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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 8

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

Verses 1-27



Daniel 8:1-27

This chapter considers the fifth prophetic section of the book of Daniel found in Daniel 8. The theme of the chapter is the overthrow of the Medo-Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, the fourfold division of his empire, and the oppression of Israel by Antiochus Epiphanes, a later king of one of the four divisions.

The date of the prophecy is the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, and if we had observed the order of time, both this and the preceding chapter would have come before the history in Daniel 5.

The language of Daniel 8 is Hebrew, that is, the Hebrew language is resumed here and continued to the end. The middle section of the book of Daniel is in Aramaic. The place of the vision cannot be determined from the language of the book. (I am quoting from the Jewish version for a particular reason on this lesson). In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, to me, Daniel, after that which had appeared unto me at the first [he had seen a vision the first year of Belshazzer’s reign], and I saw in the vision and it came to pass in my seeing that I was at Shushan, the capital, which is in the province of Elam, and I saw in the vision as though I was by the river Ulai.

It does not follow that Daniel was at Shushan (or Susa, as the name is more generally called) in the body. It may only mean that he was there in vision, just as in Ezekiel he says, "In a vision, I was at Jerusalem," though he never left the place of his captivity in Babylon. Susa, or Shushan, which later became the Persian capital under Cyrus, had long been a noted place. We have a monumental inscription concerning it made by Asshur-banipal, the Assyrian king, who conquered Manasseh 668 B.C., at least sixty years before the Babylonian Empire obtained its supremacy, and a century and a half before the Persian supremacy, to this effect: "Shushan, the great city, the seat of their gods, the place of their oracles, I captured"; that is, Assyria had its supremacy before Babylonia, and before the days of the Assyrian supremacy Susa was a great city and the capital of Elam. So we need not be disturbed by the contention of the radical critics that Daniel mentions the city and palace at Susa before the Persians came into power and made it their capital. In the later books of Nehemiah and Esther, Susa is the Persian capital, but long before Daniel’s day it was a great city and the capital of Elam. This vision presents the river Ulai. It was a small artificial river near Susa, connecting two other rivers, and Pliny, a Roman writer, calls it Eulaeris. Asshur-banipal boasts that he covered its waters with blood. We come now to the vision that he saw. First, the ram.

And I lifted up mine eyes and saw and behold there was a ram standing before the river and he had two horns and the horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the highest one came up last. I saw this ram butting westward, northward, and southward. [He comes from the east himself, and he dosen’t butt backward. The directions of the progress of the empire are signified.] So that no beast could stand before him, and no one was there to deliver out of his hand, and he did according to hia will and became great. – Daniel 8:3-4.

In Daniel 2:32 the symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire is the breast and the two arms of silver; the breast indicates its unity and the arms its duality. Its characteristic in that first vision is its inferiority to the Babylonian Empire. In Daniel 7:5 (which we considered in the last chapter) the symbol is the bear with one side higher than the other. The unity is in the one animal and the duality is in the two sides, with this distinction, that one side is higher than the other. There it appears with three ribs in its teeth, indicating extent of its power over Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt, the great countries heretofore related to Israel. Its characteristic is a devourer, but here the symbol of this second empire, the Medo-Persian, is a ram. The unity is expressed in the one beast, its duality in the two horns; the distinction is that one horn is higher than the other and a new distinction – it is the second horn which is the higher, that is, the rise of the Persian power was later than that of the Medes, but it went higher after it got started. Here also, instead of the three ribs of the bear, we have the true directions of its conquest, the ram coming from the east pushes westward, that is, from Babylon to the Mediterranean Sea; pushes northward, that is, to the old realm of Assyria, even up to the Caspian Sea, pushes south-ward, that is, to Egypt. So that these pushings agree with the three ribs we had in a preceding section. His characteristic here is that he is a conqueror, for our record says, "No beast could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand, for he did according to his will and magnified himself." I have several times called attention to these developments by an elaboration of details from the first vision in the second chapter of this book. These developments are obvious and evident. In like manner we may trace the developments in the third empire. And as I was looking attentively at the ram, behold, there came a shaggy he-goat from the west. [The ram was from the east, but the goat is coming from the west.] He came from the west over the face of the whole earth without touching the ground. [I suppose he means, except in the high places.] And the goat had a sightly large horn between his eyes and he came as far as the ram that had two horns that I had seen standing before the river, and he ran at him with furious power. [We can see with our imagination that goat.] And I saw him coming closer unto the ram. [The old saying is that we can never conquer until we shorten our sword, that is, by fighting at close range. The goat believes in fighting at close range.] I saw him coming closer unto the ram and he became highly enraged against the ram and stuck the ram and broke his two horns, and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, and he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him. And there was no one to deliver the ram out of his hand, and the shaggy he-goat became very great. – Daniel 8:5-8.

