[b-hebrew] $B(YM in Daniel 9:24-27

Tauno Munko tauno.munko at gmail.com
Wed Oct 20 10:02:29 EDT 2004


Shalom!

In his recent study Osmo Alho suggests that by interpreting certain
occurences of the word $B(YM in Daniel 9:24-27 as $:BU(AYIM [shvuayim]
one gets a historically correct interpretation of the prophecy.

For example, by reading the first $B(YM in Dan 9:25 as $:BU(AYIM, the
verse becomes "From going forth of word to restore and to build
Jerusalem until Messiah, Prince [will be] seven periods of fourteen
years and sixty-two periods of seven years." This is 7x14 + 62x7 = 532
years. Starting from the generally accepted year of the Cyrus
Declaration, 538 B.C.E., one reaches the birth year of Jesus, 6 B.C.E.
Seems like a perfect fit to me.

Has this interpretation been published before?

Below is the study in its entirety.



Osmo Alho:

A New Interpretation of the Prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.



Basic Principles of the Interpretation.


The vocalization of the Hebrew word $B(YM

This word in unvocalized Hebrew, which is the original Biblical
Hebrew, can be vocalized in three different ways:

  1. $IB:(IYM [shiv`im] = seventy
  2. $FBU(IYM [shavu`im] = weeks = periods of 7 days
  3. $:BU(AYIM [shvu`a'yim] = two weeks = period or periods of 14 days

The third vocalization has been used in Leviticus 12:5 so that it is,
too, included in the vocabulary of the Hebrew Bible. In this new
interpretation the third vocalization has been used two times in
verses Daniel 9:24 and 25, even if in contradiction to the Masoretic
vocalization.


The principle of YWM L$NH

The principle of YWOM LA$.FNFH [yom lashshana(h)], which is that one day
means one year, given in Numbers 14:34, has been often used in the Hebrew
Bible, e.g. in Ezekiel 4:5. Thus, one week means period of seven years,
two weeks means period or periods of fourteen years and half a week means
half a period of seven years. This principle has been generally used also
in the interpretations of the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.


The time definitions in Daniel 9:24-27.

According to these two principles presented above the following time
definitions can be found in Daniel 9:24-27.


Verse 24.

The Masoretic vocalization:

$FBU(IYM $IB:(IYM [shavu`im shiv`im] = seventy periods of seven years = 70
x 7 years = 490 years. This time interval does not fit in with any
historical events. It has been used as one of the bases in Seder Olam
chronology, but "a large error emerges in the Seder Olam author's
calculation of the Persian period" (Encyclopædia Judaica, CD-ROM edition,
article CHRONOLOGY, chapter In the Talmud).

The new vocalization:

$:BU(AYIM $IB:(IYM [shvu`a'yim shiv`im] = seventy periods of fourteen
years = 70 x 14 years = 980 years. This time interval will give a very
accurate fulfilment of the prophecy, as can be seen later.


Verse 25.

The Masoretic vocalization:

$FBU(IYM $IB:(FH W:$FBU(IYM $I$.IYM W.$:NAYIM
[shavu`im shiv`a(h) veshavu`im shishshim ushna'yim] = seven periods of
seven years and sixty-two periods of seven years = 7 x 7 years + 62 x 7
years = (49 + 434) years = 483 years. This time definition is illogical.
If the meaning is really 483 years we can ask why it has not been said
$FBU(IYM $I$.IYM W:TI$:(FH = 69 x 7 years = 483 years. In addition this
time interval does not fit in with any historical events.

The new vocalization:

$:BU(AYIM $IB:(FH W:$FBU(IYM $I$.IYM W.$:NAYIM
[shvu`a'yim shiv`a(h) veshavu`im shishshim ushna'yim] = seven periods of
fourteen years and sixty-two periods of seven years = 7 x 14 years + 62 x
7 years = (98 + 434) years = 532 years. This time interval will give again
a very accurate fulfilment of the prophecy.


Verse 26.

The Masoretic vocalization:

)AX:AR"Y HA$.FBU(IM $I$.IYM W.$:NAYIM
[acharei hashshavu`im shishshim ushna'yim] = after the sixty-two periods
of seven years. No new time definition, but a reference to some undefined
times after the time defined in the previous verse.

