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How Did Daniel
Decipher It?

D a n i e l C h a p t e r 9

By Rachmiel Frydland

    As a religious Jew raised in the Yeshivas of Poland, I knew, like others of my peers, that in the Book of Daniel lie hidden the secrets of Israel's redemption and the Messianic Days.  I also knew that some of the great Talmudic and post-Talmudic Rabbis had plunged into the study of this Book and even plummeted the hidden secrets of its symbolic signs and cyphers.  The Talmud and Midrash, discussing Israel's redemption, often refer to the Book of Daniel as the revealer of the secret time of Messiah's coming.  However, I, together with my fellow Yeshiva students, were ominously reminded of the warning and the curse pronounced against those who try to figure out the end as stated in Sanhedrin 97B:

   Rabbi Nathan said, the following verse plummets the very depths of this subject: 'For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.' (Habakkuk 2:3)  This opinion differs from that of our previous Rabbis who made inferences about the Messianic time from the verse in Daniel 7:2 5: 'And they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.'  R. Shmuel Bar Nahmeni made the following comment on Habakkuk 2:3: 'But at the end it shall speak.'  May they drop who try to figure out the end; for they say, since the time of His (Messiah's) coming has already arrived yet He did not come, therefore He will not come at all.

    This extreme condemnation is easily explained by the context, for in it we are told:

   The school of Elijah taught: The world is to be for six thousand years; two thousand years empty without Torah; two thousand years, Torah; and two thousand years, Messianic Times... . Rabbi Akiba made the inference, from the verse, 'Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land' (Haggai 2:6), that Simon Bar Kozibah was the Messiah though he reigned only for two and a half years.

   Be this as it may, in the Yeshivah schools, we were aware that the secrets are there, but that it was dangerous to make assumptions or to figure them out lest we come to the wrong conclusion.  The Midrash even states: "Two men had the end revealed to them; namely Jacob, as stated in Genesis 49:1, '... that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days,' and Daniel (12:1,4), 'And at that time thy people shall be delivered... . But thou O Daniel shut up the words... .' So even these two men were forbidden to reveal what they knew.......


   From the above quotation, one can clearly see that the study of our greatest sages brought them to the conclusion that if the dates in the Scriptures are correct, then Messiah should have come in the first century of our era, or thereabouts. The many Messiahs who flourished during that period claiming to be redeemers, were all great disappointments. Finally, Simon Bar Kozibah, whom R. Akiba called "Bar Kokhba" (The Star), came.  Though he was active in the first half of the second century, R. Akiba adjusted him to the Messianic claim by making reference to Haggai 2:6.  For the majority of the Jewish people Bar Kozibah was a tragedy and a disappointment.  Apart from the loss of tens of thousands of Jews at his defeat in Betar A.D. 135, his activities resulted in untold sufferings for the surviving Jews.

   In spite of all these false Messianic claims, or perhaps even as a result of them, a charming story survived in the Midrash of Lamentation based on the words, she has none to Comfort her (Hebrew: "Menachem") of all her friends....... (Lamentations 1:2)  It is said: The same day when the enemies entered the City and destroyed the Temple there was a Jew outside of Jerusalem who was plowing with his plow; he saw that the cow with which he was plowing threw herself to the ground.  The man was greatly afraid, and he smote the cow so that she might continue to plow, but she refused, but would throw herself again and again to the ground.  Then he heard a voice saying: Why do you bother the cow?  Leave her alone - she is behaving that way because of the bet Hamikdash (Temple) which is being burned today.  The man heard it, and immediately he tore up his garments, and tore out his hair and cried; putting dust on his head he wept bitterly, saying, Woe is me, Woe is me!  After two or three hours, the cow arose on her feet and began to dance from joy.  The man was greatly amazed.  He heard a voice which said: Arise and plow - for in this very hour Messiah was born.  When the man heard it, he washed his face, then he arose and was glad.  He went home and took with him long silken ribbons for ... a baby to move them in the cradle.  He took the ribbons and went to Jerusalem.  When he came into the city he put ribbons on his arms and called in the streets of the city: Who wants to buy ribbons for his little boy or girl?  The neighbor of Messiah's mother heard it and said to him; Go into your house, for they just had a baby boy.  He entered the house and said to the mother: Buy a silk ribbon for your son.  She said: I will not buy it for Him, for in the day that He was born the Temple was destroyed - cursed be that day in which He was born.  The man then drew near to the child, kissed Him on the head and gave the baby the ribbon.  He asked the mother to watch over the baby and went home.  Each year the man came to see the baby.  The name of the child was Menachem Ben Ami-el.  One year he came to Jerusalem and entered the house.  The mother lifted up her voice and cried: 'I have no Menachem  (Comforter) - for He was hidden.'  This is the meaning of the verse 'she has no comforter of all her friends.'