In Daniel 2:32 the symbol of this third empire is the lower part of the body of the image and the thighs, the body indicating the unity, the thighs the duality, or only those two divisions which touch the history of Israel. Its characteristic there is the universality of its conquests, "which shall bear rule over all the earth." In Daniel 7:6, presented in our last chapter, the symbol is the four-winged leopard, the wings indicating its speed of conquest, just like that goat coming without touching the ground; the one beast indicates the unity, the four heads indicating its subsequent divisions and its characteristic, "and dominion was given to it."

In this chapter the symbol of the same empire is a he-goat coming from the west, as the ram had come from the east, and the characteristic is "over the whole earth and touched not the ground," which answers to the wings of the leopard and indicates the speed of his conquests. The one great horn indicates the unity of the kingdom under its first king, who magnifies himself exceedingly; the fury and destructive power of his assault on the ram is very vividly imaged. The four notable horns that came up after the one great horn was broken off, indicates the division of his empire into four parts after the death of the first king, but with only two of these four parts is this book concerned. The symbolism now advances to an entirely new element. And out of one of the four horns came forth a little horn "which became exceedingly great toward the south and toward the east and toward the glorious land, [That is, toward Egypt, toward the old Persian realm, and toward Judea particularly.] And it became great even up to the hosts of heaven, and cast down to the ground some of the hosts and of the saints and trod them under his foot. Yea, it magnified itself even up to the Prince of the hosts and by it the continual sacrifice was taken away and the place of his sanctuary was cast down and the host is given up together with the continual sacrifice by reason of transgression and it casteth down the truth to the ground and it doeth this and is prosperous. – Daniel 8:9-12,

In the same chapter we have the interpretation: The ram that thou sawest with the two horns signifieth the king of the Medes and Persians, and the shaggy he-goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn which is between his eyes is the first king that is, Alexander the Great] but that it was broken [Alexander died in Babylon] and that four others sprang up into its stead, signifies that four kingdoms will spring up out of the nation, but not with his power [that is, no one of these will equal the power of Alexander the Great]. Daniel 8:20-22.

Any schoolboy who is familiar with the history of Alexander the Great knows that even at his death he made provision for this division of his kingdom. The divisions were these: (1) Macedonia, including Greece proper, was one, Cassander, the king. Now with that we have very little to do in this book. (2) Asia Minor went to Lysimachus. With that we have very little to do. (3) Syria was assigned to Seleucus. With that we have the most to do. (4) Egypt was given to Ptolemy. With that we have much to do in this book.

This book, when referring to Syria, that division of Alexander’s empire with its capital at Antioch, calls it the Kingdom of the North, and Egypt is called the Kingdom of the South. The rulers of Syria were called Seleucidae from Seleucus, the general that obtained that kingdom; the Egyptian kings were called Ptolemies from Ptolemy, that great general of Alexander who obtained that kingdom.

We will now go on with the interpretation. "And in the latter time of their kingdom," that is, of the kingdom of these four divisions later on in history, "when the transgressors have filled their measure of guilt," that is, the Jewish transgressors, "there will arise a king [now we come to the little-horn man], of an impudent face and understanding deep schemes, and his power will be mighty, but not by his own power; and he will destroy wonderfully, and he will prosper while he doeth this, and he will destroy very many of the people of the saints, and through his intelligence, and because he prospereth in craftiness in his hand, and in his heart will he magnify himself and in peace will he destroy many. He will also stand up against the Prince of princes," that is, the God of heaven himself, "but without human hand will he be broken." That is the interpretation.

When Daniel saw the vision of the ram with his two horns, the he-goat with one horn, the destruction of the ram, the death of the first king, or the breaking of the horn of the he-goat, the rising up of four kingdoms in the place of Alexander’s kingdom and later on in the Grecian history, that is to say, about 140 years, there comes to the throne of Syria by craftiness of his own power a king known in history as Antiochus Epiphanes. Some of his contemporaries call him Antiochus Epimanes, which means, "mad man," making a play upon the word.

