Daniel 9

 

 

THE SEVENTY WEEKS.

 

 

This is the chapter of Daniel which has occasioned most controversy. It was appealed

Lord’s claims to Messiahship. It is now received by critical commentators that to

our Lord this prophecy cannot refer. Many treatises have been written on

the “seventy weeks” of Daniel, and none of them have entirely cleared up

the difficulties; indeed, it may be doubted whether all together they have

illuminated the subject very much.

 

1 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the

seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the

Chaldeans;   2 In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books

the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord same to

Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the

desolations of Jerusalem.”  The version of the Septuagint goes on the

assumption that the critics are correct in their belief that the author of

Daniel imagined a Median Empire between the Babylonian and the Persian.

 

(1)  “In the first year of Darius son of to Xerxes, of the seed of the Medes who,”

that is, the Medes — the Septuagint seems to have read malkoo instead

of homlak “reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans.”

 

(2) In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by the books the

number of the years when the ordinance (πρόσταγμα prostagma -) about the

land was (revealed) to Jeremiah the prophet to accomplish seventy years to the

fulfillment of the reproach of Jerusalem.” Theodotion is closer to the

Massoretic, only he does not seem to have read the hophal of “reign,” but

the kal. Further, Theodotion omits the second statement of the year of

Darius, with which, both in the Septuagint and in the Massoretic, the second

verse begins. We have in Tertullian a few verses from this chapter in the

Old Latin Version, called sometimes the Vetus. It coincides exactly with

neither of the Greek Versions, nor with the Massoretic, but is in closer

relationship with Theodotion. The Peshitta in the first agrees in the main

with the Massoretic texf, but renders the second verse thus: “In the first

year of his reign, I Daniel understood in the book the number of years; I

saw what was the ordinance of the number which Jeremiah the prophet had

said concerning the completion of the desolation of Jerusalem — seventy

years.” Theodotion, the Vetus, the Peshitta, and also Jerome, neglect the

fact that dl"m]h;(homlak) is hophal, and translate as if the word were kal.

This neglect is due to the difficulty of understanding the semi-satrapial

position occupied by Gobryas (Darius). He had regal powers given him to appoint

satraps in the divisions of the province of Babylonia. Not improbably,

further, be could fulfill certain sacred functions which customarily only a

king could fulfill. This is the only case where the hophal of this verb occurs.

Such a unique use of a verb must imply unique circumstances; such unique

circumstances existed in the position of Gobryas in Babylon. Only a

contemporary would have indicated this singular state of matters by the use

of an out-of-the way portion of a verb without further explanation. It is

singular that critics will not give the obvious meaning to the persistent

indications that the author of this book gives, that he regards Darius, not as

an independent sovereign, but as in some sort a vassal of a higher power,

on whom he is dependent. Of the seed of the Medes. This statement

naturally implies that while Darius was of Median descent, he was

naturalized into some other race. In the first year of his reign. This phrase

has the appearance of representing the original beginning of the narrative.

Probably there were originally two recensions of this narrative, one of them

beginning with the first verse, the other with some modification of the

second verse which has been still further modified till it has reached its

present form. The year indicated corresponds to B.C. 538, the year of the

capture of Babylon, therefore sixty-eight years from the time that Daniel

was carried captive. The period, then, which had been foretold by Jeremiah

during which the Jews were to be captive and Jerusalem desolate, WAS

DRAWING TO A CLOSE.  According to the critical assumption, that this date is

to be reckoned from the captivity of Jehoiachin (B.C. 598), there were yet ten

years to run, and if it reckoned from the capture of Jerusalem during the

reign of Zedekiah, there were twenty years. There is a certain dramatic

suitability, if no more, in Daniel studying the prophecies of Jeremiah, with

always growing eagerness as the time approached when God had promised

release. I Daniel understood by books. The critical school have assumed

that this phrase “books” applies, and must apply, to the canon; therefore it

is concluded that this book was written after the formation of the canon,

and therefore very late. Unfortunately for the assumption brought

forward, aephareem is by no means invariably used collectively for the

books of the Bible, but K’thubim, e.g. Talmud Babli Shabbath (Mishna), p.

115a, was also used. Many of the cases where sephareem appears it is

used distributively, not collectively; e.g. Talmud Babli Megillah (Mishna),

p. 8b. From the fact that the same word was used for the third division of

the canon, and for the books of the canon as a whole, there was liable to be

a difficulty, and hence confusion. Traces of this we find in the prologue to

the Greek Version of Ecclesiasticus. Thus in the first sentence the

translator speaks of “the Law, the Prophets, and the others (τῶν αλλων

 – ton allon –

the other),” as if τῶν βίβλοιν  -  ton biblion – the book  - were mentally supplied

before νὸμου -  nomou - law. While sepher is used for any individual book of

Scripture, and sephareem used for a group of these books, as the Books of Moses,

it is not used for the Bible as a whole, just as in English we never call the Bible

“the books,” but not unfrequently “the Scriptures; “on the other hand, we speak

of “the Books of Moses,” never of the “Scriptures of Moses.” If sephareem does

not mean the canon, what does it mean? We know from Jeremiah 29:1 that

Jeremiah sent to the exiles a “letter,” and in that letter (v. 10) it is said,

“For thus saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon,

I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you in causing you to

return to this place.” It is true that this letter is called sepher in Jeremiah,

but in II Kings 19:14 and Isaiah 37:14 we have sephareem the

plural, used for a single letter. This is proved by the fact that in Isaiah all

the suffixes referring to it are singular; in Kings one is in the plural by

attraction, but the other is singular as in Isaiah. The correct rendering of

the passage, then, is, “I Daniel understood by the letter the number of the

years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet.” It is

clear that the reference in this verse is to Jeremiah’s letter, for we have the

use of hwjy, Jahw (Jehovah), which out of this chapter does not appear in

this book; we have in this verse taLim", which we have in Jeremiah 29:10;

