A Study of Daniel 9:24-27 Part IV
Charles H. Ray, Th.D.
This article is the final installment of a four part series on Daniel 9:24-27. The previous article covered verse 26 and began to examine verse 27. The first paragraph of this article concludes the discussion showing it is reasonable to see a gap of time between verses 26 and 27. A detailed study of verse 27 follows. A select bibliography can be found at the end of this article.
Other scholars agree there are epochs of time in those passages (Isa. 9:6, etc.) but none of those other predictions involve numbers as 9:24-27 does. While true, the uniqueness of this prophecy places it in a category for which no other passage qualifies. That uniqueness is the fact that the number 490 is broken down into seven, sixty-two, and one. Thus, attempts to discredit the interval theory are futile from this perspective.
The first two Hebrew words are literally, “shall cause a covenant to be strong.” RYB!g=h is a Hiphil perfect 3ms whose root can mean “prevail, have strength, be great, have stability, make firm.” The potency of this wording may imply the Jews are forced to accept the agreement because of the antichrist’s superior power. Young advances the idea that this covenant is the Covenant of Grace, and Jesus has come to commission it. The agreement in question is not a new one but one that already exists because rYB!g=h is not the common way to express the making of a new covenant. Thus Young espouses: “shall cause to prevail a covenant.” If his conclusion is true, then this is an awkward way to express it. One would be more likely to see “shall fulfill the terms of the covenant.”
A number of other obstacles emerge here as well. In what sense is it just for “one week”? How could Christ break the Covenant of Grace (if it exists at all), or any other commitment on His part? The amillennialists might have a stronger case if the Hebrew had “the covenant” and not “a covenant.” Lastly, the antichrist’s administration will be marked by major changes, as spelled out by Daniel 7:25, “he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”
Other amillennarians claim this is the Abrahamic Covenant, and Jesus has come to confirm and fulfill it. However, there is no evidence in the Gospels He purposed to do such a thing. Barnes agrees, stating this is the covenant “which God [not the antichrist] is said to establish with his people - so often referred to in the Scriptures as expressing the relation between Him and them.” To believe the interpretation this verse speaks to a compact between the antichrist and the Israelites is much more reasonable. The NIV (“he will confirm a covenant”) does not capture the nuance of these words as well as the NASB does (“he will make a firm covenant”).
It is interesting to speculate on the details of this agreement. One can make educated guesses as to what some of the clauses in the contract stipulated. The antichrist may promise to protect Israel in exchange for money. First Thessalonians 5:3 makes it clear people will be content with the peace and safety just before the judgment. That the second half of the “seven” is a time of horror likewise indicates it is a peace treaty of some sort. Another possible clause may have permitted the Jews to resume their Temple rituals, for later the antichrist has to force them to stop. In other words, the Levitical system didn’t just start up again but it was by the consent of the antichrist.
These events precipitate other implications. Since the Jews are looking for a “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), they will be that more easily taken in by the antichrist. They will quickly discover, however, he is their destroyer, not their deliverer. It will be fascinating to see how the Dome of the Rock will be removed so the Temple can be reconstructed.
The text shows the antichrist’s commitment is with “the many” (literal rendering). These “many” are the Jews (specifically unbelieving Jews), for this passage bears upon “your people” (v. 24). The fact that the children of Abraham have to be involved in such an alliance suggests they are totally helpless. Based on Isaiah 53:11,12, Archer and Young assert “the many” are true believers. They point out that “the many” of 53:11 (<YB!r^l*, an articulated masc. plural adjective) are the ones for whom the Servant gave up His life. Thus, they are the elect, the true believers. An identical role is played by <YB!r* in 53:12. Additional support is found in a Qumran parchment called Rule of the Congregation, where <YB!r^l* “often occurs in reference to the sectarian community of ‘true believers.’”
