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Letter III.


Dear Brother, agreeably to my promise, I will now endeavor to answer the questions proposed relative to the prediction recorded in Daniel, ch. 9: 24-27.

1. First, it is asked, how many years are included in the 70 weeks? and when did they begin? With respect to the first part of the question, it is agreed by all, that the seventy weeks are weeks of years, i. e. every week is seven years, making, in the whole, four hundred and ninety years. Sal. Yarchi, Saad. Gaon, and Aben Ezra in loco. Aben lana in Michl. Yophi, in loco. It was a frequent mode to count years by weeks. Thus Laban said to Jacob, "fulfill her week," or fill up a week for this, i. e. serve me seven years for this. Gen. 29: 27. The jubilees also were reckoned by weeks of years, Lev. 25: 8. Ez. 4: 4, 5. These 70 weeks, or 490 years, are divided into 7, 62, and 1 week, on account of some remarkable events which should take place at the close of these distinct periods.

§ 2. With respect to the second part of the question, viz. when did these 70 weeks begin? we shall receive a satisfactory answer by considering the second question, viz. the events which were to take place. To this consideration we will now proceed. 1. Within the first period mentioned, viz. 7 weeks, or. 49 years, from the going forth of the decree, the city of Jerusalem, and the walls thereof, should be rebuilt. The giving forth of the decree or commandment, therefore, is the beginning of the seven weeks. But as there are four decrees mentioned by Ezra and Nehemiah, there seems, at first sight, a difficulty, which is the decree alluded to in this

passage; but this difficulty will vanish, if we consider the different decrees. The first was made by Cyrus, in the first year of his reign. Ezra, ch. 1: 2, 3. The second by Darius Hystaspes, Ezra, ch. 6; and two by Artaxerxes Longimanus, the first in the seventh year of his reign, Ez. 7: 7, 13, 21; and the second in the twentieth year of his reign, Neh. 2: 1, 6-8. Now, in the first three decrees that were made, the building of the Lord's house only is mentioned; the building of the city and the walls is mentioned only in the last decree, and that, therefore, must be the epoch where the seventy weeks commence.


§ 3. Thus we see the first event to take place, was the building of the city and the walls of Jerusalem. We will now consider, 2. the events to take place during the second period mentioned, viz. 62 weeks after the expiration of the preceding 7 weeks; i. e. 69 weeks, or 483 years from the decree to build the city and the walls of Jerusalem. first event, which was to take place at the close of this period, is the most remarkable and the most important that ever took place, viz. the death of the Messiah, or the work of redemption which he was to accomplish. As this passage contains a prophetical description of the work of the Messiah, I hope my dear Benjamin will give me leave to dwell for a few moments on the subject. I will show, first, that the Messiah is meant here; and secondly, the manner in which he was to accomplish the work.

§ 4. That the person said to be cut off, is the promised Messiah, will appear, 1. From the titles given to him. He is called Messiah. This name was well known among the Jews, and that in the time of Jesus Christ, as belonging to that great person spoken of by all the prophets; it is used from 60 to 70 times in the Targums. Now, if this prediction does not belong to him, it will be hard to find another place where it is absolutely, and by way of eminency, given unto him; and as we find the Jews were acquainted with that name, John, 1: 47; 4: 25, they must have learned it from

some of the prophecies, and it can hardly be conceived from whence, unless from that now before us. The next title is Nagid, a prince; by the same name Messiah is called, Isa. 55: 4, "Behold, I have given him for a prince and a commander to the people;" this passage is applied to the Messiah in Targum Jonathan. Again, he is called "the Most Holy," "to anoint the Most Holy." This cannot mean the temple, for it is the unanimous belief of our Rabbins that the holy oil was one of the five things wanting in the second temple. It is therefore applied by most of our Jewish writers to the Messiah. Ab. Ezra in loco. Moses Gerundensis in loco. Abarbanel in Wagenseil. Mantissa de LXX. Hedemad. Dan. p. 64.

