Jim B asked:
I feel Daniel 9:27 is one of the most troublesome passages in the Scriptures, not in and of itself, but because of the numerous different orderings of words that appear in the various translations. Further, the pronoun, “he” that appears twice in the verse lends even more confusion because most translations do not make clear whether the entire verse is in reference to Christ, the antichrist, or both.
First, notice three different readings in my possession of the third (last) clause:
- And for the overspreading of abominations…
- And on the wings of abominations….
- And on the wing of the temple….
#3 is particularly troublesome because it suggests that a statue of the antichrist will be placed on a “wing” or section of the temple. Is that what the verse is implying? But that is in no way implied in versions 1 & 2.
#2 is confusion because “wing” begins to sound metaphoric, eg. “On Wings of Song”
#1 makes absolutely no sense to me. “For” sounds like “because of” eg. “And because of the overspreading (maybe the translator means far-reaching) abominations…
But the confusion does not end there. The New King James makes a distinction in the first sentence of v.27 by giving the “he” a small h, implying that Daniel are referring to a human, probably antichrist. But then in the second clause NKJ states, “But in the middle of the week, ‘He’ shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. Now the capital H in “He” supports the theory that Christ (and not antichrist) fulfilled the first half of Daniel’s 70th week by ending the need for animal sacrifice with crucifixion. This, of course, would shoot full of holes the theory that antichrist will confirm a peace treaty with the Jews and then break it in the middle of the 70th week. But then we come against another perplexing question: why would DanielÂ refer to the antichrist in the first clause of v.27, then jump to Jesus in the second clause, then jump back to antichrist in the third and last clause. hence:
- “Then he (antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week;”
- “But in the middle of the week He (Christ) shall bring an end to sacrifice and oblations;”
- “And on the wing of abominations shall be “one” (antichrist?) who makes desolate…”
Has anyone who knows Hebrew actually gone back to examine the “he” of v.27 to see if there is some sort of distinction readily apparent in the text, similar to how we capitalize He in reference to Deity, and a small h in he for ordinary humans? This would go a long way to properly interpreting v.27 but, absent that, I’m afraid the controversy over a 3 1/2-year or 7-year tribulation will continue until Jesus returns.
Jim raises some great questions about confusion over the correct reading of what is considered possibly the most important prophetic verse in the entire Bible.
- Who do the three he‘s refer to here? Does one of them (capitalized in NKJV) refer to Christ?
- Which reading of the variations is correct: abominations or temple?
- And how long is that tribulation anyway?
- What is the covenant made about?
Does He refer to Messiah or Anti-messiah?
This question troubled me for some time after hearing Michael Rood propose that the Messiah is referred to here, not Antichrist, a perspective I had never heard before. After looking at it both ways I’m more confident on this verse than I ever would have been before.
The old idea that the one who confirms the covenant is Christ (with his New Covenant) does not fit the context. The last eligible antecedent to the three he’s in v.27 is “the prince of the people who shall come and destroy the temple” of v.26 referring to the coming Antichrist, not “the Messiah.” The covenant is naturally understood to last only seven years, a limit that certainly does not fit the New Covenant which will be perpetual (Jer 31:31ff). The doom pronounced on this person matches what is pronounced on the Little Horn of chapter 7 as well as the Beast thrown in the lake of fire in Revelation 19.
By the way, I do know enough Biblical Hebrew to explain the deal with the he’s. Not only does Hebrew not have capital letters, but in this passage the verb conjugation automatically implies the masculine singular, so there are no separate personal pronouns to capitalize here anyway. Whenever you see a capitalization of pronoun, take it with a grain of salt because it is the added interpretation of the translator who could be wrong–which is the case here.
Which Translation is Correct?
I always recommend people refer to and use multiple Bible versions rather than rely on one, especially if it’s the old King James which is in hard-to-understand Old English, and 400 years behind in scholarship and manuscript discoveries. The rub here is, as we see in Jim’s questions, that it may take a while before you have the discernment to decide which of the several possible readings is probably the right one and not be left more confused instead of more enlightened.
The reason for the great differences Jim noticed are due to manuscript variations. The Hebrew Masoretic Text (MS) gives us the obscure “wing/overspreading of abominations” (yes, plural abominations) while the Greek Septuagint (LXX) reads “wing of the temple.” The Greek New Testament more often follows the LXX reading than the MS. Here the LXX fits better with Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 which refer to Daniel’s abomination being “setup” or “standing” in the “Holy Place” or “where it should not.” If you go with the obscure Hebrew reading, it’s hard to say what it means, but neither does it clearly contradict the NT understanding of this being about something set up in the Temple.
What is the Abomination of Desolation?
The noun here for abomination is always used in connection with idolatry (TWOT). Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the type of the Antichrist prophesied in Daniel 11:31-32, setup a altar and statue of Zeus in the Temple during the time of the Maccabees when he outlawed the reading of the Torah. Not surprisingly, Revelation 13 indicates that there will be a statue of the Antichrist himself commanded by the False Prophet to be worshipped. If the Beast will be setting up his headquarters in the temple declaring himself to be God (1The 2:4) it would make sense for the statue of himself to be setup there at his headquarters, exactly where Daniel’s abomination of desolation is to be setup according to Jesus.
What, then, is the desolation? The desolation referred to would be the desecration of the altar that putting such a detestable idol near would cause, a destroying of its true purpose. After Antiochus IV was defeated by the Maccabees they had to have a rededication of the altar.
How Long Is the Great Tribulation?
The question of how long the Tribulation is does not depend on any of the above questions. See this article for how to determine that with high confidence: How Long is the Great Tribulation?
Publicized Peace Treaty With Israel or Secret Conspiracy?
By the way, the theory that antichrist will confirm a peace treaty with the Jews and then break it in the middle of the 70th week is just that, a theory, not much better supported than Evolution. There actually is no plain text verse to support this. On the contrary, there is a plain text passage indicating that “the many” who the Antichrist makes a treaty with are those ten rulers who will already be pulling the world’s strings behind the scenes and therefore have power to make him the world ruler:
Revelation 17:16-17 â€” 16 The 10 horns you saw, and the beast, will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, devour her flesh, and burn her up with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His plan by having one purpose, and to give their kingdom to the beast until Godâ€™s words are accomplished.
I am convinced that this is why Jesus never told us to “watch out for the seven year peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist spoken of by Daniel because there shall be Great Tribulation 3Â½ years later!!” Instead he told us to watch for the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet as the sign the Tribulation was imminent (1290-1260 = 30 days later). The treaty that the Antichrist makes with “the many” (or “the mighty”,”the strong ones” as another possible rendering of the Hebrew HaRabim) by all indications looks to be a secret conspiracy to defeat (America) Mystery Babylon and then set up a one world government or New World Order in her place. If it’s a public treaty then why didn’t Jesus tell us to watch for it and thereby give us a very nice advance signpost? But if it’s secret Jesus would not have instructed us to watch for it knowing that we’d have to be an Illuminati, instead of his disciple, to be in on that signing meeting =).