According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, when was Daniel written?

SUMMARY 

The Book of Daniel claims to have been written in the sixth century BC, foretelling history until Christ’s return. The church has always believed that to be true.

Critical Scholars reject Daniel.

However, over the past 300 years, theological faculties of major universities have submitted to the anti-supernatural culture of modern intellectualism. Since critical scholars do not accept the supernatural and do not accept that it is possible to foretell the future, they claim that the Book of Daniel was written AFTER the events it describes. In other words, it is a history book presented in the form of a prophecy.

Specifically, they claim that Daniel was written during the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV; around the year 165 BC because (they say) Daniel accurately describes history up to the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus, but is confused about later history.

The Dead Sea Evidence

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the scrolls collected by an ancient Jewish sect. These scrolls were discovered around the year 1950 in caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea. Many of the scrolls and fragments were copies of books of the Old Testament, including the Book of Daniel. These scrolls confirm that the Bible and, specifically, the Book of Daniel, are reliable:

The Bible is reliable.

The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Old Testament is reliable:

The Old Testament in our Bibles is translated from the Masoretic Text (MT) which dates to about a thousand years AFTER Christ. But the Dead Sea Scrolls are a full thousand years older.

Comparisons of the MT to the Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over those thousand years. The chief differences have to do with the spelling of words.

That means that we now have proof that the Old Testament, and by implication, our Bibles, has been accurately transmitted (copied) for more than 2000 years. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that the Old Testament has also been accurately copied before the time of the Qumran community as well.

Daniel is reliable.

Secondly, the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Book of Daniel is accurate. Before these scrolls were discovered, scholars had little confidence in the reliability of Daniel due to the differences between the ancient Greek translations and the Hebrew and Aramaic of Daniel in the MT.

However, the eight Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea confirmed the accuracy of the Book of Daniel in our Bibles because they conform closely to Masoretic tradition.

Daniel is part of the Scriptures.

A third conclusion from the Dead Sea Scrolls is that Daniel was regarded as “Scripture” at Qumran. This is indicated by the large number of copies of Daniel discovered and by the way in which Daniel was used. For instance, the Florilegium (4Q174) quotes Daniel 12:10 as ‘written in the book of Daniel, the Prophet‘ (frgs. 1-3 ii 3-4a). This formula is typical of quotations from canonical Scripture at Qumran.

While critical scholars claim that Daniel was written in 165 BC by an unknown writer, the reference to “the book of Daniel, the Prophet” means that the Qumran community regarded Daniel as a real historical person and as a prophet.

The canonical status of Daniel at Qumran can be confirmed by comparing it to the Book of Jubilees, which is not in our Bibles. Both books were regarded as authoritative by the Qumran sect but with different levels of authority:

Daniel was regarded as having primary authority, namely as the word of God spoken through the prophet. In fact, during the centuries before and immediately after Christ, nobody regarded Daniel as describing past events in the form of a prophecy. All of Judaism regarded Daniel as a primary authority.

Jubilees, in contrast, was regarded as having secondary authority, meaning that it was an authoritative INTERPRETATION of Scripture. Jubilees was similar to a creed of one of the Christian denominations today, namely, regarded as authoritative by a subgroup but not by all.

Daniel is true prophecy.

These scrolls also show that Daniel was written BEFORE the time of Antiochus IV:

The Qumran community was formed around 150 BC; about 15 years after the time of Antiochus. Their earliest copies of Daniel are dated to about 50 years after Antiochus.

As discussed, the Qumran community regarded the Book of Daniel as inspired Scripture. But it takes at least 100 years for new documents to become accepted as Scripture. It must first undergo a slow process of distribution and copying until it wins the hearts of the people.

Daniel, therefore, must have existed for a long time before the Qumran community was formed. For example:

Two of the Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea (4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e)), have been dated to the late 2nd BC. This was only about 50 years after critical scholars say Daniel’s prophecies were composed. That does not leave enough time. It is quite improbable, if not impossible, that the book was composed during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC, as the critical scholars claim, and gained acceptance as an inspired book within 50 years.

It follows that Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus. If that is so, then Daniel accurately predicts future events.

Scholars treat Daniel differently.

In the case of Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Chronicles, after copies of these books had been found at Qumran, critical scholars were willing to push the date of composition for these books back a century or more. They say, for example:

“Each song had to win its way in the esteem of the people before it could be included in the sacred compilation of the Psalter. Immediate entrée for any of them is highly improbable.

“The discovery of a fragment of Chronicles at Qumran renders a Maccabean date virtually impossible for any part of Chronicles.”

But, although the evidence is identical, they refuse to draw the same conclusion for Daniel because it would mean that Daniel is a true prophecy.

Was Daniel a Known Forgery?

If the critical scholars are right, namely that Daniel was written under a false name during the Maccabean revolt, pretending to be an old book but really describing history in the form of a prophecy, then everybody who lived through the Maccabean revolt would have known that. That includes the first members of the Qumran sect. They would have known that the book failed to correctly predict the success of the Maccabean revolt a year or two after it was written.

No book of the Bible would be accepted as “Scripture” within 50 years after it was written. But that is even more true for Daniel if it was a known forgery.

Conclusion: Daniel is inspired.

Therefore, Daniel’s prophecies must have been written before the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus IV. Consequently, the detailed prophecies in Daniel 11, pointing to Antiochus, really were written before those events. 

This does not prove that Daniel’s prophecies were written in the sixth century BC. But this does prove that Daniel is divinely inspired and contains true prophecy. That forces us to conclude that Daniel is what it itself claims to be, namely that it was written in the sixth century BC.

