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Dear Refiner's Fire...

Can you give me a quick exegesis of Daniel chapter 9? I have read dozens and dozens of different interpretations of the 70 weeks of Daniel, and it's still quite confusing. I know that in 9:24 it says Messiah will be cut off before the destruction of the second temple, but I keep hearing confusing interpretations of the 70 weeks in which "gaps" are placed all over the timeline thus giving a possible copout to this referring to Yeshua. There is without a doubt a gap somewhere in the timeline or else we could predict future events completely, but so far this timeline has been very difficult for me to interpret (also the seven seals and seven bowls of Revelation have been to me very difficult - What are the three spirits gathering the kings of the earth? What do the horsemen represent?)

Our Response...

Author and Aramaic scholar Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

I don't think a quick/easy exegesis on Daniel 9 exists, but I can try to point in the right direction. First thing I will say is that we need to look at the "easy" part first.

1) I believe the 70th prophetic on the day = year cycle (Ezekiel 4:4-6) was fulfilled with the crucifixion and resurrection. The future 70th week when Y'shua will return, and which everyone seems to think is also on this timescale in on the YOVEL (Jubilee) timescale instead, creating much confusion. People are reluctant to follow 9:24-26 literally because of this false expectation.

2) With the correct (IMHO) understanding, though, setting Daniel's clock becomes very easy. The next step is to see that per Esther 9 time runs when a royal decree is ISSUED, NOT WHEN IT IS IMPLEMENTED. As we read other details in Ezra and Nehemiah, it becomes clear that there are three "decrees" that could start the clock, but only ONE is correct (Ezra 7:11-26) because the previous two (Cyrus and Darius) only authorized rebuilding the TEMPLE. When the Jews exceeded this mandate, Samaritans and others tried to get them into trouble. That resulted in Artaxerxes' decree that specifically said leftover funds (Ezra 7:18) could be applied to the rest of the nation once the Temple was done. That decree is the one referenced in Daniel 9, and it is dated to Artaxerxes 7th year--457 BCE.

2a) A common error is when folks confuse this with when Nehemiah arrives with royal papers to Jerusalem 12 years later to help rebuild it, or 445 BCE. These papers though are NOT the decree--we actually have the original one still with us--the papers granted Nehemiah the access he needed BASED on the previous decree. In other words, Nehemiah's papers are SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION, not the actual decree. So, stay with 457 BCE.

3) From 457 BCE, 69 weeks (day = year) brings us to 27 CE, when Messiah publicly appears--the time of his Baptism to be precise. The 70th week, the year he is cut off in the middle, brings us to 3.5 years later. Knowing the Tishri to Tishri reckoning was in use at the time (Josephus, etc), 3.5 years from Fall of 26 brings us on the Hebrew calendar to the end of March in the year 30. Y'shua dies in the middle of the following literal week. Daniel hits the EXACT DAY AND HOUR from 500 years out. "He will confirm a covenant with many in the following week, but in the middle of that week he will be cut off."

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SKIPPING AROUND?

4) Many, many people get confused when they look at the linear order after 9:25. Let's break this part down because it is very tricky:

a) Daniel 9:25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

COMMENTS: This part is straightforward and I already commented on it. Confirming, though, the main piece: Messiah comes the 69th week--the time of the Baptism.

b) But, look at this part which a lot of folks glance by: It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

This where people get confused: THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE CONTINUED 30+ YEARS AFTER Y'SHUA'S DAY, AND THIS PROPHECY IS DEALING WELL PAST THE 70TH WEEK ON THE DAY = YEAR CYCLE. THE TEMPLE WOULD NOT BE FINISHED UNTIL 66 CE, ONLY TO BE DESTROYED A HALF WEEK--4 YEARS LATER. THE JEWISH REVOLT BROKE OUT LATER IN THE YEAR 66, SO THIS WAS "TIMES OF TROUBLE"! As for the trench, that language is kind of vague but we know there was expansion underground at the Temple site during this time as passages like the Antonia were also built to give the Romans easy access to the entire area. I am content to go with this level of detail until other evidence becomes available.

But my main point remains that it is proof that the 70th week from this view ALREADY HAPPENED. We have other sources that are relevant here as well. The earliest parts of the Talmud comment that the Shekhinah left the Temple 40 years before it was destroyed, and Y'shua was crucified at exactly that time in the year 30. Furthermore Josephus, following the lead of both Daniel and Rav Shaul, also talks about the abomination of desolation. When Rav Shaul (Paul) describes the shadow for the type of the coming of Anti-Messiah, who stand in the place where YHWH should be, Josephus gives the exact moment for this in year 70 (and yes another version of it is still to come). Josephus says that after the Romans burnt the Temple they set up their pagan ensigns all over it and sacrificed to their gods.

c) Verse 26 confirms the timeline I have been stating: 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.