If the second party consists of believing Jews as Archer espouses, then why would they have any interest in the Levitical system? He responds: “Since these Jewish believers trust in Jesus as their Messiah, it may well be that the sacrifices will be conducted as memorial services like the Lord’s Supper, rather than for atonement purposes as in OT times. This will certainly be the case during the Millennium - if indeed Ezek 43 pertains to that age…” Such a claim raises at least three problems. First, it does not make sense true believers would want to unite with the devil. Second, all true believers went up in the rapture before the Tribulation began. Third, Archer and Young are mixing two different events. Isaiah 53 concerns Jesus’ earthly ministry, and “the many” are the ones for whom Christ died. Daniel 9:27 has to do with the Tribulation, and “the many” are the ones who align themselves with the devil.
Yx!j& (a masculine singular noun in construct) can mean “half, half part” (Exod. 24:6, Num. 12:12), or “the middle, the midst” (Judg. 16:3). The sense would then be either something of importance happened in the middle of the seven years, or it took three and one-half years for something to come to completion. Dispensationalists hold to the former sense and maintain this section of the verse predicts the breaking of the covenant by the antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation. “All pretense of religious toleration will be dropped, for the d!G*n (‘ruler’) will aspire to absolute authority and complete control over the life and thought of all mankind.” Archer provides this modern parallel to the beast’s sly methods.
In many ways this step-by-step progression of tyranny here described bears a remarkable resemblance to the development of the Nazi tyranny in Germany; those of strong religious convictions were at first lulled into a false sense of security till Hitler had consolidated his power through the whole security system of the German Reich.
The words “put a stop to” (NASB; “put an end to,” NIV) are a translation of tYB!v=Y~ (Hiphil imperfect 3ms) that properly means “to rest,” hence the word “Sabbath.” The Hiphil leads to “cause to cease.” “Sacrifice” (jb^z#, masc. sing. noun) primarily means “sacrifice, slaughter” and thus pertains to bloody sacrifices. By contrast, hj*n=m! (fem. sing. noun) speaks to grain, oil, and wine offerings. Other definitions include “gifts” and “oblation.” “The word hj*n=m! is used in secular contexts of gifts to superior persons, particularly kings, to convey the attitude of homage and submission to that person.” This nuance is brought out to some degree by the NASB (“sacrifice and grain offering;” “sacrifice and offering,” NIV). II Thessalonians 2:4 elaborates on these transactions, predicting the antichrist will “take his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
<Yx!WQv! [n~K= lu^w= can be directly translated “and upon [the] wing of abominations,” for which an array of interpretations have been proposed. The NASB is rather literal as above, but the NIV has “And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination…” placing brackets around “of the temple” because the expression is not in the Hebrew. Like the NIV, the NRSV is patterned after the Greek versions (bdelugma) and has it as “abomination” (singular), apparently in an attempt to harmonize it with 11:31 and 12:11 (cf. Rev. 11:2). Walvoord agrees, adding this summation, “The Hebrew is rendered ‘abomination of desolation’ in 1 Maccabees 1:54; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14 and is supported by the most ancient translations including the Septuagint, Theodotion, and the Vulgate” (p. 235). The Syriac reads, “And upon the extremities of the abomination shall rest desolation.” Leupold (p. 431) recommends, “upon the wing of abominable idols.” Goldingay stresses the concept that the idol will be on the altar and not on the Temple. Additionally, “the altar had ‘winglike’ top corners, usually described as horns. Perhaps Gabriel speaks of wings rather than horns because ‘winged one’ ([nk lub, ‘lord of wing’ or ‘winged one’) is a title of Baal.”
The knottiest conundrum is figuring out the legitimate root meaning of [n~K. Wood (p. 261) sides with Gesenius over BDB and alleges the base definition is “to cover over.” BDB does acknowledge the meaning is in doubt, but asserts the word originated from the Arabic verb “to fence in, enclose” and the Aramaic verb “to collect, assemble.” However, both BDB (“wing, extremity”) and Owens parse it as a noun. One can readily perceive why confusion arises, for an “overspreading wing” is related to the idea of “enclosing.” TWOT (pp. 446, 447) lists “wing, winged, border, corner, and shirt” as acceptable translations, and concurs with BDB that the only occurrence of this root in a verbal form is Isaiah 30:20 (“hide Himself”). Some examples of the noun are “the edge of Saul’s robe” (I Sam. 24:4) and “the ends of the earth” (Isa. 24:16).
