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Daniel, considering the time of the captivity, maketh confession of sins, and prayeth for the restoration of Jerusalem. Gabriel informeth him of the seventy weeks.
Before Christ 538.
THIS chapter contains a most affecting and ardent prayer of Daniel, on a near view of the expiration of the seventy years allotted for Judah's captivity: the success of his prayer is pointed out at the conclusion of it, and the deliverance of his brethren is communicated to the prophet in a very extraordinary revelation by the angel Gabriel; but the misconduct and ingratitude of the Jews would occasion the utter destruction of their restored city, after a period, and by reason of an event, which the prophesy plainly indicates.
Daniel 9:1. In the first year of Darius— This is the same Darius the Median spoken of before, chap. Dan 5:31 and who succeeded Belshazzar king of the Chaldeans.
Daniel 9:2. I Daniel understood by books— Daniel had with him in the captivity the holy Scriptures, and in particular the prophesies of Jeremiah, which he here calls so many books: he refers more particularly to the 25th and 29th chapters of that prophet. We may hence observe, that the later prophets studied the writings of the former, for the more perfect understanding of the times when their prophesies were to be fulfilled. Daniel saw a part of Jeremiah's prediction fulfilled, by the vengeance which the Lord had taken upon the house of Nebuchadnezzar; but he saw no appearance of that deliverance of the people of Israel which the prophet foretold. This was the cause of his uneasiness, and the motive of his prayers.
Daniel 9:3. And I set my face—to seek by prayer and supplications— Wherefore, I set, &c. that I might implore him by prayer, &c. Houbigant.
Daniel 9:4. O Lord, the great and dreadful God— The emphatic ה is used before each of the epithets that follow, "the God, the great, the dreadful." This prayer, which is occasioned by the greatest and most sincere concern for the captive Jews, is the result also of the deepest humiliation, and expressive of the strongest energies and most earnest affections. Jeremiah, at chap. Jer 29:12 had informed the people, that if they prayed and sought the Lord in their foreign land, they should be heard; and Daniel performs this duty for himself and his countrymen with the greatest zeal and devotion, especially acknowledging the justice of God and their own unworthiness. See a like prayer, chap. Dan 9:4 and at Nehemiah 1:5.
Daniel 9:5. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity— Daniel here puts up the confession prescribed in Solomon's consecration-prayer, to be used by the Jews in the land of their captivity.
Daniel 9:11. By departing, &c.— By departing, so, as not to obey, &c.
Daniel 9:14. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil— "After having for a long time slept, as it were, upon our faults, he hath at length awakened to punish us." Or, "While we slept, as it were, in our crimes, the Lord awaked to chastise us." Calmet. Houbigant renders it, The Lord hath not deferred to bring evil upon us.
Daniel 9:17. And cause thy face to shine, &c.— And for thine own sake, O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate.
Daniel 9:21. The man Gabriel— Literally, That man, named Gabriel, or rather, "That person or angel, &c. who appeared to me under a human form." See chap. Daniel 8:16. There were three hours of prayer among the Jews; but the most solemn seasons of it were at the morning and evening oblation; at the third and ninth hours of the day. But upon their solemn days of fasting and humiliation, they continued their devotions from the time of the morning sacrifice till that of the evening was finished. Daniel expresses himself in the country of his captivity, in the same manner as the Jews at Jerusalem when the temple subsisted. See Calmet. Instead of, at the beginning, we may read, before.
Daniel 9:22. And he informed me, &c.— And standing with me, he spoke thus; O Daniel! &c. Houbigant.
