“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
This verse gets a little sticky. My hope is to clarify and put forth truth and show how Jesus is our Savior, and yet as all authority has been given him, he is also appointed to be Judge. With verse 26, I am going to put forth another translation, but before I do that I want to highlight the challenges we find in this verse. According to verse 26, after the 62 weeks, which is really after the 69 because we are adding the first 7 to it, Messiah is cut off. This implies a murder and rightly so, we of course know this refers to our Christ being crucified. So the first sentence again focusing on Jesus is not so difficult. However, the last part of the verse presents some challenges. So far we have been referring to Christ, but now we have another prince who will come and destroy the city and sanctuary. The reason there is so much confusion around this is because when you get to verse 27, there is the pronoun “he”. And it makes a huge difference who this he is, whether it is Christ or some other prince.
Now let’s take a look at what Ralph Woodrow says in his book, Great Prophecies of the Bible. And then we will take a look at The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) and see what we can find out about what Daniel is saying in this verse. The basic premise of what Woodrow says about this “other” prince in verse 26 is that it is not a different prince at all. He contends that it is Jesus. I disagree, but think he has a valid point. He points out that the prophesy refers to Jesus by using the words Messiah the Prince (or Anointed One) in verse 25 and then in the next verse it uses the word prince again, “the people of the prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” He is saying that is makes no sense that these princes are two different people. They are one and the same. Before showing how I disagree, let me go further because I think he is on to something. If verse 26 does mean Messiah the prince, that means that Jesus is the one who destroys the city and the sanctuary. Now that turns the brain around a little. What is it talking about here anyway? Many commentators believe this verse is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. Here are excerpts pertaining to verse 26 from two commentators.
“By the ‘prince’ Titus, the son of Vespasian, is plainly intended; and ‘the people of that prince’ are no other than the Romans, who, according to the prophecy, destroyed the sanctuary” – Adam Clarke
“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” – John Gill
Whether the “other” prince is Vespasian or Titus does not matter (Titus actually conquered Jerusalem), the point is that the verse refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. And this matters a great deal because in verse 27 we have the famous pronoun “he”. But before we get to that, I want to go back to Woodrow for a moment. He writes, “But we all know and recognize that it was the armies of Titus that destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. How, then, are we to understand the statement that it be the people of Messiah the prince that would destroy the city and the sanctuary”. He goes to say that Jesus is both Savior and Judge, which of course he is and God uses Gentile armies all through scripture to pass his judgment (there are many examples of this). And I agree, Jesus is Judge, and did pass judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A. D. using Roman armies. It is very similar to the parable of the wedding feast found in Matthew 22. When those invited to the wedding refused to come and killed the king’s servants. And in verse 7 it says, “The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” Matthew 22:7
Now, I agree with what Woodrow is saying about the judgment against Jerusalem. But I am not convinced that the “prince” refers to Jesus, but indeed is a human prince that he uses to execute his judgment. I want to clarify this with The Septuagint.
And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him: and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince that is coming: they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint the city to desolations. Daniel 9:26, The Septuagint
It does not take anyone too long to see the difference and how it changes the meaning. The subject of the first sentence is the anointed one (Jesus), and after the colon it uses the pronoun, “he” referring back to Christ. It plainly says that Christ shall destroy the city and sanctuary (sound familiar) and not only that, it uses the word “with” to say “with the prince that is coming”. This takes on a whole new meaning, but at the same time confirms where we were headed. Christ uses the Romans or Titus to execute his judgment. The difference is we see this much more clearly in this translation. And just so not rock is left unturned, I want to clarify why there seems to be this difference. There are two Hebrew words that account for the variation in the translation. Many Hebrew words have multiple meanings in English. The first is word “ishchith” which can mean “shall destroy” or it can mean “he shall/will destroy”. The second Hebrew word is “om”, which can be “people” or “with”. There are other scriptures that use this second meaning of the word to confirm its use.
The confusion surrounds the fact that Daniel 9:26 refers to Messiah and a “little prince” – Titus. But this does not detract from the message of the prophecy, for God uses the princes of the earth to administrate his justice. The message is Jesus Christ as Messiah the prince and as Judge. Both ideas are synonymous with the character of God, both exhibit the wonderful and frightening nature of God. In the next post, I will pull all this together as we uncover the last verse in this magnificent prophecy.