What is not in dispute is that the vast majority of its OT usages are figurative and a few are in a context of judgment. Some examples are Isaiah 8:8, Jeremiah 48:40, and Ezekiel 17:3, 7. At Jeremiah 49:22, the NASB reads “Behold, He will mount up and swoop like an eagle, and spread out His wings against Bozrah; and the hearts of the mighty men of Edom in that day will be like the heart of a woman in labor.” It may be that the expression “on the wing” refers to some symbol the antichrist designates for himself, or perhaps the royal insignias of ancient Egypt, Assyria, or Rome.
The word “abomination” is often associated with idol worship (Jer. 16:18; Ezk. 5:11). The NASB translates the noun as “detestable” (Hos. 9:10) and as “filth” (Nah. 3:6). Keil (p. 372) states the wing represents the power of idolatry that conveys the desolator over the whole world to bring about ruination. “Wing” is used in a similar way by Matthew (4:5) and Luke (4:9) in their accounts of the temptation. Jesus is taken to “the pinnacle (pterugion, “wing”) of the Temple.” Hence, the drift here in Daniel 9:27 is the Temple has become thoroughly saturated by the filth of idolatry.
Jesus’ discourse on the Mount of Olives sheds some light on this issue. The halting of the Levitical system marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-26). He reiterates that the mid-point of the Tribulation “week” will be determined by a distinct action, “the abomination of desolation…for then there will be a great tribulation…” (Matt. 24:21). Walvoord understands the last part of Daniel 9:27 to be describing that destruction. This desolation “will continue until the consummation pictured dramatically in Revelation 19 when the beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire. This will be the terminus ad quem of the seventy sevens of Daniel and coincides with the second advent of Jesus Christ to the earth.”
<m@vm@ (“to be desolated, appalled”) is a Poel participle and can be converted into English as “something desolated,” “something desolating,” or “things that are to be held in abhorrence.” A noun derivative (hM*v^) can mean “waste,” or even “horror” (Dan. 8:13). The correct understanding of this verse is aided by an examination of Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, where a nearly identical syntax is employed. In all three verses (9:27, 11:31, and 12:11) a noun is followed by a participle. Daniel 11:31 has JWQV!h^ <m@ovm=, a singular noun with the definite article followed by a Poel participle (as in 9:27). One could render it “the abomination that makes desolate” or “the abomination of desolation” (so NASB; cf. Rev. 13:14,15). This occurrence alone has the definite article. Another commonality between 9:27 and 11:31 is both have to do with the cessation of the Levitical system. Daniel 12:11 is slightly different: <m@v) JWQv!, an anarthrous single noun followed by a Qal active participle. However, the same translations apply.
As a result of these factors, one would think “abomination of desolation” is what was intended for 9:27, but there is enough difference in the syntax (among 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11) for scholars to rethink this position. The present verse is distinct in that it is the only one of the three that has a word in construct directly influencing the identification of this abomination. True, there is a construct in Daniel 12:11 but that one has to do with the fact of the abomination being set-up. For Daniel 9:27, the construct deals with how it is established. Lastly, what is actually present here is a periphrastic construction of imminence (“he is about to commit abominations”) rather than a noun of agency (“because of abominations”).
Wood defends the “abomination of desolation” resolution for 9:27 by claiming the plural (“abominations”) is a plural of importance since the antichrist’s desolation is more significant than was Antiochus’ in 168 B.C. The “wing” stands for the widespread evil influence of the antichrist’s actions. God will pour out the desolation He has decreed during the Great Tribulation and thus the “end” speaks about the end of the “week” “The Antichrist will cause sacrifice and offering to cease and, in their place, erect, even unto the end of causing an overspreading influence, a detestable statue (or altar) in the Temple, desolating in effect” is Wood’s paraphrase of 9:27 (p. 263). Some commentators see the natural reading of the text as alluding to some idol on top of a building, probably the Temple.