Daniel 9:24. Seventy weeks are determined, &c.— The sum of Calmet's observations on this prophesy is as follows: Daniel is afflicted before the Lord, with a desire to know when the end of those seventy weeks' captivity shall appear, which are foretold by Jeremiah. But God reveals to him a much more sublime and important mystery; namely, the time of the finishing transgressions, and of the coming of the Messiah, of the reign of everlasting righteousness, and of the perfect accomplishment of the prophesies. All this was to be brought about after a space of seventy weeks of years, which make four hundred and ninety. "You are solicitous to know when the seventy years of captivity, foretold by Jeremiah, shall have an end: I am going to announce to you a deliverance infinitely more important, and of which that foretold by Jeremiah is only a figure." The whole verse may be thus paraphrased: "The space of seventy weeks is invariably fixed and determined. This is no conditional or uncertain prediction, whose execution depends upon a future contingency,—the fidelity or infidelity of the people. It is not one of those promises, the accomplishment of which may be protracted or invalidated by the malice of men. It is a prophesy, the event of which is certain, and which shall be executed at a fixed period;—in seventy weeks, which are to begin from the time of the edict that enjoins the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, and which will terminate with the death of the Messiah, and the abolition of sacrifices." The Hebrew word כלא callei, rendered finish, may be translated to restrain; and the sense will then be, "To put a stop to hypocrisy or sin."—To make an end of sins; either by the atonement to be made for them, or by the exemplary punishment to be inflicted upon the offenders.—To seal up the vision, &c. things which are fulfilled and perfected, are usually sealed up; because they were to receive their accomplishment in Christ. It is thus that the Jews commonly interpret the words, and both Rabbi Levi Ben-Gerson and Abarbanel expressly assert on this passage, that "All the prophesies shall be fulfilled in the Messiah." The sealing up of the prophesy, and the anointing of the Most Holy, were fulfilled in Christ's appearance among the Jews, and in their putting him to death, which was indeed the unction or consecration of the Holy One of God to his priestly office. See Dr. Chandler's Vindication of Daniel, p. 156 and Bishop Chandler's Defence, p. 124 and Vind. p. 297. Houbigant renders the 25th verse, Know therefore and understand; from the edict which shall be promulged for the return, and for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, shall be seven weeks; then shall the city be built again in solicitude and in troublous times; when, to Messiah the prince, shall be threescore and two weeks. See his note, where this version is fully justified. By the people of the prince who was to come, are meant the Romans, who are strongly pointed out at the close of the prophesy: see Matthew 22:7; Mat 24:15 and Mar 13:14 where our Saviour refers to this prophesy. The former words, but not for himself, (though the passage has been otherwise translated) refer to our Lord's suffering, through his rich mercy, solely for the sins of the world. The aera usually fixed upon for the commencement of the seventy weeks, is the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.
Daniel 9:25. Unto the Messiah the Prince, &c.— That is, until the awful period when the business of his life was finished, until his hour was come, when he was to glorify his Father, or when he was to be cut off by a voluntary suffering for the sins of mankind; and thereby triumph as a prince, over death, and over all his and our enemies. All the circumstances of his life are omitted, or rather comprehended in this final one, when all things that were written of him were accomplished.
What has been hitherto offered, I trust, may be deemed a sufficient explanation of the true and proper sense of the astonishing prophesy contained in the four last verses. Yet, lest the sense here given should be mistaken, or not duly attended to in this detached form, I will beg leave to recapitulate it, or to state the sense of the angelic message with all due deference in the following summary; but previously reminding the reader, that the original word rendered weeks throughout the prophesy strictly signifies sevens, and may be referred either to days or years.
Seventy weeks of precision, or precise weeks, remain upon thy people and upon thy holy city Jerusalem, to restrain their rebellion or apostacy from God, and to put an end to sins and expiate iniquity, or to bring to a conclusion their sufferings and the punishment which occasioned them, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision of the prophet Jeremiah, and to restore the religious rites and holy things to their proper uses. This first deliverance from the captivity shall be accomplished within seventy weeks of days; but this term shall be typical, or a prelude to another more glorious deliverance, which from its commencement to its full and final period shall be comprehended in the same number of sevens or weeks, yet not of days, but of times or years. And this longer period shall be distributed into three portions, of seven weeks, and then of sixty-two weeks, and lastly of one week, each of which will be distinguished by extraordinary events, as the prophesy now proceeds to shew.
For know and understand,—this interesting business induces me thus solemnly to recal your attention,—that from the passing of an edict to rebuild your city Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by fire, until Messiah the Prince, or from the 20th of Artaxerxes, when this edict will be delivered to Nehemiah, till that important hour, when the Messiah shall be offered up, and thereby triumph as a prince over death and hell and all his enemies, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, or sixty-nine weeks of years: and the term is thus divided, because the former part shall be distinguished by the building of the city, which shall be fully completed with its streets and walls in that narrower limit of the times.
