(Resolving a Daniel Issue)
In the last half of the book of Daniel, the Hebrew word tamid (TWOT 1157a – Strong’s 8548) is used five times (Daniel 8:11-13, 11:31, 12:11). Contrary to nearly one hundred places elsewhere in the Old Testament where it is either an adverb or an adjective, in Daniel, it is a noun.
- Expositors have found this word to be a rich source for creative opinion and speculation.
- Jewish sources suggest that tamid is generally translated as “always” and usually implies a “continuous offering.” That is not, however, the context of Daniel.
- Scholars identify its meaning outside of Daniel’s book with terms such as “regular,” “perpetual,” “eternal,” “unfailing regularity,” “uninterruptedly” or “never extinguished.”
When the Old Testament uses tamid as an adjective, it mainly relates to the morning and/or evening burnt offering. As an adverb it is usually associated with cultic duties or personal devotion.
The Septuagint, Masoretic and Theodotian translations have added the word “sacrifice” after the word “daily” (tamid) in Daniel, making it an adjective. “Sacrifice” is properly an italicized word noted in most translations, since it is understood as an addition to the text. This means that a scribe, in making the translation, interpreted that meaning into the book of Daniel – “daily sacrifice.”
- The question would then be: Was it a true noun in the original, suggesting that some thing exists that is perpetual, continuous or even eternal?
- Was it really a reference to the morning and evening sacrifice in its original intent?
Fascinating and disturbing are the Danelic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The sections where those five verses recorded “the daily” are missing.
Non-Biblical Dead Sea documents (Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, the Florigilium and the Temple Scroll, Thanksgiving Psalms, Manual of Discipline) all use tamid as an adjective or adverb but not as a noun.
In his review of Daniel, Gerhard H. Hasel concluded a Qumran referenced section by saying:
“Let us now summarize the results of this investigation of tamid in the OT. We have found that contextual connections and semantic associations demonstrate its usage as an adverb and an adjective. In the latter case it is used substantively in a genitive relationship which virtually causes it to function in the Hebrew language as a noun in the sense of ‘uninterrupted continuity’ or ‘unceasingness.’” Was this pushing an opinion to force an interpretation?
This is where the challenge must begin. Within the Old Testament Scriptures – and certainly assumed to be affirmed in the New Testament – might there be an “uninterrupted continuity,” “unceasingness” or “perpetual” issue that relates to the contextual narrative in Daniel?
- The answer is “Yes.” Of intrigue in Daniel, tamid is always preceded by an article “the” – ha tamid. It is “the perpetual,” “the continual” or the “everlasting.” The implication suggests that something is previously revealed in the Old Testament writings.
- Analyzing this issue requires that we begin with Christ’s Olivet discourse!
The Olivet Discourse
As Christ was leaving the Temple for the last time, He told the disciples as they were marveling at its structure: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).
- Shortly thereafter four of His disciples were alone with Jesus on the Mount of Olives.
- They asked three questions (24:3); (1) When shall these things be? (2) What will be the sign of your coming? and (3) What will be the sign of the end of the world?
Jesus answered all three queries. The “when” or “timing” answer was contextually brief and informative, especially when linked with Luke 21:28-32. But there was something dramatic that He noted in the middle of this prophetic discourse. There He inserted an “editorial comment,” a “commentary insert,” before completing the prophecy.
- It is in this block of verses (Matthew 24:15-22) that a minor literal meaning for the Jewish people is intended and a major eschatological message unfolds.
- “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matthew 24:15).
The implication: Daniel contains the “rest of the story,” especially related to “time” – the “when” part. Mark and Luke note:
- “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains” (Mark 13:14). Luke embellishes this further:
- “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20).
Intriguingly, wherever “abomination” and/or “desolation” are used in Daniel, “the daily” (ha tamid) is present in a unique link.
Originally, the Jewish phrase “abomination of desolation” was an expression of contempt towards the heathen deity Zeus or Baal. The pagans referred to Zeus as “Lord of Heaven.” The Jews referred to him as siqqus somem – the “abomination which desolates.” The sky, celestial bodies, especially the sun, were part of that worship.