– END OF SUMMARY – 


THE ACADEMIC CONSENSUS

Modern science presupposes that everything has ‘natural’ causes. The theological faculties of universities operate in that intellectual climate and, over the past 300 years, unfortunately, have submitted to that culture. In other words, the theological faculties of universities no longer presuppose that the Bible is the Word of God. In fact, the reverse is true today, namely that they presume that the Bible is NOT the word of God. This means that they assume that everything in the Bible, including the miracles and prophecies, has natural causes.

Consequently, in academic circles, historical criticism (critical scholarship) has become the standard approach to Bible study. That means that they ‘criticize’ the Bible against secular history. Whenever they find a difference, they assume the Bible is wrong.

For example, the book of Daniel mentions two kings that were previously unknown, namely Darius the Mede and Belshazzar. Archeology has since revealed that a king named Belshazzar did exist but, before that, critical scholarship concluded that neither of these kings ever existed.

Due to its anti-supernatural presupposition, to avoid the strong evidence for the divine authorship of Scripture from the detailed prophecies in Daniel that ultimately came to pass, historical criticism takes the position that Daniel’s prophecies were written after the events it so accurately ‘predicts’:

“We need to assume that the vision as a whole is a prophecy after the fact. Why? Because human beings are unable accurately to predict future events centuries in advance … So what we have here (in Daniel) is in fact not a road map of the future laid down in the sixth century B.C. but an interpretation of the events of the author’s own time, 167-164 B.C.”1Towner, Daniel, Interpeter’s Bible, John Knox:1984, p. 115

They claim that the prophecies were written exactly in 167-164 BC because they are able to align the prophecies of Daniel 11 with the history of the Greek kings up until that date, but after that date, they say, Daniel’s prophecies no longer agree with actual history.

167-164 BC was during the Jewish Maccabean revolt against the armies of the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes. Critics claim that Daniel’s prophecies were written at that time to inspire the Jewish revolt.

For the same reasons, critical scholars also claim that the events predicted in Daniel 11 after that point in time were the uninspired attempts by an unknown author, but he (she?) failed miserably because the ‘prophecies’ did not foresee the success of that revolt.

It is a bit of a contradiction to say that Daniel was written to inspire the revolt but that its prophecies did not foresee the success of the revolt. Nevertheless, this view is the academic consensus today. One can see that in encyclopedias such as Britannica. In other words, it is the consensus of the theological faculties of universities.

For a further discussion, see historical criticism.

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

In 1947, a young shepherd boy made the discovery of the century: In one of the Qumran Caves near the Dead Sea, he found a scroll. From that year on to 1956, eleven caves were discovered. They brought back to light hundreds of ancient Old Testament manuscripts, along with a large number of other writings.

The manuscripts include thousands of fragments, larger manuscripts, and fewer than a dozen well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts.

Dating of Manuscripts

Historians use various techniques to date these manuscripts. However, the date of a document does not mean that the contents were first created at that time. For example, take the following two Dead Sea manuscripts:

They overlap in terms of text covered but are dated a century apart. Ulrich studied the orthography (the spelling of words) and wrote that the later manuscript may have been copied from the earlier one “by a scribe who was intent upon reproducing the text in the more contemporary, more full and clear and interpretative orthography of the late Second Temple period.” 2[The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999:162]

In other words, the later manuscript may appear to be written a century later because of changes in the spelling of words and writing style, but the contents are exactly the same as the earlier one.

But this means that the earlier manuscript, dated 50 BC, could well be a copy of an original document created centuries earlier. See Thinktank for a further discussion.

Daniel was not written at Qumran.

It is generally accepted that Daniel was not written at Qumran:

“There is no clear case of an apocalypse actually authored within the Qumran community.” (Collins Thinktank)

In the view of critical scholars, the prophecies of Daniel were created in 165 BC but the stories in the first half of Daniel were already in circulation by that time.

In the conservative view, Daniel was compiled in the 6th century BC, as the book itself also claims.

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE SCROLLS

The Bible is reliable.

The Old Testament in our Bibles is translated from a major manuscript of the Masoretic Text (MT). Up until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest MT manuscripts were dating to about a thousand years AFTER Christ. This allowed some scholars to question the faithfulness of the text of the Old Testament. Consequently, they took great freedom in amending, changing, and adjusting the Hebrew text. (Hasel)

But the Dead Sea Scrolls are much older. They date to between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD. Bronze coins found at the same sites are dated from 135 BC until 73 AD. This supports the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls. (Wikipedia)

Therefore, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest surviving manuscripts of books of the Bible and reveal how the Old Testament, including the book of Daniel, read a full thousand years before the oldest copy of the MT. They would either affirm or repudiate the reliability of textual transmission from the original texts to the oldest Masoretic texts at hand.

The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over a thousand-year period, rendering it reasonable to believe that current Old Testament texts are reliable copies of the original works. For example, comparisons of the MT to the Dead Sea Scrolls show the following:

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only 17 letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word “light,” which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly.3The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrow

“The chief differences … have to do with the spelling of words.”4G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949)

As proof of the accuracy of the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered one of the most important finds in the history of archaeology.

We have, therefore, proof that our Bibles have been accurately transmitted (copied) for more than 2000 years. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that the Old Testament has been accurately copied during the centuries before the time of the Qumran community; at least from the time of Ezra the Scribe.

Daniel is reliable.

Modern scholars question its reliability.

The official Greek translation of Daniel used in ancient times was that of Theodotion (ca. 180 AD). His translation has a close affinity with the MT. But the oldest Greek translation of Daniel, namely in the Septuagint, contains considerably added material and reads differently from the MT. Around 400 AD, Jerome ventured the opinion that the Septuagint “differs widely from the original [Hebrew], and is rightly rejected.” (Hasel)

Nevertheless, these differences and some other considerations have caused leading modern scholars to have little confidence in the text of Daniel. For example, Professor Klaus Koch suggested that, while we have a Hebrew/Aramaic text and two Greek versions, none of these three is original.5Koch et al. 1980:22, 23; Koch 1986:16–21

The Scrolls confirm its reliability.