Then after the threescore and two weeks, or at the passover next following their termination, shall Messiah be cut off by an ignominious death, and a total desertion. Yet though none shall be for him (so the words may be translated), or he shall be altogether forsaken at that time, his princely authority will still be manifested: for the people of the prince that shall come, or the Roman army in the service of the Messiah, when his business upon earth is completed, and the Gospel fully published, shall destroy both the Jewish city and sanctuary; and they shall come up against it like an inundation, and shall cut down with a general ruin, and to the end of a war decisive of the nation of the Jews there shall be desolations.
Yet the one week of years that remains to complete the number typified in the former deliverance, this space of seven years shall make firm a covenant of security and protection to many, when those who are in Judaea will escape to the mountains; and in the midst of the week the sacrifice and meat-offering, or the whole ritual of the Jewish worship, shall cease: and when upon the borders of the temple, represented by an expanded wing, shall be the abomination of desolation, either the dead bodies of the slain, or the idolatrous ensigns, together with the Roman armies encompassing Jerusalem, then the desolations shall presently follow, and shall continue till a full accomplishment of the decided fate of this devoted people shall be poured upon the desolate, or until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The date of this prophesy is in the first year of Darius, when the seventy years of the Jewish captivity ended, reckoning from the third of Jehoiakim.
1. Daniel had been diligently searching the Scriptures, and out of the book of Jeremiah understood that the time was at hand for the accomplishment of God's promises in the restoration of his people. Note; They who diligently search the Scriptures will find there what will amply compensate their pains.
2. He became an earnest intercessor for the accomplishment of the promised mercy. In fasting and sackcloth he deeply humbled himself, under a sense of the sins which had provoked God's displeasure, and as a mourner over the desolations of Zion; and with faith and importunity set his face to the Lord, to seek by prayer and supplications the hastening of their deliverance in his good time. Note; (1.) What God promises should be the matter of our prayers. (2.) They who have the interests of God's church at heart, cannot but be deeply affected with its desolations, and earnest supplicants that God would revive his work in the midst of the years.
2nd, We have Daniel's effectual fervent prayer.
1. He opens with a most reverential address to the great and dreadful God; terrible to the sinner, and a consuming fire, yet full of mercy towards those who love and serve him, and faithful to all his promises.
2. He makes his humble confession of sin, the cause of all their sufferings. They had provoked God by every possible aggravation of their iniquities; they had rebelled against him, rejected his government, broken all his precepts, positive and moral; and from the king upon the throne to the meanest of the people, notwithstanding their peculiar obligations, all had joined in the revolt, and were alike deaf to the admonitions of God's prophets, the corrections of his providences, and the threatenings of his word: and this is repeatedly acknowledged, as the burden which lay on the prophet's heart, as it ever will on all true penitents, when they begin in simplicity and godly sincerity to return to God.
3. He justifies God in the punishments inflicted upon them. God was righteous, and they could not in the least except to his dispensations: heavy as his hand was upon them in all the countries of their dispersion, it was less than their iniquities deserved; and with confusion of face they must bow into the dust, and kiss the rod that smote them; all, from the king to the beggar, must join in the acknowledgment of God's justice, and take deepest shame to themselves for their provocations; for they had the fairest notice of the consequences of their iniquities; nor could God, consistent with the honour of his government, overlook such flagrant offences: the curse under which they groaned had been foretold by Moses, and God's faithfulness was glorified in the infliction of it upon them. Their sufferings were singular as their crime, enough it might be thought to have long since bowed the most obdurate heart; but they had continued incorrigibly impenitent, never thought of returning to God; nay, they did not, as a nation in general, so much as direct their prayers to him to sanctify their afflictions, or to remove his terrible indignation from them. No marvel therefore that he still watched over them for evil. Note; (1.) In all our sufferings, however severe, we must own that God is righteous, and take to ourselves deserved shame. (2.) If sinners continue incorrigible, God's wrath will abide upon them. (3.) In our anguish our first recourse should be to God in prayer.