We will find that Daniel’s “abomination” relates to a worship that God didn’t command, tied to the sun.
The word “desolation” (somen) is found in seven places in Daniel. It simply means nothing is left. Except for one (9:27), all the references relate to the consequences of an abomination or sin. This word is a helpful key in our quest to understand “the daily,” which is also associated with somen.
Both Mark and Matthew, as they refer us to Daniel say: “let the reader understand.”
- That means that as the Spirit leads, it would eventually become clear.
- But – it is important to note that everywhere the words “abomination” and “desolation” are linked, that vision is sealed till the “time of the end” (es qes):
- Collectively, they are part of the vision (ha hazon) messages that relate to the final battle between good and evil – Christ and Satan – in Daniel 8 through 12.
- That means: This area of Daniel could not be grasped until that “time of the end!”
What is that abomination (siggus)? Daniel 8:13 says: “transgression of desolation” (be•pesha somen – “the transgression desolation”). The pesha is a sin that God advised Daniel to allude to as an “abomination” from then on. It is the sin associated with that somen or desolation (“abomination of desolation”).
- Many expositors understand the “abomination of desolation” as relating to II Thessalonians 2:4. There the antichrist sits in God’s church, assuming the prerogatives of God.
- Paul (like Jesus in Matthew and Mark) associates this Danelic imagery with the end of the world.
In Matthew the tribulation appears to commence with the sanctuary desecration. Something happens to God’s church – His people – that signals a transition in time! That abomination begins a time of tribulation.
The first place in Daniel that addresses a sin related to “desolation” is in the Daniel 8:10-13 block of verses. This is when the time-of-the-end antichrist rebellion is prophetically addressed.
The Antichrist, Little Horn Issue
Within this “little horn” story (Daniel 9) is described his wrath against God’s people, which is clearly echoed in II Thessalonians 2:3-10. Daniel’s first mention of “the daily” is made in verse 11 of the chapter 8 narrative.
- There, it is clear that “the daily” is removed as part of several other hostile acts against the Prince of heaven.
- This is how that missive of Daniel 8 unfolds:
- The little horn appears to come from the north (vs 9).
- It has power against the host of heaven (vs 10) – mighty power not of himself (vs 24) (it comes from Satan). “Host” there refers to God’s people.
- He persecuted them (vs 10) – even destroyed the holy people (vs 24)
- He magnified himself to the Prince of that host (vs 11) – Shall magnify (arrogant over another) himself (vs 25)
- Then he stood up against the Prince of princes (Jesus) (vs 25)
- This all caused the “place” of the sanctuary to be cast down (vs 11). The place God’s church originally held was tarnished. Gabriel now describes how! This is key.
- Because of a “transgression,” truth was cast to the ground (vs 12). Now comes the clue: That “transgression” is what led to “desolation” (vs 13)!
- That little horn is later described as a fierce-looking king (vs 23; cf. 11:40) (vicious in heart) – at a time when “transgressors” (those promoting this abomination) are come in full (vs 23).
An antichrist, the “little horn,” not only tries to displace God, but Daniel alludes to how this is done! There is a “transgression” that casts truth to the ground. The church is filled with transgressors at that time. More than that, in Gabriel’s follow-up timing question (8:13), he asked Jesus “when” this (“transgression of desolation”) would happen. Gabriel uses a very specific word to render its meaning more precise: transgression or be•pesha (H) results in desolation. As we will see, be•pesha is the abomination.
Be•pesha is one of several Hebrew words for sin. It has a special connotation, which describes man committing a willful deed to spite God. It symbolizes rebellion or defiance by resisting God’s authority. It represents an act that goes “beyond the limits” of God’s law. It also describes sin against His covenant. All this was acknowledged as one of Israel’s great failures in Daniel’s prayer. In Daniel 9:24a Gabriel notes three sins that God’s people must address. Transgression (be•pesha) was the first! The broad issue of pesha is reviewed in the Theological Word Dictionary of the Old Testament under code 1846a,m.