it is vocalized as infinitive piel in Daniel, and infinitive kal in Jeremiah,

but there is probably some error in Daniel. Another peculiarity

which connects this passage with the “letter” of Jeremiah is the form the

prophet’s name assumes. In the rest of his prophecy it is usually called

Why;m]r]yi(Yirmyahoo); in the section of which the ‘letter forms part, as in

this verse in Daniel, he is called hy;m]r]yi (Yirmyah). It is thus clear that

Daniel had in his mind Jeremiah’s “letter;” hence it is far-fetched to imagine

that he claims acquaintance with all the books of the Hebrew canon, in

order to know the contents of a letter. Even a falsarius of the most

ignorant sort would scarcely fail to avoid the blunder attributed to the

author of Daniel by critics. How do the critics harmonize their explanation

of this verse with their theory that the canon closed in B.C. 105, while

Daniel was written in the year B.C. 1687 It would be as impossible for an

author to speak of the canon in terms which denote it being long fixed,

sixty years before it was actually collected, as four hundred years. The

impossible has no degrees. That he would accomplish seventy years. That

seventy years would fulfill the period of desolation to Jerusalem. It is to be

noted that the word translated here “accomplish” occurs in Jeremiah’s

letter in regard to this very period (Jeremiah 29:10). The word for

“desolations” is connected by Furst with “drought;” it is also connected

with the word for “a sword.” The date at which the vision related in the

chapter was given was, as we have seen, shortly after the fall of Babylon.

The period set by God, if we date from Daniel’s own captivity, was rapidly

nearing its conclusion. As yet Cyrus had given no sign that he was about to

treat the Jews differently from the other nations. The King of Ansan had

declared himself — whether from faith or policy we cannot tell — a fervent

worshipper of Merodach and the other gods of Babylon: would he not be

prone to pursue the policy of the kings of Babylon, whose successor he

claimed to be? He had certainly ordered the return to the various cities of

the images of those gods which had been brought to Babylon by

Nabunahid, but there was no word of the return of the captives of Zion.

Would Jehovah be true to His promise or not? Like believers in every age,

DANIEL TAKES REFUGE IN PRAYER!

3 “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and

supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” The Septuagint

here is slavishly close; it renders an;T]a, (‘etruria) in accordance with its more

common meaning, ἔδωκα - edoka, and the idiomatic phrase, “to seek

prayer and supplication,” is rendered εὑρεῖν προσευχὴν – eurein proseuchaen –

to set to prayer. Theodotion is nearly as slavish; only he omits “ashes,” and has

“fastings.” The Peshitta is close, but does not follow the change of construction

in the last clause.  Jerome seems to have read, “my God.” The cessation of the

temple worship, with its sacrifices, was naturally fitted to bring prayer as a mode

of worship into a prominence it had not before. Yet we find prayers made

while the first temple was yet standing, as the prayer of Hezekiah (II Kings 19:15),

of Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 20:6). The comparison more naturally stands with

the prayers of Ezra and Nehemiah, as the subject of their supplication is similar

to that of the prayer before us.

4 “And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my

confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping

the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep

His commandments.” The versions do not call for remark. The first clause

is somewhat of a repetition of the end of the previous verse, and may thus

be the indication of there having been two recensions; at the same time, the

Oriental style allows greater repetition and redundancy than in Western

countries would be permitted. There is a reference here to

Deuteronomy 7:9, from which the latter clause is quoted verbatim. It is

also quoted with equal exactness in Nehemiah 1:5. The chapter in

Deuteronomy exhibits God’s love for Israel, and hence, as that love is His

plea, Daniel appeals to it. We note the evidence of careful acquaintance

with preceding Scripture.

5 “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have

done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy

precepts and from thy judgments.” While otherwise close, neither of the

Greek versions retains the change of construction before the last clause,

which is exhibited in the English versions. The Peshitta fails in this way also,

but uses participles all through. This verse has a strong resemblance to

Nehemiah 1:6-7, only in Nehemiah there is more elaboration and all the

signs of a later development. There is a climax here from simple sin to

rebellion; at the same time, this heaping up of terms so nearly synonymous

is more liturgic than literary; these words may have been used in the

synagogue service in Babylon.

6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets,

which spake in thy Name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers,

and to all the people of the land.” The Septuagint, while agreeing in the

main with the Massoretic, translates “to all the people of the land” as “to

every nation on the earth.” Theodotion is more accurate, but the Peshitta

maintains the ambiguity. Daniel continues his confession of sin. Not only

will they not keep God’s commands, but when God sent prophets, men of

their brethren, to speak to them with human voice, they would not hearken.

The designation of the ordinary inhabitants, the common people, as

xr,a;h;Aμ[" (‘am haaretz.) is a usage that became more pronounced in

later days, when all not educated as rabbin were called ‘am haaretz. The  

resemblance is striking between this passage and Nehemiah 9:30-32. It

is, perhaps, impossible to settle on merely critical grounds which is the

more primitive form. There is much in both passages that would suggest a

third form, the independent source of both. Not unlikely the source was

some liturgic prayer. As the shorter, the passage before us may be nearer

this original source.

7 “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us

confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the

inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that

are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them.

because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

 8  O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes,

and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.” The versions

are all very close to the Massoretic text. The most important variation is

Theodotion’s repetition of the first clause of v. 7 at the beginning of v 8.

