Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Darius, the Mede, chap. v. 31. If his reign had commenced at the same time with that of Cyrus, at Babylon, as it is commonly supposed, Daniel would have been under no anxiety respecting the people’s liberation, as it took place that year, (Calmet) though perhaps not at the commencement. (Haydock) — Cyrus had now ruled over the Persians above two years, so that the first of Darius at Babylon agrees with the third of his reign over his countrymen, chap. x. (Calmet) — Assuerus, or Achasuerus, is not a proper name, but means “a great prince.” (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Jerusalem. He read attentively the sacred volumes, particularly the prophecy of Jeremias xxv. 11. and xxix. 10. Knowing that many predictions were conditional, he was afraid lest this might be so; notwithstanding a part of it seemed to be verified by the death of Baltassar. (Calmet) — Darius had reigned in Persia before. He only ruled part of a year, at Babylon, the 70th of the captivity, 2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 22. Daniel perceiving that the time of the Jews’ deliverance was at hand, prayed with great zeal and confidence. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Covenant. God never breaks it first. (Calmet) — Deus sua gratia semel justificatos non deserit, nisi ab eis prius diseratur. (Council of Trent, Session vi. 11.)
Ver. 9. Mercy. Thou art just, (ver. 7.) and sovereignly merciful. He speaks in the name of all. Some had continued faithful; but the number was comparatively inconsiderable, ver. 11.)
Ver. 11. Fallen, by drops, (stillavit. Deuteronomy xxvii. 13. &c.; Haydock) like an inundation.
Ver. 13. Truth, in executing thy promises and menaces.
Ver. 16. Against. Hebrew, “according to.” — Justice. Septuagint, “mercy.” Let not the enemy boast that he has ruined thy temple, &c., ver. 17. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. The man Gabriel. The angel Gabriel in the shape of a man. (Challoner) (Chap. viii. 16.) — Sacrifice, between the two vespers, (Numbers xxviii. 4.) after the ninth hour, which was a time of prayer, Acts iii. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Desires. His zeal and mortification merit this title. (Worthington) — He was an object of God’s love. (St. Jerome) (Chap. x. 11. and xi. 8.) (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Seventy weeks (viz. of years, or seventy times seven, that is, 490 years) are shortened; that is, fixed and determined, so that the time shall be no longer. (Challoner) — This is not a conditional prophecy. Daniel was solicitous to know when the seventy years of Jeremias would terminate. But something of far greater consequence is revealed to him, (Worthington) even the coming and death of the Messias, four hundred and ninety years after the order for rebuilding the walls should be given, (Calmet) at which period Christ would redeem the world, (Worthington) and abolish the sacrifices of the law. (Calmet) — Finished, or arrive at its height by the crucifixion of the Son of God; (Theod.) or rather sin shall be forgiven. Hebrew, “to finish crimes to seal (cover or remit) sins, and to expiate iniquity.” — Anointed. Christ is the great anointed of God, the source of justice, and the end of the law and of the prophets, (Acts x. 38. and 1 Corinthians i. 30; Romans x. 4.; Calmet) as well as the pardoner of crimes. These four characters belong only to Christ. (Worthington)
Ver. 25. Word, &c. That is, from the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, when, by his commandment, Nehemias rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, 2 Esdras ii. From which time, according to the best chronology, there were just sixty-nine weeks of years, that is 483 years, to the baptism of Christ, when he first began to preach and execute the office of Messias. (Challoner) — The prophecy is divided into three periods: the first of forty-nine years, during which the walls were completed; (they had been raised in fifty-two days, (2 Esdras vi. 15.) but many other fortifications were still requisite) the second of four hundred and thirty-four years, at the end of which Christ was baptized, in the fifteenth of Tiberius, the third of three years and a half, during which Christ preached. In the middle of this last week, the ancient sacrifices became useless, (Calmet) as the true Lamb of God had been immolated. (Theod.) — A week of years denotes seven years, as Leviticus xxv. and thus seventy of these weeks would make four hundred and ninety years. (Ven. Bede, Rat. temp. 6 &c.; Worthington) — Origen would understand 4900 years, and dates from