptures teach that it was during the reign of Cyrus
that the rebuilding of the city began. This was symbolized, first of all, by the start of
construction on the Second Temple, which was completed ca. 516 B.C.E., seventy years
after the destruction. It is with the completion of the Temple that the period of desolation
officially terminates.

Isaiah 45:1 describes Cyrus as God’s “anointed. His decree to rebuild Jerusalem comes
forty-nine years after the destruction of the city and the Temple, which is the time when
an “anointed one” (Daniel 9:25) is to come to fulfill the prophecy, “. . . until an anointed
one, a prince, shall be seven weeks [forty-nine years].”

When all is said and done, the biblical record must speak for itself. That record shows
that it was Cyrus (Isaiah 45:13), who is given credit by God for the rebuilding of
Jerusalem. As we have seen, the initial effort to rebuild was a direct result of
Cyrus’decree. All subsequent permits were based on this decree.
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Question: If Cyrus is the “anointed one” mentioned in Daniel 9:25 who is the
“anointed one” mentioned in Daniel 9:26?
Answer: The first seven weeks ends in 537 B.C.E. The second segment of the Seventy
Weeks period, sixty-two weeks in length, covered by verse 26, culminates in 103 B.C.E.
(586-49-434=103 B.C.E.). Verse 26 indicates that “after sixty-two weeks an anointed one
shall be cut off.” This “anointed one” is the High Priest Alexander Yannai (103-76
B.C.E.) who came to power just at the end of the sixty-two week period in 103 B.C.E.
and was the last of the important Hasmonean leaders. The phrase “after sixty-two weeks”
indicates the time frame during which the “anointed one shall be cut off,” that is, suffer
karet, “excision.” The penalty accompanying karet is here aptly described as “to have
nothing,” or “be no more.” This punishment is given to Alexander Yannai infamous for
his unjust, tyrannical, and bloody rule. He is notorious for his open violent animosity
against the Pharisees and his brazen rejection of the Oral Law. For example, Josephus
records that Alexander Yannai fought against the Pharisees for six years, “and . . . slew
no fewer than fifty thousand of them” (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 13. 5. [373]). He also
“ordered some eight hundred of the Jews to be crucified, and slaughtered their children
and wives before the eyes of the still living wretches” (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 14. 2.
[380]).

Verse 26 shows when Alexander Yannai, the “anointed one,” would assume power and
what kind of punishment would be meted out to him for his transgressions against God.
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Question:  Is the Seventy Weeks countdown of Daniel 9 computed according to a
360-day “prophetic year”?

Answer:  There is no “prophetic year” of 360 days alluded to anywhere in the Bible.  It is
a nineteenth century Christian invention developed through imaginative use of the
Genesis flood narrative.

Some post-biblical sectarian literature and the apocryphal books of Jubilees and Enoch
advocate a calendar consisting of 364 days, divided into twelve months of thirty days
each.  At the end of each three-month cycle a thirty-first day was added to the month.
But, this is still not a 360-day “prophetic year.”

Obviously, the calendar used in the Daniel 9 countdown has nothing to do with the
nineteenth century development of a spurious 360-day “prophetic year.”