However, the eight Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea confirmed the accuracy of the book of Daniel in our Bibles today because they:

(1) Are very close to each other and conform closely to Masoretic tradition (Cross 1956:86).

(2) Do not contain any of the additions that are in the ancient Greek translation (the LXX, also called the Septuagint) but not retained in the Protestant Bibles, namely the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, and the Story of Susanna.

(3) Preserve the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the book.

In the MT, Daniel is written partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic. Hartman and Di Lella (1978:75) assumed that the book of Daniel in its entirety was written originally in the Aramaic language and that the Hebrew parts of the book are translations from Aramaic into Hebrew. (Hasel) However:

Two different manuscripts (4QDan(a) and 1QDan(a)) confirm the change from Hebrew into Aramaic for Daniel 2:4b.

Both 4QDan(a) and 4QDan(b) show the change from Aramaic into Hebrew in Daniel 8:1, just as in the MT. (Hasel)

Consequently, scholars conclude:

The Daniel fragments … reveal, on the whole, that the later Masoretic text is preserved in a good, hardly changed form. They are thus a valuable witness to the great faithfulness with which the sacred text has been transmitted.”6Mertens 1971:31

“Despite the fragmentary state of most of Daniel scrolls, they reveal no major disagreements against the Masoretic Text, although individual readings differ on occasion.”7Peter W. Flint, The Daniel Tradition at Qumran in Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“The chief differences (w.r.t. Daniel) … have to do with the spelling of words.”8G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949).

The overwhelming conformity of these Qumran Daniel manuscripts with the MT is evidence that the MT preserved the text of the book of Daniel well. It is incredible that a book should be copied for a thousand years and remain virtually intact.

Daniel is Inspired Scripture.

To date, eight manuscripts of the biblical book of Daniel have been discovered at the Dead Sea. This is more than as for much larger books such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. (Wikipedia) It is evident from the number of manuscripts that the book of Daniel was a favorite book in the Qumran community.

The Dead Sea Scrolls also include discussions of and references to Daniel in other works. Flint observes:

“Every chapter of Daniel is represented in these manuscripts, except for Daniel 12. However, this does not mean that the book lacked the final chapter at Qumran, since Dan 12:10 is quoted in the Florilegium (4Q174), which explicitly tells us that it is written in ‘the book of Daniel, the Prophet.'” (Thinktank)9Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Craig Evans and Peter Flint (eds). Eerdmans:1997. 43)

Flint (p44) continued:

“We may conclude that Daniel was regarded as a scriptural book at Qumran for two reasons:

(1) The large number of preserved copies is a clear indication of Daniel’s importance among the Qumran covenanters.

(2) The way in which Daniel was used at Qumran is indicative of its authoritative status; for instance, the Florilegium (4Q174) quotes Dan 12:10 as ‘written in the book of Daniel, the Prophet’ (frgs. 1-3 ii 3-4a). This reference has two implications:
– That Daniel was regarded by the writer as Scripture and
– That it may have belonged among the ‘Prophets’.” (Flint:44) (Thinktank)

The formula “which written in the book of Daniel the prophet” is typical of quotations from canonical Scripture at Qumran. (Hasel) It is similar also to Matthew 24:15, where Jesus refers to “Daniel the prophet.”

Another example of a Qumran document that refers to Daniel as a scriptural book is 11QMelch. Quoting Isaiah, it refers to “the messenger who announces peace” and interprets this as “the anointed of the spirit about whom Daniel spoke.” (Thinktank) This probably refers to “the Anointed One” (Dan 9:25; NIV), whom we interpret as Jesus Christ (See Daniel Nine).

In other words, while critical scholars claim that Daniel was written in 165 BC by an unknown writer, the Qumran community regarded Daniel as a real historical person and as a prophet.

These are clear, objective evidence of Daniel’s rightful place among the inspired Jewish Scriptures. (Hasel) As Professor Ulrich says:

“However one uses in relation to Qumran the category of what is later explicitly termed ‘canonical,’ the book of Daniel was certainly in that category.” (Hasel)10Ulrich 1987:19

JUBILEES WAS ACCEPTED SOON.

A possible objection to the arguments above is that the Book of Jubilees was written 160-150 BC, and was accepted at Qumran as an authoritative book, even being used in prooftexts. Does this mean that Daniel could have been accepted as inspired within 15 years?

Different Levels of Authority

The difference lies in the level of authority:

Primary (Bible) – In traditional Protestantism, we begin with sacrosanct Scripture as “primary” or “ultimate” authority.

Secondary (Creeds) – Every denomination, however, has somewhat different interpretations of the Scripture, and these interpretations are set forth in Creeds. For that denomination, those Creeds are ‘authoritative’. To disagree with the Creed is to relinquish membership in that sub-group. The authority of the Creed, however, is “secondary” to the “primary” authority of the Bible. The secondary character of the Creed’s authority can be seen in its usage of the primary authority: It will use the Scriptures to support arguments.

Teachers – But typically, the authority structure doesn’t stop at just these two levels, but additional levels can appear. Certain ‘teachers’ can assert their authority to interpret both Scripture and Creeds.

Primary Documents require more time.

It takes a very long time for a document to be accepted as a primary document. For example, if someone came forth with a book and said that it was a ‘lost’ book of the Sacred Scriptures, how long do you think it would take for Protestantism to accept it (if ever)? Right—forever!

But secondary documents are ‘instantly’ accepted by the group that produced them. If, for example, a group of theologians decided they didn’t like the current dominant creed and decided to craft a NEW ‘sub-creed’, how long would it take the membership of that sub-group to accept that new sub-creed? Right, very little time at all.

Daniel is Primary, Jubilees Secondary.

