WHO IS “MESSIAH THE PRINCE”?
We read in Dan. 9:25, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks….”. This prophecy has many interpretations. Some have suggested that the title “Messiah the Prince” does not refer to Christ, but refers to someone else. This paper is an attempt to prove from Scripture that the title “Messiah the Prince” does indeed refer to Jesus Christ.
The Hebrew word translated “Messiah” in Dan. 9:25 is “ma-shee agh”. It is used 38 times and is translated “anointed” in all but the two occurrences in Dan. 9 where it is translated “Messiah”.
It is used of priests as in Lev. 4:3, “If the priest that is anointed…..”.
It is used of Saul in I Sam. 24:6-7, “And he (David) said unto his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed……so David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul….”.
It is used of David in II Sam. 22:51 as part of his song of praise, “He is the tower of salvation for His king: and sheweth mercy to His anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore“. This could also be, by extension, a reference to Christ since He was of the seed of David.
It is used of Israel in I Chron. 16:17-22, “And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, …..and when they went from nation to nation….He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, He reproved kings for their sakes, saying ‘Touch not Mine anointed‘….”.
It is used of Cyrus in Is. 45:1, “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus….”
And it is used of Jesus Christ in I Sam. 2:10, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His king, and exalt the horn of His Anointed“. Let us look at this verse carefully so that we may be sure that it is Christ that is being referred to here as “His anointed”.
Note that the Lord’s adversaries will be “broken to pieces”. In Ps. 2:9 we read, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them to pieces like a potters’ vessel”. Who will do this? Verse 7 gives us the answer to that question, “…….The Lord hath said unto Me, thou art My Son; This day have I begotten thee“. Ps. 2:9 is an obvious reference to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. I Sam. 2:10 is a parallel verse, therefore it too speaks of Jesus Christ. In short, in I Sam. 2:10 Christ is referred to as “His Anointed“.
Consider also the phrase, “out of heaven shall He thunder upon them” . Only Christ will come out of heaven and thunder upon His enemies.
We have learned that Christ was indeed referred to as the “Anointed” but so were others. Therefore, this does not prove that the word “anointed” is used of Christ in Dan. 9:25.
The Hebrew word translated “prince” in Dan. 9:25 is “nagid” and it too is used of several people in the Old Testament.
It is used of David in I Sam. 25:30, “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done unto my lord (David) according to all the good that He hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel”.
It is used of Solomon in I Kings 1:35, “Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne: for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah”.
It is used of Hezekiah in II Kings 20:5, “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of My people….”.
It is used of Tyrus in Ezek. 28:2, “Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus…..”
It is even used of the antichrist in Dan. 9:26b, “and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…..”.
And it is used of Jesus Christ in Is. 55:4. I will quote from verse 3, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a Witness to the people, a Leader and Commander to the people”.
Let us consider the phrase, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. “. The “of” in this phrase is the Genitive of Relation, i.e. “pertaining to”. So it is an everlasting covenant pertaining to David. Let us consider that covenant. We read in II Sam. 7:12, “And when thy days (David’s) be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels and I will establish his kingdom”. This promise was made to David, but the subject of the promise, or covenant, is Christ, David’s “seed”. So when we read in verse 5, “I have given Him for Witness….” the subject is not David, it is David’s Seed, Christ.
What we have learned is that the Hebrew word translated “Prince” in Dan. 9:25 is used of Christ and of others also. So how can we tell to Whom the phrase “Messiah the Prince” refers?
MESSIAH THE PRINCE
While it is true that the Hebrew words translated “Messiah” and “Prince” are used of others beside Christ, it is equally true that the phrase “Messiah the Prince” taken in its entirety is used only one time, i.e. in Dan. 9:25. I believe that there are three reasons that we may conclude that the phrase refers to Christ.
1) If it is used only one time, it must be used of only one Person.
2) This Person came in the 69th week of the 70 weeks. Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ came at that point. Scripture does not tell of anyone else coming in the 69th week.
3) This Person was “cut off” according to Dan. 9:26. The Hebrew word translated “cut off” can be used of putting someone to death and we know, of course, that Saul, David and Solomon did die. But “cut off” does not always mean to be put to death, it is often used of being cut off from one’s people or from the land. (Please see the paper The Seventy Weeks for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.) Jesus Christ is the only Person referred to as an “anointed ruler” Who Scriptures tell us was “cut off”.
The only reason cited above that might be called into question is the second argument, i.e., this Person came in the 69th of the seventy weeks. The reason this might be called into question is because some have suggested that the 70 weeks have not yet begun. Their reasoning is that because there is no record in the Bible of the commandment to rebuild the city of Jerusalem we cannot prove that the commandment has been issued. We will examine that objection.