Neither of the English versions brings out the contrast in the Hebrew of

the second clause of v. 7; it is “man,” not “men,” of Judah. This contrast

is observed by Theodotion and Jerome, but not by the Septuagint or the

Peshitta. These two verses have a strong resemblance to Baruch 1:15-16,

“And ye shall say, To our God belongeth righteousness, but unto us the

confusion of faces, as it is come to pass this day to man of Judah, and to

the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to our kings, and to our princes, and to

our priests, and to our prophets, and to our fathers.” This confession is

introduced into the text of Baruch as a quotation. The captives on the river

Lud send money to Jerusalem for offerings and sacrifices, and with the

money send certain advices. As the circumstances in which the Baruch

version purports to be written do not so naturally suit the words used, we

can, we think, have no difficulty in recognizing that it is not the primitive

recension. The words have the look of a liturgic prayer. The relationship

between the present passage and Jeremiah is close; “confusion of face”

occurs in Jeremiah 7:19 as well as Ezra 9:7. The most marked case

is the collocation, “man of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem.” This

phrase is frequent in Jeremiah; e.g  Jeremiah 4:4; 11:2; 17:25. There is

also a resemblance to Ezekiel in the phrase, “their trespass that they have

trespassed against thee;” e.g. Ezekiel 15:8; 20:27. The language thus is in

strict dramatic suitability to one who has just been studying the prophets of

the Captivity. To our kings, to our princes. This could not be used

naturally after the date of Daniel. To him who remembered kings and

princes in Judah and Jerusalem, this language is natural. In the age of

Epiphanes it would be absurd and meaningless. The phrase is used in the

liturgic prayer in Nehemiah, because there is a narrative of the history of

the people. When we compare the Psalter of Solomon, we find the only

King of Israel is God: yet Alexander Jannseus, who was not long dead

when that Psalter was written, had assumed the crown; and his sons had

competed for the possession of it.

Confession of Sin (vs. 3-8)

guilt in our own consciousness; and second, an admission of it in the

presence of God.

Ø      If we have sinned, it is wrong to ignore the fact or to forget it, till we

have repented and have been forgiven. To do so will foster insincerity

and self-deception, and will harden the heart in sin. We must first

admit our guilt to ourselves.

Ø      If we have sinned, we are required to declare our guilt before God. The

guilt must not be hidden in the secret darkness of our own consciousness.

It must be confessed. Though we may confess our sins one to another, the

supreme duty is to confess them to God, because:

o       we have sinned against Him;

o       He is our Judge;

o       He is our Father;

o       HE ONLY can deliver us from the consequences and power

of sin.

obeyed only in outward form, and yet there is no duty in which unreality

and superficiality are more fatal.

Ø      One test of sincerity is the presence of real grief (v. 3). There may be

a bald admission of guilt without any feeling of compunction. This is

of no value.

Ø      Another test is the feeling of shame: “confusion of faces.” There is a

confession which glories in wickedness. True confession is self-humiliating (Genesis 3:7-10).

Ø      A consideration of our conduct in the light of the nature and character

of God.

o       We shall realize our guilt by comparison with God’s

righteousness, which is the standard of perfection. It is the daylight of God’s presence which reveals the defects of our

work.

o       We shall be prompted to confess our sin to God when we see:

§         His greatness, which cannot endure sin;

§         His faithfulness, which is true to His side of the

covenant, though we are false to ours (v. 4); and

§         His mercy, which pardons the penitent (v. 9).

Ø      A consideration of our conduct in the light of our obligations.

o       We are subjects of the great King; therefore our sin is treason:

“we have rebelled.”

o       We live under spiritual government, and are not left to our own

inclination to shape our conduct; therefore our wickedness is the breach of law: we have “departed from God’s precepts and judgments.”

o       We have been enlightened by Divine revelation. We cannot plead

ignorance. Even the heathen have some light of conscience and nature (Romans 1:18-20). We have the clearer light of prophecy, and our guilt is that “We have not hearkened to God’s servants the prophets”

CONFESSION.

Ø      It is universal. Daniel includes men of all classes and in all situations.

We cannot shake off our guilt by leaving the scenes of our sins. We carry

this burden with us (v. 7). The rich and great are not exempt (v. 8).

Ø      It is personal. The prophet writes in the first person — “we.”

Confession must be individual.

o       We should acknowledge and confess our special sins, our

Besetting sins, the sins which are particularly our own  characteristic defects, the different kinds of sin, the separate

acts of sin. Confession of general guilt is often vague, and does

not associate itself closely with our experience.

o       We should recognize the sinful condition of the heart of which these special sins are symptoms, and confess our sin as well as

our sins (Psalm 51:5).

Ø      It is right on its own account, as an evidence of sincerity (I John

1:8).

Ø      It is a necessary condition of forgiveness (Ibid. v.:9).

Ø      It is the first step towards a better life. As we admit the evil of the past

we are more able to do better for the future (Psalm 51:7-10).

9 “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses,

though we have rebelled against Him;  10 Neither have we obeyed the

voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us

by His servants the prophets.” The Septuagint renders the last clause,

“The Law which thou gavest before Moses, and us by thy servants the

prophets.” There is a change here which has the appearance of marking an

interpolation. The prayer ceases, and an explanatory narrative begins. In

content it resembles the parallel passage in Baruch 1., but is much briefer, and

therefore more likely to be the older. “Forgivenesses” occurs only here and

Nehemiah 9:17 in a prayer that otherwise seems borrowed from that before us.

11 “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy Law. even by

departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is

poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the

servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.” The versions do

not present any points worthy of special consideration. The prayer is

resumed during the greater part of this verse. The reference here is to

Leviticus 26:14 and Deuteronomy 28:15, the probability being

more in favor of the latter, from the reference to the “oath.” The last

clause is a lapse again into the narrative style. In the parallel passage in

Baruch it is narrative throughout. This clause may easily have been a gloss

added by a scribe and inserted in the text by a copyist. There may,

however, simply be an error in the prenominal suffix.