For the following reasons, while the book Daniel was considered primary authority at Qumran, Jubilees enjoyed only secondary authority:

Is it part of the Bible?

Daniel is part of the Bibles we have today but the Book of Jubilees is not. It was not considered ‘Scripture’ by Formative Judaism of the first century.

Is it accepted by all?

During the centuries before and after Christ, all of Judaism accepted Daniel as authoritative. None of those closest to the data – including eyewitnesses – considered Daniel to be describing the past events as if it describes the future:

“The book of Daniel … was considered prophetic at Qumran, in the New Testament, by Josephus, by Melito, and indeed, to judge by the evidence, by all.”11The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999.:91

Prof. Menahem Kister, Bible Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote:

“The last chapters of Daniel were thus accepted as sacred and worthy of interpretation and midrash in all streams of Judaism relatively shortly after they were composed.”

To come to this conclusion, he argued as follows12Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.102:

“Explicit and implicit citations of Daniel 12 are found elsewhere in the sect’s literature.

Outside the sect, an allusion to Dan. 11:31 is found in 1 Macc. 1:54;

The rabbis cite and interpret these chapters as part of their Bible, probably reflecting the Pharisaic acceptance of these visions as authoritative.

Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14 and Josephus, Ant. 10:269-276, treat Dan. 8, which is from the same period, as an authoritative text.”

Josephus was a Romano-Jewish historian who lived and wrote at the same time as when the books of the New Testament were composed. He wrote:

“If … there is anyone who … wishes to learn about the hidden things that are to come, let him … read the Book of Daniel, which he will find among the sacred writings” (Ant. 10.210).

“We are convinced … that Daniel spoke with God, for he was not only wont to prophesy future things, as did the other prophets, but he also fixed the time at which these would come to pass” (Ant. 10.266-67).

“Events under Antiochus Epiphanes … had been predicted many years in advance by Daniel, on the basis of his visions” (Ant. 10.276).

In contrast, Jubilees was very popular at Qumran but was not accepted as authoritative for all of Judaism.

Is the author regarded as a prophet?

As mentioned, Daniel is cited “as is written in the book of Daniel, the prophet.” There is no evidence that the unknown author of Jubilees was considered a prophet.

Did it generate pseudo works?

The book of Daniel has generated additional, transitory works associated with his name (i.e., the Pseudo-Danielic mss). Jubilees did not generate any “pseudo-” types of works or expansions on itself that we can find.

Do other documents interpret it?

Daniel was interpreted by other Qumran documents. It doesn’t present itself as something that interprets other scripture.

In comparison, the Book of Jubilees is a rewriting of the Bible “which include implicit exegesis and longer additions to the biblical narrative.”13Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.:101-2 In other words, it did not have primary authority.

“The Book of Jubilees is a rewritten version of Genesis 1Exodus 14 … The largest group of additions to the biblical text are halakhic (an interpretation of the laws of the Scriptures).”14Nickelsburg, in [Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus. Michael E. Stone (ed.), Fortress:1984.:97ff

The book of Jubilees, therefore, is a ‘re-telling of the bible’ document, and that genre added an ‘interpretative layer’ on top of the biblical narrative. It has interpretative or secondary authority rather than primary authority or ‘scriptural authority’.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

DANIEL IS PRE-MACCABEAN.

The Qumran community, therefore, regarded the book of Daniel as inspired Scripture and referred to the author of the book as “Daniel the prophet.”

Before a document can be accepted as such, it has to go through a slow process of copying and distribution and more copying and distribution until it wins the hearts of the people.

Dated to the Late 2nd Century BC

Already in 1961, Professor Cross dated 4QDan(c) to the “late second century BC.” (Hasel)15Professor Frank M. Cross, Harvard University, The Ancient Library of Qumran 43

To date, two of the manuscripts are dated to the late 2nd BC, namely 4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e). (Thinktank)16The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years (vol 2). Peter W. Flint and James C. Vanderkam (eds). Brill: 1999: 53 Both these manuscripts are from the last half of the Book of Daniel (10:5 to 11:29 and 9:12-17). ) This is significant because the academic consensus is that the stories in the first six chapters of Daniel may be older, but they claim that the prophecies were added in 165 BC, during the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. For example:

Daniel 11:40-45 … is a vaticinium ex eventu, that is a record of the events of the recent past in the form of a prophecy for the future.”17‘Time and Times and Half a Time’: Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras, Ida Frohlich (trans. Bea Vidacs), Sheffield:1996. 80

50 years are too few.

But that would mean that the oldest copies of the book of Daniel are dated only about 50 years after its composition in 165 BC. That does not leave enough time (Hasel). It is quite improbable, if not impossible, that the book was composed during the Maccabees revolt, as the critics claim, and gained acceptance as an inspired book within 50 years. (Thinktank) In 1969, based on the evidence available at that time regarding the Qumran Daniel texts, Roland K. Harrison had already concluded that:

The second-century dating of the book of Daniel was “absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran, partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered from the site, and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean compositions to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect.18Harrison, R.K. 1969 Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans):1127 (Gerhard Hasel)

After this, he stated, based on the Qumran manuscripts, that:

“There can no longer be any possible reason for considering the book as a Maccabean product.” (Hasel)19Harrison, R.K. 1979 Daniel, Book of. Pp. 859–66 in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). P. 862

Waltke wrote:

The “discovery of manuscripts of Daniel at Qumran dating from the Maccabean period renders it highly improbable that the book was composed during the time of the Maccabees.”20Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 133, no. 532 (October 1976): 321.

15 years are too few.

The Qumran community was an ascetic sect of Jews who lived in the Judean Desert near the Wadi Qumran, along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea roughly between 150 BC and AD 68 (Encyclopedia). As discussed, they regarded Daniel as a prophet and the book of Daniel as the word of God. Since interaction with the outside religious community would have been very limited, and largely polemical, their views would have remained fairly constant for the 200 years of its existence. This implies that Daniel was already accepted as FULLY INSPIRED Scripture when that community was formed – in 150 BC.