THE COMMANDMENT TO RESTORE AND TO BUILD JERUSALEM
As mentioned above, there is no Scriptural record of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. There are two possible options as to what that might mean: 1) The commandment was never given, therefore the 70 weeks have not yet begun, or 2) the commandment was given but not recorded and the 70 weeks have begun.
Let’s examine option one, i.e. because the commandment was not recorded, it was not given and therefore the 70 weeks have not yet begun. The difficulty with that view is that those who hold it say that the 70 weeks will begin at a yet future time. But because there is no record of the commandment there is no evidence of it being given in the past or in the future. It is true that Jerusalem will be restored when Christ returns to establish His kingdom, but the prophecy of Dan. 9 specifically states that the restoration of Jerusalem is to precede Messiah being cut off. We know that Christ has already been cut off therefore a future restoration of the city must follow it, not precede it.
Now let us examine option two, i.e., the commandment was given but not recorded and the 70 weeks did begin. We read in Neh. 2:5 of Nehemiah’s request to go to Jerusalem and build the city. “And I said unto the king, ‘If it please the king, and if thy servant has found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah unto the city of my father’s sepulcher that I may build it'”. The king’s recorded response was to ask Nehemiah how long he would be gone. Then we read in verse 6b, “So it pleased the king to send me….”.
We have learned that Nehemiah asked permission of the king to build the city and obviously that permission was granted. In my opinion, logic dictates that Nehemiah’s restoration implies the fulfillment of Dan. 9:25 where we read of the commandment being sent forth to build and restore the city. I also believe that we may conclude from the fact that Nehemiah did restore and build Jerusalem that the commandment was indeed given by God through the king to Nehemiah, even though it was not recorded. An examination of the timing of Nehemiah’s request will show the reason the commandment was not recorded and we will be able to conclude with certainty that, even though the commandment was not recorded, Dan. 9:25 (i.e. the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem) was indeed issued.
WHY THE COMMANDMENT WAS NOT RECORDED
The king to whom Nehemiah made his request to restore Jerusalem is said in Neh. 2:1 to be “Artaxerxes”. The note in the Companion Bible tells us the following about Artaxerxes: “Artaxerxes = the great king, An appellative (like Pharoah, Czar &c.) used of several kings of Persia”. Who was this king from whom Nehemiah received permission to restore Jerusalem? The paper on this web-site called “A Lesson In The Study Of The Persian Kings Of God’s Wisdom And Love For His Own“ will show from Scripture that this king was Ahasuerus, Esther’s husband and father of king Cyrus.
King Cyrus is the king that freed the Israelites from captivity and in so doing ended the 70 year lo-ammi period (see Ezra 1:1-4). That means, of course, that Cyrus’ father, Ahasuerus, reigned while Israel was still lo-ammi, i.e. before his son Cyrus fulfilled the prophecy which ended the 70 year captivity. So when Nehemiah appeared before Ahasuerus to make his request to restore Jerusalem, Israel was still lo-ammi. I suggest therefore, that the reason the commandment to restore Jerusalem was not recorded is that God’s workings on behalf of Israel were hidden while His People were lo-ammi. This suggestion is not without precedence. That precedence is found in the book of Esther.
The book of Esther is the story of a young Jewish woman who was carried away captive by the Persians when Jerusalem was destroyed, and later became the wife of King Ahasuerus. The book tells of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews and of Esther’s courage in approaching her husband the king disregarding his rule that such an act could mean her death. That act of courage saved her people from destruction.
What is so interesting in regard to the commandment to restore the city of Jerusalem is that God’s name, i.e. “Jehovah” is hidden in the book of Esther. That is to say, it appears but only in acrostics. Appendix number 60 in the Companion Bible gives all the acrostics that show God’s name hidden in the book of Esther.
My point is that just as in the book of Esther where God was obviously working to protect His People, even while they were not His People, so too He was working through Ahasuerus to allow Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem. In both cases, His ways were hidden. In the book of Esther His name was hidden in acrostics, in Nehemiah permission was granted for Nehemiah to fulfill the commandment of Dan. 9:25, but the commandment itself was not recorded.
The title “Messiah the Prince” or “Anointed Ruler” is used of only One Person.
Messiah the Prince came in the 69th week of the 70 weeks. Jesus Christ came in the 69th week of the 70 weeks, i.e. the 69th week from the commandment to restore Jerusalem. The fact that the commandment was not recorded is perfectly consistent with the fact that Israel was lo-ammi at the time it was issued.
“Messiah” was cut off. We are told in scripture that Jesus Christ was cut off.
Jesus Christ is “Messiah the Prince”.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org