Some of those who hold that this verse has been entirely fulfilled draw attention to the Roman invasion of A.D. 66-70. They claim it is not impossible this “idol” is some kind of banner or standard of the Romans conspicuously placed on the Temple that would be offensive to the Jews. However, Miller (p. 272), along with Leupold, asserts “wing” is never used for a part of a building in the OT. Too, the MT has no word for “set up” here, nor is the word “Temple” found (as pointed out above).
The Septuagint is of little help. The Greek of 11:31 has no article, and 9:27 has the plural “desolations.” Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:15 has the singular “abomination,” which is no surprise because the verse is a direct quote of Daniel 12:11 of the LXX. One would not expect Matthew to quote Daniel 11:31 because that verse was fulfilled by Antiochus.
This verse continues by saying the Lord has “decreed” the following: (1) the atrocities will not go on forever (cf. Luke 21:24) but will have an end, and (2) “the desolating one” (<m@v), a Qal active participle alluding to the antichrist) will be judged. “The desolating one” or “one who makes desolate” is preferred to “make [something] desolate” because <m@v) is intransitive. The choice of “is poured out” (ET^T!, a Qal imperfect) as the verb reminds the reader of “flood” in v. 26. It can be used figuratively (Job 10:10) or literally (Exod. 9:33). Students of prophecy also look to Revelation 16 where bowls of God’s wrath are poured out during the end times.
If the Masoretic pointing is ignored, the last portion of v. 27 could be paraphrased, “He shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And - upon the wing - the porch of the temple - abominations! And a desolator!”
It is now necessary to tie together all this information in order to explain this entire verse as succinctly yet thoroughly as possible. In the last days, the antichrist will sign an accord with Israel promising to protect them for seven years. However, after only three and one-half years he will turn on them. The Jews will no longer be allowed to carry out their Temple rituals, and the beast will swiftly (“on a wing”) make Jerusalem detestable. It seems he will do that by setting up an idol of himself in the Temple, but that likely scenario is not explicit in 9:27. By this time, the beast will have obtained worldwide authority, and now he will style himself as the earth’s religious leader. God has assured His people though that the enemy will be judged at an appointed moment in history.
Despite its veiled prophetic statements, Daniel 9:24-27 presents a broad, powerful, and of course accurate description of future events. The Jews are informed as to what is in store for them as a nation for a total time frame of 490 years.
Yahweh graciously replied to Daniel’s prayer by assuring the prophet that sin will be dealt with. One day all iniquity will be gone. But the Lord doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell of some specific events, people, and time frames. Daniel was thus further comforted with the reminder that the Messiah was indeed coming, and that his beloved city would be restored. On the other hand, the great prophet must have been perplexed by verse 27. How and why were these things going to take place? Nevertheless, he certainly had a great deal of prophetic history made known to him during his lifetime.
Goldingay is quite off-base when he declares,
In Jewish and Christian tradition, Gabriel’s promise has been applied to rather later events: the birth of the messiah, Jesus’ death and resurrection, the fall of Jerusalem, various subsequent historical events, and the still-future manifesting of the messiah. Exegetically such views are mistaken. The detail of vv 24-27 fits the second-century B.C. crisis and agrees with allusions to this crisis elsewhere in Daniel. The verses do not indicate that they are looking centuries or millennia beyond the period to which chaps. 8 and 10-12 refer.
The details of this apocalyptic piece of literature are, by and large, clearly understood when viewed through the lens of dispensationalism. This theological perspective has two advantages. It seeks an interpretation based on an historical-grammatical hermeneutic, from which the natural sense of the passage can arise, and it alone harmonizes well with other related prophecies. An objective study of the book of Revelation affirms the idea that a literal approach to these verses is the only acceptable one.