the fall of Adam to the ruin of the temple. Marsham begins twenty-one years after the captivity commenced, when Darius took Susa, and ends in the second of Judas, when the temple was purified. This system would destroy the prediction of Christ’s coming, and is very uncertain. Hardouin modifies it, and acknowledges that Christ was the end of the prophecy, though it was fulfilled in figure by the death of Onias III. See 1 Machabees i. 19; Senens. Bib. viii. hær. 12; and Estius. From chap. vii. to xii., the changes in the East, till the time of Epiphanes, are variously described. After the angel had here addressed Daniel, the latter was still perplexed; (Chap. x. 1.) and in order to remove his doubts, the angel informs him of the persecution of Epiphanes, as if he had been speaking of the same event. We may, therefore, count forty-nine years from the taking of Jerusalem (when Jeremias spoke, chap. v. 19.) to Cyrus, the anointed, (Isaias xlv. 1.) who was appointed to free God’s people. They should still be under the Persians, &c., for other four hundred and thirty-four years, and then Onias should be slain. Many would join the Machabees; the sacrifices should cease in the middle of the seventieth week, and the desolation shall continue to the end of it. Yet, though this system may seem plausible, it is better to stick to the common one, which naturally leads us to the death of Christ, dating from the tenth year of Artaxerxes. (Calmet) — He had reigned ten years already with his father. (Petau.) — All the East was persuaded that a great king should arise about the time; when our Saviour actually appeared, and fulfilled all that had been spoken of the Messias. (Calmet, Diss.) — Ferguson says, “We have an astronomical demonstration of the truth of this ancient prophecy, seeing that the prophetic year of the Messias being cut off was the very same with the astronomical.” In a dispute between a Jew and a Christian, at Venice, the Rabbi who presided….put an end to the business by saying, “Let us shut up our Bibles; for if we proceed in the examination of this prophecy, it will make us all become Christians.” (Watson, let. 6.) — Hence probably the Jews denounce a curse on those who calculate the times, (Haydock) and they have purposely curtailed their chronology. (Calmet) — Times, &c. (angustia temporum) which may allude both to the difficulties and opposition they met with in building, and to the shortness of the time in which they finished the wall, viz. fifty-two days. (Challoner)
Ver. 26. Weeks, or four hundred and thirty-eight years, which elapsed from the twentieth of Artaxerxes to the death of Christ, according to the most exact chronologists. (Calmet) — Slain. Protestants, “cut off, but not for himself, and the people of the prince that,” &c. (Haydock) — St. Jerome and some manuscripts read, Christus, et non erit ejus. The sense is thus suspended. The Jews lose their prerogative of being God’s people. (Calmet) — Christ will not receive them again. (St. Jerome) — Greek: “the unction shall be destroyed, and there shall not be judgment in him.” The priesthood and royal dignity is taken from the Jews. (Theod.) — The order of succession among the high priests was quite deranged, while the country was ruled by the Romans, and by Herod, a foreigner. (Calmet) — Leader. The Romans under Titus. (Challoner; Calmet)
Ver. 27. Many. Christ seems to allude to this passage, Matthew xxvi. 28. He died for all; but several of the Jews particularly, would not receive the proffered grace. (Calmet) — Of the week, or in the middle of the week, &c. Because Christ preached three years and a half: and then, by his sacrifice upon the cross, abolished all the sacrifices of the law. (Challoner) — Temple. Hebrew, “the wing,” (Calmet) or pinnacle, (Haydock) the highest part of the temple. (Calmet) — Desolation. Some understand this of the profanation of the temple by the crimes of the Jews, and by the bloody faction of the zealots. Others, of the bringing in thither the ensigns and standard of the pagan Romans. Others, in fine, distinguish three different times of desolation: viz. that under Antiochus; that when the temple was destroyed by the Romans; and the last near the end of the world, under antichrist. To all which, as they suppose, this prophecy may have a relation. (Challoner) — Protestants, “For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even unto the consummation; and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Haydock) — The ruin shall be entire. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:Daniel’s confession and prayer; Gabriel informs him concerning the seventy weeks to the coming of Christ.
