Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Darius, the Mede. (Chap. v. 31.) If his reign had commenced at the same time with that of Cyrus, at Babylon, as it is commonly supposed, Daniel would have been under no anxiety respecting the people's liberation, as it took place that year, (Calmet) though perhaps not at the commencement. (Haydock) --- Cyrus had now ruled over the Persians above two years, so that the first of Darius at Babylon agrees with the third of his reign over his countrymen. (Chap. x.) (Calmet) --- Assuerus, or Achasuerus, is not a proper name, but means "a great prince." (Worthington)
Jerusalem. He read attentively the sacred volumes, particularly the prophecy of Jeremias xxv. 11. and xxix. 10. Knowing that many predictions were conditional, he was afraid lest this might be so; notwithstanding a part of it seemed to be verified by the death of Baltassar. (Calmet) --- Darius had reigned in Persia before. He only ruled part of a year, at Babylon, the 70th of the captivity. (2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 22.) Daniel perceiving that the time of the Jews' deliverance was at hand, prayed with great zeal and confidence. (Worthington)
Covenant. God never breaks it first. (Calmet) --- Deus sua gratia semel justificatos non deserit, nisi ab eis prius diseratur. (Council of Trent, Session vi. 11.)
Mercy. Thou art just, (verse 7.) and sovereignly merciful. He speaks in the name of all. Some had continued faithful; but the number was comparatively inconsiderable. (verse 11.)
Fallen, by drops, (stillavit. Deuteronomy xxvii. 13. &c.) (Haydock) like an inundation.
Truth, in executing thy promises and menaces.
Against. Hebrew: "according to." --- Justice. Septuagint: "mercy." Let not the enemy boast that he has ruined thy temple, &c. (verse 17.) (Calmet)
The man Gabriel. The angel Gabriel in the shape of a man. (Challoner) (Chap. viii. 16.) --- Sacrifice, between the two vespers, (Numbers xxviii. 4.) after the ninth hour, which was a time of prayer. (Acts iii. 1.) (Calmet)
Desires. His zeal and mortification merit this title. (Worthington) --- He was an object of God's love. (St. Jerome) (Chap. x. 11. and xi. 8.) (Calmet)
Seventy weeks (viz. of years, or seventy times seven, that is, 490 years) are shortened; that is, fixed and determined, so that the time shall be no longer. (Challoner) --- This is not a conditional prophecy. Daniel was solicitous to know when the seventy years of Jeremias would terminate. But something of far greater consequence is revealed to him, (Worthington) even the coming and death of the Messias, four hundred and ninety years after the order for rebuilding the walls should be given, (Calmet) at which period Christ would redeem the world, (Worthington) and abolish the sacrifices of the law. (Calmet) --- Finished, or arrive at its height by the crucifixion of the Son of God; (Theod.) or rather sin shall be forgiven. Hebrew: "to finish crimes to seal (cover or remit) sins, and to expiate iniquity." --- Anointed. Christ is the great anointed of God, the source of justice, and the end of the law and of the prophets, (Acts x. 38. and 1 Corinthians i. 30; Romans x. 4.) (Calmet) as well as the pardoner of crimes. These four characters belong only to Christ. (Worthington)
Word, &c. That is, from the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, when, by his commandment, Nehemias rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, 2 Esdras ii. From which time, according to the best chronology, there were just sixty-nine weeks of years, the is 483 years, to the baptism of Christ, when he first began to preach and execute the office of Messias. (Challoner) --- The prophecy is divided into three periods: the first of forty-nine years, during which the walls were completed; (they had been raised in fifty-two days, (2 Esdras vi. 15.) but many other fortifications were still requisite) the second of four hundred and thirty-four years, at the end of which Christ was baptized, in the fifteenth of Tiberius, the third of three years and a half, during which Christ preached. In the middle of this last week, the ancient sacrifices became useless, (Calmet) as the true Lamb of God had been immolated. (Theod.) --- A week of years denotes seven years, as Leviticus xxv. and thus seventy of these weeks would make four hundred and ninety years. (Ven. Bede, Rat. temp. 6 &c.; Worthington) --- Origen would understand 4900 years, and dates from the fall of Adam to the ruin of the