We have the misdeeds of the little horn of Daniel 8 defying Jesus, His people and truth, taking over and destroying what the sanctuary or church really represents. Now Gabriel tells us how, in arrogance, that is done through his questions (8:13). The “sin” or “transgression” (pesha) challenges:
Summary of pesha:
- God’s authority
- God’s covenant
- God’s law
Where is the center of those three things? Right in the middle of the Decalogue – the fourth Commandment.
- God’s authority – He’s the Creator and Author of “time” (Genesis 1-2)
- God’s covenant – Observing the Sabbath is a sign of God’s perpetual covenant relationship with His people (Exodus 31:16-17).
- God’s law – The Decalogue reflects His character
This foundational apocalyptic prophecy shows that antagonism toward the Sabbath will be a pivotal issue at the end. Gabriel notes this to be “the transgression” that leads to “desolation.”
The Antichrist – Little Horn – Reaction to that “Daily”
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11).
In the context of the little horn setting itself up to be equal with the Prince of princes (8:11, 25), its motivation was to “prove oneself [itself].” The very next phrase describes that hostile action against the “daily.”
- Following the Qere, it literally says: “from him [from the Prince] is removed the continual.”
- The Kethib says: “from him [the Prince] it [the horn] removes the continual.”
- The daily is raised up and removed (huraym – H).
- He will halt the … continuality by taking it from God.
Therefore, “from him” (mimmennu – H) means that “the daily” (ha tamid – H) was taken from the heavenly Prince. Contextually, this is one way he tries to show equality with God. Something is taken from God – from Christ. How? The implication is that he is changing a time and a law (Daniel 7:25). That reference is linked to Daniel 8.
The storyline suggests this to be a key way to counter God and His people. It must be concluded that the “daily” is a major “asset” belonging to God. The translators’ addition of the word “sacrifice” after “the daily” counters every other place in Scripture where sacrifice or burnt offering is always tied to the word olat (sacrifice – H) (i.e., daily sacrifice). The word olat does not appear in Daniel.
The outcome of the little horn’s acts is a casting down (huslak – H) of the place of God’s sanctuary or church. This represents an act of destruction and/or redefining God’s church. It recalls: “And he shall speak great words against the most High and think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25a).
Daniel continues: “And an host was given him against the daily [sacrifice] by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered” (Daniel 8:12).
The syntax of this verse has been challenging to scholars. This is reflected in the various English translations. The hostility against “the daily” appears to be by the little horn’s people (“host”).
- The “was given” (tinnaten-al) means that this occurred by bringing something against the daily.
- What might the antichrist and his followers do against this “daily?”
- Their “rebellion” against the “continual,” be•pesha-al (by transgression) is noted as the cause, “on account of” (NASB; cf. NIV) from the preposition al of its removal.
This strongly suggests that defiance of something God has set as a “perpetual” is the direct reason the daily is removed (8:11), leading to the next thought: Truth is cast to the ground. Truth is destroyed.
- What truth?
- Contextually, the Sabbath – as will be further shown.
- The daily appears to imply the Sabbath.
Each verse builds on the previous one, helping to identify “the daily” (ha tamid). Gabriel now enters the scene with clarifying questions.
“Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily [sacrifice], and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” (Daniel 8:13).
“While the usual rendering of our common versions emphasizes length of time, the author notes that the Hebrew reads literally: ‘Until when …?’ The explicit emphasis in the audition focuses on the end of time, as Gabriel later informs Daniel (vss. 17, 19). Hence the real intent of the question is not an inquiry about duration (how long?), but about termination (until when?) and what would follow.”
There are two timing answers that Daniel is given to Gabriel’s question (quite important to observe):
- By Jesus – not until the 2300 Atonement years are completed (8:14) (at or after)
- By Gabriel – at the time of the end, the appointed time (8:17, 19) (defined in detail in Daniel 12)
Thus, the rebellion against the Sabbath, which destroys it, takes it away, even casts it to the ground, won’t finally occur until an “appointed time” right at the end.
- That is pointedly defined in Daniel 12:11.
- It begins at the onset of the 1290 days and leads to major persecution against God’s people shortly thereafter (12:7). (The three timing prophecies in that chapter mesh beautifully together.)