1 In *the first year of Darius, the son of Assuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans:
2 The first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by books the *number of the years, concerning which the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, the prophet, that seventy years should be accomplished of the desolation of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face to the Lord, my God, to pray and make supplication with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.
4 And I prayed to the Lord, my God, and I made my confession, and said: *I beseech thee, O Lord God, great and terrible, who keepest the covenant, and mercy to them that love thee, and keep thy commandments.
5 *We have sinned, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly, and have revolted: and we have gone aside from thy commandments, and thy judgments.
6 We have not hearkened to thy servants, the prophets, that have spoken in thy name to our kings, to our princes, to our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 To thee, O Lord, justice: but to us confusion of face, as at this day to the men of Juda, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, to them that are near, and to them that are far off, in all the countries whither thou hast driven them, for their iniquities, by which they have sinned against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our princes, and to our fathers, that have sinned.
9 But to thee, the Lord our God, mercy and forgiveness, for we have departed from thee:
10 And we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord, our God, to walk in his law, which he set before us by his servants, the prophets.
11 And all Israel have transgressed thy law, and have turned away from hearing thy voice, and the malediction, and the curse, *which is written in the book of Moses, the servant of God, is fallen upon us, because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words which he spoke against us, and against our princes that judged us, that he would bring in upon us a great evil, such as never was under all the heaven, according to that which hath been done in Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: and we entreated not thy face, O Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and think on thy truth.
14 And the Lord hath watched upon the evil, and hath brought it upon us: the Lord, our God, is just in all his works which he hath done: for we have not hearkened to his voice.
15 *And now, O Lord, our God, who hast brought forth thy people out of the land of Egypt, with a strong hand, and hast made thee a name as at this day: we have sinned, we have committed iniquity,
16 O Lord, against all thy justice: let thy wrath and thy indignation be turned away, I beseech thee, from thy city, Jerusalem, and from thy holy mountain. For by reason of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and thy people, are a reproach to all that are round about us.
17 Now, therefore, O our God, hear the supplication of thy servant, and his prayers: and shew thy face upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate, for thy own sake.
18 Incline, O my God, thy ear, and hear: open thy eyes, and see our desolation, and the city upon which thy name is called: *for it is not for our justifications that we present our prayers before thy face, but for the multitude of thy tender mercies.
19 O Lord, hear: O Lord, be appeased: hearken, and do: delay not, for thy own sake, O my God: because thy name is invocated upon thy city, and upon thy people.
20 Now while I was yet speaking, and praying, and confessing my sins, and the sins of my people of Israel, and presenting my supplications in the sight of my God, for the holy mountain of my God:
21 As I was yet speaking in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, *flying swiftly, touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice.
22 And he instructed me, and spoke to me, and said: O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee, and that thou mightest understand.
23 From the beginning of thy prayers the word came forth: and I am come to shew it to thee, because thou art a man of desires: therefore, do thou mark the word, and understand the vision.
24 *Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the Saint of saints may be anointed.
25 Know thou, therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ, the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls, in straitness of times.
26 And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people, with their leader, that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week: and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fail: and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation: and the desolation shall continue even to the consummation, and to the end.
1: Year of the World 3467, Year before Christ 537.
2: Jeremias xxv. 11. and xxix. 10.
4: 2 Esdras i. 5.
5: Baruch i. 17.
11: Deuteronomy xxvii. 14.
15: Baruch i. 1.; Exodus xiv. 22.
18: Jeremias xxv. 29.; Psalm xlviii. 2. and 9. and ci. 8.
21: Daniel viii. 16.
24: Matthew xxiv. 15.; John i. 45.