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Bibliology & Hermeneutics The study of the Bible and Scriptures, and its interpretation and translation.

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Old 30th March 2011, 08:12 PM
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Daniel 9:26 "Messiah be cut off, but not for himself" - How to destroy a prophecy

Daniel 9:26 "Messiah cut off, but NOT FOR HIMSELF"

An extremely important Messianic prophecy about the significance of the death of Christ has been drastically changed in a multitude of conflicting modern versions.

"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF."

Christ, who obviously is the Messiah, was cut off out of the land of the living and He died, not for Himself, but for His people. He laid down His life as a ransom for many. He gave Himself for the church, laid down His life for the sheep, and purchased the church of God with His own blood. By His death the Lord Jesus Christ made reconciliation for iniquity and brought in everlasting righteousness, as the immediate context of Daniel 9:24 tells us.

There is no verb in the Hebrew text of Daniel 9:26; it reads "but not for himself". This is also the reading of the Bishop's Bible 1568, the NKJV 1982, the French Martin of 1744 - “le CHRIST sera retranché, mais non pas pour soi”, the Reina Valera 1865 Angel de Mora, the 1909 Reina Valera Victoriano Baez, and the 2004 Reina Valera Gomez bible - “Daniel 9:26 Y después de las sesenta y dos semanas el Mesías será muerto, y no por sí.” but they changed the 1995 Reina Valera and it now reads like the NIV. Also agreeing with the King James reading of "but not for Himself" are Webster's 1833 translation, The Modern Greek Translation (pleen ouxi di heauton), the Third Millenium Bible, Green's 1998 Modern KJV, and the KJV 21st Century Version. Even the NIV footnote gives the reading of the King James Bible "or, cut off, but not for Himself", but the text of the NIV reads quite differently.

Versions like the NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Holman, and NASB read: "Messiah shall be cut off AND HAVE NOTHING." Messiah shall have nothing?!? He purchased His people and bought His bride with His own blood! He certainly did not "have nothing".

The NIV is not always translated in the same way into foreign languages. The NIV in Spanish simply omits this last phrase altogether. The 1984 Nueva Versión Internacional says: "después de las sesenta y dos semanas, se le quitará la vida al príncipe elegido." = "After the 72 weeks, the life of the elect prince will be taken away."

Dr. Daniel Wallace, of Dallas Theological Seminary, is writing his own bible version on the internet. It is called the NET bible and it often rejects the clear Hebrew readings and frequently comes up with meanings not found in any other bible out there in print. His NET version with commentary says: "Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off AND HAVE NOTHING." Then he footnotes: "The expression "HAVE NOTHING" is difficult. Presumably it refers to an absence of support or assistance for the anointed one at the time of his “cutting off.” The KJV rendering “but not for himself,” apparently suggesting A VICARIOUS DEATH, CANNOT BE DEFENDED."

This "renowned scholar" admits his own rendering "is difficult", and "a presumption", but then he adamantly tells that the idea of a substitutionary death as found in the King James Bible "cannot be defended". He is uncertain about his own reading, but certain that the King James Bible got it wrong! Aren't Bible correctors a kick in the head? Well, as we shall soon see, a great many Bible teachers and translators are not at all in agreement with Dr. Wallace's opinions.

Matthew Henry comments: "In order to all this the Messiah must be cut off, must die a violent death, and so be cut off from the land of the living, as was foretold, Isa. 53:8. He must be cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF —not for any sin of his own, but, as Caiaphas prophesied, HE MUST DIE FOR THE PEOPLE, IN OUR STEAD and for our good, it was TO ATONE FOR OUR SINS, and to purchase life for us, that he was cut off."

John Wesley tersely remarks: " Not for himself - BUT FOR OUR SAKES, and for our salvation."

John Gill offers two different interpretations but he gives this one first: " when Jesus the true Messiah was cut off in a judicial way; not for any sins of his own, BUT FOR THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE, to make satisfaction for them, and TO OBTAIN THEIR REDEMPTION and salvation."

David Guzik's Commentary says simply: "The Messiah will be cut off FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS, NOT FOR HIMSELF."

C.H. Spurgeon comments: "The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." - Daniel 9:26 "Blessed be his name, there was no cause of death in him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled him, and therefore death had no claim upon him. No man could have taken his life from him justly, for he had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain him by force unless he had been pleased to yield himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; BUT JESUS WAS CUT OFF FOR US, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away for ever. Herein is wisdom, whereby SUBSTITUTION, the sure and speedy WAY OF ATONEMENT, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS ENEMIES!

Matthew Poole was well aware of all the different theories and ideas about how to translate this passage and he comments on it in his Commentary on the whole Bible saying: - Daniel 9:26 “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself” - But not for himself - which being abrupt, is variously rendered and read; some referring it to Christ, and some to the people, and others to both, and all with very probable conjectures: There was none to succour him ; or that they would none of him for their Messiah; they set him at nought, and would not have him live, and therefore he would not own them for his people, but cast them off, for thus dying is expressed in short, not to be. But our English translation seems to hit the truest sense, i. e. not for himself. He was innocent and guiltless, he died for others, not for himself, but for our sakes and for our salvation.”

Bible Babel in Action

Here are some other "bible versions" and their readings for comparison. See if this clears things up for us and verifies the statements made by many today that "There are no conflicting bibles", or "By reading a multitude of different versions we get a better idea of what the text says".

Wycliffe 1395 - "Christ shall be slain, and IT SHALL NOT BE HIS PEOPLE THAT SHALL DENY HIM."

Coverdale 1535 "Christ shall be slain AND THEY SHALL HAVE NO PLEASURE IN HIM."

The New English bible 1970 says: "one who is anointed is removed WITHOUT ANYONE TO TAKE HIS PART."

Young's 'literal' translation has: "cut off is Messiah AND THE CITY AND THE HOLY PLACE ARE NOT."

Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac - "Messiah shall be slain AND THE CITY SHALL BE WITHOUT A RULER."

The alleged Greek Septuagint (LXX) reads: "the anointed one shall be destroyed AND THERE IS NO JUDGMENT IN HIM."

The Message of 2002 - "After the sixty-two sevens, the Anointed Leader will be killed--THE END OF HIM." (Not quite true, is it?)

1917 Jewish Publication Society translation - "shall an anointed one be cut off AND BE NO MORE." (Again not true)

The Good News Translation - Second edition says: "And at the end of that time God's chosen leader will be killed UNJUSTLY." Then it footnotes: "One ancient translation unjustly; Hebrew unclear."

The Easy To Read Version 2001 - "After the 62 weeks, the chosen person will be killed. HE WILL BE GONE."

The Catholic versions are all in disagreement with each other too.

The Douay Version of 1950 says: - "And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: AND THE PEOPLE THAT SHALL DENY HIM SHALL NOT BE HIS."

Then the Jerusalem Bible of 1968 has: "an anointed one will be cut off - AND....WILL NOT BE FOR HIM." (This is actually how it reads)

The St. Joseph New American Bible of 1970 has: "an anointed shall be cut down WHEN HE DOES NOT POSSES THE CITY"

And finally the New Jerusalem Bible of 1985 says: "an Anointed One put to death WITHOUT HIS...city and sanctuary ruined by a prince who is to come." (Again, this is actually how it reads)

May I suggest you take a few moments to review this list of conflicting bible readings, and then ask God to open your eyes to see which one presents the truth about why Messiah was cut off, and what His death accomplished? The King James Bible always comes out on top when the Truth of God is revealed to the believing heart.

Will Kinney

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