But this was only 15 years after the prophecies in the book of Daniel were composed (according to critical scholars) in 165 BC. This is completely too little time. You just cannot, within only 15 years, get from a known forgery to full acceptance as inspired Scripture. Remember, many of the first members of that sect lived through the Maccabean struggle. They saw all of this with their own eyes. And, being a sect, they would have been rigorous in accessing documents.

Daniel, therefore, must have existed LONG before the Qumran community was formed. But that would mean that Daniel was written before at least some of the events it predicts.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

SCHOLARS TREAT DANIEL DIFFERENTLY.

For books of the Bible that do not claim to predict the future, critical scholars, when they date a manuscript copy of that book to the second century BC, are willing to push the date of the original a century or more back, but not for the book of Daniel. For example:

Psalms

It was previously proposed that some of the Psalms in the Bible were composed during the Maccabean struggle. But after Frank Cross found that one manuscript of one of these psalms is dated more or less to the same time as their supposed composition, critical scholars were willing to abandon the idea that any of the psalms were written during the Maccabean struggle:

“The fragmentary copy of the Psalter from Qumran (4QPsaa) … shows quite clearly … that the collection of canonical psalms had already been fixed by the Maccabean period.”21F.M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Study (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), p. 165.

This is based on the following argument:

“Each song had to win its way in the esteem of the people before it could be included in the sacred compilation of the Psalter. Immediate entrée for any of them is highly improbable.”22Brownlee, professor of religion, Claremont Graduate School

As a result, scholars have pushed those compositions formerly regarded as “Maccabean psalms” to the Persian period. (Thinktank)

Ecclesiastes

Similarly, two scrolls of Ecclesiastes found at Qumran were dated to the middle of the second century BC. This is not much later than the time at which many scholars have thought the book was originally written. From this, critical scholars conclude that this “somewhat enhanced” “the probability of its composition in the third century, if not earlier.”23M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), p. 118

Chronicles

Likewise, “the discovery of a fragment of Chronicles at Qumran renders a Maccabean date virtually impossible for any part of Chronicles.”24Myers, professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The same principle should apply to Daniel.

Harrison concluded:

“It is now evident from the findings at Qumran that no canonical writing can be dated later than the end of the Persian period, i.e., much beyond 350 B.C.”25R.K. Harrison, “Historical and Literary Criticism of the New Testament”, in EBC, vol. 1

This conclusion should apply to all canonical writings (books of the Bible), but critical scholars refuse to apply this principle to the Book of Daniel. Waltke complains about this inconsistency:

“Equivalent manuscript finds at Qumran of other books where the issue of predictive prophecy is not in question have led scholars to repudiate a Maccabean date for their compositions. … But critical scholars have refused to draw the same conclusion in the case of Daniel even though the evidence is identical.”26BibSac—V133 #532,Oct 1976,p.322

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

WAS DANIEL A KNOWN FORGERY?

No book of the Bible would be accepted as “Scripture” only 50 years after it was written but, for the following reasons, it is even more true for Daniel for, if the critical scholars are right, during the Maccabean struggle, everybody would have known that:

      • Daniel was written under a false name,
      • Pretending to be an old book making long term predictions, but really describing past history, and that
      • It failed to correctly predict the success of the Maccabean revolt a year or two after it was written.

Would Daniel be renowned as a prophet if it were known that he had lived a mere 50 years earlier? In that event, he would have been a contemporary person writing fiction.

This is almost a death blow to the Maccabean theory of the composition of Daniel.

CONCLUSION

The high regard that this community had for Daniel can be much better explained if one accepts an earlier origin of Daniel than proposed by the Maccabean hypothesis of historical-critical scholarship. (Hasel)

Notice that all the historical and linguistic ‘problems’ in the Book of Daniel are irrelevant to a discussion of this “Maccabean or Pre-Maccabean” question. These kinds of problems could be used to argue for a 3rd century BC date versus a 6th century BC date, or for an uninformed writer versus an eyewitness writer, or for a fictional versus historical genre, perhaps, but NEVER for a Maccabean or Pre-Maccabean dating.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Towner, Daniel, Interpeter’s Bible, John Knox:1984, p. 115
  • 2
    [The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999:162]
  • 3
    The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrow
  • 4
    G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949)
  • 5
    Koch et al. 1980:22, 23; Koch 1986:16–21
  • 6
    Mertens 1971:31
  • 7
    Peter W. Flint, The Daniel Tradition at Qumran in Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • 8
    G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949).
  • 9
    Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Craig Evans and Peter Flint (eds). Eerdmans:1997. 43)
  • 10
    Ulrich 1987:19
  • 11
    The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999.:91
  • 12
    Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.102
  • 13
    Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.:101-2
  • 14
    Nickelsburg, in [Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus. Michael E. Stone (ed.), Fortress:1984.:97ff
  • 15
    Professor Frank M. Cross, Harvard University, The Ancient Library of Qumran 43
  • 16
    The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years (vol 2). Peter W. Flint and James C. Vanderkam (eds). Brill: 1999: 53
  • 17
    ‘Time and Times and Half a Time’: Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras, Ida Frohlich (trans. Bea Vidacs), Sheffield:1996. 80
  • 18
    Harrison, R.K. 1969 Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans):1127
  • 19
    Harrison, R.K. 1979 Daniel, Book of. Pp. 859–66 in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). P. 862
  • 20
    Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 133, no. 532 (October 1976): 321.
  • 21
    F.M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Study (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), p. 165.
  • 22
    Brownlee, professor of religion, Claremont Graduate School
  • 23
    M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), p. 118
  • 24
    Myers, professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • 25
    R.K. Harrison, “Historical and Literary Criticism of the New Testament”, in EBC, vol. 1
  • 26
    BibSac—V133 #532,Oct 1976,p.322
  • 27
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 28
    Discussion of the prophecy and the four main interpretations
  • 29
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 30
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain the mark of the beast.
  • 31
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 32
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book.
  • 33
    This is the apex of Revelation, providing an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, with emphasis on the end-time persecution.
  • 34
    These plagues will follow after the end-time Christian persecution and will be followed by Christ’s return. What is the purpose of these?
  • 35
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon, the beast from the sea, and a scarlet beast.
  • 36
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically. Then Revelation 17 and 18 explain who and what she is.
  • 37
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 38
    The decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by the church.
  • 39
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 40
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 41
    How people are put right with God
  • 42
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 43
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 44
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 45
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 46
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 47
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 48
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 49
    I do not have any formal theological qualifications and I am not part of any religious organization. These articles are the result of my studies over many years.

