Copied or adapted from orthodox Jewish author, Asher Norman’s must-read book, Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus:
Isaiah 53 is one of the two principle proof-texts for the Christian belief that the Messiah (ben David) is supposed to die. The other one is Daniel 9:25. This passage in the Jewish Bible speaks about an anointed (messiah) who is “cut off”. Christians say that “cut off” means the messiah is supposed to die. Christians also argue that Daniel chapter 9 proves that “the messiah” had to come before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and that only Jesus fits Daniel’s time criteria.
Most Christians don’t realize this, but in the Jewish Bible there are many messiahs mentioned. A messiah is anyone who has been anointed with oil into the service of God. Therefore, every Jewish king, high priest, and prophet in the Jewish Bible was a messiah. The messiah who is prophesied to restore the nation of Israel, sit on the throne of David, and bring peace to the world is referred to as the “Messiah ben David”.
In the Christian Bible, the Hebrew word “mashiach” is always correctly translated “anointed” except in Daniel 9, where it is translated “messiah” twice. Why is this? Jews believe that the Christian Bible fails to translate mashiach as “anointed” in this chapter in order to mislead the reader into believing that there is only one messiah in the Jewish Bible! In addition, in the Christian Bible the word “messiah” is capitalized to create the misimpression that it is about Jesus! There are no capital letters in Hebrew, therefore by capitalizing the “M” in messiah, Christian translators inserted their theology into the text.
The Jewish view of Daniel chapter Nine:
In this chapter, Daniel prophesies about two messiahs and two discrete time periods. Daniel’s first time period is a time when a messiah (anointed) would allow the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Daniel’s second time period described a time when the rebuilt Temple would again be destroyed and a different messiah (anointed) would be “cut off” (“koras” in Hebrew). Daniel used a poetic technique and referred to these two time periods in terms of “weeks” by which he meant “weeks of years.” To Daniel, a week meant seven years. Daniel’s first time period was seven weeks (of years), which equates to forty-nine years. Daniel said this time period would commence from “the emergence of the word” (davar in Hebrew) by an anointed “prince” who would allow the Jews (in exile in Babylonia), to return to Jerusalem. This anointed prince was Daniel’s first messiah.
Daniel then prophesied about a second time period of sixty-two weeks (of years), which equates to four hundred and thirty-four years. He said that a second messiah (anointed) would suffer koras (be cut off), and the “people of the prince” would destroy the Temple.
Daniel 9:25-26, Jewish Bible (Stone Edition):
“Know therefore and comprehend: from the emergence of the word [davar in Hebrew] to return and build Jerusalem until the anointment of the prince there shall be seven weeks; [this semicolon separates the first time period and the first messiah from the second time period and the second messiah] and for sixty-two weeks it will be rebuilt, street and moat, but in troubled times.” Then, after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one [messiah] will be cut off and will exist no longer; the people of the prince will come and will destroy the city and the Sanctuary…”
Daniel 9:25-26, Christian Bible (New King James Version):
“Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command [properly translated: the word] to restore and build [properly translated: return and build] Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [properly translated: the prince, not Messiah the Prince] there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; [properly translated: a semi-colon exists after the seven weeks] the street shall be built again, and the wall, [properly translated: street and moat, not street and wall] even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself; [properly translated: will exist no longer] and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
Analysis: What an important Semi-Colon!
By removing one lowly semi-colon, Christian apologists use an incorrect start date for Daniel’s prophecy! Daniel began his prophecy with the “emergence” of a word” (davar in Hebrew). Ezra the prophet used this word to identify the event that would begin this period (see below). Daniel prophesied in Daniel chapter nine that a messiah would be “cut off and exist no longer.” Christian translators replaced “exist no longer” with, “but not for Himself,” because Jesus, who is supposed to be “God”, cannot “exist no longer”.
The deliberate removal of the semi-colon, allows Christians to create the false impression that there is only one time period of sixty-nine weeks (seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks) instead of two time periods, one of seven weeks and one of sixty-two weeks. Christian translators and apologists allege that Daniel wrote the number “sixty-nine” as “seven plus sixty-two” instead of simply saying “sixty-nine” weeks. This is a forced reading, and can be shown as false by the next verse in Daniel chapter 9, which again refers to sixty-two weeks, not to the so-called “total” of sixty-nine weeks. The passage states, “And after the sixty-two weeks…” Therefore, the second sixty-two week period refers to a second time period.
So how do we know that Christian translators deliberately mistranslated Daniel 9:25-26?
The original 1611 edition of the King James Bible, and subsequent editions of the KJV until 1888, contain the semicolon between the two time periods. After 1888, the semicolon was removed from the King James Version of the Christian Bible in order to support the “dying messiah prophecy” claim for Jesus!
So who do Jews say was the first messiah in this prophecy? Answer: Cyrus, King of Persia.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus King of Persia, that the word [davar, the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:25] of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled…and He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem [the Temple] which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:1-3). This clearly proves that Cyrus fulfilled the first part of Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9 located to the left of the semi-colon.
The prophet Isaiah also confirmed that Cyrus was the first messiah who ordered the Temple to be rebuilt in fulfillment of the first part of Daniel’s prophecy:
“Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd…and to say of Jerusalem. It shall be built, and the Temple shall be founded. So said the Lord to His anointed one [messiah].” (Isaiah 44: 28-45:1, 13)
And the Book of Chronicles also confirms that Cyrus is the messiah of this prophecy: (see Chronicles 36:22-23)
So, why isn’t this obvious to Christians? Answer: Christians moved the book of Ezra! To prevent Christian readers from realizing that Cyrus and not Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 9, the Christian Fathers who compiled the Christian Bible moved the Book of Ezra out of its proper sequence immediately following the Book of Daniel, and “hid” the Book of Ezra in a much earlier position following Second Chronicles. If the books had been left in their proper order, Christians would see that immediately following the Book of Daniel, the Book of Ezra begins with the account of the first messiah (anointed) of Daniel’s prophecy, Cyrus.
The Persian king Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, forty-nine years after the Jews were taken to Babylon in exile, fulfilling the part of Daniel’s prophecy to the left of the semi-colon.
So what about the prophecy to the right of the semi-colon?
Jews say that he “prince” prophesied in the second half of the prophecy was the Roman general Titus who destroyed the Temple. He was a prince because his father, Vespasian, was appointed Emperor of Rome. During the Roman occupation, the Romans appointed the Jewish High Priest, who was expected to protect Roman security and political interests with his Temple police force. The second anointed (messiah) in Daniel 9 was the last Jewish High Priest before the Temple was destroyed…exactly 434 years later…as the prophesy foretold!
Gary’s subscript: Before anyone converts to Judaism, let me break the Orthodox Jewish bubble: Many Bible scholar’s believe that the books of Daniel, Ezra, etc. were written after the events they describe. In other words, the authors of these books committed fraud: they purported to be writing in an earlier time period, predicting events that would happen in the future, when in reality, they were writing about events in the past. Many scholars, for instance, believe that the Book of Daniel was written in Jerusalem during the Greek occupation, sometime in the second or third century BC. One thing that is interesting however, is the prophecy about the second messiah being cut off 434 years after the rebuilding of the second temple. Even if “Daniel” was writing in the second century BC, this would be an amazing prediction. Is this just a case of a lucky coincidence…or should we all convert to Orthodox Judaism??