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phecy is still future, and will be accomplished in weeks of days. But this view has been already sufficiently refuted. All internal and external evidence, and the consent of nearly every expositor, whether Jewish or Christian, in every age of the Church, unite to condemn it as a rash and fruitless attempt to innovate in this cardinal prophecy of our Lord's sufferings.
Mr. Maitland, therefore, with more wisdom, and Mr. Burgh also, allows the fulfilment of the prophecy in terms of years. But he rejects the other premise of the argument, and maintains that the word shabua is perfectly ambiguous, and denotes merely a seven, whether of days or of years. By this means the argument seems, at first sight, to be effectually turned aside. Mr. Maitland endeavours to strengthen his reply by the further remark, that the Jews did not commonly employ the word shabua to denote seven days, but mentioned the number of days in full; and that the Misnic writers do employ the same word week repeatedly, without
distinctive addition, to denote seven years. A collateral controversy arose with regard to the Hebrew points, and their influence in determining the true sense; but it is needless to attempt a summary, since the main subject was left entirely unaffected.
Now, in reality, it matters very little to the argument whether we receive or reject the proposed translation. Let us examine the question on either view.
1. First, let us grant that a shabua, according to its derivation, may denote equally a seven of days or a
Mr. Maitland and Dr. Mac Caul, who agrees with him on this point, allow that it is used only as a word of time, and occurs in these two senses alone.. It is also clear, from the nature of the intervals, that it must have been far more frequently employed to denote the shorter period; and, in fact, no instance occurs in Scripture, beside this prophecy, where it has any other meaning
What, then, will be the state of the argument? Of the two senses, a seven of days and a seven of years,
the former will be the most frequent and usual the latter occasional and comparatively rare. The two differ from each other in the proportion of a year to a day. The prophecy rejects the shorter and adopts the longer reckoning. Now if the terms of the other periods in Daniel were stated in the usual and literal expressions, this analogy would not be enough to warrant us in extending them on the same scale. But this is not true in one single instance. Their form is such as in every case to imply a meaning distinct from the bare letter, and longer in duration. If so, on Mr. Maitland's own hypothesis, the seventy weeks supply just the key which is needed, and warrant our interpreting the others on the maxim of a day for a year.
2. But this reasoning is ex abundanti. For, after all the laboured efforts of Mr. Maitland to overturn it, the argument of Mede, repeated by Mr. Faber, continues unimpaired. The question is " not the etymology of the word shabua, but its use." In every case where it occurs elsewhere in Scripture, which is about ten times, it denotes a week of days. It is clearly quite irrelevant to say that the sacred writers more often use the phrase seven days to denote the same period. The question is not whether shabua or another phrase is more frequently used for a common week; but whether shabua is employed in the Scripture for seven years, except in this prophecy. No such instance can be found. And hence it follows, that the meaning of seven years, which it bears in this place, is not by the ordinary rules of grammar, but by an extraordinary rule of prophetic applica
tions, in which a miniature period is used as the
grammatical veil for a larger interval of time.
The argument from the usage of the Misnic writers is equally unavailing. The Jews have generally understood this prophecy of weeks of years. And hence their usage of the word, in later times, would naturally be affected by the prophecy itself. So a hundred passages might be found in Christian divines where the word week is used to denote seven years, by a phraseology derived from this very passage. And Jewish writers would be still more likely to fall into such a mode of expression, from the national ordinance of the shemittahs, or sabbatic years.
The proof seems therefore as firm as ever. The phrase, had it occurred elsewhere, and by the common usage of Scripture, would have denoted weeks of days: but, in fact, it denotes weeks of years. In the one case, which has been clearly fulfilled, the prophetic sense of the words of time is larger than their common meaning elsewhere, in the proportion of a day to a year. Extend this maxim consistently to the others, and the necessary result is the year-day interpretation.
3. There is, however, another circumstance, which seems to have met with no distinct notice, and which greatly confirms the previous reasoning. Four terms are employed in almost every nation, in the ordinary calendar of time the day, the week, the month, and the year. These form a natural and ascending series, by which all periods are most conveniently expressed, and complete the system of popular and colloquial measurement of time. The case was evidently the same ainong the Jews as with ourselves. Now of these four periods, the day, the month, and the year (Dan. xii. 11; Rev. ix. 5, xi. 2, ix. 15), occur elsewhere in these dates of the symbolical prophecies. But the week occurs
here only. It is evidently needful to complete the system; and being added, it does complete a regular calendar of sacred and prophetic times. But the week, whether we render it a week or a seven, does not denote a common week, but a period of seven years. And since it forms one element in this fourfold ascending scale, it does, by a natural inference, raise all the others in the same proportion. The prophetic dates, which otherwise would remain a heap of disjointed fragments, by this key become at once united into a consistent and harmonious scheme, mysterious yet definite, and combining the precision of a human calendar with the magnificent grandeur of a divine revelation.
This gradation of the prophetic periods will be more apparent, if we subjoin them in regular arrangement, according to the terms in which they are conveyed. (1). Three days and a half twice repeated (Rev. xi.)
Tribulation of ten days (Rev. ii. 10).
(Dan, xii. 11).
Seven weeks (ix. 25).
Seventy weeks (ix. 24).
Forty and two months (Rev. xi. 2, xiii. 5). (4). Day, month, and year (Rev. ix. 15).
A time (xpóvos)-(Rev. vi. 11, X. 6).
Rev. xii. 14). [(5). Six hundred and sixty-six, unit undetermined
(Rev. xiii. 8).
Two thousand three hundred, the same (Dan.
viii. 14)]. There are all the marks in this list of a connected and regular series. And since the weeks are sevens of years, the conclusion can scarcely be avoided, that the others also are to be reckoned, consistently with this pattern, and on the same scale.
II. THE SENTENCE ON ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS is as econd testimony, equally distinct, to the same principle of interpretation. It will be convenient to quote the passages at length.
Num. xiii. 25. “And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.”
Num. xiv. 33, 34. “And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days, in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years; and ye shall know my breach of promise."
1. The nature of the evidence contained in this passage has been placed in a clear light by Mr. Faber, in the “Provincial Letters." The twelve spies, chosen one from each tribe, represented in miniature the nation of Israel. And this explains, it may be added, why the whole congregation are said to have searched the land. That search, lasting through forty days, represented also in miniature the forty years of their wandering in the wilderness. Each day in the search represented a year of wandering; and the miniature period was a typical prophecy of the forty years' journeying which ensued.
We have thus, from the lips of God himself, the clear relation established in this notable instance of chrono