COMMENTS: This is the the repetition of where we started, and Hebrew and Aramaic does this ALL THE TIME. THESE ARE CYCLICAL AND NOT LINEAR LANGUAGES. Typically Scripture introduces a story, repeats it, summarizes it and then moves on. The first book of the Torah is FULL of these; Daniel is no different but if we think Western, we will miss the point.

d) But 26b is where the confusion usually starts: The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

COMMENTS: This section CONCLUDES the repeated portion of the post 69th week times. Since we know Israel did not destroy the Temple, 9:26b cannot be talking about Messiah. Daniel switched to the Gentiles, the Kittim, the Romans. It is the people of THAT prince, Titus, who brought the war to Israel. This makes perfect sense.

BUT...

e) 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

COMMENTS: What happens here? Surely the prince who destroyed Israel is not confirming Torah, right? That's the clue that we have switched BACK from the Gentiles and to Y'shua again, and switched back into time. This is the reptition going from the start of the 70th week--Y'shua's three and half year ministry as shown in John. Again the historical record agrees with this. Josephus again says the abomination on the wing of the Temple (as opposed to now when there is no Temple yet) is in 70 CE with the Roman ensigns. The "camera" went from Y'shua to Titus and back to Y'shua again, and this is a very common Semitic storytelling technique.

It is also important to point out that by the 69th week a Roman eagle (put there decades before by Herod the Great) stood over one of the Temple entrances and was not pulled down until the Jewish Revolt began--a pre-cursor perhaps, and another way that the clock re-set back to the end of the 69th week forward.

It's like intercutting between scenes in a movie, except this one is 2300 years of future history jammed into Daniel's mind in a heartbeat by the messenger Gabriel--because remember you can't understand Daniel 9 without starting from Daniel 8.

Now let's deal with Revelation:

The first question should be NOT what do the bowls, menorahs and so on mean. First questions SHOULD be "why so many 7s?" Without that answer, the rest won't make sense. Seven is the creative cycle and the number of perfection. In Revelation it is prophecy and time itself which go toward perfected cycles, a beginning middle and end of whatever the object in question is. The other perfect numbers in mystical thought are 3, 4 and 10, with the last one not being commented on here.

Second, let's look at the object through that context. Menorah represent the assemblies--that is said directly. The bowls represent wrath, and may be a reference to execration pottery used by the Egyptians to enact curses. They would write the curse on the bowl and break it, supposedly releasing the wrath of the powers that be. There is no precedent for this that I am aware of in Scripture, so it may have been part of knowledge Moshe (Moses) picked up in Egypt and was passed secretly down the ages. The seals, of course, represent royal decrees that were sealed with clay until the time came to break it and enact the orders. The messengers, who are part of YHWH's army, get their sealed orders and break them open, following their Commander in Chief into war.

Four horseman: See Zechariah for a similar image before looking at Revelation. Notice, the text tells us pretty much what they are. Verse 6:9 sums up their collective mission: to kill all by war, famine and disease.

First horseman (white): The first warrior sows chaos through power. Crown indicates an evil ruler type.

Second horseman (red): Perhaps the chief general to the evil king. He inspires murder across the earth.

Third horseman (black): Holding scales and declaring horribly low food rations. This is famine, clearly.

Fourth horseman (pale): Death and Sheol follows. Kills others not directly in the war or not picked off by the others in famine and such, through wild beasts and various horrors.

Y'shua is a white horseman in Revelation, but he just isn't part of the first four mentioned in Revelation 6. What our Christian seekers forget is that they are so used to thinking of Messiah as the lamb that when he comes back they will be very shocked at his new image:

Revelation 19: 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of Elohim. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of Elohim Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings, and Master of Masters." 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of Elohim, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

You see, unlike the other white horse, Y'shua's purpose is that of victory for YHWH. The other white horseman, who has Death and Sheol follow (not the heavenly messengers), has the separate mission of ONLY wrath, whereas Y'shua has the wider purpose. The first white horseman comes directly from a broken seal of the King (YHWH) whereas this one just appears AFTER the first four have done their worst and has his own separate introduction:

Revelation 19: 1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelu-YAH! Salvation and glory and power belong to our Elohim, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 3 And again they shouted: "Hallelu-YAH! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."

4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped Elohim, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: "Amen, Hallelu-YAH!" 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: "Praise our Elohim, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!" 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelu-YAH! For YHWH our Elohm Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of Elohim." 10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Y'shua. Worship Elohim! For the testimony of Y'shua is the spirit of prophecy."

Please note, Revelation 19:11 says: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. The first horseman is NOT called Faithful and True and is certainly not the Word of Elohim! Since Y'shua was the Word when he was in heaven pre-incarnation, it makes perfect sense that the same Yochanan would tell us he got that title again when going back into heaven, and is called that when he comes out again.

The three spirits that come out of the dragon, beast and false prophet and look like frogs are explained clearly here:

Revelation 16: 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of Elohim Almighty. 15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." 16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.

HaSatan is the prince of the power of the air, so his minions may be unwitting humans influencing his agenda or, more likely here, literal demonic forces masquerading perhaps as people to deceive the rulers of the world.