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This chapter contains a prayer of Daniel, and the answer to it. The time, occasion, and manner of his prayer, or circumstances of it, are observed, ( Daniel 9:1-3), the parts of it, an address unto God, under various suitable epithets and characters, ( Daniel 9:4) confession of sin, of his own, of the inhabitants of the land, kings, princes, and people, which are largely dwelt upon and exaggerated, ( Daniel 9:5-15) and petitions for mercy, ( Daniel 9:16-19), then the answer follows; the time when it was ordered and given, and the person by whom it was sent, are expressed, ( Daniel 9:20-23) who delivered to him the vision of the seventy weeks to be considered by him; in which both the work of the Messiah, and the time of his coming, are clearly pointed out, ( Daniel 9:24-27).
Ver. 1 . In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes , etc.] This is the same with Darius the Median, that took the kingdom after the death of Belshazzar; so called, to distinguish him from Darius the Persian; and yet Porphyry has the gall to assert that this was Darius the Persian, under whom the temple was built, that Daniel might appear to live later than he did: Ahasuerus, whose son he was, is not he that was the husband of Esther, and was many years later than this; but the same with Astyages king of the Medes, and who is called Ahasuerus, in the Apocrypha: “But before he died he heard of the destruction of Nineve, which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assuerus: and before his death he rejoiced over Nineve.” (Tobit 14:15) the father of Cyaxares, the same with this Darius, who was uncle to Cyrus that conquered Babylon, and made him king of it, and of the whole empire; for this was not the first year of his reign over Media, where he had reigned many years before, but over Chaldea, as follows: which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans ; by Cyrus his nephew; who having taken Babylon, and settled his affairs, undertook a journey to Persia, and made Media in his way; where he met with his uncle Cyaxares, the same with this Darius, and delivered the kingdom of Babylon to him, and married his daughter, with whom he had for her dowry the kingdom of Media, as Xenophon relates. Now it was in the first year of his reign over the Chaldeans that Daniel had the following vision of the seventy weeks; which, according to Bishop Usher and Mr. Whiston f409 , was in the year of the world 3467 A.M. and 537 B.C. Dean Prideaux f410 places it in the year 538; and Mr. Bedford in the year 536.
Ver. 2. In the first year of his reign , etc.] Which was also the first of Cyrus, who was partner with him in the kingdom; in which year ended the seventy years’ captivity of the Jews, and proclamation was made to have their liberty to go up to Jerusalem, and build the temple, ( Ezra 1:1,2), reckoning from the third, or the beginning of the fourth, of Jehoiakim king of Judah, when the desolation of the land began, and Daniel himself was carried captive; and which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, during whose reign, and that of his son, and son’s son, the Jews were to be detained captives, ( Daniel 1:1 Jeremiah 25:1 27:1). I Daniel understood by books ; the sacred Scriptures, which, though a prophet, he was not above reading; and, though a prime minister of state, yet found time to look into these divine oracles; which he read, studied, thoroughly considered, and well weighed in his mind; whereby he came to have knowledge of the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem ; Daniel might possibly have heard this prophecy of Jeremiah from his own mouth, before he went to Babylon; since the first intimation of it was in the first year of Jehoiakim, ( Jeremiah 27:1,7), and after this the prophecy might be sent to Babylon for the use of the captive Jews there; and indeed a copy of all his prophecies was no doubt brought thither at the last captivity of the people; so that it is easy to account for it how Daniel came by it; and it is plain it was now before him; for he uses the very word, twbrj , “desolations”, which Jeremiah does, ( Jeremiah 25:9,11), the prophecy of the seventy years’ captivity, and of deliverance from it at the expiration of that term, stands in ( Jeremiah 25:12 29:10), which Daniel carefully read over, thoroughly considered, and as he full well knew what was the epoch of them, or when they begun, he found that they were just ready to expire; and this set him to the work of prayer, as in the following verses. From hence it is manifest that the law was not burnt, nor the Scriptures lost, in the Babylonish captivity; so that none knew what were or would be done by the Lord, as is falsely asserted in the Apocrypha: “For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the work that shall begin. etc.” (2 Esdras 14:21) Ver. 3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications , etc.] He set apart some time on purpose for this service, distinct from his usual stated times of prayer, as well as from his civil business and employment; and he not only set his face toward Jerusalem, as he used to do, ( Daniel 6:10), the more to affect his mind with the desolations the city and temple lay in; but towards the Lord God, the sovereign Lord of all, who does according to his will in heaven and in earth, the Governor of the universe, the one true God, Father, Son, and Spirit: and this denotes the intenseness of his spirit in prayer; the fixedness of his heart; the ardour of his mind; the fervency of his soul; his holy confidence in God; the freedom and boldness he used in prayer, and his constancy and continuance in it; which is a principal means, and a proper manner of seeking God. The Septuagint version, agreeably to the Hebrew text f412 , renders it, “to seek prayer and supplications”; such as were suitable and pertinent to the present case; most beneficial and interesting to him and his people, and most acceptable to the Lord: with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes ; as was usual on extraordinary occasions, in times of public mourning; and this he did, to show his sense of the divine Being, and of his own unworthiness to ask or receive anything of him; his great humiliation for the sins of the people; and to distinguish this prayer of his from ordinary ones, and to affect his own heart in it, with the sad condition his nation, city, and temple were in; and therefore abstained from food for a time, put sackcloth on his loins, and ashes on his head, or sat in them.