The Liberal-Critical Interpretation of the 490 years in Daniel 9

EXCERPT: Daniel was written in the sixth century BC but contains explicit and accurate predictions of later empires. Since liberal scholars do not accept that accurate predictions of the future are possible. They propose that Daniel was written after the events it seems to predict, namely during the reign of Antiochus IV. But then they have to explain the 490 years in terms of the history up to that point in time and their explanation breaks down under investigation.

A summary of this article is available HERE.


WHEN WAS DANIEL WRITTEN?

According to Daniel itself, it was written in the sixth century BC. But it contains accurate predictions of later empires. 

Liberal scholars dominate the academic world. One can see this in the Wikipedia page on Daniel 9. Because it emphasizes the liberal view, I complained as follows to Wikipedia:

I grant you that the current academic consensus is that Daniel was written in the 2nd century BC even though the book itself states that it was written in the 6th century BC.

However, firstly, the average Christian is not even aware of that view. Liberalism is the view that the Bible is purely the product of the evolution of human thought and, therefore, not divinely inspired. As such, liberalism, by definition, is a minority view within Christianity.

The view that Daniel was written in the second century BC is not taught in churches. Those who believe that, avoid the topic. Those who believe that Daniel is true prophecy, written in the 6th century BC, use it as cornerstone for their eschatology and preach their views very strongly.

Secondly, you also know that liberal criticism developed in the 19th/20th century. The reformers, therefore, such as Luther and Calvin, believed that Daniel is true prophecy. Again, by over-emphasizing the current scholarly consensus and by ignoring the orthodox view of Daniel 9, you are doing a disservice to your readers.

Apparently, my comment was sent to various people within Wikipedia and I received many comments back, for example:

The idea that the Book of Daniel has historicity does not fly with mainstream academia. As a historical view, it is not even remotely tenable.

The folks saying that Daniel was written in the sixth century don’t publish in mainstream outlets, generally speaking.

It is clearer than the sun at noonday that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone who lived long after Moses.

Wikipedia will only listen to mainstream historians and mainstream Bible scholars, as opposed to people preaching what should be the true beliefs of their own congregation.

Wikipedia is a venue for rendering mainstream scholarship, and we despise so-called “scholars” who in fact are preaching to their own choir.

In other words, the views of colleges and magazines that are linked to specific denominations are not accepted by Wikipedia. Only independent academic publications are. The problem is that, in science, something is only true if it can be proven. That removes the supernatural from the realm of the possible. Therefore, when one subjects to Bible to the principles of “science,” it becomes the product of the development of human thought over the centuries.

DANIEL 9

Since liberal scholars do not accept that accurate predictions of the future are possible, they propose that Daniel, including the 490 years-prophecy, was written after the events it so accurately seems to predict. In other words, the accurate predictions in Daniel are actually recorded history written in the form of prophecy.

The Greek king Antiochus IV desecrated the temple and killed many Jews. Since Daniel seems to ‘predict’ this accurately, liberals assume that Daniel was written after Antiochus desecrated the temple in 167 BC.

However, the Jews soon revolted (known as the Maccabean revolt), defeated Antiochus’ army, drove them out of Judah, and rededicate the temple. But the prophecy of Daniel 9 ends with the accumulation of desolations. In Daniel 9, there is no indication of a rededication of the altar. Liberal scholars, therefore, assume that Daniel was written before the success of the revolt and, therefore, before the rededication of the temple in 164 BC. 

For the same reasons, they propose that the crisis in Daniel, even in Daniel 9, is the conflict caused by Antiochus IV.

THE LIBERAL TIMELINE

In the standard liberal timeline:

    1. The seventy weeks (490 years) began with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
    2. The first 49 years (7 weeks) came to an end with Cyrus’ decree in 538 BC, which liberated the Jews and allowed them to return to Judah and to rebuild the temple.
    3. At the end of the next 434 years (62 weeks), Onias III was murdered in 171/0 BC.
    4. It is Antiochus who will “destroy the city and the sanctuary … make a firm covenant … for one week, but in the middle of the week … put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (Dan 9:26-27).
    5. After the successful Maccabean revolt, the temple was rededicated in 164 BC. This was the end of the 490 years.

Below, these assertions are discussed.

DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

In the liberal schema, the 490 years began with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

NO DECREE

Firstly, the prophecy states that the 490 years will begin with a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Dan 9:25). The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC was not a decree of any kind. At the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, there was no “decree” that speaks of a rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The decrees that have to do with Jerusalem’s restoration were much later; Cyrus (538 BC), Darius (520), and Artaxerxes (458 and 445). But since liberals regard the prophecies in Daniel as history written in the form of prophecy, they must fit the 490 years of Daniel 9 before the time of Antiochus. For that reason, they have to find something as early as possible. Therefore, they propose the destruction of Jerusalem but, as stated, that was not a decree of any kind.

