Abomination of Desolation, Seventy Weeks


SYNOPSIS – A malevolent “leader” appears who corrupts the city and people, and “desolates” the sanctuary – Daniel 9:26

The final or “seventieth week” of the prophecy culminates in the desecration of the Jerusalem sanctuary – The “abomination that desolates” – and the cessation of the daily burnt offering. The “seventy weeks” prophecy is part of a series of visions about “what things must come to pass in later days,” all of which culminate in the establishment of the kingdom of God and the vindication of the saints. All the visions in the book are connected by verbal and conceptual links – (Daniel 2:27-28, 2:40-45, 7:15-27).

The focus of the “seventieth week” is the sanctuary – Its desecration by a malevolent “leader.” The geographical scope is localized to the city – Developments in Jerusalem are described, not global events.

The pivotal event is the “abomination that desolates,” which is installed by the figure who “corrupts” many of the “people.” Whatever the “abomination” is, it desecrates the sanctuary – It does NOT destroy the Temple or the city.

Implicit is the predetermined endpoint of the “desecration” – The restoration of the sanctuary. When and how this is to be achieved is not stated.

(Daniel 9:26) – “And after the sixty-two weeks an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing, and the leader will corrupt the city and the sanctuary, and so will his end come with an overwhelming flood, howbeit, up to the full end of the war are decreed astounding things.

The Hebrew preposition rendered “after” locates the next set of events in the seventieth “week,” presumably, another period of seven years.

The “anointed one” is cut off “after the sixty-two weeks.” The “seventieth week” is the third and last subdivision of the “seventy weeks.” At the start of his interpretation, the angel pronounced that the entire period was “divided” into three subdivisions of “seven weeks,” “sixty-two weeks,” and “one week”, presumably, segments of 49, 434, and 7 years. This means the “anointed” figure in the final “week” is NOT identical with the “anointed leader” that appeared at the end of the first “seven weeks” – The two figures are separated by centuries.

The chronological reference does not include the initial “seven weeks” of the prophecy. It states only that the “anointed one” was “cut off” after the second subdivision – After the “sixty-two weeks.” Why the angel did not combine the first “seven weeks” with the second “sixty-two weeks,” a total of “sixty-nine weeks,” is not clear. Possibly, the first “seven weeks” ran concurrently with the “sixty-two weeks.” period. That is, both subdivisions commenced with the “word to return and build Jerusalem.” If so, then the “anointed one” was “cut off” after 434 rather than 483 years from the start of the “seventy weeks.”

An anointed one will be cut off, and the leader will corrupt the city.” In verse 25, the first “anointed one” is also called a “leader, a nagid. In contrast, a person distinct from the “anointed one” who is “cut off” is called a “leader” or nagid. The “anointed one” and the “leader” are not one and the same.

Cut off.” The clause may mean death but not necessarily so – (karath – Strong’s – #H3772). Quite simply, the Hebrew verb means “cut.” Elsewhere, it is used for “cutting” a covenant, and can signify “cutting” something into pieces – (Genesis 15:18).

However, the verb is applied often to someone who is “cut” or separated from the covenant of Yahweh. For example, the “uncircumcised male child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised shall be cut from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” The book of Leviticus warned repeatedly that the man who violated ritual regulations would be “cut off” from the covenant community – (Genesis 17:14Leviticus 7:20-27).

And have nothing” – (“not, nothing” – Strong’s – #H369). More accurately, “an anointed one is cut off, not the city and the sanctuary.” No verb is supplied with the second clause. Quite possibly, the sense is – the “anointed one” is “cut off” from the city and Temple, and thus, he “has nothing.” That is, this man loses his place, access, or function in the city and sanctuary.

The “sanctuary” or qôdesh (“holy place”) refers to the sanctuary proper, not to the entire Temple complex; including, the altar for the daily burnt offering that was offered before the curtain that separated the “Holy of Holies.” Its desecration was predicted previously in the vision of the goat:

(Daniel 8:13-14) – “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said to me – Until two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”

The coming leader was corrupting the people.” The Hebrew term for “corrupt” – shahath – does not mean “destruction,” but “corruption.” The idea of the “destruction” of the sanctuary makes no sense here since the “leader” will next implement the “abomination that desolates” the sanctuary. The verb means “decay, spoil, ruin, corrupt, pervert” – (Strong’s – #H7843). The same term was applied earlier to the malevolent king who “corrupted mighty ones and the people of holy ones”:

(Daniel 8:24-25) – “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall corrupt wonderfully and shall prosper and do his pleasure; and he shall corrupt the mighty ones and the holy people. And through his policy he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and in their security shall he corrupt many: he shall also stand up against the prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”

The point is the “corruption” of the people and the city, not the destruction of the Temple. The verbal link to the interpretation of the vision from chapter 8 is deliberate.

In the Hebrew clause, “leader” is modified by the participle rendered “coming” in English, which also has a definite article or “the.” He is “the leader, the coming one.” Based on the verbal links, he is identical to the figure represented by the “little horn” and the “king of fierce countenance” from the preceding vision – (Daniel 7:7-88:8-14).

His end will come with an overwhelming flood.”  This is the only mention of any “flood” in Daniel. Most likely, it is used metaphorically to mean “overwhelming” and provides a verbal link to the last vision of the book:

(Daniel 11:21-22) – “And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And the overwhelming forces shall be overwhelmed from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the leader of the covenant.”

The term rendered “his end” provides another verbal link to the interpretation of the vision of the goat – The “end” of the appointed “indignation” or “desolation”:

(Daniel 8:18-19) – “Understand, O son of man; for the vision belongs to the time of the end. And he said, Behold, I will make you to know what will be in the latter time of the indignation; for it belongs to the appointed time of the end.”

Photo by Kamila Ferreira on Pexels.com

Desolations” or shamem – (Strong’s – #H8074). The same word is applied four times in the book of Daniel to the “abomination that desolates.” The Hebrew word does not mean “destroy” but “desolate” – To abandon something and, thus, leave it desolate or deserted:

(Daniel 8:13) – “How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that desolates, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

(Daniel 11:31) – “And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the abomination that desolates.”

(Daniel 12:11) – “And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that desolates set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days.”

In the vision in chapter 8, the “little horn” removed the daily sacrifice and defiled the sanctuary – The “transgression that desolates.” This means its desecration, not its destruction. The fact that the sanctuary was later “cleansed” demonstrates this. Likewise, in Chapter 11, the malevolent king arrived in Jerusalem to “pollute the sanctuary, take away the daily sacrifice, and place the abomination that desolates” in the sanctuary, not to destroy and annihilate the Temple and the city.

Decreed” or “determined” (harats). This is a key word in the visions of Daniel. It means “sharpen, decide, determine, decree” – (Strong’s – #H2782). It occurs in one other passage in the book with the “abomination that desolates”:

(Daniel 11:31-36) – “And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate…And the king will do according to his own pleasure, and will exalt himself, and magnify himself against every GOD, yea, against the GOD of GODS will he speak wonderful things, — and will succeed until exhausted is the indignation, for what is decreed must be done.”

Thus, the focus of the passage is not on the “anointed one who is cut off,” but on the “leader” who “corrupts” the people and sanctuary and makes the sanctuary “desolate.” No connection is made between the “anointed one” and the redemptive goals listed at the start of the prophecy. From this point, the attention shifts to the “desolation” of the sanctuary caused by this “leader.” The “cutting off” of the “anointed one” at the start of the passage served as a chronological marker for the start of the final or “seventieth week.”

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