Ver. 4. And I prayed unto the Lord my God , etc.] Not to idols, nor to angels or saints departed; but to the Lord God of heaven and earth, who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.: a God hearing and answering prayer; and to whom he directed his prayer, not only as the God of nature and providence, but as his own covenant God and Father; thereby encouraging his faith in him, and using his interest with him: and made my confession; of his own sins, and of the sins of his people; of the favours bestowed on him and them; of his justice in afflicting them, and his mercy in appointing a time for their deliverance; of his own faith in him, love to him, and submission to his will: and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God ; great in his being and perfections, and in all his works of nature, providence, and grace; “and dreadful” in his threatenings and judgments, in his wrath and vengeance: or, to be “feared” f413 ; and reverenced by all men, especially by his saints; and particularly when they draw near unto him, as Daniel now did; and that because of his greatness and goodness: this Daniel observes to raise in his mind a proper awe and reverence of God, whose presence he was now approaching: keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments ; faithful to his word of promise; large and liberal in the distribution of his grace and mercy to such that love him sincerely and heartily; and, as an evidence of it, observe his precepts from a principle of love, and with a view to his glory: respect seems to be had to ( Exodus 20:6), this is observed, by the prophet, to encourage his own faith, and that of others, as to the fulfilment of the promise of their deliverance from captivity at the end of the seventy years; and to raise, in his mind and theirs, love to God, who was thus merciful; and to show the obligations they lay under, in gratitude, to keep his commandments.
Ver. 5. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled , etc.] Some think there is a gradation in these words; that they had committed some sins through error and ignorance; others through infirmity and obliquity, or in the perverseness of their spirits, and the crookedness of their ways; and others wilfully and in malice, in the wickedness of their hearts; and others were open acts of hostility against God, casting off his yoke, and refusing obedience to him, and obstinately persisting therein. Jacchiades refers them to sins of actions, words, and thoughts, which they proudly and presumptuously committed.
This heap of phrases seems to be used to take in all kind of sin committed by them, and rather to exaggerate than to extenuate them, and to confess them with all their aggravated circumstances; and Daniel puts in himself among the body of the people, as being a member of it, and as well knowing he was not without sin; and therefore willingly took his part in the blame of it, in confession of it, and confusion for it: even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments ; both of a moral and positive nature, which were enjoined by the law of Moses, as the rule of their conduct; but from this they swerved.
Ver. 6. Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets , etc.] To their explanations of the laws and judgments of God; to their admonitions, reproofs, and counsels; these they did not attentively listen to, nor give credit to them, nor yield obedience to them; but despised and rejected them, though they were the true prophets and servants of the Lord; such as Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others: which spake in thy name ; they came by the authority of God, being sent by him; they delivered their message in his name, being his ambassadors; and which as it was an honour done to this people to have such men sent unto them, so it was an aggravation of their sin that they showed no respect to them; since their words were not their own, but the Lord’s, which they spoke to all sorts of persons: to our kings ; one after another, as to Ahaz, Manasseh, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah; kings of the house of David, and over the land of Judah: our princes ; princes of the blood, nobles, and courtiers: and our fathers ; meaning not only their immediate ancestors, but their subordinate rulers, civil magistrates, judges or elders of the people, as Jacchiades interprets it: and to all the people of the land : of Judea; the common people, as distinguished from persons of rank and figure before expressed. These several persons are named, partly to observe how faithful the prophets were in delivering their message to all sorts of persons, high and low, not fearing the faces of any; and partly to show that none could plead ignorance, or excuse themselves with that, since all had had sufficient warning and instruction: as also to observe, that the sin of rejecting the true prophets of the Lord was universal among them, all were guilty of it.
Ver. 7 . O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee , etc.] It is essential to him, it is his nature, and appears in all his works; he is perfectly pure, holy, and righteous; he is just, and without iniquity; and there is no unrighteousness in him, nor any to be charged upon him, on account of anything done by him: punitive justice belongs to him; nor is he to be complained of because of his judgments, which are righteous altogether; nor had the prophet, or any of his countrymen, just reason to complain of the evils brought on them; the desolations of their land, city, and temple, and their captivity in a strange land; by all which no injustice was done, nor could they charge the Lord with any: and with him also is righteousness wrought out by his Son, to justify sinners that believe in him; he has accepted of it, and imputes it without works. But unto us confusion of face, as at this day ; both on account of their sins, which stared them in the face, loaded their consciences with guilt, and filled them with shame; and on account of their punishment, the miserable condition in which their country was and they themselves were at that day; which declared to all the world what sinners they had been, and what sins they had committed, which had brought this ruin upon them, and them into such sad circumstances: to the men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem ; or, “man of Judah” f414 ; to every man of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; who once dwelt in that land flowing with milk and honey, and now in a strange land for their sins; and to every inhabitant of that renowned city of jerusalem, the metropolis of the nation, the seat, of the kings of Judah; yea, the city of the great King, where the temple stood, and divine worship was performed, but now lay in ruins, through the iniquity of its inhabitants, and therefore had just reason to be ashamed: and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are afar off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of the trespass that they have trespassed against thee ; shame and confusion of face also belonged to the ten tribes of Israel; to such of them as were mixed with the Jews in Babylon, or were in those parts of Assyria that lay nearest to it; and to those that were at a greater distance, in Media, Iberia, Colchis, and other places; yea, in all kingdoms and countries where they were dispersed for their trespass against the Lord; particularly in worshipping the calves at Daniel and Bethel, and other acts of idolatry and impiety.
Ver. 8. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face , etc.] Which is repeated, to show how much the mind of the prophet was affected with it, and to fix a sense of it in the minds of others; as well as to suggest that he wanted words fully to express that shame that everyone ought to take to themselves; and also in order to introduce what follows, and that to observe that all ranks and degrees of men were concerned in it: to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee ; these had each of them sinned against the Lord, by not hearkening to his prophets, who reproved them for their sins, and warned them of their danger, ( Daniel 9:6) and therefore had reason to be ashamed of them before him; as well as to observe the low estate in which the royal family, princes, elders, and people in Babylon, were, being exposed to shame and reproach before all the world.