TOO SHORT

Secondly, the destruction of Jerusalem does not fit the timeline in Daniel 9. From 586 BC to the rededication of the temple in 164 BC was only 422 years; not the 490 years required by the prophecy.

That is with respect to the entire prophecy. If we evaluate the three parts of the prophecy, we note that Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. He issued that decree 48 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, which is only one year short of the required 49 (7 x 7) years of the prophecy.

But the main reason that the liberal timeline is too short is because the 62 weeks extend from Cyrus’ decree (539/8 BC) to Onias (171/0 BC). But this is only 367 years; 67 years short of the predicted 434 years (62 x 7).

If, as critics believe, Daniel 9:24-27 is history written after the events in the form of prophecy, then one could rightly expect that history would fit the timeline in the prophecy perfectly, but scholars accept the differences on the assumption that the chronological knowledge, when Daniel was written, was not very exact.

CONCURRENT

Thirdly, if the timeline starts with the destruction of Jerusalem, then the 70 years of exile run concurrently with the 490 years. But, for the following reasons, this is not logical:

Firstly, at the time that the Daniel 9 prophecy was received, at the end of the 70 years, the 70 years were past history while the 490 years were a promised future.

Secondly, the 70 years of exile were the penalty for past disobedience while the 490 years were a renewal or an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.

Thirdly, as elsewhere discussed, the 70 years of exile were the penalty for 490 past years of disobedience and the new cycle of 490 years was a replacement for the 490 years that Israel wasted through disobedience. Therefore, the 70 years should not be part of either the wasted past 490 years or the promised future 490 years.

ONIAS III

In the liberal schema, at the end of the next 434 years (62 weeks), Onias III was murdered in 171/0 BC.

ONIAS WAS NO MESSIAH.

A first objection is that this identifies Onias II as the Messiah of Daniel 9:26, but Onias was no messiah. The Bible uses the term “messiah” exclusively for people who rescue Israel from danger. Onias did not save Israel from anything. Antiochus IV replaced him as high priest with his more liberal brother Jason. A few years later, in 171/0, he was killed; 4 years before Antiochus IV desecrated the temple.

MESSIAH DISAPPEARS IMMEDIATELY.

Secondly, in the critics’ scheme, the messiah (Onias) disappears (is cut off) immediately at the end of the “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” But the text says that the messiah will APPEAR at the end of the 7+62 weeks (Dan 9:25) and be killed some undefined time “AFTER the sixty-two weeks” (Dan 9:26).

ANTIOCHUS IV

In the liberal schema, it is Antiochus who will:

    1. destroy the city and the sanctuary …
    2. make a firm covenant … for one week,
    3. but in the middle of the week … put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (Dan 9:26-27).

Antiochus IVAntiochus did indeed stop the Jewish sacrifices. According to the book of 1 Maccabean, the “desolating sacrilege“—a heathen altar—was erected on the great altar of burnt sacrifice on December 4, 167 BC (15 Kislev, 145; 1 Macc 1:54). This was more or less in the middle of the seven years after Onias was murdered. The liberal interpretation assumes that the abomination of desolation, mentioned elsewhere in Daniel, is this heathen altar which Antiochus Epiphanes erected in place of the Lord’s altar for burnt offerings (see I Macc 1:54). However:

DESTROY

Firstly, Antiochus never destroyed the sanctuary. He turned it into a temple of his own god. Neither did Antiochus destroy Jerusalem. He destroyed only part of Jerusalem and massacred many of its inhabitants. A second-century author would have seen with his own eyes that Antiochus did not destroy the temple, but only defiled it (1 Macc 1:30-31, 39).

IN JESUS’ FUTURE

Secondly, while liberals limit the crisis in Daniel to the time of Antiochus, Jesus put the abomination of desolation of Daniel’s prophecies in His future:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)” (Matt 24:15)

Daniel’s prophecies, therefore, cannot be limited to the time of Antiochus, approximately 200 years before Jesus spoke. For many people, this is sufficient evidence against the liberal interpretation.  Daniel is the only Bible book that Jesus by name recommended that we understand.

NO COVENANT

Thirdly, Antiochus IV did not conclude or confirm an agreement with anybody for one week. His general support for the Hellenizing Jews cannot be limited to one week. For instance, he replaced Onias with his pro-Seleucid brother a number of years before Onias was killed.

PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

Fourthly, logically, the “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11:22 must be the same person as the prince who confirms the covenant for one week (Dan 9:27). But, in the liberal interpretation, in Daniel 9, Antiochus is that person but, in Daniel 11, he kills that person.

END OF THE 490 YEARS

In the liberal schema, the 490 years end with the rededication of the temple in 164 BC.

Judas Maccabeus

The altar of sacrifice was rededication by the victorious Judas Maccabeus on December 14, 164 BC (25 Kislev, 148; 1 Macc 4:52), exactly 3 years after the first heathen sacrifice in the temple. The liberal view understands this as the “anointing of a most holy place,” listed as one of the purposes of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:24). However:

TOO LITTLE TIME

Firstly, as already stated, this means that the total period is 422 years from 586 to 164 BC; not the 490 years mentioned by the prophecy.

ENDS IN CHAOS

Secondly, Daniel 9 ends with the multiplication of chaos. There is no evidence in that chapter that the temple will be rededicated and that the sacrifices will be resumed after “he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (Dan 9:27).

CONTRADICTION

Thirdly, the liberal view seems to contradict itself. On the one hand, they conclude the last week ends with the rededication. On the other, they say that the writer of Daniel did not expect the success of the Maccabean revolt.

WHY 490 YEARS?

