26. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
26. Et post hebdomadas sexaginta duas excidetur Christus, et nihil erit, et urbem et sanctuarium perdet populus ducis venientis, et finis ejus cum inundatione erit, vel, in diluvio, et ad finem belli definitio desolationum.
Here Daniel treats of the sixty-two weeks which elapsed between the sixth year of Darius and the baptism of Christ, when the Gospel began to be promulgated, but at the same time he does not neglect the seven weeks of which he had been speaking. For they comprehend the space of time which intervened between the Persian monarchy and the second edict which again granted liberty to the people after the death of Cambyses. After the sixty-two weeks which should succeed the seven former ones, Messiah shall be cut off, says he. Here the angel predicts the death of Christ. The Jews refer this to Agrippa, but this, as we have already observed, is utterly nugatory and foolish. Eusebius and others refer it to Aristobulus, but this is equally destitute of reason. Therefore the angel speaks of the only Mediator, as in the former verse he had said, until Christ the Leader The extension of this to all the priesthood is both forced and absurd. The angel rather means this -- Christ should then be manifest to undertake the government of his people; or, in other words, until Messiah shall appear and commence his reign. We have already remarked upon those who erroneously and childishly explain the name |Leader,| as if it were inferior in dignity to that of king. As the angel had used the name |Christ| in the sense of Mediator, so he repeats it in this passage in the same sense. And surely, as he had formerly treated of those singular marks of God's favor, by which the new Church was to surpass the old, we cannot understand the passage otherwise than of Christ alone, of whom the priests and kings under the Law were equally a type. The angel, then, here asserts, Christ should die, and at the same time he specifies the kind of death by saying, nothing shall remain to him. This short clause may be taken in various senses, yet I do not hesitate to represent the angel's meaning to be this -- Christ should so die as to be entirely reduced to nothing. Some expound it thus, -- -the city or the people shall be as nothing to him; meaning, he shall be divorced from the people, and their adoption shall cease, since we know the Jews to have so fallen away from true piety by their perfidy as to be entirely alienated from God, and to have lost the name of a Church. But that is forced. Others think it means, it shall be neither hostile nor favorable; and others, nothing shall remain to him in the sense of being destitute of all help; but all these comments appear to me too frigid. The genuine sense, I have no doubt, is as follows, -- the death of Christ should be without any attractiveness or loveliness, as Isaiah says. (Isaiah 53:2.) In truth, the angel informs us of the ignominious character of Christ's death, as if he should vanish from the sight of men through want of comeliness. Nothing, therefore, shall remain to him, says he; and the obvious reason is, because men would think him utterly abolished.
He now adds, The leader of the coming people shall destroy the city and the sanctuary Here the angel inserts what rather concerns the end of the chapter, as he will afterwards return to Christ. He here mentions what should happen at Christ's death, and purposely interrupts the order of the narrative to shew that their impiety would not escape punishment, as they not only rejected the Christ of God, but slew him and endeavored to blot out his remembrance from the world. And although the angel had special reference to the faithful alone, still unbelievers required to be admonished with the view of rendering them without excuse. We are well aware of the supineness and brutality of this people, as displayed in their putting Christ to death; for this event occasioned a triumph for the priests and the whole people. Hence these points ought to be joined together. But; the angel consulted the interests of the faithful, as they would be greatly shocked at the death of Christ, which we have alluded to, and also at his ignominy and rejection. As this was a method of perishing so very horrible in the opinion of mankind, the minds of all the pious might utterly despond unless the angel had come to their relief. Hence he proposes a suitable remedy, The leader of the coming people shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; as if he had said, There is no encouragement for the unbelievers to please and flatter themselves, because Christ was reduced to nothing after a carnal sense; vengeance shall instantly overtake them; the leader of the coming people shall destroy both the city and the sanctuary He names a coming leader, to prevent the unbelievers from resting secure through self-flattery, as if God would not instantly stretch forth his hand to avenge himself upon them. Although the Roman army which should destroy the city and sanctuary did not immediately appear, yet the Prophet assures them of the arrival of a leader with an army which should occasion the destruction of both the city and the sanctuary. Without the slightest doubt, he here signifies that God would inflict dreadful vengeance upon the Jews for their murder of his Christ. That trifler, Barbinel, when desirous of refuting the Christians, says -- more than two hundred years elapsed between the destruction of the Temple and the death of Christ. How ignorant he was! Even if we were to withhold all confidence from the evangelists and apostles, yet profane writers would soon convict him of folly. But such is the barbarity of his nation, and so great their obstinacy, that they are ashamed of nothing. As far as we are concerned, we gather with sufficient clearness from the passage how the angel touched briefly upon the future slaughter of the city and the destruction of the Temple, lest the faithful should be overwhelmed with trials in consequence of Christ's death, and lest the unbelievers should be hardened through this occurrence. The interpretation of some writers respecting the people of the coming leader, as if Titus wished to spare the most beautiful city and preserve it untouched, seems to me too refined. I take it simply as a leader about to come with his army to destroy the city, and utterly to overthrow the Temple.
He afterwards adds, Its end shall be in a deluge Here the angel removes all hope from the Jews, whose obstinacy might lead them to expect some advantage in their favor, for we are already aware of their great stupidity when in a state of desperation. Lest the faithful should indulge in the same feelings with the apostates and rebellious, he says, The end of the leader, Titus, should be in a deluge; meaning, he should overthrow the city and national polity, and utterly put an end to the priesthood and the race, while all God's favors would at the same time be withdrawn. In this sense his end should be in a deluge Lastly, at the end of the war a most decisive desolation The word nchrtst, nech-retzeth, |a completion,| can scarcely be taken otherwise than as a noun substantive. A plural noun follows, smmvt, shem-moth, |of desolation's| or |devastation's;| and taken verbally it means |definite or terminated laying waste.| The most skillful grammarians allow that the former of these words may be taken substantively for |termination,| as if the angel had said: Even if the Jews experience a variety of fortune in battle, and have hopes of being superior to their enemies, and of sallying out and prohibiting their foes from entering the city; nay, even if they repel them, still the end of the war shall result in utter devastation, and their destruction is clearly defined. Two points, then, are to be noticed here; first, all hope is to be taken from the Jews, as they must be taught the necessity for their perishing; and secondly, a reason is ascribed for this, namely, the determination of the Almighty and his inviolable decree. It afterwards follows: --