Ver. 9 . To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses , etc.] Mercy is his nature, and what he delights in; it is abundant, and he is plenteous in it the fountain of mercy is with him, and numerous are the streams which flow from it, called “the multitude of his tender mercies”; all temporal favours spring from hence, and so do all spiritual blessings, the sure mercies of David; and particularly the forgiveness of sin, which is the Lord’s prerogative, and is according to the tender mercies of our God, and the riches of his grace; and is of all sins, and of all sorts of sinners; he doth abundantly pardon all that apply to him for it, and forgives all trespasses; (see <19D004> Psalm 130:4,7): though we have rebelled against him : there is mercy with the Lord, and forgiveness with him, even for rebellious ones; which is an exaggeration and illustration of his pardoning grace and mercy: or, “for we have sinned against him” f415 ; so that it is a plain case that he is merciful and has forgiven our iniquities, since he has spared us, and not destroyed us, and now is about to put an end to our captivity, according to his promise; and if he had not mercy on us, and did not forgive our sins, we must perish in them, and there would be no hope of salvation for us.
Ver. 10. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God , etc.] Speaking in the law, and by his prophets; for what was spoken there, and by them, should have been considered, not as the word of man, but as the word of God, and should have been attended to and obeyed; for despising that and them was interpreted as despising the Lord, and refusing to hearken to him, and obey his voice; which was a sin highly provoking to him, and resented by him: to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets ; by Moses and others; for it seems to include the system of laws which were delivered by Moses, and were many; and the doctrines of the prophets, which were explications and enforcements of them: and these the Lord set before them by both, as a rule to walk by, and a path to walk in; and not to do this was very sinful in them, and greatly displeasing to him.
Ver. 11 . Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law , etc.] Even God’s professing people, on whom he had bestowed distinguishing favours and blessings, and gave them such a law as no other people had, and yet they transgressed it; not a few, or the greatest part only, but the whole body of them: and indeed there is no man that lives without sin, or the transgression of the law, in thought, word, or deeds; no, not a just man; but these transgressed the law in a very heinous manner, both the first as well as the second table of it, committing idolatry, and all manner of impiety, in which they continued: even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice ; by departing from the law, and the precepts of it; from God and his worship; from the temple of God, and the service of it; and from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin: it seems to have some respect to the separation of the ten tribes under Jeroboam, who set up the calves at Daniel and Bethel, that the people might not obey the voice of the Lord, in going to worship at the solemn feasts in Jerusalem: therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God : that is, the just punishment of their sins was inflicted on them; or the curse the law threatened the transgressors of it with was come upon them in its large extent, and overflowed them like a flood; which God swore he would bring upon them, if they transgressed his law; or which they by an oath imprecated and pronounced upon themselves, should they not hearken to it, but transgress and disobey it: because we have sinned against him ; and therefore this curse was not a causeless one; sin, the transgression of the law, was the cause of it.
Ver. 12 . And he hath confirmed his words which he spake against us , etc.] That is, he hath made good his threatenings of wrath and vengeance, in case of disobedience to his law: and against our judges that judged us ; kings, and inferior governors, that ruled over them, who perverted justice, and did not execute righteous judgment; and against them the Lord performed what he threatened: by bringing upon us a great evil ; the desolation of the whole land, the destruction of Jerusalem; the death of many by the sword, famine, and pestilence, and the captivity of the rest; all which was a great punishment considered in itself, but, when compared with their offences, was less than they deserved: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem ; its walls broken down, its houses burnt with fire, even the palaces of the king and nobles, and the temple of the Lord itself; and all its inhabitants destroyed, dispersed, or carried captive; (see Lamentations 1:12 Ezekiel 5:9,10).
Ver. 13. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us , etc.] As it is there threatened it should, and as it is there foretold it would come upon them, so it has; even the selfsame things, in the same manner, and with the same circumstances, as there foretold; which is a proof of the omniscience, omnipotence, and faithfulness of God, and an evidence of the truth of divine revelation; (see Leviticus 26:1 Deuteronomy 28:1): yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God ; during the seventy years captivity, they might have prayed, and doubtless did, in a lifeless, formal manner; but not sincerely and heartily, in faith and with fervency, under a sense of sin, with confession of it, and true repentance for it, and so as to forsake it, as follows: that we might turn from our iniquities ; for since they did not pray against sin, and entreat the Lord to enable them to turn from it, and forsake it, but continued in a course of disobedience, their prayer was not reckoned prayer: and understand thy truth ; either the truth and faithfulness of God, in fulfilling both his promises and his threatenings; or his law, which is truth, as Jacchiades interprets it; for, had they prayed aright, they would have had an understanding given them of divine truths, both with respect to doctrine and practice; of which they were ignorant, as prayerless persons usually are.
Ver. 14 . Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us , etc.] The evil of punishment; he watched the fit and proper time to bring it upon them; indeed, he watches over the evil of sin, to bring upon men the evil of chastisement or punishment, ( Job 14:16), but the latter is here meant; (see Jeremiah 31:28 44:27), the word used has the signification of hastening; and so Jarchi and Saadiah explain it, “he hath hastened” f416 : the almond tree, as the latter observes, has its name from hence, because it prevents other trees, and is quicker in putting out its blossom than they, ( Jeremiah 1:11,19) and so this may denote the purity of the Lord; his displicency at sin; his strict justice in punishing it; and his diligence and activity in executing judgment for it, which slumbers not, as some imagine: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth ; the prophet is all along careful to clear God from any imputation of injustice in any of his works, even in his strange work, punitive justice; though he watches over the evil to bring it, yet he is righteous in so doing; no charge of unrighteousness is to be exhibited against him on this account: for we obeyed not his voice ; neither in his word, nor in his providences; neither by his prophets, nor by his judgments; and being guilty of the evil of fault, it was but just they should bear the evil of punishment.
