Desolate vs. Desolator

While nearly all Christians agree that the first part of the 70 week (490 year) prophecy of Daniel 9 calculates to the time of Christ, the interpretations of the latter part varies greatly—so much so to describe completely different characters, actions, time frames and outcomes. The two main schools of thought are between the Preterist and Eschatologist. The Preterist assert that Daniel 9 was fulfilled in 70 A.D. and usually hold to the translation of the King James Version Bible (KJV). The Eschatologists assert that these events are futuristic and they usually hold to the modern translations such as the New International Version (NIV). But the difference between these two views hinge mainly on the translation of one word: “Desolate” at the end of verse 27. Here we will examine the two different translations of that word.

KJV: 9:25 “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: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come (Roman’s) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it (Jerusalem) desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Jerusalem).”

NIV: 9:25 “from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (26) After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler (Roman’s) who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. (27) He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven. In the middle of the ‘seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing ‹of the temple› he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him (the desolator).”

As you can see, the main differences between these two translations are that they differ as to WHO the consummation or end will be poured out upon. The KJV says it will be poured out upon Jerusalem; while the NIV translates that it will be poured out upon the desolator (he who caused the desolation of Jerusalem). This is a very big difference with very different events and outcomes. So which one is correct?

Which version is correct can be found simply by looking at the Hebrew word used at the end of verse 27. That word is “shaw-mame” (H8074) which simply means “desolate”. The KJV translates it as “desolate” while the NIV translates it as “him” implying the desolator. But the word “shaw-mame” is a VERB which can be used in the past, present or future tense form (desolate, to desolate, to be desolate, desolated or desolation) depending on the context. The Strong’s Hebrew Concordance classifies the “shaw-mame” of verse 27 as the past tense form the desolate or the desolated (H8076). This word is translated other places as destroyed, laid waste and astonished. Now while there is a noun form for the word desolate (which would describe a desolator), that was NOT the word used here. However, the NIV incorrectly translates this word as a NOUN.

Conclusion: The translators of the NIV and any of the other modern translations which translate the word shaw-mame as “him” or “the desolator” have actually replaced the correct word with another word—most likely to fit a theological view. Thus, between the KJV and the NIV—the KJV is the correct translation of Daniel 9:27:

“…and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it (Jerusalem) desolate, even until the consummation (very end), and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Jerusalem).” KJV

Final Note: While the KJV is right on the translation of the word “desolate”, this is not to imply that the Preterists (who believe the FINAL destruction of the “desolate” (Jerusalem) was fulfilled in 70 A.D.) are correct. Rather, they are grossly incorrect. For the prophecy clearly says that there will be “desolations” until the consummation. In other words, the Land will be void of Israeli inhabitants and trampled by Gentiles before the final consummation. And indeed, for the last 2000 years, during the “Time of the Gentiles” Jerusalem has been essentially void of Israelites—that is until 1948 when the Jews reclaimed the Land—and so the consumption is not a thing of the past, rather, it is still to come.

“And until the end of the war desolations (Jerusalem void of Israelites) are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes (Jerusalem) desolate, Even until the consummation (final destruction), which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (Jerusalem).”


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