This Antiochus Epiphanes [we find an account of what he did, not only here in this book but in First Maccabees] makes war with Egypt. His object is this: He wants to hedge against the rising power of Rome, the fourth empire, before which Macedonia and Asia Minor have already fallen. In order to do this he seeks to unite the Egyptian division with the Syrian division and half-way between him and Egypt is the Holy Land, and in order to make his kingdom, as he lays it out in his mind, homogeneous, he wants but one religion in it) just as Louis XIV said there could be but one religion in France, that is, Roman Catholicism, deeming it necessary to the safety of the state to have no troubles about religion. So after he had defeated the king of Egypt in battle in the one hundred and forty third year of the Grecian supremacy, he came to Jerusalem and took it, and took away its sacred vessels. A great many of the apostate Jews had determined to unite with him on this one religion. Men that would be called Sadducees in a later day (and they started about this time), men that thought religion should yield to political necessities, made a covenant with him, and so he established in the city of Jerusalem the idol worship of Jupiter, and these apostate Jews joined him in it. He sacrificed a hog on the sacred altar and positively forbade any Jew to observe the Commandments of Moses’ law. They were not to be circumcised, they were not to make an offering in the Temple. The whole sacrifice should cease – that continual offering every evening and every morning that they had been used to since the days of Solomon. Ever since the days of Moses in the wilderness that evening and morning service had been kept up. He took away that continual sacrifice, and defiled the Temple. That put him against the God of heaven himself. This erection of an idol in the holy place is the first abomination of desolation. It was one of the most blasphemous and wicked usurpations of power known to history, made him the first antichrist and handed down his name to the execration of all succeeding generations. The first book of Maccabees will ever be regarded as a glorious history of this dark period.

The record now passes to a new theme, the voices of the angels, showing heaven’s interest in these tragic earthly affairs: "Then did I hear a certain holy one speaking, and a holy one said unto the unknown one who was speaking. For how long is the vision concerning the continual sacrifice, and the wasting transgression, to give up both the sanctuary and host to be trodden under foot?"

Well angels might be concerned. There had been no interruption of this continual sacrifice for many centuries. Paul says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels."

Daniel now hears the angels talking, and understands what they say. One holy one says to another holy one, "How long is this to last, this subjection of the host, that is, the people of Israel, this cessation of the continued sacrifice; how long is it to last? . . . And he said unto him, Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, when the sanctuary shall be justified," that is, purified or cleansed. Two thousand and three hundred days. I said that in the one hundred and forty-third year of Greek history Antiochus took Jerusalem and in the one hundred and forty-ninth year Antiochus died. By taking the month dates in these years, the interval is six years and one hundred and ten days. Counting a year 360 days, which the Jews did, that makes 2,300 days from the day that he entered Jerusalem and subjected the host of the Jews to him until by his death their oppression ceased, so far as he was concerned. It was not 2,300 days until Judas Maccabeus recaptured Jerusalem and purified the sanctuary, but the question covers more than the purification of the sanctuary; the question propounded was this: "For how long is the vision concerning the continual sacrifice and wasting transgression to give up both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" The answer is 2,300 days in the first book of Maccabees.

We now come to a still more marvelous thing – more marvelous than the voices of the angels to which Daniel has been listening. Here is a new thing, verse Daniel 8:15: "And it came to pass when I, even I, Daniel, saw the vision, and sought for understanding, that, behold, there was standing opposite to me something like the appearance of a man." Here we learn first that Daniel did not understand his own vision, but sought to understand it. The contention of the radical critics that a prophet is conscious of the meaning of his prophecy and therefore limits his prophecy to the matters of his own time of which he has information, is every way baseless. A passage from the New Testament is very pertinent here: Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what time or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, which things angels desire to look into.

Not only the prophets did not understand, but the angelsin heaven do not understand all the things foretold in symbol, ceremonial, type, vision, and prophecy. They are themselves instructed by the church in the events as they are fulfilled. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God, who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God. – Ephesians 3:8-11.

Daniel couldn’t understand what he saw, and angels, unless instructed, cannot understand these future events. They have no omniscience, but as the church in its history unfolds, unrolls the wisdom of God, foretold for future ages, the onlooking angels see and understand, "which things the angels desire to look into," and that curiosity of the angels is admirably expressed in the golden cherubim with outspread wings bending over and looking intently down upon the blood-stained mercy seat.

