Why do some rabbis say Daniel 9:24-26 is not about Christ?
“Why do the rabbis say Daniel 9:24-26 is not about Christ?” The answer to this important question is not due to a difference in the interpretation of the verse. In order to demonstrate this point, we will focus primarily on their interpretation of Daniel 9:24-26. What follows presents five points that help to explain why some rabbis claim that Daniel 9:24-26 is not about Jesus Christ.
Protestant Bible v.s. the Hebrew Bible
First, one rabbi has claimed the Hebrew text of the Protestant Bibles reads differently than the Hebrew text of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). But that comment ignores the fact that generally the Masoretic text is the common text for both.
Second, even if there are slight differences in the Hebrew texts used in their translations, the critical issue is the translation. As an example, we will compare the translation of Daniel 9:24-27 in the Tanakh, produced by the Jewish Publication Society’s (JPS) to the translation produced by the New American Standard Bible. Here is the passage in the New American Standard Bible.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. Daniel 9:24-26 (NASB)
Now here is Daniel 9:24-26 in the Jewish Study Bible.
Jewish Study Bible (JPS)
24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city until the measure of transgressions is filled and that of sin completed until iniquity is expiated, and eternal righteousness ushered in; and prophetic vision ratified, and the Holy of Holies anointed.
25 You must know and understand: From the issuance of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the [time of the] anointed leader is seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it will be rebuilt, square and moat, but in a time of distress.
26 And after those sixty-two weeks, the anointed one will disappear and vanish. The army of a leader who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, but its end will come through a flood. Desolation is decreed until the end of war. Daniel 9:24-26 (JPS)
The comparison reveals the two translations have a few differences. The differences include word order, translation variations in the meaning of the Hebrew words, and additions of words that are not contained in the Hebrew text. Some these differences are minor and do not fundamentally change the meaning. For example in verse 24, the NASB translated the Hebrew text as “to anoint the most holy place,” but the JPS translated the Tanakh as “the Holy of Holies anointed.” The NASB followed the order of the Hebrew words, but the Tanakh did not. In addition, the Tankah translation says “Holy of Holies” which is equivalent to “the most holy place,” but that is not what the Hebrew text says. Such differences do not alter the meaning of the text, but they do show that the JPS translation is not precise. In addition, the JPS translation has inserted the words “time of the” in brackets to alert the reader they have added the words. But why did they do this? It appears they chose to disconnect the “seven weeks” from the “sixty-two weeks.”
The major difference between the NASB and the JPS occurs in verse 25 because the NASB translates the Hebrew as “Messiah the Prince,” but the JPS translated the Hebrew as “anointed leader.” Why did they translate the Hebrew text differently? First, the Hebrew word that the NASB translates as “prince” and the JPS translates as “leader” is nagid. It has the literal meaning of “one in front.” So, it has been translated as “king, prince, and leader.” The NASB chose “Prince” and the JPS chose “leader.” Why?
Next, it is important to notice the NASB chose “Messiah” and the JPS chose “anointed.” The Hebrew word is “mashiah.” Victor P. Hamilton in his commentary on Daniel states this word is normally used almost exclusively for “king.” Genesis 49:10 and Numbers 24:17 indicates that the future Messiah will be a king. So the NASB’s translation of the Hebrew word “mashiah” as Messiah is consistent with the normal translation of the Hebrew word and corresponds to those two prophecies. Now we should notice that in the JPS footnotes of the Tanakh, the authors wrote this about the Hebrew word “mashiah” in verses 25 and 26,
“The word anointed in vv. 25 and 26 is the Heb “mashiah” (Messiah); thus these vv. have given rise to much Christian speculation.”
The JPS’ footnote states the Hebrew word “mashiah” means Messiah. That is, the JPS intentionally translated “mashiah” in their version of the Tanakh as “anointed” to avoid it reading Messiah. They did this because Christian’s would understand it to refer to Christ. This is the major difference between the NASB and the JPS. That means the significant difference between the NASB and JPS is a matter of translator’s choice. It is not due to a difference in Hebrew text. We should also notice the JPS translated the Hebrew word “mashiah” as anointed again in Psalm 2:2, but then in the footnote on that verse, they state the word was used in post-biblical literature to refer to the ideal future Davidic king. Then it adds the original meaning of the Hebrew word was Messiah.
This means the JPS is deceptive in its translation of Daniel 9:25-26. It purposely altered the meaning of “mashiah” to avoid the word Messiah, because it would point to Jesus Christ. That means the NASB is more accurate to the Hebrew text. So, those rabbis who claim the Hebrew text of our Protestant Bibles reads differently than the Hebrew text of the Tanakh seek to deceive the lay person.
Rabbinic Views About Daniel 9:24-26
Third, evidence does exist that some ancient rabbis did believe that Daniel 9:24-26 refers to the Messiah and not a nameless individual called the anointed leader. Risto Santana states,
Ibn Ezra [stated that “there is a clear given of the Messiah in the prophecy of Daniel. And indeed: Daniel 9:24-6 gives a definition of the time of the Christ’s coming.”
The following book is recommended because it provides extensive documentation from rabbinic writings that the rabbis before the time of Christ agreed with the Christian interpretation of Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
Risto Santala. The Messiah In the Old Testament. Karen Ahvah Meshihit. Jerusalem. 1992. It is translated from Finnish by William Kinnaird.
Rabbinic Interpretation Has Changed
Fourth, the data shows that the rabbis have changed their interpretation of the Hebrew word “mashiah” because they have rejected Jesus Christ and want to avoid the appearance that Jesus fulfills this prophecy. But the ancient Jews who lived before the time of Jesus had a different understanding than the modern day rabbis. Rabbis today refuse to accept the historic understanding of the prophecy that existed before Christ was born, was crucified, and resurrected because they reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The truth is Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:24-26; and Micah 5:2.
The following articles will be encouraging to every Christian since there is solid proof that rabbis before the time of Christ believed Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:24-26; and Micah 5:2 referred to the Messiah.
Rejection of Christ Affects Interpretation
Fifth, we should not be surprised that the rabbis reject the view that Daniel’s seventy weeks refers to the Messiah and to Jesus Christ. Since the time of Christ, Judaism has rejected Christ as their Messiah. This is objectively evident since they removed Isaiah 53 “from the Synagogue’s annual haphtaroth on the prophets and from the mediaeval Rabbis.” But Isaiah 52 and 54 are read. Why do they skip that one chapter? Because anyone who objectively reads Isaiah 53 will realize it describes Christ. For more information visit,
Unfortunately, some rabbis are influenced by their forefathers and reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah. So, any passage that points to Him is rejected.
The fulfillment of the Daniel 9:24-26 prophecy occurs within about one week of Messiah’s death. It points to the time of the death as April 1, A.D. 33. That is when Christ died on the cross. That is the meaning of Daniel 9:24-26. For those interested in understanding the fulfillment of the prophecy, please read,
1. The Jewish Study Bible Tanakh Translation, Oxford University Press. 1999. p. 1660-1661.
2. Victor P. Hamilton, “1255 מָשַׁח,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. Moody Press. 1999, p. 531.
3. Ibid., p. 1660.
4. Ibid., p. 1285.
5. Risto Santala. The Messiah In the Old Testament. Karen Ahvah Meshihit. Jerusalem. 1992. p. 98-99.
5. Ibid. p. 201.
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