   In another version of the same story, it was Elijah who brought gifts to the mother, and after five years returned and found that the child was taken away. He then says:

   Woe, for the salvation of Israel perished.  But a voice came from heaven saying, 'Elijah, it is not as you think, but He will be 400 years in the Great Sea, and eighty years with the Sons of Korah where the smoke ascends, and eighty years at Rome's gate, and the rest of the years He will travel about the great Cities until the end.'


   Messiah, then, is clearly "alive and well" for the last nineteen hundred years.  His name is "Menachem," the Comforter, the son of Amiel which sounds very close and has a similar meaning in the Hebrew as Immanuel. He started to work around the great Mediterranean Sea, went to Samaria (Korah), then Rome and the ends of the world.  Why was He expected at that particular time?  Clearly there was a certainty that Messiah had to appear at that period.  In our opinion, this conviction was based on the famous ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel:

Seventy weeks are determined upon the people and upon thy Holy City, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.  Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks; the street shall be built again; and the wall, even in troublous times.  And after the 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 of it shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolation's are determined.  (Daniel 9:24-26)

   This revelation was a result of Daniel's prayers given to him by the angel Gabriel to explain the time, substance and circumstances of Israel's salvation.

   The time embraced was "seventy sevens."  Within the sixty-nine weeks of years, that is within 483 years, there will be a building up of Jerusalem's streets and canals, though in troublous times.  After these 483 years, 'Messiah will be cut off and not for Himself' literally - "none to Him").  After Messiah is cut off, the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple will be destroyed 'by the people of the prince that shall come. ' This is the picture that the archangel Gabriel gave to Daniel.


   This was the passage that challenged me many years ago to consider the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth.  Rashi and other Rabbinic authorities, to whom I consulted, said that the reference was King Agrippa, Herod's descendant, who is called "Messiah" here and who was "cut off" before the Temple's destruction.  Hence the term "Messiah" is transferred to a voluptuous carnal king, like Agrippa, as Rashi interprets, or to the unknown Menachem (the Comforter) Ben Amiel (God is with His People) as given in Midrash.  On the other hand, there is Jesus - Yeshua of Nazareth - who was "cut off" forty years before the second Temple was destroyed, as revealed by Gabriel to Daniel.

   In addition, the revelation given to Daniel deals also to some extent with the substance and the circumstance of Messiah's activity, "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness. " In other words, Messiah being "cut off" is distinctly connected with the atoning work that the Temple sacrifices attempted to do, except that it would be a work of completion and fulfillment far greater than any Temple sacrifices could possibly secure.  In my case, I was enabled to lay aside my fears and prejudices and to open the "Brit Hadasha" (New Testament) and learn more of Him, Who, as the Prophet says:

Hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken,

smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

 and with His stripes we are healed.

 Isaiah 53:4-5


   In Daniel's timetable, Jesus fits in perfectly.  No one else qualifies; neither King Agrippa, nor the mystical Menachem could possibly fit in with the prophecy.  Read about Him and see if you will not be stirred by the truth.

Daniel 9:1-27


Reprinted with permission of The Messianic Literature Outreach


How about you? Have you received your Redeemer,

the Stone whom the builders rejected?
In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.

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