temple. Marsham begins twenty-one years after the captivity commenced, when Darius took Susa, and ends in the second of Judas, when the temple was purified. This system would destroy the prediction of Christ's coming, and is very uncertain. Hardouin modifies it, and acknowledges that Christ was the end of the prophecy, though it was fulfilled in figure by the death of Onias III. See 1 Machabees i. 19; Senens. Bib. viii. hזr. 12; and Estius. From Chapter vii. to xii. the changes in the East, till the time of Epiphanes, are variously described. After the angel had here addressed Daniel, the latter was still perplexed; (Chap. x. 1.) and in order to remove his doubts, the angel informs him of the persecution of Epiphanes, as if he had been speaking of the same event. We may, therefore, count forty-nine years from the taking of Jerusalem (when Jeremias spoke, Chap. vi. 19.) to Cyrus, the anointed, (Isaias xlv. 1.) who was appointed to free God's people. They would still be under the Persians, &c. for other four hundred and thirty-four years, and then Onias should be slain. Many would join the Machabees; the sacrifices should cease in the middle of the seventieth week, and the desolation shall continue to the end of it. Yet, though this system may seem plausible, it is better to stick to the common one, which naturally leads us to the death of Christ, dating from the tenth year of Artaxerxes. (Calmet) --- He had reigned ten years already with his father. (Petau.) --- All the East was persuaded that a great king should arise about the time; when our Saviour actually appeared, and fulfilled all that had been spoken of the Messias. (Calmet; Diss.) --- Ferguson says, "We have an astronomical demonstration of the truth of this ancient prophecy, seeing that the prophetic year of the Messias being cut off was the very same with the astronomical." In a dispute between a Jew and a Christian, at Venice, the Rabbi who presided....put an end to the business by saying, "Let us shut up our Bibles; for if we proceed in the examination of this prophecy, it will make us all become Christians." (Watson, let. 6.) --- Hence probably the Jews denounce a curse on those who calculate the times, (Haydock) and they have purposely curtailed their chronology. (Calmet) --- Times, &c. (angustia temporum) which may allude both to the difficulties and opposition they met with in building, and to the shortness of the time in which they finished the wall, viz. fifty-two days. (Challoner)
Weeks, or four hundred and thirty-eight years, which elapsed from the twentieth of Artaxerxes to the death of Christ, according to the most exact chronologists. (Calmet) --- Slain. Protestant: "cut off, but not for himself, and the people of the prince that," &c. (Haydock) --- St. Jerome and some manuscripts read, Christus, et non erit ejus. The sense is thus suspended. The Jews lose their prerogative of being God's people. (Calmet) --- Christ will not receive them again. (St. Jerome) -- Greek: "the unction shall be destroyed, and there shall not be judgment in him." The priesthood and royal dignity is taken from the Jews. (Theod.) --- The order of succession among the high priests was quite deranged, while the country was ruled by the Romans, and by Herod, a foreigner. (Calmet) --- Leader. The Romans under Titus. (Challoner; Calmet)
Many. Christ seems to allude to this passage. (Matthew xxvi. 28.) He died for all; but several of the Jews particularly, would not receive the proffered grace. (Calmet) --- Of the week, or in the middle of the week, &c. Because Christ preached three years and a half: and then, by his sacrifice upon the cross, abolished all the sacrifices of the law. (Challoner) --- Temple. Hebrew: "the wing," (Calmet) or pinnacle, (Haydock) the highest part of the temple. (Calmet) --- Desolation. Some understand this of the profanation of the temple by the crimes of the Jews, and by the bloody faction of the zealots. Others, of the bringing in thither the ensigns and standard of the pagan Romans. Others, in fine, distinguish three different times of desolation: viz. that under Antiochus; that when the temple was destroyed by the Romans; and the last near the end of the world, under antichrist. To all which, as they suppose, this prophecy may have a relation. (Challoner) --- Protestant: "For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even unto the consummation; and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate." (Haydock) --- The ruin shall be entire. (Calmet)