But the chief thing is: "There was standing opposite to me something like the appearance of a man and I heard the voice of a man." This occurs between the banks of the Ulia, "and it called and said, Gabriel, cause this one to understand this vision." That was a pre-manifestation of Christ. We will come to another far more startling pre-manifestation when we get to Daniel 10, but Christ was there as the Son of God, and Daniel felt his presence, saw the form like the form of the son of man, which didn’t speak to Daniel, but he spoke to the angel Gabriel, and tells Gabriel to explain to Daniel: So he came close to where I stood and when he came I was terrified. I fell on my face. But he said unto me. Oh son of man; for the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me I fell down in amazement on my face to the ground but he touched me and set me upright where I had been standing. – DANIEL.

In Genesis 15, Abraham sees in vision the Word of God. That is the first time the phrase, "Word of God," occurs. He sees the Logos, and the Logos talks with him, and after a while takes hold of his hand and leads him out of the tent and tells him to look up and count the stars of heaven if he can, and to know that his seed will be more numerous than they. We had one pre-manifestation of the Son of God, a fourth one, walking with them in the furnace. Thus the Son of God himself, through Gabriel, gives the interpretation we have already considered.

The fortunes of this wicked king were fast becoming desperate. Egypt was lost on the south, Rome had checked him there and was pressing him hard on the east. His affairs in Judea, under his generals, were in bad shape through the triumphs of Judas Maccabeus. He needed money to enlist and support a larger army against the victorious Jews. In this extremity he determines to seize the rich city of Elmias, in Persia, and rob its temple, stored with rich offerings under Persian rule and still richer gifts from the liberality of Alexander the Great. Its sturdy citizens, always jealous of the privileges of the city, resisted and defeated him. This disaster was followed by the news of the triumph of Judas’ Maccabeus over his general Lysias, the recapture of Jerusalem and the purification of the sanctuary. The unwelcome tidings completely broke his spirit. He died in despair by the judgment of God. The record says, "broken without hand." The first book of Maccabees, Daniel 6, gives a thrilling account of his downfall, and says that in his dying confession he attributed all his misfortune to his persecution of the Jews and their religion. His doom reminds us of the remorse and despair of Judas Iscariot.


1. What is the date of this vision?

2. Where is the scene of the vision?

3. How do you reply to the contention of the critics that reference to Susa indicates a late origin of the book?

4. To which two world empires is the vision limited?

5. Show the conformity of the vision with the preceding visions (Daniel 2, 7) in their relation to these two empires, and what new details appear here?

6. Who is the "little born" of this vision and how is it distinguished from the "little horn" in Daniel 7?

7. What the most infamous deed of Antiochus?

8. What political reasons prompted him to destroy the religion of Jehovah, and what parallel in later history for similar reasons?

9. What was the abomination of desolation he placed in the Temple?

10. What great hero overthrew his power in Judea and purified the Temple?

11. What Jewish inter-biblical book gives a thrilling history of this period?

12. Give an account of the death of Antiochus and its occasion.

13. How do you explain the time period, 2,300 evenings and mornings?

14. What interest in heaven was excited by the impiety of Antiochus?

15. What voices did Daniel hear? What desire did these voices excite in Daniel?



Daniel 9:1-27

This chapter contains the most marvelous prophecy of the Old Testament. It is also the most remarkable in its messianic features. More definitely than all others together, it fixes the date of the first coming of the Messiah. Accordingly, its confirmation in the New Testament, especially when considered with its cognate visions, goes beyond any other Old Testament book except the Law. Our Lord himself attests it in a most extraordinary way. Moreover, in every age since its publication, it has exceptionally attracted the attention of Old Testament students, and has called forth a vast volume of literature. For 2,500 years the scholars of the world, whether saints or sinners, Jews or Gentiles, Christians or infidels, have devoted themselves to its exposition. In the efforts to defend, on the one hand, or to discredit on the other, every word in it has been under a thousand microscopes of criticism. An ordinary lifetime would hardly suffice for reading all the literature pro and con that it has evoked. Let us, reverently and prayerfully, address ourselves to its exposition.

I commence by submitting this first and simplest outline of the whole chapter.