12 And He hath confirmed His words, which He spake against

us. and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a

great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath

been done upon Jerusalem.”   The Septuagint differs somewhat, “And he hath

confirmed against us (ἔστησεν ἡμῖν – estaesen haemin – He has confirmed)

His words (προστάγματα – prostagmata) such as He spake againsjt us and

against our judges, such great evils as thou didst  (ἔκρινας ἡμῖν

ekrinas haemin adjudge us), to bring upon us. The rest is fairly in

accordance with the Massoretic. It is clear that in the text before the Septuagint

translator the word was shephattanoo instead of shephatoonoo, that is to

say, t (tau) instead of w (vav). These letters in earlier scripts were liable to

be confounded. The meaning assigned to shaphat in this reading is unusual;

but this is rather in favor of it being the true reading; and the return to the

second person, while awkward, also has weight. Theodotion and the

Peshitta do not call for remark. The use of the word “judges” for rulers

generally ought to be noted. If we take the Massoretic reading, there may

be a reminiscence of II Kings 23:22. Among the Carthaginians the

principal magistrates bore the title suffetes, equivalent to shopheteen.

Under the whole heaven hath not been done as bath been done upon

Jerusalem. Such language is to be regarded in any case as the exaggeration

of grief; but it would have something like a justification twice in the history

of Jerusalem, and only twice — after the capture of Jerusalem by

Nebuchadnezzar, and after its capture by Titus. No one has maintained that

the origin of Daniel is so late as the latter event; hence we are thrown back

upon the former. With the fact before him that temples had been plundered

everywhere, and desecrated, and cities sacked, the writer could not have

regarded the case of Jerusalem, and its temple, in the days of Epiphanes, as

unique under all heaven. After the capture of Jerusalem by.

Nebuchadnezzar, the temple was left in rums and the city deserted. Such

measure, so far as we know, was not meted out by Nebuchadnezzar to any

other city. Only rarely had even the Ninevite monarchs taken such terrible

vengeance on rebellious subjects.

13  “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil is come

upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that

we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” The                                           

Septuagint renders “laws,” διαθήκῃ - diathaekae – covenant; testament –

which is applied to the “Law” (Hebrews 9:20, quoting from Exodus 24:8;

Deuteronomy 29:1). Theodotion agrees in the main with the Massoretic text.

The Peshitta differs only in joining the first clause of the next verse to this.

Ewald makes the prenominal suffix at the end of the verse third person, not

second. The very awkwardness of the construction is an evidence in favour

of the received reading, “As it is written in the Law of Moses.” The

passages referred to are those denoted previously (Leviticus 26. especially,

vs. 33-35, 38-39, 43 and Deuteronomy 28.). All this evil is come upon us

the curses referred to there. Yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our

God; literally, entreat the face. The face being the sign of favor, “entreated not

 the favor of the Lord” would be really what is meant.  “Understand thy truth.”

Hitzig here the reference is to God’s faithfulness, either in promises or in threats.

Keil objects to this, contending that baamitheka with the preposition be

cannot mean “faithfulness,” but” truth.” This is a mistake; the preposition

might alter the significance of the verb it follows, but not that of the noun it

governs. The truth is that the word here is extended to its fullest meaning,

“God’s supreme reality.” God’s being God implies necessarily that every

word He utters of promise or threatening is true; veracity and faithfulness

are equally involved in Jehovah being God. At the same time, from the

connection it is the evil — the judgments — He had threatened that bulk

most largely in the prophet’s mind.

14 “Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and

brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works

which He doeth: for we obeyed not His voice. The Greek versions agree

with this, save that the Septuagint. has “Lord God” in the first case as well as the

second. The Peshitta, when one remembers the different division of the

verses, is also identical. There is an obvious resemblance here to

Jeremiah 44:27,     “Behold, I am watching over you for evil, and not for

good.” The verb shaqad is somewhat rare, occurring only twelve times in

Scripture, and five of these times in Jeremiah. It is not always an evil

watching; in Jeremiah 31:28 the two meanings are contrasted. Then

follows an acknowledgment of the righteousness of God in so dealing with

them Baruch 2:9 is really a version of this verse; the original Hebrew would

be almost identical. There are few indications which, did this verse stand

alone, would enable one to decide which is the more primitive.

15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people

forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten

thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

The versions are in agreement with the Masoretic text. This verse also has

many resemblances to Jeremiah 32:20-21. Hast brought thy people

forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand.  In Jeremiah we have,

“Hast brought forth thy people Israel with signs and with wonders and with

a strong hand.” In Jeremiah it is fuller, in Daniel we have only a condensed

reference. Hast gotten thee renown, as at this day. This is an exact

quotation from Jeremiah. The exactness is obscured in our Authorized

Version, in which Jeremiah 32:20 is given, “Hast made thee a name, as

at this day:” the words rendered, “made thee a name,” in Jeremiah, are

precisely the same as these rendered above,” gotten thee renown.” The last

clause is very much a repetition of the opening of v. 5, “we have sinned,”

missed the mark; “we have done wickedly,” violently transgressed.

16 “O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee,

let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem,

thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our

fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that

are about us.”  The Septuagint rendering here is in close agreement with the

Massoretic.   The Peshitta, imagining a certain want of completeness in the last

clause, inserted after “Jerusalem” “is scattered into all lands.”   The appeal is

made to God’s righteousness, because now the seventy years were nearing their

end, and God’s righteousness was involved in the time not being exceeded.

“Righteousness” here signifies the fair dealing (wohlverhalten) of God to His

people in reference to the fulfillment of His promises.”  “Righteousness” is really

righteousnesses, in the plural, the reference being to the many proofs God

has given in the past of His benevolence. “Thy city Jerusalem, thy

holy mountain,” forms a further argument: “The mountain of thy holiness”

(Psalm 2:6). A reproach to all that are about us. There is a striking

resemblance here to Jeremiah: repeatedly in his prophecies are the Jews

threatened that they will become a reproach (herpa). Especially is there a

resemblance here to Jeremiah 29:18, the letter of Jeremiah, to which

reference is made in the beginning of the chapter. This whole prayer is

saturated with phrases borrowed from Jeremiah. The apocryphal Book of

Baruch, which has expanded on this prayer, has also drawn from Jeremiah.

