Troublesome Topic: Was Daniel Referring to Antiochus or Titus?

Daniel 9:25


Therefore, know and understand that from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, till the Messiah, the Prince [comes],

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[there will be] seven sets of seven.

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[There will be] 62 sets of seven,

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and then the street and a trench

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will be built again

during times of trouble.


Therefore, know and understand that from the time the command is issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (fulfilled by King Cyrus), till the time when the Messiah, the Prince, establishes His kingdom, there will be a full and complete collection of relevant activities. Breaking this down further, there will be an almost full set of relevant activities, and then the common way things are done will be reestablished; however this will be accomplished during times of hardship for the followers of God.

Daniel 9:26


After the 62 sets of seven,

the Messiah will be

cut off, and no [benefit] to him,

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and the people of a prince that is to come

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will destroy the city and the sanctuary,

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and the end shall come with a flood, (also, to the end of the war,

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desolations are decreed).

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After the almost full set of relevant activities has passed, the Messiah will be killed, and will appear to accomplish nothing,

then the followers

of another leader that is to come will destroy the city of Jerusalem and the temple, (and devastation has been decreed until the end of that war), but the end itself shall come with the force and unexpected suddenness of a flood.

Daniel 9:27


He will ratify a covenant

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with many for one set of seven, and in the middle of the seven

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he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease

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and above the extremity of abominations, the one who causes desolation [will come]

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until the complete destruction that has been determined is poured out on the one who desolates.


He will ratify a covenant with many that will bring about a complete set of relevant activity, and at the heart of that activity he will eliminated sacrifices and other offerings to the true God at the temple, and in an act which is nothing short of the pinnacle of abominations, the one who causes desolation will reveal himself to be what he truly is, until the complete destruction that has been decreed for him is poured out to desolate him because he is a desolator.

These two verses make it sound like the person who will destroy the city and the temple will be the same one to cause the great “abomination.” Actually, this prophecy has been fulfilled twice by two acts done by two people, separated by over 200 years, but both of them will be called an “abomination” and even “the abomination that causes desolation.” Jesus indicated in Mt 24:15 that one such “abomination” had already occurred which must refer to Antiochus IV. This is an example of the flexibility of symbolism where one symbol can refer to both Titus and Antiochus and still be accurate. Others see this as a reference to Satan who was behind these two men; that is also true.

The next lesson is: Summary of the Seventy Sevens of Daniel’s Vision


1: “comes”

No verb is given in Hebrew. One option would be to say “until the Messiah does what only the Messiah can do.” However, the word “comes” seems to fit well here and is less cumbersome. I think we all agree that this must refer to more than just his arrival as a baby, or even the beginning of His public ministry. I believe the concept of “coming as Messiah” pertains to the establishment of His rule as uncontested king. So “come” here means “He is proven to be the Messiah and His rule is fully established as He desired it to be.”


Can also be rendered “seven weeks.” I have chosen to use “sets of seven” in order to guide our focus away from the idea of time and toward the type of activity going on.


In symbolism 62 is smaller than 7 because 7 points to completeness and 62 points to something that is lacking because it is short of 70.

4: “a trench”

In ancient times, cities had ditches running down the middle of the streets that would carry sewage under the city gates and out of town. That is what this “trench” is referring to. A strong rain would wash away most of the sewage but the rest of the time it just sat there. This reference to streets and trenches is indicating a city built according to the normal pattern. It is a way of saying that everything will seem normal and proper.


The Hebrew says, “but not,” or “and nothing.” Translators have struggled to interpret this; some choose to say “and will have nothing,” others prefer “and will appear to accomplish nothing,” others “and will be no more,” while others choose “but not for himself.” I prefer the idea of “and will appear to have accomplished nothing” because it seems to fit better with the rest of what is being communicated. But we cannot say conclusively because some assumptions must be made.


“A prince that is to come” refers to a different prince, an evil ruler.


“Sanctuary” means the temple. Since it is clear that this refers to events after the death of the Messiah, and since the description of the destruction of the temple is clear, it must refer to AD 70 when the Romans, under Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.


The war being referred to here is likely the resistance of the Jews to the Romans.


This last clause is either a parenthetical clause or it should go earlier in the sentence, as demonstrated in the paraphrase column. Throughout that war things will be very difficult but then things will escalate to an abrupt termination.

10: "He will ratify a covenant"

The way this was fulfilled seems to have been that some of the ruling class of Israel went along with Antiochus and he made a covenant with them. We can assume that as part of that covenant they pledged him their loyalty and he promised to treat them well. Then he changed his mind and did whatever he wanted. Josephus says it this way: “pretending peace, he (Antiochus) got possession of the city by treachery… he ventured to break the league (covenant) he had made” (The Antiquities of the Jews, chapter 5, #4, year 168).


What is meant by “in the middle of the seven?” It can be the center in time, or more likely, the central point of the spiritually relevant activity that was going on. My paraphrase column expresses it as “at the heart of” which I believe to be the intent. Antiochus was opposing the worship of the God of the Jews. No act expresses that opposition better than the removal of the temple’s original altars, the building of a new altar dedicated to Zeus on which pigs were sacrificed every day.

12: “he will cause sacrifices and offerings to cease”

From Josephus’s history called, Antiquities of the Jews, we learn the following: “So he (Antiochus) left the temple bare; and took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden altar [of incense,] and table [of shew bread,] and the altar [of burnt-offering:] and did not abstain from even the veils… He forbad them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God, according to the law. And when the King had built an idol altar upon God’s altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship which they paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to be Gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars in every city and village; and offer swine upon them every day” (Antiquities, chapter 5, #4, year 168). So we see that Antiochus did indeed stop the sacrifices for a time; he even removed both altars from the temple and built his own altar in its place on which a pig was sacrificed each day.


Something needs to be added here because no verb is provided; “will come” is a logical choice. It is a broad term with many possible meanings. “To come out” is the idea here, expressed in the paraphrase column as “will reveal himself.”