What is destroyed in the “complete destruction” of Daniel 9:27?

EXCERPT: What is destroyed in Daniel 9:27? In some translations, a desolator will be destroyed. In others, it is the desolated one. The context, including the poetic pattern, the chiasm, and the repetition of concepts, provides the answer.

A summary of this article is available HERE.


PURPOSE

Verse 26 ends with the destruction of Jerusalem. Verse 27 begins with the seven last years and ends with further destruction. The question in this article is what that last destruction is.

DIFFERENCE IN TRANSLATIONS

DESOLATOR DESOLATED

In most translations, the very last part of verse 27 says that desolations will be poured on a desolator (Biblehub). In the context of verse 26, where the Roman Empire destroys Jerusalem, this seems to refer to the destruction of the Roman Empire.

On the basis of this translation, assuming that this destruction will be at the end of the last 7 years, and since the Roman Empire has not been destroyed in the time of Christ, Dispensationalism sees this as support for a gap between the first 483 years and the last 7 years. Furthermore, since the fall of the Roman Empire in the sixth century AD cannot be linked to the last 7 years, Dispensationalism proposes that this will be the destruction of an end-time revived Roman Empire at the end of the last seven years, when Christ returns.

DESOLATED ONE DESOLATED

However, the more literal translations, such as the KJV, Young’s Literal Translation, and the Literal Standard Version, do not say that the desolator will be desolated. They say that the desolated one will be completely destroyed (Biblehub). In that case, given the context, it would be the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

The question, therefore, is whether it describes the destruction of Jerusalem or the destruction of the Roman Empire. Since different translations present this verse differently, we must assume that both meanings are possible and that we should use the context to interpret this verse.

DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

For the reasons below, it is proposed that the destruction (desolations) in Daniel 9:27 is the same as the destruction mentioned in the previous verse (v26), namely the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70:

(1) POETIC PATTERN

The prophecy has a poetic pattern that repeatedly jumps back and forth between Jerusalem and the Messiah. In this pattern, the destruction in verse 27 is the destruction of Jerusalem:

JERUSALEM MESSIAH
25a decree to restore Jerusalem 25b until Messiah the Prince
25c there will be seven weeks 25d and sixty-two weeks
25e built again … 26a Messiah cut off
26b people … destroy the city 27a he will make a firm covenant and put a stop to sacrifice
27b destruction 

(2) CHIASM

The events in the Daniel 9 prophecy also form a chiasm. In this chiasm, the destruction in the last part of verse 27 stands in opposition to (links to) the construction of Jerusalem:

Messiah cut off 26a
Construction 25c —— Destruction 26b

and Unto Messiah 25b ———– Messiah covenant 27a
Construction 25a  ———————-  Destruction 27c

(3) REPEATED PHRASES

The last part of 9:27 repeats the key words and concepts from the last part of verse 26, which describes the destruction of Jerusalem. The table below compares verses 26 and 27 from the NASB:

MESSIAH CITY
26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Key phrases from verse 26 are repeated in verse 27:

Both verses refer to desolations (Strong number H8074) that are decreed or determined (Strong number H2782).

Both verses use water as a symbol of the force of destruction. In verse 26 desolations will come with a “flood,” while they are “poured out” in verse 27.

Both verses include the concept of completion. Verse 26 refers to the “end” (of the city) (NASB). Similarly, verse 27 refers to a “complete destruction” (NASB), which is another way of expressing the end of the thing that is destroyed.

Dispensationalism associates the desolation in verse 27 with an end-time despot, but the similarity between the last parts of verses 26 and 27 implies that they refer to the same event, which is identified by verse 26 as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD; not the destruction of the Roman Empire.

(4) ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

Jesus teaching

Jesus possibly associated the last part of verse 27 with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 when He said:

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)

Here, Jesus refers to Daniel by name and to the “abomination of desolation.” This phrase is used a number of times in Daniel. Daniel 9 does not use this exact phrase, but the last part of verse 27 does say that desolation will follow after abominations. It is, therefore, possible that Jesus was referring to the last part of Daniel 9:27.

What did He mean? Dispensationalism claims that Jesus, in this statement, put the “abomination of desolation” at the end of the age. However, the parallel statement to Matthew 24:15 is Luke 21:20-23 (compare Matt 24:16-19). Luke, writing to Gentiles, who were not familiar with the book of Daniel, interpreted Jesus’ reference to the abomination of desolation as the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. This provides tentative support for the conclusion that the last part of 9:27 refers to the events of AD 70. For a further discussion, see Little Apocalypse.

ELABORATES ON VERSE 26

A previous article has concluded that it is the Messiah, who dies in the first part of verse 26, who confirms the covenant for the last seven years and who puts a stop to sacrifices in verse 27. Since the current article has now shown that the last part of verse 27 provides more information about the destruction of Jerusalem in the last part of verse 26, it follows that the entire verse 27 repeats and elaborates on verse 26:

A: MESSIAH B: JERUSALEM
26 Cut off after the 62 weeks Destroy the city
27 Firm covenant for one week
Put a stop to sacrifice
on the wing of abominations
one who makes desolate,
… a complete destruction

Verse 25 promises the reconstruction of Jerusalem to receive the Messiah. Verse 26, by mentioning the destruction of Jerusalem after the killing of the Messiah, implies that the city will be destroyed because it killed the Messiah. Verse 27 repeats that principle when it says that a desolator (a destroyer) will make “a complete destruction” “on the wing of” (shortly after) “abominations” (some repulsive sin). In the context, the repulsive sin is Israel’s rejection and killing of its Messiah.

Another article has shown that God’s covenant with Israel did not end when they killed the Messiah. Rather, in the years after the Cross, God sent the Holy Spirit to Israel alone in an unprecedented attempt to convert Israel. But Israel killed God’s Spirit-filled messengers. In this way, Israel committed the unpardonable sin:

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man,
it shall be forgiven him;
but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit,
it shall not be forgiven him,
either in this age or in the age to come
” (Matt 12:32).

It is proposed that this is the abomination of verse 27. The desolation is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans about 40 years later.

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