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Mistranslation?

Was Jesus really prophesised by Daniel? 

We are currently looking at the following implication from the prophecy in Daniel 9:20-27

“At around 33 AD, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.”

This is incredible, when we consider how many Messiahs appeared at around that time only to be killed (cut off) in 33 AD. Only one fits that profile, Jesus of Nazareth. It’s an awesome prophecy. No wonder Rashi was adamant that Daniel wasn’t a prophet!

Nevertheless, whether or not Rashi and the rabbis considered Daniel to be a prophetic book, if a scripture in the Hebrew Bible seems to point to a Messiah dying in 33AD, then we must believe that the rabbis must have a response to this.

They scream “mistranslation!” Their response is a hard one to contest, as the scriptures are the Hebrew scriptures, written in their language, Hebrew.

To remind you, here is how we read the verse

"Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

Here is what the Masoretic Text, the translation used by Jewish readers, reads for that verse:

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto an anointed prince, shall be seven weeks: and threescore and two weeks shall the street be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”

There are two key differences.

Whereas the Christian translation talks of the Anointed One, the Jewish translation speaks of an anointed prince. In short, the Christian interpretation speaks of a single individual, whereas the other one leaves the field open to anyone who is anointed, a list that could include Kings, princes and assorted dignitaries.

Secondly, and significantly, there is a punctuation issue, a matter of a single colon. The Jewish translation splits up the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks, declaring that the anointed prince came after 7 weeks (49 years), identified as King Cyrus of Persia and that the 62 weeks (434 years) is the time until yet another rebuilding of Jerusalem.

This is key and you begin to wonder how a string of Hebrew words in the original manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures can be interpreted in two different ways. Does the Hebrew refer to the Anointed or an anointed? Does it speak of a period of 49 years or 434 years to his appearance? The task is made harder when you realize that these Hebrew Scriptures were written without vowels or punctuation and as divinely authored as these words are, it has always been down to Jewish and Christian scholars to discern their exact meaning. We can be assured that the original Hebrew Scriptures are 100% the Word of God, but we can never have this total assurance with those who tease the meaning of the words into English. Otherwise why are there over twenty major translations of the Bible into English – NIV, KJV, RSV, CEB and others – with more no doubt still on their way? 

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The Anointed One

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