Ver. 15 . And now, O Lord our God , etc.] The Lord of the whole earth in general, the sovereign Ruler of the universe, and the God of Israel in a special and peculiar manner; which is used to encourage faith in prayer, and carries in it a tacit argument or plea with God to be heard, in what he was about to say in behalf of Israel; and to which purpose also is the following description of God, from an ancient benefit he had granted to that people: that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand ; which though it may be considered as an aggravation of their sin, that after this they should behave so wickedly, as to be carried captive for their sins, out of the land they were brought into; yet it seems to be mentioned to put the Lord in mind of his former favours to them, and of his promise that he would bring them out of Babylon, as he had brought them out of Egypt, ( Jeremiah 16:14,15 23:7,8): and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day ; by the many wonders wrought in Egypt, and at the Red sea, when Israel was brought from thence; as particularly by slaying the firstborn of Egypt, dividing the waters of the sea, and destroying the Egyptians in it, as Saadiah observes; the memory and fame of which continued to that day, and will continue throughout all ages: and the prophet suggests, that he would also get a name or renown in the world, and among his people, should he deliver them from their present captivity; but for this they had nothing to plead but his promise and mercy; for, as for them, they were obliged to confess themselves sinners, and unworthy of such a favour: we have sinned, we have done wickedly ; the prophet knows not how to leave off confessing sin; there had been so much committed, and there was so much need of confessing it.
Ver. 16 . O Lord, according to all thy righteousness , etc.] Or “righteousnesses” f417 ; which he had been used to exercise in the world, in all ages of it; either punishing wicked men according to their deserts, to which respect may be had here; since turning away wrath from his people would issue in turning it upon their enemies, which would be in righteous judgment or in fulfilling his promises; and so it signifies his faithfulness, of which there had been so many instances in times past, and gave encouragement to believe the performance of those not yet accomplished: or this may be understood of his goodness, and kindness, which is sometimes meant by his righteousness (see Psalm 31:1 143:1) and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, “in all thy mercy”; and Jacchiades paraphrases the words thus, “O Lord, according to all the multitude of thy righteousness, and of thy kindness, which thou dost in the world:” I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem ; the city of the great King, which he chose for his residence, in which the temple, was, and where he was worshipped; and the prophet earnestly entreats, that the marks of divine displeasure, which were upon it, might be removed; that the punishments or judgments inflicted, as the effects of the anger and wrath of God, might cease, and the city be rebuilt, and restored to its former glory: thy holy mountain ; the temple, devoted to the worship and service of God; or Mount Moriah, on which it stood: 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 ; their neighbours, the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Tyrians, and Philistines; who rejoiced at their destruction, and jeered at them and their religion, and scoffingly said, where were their temple of which they boasted, and their God in whom they trusted? the cause of all this is owned to be their own sins, and the sins of their ancestors, which they their posterity continued in; and therefore do not lay the fault wholly upon them, but take the blame to themselves.
Ver. 17. Now therefore, O our God , etc.] This being our miserable case, and the seventy years’ captivity being at an end, and thou still our covenant God, whom we profess and worship: hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications ; which he had put up in an humble manner, consisting of various petitions for grace and mercy before expressed: and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate ; the temple; its walls demolished, its altars thrown down, and the whole in ruins; a melancholy scene! the Lord, suffering these things, seemed to frown upon it, and upon his people, that used to serve him there; wherefore it is entreated that he would smile upon it again, and upon them, and cause it to be rebuilt, and his worship restored in it: and this is asked for the Lord’s sake : that is, for Christ’s sake, who is Lord of all, especially of his chosen people, by creation, redemption, and marriage, as well as by their own consent and profession; and for whose sake, and in whose name, all requests are to be made to God, he being the only Mediator between God and man; and for the sake of whose blood, righteousness, and mediation, all the blessings of goodness are given unto men; and who also was Lord and proprietor of the temple, and was to come into it, as well as was the antitype of it.
Ver. 18. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear , etc.] The petitions now put up, for Christ’s sake: open thine eyes, and behold our desolations ; the city and temple a heap of rubbish, and the whole land forsaken of its inhabitants, and lying waste and uncultivated, or, however, at most possessed by enemies; and things being thus, it seemed as if the Lord shut his eyes to them, and therefore is desired to open them, and look with pity and compassion on the case of his people, and deliver them out of all their troubles: and the city which is called by thy name ; or, “on which thy name is called” f418 ; as Jerusalem was, being called the city of our God, the city of the great King, ( Psalm 48:1,2) and in which also his name was called upon, both by the inhabitants of it in their private houses, and by the priests and Levites, and others, in the temple, which stood in it: for we do not present our supplications before thee ; or, “cause them to fall before thee” f419 ; expressing the humble and lowly manner in which they presented their petitions to God, and respecting the gesture they used in prayer, bowing themselves to the ground, and falling prostrate upon it; and as was the custom of the eastern people when they supplicated their princes: and this Daniel, in the name of his people, did; not, says he, for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies ; not pleading their good works and righteous actions, and the merits of them, which had none in them, and were no other than as filthy rags, and could not recommend them to God, or be used as a plea and argument to obtain any good thing from him; but throwing themselves upon the abundant grace and mercy of God in Christ, mercy they pleaded, and not merit; and made mention of the righteousness of Christ, and not their own; as all good men, who are truly sensible of themselves, and of the grace of God, will do.
Ver. 19 . O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive , etc.] That is, hear the prayers and supplications that have been presented, and forgive the sins that have been confessed; show both, by removing present calamities, and restoring to former prosperity and privileges: O Lord, hearken, and do ; not only listen to what has been said, and give an answer by speaking, but work salvation and deliverance: defer not, for thine own sake, O my God ; these words seem to be directed to Christ the Son of God, and who is the true God, and the God of his people; who is three times in this verse before called Adonai, for whose sake prayer and supplication were made, ( Daniel 9:17) and here again, for his own sake, he is entreated not to “defer” the fulfilment of the promise of delivering the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, the seventy years being now up, or just expiring; and also that he would not defer his own coming for the redemption of his people, which no doubt Daniel had in his mind, and was wishing and waiting for: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name ; Jerusalem, the city of the great King, Christ, and a type of his church and people, who are also called by his name, and call upon him.