17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant,

and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary

that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.” The Septuagint differs here, “Now

give ear, O Lord, to the prayer of thy servant, and to my supplications; for

thy servant’s sake lift up thy countenance upon thy holy mountain which is

desolate, O Lord.” The omission of the vav in tahenoonayiv would

occasion the Septuagint rendering, “my supplications.” They had read ynda

before, Údb[. Certainly the Septuagint rendering gives better sense than

the violent change to the third person from the second.  The conjunction would not

naturally be lemaan (ˆ["m"l]), but possibly ‘eqeb asher (rv,a} bq,[,).

Further, the covenant name would certainly have been used in such a

connection, and it would necessarily have been followed by “thou.” As it

stands, it really asserts that the desolations are on account of the Lord —

an assertion which would not be germane to the tenor of the prayer. The

reading of the Septuagint is thus better here. Theodotion is closer to the

Massoretic text, but instead of “O our God,” reads, “O Lord our God,”

and avoids the change of person in the last clause by reading ynda as a

vocative, and inserting σουsou – your.  The Peshitta has, “our supplication,” and

avoids the awkward change of person by reading, “for thy Name’s sake.”

Jerome gives a fairly accurate rendering of the Massoretic. only in the last

clause he omits “Lord” and renders temet ipsum. The influence of the

Psalter is to be seen in this verse. The first clause is a slightly altered and

condensed version of Psalm 143:1. The verb that ought to open the

second member is omitted. The word tahooneem is not a very common

one. Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary has a close resemblance to

Psalm 80:3, 7, 19. As they.had no temple sacrifices in Babylon, the

captive Jews would have only the psalms of the sanctuary to keep the sense

of worship alive in their hearts.

18  “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine

eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy

Name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our

righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.  19 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

Septuagint differs but little from the Massoretic; they read “hear me”

instead of simply “hear.” The translator also connects the “desolation “with

the city, against grammar. The Septuagint adds, (σὺ ἱλάτευσον

su hilateuson - be propitious to us – v. 19). The repetition of the vocative in v.19 is

omitted, but “Zion” and “Israel” are inserted after “city” and “people”

respectively. Theodotion is in yet closer agreement with the received text.

The Peshitta is very close, but adds “ruin” to “desolation.” The Vulgate

affords no cause of remark. Our desolations. The word used here occurs in

Lamentations. In the prophecies of Jeremiah a cognate word is used,

differing from that before us only in vocalization (compare Jeremiah

25:12, where it is applied to Babylon after the seventy years of Babylonian

rule are ended). Which is called by thy Name. This phrase is used

repeatedly in Jeremiah 7. of the temple. Present our supplications. The

words used suggest the posture in presenting a petition — falling down

before the person to whom it is addressed. It is one frequently used in

Jeremiah, sometimes of persons (Jeremiah 38:26), of God

(Jeremiah 42:9). Not on account of our righteousnesses. There is a

marked advance in spiritual insight exhibited by this. The old position was

reward according to righteousness, and mercy because of it. The Jews

before the Captivity had very much the heathen idea of paying God by

sacrifice for benefits received or asked; but the long cessation of sacrifice

raised them above this. But for thy great mercies. This plea to God

because in the past He has multiplied His mercies, is in the same elevated

plane. We find a similar line in Nehemiah 9:17, 30-32, only as an occasion of

thanksgiving. The repetition of the word Adonai, and the short sentences,

give a feeling of intensity to the prayer suitable to the circumstances. The

words used are all echoes of Jeremiah; e.g. “forgive,” “hearken,” are used

in connections that would suit Daniel’s study of Jeremiah. It is impossible

not to observe to how great an extent this prayer is colored by Jeremiah.

Prayer for Pardon (vs. 16-19)

In its tone and character, the ends it seeks and the pleas it urges, this prayer

of Daniel’s may be regarded as a model prayer for the forgiveness of sins.

inspiring. It is marked by several important characteristics.

Ø      Contrition. It follows a confession of sin (vs. 5-8), and frankly admits

that the present calamities are the merited consequences of sin (v. 16).

Forgiveness is only possible after repentance (Acts 3:19) and

confession (I John 1:9).

Ø      Earnestness. This is the most striking feature of the prayer Its short

passionate phrases, its repetitions, its direct practical aims, are proofs of

reality and intensity of desire. We may expect that God will attend to our

prayers in proportion to our earnestness in offering them. Reverent

importunity is expected by God, and attains its end, as with Abraham

(Genesis 18:23-33), Jacob (Ibid. ch.32:26), Moses (Exodus 32:7-14),

and in our Lord’s parable of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-7).

Ø      Faith. In his distress the prophet seeks his God, though it is against his

God that the sin has been committed. Faith confesses that there is NO HELP BUT IN GOD!   Faith persists in pleading with God, and relies

on His mercy.

greatest evil comes from sin, and can only be removed when our sin is

forgiven. Forgiveness brings in its train all the best blessings.

Ø      The turning away of Gods anger (v. 16.). The worst effect of our sin

is seen in the changed relations between our souls and God. God is angry

with us. The essence of forgiveness is not the remission of penalties, but

the restoration of friendly relations between God and man. It is personal

reconciliation rather than legal acquittal.

Ø      The awakening of Gods sympathy. The prophet prays, “Incline thine ear

and hear; open thine eyes.” Forgiveness is not merely the negative

cessation of God’s anger. It is the positive restoration of His sympathy.

Ø      The practical help of God. “Cause thy face to shine;” “hearken and do;”

“defer not,” are earnest practical petitions. After the spiritual

reconciliation, we may naturally ask for help in the external calamities

which our sins have brought upon us. Forgiveness is the preface to active

help.

nothing for our own righteousness. All our pleas must be found, as Daniel

found his, in the character and actions of God.

Ø      Gods righteousness. This is a plea,

o       because it implies His faithfulness to His promises of pardon

to the penitent (Leviticus 26:40-44); and

o       because righteousness is more honored by the forgiveness

which destroys sin than by the anger which only punishes it (Isaiah 45:21).