1. THE DATE AND OCCASION, (Daniel 9:1-2)

The date is the first year of Darius the Mede, about one year after the capture of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, and about one year before the end of Jeremiah’s predicted seventy years of Jewish servitude to Babylon. Daniel is studying the Jewish Scriptures – all the books then extant Our English word "books" in Daniel 9:2 translate a Hebrew term in the plural that, in usage, signifies either all the Jewish Scriptures collectively, or a group of them, as "the books of Moses," or merely an epistle, which is only a fragment of a book, as in 2 Kings 19:14 and Isaiah 37:14.

It is certain that Jeremiah had sent a letter to the Jews in Babylon, which embodies much of the precise matter which Daniel is studying, and to whose very peculiarities of phraseology this ninth chapter refers several times. So far, then, as one example of the usage may determine, it may be that it is only Jeremiah’s letter that Daniel is studying. The whole context, however, seems to require the meaning that the more extended usage of the word justifies. The whole book of Jeremiah was evidently before him, since the letter says nothing of "desolation," so specially clear in Jeremiah 25:11, and so pointedly quoted in Daniel 9:2 of this chapter. Moreover, the prayer specially cites the law of Moses, indicates familiarity with the Psalms, cites not only the continuous history of the people as recorded by the prophets, but also the messages of the prophets, so that we may conclude, fairly, that Daniel possessed all the books of the canon then extant, that is to say, all but Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. At any rate, one of the particular matters engaging his attention is Jeremiah’s prediction of the seventy years’ servitude, which period he now understands to be near its end. So that we need first to consider as an important element of the occasion of Daniel’s prayer:

1. Jeremiah’s seventy years. Some have supposed that Jeremiah predicts two periods of seventy years – one of the "servitude" and the other of the "desolation." The three most important passages in his book bearing on the matter are: Jeremiah 25:8-12; Jeremiah 27:16-22; Jeremiah 29:1-10. In these passages and elsewhere in his book, the prophet foretells, with precision, the end of an independent Jewish monarchy by the servitude of the kings of Judah to Babylon, the deportation of certain captives, the spoliation of a part of the sacred vessels of the sanctuary, and finally, the total destruction of the city, with a larger deportation of Captives. The prophet then foretells that this servitude shall last seventy years; that these captives and these captured vessels shall not return to Jerusalem before that time; that this captivity is by the will of God, whose unconscious servant Nebuchadnezzar is, and is meant for good and not evil, since those led into captivity shall not only have a better fate than is reserved for the remnant in Judah, but that the captives preserved in Babylon shall become the true seed of a better nation in the future. He therefore urges the captives to indulge in no vain hopes of speedy release, but to address themselves to the cultivation of the land assigned to them in Babylon, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, as for their own peace and prosperity. He then assures them at the end of the seventy years they shall return to their native land. This is the period of seventy years which furnishes the first element of the occasion of Daniel’s prayer.

Following the general view of only one period of seventy years, we now proceed to determine its beginning and end. The period commences 606 B.C., in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, as appears from 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:5-7; Daniel 1:1. On that date the independent Jewish monarchy ends, just 490 years after the coronation of Saul, the first king, which itself was just 490 years after the entering into Canaan. Thus the monarchy of the Chosen People died a royal death with the good King Josiah at the battle of Megiddo – a battle so disastrous that it became the type of the great spiritual battle of Armageddon in John’s Apocalypse, to be followed by the battle of Jehoshaphat and because of the sorrows of apostate Israel on beholding the Messiah whom they have pierced. True, three members of Josiah’s family held the throne for a very few years, but only as servants of the king of Babylon. So in this case it is true that Jehoiakim, bound in fetters, is temporarily released and retains a nominal authority under Nebuchadnezzar by yielding to his spoiler a part of the sacred vessels of the Temple and certain selected youths of the royal family, including Daniel, who are to become servants in the imperial household of Babylon. This was the first deportation of the captives from Judea. With this beginning of the period fixed, we find that it ends 536 B.C., according to the express statements of 2 Chronicles 36:24-25; and Ezra 1:1-3, which is the year after Cyrus conquered Babylon. We may, therefore, understand why this prediction of the seventy years became an occasion for Daniel’s prayer – only one year remains of the seventy. Babylon has fallen as Jeremiah predicted, but there is no sign in the political sky of the new regime to intimate the return of the captive Jews. They remain in bondage to the Medes and Persians, as they had been to Babylon. Therefore, Daniel prays for the fulfilment of the promise.