Gabriel then gives an additional perspective to the ad-matay (“until when”).
- “Until when” does this vision of the little horn occur with the specific “daily” issue? He then says within his questioning that be•pesha will lead to “desolation.”
- In 12:11 the removal of the daily and the setting up of an abomination of desolation occur simultaneously. The imagery suggests that the decree of setting up the abomination is dependent on the daily being removed.
“The phrase ‘the transgression causing horror (wehappesa somen)’ has no textual variant in the known Hebrew manuscripts. The word ‘transgression’ (pesa) is ‘the Old Testament’s most profound word for sin.’ It means basically a rebellion or revolt in the sense of acts in which ‘one breaks with God by taking away what is His, robbing, embezzling, seizing what is his.’”
- God’s reaction – desolation.
- That is at the final time of His wrath.
- “Nothing is left.”
We have come full circle from Christ’s initial demand that we go to Daniel for the rest of the story.
“The ‘abomination of desolation’ in Matthew 24:15 is a translation of the Greek phrase: to Ibdelygma tes eremoseos. The Greek phrasing of Matthew 24:15 closely resembles that of Daniel 11:31, bdelygma eremoseos (‘Theodotion’). It is identical with Daniel 12:11.”
What is the difference between Daniel 12:11 and 8:13? The latter defines the “sin” (transgression) that God later says is an “abomination.” That is God’s emotional reaction to this defiance against Himself. We now see further that this was related to the future of Christ’s day. In Daniel it is refined to the “time of the end,” after 2300 Atonement years.
The noun pesha comes from the basic verb root pasa – “to rebel against.” This is legitimately and contextually a revolt or sin against God’s authority. This will be an end-time issue.
We will look later at Daniel 11 and 12’s use of the word “daily,” but at this juncture, a basic matter needs to be addressed: “Is there an association with God’s authority, covenant and law which identifies the Sabbath as ‘perpetual’ or ‘continuous?’”
The Perpetual Sabbath Messages
The end point of Scripture’s Creation narrative is the seventh-day Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3). Then a summation statement is made:
- “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created” (Genesis 2:4 – NIV).
- That story included the inauguration of man and his Sabbath rest.
The late scholar Umberto Cassuto in his never-completed work, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, notes:
“The Torah, it seems to me, purports to say this: Israel’s Sabbath day shall not be as the Sabbath of the heathen nations; it shall not be the day of the full moon, or any other day connected with the phases of the moon, but it shall be the seventh day (this enables us to understand why this particular name, the seventh day, is emphasized here), the seventh in perpetual order, independent and free from any association with the signs of the heavens and any astrological concept.”
- The perpetual nature of the seventh-day rest comes from its origin as a divine declaration.
- It is now a time to capture the wonders that Adam and Eve were afforded in Eden
- And what will be enjoyed in the new earth.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14).
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:23).
Though in the first day of creation light was “formed,” the celestial lights were still non-existant. Yet God made a distinction between light and darkness and noted “there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis 1:3).
- That designation was true for all the first six creation days.
- But – on the seventh day God did not make this declaration.
- There was no “closure” for that day.
This suggests that it remained a perpetual time of holiness and rest. Paul notes: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).
- Though he used katapausis for “rest” elsewhere in this chapter, in this verse it is sabbatismos. This is the only place in the Bible this particular word is used. It means “observance of the seventh-day Sabbath” as in “keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.”
- This rescues the Sabbath as a continuation of God’s covenant relationship with His people (Exodus 31:16). It refers to the seventh-day Sabbath (cf. Exodus 16:30).
- It “remains.”
Jewish writings often reflect eternity without that evening and morning.
“But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder” (Zechariah 14:7).
The implication is that on that day light will continuously emanate from the Lord Himself.
- “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:19-20).
- “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
Such reality is seen in John’s representation of the New Jerusalem.
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof…. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there” (Revelation 21:23, 25).
“The daily” (ha tamid) that is here under scrutiny again strongly supports the “perpetual” purpose of the seventh-day Sabbath made for mankind!
- “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16).
- “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17).