Ver. 20 . And while I was speaking and praying , etc.] Speaking to God in prayer; for it seems his prayer was vocal, and not mental only: and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel ; Daniel, though so holy and good a man, was not without sin, and thought it his duty to confess it before the Lord; and which he did in the first place, and then the sin of his people; which is the way to succeed with the Lord for the application of pardoning grace, and the enjoyment of other mercies and blessings: and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God ; for the temple, and the service of God in it; which was the first and principal thing that lay upon the heart of the prophet, and he was most importunate and solicitous for.
Ver. 21 . Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer , etc.] Which is repeated, that it might be observed, that while he was in prayer, before he had finished it, or got off of his knees, an answer was sent him; (see Isaiah 65:24): even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning ; either at the beginning of Belshazzar’s reign, in the third year of it, ( Daniel 8:1), or rather “before”, as the Syriac version renders it; before this time, in the vision of the ram and he goat, ( Daniel 8:16), when he saw this angel Gabriel that appeared in a human form, and he knew this to be his name, by a man’s voice calling him by it; and now he knew him to be the same angel by his appearance and voice; at the sight of whom he does not seem to be terrified, as before, having had free conversation with him, and being made acquainted by him with many secrets; and no doubt inwardly rejoiced to see him again, as hoping and believing he had something to communicate to him: being caused to fly swiftly ; having an order from the Lord, and being strengthened by him to make quick dispatch to Daniel, which is signified by flying swiftly; and for which reason angels are represented as having wings, to denote their celerity and quick dispatch of business: or “flying with weariness” f420 , as some render it; he made such haste as to be weary with it; as he appeared in the form of a man, he looked like one out of breath, and panting for it, occasioned by his swift flight; and which expresses the haste he made, according to his orders, and his eagerness to bring to Daniel the welcome tidings of the coming of the Messiah, and the time of it, which angels desired to look into: touched me about the time of the evening oblation ; the time of offering the evening sacrifice; which, though not now offered, the altar being destroyed, and the Lord’s people in a foreign land; yet the time was observed by them, and which was the time of prayer, being about the ninth hour of the day, or three o’clock in the afternoon, (see Acts 3:1 10:3), as the time of the morning sacrifice was another hour of prayer; at which time very likely Daniel began, and continued till now, since he was fasting, ( Daniel 9:3) and this was the time when Christ, the antitype of the daily sacrifice, was offered up; of the time of whose coming, sufferings, and death, the angel here brings an account: and, in order to excite the attention of Daniel to it, “touched him”; for he, being on his knees, and intent in prayer, might not at first observe him; and therefore gives him a gentle touch, to let him know he was present, and had something to say to him; and to suggest to him to break off his prayer, to which he had brought an answer, as well as to lift him up, and encourage familiarity with him.
Ver. 22. And he informed me, and talked with me , etc.] He informed him, by talking with him, of the will of God, to restore the captivity of his people, to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, and of the coming of the Messiah: or, “he caused me to attend” f421 , “and talked with me”; he excited his attention to what he had to say, and caused him to advert to his discourse, in order to understand it: and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth ; just now come from heaven, from the presence of God, and by his order: to give thee skill and understanding ; or, “to instruct thee in understanding” f422 ; to teach thee the knowledge and give thee the understanding of secret things, which otherwise could not be known; such as particularly the time of the coming of Christ, which the angels themselves knew not till it was revealed; and being made acquainted with it, one of them is employed to make it known to Daniel; who is the only prophet that fixes the exact time of it, and was favoured with this divine and heavenly skill of knowing it, and of being the publisher of it to others.
Ver. 23 . At the beginning of thy supplications , etc.] As soon as ever he began to pray. This circumstance shows how ready the Lord is to hear the prayers of his people; and yet it was not owing to the prayers of the prophet, and to any intrinsic virtue or merit in them that the Lord did what he afterwards declares should be done; and, besides, more is revealed and promised than Daniel asked for: the commandment came forth ; either the order from the Lord to the angel, dispatching him on this errand to the prophet, to acquaint him with his mind and will; or the proclamation of Cyrus, to let the people of the Jews go free, and go up to Jerusalem to build their city and temple, published that morning, just about the time Daniel began to pray, the seventy years’ captivity being completely finished; (see Daniel 9:25): and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved ; or, “art desires” f423 ; all desire, exceedingly desired; very lovely, amiable, and delightful, in the sight of God, and all good men: or, “that thou art greatly beloved” f424 ; thus the angel came from God, out of heaven, to show it to him, to make it appear that he was highly in the favour of God, in that he made known his secrets to him: therefore understand the matter ; or “word” f425 ; attend to the word; advert to the form of speaking used, and labour to get the knowledge of it: and consider the vision ; this vision, as Japhet; the following vision or prophecy of the seventy weeks; think of it well, as being a matter of great importance and consequence.