2. The second element in the occasion of the prayer is the denunciation of the Levitical law, that for every seventh year the Holy land was denied its sabbath of rest, the people should remain one year in bondage (Leviticus 25:2-4; Leviticus 26:34-43; 2 Chronicles 36:24-24). From Saul, 1096 B.C., to Jehoiakim, 606 B.C.,– just 490 years – the land had been robbed of seventy years of rest – one-seventh of the 490 – this is as precise as the prophecy of Jeremiah in fixing the limit of the bondage.

3. The third element in the occasion of the prayer is the curse and oath of Moses, set forth so vividly in the closing chapters of Deuteronomy, to which the prayer so feelingly refers. Indeed, the prayer itself recites as an occasion of the troubles of the people their continuous sins through every period of their history, whether under Moses, the judges, or the kings – sins against both the Sinaitic covenant and the repeated messages of God through the prophets.

4. A fourth occasion of the prayer may be fairly inferred from the prayer itself, i.e., the prophet’s evident consciousness that no real atonement had ever been made for the sins of the people. Their ritualistic atonement had merely symbolized the true remission of sins and passed them over to be provided for in the great antitype of the ceremonial law.

5. Daniel’s previous visions also may well constitute an element of the occasion of this prayer. From his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he evidently saw that it wag only in the days of the fourth world empire that the God of heaven would set up his gospel kingdom, and far, far beyond its setting up, the stone becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. Again, in his vision of the four beasts rising up out of the sea, he evidently understands that it is only in the days of the fourth beast and in the time of the eleventh horn of this beast, calling for a remote period after the establishment of the fourth world empire, does the Son of man receive his kingdom of judgments from the Ancient of Days, that is to eventuate in putting the saints of the Most High in possession of the whole earth. And yet, again, in his visions of the two beasts, representing respectively the second and third world empires, he beholds his people near the close of the third empire grievously oppressed and their restored sanctuary defiled. Those considerations, taken together – the 70 weeks of Jeremiah, the curse of the Levitical law concerning the land, the curse and oath of Moses, the prophet’s consciousness that the sins of their whole national history have never been really expiated, but only passed over, and the far-off date of the setting up of Messiah’s gospel kingdom, and the still more distant date of his kingdom of judgments, and the still more distant date of the prevalence of his millennium kingdom throughout the earth – these constitute sufficient occasion to bow down on his knees in fervent prayer the best and the wisest man. So far the occasion. Let us now consider

II. THE PRAYER, (Daniel 9:3-19)

This prayer consists of three parts: confession, adoration, and supplication.

1. There is a heartbroken confession of the continuous sins of the whole nation – judges, kings, and people – against both the law and the prophets throughout every period of their history.

2. Over against these sins of the people, the prophet, by adoration places in sharp contrast the attributes of God – eternal righteousness, long-suffering, mercy, forgiveness, truthfulness in both promises and threats, and a watching providence that never sleeps and that never fails to bring home a threatened curse or a promised blessing.

3. Supplication: How fervent, how pathetic, how importunate his prayer! He prays for the holy, but desolate, city: “O Lord, turn thine anger from Jerusalem;" he prays for the Temple: "Shine upon thy sanctuary;" he prays for the forgiveness of the sins of the people. And all this, not for Jerusalem’s sake, or the Temple’s sake, or the people’s sake, but for God’s own sake, and for the sake of his great mercies. The prayer closes in these burning words: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do; defer not for thine own sake, O my God! For thy city and thy people are called by thy name."

The answer is instant. As Daniel says, "While I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah, my God, for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in the prayer," the answer came; or as the one who brought the answer says: "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment went forth) and I am come to tell thee."

The answer was not only distant, but mediate, that is to say, through the angel Gabriel: "The man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation, and he instructed me and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee wisdom and understanding."

The answer to the prayer, as conveyed by the angel Gabriel, is the great prophecy which we are now to expound, and which is thus rendered in the American Standard Version: Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks; it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. And after the three score and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the obligation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate. – Daniel 9:24-27.