No new vocalization.


Verse 27.

The Masoretic vocalization: Two different time definitions:

  1) $FBW.(A )EXFD [shavu'a` 'echadh] = one period of seven years = 7 
years.
  2) X:ACIY HA$.FBW.(A [chatzi hashshavu'a`] = half the period of seven 
years = 3 ½ years.

No new vocalization.



A New Translation of the Text in Daniel 9:24-27.

24. Seventy periods of fourteen years have been decreed upon your
people and upon your holy city to terminate the transgression and to
end sin and to atone iniquity and to bring everlasting righteousness
and to seal vision and prophet and to anoint holy of holies.

25. And you should know and you should understand: From going forth of
word to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah, Prince [will be]
seven periods of fourteen years and sixty-two periods of seven years.
It (= Jerusalem) will be restored and will be built, [even] square and
trench, but in times of distress.

26. And after the sixty-two periods of seven years Messiah will be cut
off, but not for Himself. The people of a prince who is to come will
destroy the city and the Sanctuary, but its end (= the end of the
destroying people) [will be] in a flood. And until end of war
desolations are decreed.

27. It (= the destroying people) will \ strengthen / defeat \ an
alliance of many [during] one period of seven years and [during] half
the period of seven years. It (= the destroying people) will cease
sacrifice and offering, and on wing of abominations (= in consequence
of the idolatry) [will be] appalments, and [that will continue] until
complete destruction as decreed will be poured upon desolator.



Comments and Explanations.


Verse 24.

The logical beginning point of the defined time of 980 years is the
moment when Jerusalem became the holy city, which occurred when the
Divine Presence ($:KIYNFH [Shekhina(h)]) filled the First Temple
during the dedication of Solomon's Temple. That year can be calculated
as follows:

  David's conquest of Jerusalem (generally accepted year
e.g. in Jerusalem's 3000 years celebration brochures)      1005 B.C.E.
  David as king in Jerusalem (I Kings 2:11)                  33 years
  David's death                                             972 B.C.E.
  David and Solomon as kings jointly (I Kings 1 and 2)     c. 2 years
  The 1st year of Solomon as king                        c. 974 B.C.E.
  The 4th year of Solomon as king, the beginning of
the constructing of the Temple building (I Kings 6:1)    c. 971 B.C.E.
  The constructing of the Temple building (I Kings 6:38)      7 years
  The 11th year of Solomon as king, the Temple
building ready (I Kings 6:38)                            c. 964 B.C.E.
  The constructing of Solomon's palace and the making,
transporting and installing of all the furnishings and
vessels of the Temple (I Kings 7)                            13 years
  The Temple ready for the dedication                    c. 951 B.C.E.
  The preparations for the dedication feast, like making
of a temporary altar in the outer Temple court,
distributing of invitations, gathering of the people
etc. (I Kings 8)                                           c. 1 year
  The dedication of the Temple                           c. 950 B.C.E.

Because of the approximations of the time intervals not given in the
Bible a time error is of course possible, and it can be estimated as ±
2 years. The year of the dedication of the First Temple can so be
written in the form 950 B.C.E. ± 2 years, which means one of the years
952, 951, 950, 949 or 948 B.C.E.

The calculation of the terminating point of the defined time of 980
years can be presented graphically in the following diagram, where the
time point A is the beginning moment of the Christian Era, which is in
the Roman calendar the midnight moment between the 31st of December
and the 1st of Ianuarius in the year 753 ab urbe condita. In the
diagram it has been supposed that the beginning point of the defined
time is exactly 950 B.C.E.

                           A
<-- B.C.E. |950|       | 1 | 1 |       | 31| C.E. -->
             |<--------->|<->|<--------->|
               949 years 1 year 30 years
             |<------------------------->|
                      980 years

Taking into account the possible time error of ± 2 years, the final
result is 31 C.E. ± 2 years, which means one of the years 29, 30, 31,
32 or 33 C.E.