Ver. 24. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city , etc.]. Or, “concerning thy people, and concerning thy holy city” f426 ; that is, such a space of time is fixed upon; “cut out” f427 , as the word signifies; or appointed of God for the accomplishment of certain events, relative to the temporal good of the city and people of the Jews; as the rebuilding of their city and temple; the continuance of them as a people, and of their city; the coming of the Messiah to them, to obtain spiritual blessings for them, and for all the people of God; who also were Daniel’s people and city in a spiritual sense, to which he belonged; and likewise what was relative to the utter ruin and destruction of the Jews as a people, and of their city: and this space of “seventy” weeks is not to be understood of weeks of days; which is too short a time for the fulfilment of so many events as are mentioned; nor were they fulfilled within such a space of time; but of weeks of years, and make up four hundred and ninety years; within which time, beginning from a date after mentioned, all the things prophesied of were accomplished; and this way of reckoning of years by days is not unusual in the sacred writings; (see Genesis 29:27 Leviticus 25:8 Ezekiel 4:4,5) ( Revelation 12:6 13:5). The verb used is singular, and, joined with the noun plural, shows that every week was cut out and appointed for some event or another; and the word, as it signifies “to cut”, aptly expresses the division, or section of these weeks into distinct periods, as seven, sixty two, and one. The first events mentioned are spiritual ones, and are not ascribed to any particular period; but are what should be done within this compass of time in general, and were done toward the close of it; and are first observed because of the greatest importance, and are as follow: to finish the transgression ; not the transgression of Adam, or original sin, which, though took away by Christ from his people, yet not from all men; nor the actual transgression of man in general, which never more abounded than in the age in which Christ lived; but rather the transgressions of his people he undertook to satisfy for, and which were laid on him, and bore by him, and carried away, so as not to be seen more, or to have no damning power over them. The word used signifies “to restrain” f428 ; now, though sin greatly abounded, both among Jews and Gentiles, in the age of the Messiah; yet there never was an age in which greater restraints were laid on it than in this, by the ministry of John the Baptist, and of Christ in Judea and by the apostles in the Gentile world: and to make an end of sins ; so that they shall be no more, but put away and abolished by the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ for them, as to guilt and punishment; so that those, for whose sins satisfaction is made, no charge can be brought against them, nor the curse of the law reach them, nor any sentence of it be executed, or any punishment inflicted on them; but are entirely and completely saved from all their sins, and the sad effects of them. Our version follows the marginal reading; but the textual writing is, “to seal up sins” f429 ; which is expressive of the pardon of them procured by Christ; for things sealed are hid and covered, and so are sins forgiven, ( Psalm 32:1), and to make reconciliation for iniquity : to expiate it, and make atonement for it; which was made by the sacrifice of Christ, by his sufferings and death; whereby the law and justice of God were fully satisfied, full reparation being made for the injury done by sin; and this was made for all kind of sin, expressed here by several words; and for all the sins, iniquities, and transgressions of the Lord’s people; to do which was the grand end of Christ’s coming into the world; (see Hebrews 2:17): and to bring in everlasting righteousness; which is true only of the righteousness of Christ, by which the law is magnified and made honourable, justice satisfied, and all that believe in him justified from all their sins: this Christ, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, has wrought out, and brought into the world; and which phase designs, not the manifestation of it in the Gospel; nor the act of imputation of it, which is Jehovah the Father’s act; nor the application of it, which is by the Spirit of God; but Christ’s actual working of it out by obeying the precept and bearing the penalty of the law: and this may be truly called “everlasting”, or “the righteousness of ages” f430 , of ages past; the righteousness by which the saints in all ages from the beginning of the world are justified; and which endures, and will endure, throughout all ages, to the justification of all that believe; it is a robe of righteousness that will never wear out; its virtue to justify will ever continue, being perfect; it will answer for the justified ones in a time to come, and has eternal life connected with it: and to seal up the vision and prophecy ; not to shut it up out of sight; rather to set a mark on it, by which it might be more clearly known; but to consummate and fulfil it: all prophecy is sealed up in Christ, and by him; he is the sum and substance of it; the visions and prophecies of the Old Testament relate to him, and have their accomplishment in him; some relate to his person and office; others to his coming into the world, the time, place, and manner of it; others to the great work of redemption and salvation he came about; and others to his miracles, sufferings, and death, and the glory that should follow; all which have been fulfilled: or, “to seal up the vision and prophet” f431 ; the prophets were until John, and then to cease, and have ceased ever since the times of Jesus; there has been no prophet among the Jews, they themselves do not deny it; Christ is come, the last and great Prophet of all, with a full revelation of the divine will, and no other is to be expected; all that pretend to set up a new scheme of things, either as to doctrine or worship, through pretended vision or prophecy, are to be disregarded: and to anoint the most Holy ; not literally the most holy place in the temple; figuratively, either heaven itself, anointed, and prepared for his people by the Messiah’s ascension thither, and entrance into it; or rather most holy persons, the church and people of God, typified by the sanctuary, the temple of God; and in a comparative sense are most holy, and absolutely so, as washed in the blood of Christ, clothed with his righteousness, and sanctified by his Spirit; and by whom they are anointed, some in an extraordinary and others in an ordinary way, and all by the grace of Christ: or it may be best of all to understand this of the Messiah, as Aben Ezra and others do; who is holy in his person, in both his natures, human and divine; sanctified and set apart to his office, and holy in the execution of it; equal in holiness to the Father and the Spirit; superior in it to angels and men, who have all their holiness from him, and by whom they are sanctified; and of whom the sanctuary or temple was a type; and who was anointed with the Holy Ghost as man, at his incarnation, baptism, and ascension to heaven; and Abarbinel owns it may be interpreted of the Messiah, who may be called the Holy of holies, because he is holier than all other Israelites.