Daniel 9:24-27 can be summarized as follows. A decree to rebuild Jerusalem will be granted, and that reconstruction will endure for 49 years. The phrase “with plaza and moat” strongly suggests the restoration will not be partial but total. Four hundred and thirty-four years later the Messiah will appear. Some time later He will be executed, followed by an overwhelming invasion by a foreign people. The atrocities of A.D. 70 make it plain those people are Romans. Their leader, or better, a type of this leader, must somehow be vital to the whole picture. Otherwise, Holy Writ would not draw attention to him.
A mysterious lapse of time, not revealed until the New Testament, is subsequent to the desolation. This age is unforeseen here because 9:24-27 primarily concerns the Jews. At some point in history, a dynamic ruler will emerge who will woo the Israelites, even to the degree they will entrust their well-being to him. His biblical title is appropriate, for the people will think he is their long-awaited deliverer. That infamous title is antichrist. Although he will betray the children of Abraham, the Lord will take vengeance. The finale will be as a fairy tale, but in this case it will be reality. Transgressions will never again be a problem, for they will be replaced by everlasting righteousness.
A handful of theologically significant themes can be rather easily traced throughout this relatively short passage. All of them bring glory to God the Father. One theme woven into these verses is the sovereignty of the Lord. His incalculable power is thrown into relief by noting He is able to control the affairs of men. His might, though, is not used haphazardly. He always has good reason for wielding it, and it is tempered by His grace and love. A similar theme speaks to another of His attributes. The fact that He is willing to reveal this information through one person to His chosen people demonstrates Jehovah is also a personal God. He is not only involved on a national level but on an individual one as well. Lastly, He is a God of justice. This paragraph contains good news and bad news. When the Lord’s plan has been completely played out, those who are the objects of His wrath will receive their proper penalty.
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___________, R. Laird Harris, and Bruce Waltke Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980
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Goldingay, John E. Daniel. (WBC). Dallas: Word, 1989
Hagner, Donald A. Matthew. (WBC, 2 vols). Dallas: Word, 1995
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Ice, Thomas D. “Pre-Trib Perspectives” newsletter, Vol. V, No. 10, February 2001
_____________. “Pre-Trib Perspectives” newsletter, Vol. V, No. 11, March 2001
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Lindsey, F. Duane “Haggai” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985
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Williamson, H. G. M. Ezra, Nehemiah (WBC). Waco, TX: Word Publishers, 1985
Wood, Leon A Commentary on Daniel. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973
Yamauchi, Edwin “Ezra-Nehemiah” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Regency, 1988
Young, Edward J. The Prophecy of Daniel. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949
 John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, Tradition & Testament, 214, 215
 Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 258
 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (abbrv. TWOT), 148
 Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, 181
 Stephen R. Miller, Daniel (NAC), 271
 Tradition & Testament, 205
 Wood, 259
 John Whitcomb, Daniel, 133, 134
 Pentecost, 1365
 Barnes, 181
 Miller, 271
 J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1364
 Wood, 261
 John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 234
 Pentecost, 1364
 Miller, 271
 Gleason Archer, “Daniel” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 117
 Barnes, 185
 Archer, 117
 Barnes, 186
 TWOT, 233-235, 514-515
 Ibid., 514
 Miller, 272
 Barnes, 186
 John Goldingay, Daniel (WBC), 263
 BDB, 489
 John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, 744
 Archer, 118
 Miller, 273
 Walvoord, 235
 Wood, 261
 Barnes, 187
 TWOT, 936
 Wood, 262
 Archer, 118
 Wood, 262, 263
 Ibid, 263
 so Barnes, 187
 so Ibid, 188
 Donald Hagner, Matthew (WBC), 699
 Goldingay, 231
 Miller, 273
 Barnes, 188
 Goldingay, 267
 Walvoord, 234