And now, before an attempt at exposition, attention is called to a preliminary observation: There are many English versions of this Hebrew text, all worthy of consideration, but it is needful for the present purpose to cite only four modern ones, namely, (1) The common, or King James Version; (2) The Canterbury revision; (3) The same revision with the renderings of the American corps of revisers substituted for the rendering of the British corps where they differ; (4) Lessor’s Jewish version. Now, when we compare their several translations of this prophecy, we find a marked difference in the punctuation, which very greatly affects the sense, and necessarily determines widely different lines of exegesis.

The exegesis now to be given will follow the punctuation of the American revisers in the Standard Bible, with which the King James Version agrees. The Canterbury revision and Leeser’s modern Jewish version adopt a punctuation which necessitates a certain beginning for the period, and necessitates two Messiahs, and in other important respects make both chronology and interpretation impossible on any theory consistent with the inspiration of Daniel or of the New Testament writers, or of the divinity of Jesus. Tremendous results to base on punctuation alone, when the ancient Hebrew had no punctuation? But here the modern Jew, the infidel, and the destructive higher critic plant themselves together. As, however, this matter of punctuation comes up again when this discussion reaches the several theories of interpretation, it is dismissed for the present, that we may proceed with the exposition.

For the better understanding of this remarkable answer to Daniel’s prayer we need a new outline and a special analysis. It cannot escape notice that Daniel 9:24, the first verse of the prophecy, treats of the seventy weeks as a whole, enumerating, in a general but strictly orderly way, the things to be accomplished in the period, while in the other three verses the seventy weeks are first separated into three unequal subdivisions, namely, seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week, with the assignment to each of its appropriate events, and, second, the one week is divided into two equal parts, making the middle of the last week the climax of the prophecy.

Nor can it escape notice that the prophecy throughout is designedly marked with order, precision, and definiteness of statement on all points of chronology and fact. In any sensible analysis, which combines the general and particular statements of the prophecy, it is evident that all the great events specified in verse 24, must, as to order, be assigned to the climax, the middle of the last week. As covering, therefore, the whole ground and properly correlating the several parts is now submitted the following …


I. God’s great decree concerning the Jews

II. Meaning, or duration, of the seventy weeks

III. When they begin, or terminus a quo

IV. Sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, with the preceding 49 years, making 483 years to the coming of Messiah, the King

V. The seven weeks, or 49 years, rebuilding Jerusalem

VI. One week, or seven years, as a whole, proclaiming the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) and confirming it with many Jews

VII. One week, or seven years, divided in the middle

1. The First Half –

(1) Confirming the new covenant with many Jews for three and one-half years

(2) Finishing the transgression (Matthew 23:35)

(3) Messiah cut off by his people, and his people cut off by Messiah for a long time

(4) Making an end of sin

(5) Making reconciliation for iniquity

(6) Bringing in everlasting righteousness

(7) Sealing up vision and prophecy

(8) Causing sacrifice and oblation to cease, or the rejecting of the old, typical Temple and covenant (Matthew 27:51; Colossians 2:14-17; Hebrews 7-10)

(9) Anointing the most holy, or the consecration of the new, antitypical temple (Acts 2).

2. The Second Half-

Confirming the new covenant with many Jews for three and one-half years more, i.e., up to the times of the Gentiles, which is the terminus ad quern.

VIII. After the 70 weeks

(1) The coming prince – Titus.

(2) The abomination of desolation.

(3) Destruction of the city and sanctuary as with a flood.

(4) The flood of wrath on the Jewish people till the fulness of the Gentiles.


1. What is the importance of Daniel 9?

2. What is the first and simplest outline of it?

3. What is the date of Daniel’s prayer?

4. What, in general, the occasion and what is the meaning of "the books" in Daniel 9:2?

5. What is the constituent elements of the occasion of this prayer?

6. Discuss Jeremiah’s seventy years,

7. Discuss the Levitical law of the land sabbath and its relation to this period.

8. Discuss the curse and oath of Moses relating to this prayer.

9. Discuss the atonement as it relates to this prayer.

10. Discuss Daniel’s previous visions as they relate to this prayer.

11. What the contents of the prayer? Discuss each item.

12. What the three elements that constitute the character of the answer to this prayer?

13. Cite four English versions and their variant punctuation of Daniel 9:25 and state the effect on the exegesis.

14. What the notable things of this prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27)?

15. Give the critical (exegetical) analysis of the prophetic part of this chapter (Daniel 9:24-27).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Daniel 8". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/daniel-8.html.
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