Ver. 25. Know, therefore, and understand , etc.] Take notice and observe, for the clearer understanding of these seventy weeks, and the events to be fulfilled in them, what will be further said concerning them, the beginning of them, their distinct periods, and what shall be accomplished in them: that from the time of the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem ; this commandment is the beginning of the seventy weeks or four hundred and ninety years, and from it they are to be reckoned; and which designs not the proclamation of Cyrus in the first year of his reign, which was only to rebuild the temple, and not the city of Jerusalem, ( Ezra 1:1-3), nor the decree of Darius Hystaspes, which also only regards the temple, and is only a confirmation of the decree of Cyrus, ( Ezra 6:1) and for the same reasons it cannot be the decree in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes; which only confirmed what his predecessors had granted concerning the temple, and provision for sacrifices, and exemption of the priests from toll, tribute, or custom, ( Ezra 7:7,13,24), but has not a word of building the wall and streets of Jerusalem, as that has, which was made in the twentieth year of his reign; and seems therefore to be the commandment or decree here referred to, ( Nehemiah 2:1,6-8), and this is the general epoch of the seventy weeks, and where the first seven begin; though Gussetius thinks that the word rbd does not signify any edict or decree, but a “thing”; and designs the thing itself, restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem; and that the following date is to be reckoned, not from any order to rebuild that city, but from the thing itself, from the moment when it first began to be rebuilt: and as singular is the notion of Tirinus f433 , who is of opinion that this is to be understood of the going out, or the end of the word; not whereby the holy city was ordered to be built, but when it was really built; and so begins the account from the dedication of the new city, in the twenty third year of Artaxerxes, ( Nehemiah 12:27). There are others who suppose that not any human word, decree, commandment, or order, is here meant, but a divine one; either the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, foretelling the seventy years’ captivity of the Jews, and their deliverance from it; and reckon these four hundred and ninety years from the destruction of the first temple, to the destruction of the second temple, as Jarchi, Saadiah, Jacchiades, and others; but between these two destructions was a course of six hundred and fifty six or six hundred and fifty seven years: others take the beginning of the seventy weeks to be from the going forth of the commandment to the angel, at the beginning of Daniel’s prayers, as Aben Ezra; and to end at the destruction of the second temple; but, for a like reason, this must be rejected as the other; since this space of time will outrun the seventy weeks near one hundred and twenty years: it is best therefore to interpret this of a royal edict, the order or commandment of a king of Persia to rebuild Jerusalem; and it seems correct to reckon the number given, either from the seventh, or rather from the twentieth, of Artaxerxes Longimanus before mentioned; and either these reckonings, as Bishop Chandler observes, are sufficient for our purpose, to show the completion of the prophecy in Christ: “the commencement of the weeks (as he remarks) must be either from the seventh of Artaxerxes, which falls on 457 B.C. or from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; (add to 457 B.C., twenty six years after Christ, which is the number that four hundred and eighty three years, or sixty nine weeks, exceeds four hundred and fifty seven years); and you are brought to the beginning of John the Baptist’s preaching up the advent of the Messiah; add seven years or one week to the former, and you come to the thirty third year of A.D. which was the year of Jesus Christ’s death or else compute four hundred and ninety years, the whole seventy weeks, from the seventh of Artaxerxes, by subtracting four hundred and fifty seven years (the space of time between that year and the beginning of A.D.) from four hundred and ninety, and there remains thirty three, the year of our Lord’s death. Let the twentieth of Artaxerxes be the date of the seventy weeks, which is 455 B.C. and reckon sixty nine weeks of Chaldean years; seventy Chaldee years being equal to sixty nine Julian; and so four hundred and seventy eight Julian years making four hundred and eighty three Chaldee years, and they end in the thirty third year after Christ, or the passover following f435 ”; the several particulars into which these seventy weeks are divided: unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks ; by whom is meant, not Cyrus, as Jarchi and Jacchiades; who, though called Messiah or anointed, ( Isaiah 44:28 45:1), cannot be intended; for this prince was to be cut off after seven, and sixty two weeks, or four hundred and eighty three years; whereas Cyrus died ages before this, and even died before the expiration of the seven weeks, or forty nine years; nor Joshua the high priest, or Zerubbabel, as Ben Gersom and others nor Nehemiah as Aben Ezra; nor Artaxerxes, which R. Azariah thinks probable; for to none of these will this character agree, which denotes some eminent person known by this name; nor the work ascribed to him, ( Daniel 9:24), nor can it be said of either of them that they were cut off, and much less at such a period as is here fixed: it is right to interpret it of the promised and expected Saviour, whom the Psalmist David had frequently spoken of under the name of the Messiah, and as a King and Prince; (see Psalm 2:2,6,12 18:50 89:27,51 132:17) and who is David, the Prince Ezekiel before this had prophesied of, ( Ezekiel 34:24 37:25), and is the same with the Prince of peace in the famous prophecy of him in ( Isaiah 9:6). The Syriac version, though not a literal one, gives the true sense of the passage, rendering it, “unto the coming of the King Messiah;” unto which there were to be seven, and sixty two weeks, or sixty nine weeks, which make four hundred and eighty three years; and these being understood of eastern years, used by the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Persians, consisting of three hundred and sixty days, reckoning thirty days to a month, and twelve months to a year, there were just four hundred and eighty three of these from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the thirty third of the vulgar era of Christ, and the nineteenth of Tiberius Caesar, in which he suffered. Sir Isaac Newton thinks the seven weeks unto Messiah, which he detaches from the sixty two, respects the second coming of Christ, when he shall come as a Prince, and destroy antichrist, and that it takes in the compass of a jubilee; but when it will begin and end he does not pretend to say; but the true reason of the sixty nine weeks being divided into seven, and sixty two, is on account of the particular and distinct events assigned to each period, as follows: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times ; that is, within the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, reckoning from the twentieth of Artaxerxes; when the Jews had a grant to rebuild their city and wall, and were furnished with materials for it; and which was done in very troublesome times; Nehemiah, and the Jews with him, met with much trouble from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, while they were setting up the wall of the city, and filling the streets with ranges of houses, Nehemiah chapters four and five for which the space of seven weeks, or forty nine years, were cut out and appointed; and that this event belongs solely to this period is clear from the Messiah’s coming being appropriated to the period of the sixty two weeks; which leaves this entirely where it is fixed.