4. Though the iniquities of the people were so incontestably evident and aggravated, the prophet still had recourse to the divine mercy; it was God's distinguished glory, that to him belonged mercies and forgivenesses, his patience infinite, his compassions boundless: and this is the only hope of the miserable sinner; for else he must for ever despair. Wondrous had been the instances of the divine interposition in time past: the fame of his delivering his people from Egypt, was to that day heard to his glory: what he had done before, therefore, the prophet hopes he will do again; and by delivering them now from Babylon, exalt yet more abundantly his own great name, and once more magnify his power and grace towards them, Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 16:21. As if to excite the divine commiseration, he spreads their present wretchedness before him; they were become the contempt of the heathen, and a reproach to the neighbouring nations; their holy city of Jerusalem laid in ruins; and that once glorious sanctuary, their boast and honour, was now desolate and profaned. Note; (1.) They who have made themselves wicked, may expect that God will make them vile. (2.) Nothing afflicts the gracious heart so much as the desolations of the sanctuary, and the triumphs of the wicked over it.
5. He concludes with importunate supplications, urged with the greatest vehemence and most engaging pleas. He founds all his hopes upon the relation that God yet stood in towards all the penitent among them, O our God; and therefore is emboldened to ask, [1.] The forgiveness of their sins, the cause of their calamities: and this is the sinner's first concern, the pardon of his guilt being more desirable than the removal of all his afflictions. [2.] He begs that he would turn away his wrath from Jerusalem, under the dire tokens of which the city at present lay, and cause his face to shine upon the desolate sanctuary; restoring it from its ruins, setting up again his worship there, and favouring them once more with a sense of his gracious presence in the midst of them. [3.] He entreats that the Lord would not defer their deliverance and recovery. They seemed at the last gasp, and the time of the promise was now come; so that he could with faith plead for a present and immediate answer of peace; and he urges these his requests,
(1.) With an absolute renunciation of any trust and dependence on themselves, as deserving the least notice or regard; and this every humbled sinner who approaches God unfeignedly does.
(2.) With an entire dependence on God, drawing their pleas for mercy from the consideration of his own glory. It must be for his own sake, not theirs, to magnify the riches of his grace; for the Lord's sake, the Lord Jesus, the sinner's atonement and glorious advocate, in and through whom alone any covenant mercies can be bestowed. His righteousness would be herein displayed, when he should execrate vengeance on their cruel enemies, and prove his faithfulness to his promises; and his mercy would in the most eminent manner be evinced, when thus exercised toward objects so utterly unworthy, and withal so exceedingly miserable. And finally, the sanctuary was his own, and the city and people called by his name: he had an interest therefore in their recovery and restoration; and they had, by virtue of their relation to him, a peculiar claim upon him, to help them, even for his own glory; the most effectual plea that we can make in any of our prayers.
3rdly, Very memorable is the answer here given to the prophet's prayer, and it contains one of the most remarkable prophesies of the Messiah that is to be found in the book of God. We have,
1. The time when this answer was given him, while he was speaking and praying; confessing his own sins and those of his people, and making supplication before God for pardon, and the restoration of God's sanctuary. The hour that he had chosen for these devotions was that of the evening oblation, when the lamb was offered; which prefigured him who should appear in the end of the world to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and for whose sake this revelation was now made to the prophet. Note; (1.) God is pleased sometimes to return immediate and sensible answers to the prayers of his believing people. (2.) Daniel, though so distinguished a saint, does not approach God but with the humiliation of a sinner; the best of men in their approaches to God must have no plea but their own infinite unworthiness and the infinite merit of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The messenger is an angel, Gabriel the mighty One of God, appearing in a human form, whom the same Daniel had seen before, chap. Daniel 8:16. He came with haste to deliver the message on which he was sent from on high; and touched him, to engage his attention, and to give him an intimation to desist from prayer, and hearken to what he was about to deliver; talking familiarly with him, as a man with his friend. He informs Daniel, that the moment he began to pray to God, the commandment came forth; either from the Lord, dispatching him on his errand; or at that very time the proclamation for the release of the Jews was signed by Cyrus. He lets him know how highly he was regarded of God; Thou art greatly beloved, or art desired; exceedingly amiable in the eyes of God and all his saints: and as the Lord intended to reveal to him his secrets, he must attend to, and consider the following vision. Note; (1.) Angels, though great in power and might, are but the servants of God's pleasure; and they are also ministers to the heirs of salvation. (2.) God's saints are greatly beloved by him, and he makes them know it by the visits of his grace; not to raise in them a conceit of themselves, but to humble them under a sense of their own unworthiness, and to engage a large return of love and gratitude. (3.) They who would understand the things of God, must consider them attentively and seriously.