Ø      Gods honor. Jerusalem is “God’s holy mountain;” the city is “called by

His name.” God is dishonored in the humiliation of His people, and He is

glorified in their restoration (Numbers 14:13-16).

Ø      Gods mercy. (v. 18.) All prayer depends on the free grace of God.

Prayer for pardon rests on that grace which pities misery and overlooks

offences — the grace which we call mercy. This plea is expressed by the

Christian phrase, “for Christ’s sake,” because Christ is both the Revelation of God’s mercy and the Sacrifice by which it becomes attainable.

 

 

 

 

The Omnipotence of Prayer (vs. 1-19)

 

The man of prayer exerts a greater influence over national affairs than even

crowned heads. “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.” (John A. Wallace.)  Daniel on his knees was a mightier man than Darius on his throne.

Daniel was in the service of the King of kings; was admitted to the audience-chamber of the Most High; and received the announcements of the Divine will. Darius now

mainly serves as a landmark on the course of time to indicate a date; Daniel

is still the teacher and molder of men.

 

WILL. The reason why Daniel prayed so earnestly for this special blessing

was that he knew from Jeremiah’s prophecies God’s purpose concerning

Israel. This knowledge, instead of rendering prayer needless, made it more

necessary. For God is no fatalist, He does not absolutely fix a date for

certain events without good reason, nor is the fixture made regardless of

other events. That date for the termination of Israel’s bondage took into

account, through the Divine presence, the temper and feeling prevalent

among the Jews — took into account even this very prayer of Daniel.

Speaking after the manner of men, Daniel’s intercession was a foreseen link

in the chain of events, and could not be spared. Daniel possibly did not

realize the full extent of his responsibility; still, he felt that a turn in the tide

of Israel’s fortunes was due, that the Divine promise awaited fulfillment,

and that much depended on earnest prayer. Hope liberates the tongue of

prayer. If God has purposed to bless, we can plead with confident

expectation.

 

AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. It is very instructive to note how in this

prayer Daniel fastens his eye upon God, contemplates His manifold

perfections, and finds in them the fuel with which to feed the fires within

his soul. He delights to think on God’s greatness — His vast resources of

good. He reposes with confidence on the unchanging faithfulness of Him

who had stooped to make a covenant with Israel. If the nation’s sins

depress his hopes, the mercy of God far more elates him. He is pleased to

contemplate God’s infinite righteousness; for that righteousness He can and

will convey to His suppliant people. He extracts hope even from the

inviolable justice of Jehovah, inasmuch as this attribute secures to men the

fullest benefit of every gracious promise. He pleads that anger may be

diverted from Jerusalem, “according to the righteousness” of God. Once

and again Daniel urges his request “for the Lord’s sake” “for thine own

sake, O my God.” This is the inexhaustible well of human comfort, viz. that

GOD IS WHAT HE IS!   It does not hinder success in prayer that we are so needy and so unworthy. The highest good is accessible, because the Fountain is

so VAST and so UNFAILING!

 

pray the more they part with self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-importance,

self-seeking. They lose themselves in God. Every form of sin

that Daniel could find in his consciousness or in his memory was confessed,

and confessed with genuine sorrow. He acknowledges personal and public

sins in every variety of language:

 

Ø      Positive wickedness,

Ø      deafness to the Divine voice,

Ø      neglect of the plain commandments,

Ø      disregard of special messengers,

Ø      contempt of God’s sovereign authority,

 

all is confessed in a spirit of candor and humility. The axe is laid to the utmost root of pride.  His soul is mantled in just shame. There is a complete emptying of self — a needful preparation to be filled with God.

 

A VICARIOUS ACT. In prayer we take the place of others, bear their

burdens, and make intercession for them. Daniel here pleads for the whole

nation. He regards as his own the sins of rulers, kings, priests, and judges.

The whole nation is represented in his person. As upon a later occasion,

the lives of passengers and crew in the Egyptian ship were saved for Paul’s

sake (Acts 27), so now the restoration of Israel was due instrumentally to the

advocacy of Daniel. A self-righteous man would have repudiated the idea

that he was as guilty as others; he would have plumed himself on his

superior virtues. Not so Daniel. The sins of the nation he attaches to

himself — felt himself, in a sense, responsible for the whole; and seeks

Divine favor, not for himself individually, but for the commonwealth of

Israel.

PLEADING. Sensible that so much hung upon his successful suit, Daniel

put his whole soul into it, and resolved that he would not fail for want of

earnestness. He had risen to the height of the great emergency. He knew

that the “set time to favor Zion was now come.”  (Psalm 102:13).  Other hindrances were now removed. God waked to be gracious — waited for human prayer as the last link in the chain; and Daniel was chosen to complete the series of preparations. Every possible argument Daniel could conceive or elaborate

he employs in his siege of the heavenly citadel. And God permitted this, not

on His own account, but to elicit fervent desire and to develop heroic faith.

If a man clearly sees the evil which follows from non-success, he will use

the most fervid appeal. Or, if he discerns the magnitude of the boon which

is in view, he will strain every nerve of his soul to obtain it. Langor in

prayer is the offspring of ignorance. Earnestness is only sober wisdom.

20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and

confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my

supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my

God;   21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even 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.” All the

versions are practically in agreement with the Massoretic text, save that

none of them gives the hophal meaning, “caused to fly swiftly;” the nearest

approach being in the Septuagint, in which we have τάχει φερόμενος

tachei pheromenos.  All, however, derive the word from p["y;, “to fly;”

another etymology is possible from p["y;. As to the meaning of this word,

there is a difference of opinion, Gesenius holding that it means “wearied out” —

a meaning unsuited to the subject or to the context, though in accordance with

the use of the word elsewhere. Meinbold would connect this word with the

preceding clause, and refer it to Daniel, “when I was faint.” The main

difficulty is the succeeding word. Furst suggests that it means “shining in

splendor” — a meaning perfectly suited to the circumstances, but for

which there seems little justification in etymology from cognate tongues.