Inside these years are most of the estimations concerning the year of the
crucifixion of Jesus Christ (= MF$IYXA Y:$W.(A [Mashi'ach Yeshu'a`]), in
old commentaries generally 33 C.E. (e.g. the Scofield Reference Bible) and
in new commentaries generally 30 C.E. (e.g. Encyclopædia Judaica, CD-ROM
edition, article JESUS). So this interpretation of the verse Daniel 9:24
gives very accurately the year of Jesus' death.

According to the New Covenant Scriptures (SPRY HBRYT HXD$H) the death
of Jesus as the Lamb of God is the atonement of all transgressions,
sins and iniquities. This atonement gives everlasting righteousness to
everyone who accepts it personally.

In the same year also the holy congregation of the holies (= the believers
in Jesus), which is the living Temple of the New Covenant, was anointed by
the Holy Spirit during the Shavuot feast as has been described in Acts 2.
This very accurate fulfilling of the prophecy is also sealing Daniel's
vision and his service as a prophet.


Verse 25.

The translation of the Hebrew words MF$IYXA NFGIYD [mashi'ach naghidh]
as "Messiah, Prince" has been criticized because in the Hebrew text
there is no definite article HA- [ha-], and therefore these words have
been rendered e.g. in the ArtScroll Tanach Series translation as "an
anointed prince".

According to the Hebrew word order, however, "an anointed prince" is in
Hebrew NFGIYD MF$IYXA [naghidh mashi'ach], like e.g. in Leviticus 4:3 the
Hebrew expression HAK.OH"N HAM.F$IYXA [hakkohen hammashi'ach] means
plainly "the anointed priest" and not "the Priest, the Messiah", even if
there is now, according to the Hebrew usage, the definite article HA-
[ha-] in both of the Hebrew words. Thus, the word order is in such
expressions clearly more important than the definite article to show the
real meaning of the expression.

The word to restore and to build Jerusalem is logically "the Cyrus
Declaration" (Ezra 1:1-4, II Chronicles 36:22-23 and Josephus:
Antiquities, Book XI, Chapter I:1-2). This word gave the permission to
rebuild both the Temple and the city, as can be seen from Haggai
1:1-4. Concerning Cyrus' word there is also a very accurate prophecy
in Isaiah 44:28. The generally accepted year of "the Cyrus
Declaration" is 538 B.C.E. (e.g. Encyclopædia Judaica, CD-ROM edition,
article PERSIA, chapter Pre-Islamic Persia).

Beginning from this time point the following calculation can be made:

The Cyrus Declaration                            538 B.C.E.
The defined time in Daniel 9:25                  532 years
The terminating point of this defined time         6 B.C.E.

If we take again the time tolerance of ± 2 years, the final result can
be written 6 B.C.E. ± 2 years, which means one of the years 8, 7, 6, 5
or 4 B.C.E.

Inside these years are all realistic estimations concerning the birthyear
of Jesus Christ. As described in the New Covenant Scriptures, verses
Matthew 2:1 and 22 Jesus was born during king Herod the Great, the father
of Archelaus, and therefore the birthyear of Jesus cannot be after 4
B.C.E., which is the year when Herod the Great died (e.g. Encyclopædia
Judaica, CD-ROM edition, article HEROD I). So this new interpretation
gives again a very accurate fulfilling of Daniel's prophecy.


Verse 26.

As has been said before, no new time definition has been given in this
verse. The time reference to the latter part of the time definition in
verse 25 means only that all the events mentioned in this verse 26
will occur after Jesus' birth. The year of Jesus' death was already
defined in verse 24 and the year of the destruction of the city (=
Jerusalem) and the Sanctuary (= the Second Temple) has not been given
in this prophecy. Not depending of any time calculations, however,
according to this verse the first advent of the Messiah has been
clearly occurred already before the destruction of the Second Temple.

The coming prince was the Roman military commander and later emperor
Titus, the destroying people was the ancient Roman people, in practice
its army, and the flood was the Great Migration of barbarian peoples,
which ended the existence of the ancient Roman people. Every war means
always desolations until the end of war.


Verse 27.

Taking into account all what has been said above, the meanings of the
two time periods in this verse are logically the following:

1) The Jewish War in 66-73 C.E., which lasted 7 years (e.g.
Encyclopædia Judaica, CD-ROM edition, article HISTORY: SECOND TEMPLE
PERIOD, chapter The Revolt (First Roman War)).