3. The message which he brought: seventy weeks of years, containing 490 years, are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city; so long God makes known to his prophet that their polity should last, or the most remarkable events concerning them should fall within that space of time; to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophesy, and to anoint the most Holy. These are the grand matters which shall be transacted within that period by the Messiah, the hope of Israel: he came to finish transgression, by taking upon himself the sin of the world, and thereby completely satisfying the justice of God in behalf of every faithful soul; that so he might be reconciled to them consistently with all his attributes—that he might be just, and yet a justifier of them that believe in Jesus: and to bring in everlasting righteousness, or the righteousness of ages; that righteous obedience of Christ to the death of the cross, which constitutes him our everlasting High-Priest, and by virtue of which alone our persons and our works are accepted of God; and also that internal righteousness—that image of God, which alone can qualify us for the eternal enjoyment of him the sovereign good: and to seal up the vision and prophesy, which should receive their full accomplishment in Christ Jesus; and to anoint the most Holy, the Messiah; most holy both in his divine and human nature; and appointed to, and qualified for the office of Mediator by that oil of gladness, the gift of the Spirit, which the Father without measure imparted to him: though this may also be applied to the people of God, who have an unction from the Holy One, and are sanctified by his Spirit, which in the days of the Messiah should be poured out in the most abundant manner. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: this is the period fixed, whence the seventy weeks are to be dated; which commenced, as is generally supposed, when Nehemiah received the edict of Artaxerxes, in the twentieth year of his reign, Neh 2:1-8 wherein express mention is made of rebuilding Jerusalem; and this will make the expiration of the sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, fall just at the year thirty-three, being generally supposed the year of Christ's death. The dividing of the weeks into different periods of seven, threescore and two, and one, seems to have respect to the different events, peculiar to these several spaces of times. The first seven weeks, or forty-nine years, include the troublous times when the city was rebuilding; during which Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem so opposed the work. And the like opposition may they expect who zealously stand up in every age to build the walls of Christ's church; but against them, if faithful, no enemy shall finally prevail. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off; at the expiration of 483 years; but not for himself, but for the sins of the world, and especially of them that believe, which were laid upon him: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, as the Roman emperor did with his armies; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, so irresistibly should they sweep the land; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined; from the beginning of the war to the end, God had in righteous judgment given the Jewish people up to be consumed. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: which, as some suppose, refers to Messiah the Prince, confirming the covenant of grace, and by his own oblation of himself putting a period to the ceremonial services; but rather respects the prince of the Romans, who should come, having for that purpose made peace with other nations, as he did, in order to be more disengaged to wreak his vengeance on the Jews: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; through the straitness of the siege, the famine which prevailed, and the tumults which were in the city, before it was taken they had ceased to offer the daily sacrifice; for the overspreading of abominations, for the wickedness of the Jewish people, who had filled up the measure of their iniquities, he shall make it desolate; God giving the land into the hand of the Romans: some read the words, upon the wing, or battlement, shall be the idols of the desolator; the Roman ensigns, with their idols thereon pourtrayed, should be fixed on the walls, or in the sanctuary; even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate; either these armies with their abominations should besiege the city, till the determined consumption should be made, and the land utterly desolate; or these desolations should remain till the time prefixed, when the fulness of the Gentiles should come in, Luke 21:24. Some render the words, upon the desolator; meaning the Romans, who should themselves be at last cut off, and then the desolations of Zion should cease.
This last week, according to the interpretation given, is separated from the rest; and the events contained in it, through the forbearance of God, deferred for a time, till about thirty years after the expiration of the sixty-nine weeks. On the whole, we have here an irrefragable argument against the Jews, who reject the true Messiah; it being evident, according to these prophesies, that he must have appeared many hundred years ago; and all the things predicted of him exactly corresponding with our adored Lord's appearing in the flesh, we are assured that this is he that should come, nor look for another.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Daniel 9". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany