Remarks on a Part of Daniel

J. N. Darby.

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{Here follow a number of pieces on prophetic subjects somewhat later than several discussions of great length and of a more controversial character which will form a volume of themselves. Ed.}

My dear brother,

I send you some remarks on an interesting part of prophecy, including some principles long ago remarked, and recalled by recent study of some parts of Daniel. I shall be short, my object being to throw out the grounds of judgment rather than to reason on them. It has been long my conviction that there are two very distinct parties engaged in the trials of Jerusalem in the latter day. The alliance of Jerusalem with the one is the chief occasion of the desolation brought on by the other. This other is habitually termed the Assyrian in Isaiah. I now proceed to give you the elements of certain passages which seem to me to throw light on these points, and to facilitate the understanding of Daniel.

First, the indignation, see Isaiah 10: we have the revelation that the rod in the hand of the Assyrian is the Lord's indignation. This indignation is to cease in the destruction of the Assyrian. The characteristic term for this closing period is the indignation of Jehovah against the nation. We find, in Daniel 8:19, the expositor, who tells Daniel that he will make him know what is in the last end of the indignation, for at the time appointed the end shall be. The wilful king prospers till this indignation is filled up. When the overflowing scourge (Isaiah 28), which is a flood and a treading down (compare Daniel 9:27 and 8:13), comes through Ephraim (that is from the north), the scornful men which dwell at Jerusalem have made a covenant with death and are at agreement with hell, and hence hope to escape the overflowing scourge. But, as there is a foundation-stone for faith, so judgment is laid to the line, and the overflowing scourge passes through and they are trodden down by it. We have then the period of the indignation and the special instrument of it (this attack of the Assyrian being repeatedly referred to in Isaiah, compare Psalm 83). We have also the fact, that, when the scourge of desolation passes through, the rulers at Jerusalem had made an agreement with death and hell to avoid it; but the overflowing scourge sweeps on.

211 The distinction we have at the close of Isaiah 30, where it seems to me the king is a distinct personage (Heb. gam hoo lammelek), "Tophet[-h] is prepared of old, for the king also it is prepared." These passages lead me to another expression of importance in this respect, and which also links together Daniel and these passages in Isaiah (Heb. chalah veneheratsah) the consumption decreed. You will find this in Isaiah 10:23 (and something like it in verse 22) in connection with the indignation, and the Assyrian, and a very small remnant left of Israel from the judgment, but a determined one of God. In Isaiah 28 the judgment is clearly on Israel. Coming, as I have said, as to its progress through Ephraim, it finds the rulers of Jerusalem in league with death; and they are warned (v. 22) not to be mockers, because (Heb. chalah veneheratsah) a consumption is determined on the whole earth (land).

In Daniel 9:27, we find the same expression translated "the consummation," and that determined. I apprehend the force is "for the overspreading of abominations [the protection of idols, which makes the great charge against the Jews of the latter day a desolator (m'shomehm)] there shall be a desolator, until the consumption decreed be poured on the desolate"; that is, the "overspreading of abominations" (al c'maph shikkutsim), whatever that may be taken to be, is the cause why the consumption decreed is poured on the desolate. Some take it as a fact, or prefer the margin. As I take the sense of the English translation to be just, I venture on Hebrew ground, but only to put questions. I suppose the Hebrew may mean "because," or "for," as in English. Next, is it not certain, according to the points, and the regular Hebrew construction, both from letters and accents, that it is because of the protection of idols; and that the idols of the desolator is not the connection in the Hebrew? The best translation I have access to concurs in this. If so, the sense, as it seems to me to be, is clear, namely, "because of the protection of idols [there shall be] a desolator, until the consumption decreed" - this appointed measure of wrath (against Israel).

I think the reading of the passages quoted, in Isaiah, shews plainly that the decreed consuming or accomplishment of judgment applies to Israel, and such a statement accords with the whole testimony of God's word on the subject. This confirms the English translation "on the desolate." And here again I appeal to my Hebrew friends. The usual sense of the Hebrew words (shamehm and shomehm) is, I apprehend, "to be desolate." The word used here (shomehm) is several times used for Jerusalem desolate, by Jeremiah in Lamentations, and in other parts of Scripture, as to it and other subjects.* No case of the active use is alleged by Gesenius, but this passage, which proves of course nothing, and Daniel 12:11 which rests on a similar basis, and chapter 8:13, all involve the question to be decided. For either of the last two cases, "desolate" or "desolating" gives a sense according to truth; but would in any case (shomehm) be "causing others to desolate"? However, of this in a moment. The use of an unusual form (Ezek. 36:3) is the only other authority. Bagster's Lexicon does not give this sense. However this may be, there is no doubt that the common use of the word elsewhere is "desolate," and that the other expressions are usually applied to Jerusalem. The consumption decreed is poured upon the desolate. Until then there will be a desolator. Thus we should have the declaration that he (the prince to come) confirms covenant with the many (the body of the Jews) one week; and in the midst of the week he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and because of the overspreading or protection of idols there will be a desolator, until the consumption decreed be poured on the desolate - until God has filled up his judgment.

{*See Isaiah 54:1; Lamentations 1:13 and 3:11.}

212 Now a few words on the question of the desolate; chap. 11:31. It is a different word, the abomination of desolation (m'shomehm) the word translated (chap. 9:27) "he shall make it desolate" - rather a desolator; they shall plant the abomination of the desolator. This seems admitted by the common authorities I have recourse to. It inclines me much to think that this passage refers much more distinctly to Antiochus than to the latter days (v. 32). "Do exploits" does not seem to me to characterise that epoch. As to chapter 8:13, I leave this question, whether it is not the transgression of the desolate; when the transgressors are come to the full, transgressions against the daily sacrifice. It is clear in either case, that this causes desolation, so that I have nothing to oppose; but I would arrive at the force of the word. It is not, at any rate, an active desolator, I should think, in a positive way - as m'shomehm.

213 The existence of the latter word in chapter 11:31 makes chapter 12:11 more interesting. There, and there alone, we have "the abomination that desolates" (Heb. shikkuts shomehm); and to that, I apprehend, the Lord's solemn words specially refer as to the last days. I can hardly think that the Spirit uses in chapter 9:27 the two words as He does to mean the same thing. If the difference in chapter 11:31 and chapter 12:11 be just, it throws vast light on the interpretation of the whole passage. Whatever may be the result as to the critical point, the connection of the two chapters of Isaiah (and others bear on it, particularly all from chapter 28 to the end of chapter 35) throws much light on the solemn scenes of the history of Israel and the world in the last days.

I just add here, that besides the evident division at the end of Daniel 6, between the historic scenes or dreams of others interpreted by Daniel, and the communications made to Daniel himself, there is a distinction to be made between chapters 7 and 8 (which have a common character) and chapter 9 to the end.

Chapters 7 and 8 are communications made to Daniel of certain events during the power of evil (the Jews being in no way delivered) and give us the two horns and their bearing on the history of those beloved of God, whatever their condition. But all this is seen as a picture, though a picture explained - a picture of the power of evil.

In the last four chapters, which date subsequent to the overthrow of Babylon, Daniel, according to the mind of God, is brought forward as intercessionally interested in Israel, and he pleads for guilty Israel, as Moses of old - differently as to tone, but presenting, by faith in God's own thoughts, the people, as His people, whatever their state may have been (and that is the character of faith, while fully, for the very same reason, owning and confessing the sin). The result is remarkably analogous as to this. The angel who speaks on the Lord's behalf calls Israel Daniel's people, and the city his city, as the Lord did to Moses. Daniel sees no vision here of historical wonders, but of the person interested in Israel, who communicates to him Israel's history in reply to his faith in God and love to Israel, as the man greatly beloved. Chapter 9 seems to me to refer rather to chapter 7 and chapters 10, 11, and 12 to chapter 8; the former to the western, and the latter to the eastern, subjects of prophecy. I believe these considerations will assist in the intelligence of the book, the latter remarks opening considerably the bearing of the two subdivisions. The explanation of chapter 7 is not in terms confined to the end of the indignation, as that of chapter 8 (though the special actings of the little horn are identified with the periods of chapter 12).