2) The Bar Kokhba Revolt in 132-135 C.E., which "apparently lasted
about three and a half years" (Encyclopædia Judaica, CD-ROM edition,
article BAR KOKHBA, chapter Bar Kokhba Revolt).

The attacking Roman army strengthened the mutual alliance of Jews
especially in Gamla and in Masada (= MCDH [Metzadha(h)]) and defeated it
especially in Jerusalem, thus fulfilling the both opposite interpretations
of the Hebrew expression. The conquest of Jerusalem by the Roman army
caused to cease the sacrifice and offering and brought along also the
Roman idolatry with its abominations and appalments. That continued until
the Byzantine period, which began in Jerusalem in 324 C.E. and during
which the Roman idolatry was completely destroyed (e.g. Encyclopædia
Judaica, CD-ROM edition, article JERUSALEM, chapter Byzantine Jerusalem).
So this new interpretation fulfils very accurately also this part of the
prophecy.



Conclusion.

In this article a new interpretation of the prophecy given in Daniel
9:24-27 has been presented. Concerning two time definitions in
Daniel's text a new vocalization has been used instead of the
Masoretic vocalization, but without changing the original unvocalized
consonant text. As a consequence a more logical and reliable
interpretation has been formed, which is giving a very accurate and
realistic fulfilment of the whole prophecy.

Karstula, Finland, March 2004.

Osmo Alho



Appendix. Bibliography.

  1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The 4th edition. Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft. Stuttgart 1990.

  2. TN''K, The Holy Scriptures Hebrew and English. The Society for
Distributing Hebrew Scriptures. Cambridge.

  3. Abraham Even-Shoshan: A New Concordance of the Bible. "Kirjat
Sefer" Publishing House Ltd. Jerusalem 1992.

  4. Solomon Mandelkern: Veteris Testamenti Concordantiae. Impressio
duodecima. Schocken Publishing House Ltd. Jerusalem-Tel Aviv 1986.

  5. Ernest Klein: A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the
Hebrew Language. Carta Jerusalem Ltd.-The University of Haifa.
Jerusalem 1987.

  6. Reuben Alcalay: The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary. New
Enlarged Edition. Massada Ltd. Jerusalem 1990.

  7. Marcus Jastrow: Dictionary of the Talmud. Reprint of the edition
1903. "XWRB". Jerusalem.

  8. Wilhelm Gesenius-Frants Buhl: Handwörterbuch über das Alte
Testament. Neudruck der 17. Auflage 1915. Springer-Verlag.
Berlin-Göttingen-Heidelberg 1962.

  9. Emanuel Tov: Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Fortress
Press - Van Gorcum. Assen-Maastricht 1992.

 10. Septuaginta. Edition by Alfred Rahlfs.Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
Stuttgart 1979.

 11. The Holy Scriptures. The J.P.S. Translation 1917. The Jewish
Publication Society of America. Philadelphia 1956.

 12. Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures. The New J.P.S. Translation 1985. The
Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia-Jerusalem 1985.

 13. ArtScroll Tanach Series: Daniel. A New Translation with a
Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources.
Mesorah Publications Ltd. New York 1979.

 14. Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece. The 27th edition.
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. Stuttgart 1993.

 15. The New Covenant. Aramaic Peshitta Text with Hebrew Translation.
The Bible Society in Israel. Jerusalem 1986.

 16. HBRYT HXD$H, The New Covenant Hebrew and Russian. Hebrew
Translation by Franz Delitzsch. The Society for Distributing the Holy
Scriptures to the Jews. Norwich 1979.

 17. C.I. Scofield: The Scofield Reference Bible. Reprint of the
edition 1917. English translation: King James Version (1611), with
comments and references. Oxford University Press. New York.

 18. Flavius Josephus: The Complete Works of Josephus. Edition 1960.
Kregel Publications. Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 19. Encyclopædia Judaica. CD-ROM Edition. Judaica Multimedia (Israel)
Ltd.

In addition many other Bible translations, concordances and
commentaries as well as dictionaries and grammars in several
languages.



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