If we assume that the prophecy of Daniel 9 was written during the reign of Antiochus IV, then it is clear from the text of the prophecy that the writer of Daniel did not foresee the success of the Maccabean revolt. Then we can ask, why would he postulate a period of 490 years?  The liberal interpretation fails to explain what end the writer has in mind. And what was envisaged after the end of the 490 years?

In addition, the liberal interpretation does not fit the purpose of the 490 years.

Daniel 9 goalsDaniel 9:24 gives six goals to be achieved during the 490 years, including to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness.

Why would a faithful Jew, compiling the book of Daniel in the second century, during the period of temple desecration under Antiochus IV, give these 6 goals for the 8 events predicted in the prophecy? It would require substantial creativity to find application for goals such as “to make an end of sin” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan 9:24) to the time of Antiochus, particularly on the basis of the liberal assumption that Daniel was written prior to the success of the Maccabean revolt.

The conflict in the time of Antiochus IV was more of the nature of a civil war between pro-Hellenistic and anti-Hellenistic Jewish factions than it was a conflict with an external oppressor. “The severest condemnation of the writer of I Maccabees goes, not to the Seleucid politicians, but to the lawless apostates among his own people” (The introduction to I Maccabees in the NAB). This makes it even more difficult to see how a second-century writer could link the goals in Daniel 9:24 to that conflict.

THE ESSENCE

The essence of the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 is that, within 500 years from the restoration of Jerusalem, and therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Messiah would arrive but be killed. In the context of goals such as “to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” and in the context of the New Testament, this must be a prophecy about Jesus Christ. But Jesus finds no place in the liberal interpretation.

DANIEL IS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE.

Liberals are aware of the concerns raised above but they claim that the second-century writer of Daniel did not know his history too well. However, it should be noted that the book of Daniel contains amazingly accurate historical facts that were poorly known during the later pre-Christian centuries. For example:

NebuchadnezzarThe author of Daniel is correct in his description of Nebuchadnezzar as the builder of Babylon (4:30). RH Pfeiffer was compelled to concede, “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar, as the excavations have proved.”

The author was correct in his knowledge that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Daniel and in cuneiform records, functioned as king when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

On the basis of cunei­form evidence, the vexing chronological problem between Daniel 1:1 and Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2 has been solved without any discrepancy. (For a further discussion, see – Is the Book of Daniel a Fake?)

These exam­ples show that the writer of Daniel knew history quite well, and would not have made such a massive mistake with the dates.

IMPLICATIONS

The liberal interpretation is based on the assumption that Daniel is a fake; that it is history up to the time of Antiochus IV written by an unknown writer in the form of prophecy, with some added uninspired and incorrect speculations of future events. If this was true, we should question the credibility of the entire Bible. In particular, it means that the Book of Revelation, which relies heavily on Daniel, is fiction. The liberal interpretation is an attack on the Christian faith.

THE MESSIAH

Masoretic TextThe Masoretic punctuation—as is, for instance, used in the RSV—has two messiahs in the prophecy; one at the end of 49 years and the other is cut off 62 weeks (434 years) later (Dan 9:26). Liberal scholars use this punctuation and identify the first messiah as Cyrus and the second as the Jewish High Priest Onias III, who was murdered in 171/0 BC. In this view, Daniel 9 does not refer to Jesus at all.

Liberal scholars obtain support for this view from Isaiah 45:1, where Cyrus is called the anointed of the Lord, and from Leviticus 4:3 and following, which refers to priests as “anointed.” (The Hebrews word translated messiah in the NASB is mashiach, and means anointed and is translated as “anointed one” in some translations of Daniel 9:26, for example, the RSV.)

However:

(1) A previous article discussed the punctuation and concluded that there is only one messiah in the prophecy, and he appears after 7 + 62 weeks as, for example, in the NASB.

(2) Two different messiahs in two consecutive verses are unlikely.  Daniel 9:25 and 9:26 most likely refer to one and the same person as “messiah.”

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW

One proposed alternative liberal view is as follows:

    • The first 7 weeks are from the Captivity in 587 BC until 538 BC: Exactly 49 years.
    • The next 62 weeks (434 years) are from the date Jeremiah prophesied in 605 BC (Jer 25:11-12) to Onias’ death in 171 BC: Exactly 434 years

The advantages of this proposal are that it exactly fits the 49 and 434 years required by the prophecy and it starts the 62 weeks with a “word” (KJV). The disadvantages are:

(1) Jeremiah 25:11-12 does not speak of the rebuilding of Jerusalem at all.
(2) In this proposal, the first two divisions (7 + 62) run parallel to each other rather than one after the other. In total, Israel, therefore, never received its promised 490 years.
(3) The wording of Daniel 9:25 requires “seven and sixty-two weeks” (that is, 69 weeks) and not just 62 weeks from “the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” until Messiah the Prince.

ANCHOR BIBLE

Anchor Bible Commentary
Anchor Bible Commentary

A slight variation from the standard liberal schema is proposed in an article by Hartman and Di Lella in the influential Anchor Bible Commen­tary. They do not start the 490 years with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, but with Jeremiah’s announcement as recorded in 29:10, which they date to 594 BC.  Otherwise, they remain with the standard liberal-critical schema. 

The benefit of this proposal is that the 490 years do not start with the destruction of Jerusalem, but with a “word”, as required by Daniel 9.  However:

(A) Jeremiah 29:10 was also not a “word to rebuild and restore Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25 KJV). Jeremiah 29:10 only speaks of bringing back exiles to Judah.

(B) From 594 BC to 538 BC is 56 years, not 49 years.  Hartman and Di Lella suggest that 56 years is “sufficiently close to the quasi-artificial figure of ‘seven weeks’ of years. Not everybody would accept the 7 weeks as “quasi-artificial.”

(C) The second section of the 490 years remains too short. Consequently, the full period from 594 BC to 164 BC is only 430 years; 50 years short of the required 490 years.


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