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?
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.