Ver. 26. And after threescore and two weeks , etc.] To be reckoned from the end of the seven weeks, or forty nine years, which, added to them, make four hundred and eighty three years: shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself ; by whom is designed the same with Messiah the Prince in ( Daniel 9:25), not Onias the high priest, as a late writer would have it, an upright person, and of great holiness, taken off by an unjust death; since he was dead many years before the expiration of these weeks; nor Hyrcanus the high priest, slain by Herod, as Eusebius thinks; in whom the succession of the ancient priests terminated, and with whom the priestly unction perished; which indeed bids fairer than the former; but he was not a person of so much note as to be pointed at in such a prophecy; besides, the priesthood continued much longer: nor is King Agrippa intended, as Jarchi and Abarbinel, who, they say, was the last king of the Jews, and was slain by Vespasian at the destruction of Jerusalem; which is not true; he was not properly king of the Jews, having only Galilee for his jurisdiction; was not slain by Vespasian; was a confederate of the Romans, lived some years after the destruction of the city, and at last died in peace; but Jesus the true Messiah is intended, with whom the character, dates, and death, and the manner of it, entirely agree: now to his death were to be four hundred and eighty three years; which years ended, as we have observed, in the thirty third year of the vulgar era of Christ, and the nineteenth of Tiberius; when Jesus the true Messiah was cut off in a judicial way; not for any sins of his own, but for the sins of his people, to make satisfaction for them, and to obtain their redemption and salvation; (see Isaiah 53:8): or “he is not”, as Jarchi, no more in the land of the living, is dead; (see Jeremiah 31:15), or “there is”, or “will be, none for him”, or “with him” f440 , to help and assist him in his great work, ( Isaiah 63:5). The Vulgate Latin version is, “they shall not be his people”; the Jews rejecting him shall have a “loammi” upon them, and be no more the people of God. Gussetius better renders it, “he hath not”; or he has nothing, so Cocceius; all things were wanted by him, that is, by Christ; he had neither riches, nor clothes, nor any to stand by him, or to accompany him: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary ; that is, the people of the Romans, under Vespasian their prince, emperor, and general, should, in a little time after the cutting off of the Messiah, enter into the land of Judea, and destroy the city of Jerusalem, and the temple that stood in it; though some understand this of Messiah the Prince that should come in his power, and in a way of judgment upon the Jewish nation, and destroy them for their rejection of him; whose people the Romans would be, and under whose direction, and by whose orders, all these judgments should be brought upon the Jews; but many of the Jewish writers themselves interpret it of Vespasian, as Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Abarbinel, and Jacchiades: and the end thereof shall be with a flood : the end of the city and temple, and of the whole nation, should be by the Roman army, which, like a flood, would overspread the land, and carry all before it. It denotes the number, power, and irresistible force of the enemy, and the sad devastation made by them: and unto the end of the war desolations are determined ; from the beginning of the war by the Romans with the Jews, to the end of it, there would be nothing but continual desolations; a dreadful havoc and ruin everywhere; and all this appointed and determined by the Lord, as a just punishment for their sins.
Ver. 27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week , etc.] Sixty nine of the seventy weeks being accounted for, and the several events observed to be fulfilled in them; the angel proceeds to take notice of the remaining “one” week, or seven years, and what should be done within that space of time: a covenant should be confirmed with many; which is not to be understood of the Messiah’s confirming the covenant of grace with many, or on account of all his people, by fulfilling the conditions of it, and by his blood and sacrifice, through which all the blessings of it come to them; for this is not for one week only, but for ever; but this is to be interpreted of the Roman people, spoken of in the latter part of the preceding verse; who, in order to accomplish their design to destroy the city and temple of Jerusalem, made peace with many nations, entered into covenant and alliance with them, particularly the Medes, Parthians, and Armenians, for the space of one week, or seven years; as it appears they did at the beginning of this week f442 : and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease ; the daily sacrifice of the Jews, and all their other offerings; and which was literally fulfilled “in the half part” of this week, as it may be rendered; towards the close of the latter half of it, when the city of Jerusalem, being closely besieged by Titus, what through the closeness of the siege, the divisions of the people, and the want both of time and men, and beasts to offer, the daily sacrifice ceased, as Josephus says, to the great grief of the people; nor have the Jews, ever since the destruction of their city and temple, offered any sacrifice, esteeming it unlawful so to do in a strange land: and at the same time, in the same half part of the week, for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate ; that is, the Roman people shall make the land of Judea desolate, for the overspreading of their abominations or idolatries in it. The words may be rendered, as by some, “upon the wing”, the battlements of the temple, shall be the abominations , or “idols of the desolator”, or “of him that makes desolate” f445 ; so Bishop Lloyd; meaning either the ensigns of the Roman army, which had upon them the images of their gods or emperors; and being set up in the holy place, and sacrificed to, nothing could be a greater abomination to the Jews; or else the blood of the zealots slain on these battlements, by which the holy place was polluted; (see Matthew 24:15 Luke 21:20): even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate ; that is, either these abominations shall continue in the place where they are set until the utter destruction of the city and temple; or the desolation made there should continue until the consummation of God’s wrath and vengeance upon them; until the whole he has determined is poured out on this desolate people; and which continues unto this day, and will till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, ( Luke 21:24). Some, as Bishop Lloyd, render it, “upon the desolator” f446 ; meaning the Romans; and the sense they take to be is, that this vengeance shall continue upon the Jews until it is turned upon the head of those who have made them desolate: now this “one week”, according to the sense given, must begin in the sixty third year of the vulgar era of Christ, about thirty years after the expiration of the sixty nine weeks; since it ends in the seventieth year of the same era, in which was the destruction of Jerusalem, the grand event assigned to it in this famous prophecy; when it might have been expected it should have begun at the end of the sixty nine weeks, and run on in a direct line from them. The true reason of its being thus separated from them is the longsuffering and forbearance of God to the people of the Jews, who gave them, as to the old world, space to repent; but his grace and goodness being slighted, things began to work at the beginning of this week towards their final ruin, which, in the close of it, was fully accomplished: from the whole of this prophecy it clearly appears that the Messiah must be come many hundred years ago. The Jews are sensible of the force of this reasoning; so that, to terrify persons from considering this prophecy, they denounce the following curse, “let them burst, or their bones rot, that compute the times” f447 . R. Nehemiah, who lived about fifty years before the coming of Christ, declared the time of the Messiah, as signified by Daniel, could not be protracted longer than those fifty years f448 . The Jews also say the world is divided into six parts, and the last part is from Daniel to the Messiah f449 .