Secret Service Theologian



THE Massoretic punctuation of Daniel ix. 25 has been adopted by Dean Farrar and Professor Driver, who fail to see that it is fatal to their pseud-epigraph theory of Daniel. The passage when thus read limits to 62 "weeks" the period during which Jerusalem was to remain as an inhabited city; and it is quite certain that no Jew writing "in the days of the Seleucid tyrant, anxious to inspire the courage and console the sufferings of his countrymen," would have used words which could only mean that the destruction of their holy city was imminent. Assuming the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, the R.V. punctuation renders the meaning of the passage more obscure, but it cannot alter it ; for as 7+62+1 make up 70, it is obvious that the lesser periods mentioned are subdivisions of the 70 weeks of the prophecy. It is clear, therefore, that the 62 weeks follow the 7 weeks, and that the death of Messiah (according to verse 26) was to be at the close of the 69th week.
"The sacred writings - Torah, Prophets, and Hagiographa - were written in archaic style, the letters were unaccompanied by vowel or punctuation signs. . . . The accents and the vowel system are an integral part of the Massorab." And further, "The Received, or, as it is commonly called, the Massoretic, text of the Old Testament Scriptures, has come down to us in manuscripts which are of no very great antiquity, and which all belong to the same family or recension" (Preface, R.V.). As the words "of no very great antiquity" may be explained to mean not more than about one thousand years old, the reader can appreciate Professor Margoliouth’s statement "that we possess the Old Testament in a partially anti-Christian recension." And as a false punctuation of Dan. ix. 25 would suffice to obscure, though it could not destroy, the Messianic reference of the passage, the Jewish editors may have possibly sought in this way to lessen the weight of proof which Daniel affords of the truth of Christianity.
But we may clear the Jewish editors from this charge, though at the expense of the Old Testament Company of Revisers. Punctuation marks (as we understand the term) there are none in Hebrew. But the Hebrew accents serve to a certain extent the same purpose. The following extract from the Gesenius-Kautzsch Hebrew Grammar (than which there is no higher authority) will enable the reader to judge of this matter for himself: -
"The design of the accents is primarily to regulate the musical enunciation (chanting) of the sacred Text; and thus they are first of all a kind of musical notes. . . . On the other hand, according to their original design they have also a twofold use which is still of the greatest importance for the grammar - viz., their value (a) as marking the tone; (b) as marks of punctuation." And to this a footnote is added to explain "that the value of the accent as a mark of punctuation is always relative. Thus, e.g., ‘Athnah, as regards the logical structure of the sentence, may at one time indicate a very strong caesure (thus Gen. i. 4); at another, one which is almost imperceptible (thus Gen. i. i)."
Now it is the presence of the Athnah accent which has led the Revisers to divide Dan. ix. 25 by a colon. On the same principle and for the same reason they ought to have rendered Gen. i. I, "In the beginning God created: the heaven and the earth." In the Hebrew the order of the words is, "In the beginning created God;" and the force of the Athnah is to make the reader pause at the sacred name in order that the hearers may grasp the solemn meaning of the words. In every case, therefore, the context must decide whether the accent should be "translated" by the insertion of a colon in the English version. The Revisers, however, by a majority vote, and in spite of the protest of the American Company, have thus corrupted Dan. ix. 25. It is one of the blemishes of the R.V. of the Old Testament, which is generally free from these "schoolboy translations," that so often mark the R.V. of the New Testament. I will conclude by repeating that if their punctuation here is right, it is proof that Daniel was not written in the Maccabean era.
Since writing the foregoing my attention has been called to the presence of the Athnah in verse 2 of this very chapter. If the critics are right they ought to render it, "I, Daniel, understood by the books: the number of the years, &c. But their position is in fact utterly untenable. 1 Eccles. xii. 5 is a notable instance of this. The beautifully veiled reference implied in the caper-berry is rendered with exquisite propriety in our A.V., "and desire shall fail." The R.V. reading, "and the caper-berry shall fail," is a mere schoolboy translation, and absolutely meaningless to the English reader.

