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Many Christians see Daniel 9 as an allusion to Jesus. To do so they define "The anointed one" to be the messiah. The Jewish perspective is that he is referring to Cyrus, see here, here and here.

My question is as follows: Can we know what the accepted interpretations were pre Jesus? Or is all of the commentary post-Jesus?

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    Whatever interptetarion they give to this pasuk makes no difference to us. Perhaps they think that "with an outstretched Arm" in Devarim 11 (sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.11?lang=bi&aliyot=0) refers to their false moshiach because he liked to stretch his arms out. What do we care? – Josh K Jan 29 '20 at 22:56
  • some depends on whether you think that the gemara is a compilation of conversations dating from before the common era, or if it is all from post. – rosends Jan 30 '20 at 0:20
  • @BigMouth: Cyrus was both the anointed king (v. 25) and the anointed one who was cutted off (v. 26)? Seems pretty confuse this. – Renato Grun Jan 30 '20 at 14:35
  • The Greek Septuagint has anointing rather than anointed in verse 26. – Lucian Feb 3 '20 at 5:47
  • I think this is a valuable question, but it need not be limited to Daniel 9. You could ask this question about Isaiah 7:14, Psalm 22:16, and in fact every single other passuk that Christians interpret in a christological fashion. – Shimon bM Jan 30 at 20:47
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Note, that there are 27 books in the Greek Testament, and NONE of them quote Daniel 9!

Not any of the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

Not in the letters of Paul. Not in the letters of Peter.

Apparently, no one in first century Christianity thought that it was important enough to mention an alleged prophecy about the exact year their Messiah was going to get killed. This implies, that even in the early years of POST Jesus, Daniel 9 was still not interpreted as being about Jesus.

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    While this is valuable information, it doesn't address the question as posed. – DonielF Jan 29 '20 at 23:35
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    The OP assumes that all of the Xtian commentary, post Jesus, understands Daniel to be about Jesus. I demonstrated by omission, that this notion is fallacious. – IsraelReader Jan 29 '20 at 23:45
  • Yes, but pushing off that presumption doesn't invalidate OP's question of "Can we know what the accepted interpretations were pre Jesus? Or is all of the commentary post Jesus?" See further judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2179 – DonielF Jan 29 '20 at 23:54
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    @DonielF, the point is, that if there was messiah-related commentary at the time, the gospel writers would almost certainly have made use of it. They made references to many other prophecies, so that they didn't use Daniel 9 is a good indication that such interpretations didn't exist. – Ray Butterworth Jan 30 '20 at 0:23
  • @Ray I understand what he's saying. I don't see how that answers the question asking for pre-Christian interpretations of the verse, which obviously would make no mention of Jesus. – DonielF Jan 30 '20 at 4:19
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For clarification: the anointed one in Daniel 9:25 and the other one in 9:26 are different. You seems to say that the Jewish perspective (on the entire chapter?) refers to Cyrus, but this is true only to 9:25. The one that is cutted off (in v. 26) is identified as being Agrippa per Malbim, Metzudot David and Rashi.


Given that oto haish was born in 4 BCE, the only reference made to the "seventy weeks" and the "anointed one" of Daniel 9:26 prior to that would be the essenes. A few references are found in their sources and according to the Testament of Levi and Pseudo-Ezekiel Document (4 Q 384-390) their eschatological figure would appear between 3 BCE and 2 CE, later than Jesus' birth.

The following is a summary of interpretations of the "seventy weeks" and the "anointed one" of Daniel 9:26 in other pre-Common Era sources. Both are non-messianic:

  1. Pseudo-Demetrius (2nd century BCE or later) = the anointed one who is cutted off in v. 26 refers to Onias III.

  2. Septuagint (200 BCE to 50 CE) = the anointed one who is cut off in v. 26 refers to Onias III.

Source: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24607004?seq=1

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  • The source you posted seems to say the exact opposite!! namely that pre-christ the classicinterpretation WAS for the messiah! – Big Mouth Jan 31 '20 at 18:10
  • Did you read the entire article I linked and my answer? I did mention that the essenes interpreted as messianic (read my 2nd par. again) but that their messiah would arrive after the xtian messiah. I also added 2 pre-xtian interpretations and they did not interpreted as messianic at all. So I don't know what do you mean by saying that my answer is opposite of my source. – Renato Grun Jan 31 '20 at 19:26
  • The first paragraph from the link says there is a strong messianic tradition even among Pharisees. Am I misunderstanding something? – Big Mouth Jan 31 '20 at 20:19
  • 3. You're omitting two important calculations given in the article: The Assumption of Moses (written 4 BCE or a few years thereafter), which "expects a great intervention of God around the turn of the first century B.C. and the first century A.D., just as the Essenes did" (p. 529); and the Talmudic calculation of AM 4000 or 4321, the latter of which must have been known to the author of the Assumption of Moses and therefore existed earlier than it (this seems to be the one that @BigMouth was interested in) – b a Feb 1 '20 at 17:34
  • @Big Mouth: The earliest "pharisaic" work cited by the author is "The assumption of Moses" (an apocryphal work) dated to 1 CE, after the limit you posed in your question. Their messianic figure would appear, as the essenes expected, from 1 to 5 years after the xtian messiah was born. – Renato Grun Feb 1 '20 at 20:26
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There is the DSS manuscript 11Q13/11QMelch, in which the Essenes quote from Daniel directly, written at least 100 years prior to the birth of Jesus, giving an explicitly messianic interpretation of the seventy weeks prophecy.

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