The ultimate end to God’s covenants, old and new, is the holiness of His people. He will be their God and we will be His people. The Sabbath is symbolic of that eternal holy restoration [Exodus 31:2-13, Deuteronomy 5:15, Leviticus 11:44-45, Ezekiel 36:23, Galatians 3:7 (cf. Isaiah 56:3-7), I Peter 2:13-16].
- The Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabaat; the Greek is sabbaton. Both mean rest.
- That rest remains as a perpetual, sanctifying gift to man.
Paul exhorts the New Testament believers:
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:11).
The perpetual nature of the Sabbath is provocatively outlined by Larry L. Lichtenwalter, whom we liberally quote here:
“The seventh day brings the creation week to an end and, therefore, to its goal. This day alone is sanctified. In doing so, God endowed this day with a special relationship to Himself, who alone is intrinsically holy (1 Sam 2:2; Lev 11:44; Isa 6:3; cf. Rev 15:4, 4:8). Thus in Scripture, God, holiness, creation, and Sabbath are integrally linked (Gen 2:1-4a; Exod 20:8-11; Isa 43:15; Rev 4:8-11). It is significant that the biblical concept of the holy first appears in relation to the Sabbath…. [p. 293]
“Interestingly, in a vision replete with both temple and Sabbath-rest imagery [Rev. 21 and 22], neither the new temple nor the Sabbath is conspicuously present in Revelation 21–22. As the Sabbath of creation ushers in a complete relationship with God (Gen 2:1-4a), so also does Revelation’s sabbatical consummation and the moral vision that that consummation engenders in relation to eternal fellowship with God (Rev 21:1-8, 27; 22:1-15). As creation’s temporal seventh-day Sabbath rest provides the typology here, it also implies the enduring nature of the weekly seventh-day Sabbath in biblical thinking…. [p. 294]
“The Sabbath is God’s enduring covenant sign (Exod 31:12-17; Ezek 20:12, 20; Isa 56:6; cf. Mark 2:27)…. [p. 297]
“While the covenant community is characterized as those who ‘keep the commandments of God’ (12:17, 14:12), the issue is not just any commandment of God. It is the seventh-day Sabbath in particular that is in view. This is in keeping with the creation/covenant worldview from which Revelation draws its understanding of moral/spiritual reality and the issues at play…. [p. 309]
“The seventh-day Sabbath will be a key reason for the second exodus – ‘Come out of her, My people’ (18:4; 14:6-12).” [p. 311]
Might Daniel’s “daily” refer to the Sabbath since it bonds to an opposing sin rebelling against the Sabbath?
The “daily” narrative of Daniel 11 and 12 are encapsulated in Daniel 8:12-13 and closely approximates Christ’s original mandate to go to Daniel (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14).
The “Daily” vs “Abomination”
“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily [sacrifice], and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries” (Daniel 11:31-32a).
The antichrist is in view, identified in a previous, separate segment of this chapter as the “vile person” (11:21).
- He has hatred against and forsakes the “holy covenant” (11:30).
- He pollutes God’s church (11:31a).
- “They” (subsuming the antichrist and his followers):
- Remove the “daily”
- Place or “set up” the abomination that leads to desolation (legal act)
- Which are opposing concepts
- They will do wickedly against the covenant (11:32).
“And from the time that the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
Gabriel had asked the question in 8:13, “Until when” would the horrors of the Daniel 8:9-12 little horn occur. This question was for Daniel’s and our behalf. Again, two answers were given:
- Not until on or after the end of 2300 atonement years (8:14).
- It would occur at the time of the end (es qes – H) at the appointed time (moed – H – very sacred, set-aside time) (Daniel 8:17, 19).
That answer left many questions. Several years later, Jesus Himself is talking with the seer. More information will now be given – but – that will be all. The “rest of the story” will be “sealed” until the “time of the end” – the es qes (Daniel 12:4, 9).
Since the antichrist has hatred against God’s government, and the Sabbath is the sign of His restoration agreement, the daily, once again, appears to represent the true Sabbath.
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EndTime Issues…, Number 173, January 1, 2015