ACCORDING to the Mishna (treatise Rosh Hathanak), "On the 1st of Nisan is a new year for the computation of the reign of kings and for festivals." To which the Jewish editors of the English translation of the Mishna add this note: "The reign of Jewish kings, whatever the period of accession might be, was always reckoned from the preceding Nisan; so that if; for instance, a Jewish king began to reign in Adar, the following month (Nisan) would be considered as the commencement of the second year of his reign. This rule was observed in all legal contracts, in which the reign of kings was always mentioned." This rule, I may add, will explain what Christian expositors and critics are pleased to call the "errors" in the chronological statements of Scripture as to Jewish regnal years. Full information on the subject of the present Jewish year will be found in Lindo’s Jewish Calendar, and in the Encyc. Brit., 9th ed., article "Hebrew Calendar."
But while their calendar is now settled with astronomical accuracy, it was not so in early times. And nothing is certainly known of the embolismal system then in use, to adjust the lunar to the solar year. But the testimony of the Mishna is definite that the great characteristic of the sacred year, as ordained in the Mosaic age, remained unchanged in Messianic times; namely, it began with the first appearance of the Paschal moon. The Mishna states that the Sanhedrim required the evidence of two competent witnesses that they had seen the new moon. The rules for the journey and examination of the witnesses contemplate the case of their coming from a distance, and being "a night and a day on the road." The proclamation by the Sanhedrim may therefore have been delayed for a day or two after the phasis, and the phasis may sometimes have been delayed till the moon was 1d. 17 h. old. So that the 1st Nisan may sometimes have fallen several days later than the true new moon. (See Clinton, Fasti Rem., vol. ii. p. 240.)
All writers therefore who, e.g., fix the date of the Crucifixion by assigning it to a year in which the Paschal full moon was on a Friday, are clearly wrong. The elements of doubt are: (i) The time of the phasis; (2) the appearance of the necessary witnesses; (3) the rules to prevent the festivals falling on unsuitable days; and (4) the embolismal system in force, of which we know nothing certainly. The use of the Metonic cycle in settling the Jewish calendar dates only from the fourth century A.D.; and as the old eight years’ cycle was in use among the early Christians for settling Easter, the presumption is that it was borrowed from the Jews. Let me illustrate this by A.D. 32, the year which Scripture itself marks out as the year of the Crucifixion. The true new moon was late on the night (10h. 57m.) of the 29th March. The proclamation of the Sanhedrim therefore would naturally have occurred on the 31st. But, as above explained, it may have been delayed till 1st April; and in that case the 15th Nisan should have fallen on Tuesday the 15th April. But according to the scheme of the eight years’ cycle, the embolismal month was inserted in the 3rd, 6th, and 8th years; and an examination of the calendars from A.D. 22 to 45 will show that A.D. 32 was the 3rd year of such a cycle. And as the difference between the solar year and the lunar is 11.5 days, it would amount in three years to 33.75 days, and the addition of a 13th month (Ve-Adar) of 30 days would leave an epoch still remaining of 3.75 days. And the "ecclesiastical moon" being that much before the real moon, the Passover festival would have fallen on Friday (11th April). 1 have dealt with this question at greater length in The Coming Prince, pp. 99 - 105.