Furst suggests a transposal from [p"y;. Winer gives it, “celeriter ivit,

cucurrit.” This view is taken by Hitzig, yon Lengerke, and Havernick.

V. 20 is largely an expansion of the first clause of v. 21. Whiles I was

speaking, and praying. (compare Genesis 24:15, “And it came to pass,

before he had done speaking”). This shows the rapidity of the Divine

answer to prayer; even before we ask, “our Father knows what things we

have need of before we ask”  (Matthew 6:8).   The man Gabriel. The name

Gabriel, as mentioned above, means “Hero of God;” and tile word here

translated “man” is the ordinary word for “man,” ‘ish. It may be remarked

that in Scripture angels are always “men;” never, as in modern art and poetry,

“women.” Whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning. This really means

“whom I had seen previously in vision,” the reference being to ch.8:16. Being caused

to fly swiftly. As above mentioned, there is considerable difficulty in

deciding which meaning is to be taken as the correct.  Touched me about the time

of the evening oblation. Daniel is so absorbed in his devotions that not till Gabriel

touched him did he recognize the presence of an angel-visitant. The time

of the evening offering does not imply that those offerings were made in

Babylon, but simply that, through the half-century that had intervened since

the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar the sacred hour had been kept

in remembrance, not impossibly as being one consecrated to prayer. Daniel

had been using this season to make known his request and petition to God.

“Oblation,” minhah, the bloodless meat offering (Leviticus 2:1, 4, 14).

22 “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O

Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” The

Septuagint. and Peshitta render the first clause, “And he approached and talked

with me.” It is difficult to understand how that reading could have arisen

from the Massoretic text, or how, on the other hand, the Massoretie text

could have arisen from that behind the Septuagint. The rendering of the

Septuagint in the last clause is better than that in our Authorized Version,

and is in accordance with our Revised, “to make thee skilful of

understanding.” Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic. Although Daniel

was highly endowed, and although he had before him the inspired words of

Jeremiah, he had need of yet higher endowments to understand the secrets

of the Divine plan. He knew that if he reckoned seventy years from the

time when he himself had been carried captive, then the period was

drawing to a close: but the sins of the people were still there. It might be

that God would restrain the fulfilment of His promise; the more so that, if

the prophecy of Jeremiah were reckoned from the fall of Jerusalem, twenty

years would yet have to run. Daniel is concerned about the sins of his

people, knowing that, unless they were removed, renewed punishment

would befall them.

23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment

came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved:

therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.”  

The Septuagint differs somewhat from this, “In the beginning of thy prayer a

commandment came from the Lord, and I came to show thee, because thou

art merciful, and do thou understand (διανοήθητι dianonthaeti – you are to

understand) the command.” The other versions do not present much worthy of remark.

At the beginning of thy supplications. This affords a reason why it was while Daniel

“was yet speaking,” that Gabriel came to him; the moment the desire was strong

enough to shape itself in words, the answer was on the way. The

commandment came forth. The word translated “commandment” is the

very common Hebrew word, rb;d; (dabar), “a word,” “a thing,” “a

matter,” in which sense it occurs in the penultimate clause of this verse.

And I am come to show thee. The angel Gabriel is the messenger sent forth

to interpret to Daniel the ways of God with His people. The angel Gabriel is

sent to give Daniel an explanatory oracle or word that he may be

comforted concerning his people. The reason of this is, “for thou art

greatly beloved.” This phrase has caused considerable difference of

opinion.  The Septuagint renders,  ἐλεεινὸςeleeinos – pitiable,

meritable – Theodotion,  ἀνὴρ ἐπιθυμιῶν – anaer epithumion – a man of

desires; a man much desired;   the Peshitta, regee; Jerome, vir desideriorum; Hitzig’s rendering is “darling”(liebling); Ewald, “dearly beloved one.” Hemoodoth means “desires,”“loves;” hence may either be understood subjectively or objectively; in this

case, most probably the latter, “a man, the object of love.” Therefore

understand the matter, and consider the vision. The reader will have

observed that the last clause is omitted from the Septuagint. There is a false

succession here. Daniel is first commanded “to understand the matter,” and

then “to consider the vision.” Another rendering of the Massoretic avoids

this by neglecting the ethnach, and connecting ˆybi with the preceding

clause, gives, “thou art greatly beloved and understanding in the matter.”

 

 

 

Prayer Answered (vs. 20-23)

 

We have here a lifting of the veil which commonly hides from our view the

processes which connect our prayers with God’s replies. The revelation

thus made of the unseen world should confirm our faith in the necessity

and power of prayer, and help us to understand in some way the manner in

which God answers it.

 

  • GOD GIVES SOME BLESSINGS ONLY IN RESPONSE TO

PRAYER. The blessing was given to Daniel immediately he prayed, but

not till then. Probably if the prayer had been offered sooner, the response

also would have been enjoyed sooner. There are many good things which

we lose simply because we do not pray for them (James 4:2).

 

Ø      This is not contrary to the idea of the universality and unchangeable

character of natural law.

 

o       Because prayer itself is a factor among spiritual forces which

have influences upon the future; and

o       because God must have at least no less freedom of action in arranging the forces of His universe than He has accorded to us, and so may act with special purposes as we also do, without breaking one of his laws.

 

Ø      This is not contrary to the wisdom and goodness of God. God knows

what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Yet there may be

things which it is wise and right for God to give after we have asked for

them, but which it is not right or wise for Him to give before we have

prayed, because our recognition of the need of them and our trust to God

for them, may be important conditions for the right reception of them

(Matthew 7:7-11).