2. It appears also from the testimony of our ancient Rabbins, that the Messiah is the person spoken of in this prediction. Abarbanel says, "to anoint the Most Holy is to be explained of the Messiah our Righteousness; for as the children of Israel, in general, are called holy, as it is said, 'ye shall be holy,' again, 'Israel is holy unto the Lord;' therefore the Messiah, who is to be more holy than all Israel, is called the Most Holy.'" Myanai Hyshua. fol. 64, c. 1, 2. R. Nachmun, in loco, saith, "the Most Holy is the Messiah, for he is more holy than the children of David." R. Azaria in meor enayin P. 3, ch. 43, saith, "To seal vision and prophecy, and to bring in Messiah our Righteousness." Maimonides also acknowledges that the period of time revealed to Daniel by Gabriel, relates to the Messiah; but that the Rabbins of blessed memory have said, "let the bones of him rot who attempts to compute the end;" and the reason they assigned, is, that because the common people, finding the end is come, i. e. the time specified is elapsed, might be led into an error to think that the Messiah has come already. Iggereth Hatteman fol. 125. c. 4.

$5. 3. It is still more evident that the person spoken of, in the prediction before us, is the Messiah, from the work ascribed to him. The different parts of the Messiah's work

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are thus described: 1. "To finish the transgression," or rather to restrain, restrict, or shut up. "The seed of the woman was to bruise the head of the serpent," "the Son of God was to be manifested to destroy the works of the devil." To take away the usurped dominion of that tyrant, and to set up a kingdom of holiness and love in the hearts of men, so that where sin and death had reigned, righteousness and life might reign through grace. This was to be effected by the doctrine, the spirit, and the grace of the Messiah. 2. “To make an end of sin," or to seal up sins. The common use and design of sealing a letter or parcel is, to conceal and hide its contents. Thus the metaphor used to seal up sins, i. e. to hide and conceal them, is to express the pardon of sin. Hence, Jehovah is said to "cast our sins behind his back, to cover them, and to cast them into the bottom of the sea." Hence, when sin is pardoned, it is sought for and not found, as that which is sealed up. The former expression refers to the power, this to the guilt of sin. Both belong to the work of the Messiah. 3. "To make reconciliation for iniquity," i. e. to propitiate, to appease, to make an atonement, to satisfy divine justice by the sacrifice of himself, and so to make peace. It is observable that there are three different words used, "Transgression, sin, and iniquity," perhaps to show that all manner of sins were to be expiated, pardoned, and restrained by the Messiah. Hence, the apostle, speaking of the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, saith, "it cleanses us from all sins." 4. "To bring in an everlasting righteousness." By our sins we lost the favor of God, became children of wrath, and heirs of hell; and God might justly have suffered us to perish with the devil and his angels. We have nothing of our own to plead; for, as the prophet saith, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isa. 66: 4. Hence, with the pious Psalmist, we may well say, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified," Ps. 143: 2; and we are assured by

another inspired writer, that "by the

shall no flesh be justified," Rom. 3: 20;

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deeds of the law and if left to men

or angels, Job's question could never have received a satisfactory answer : How should man be just with God?" Job, 9: 2, or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" Job, 25: 4. But blessed be the Lord God of our salvation! who hath laid our help upon one mighty to save. "In me," saith Jehovah Messiah, "shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and glory," Isa. 45 25. Hence, the Messiah is called "Jehovah our righteousness," Jer. 23 6. 33 16. By his life and death, doing and suffering the whole will of God, Messiah has wrought out a perfect righteousness, which is "unto all and upon all them that believe," Rom. 3: 22. This is an "everlasting righteousness." It was provided in the everlasting counsel of Jehovah, and its blessed effects will be enjoyed in everlasting ages to come. 5. Another part of the Messiah's work was "to seal vision and prophecy;" i. e. to consummate and establish; to finish and conclude. All the visions and pro phecies had a reference to the Messiah. For the law and the prophets were until John, and then they were to be fulfilled. The spirit of prophecy also was to cease. After the Messiah shall have fulfilled all that was predicted concerning him, he would seal up and put an end to visions and prophecy. Such is the work which the Messiah was to accomplish, and to qualify him for it he was to be anointed. To be anointed, not with material oil, which ceased with the destruction of Solomon's temple, but with the Holy Ghost, the oil of gladness, which he was to receive without measure, above his fellows. I hope, my dear Benjamin, you will particularly take notice how clearly it does appear from this prediction, as well as from many other passages of Scripture, (which will be considered hereafter,) and from the covenant engagement of the Messiah, which has already been stated, that the great end and design of his first advent was entirely of a spiritual nature, and not

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