THE month Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is the epoch of the prophetic era of the seventy weeks. In dealing with this subject, therefore, it is of vital importance to fix that date, and I have dealt with the matter exhaustively in an Excursus (App. II., Note A) added to The Coming Prince, to which I beg leave to refer the reader. I will here give but one extract : - "According to Clinton (F. H., vol. ii. p. 380), the death of Xerxes was in July, B.C. 465, and the accession of Artaxerxes was in February, B.C. 464. Artaxerxes, of course, ignored the usurper’s reign, which intervened, and reckoned his own reign from the day of his father’s death. Again, of course, Nehemiah, being an officer of the court, followed the same reckoning. Had he computed his master’s reign from February 464, Chisleu and Nisan could not have fallen in the same regnal year (Neh. i. i; ii. i). No more could they, had he, according to Jewish practice, computed it from Nisan."
Not content, however, with my own investigations, I appealed to the author of The Five Great Monarchies, and Canon Rawlinson favoured me with the following reply: "You may safely say that chronologers are now agreed that Xerxes died in the year B.C. 465. The Canon of Ptolemy, Thucidides, Diodorus, and Manetho are agreed, the only counter authority being Ctesias, who is quite untrustworthy."
Then as regards the Julian date of the 1st Nisan, B.C. 445 (Neh. ii.), when my book was in the press, I began to fear lest my own lunar calculations to fix the Jewish New Year (see Appendix IV., ante), might prove untrustworthy, and accordingly I wrote to the then Astronomer-Royal, Sir George Airy, who replied as follows: "I have had the moon’s place calculated from Largeteau’s Tables in additions to the Connaisance des Temps, 1846, by one of my assistants, and have no doubt of its correctness. The place being calculated for - 444, March 12d. 20 h., French reckoning, or March 12d. 8 h. P.M., it appears that the said time was short of New Moon by about 8 h. 47 m., and therefore the New Moon occurred at 4 h. 47 ni. A.M., March 13th, Paris time." The New Moon, therefore, occurred at Jerusalem on the 13th March, B.C. 445 (-144 Astronomical) at 7h. 9m. A.M. And the next day, the 14th, was the 1st Nisan.

AS regards the date of the Ministry and of the Passion, Luke iii. 1 is an end of controversy with all who reject the nightmare system of interpreting Scripture. The 15th year of the Emperor Tiberius is as certain a date as the 15th year of Queen Victoria. He began to reign on the 19th August A.D. 14. "And no single case has ever been, or can be, produced in which the years of Tiberius were reckoned in any other manner."
But Gibbon tells us that "The Roman Emperors invested their designed successor with so large a share of present power as should enable him, after their decease, to assume the remainder without suffering the empire to perceive the change of masters. Thus Augustus . . . obtained for his adopted son [Tiberius] the censorial and tribunitian power, and dictated a law by which the future prince was invested with an authority equal to his own over the provinces and the armies. Thus Vespasian . . . associated Titus to the full powers of the Imperial dignity" (Decline and Fall, I. ch. 3).
And this is made an excuse for "cooking" the chronology by those who, in spite of the clear testimony of Scripture, insist on assigning the Crucifixion to A.D. 29 or 30. They treat the reign of Tiberius as beginning some years before the death of Augustus, and take his 15th year to mean his 12th year. Sanclementi, indeed, finding "that nowhere in his time, or on monuments or coins, is a vestige to be found of any such mode of reckoning the years of this emperor," disposes of the difficulty by taking the date in Luke iii. I to refer to the Passion! Browne adopts this in a modified form. He says "it is improbable to the last degree" that Luke, who wrote specially for a Roman officer, and generally for Gentiles, would have so expressed himself as to be certainly misunderstood by them. Therefore, though the statement of the Evangelist clashes with his date for the Passion, he owns his obligation to accept it.
The Evangelist’s chronology refutes the traditional date embodied in the spurious Acta Pilati formerly quoted in this controversy, and in the writings of certain of the Fathers - "by some because they confounded the date of the baptism with the date of the Passion; by others, because they supposed both to have happened in one year; by others, because they transcribed from their predecessors without examination" (Fynes Clinton, Fasti Rom., A.D. 29).
The advocates of this false chronology rely, first, on a wrong inference from the Evangelist’s statement that the Lord "when He began (to teach) was about thirty years of age" (Luke iii. 23). But, as Alford says, this "admits of considerable latitude, but only in one direction, viz, over thirty years." And, secondly, on the figment that the Passion must have occurred in a year when the Paschal moon was full upon a Friday. But this is a blunder. John xviii. 3 makes it clear that the Passover of the Crucifixion was not at the full moon. For in that case there would have been no "lanterns and torches," especially having regard to Luke xxii. 2. See Appendix IV. (p. 172f ante); and also Clinton’s Fasti Rom., vol. ii. p. 240, as to the impossibility of determining in what year the Passover fell on a Friday. The whole question is dealt with fully in The Coming Prince, cli. viii.
Appendix Seven

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