 

  • GOD ANSWERS PRAYER ACTIVELY AND PROMPTLY. Prayer

is not merely a subjective act soothing and relieving the soul. Even the

subjective influence of it depends on our faith in its real efficacy. We

should not be comforted by prayer if we did not believe that God heard

and answered it.

 

Ø      God hears prayer. Prayer is not only the breathing out of our souls. It is

talking to a God who hears, attends, and sympathizes (Isaiah 41:17).

 

Ø      God acts in response to prayer. Gabriel is sent by God, and Daniel

receives new light. We may find, especially in spiritual matters, that there is a real exertion of energy on God’s side in response to prayer. He is not

a passive hearer of prayer. His answers are not the mere echoes of sympathy.  They carry active aid (Psalm 91:15).

 

Ø      God answers prayer promptly. Daniel prays, “Defer not.” God does not

defer. The answer is sent at the very beginning of the supplication, and

Gabriel is “caused to fly swiftly.” God is too powerful to need to delay,

and too merciful to be willing to delay. If we do not receive the answers to

our prayers quickly, it is not because God is slow, but because the time at

which the blessing is to be given is one of the conditions of its utility. Still,

the decree goes forth at once, and begins to be accomplished in due time

(Habakkuk 2:3).

 

  • GOD’S RESPONSE TO PRAYER IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH

HIS WILL AND PROVIDENTIAL ORDER.

 

Ø      The manner in which the answer is made does not imply any breach in

the order of providence. The angel is sent to communicate knowledge to

Daniel. This, according to Scripture, is the normal method of spiritual

help (Hebrews 1:14).

 

Ø      The substance of the answer is in harmony with Gods will and the

order of His providence. Daniel prays for the restoration of his people. God answers the prayer by revealing the already settled purpose of this

restoration. God often answers prayer in a different way from our

expectation. Sometimes He opens our eyes to blessings already given, but

not recognized (Genesis 21:19). Sometimes He changes our desires,

and inclines our hearts to rest in His will by showing us that it is better than our will. The best prayer is that in which we seek to be reconciled to the will of God (Matthew 26:39).

 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon

thy holy city, 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 prophecy, and to anoint

the Most Holy.” The Septuagint here differs from the above, “Seventy weeks

are determined (ἐκρίθησανekrithaesan – from that time) upon thy people and the city of Zion, to make an end of sin, to make unrighteousness rare (σπανίσαι – spanisai)

and to wipe out the unrighteousnesses, and to understand the vision, and to give

(δοθῆναι – dothaenai - appoint) everlasting righteousness, and to end the visions and

the prophet, and to rejoice the holy of holies.” There seem here to be some

instances of doublet: τὰς ἀδικίας σπανίσαιtas adikias sranisai – make

unrighteosness rare and ἀπαλεῖψαι τὰς ἀδικίας apaleipsai tas adikias

wipe away injustices; blot out unrighteousness -are different renderings of μtej;l](lehathaym hattaoth), or as it isin the Qri, leahthaym hattath (jwaF;j" μtej;l]). Neither of these seems to be the original of the Greek. Schleusner suggests to read

σφραγίσαί - sphagisai – seal.Against this is the fact that Paulus Tellensis renders lemazor, “to bring to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:24, Peshitta). How Wolf (‘Siebzigwochen,’ p. 26) can say the Septuagint confirms the Massoretic K’thib, is difficult to see.

The author of the first rendering of this phrase seems to have read ttj

(ha-thath) instead of hatham; the other translator must have read mahah

(hj;m;). The phrase, διανοηθῆναι τὸ ὅραμα dianoaethaenai to horama –

to understand the vision, seems a doublet of the clause “to seal up the vision.”

There seems to have been in one of the manuscripts used by the Septuagint

translator a transposition of words; for one of them must have read ˆt"jul] (lehoothan) instead of aybij;l], since he renders δοθῆναι (appoint). This is an impossible change, but the mistaking of μjhl for ˆthl is perfectly easy to imagine, if μthl had

been written in place of aybhl, and it transferred to the place in the

Massoretic text occupied by yyhl, then we can easily understand ˆybhl.

In the last clause the Septuagint translator must have read jmç instead of jçm,

a clearly inferior reading. The impression conveyed to one is that the

translators were able to put no intelligible meaning on the passage, and

rendered the words successively as nearly as they could without attempting

to make them sense. We must admit, however, that the phenomena that

cause this impression may be due to corruption of the text. Theodotion

renders, “Seventy weeks are determined (συνετμήθησανsunetmaethaesan –

were demarcated) upon thy people and on the holy city, to seal sins and wipe away unrighteousness, and to atone for sin, and to bring the everlasting righteousness,

and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies.” Theodotion, it

will be seen, as the Septuagint, has “prophet” instead of “prophecy,” which

certainly is more verbally accurate than our version; he omits “to finish

transgression,” having instead, “to seal sins.” The Peshitta has followed the

K’thib and renders, “finish transgressions,” and instead of “prophecy” has

the “prophets.” The text of the Vetus, as preserved to us by Tertullian, is,

“Seventy weeks are shortened (breviatae) upon thy people, and upon the

holy city, until sin shall grow old, and iniquities be marked (signentur), and

righteousnesses rise up, and eternal righteousness be brought in, and that

the vision and the prophet should be marked (signetur), and the holy of

holies (sanctus sanctorum) be anointed.” Jerome renders, “Seventy weeks

are shortened (abbreviate sunt) upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to

end falsehood (prevarieatio), to end sin, to wipe out iniquity, to bring in

the everlasting righteousness, to fulfil the vision and prophecy, and to

anoint the holy of holies (sanctus sanctorum).” The Hebrew here is

peculiar; the word for “weeks” is in the masculine, which is unexampled

elsewhere in the plural. The singular masculine is found, e.g Genesis

29:27; there is no case of feminine singular. Mr. Galloway (‘Shadow on the

Sundial,’ p. 51) would read μy[ibuv;μy[ibuv;, and would render, “by weeks