The ‘Crux Interpretum’
April 18, 2010
THE ‘CRUX INTERPRETUM’
(Torment of the Interpreters)
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 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. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”
Within the past year I have concluded a study of what I believe to be the proper interpretation of the 1290 and 1335 days (to be reckoned as years) mentioned in the passage above – a passage that has caused tremendous difficulties for Biblical scholars for centuries. It is my conviction that the proper interpretation of this passage has profound implications for the times in which we live and should be of the greatest interest to all students of the Bible and of prophecy.
Those who are not familiar with the study of prophecy may not fully appreciate the significance of what it means to come to a satisfactory interpretation of this passage. E. B. Elliott in his Horae Apocalypticae – his classic commentary on the chief prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, spoke of the ‘difficulty felt by all expositors of prophecy’ when they encountered this passage. The Pulpit Commentary calls it a ‘Veritable crux interpretum’ ; that is ‘the interpreters cross’ or ‘the torment of the interpreters’. I challenge anyone who doubts this to study the voluminous amounts of commentary and wild speculations which have been written in order to come to a satisfactory understanding of the passage.
Before examining the passage, it might be helpful to examine the interpretations which have been offered. These generally fall into one of the five following categories.
1) The removal of the daily sacrifice, the setting up of the abomination of desolation, and the time periods referenced in the passage were fulfilled in the history of the Jewish nation during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BC. The Jews, being severely persecuted during this period of Syrian rule witnessed the desecration of their religion and temple under the reign of this tyrant.
Many scholars believe that the time periods of 1,290 and 1,335 days have reference to the deliverance of the Jews from this oppression during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC.
The interpretation is problematic because scholars have been unable to apply the time periods in question to any specific events in the history of the Maccabean Revolt or in the final downfall of Antiochus Epiphanes. Scholars generally admit that the prophesied overthrow of the tyrant in Daniel chapters 11 and 12 does not match at all match the known facts about the final years of Antiochus’s reign and his death.
2) The removal of the daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation refer in some way to Jesus’ earthy ministry or possibly the crucifixion. While a novel approach, the 1,290 and 1,335 prophesied days have never been successfully applied to specific events in the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior.
3) The removal of the daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation refers to the rise and reign of the papacy. This interpretation is usually offered by those of the historicist school of interpretation and fails for two main reasons: First, it is difficult to see how the rise of the papacy could in fact be the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ when both Jesus and Daniel (Dan 11:31) connect it directly to the desolation of the Jewish nation and the removal of their daily sacrifice. Second, once again the time periods cannot be applied in any meaningful way in either literal days, or prophetic years from the rise of the papacy.
4) The daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation refer to the desolation of a future rebuilt Jewish temple by an antichrist still to come. This interpretation is impossible. Jesus connected the ‘abomination of desolation’ with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple that was standing in the first century. The entire discourse of Matthew 24 was given in answer to the disciple’s question about when the temple would be destroyed.
5) The removal of the daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation refers to the desolation of the Jews in the first century. It is beyond question that Jesus did in fact connect the ‘Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet’ with the desolation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. But once again these time periods have never been satisfactorily applied to that period of the first century. Some have tried to connect the 1290 and 1335 days to either the start of the Jewish war (66 AD) or the end of it (70 AD) but have failed to find any meaningful application. Attempts to apply the 1290 and 1335 days as prophetic years dating from that period have also failed.
The Pulpit Commentary sums up this difficulty:
“As we have already said, if we take the profanation of the temple, 25th Casleu, 145 Seleucid era, as our starting-point, it is impossible to fix any great deliverance or any event of importance which happened some three years and seven months after. Antiochus may have died seven months after the news arrived of the reconsecration of the temple; but we have no data. As above stated, the death of Antiochus wrought but little alteration in the condition of the Jews. If we regard the days as literal days, there is one period that nearly coincides with the twelve hundred and ninety days—our Lord’s ministry upon the earth. It is difficult to understand how our Lord’s commencing his ministry was the removing of the daily sacrifice. Yet in the “heavenlies” it might be so. Further, we sometimes reckon “from” a period to come, as we can say, “We are yet—weeks from harvest, midsummer, or Christmas.” So the Crucifixion as the fulfilment of all the sacrifices of the Law may be regarded as their removal. Certainly in his crucifixion was the real abomination which maketh desolate set up. It suits the next verse. From our Lord’s crucifixion to his ascension there would be exactly forty-five days if, as is commonly believed, his ascension, as his resurrection, took place on a Sunday. This, however, is merely a thought thrown out. If we take the date indcated by our Lord, the war against the Jews, dating from Vespasian’s march to Ptolemais in the beginning of A.D. 67 to the capture of the temple and the cessation of the daily sacrifice (Josephus, ‘Bell. Jud.,’ vi. 2. 1), is not far off twelve hundred and ninety days. From this to the final capture of the city is close upon forty-five days. If we, however, take a day for a year, then another series of possible solutions are before us, all more or less faulty. One has the merit of postponing the solution to a date still future. The capture of Jerusalem by the Arabs in A.D. 637 is made the starting-point; if we add to that twelve hundred and ninety years, we have A.D. 1927. The Mohammedan power may have fallen by that time; anything may have happened then. All these various solutions, all more or less unsatisfactory, prove that no solution is possible.”
This is not an imaginary problem and should concern any serious student of the Bible. The ‘rationalist’ school of interpretation which began to rise in the 19th century and exists today in many universities and seminaries teaches that the book of Daniel is in fact a forgery written by a second century BC Jew living during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. They believe that the author of Daniel ‘guessed’ at the fate of Antiochus and ‘got it wrong’! Thus, to them, these time periods of 1290 and 1335 days are nothing more than the failed speculations of a prophetic pretender.
Now, there are those who will contend that the solution which I am about to offer is nothing more than my own ‘opinion’, ‘private interpretation’, or just one more wild speculation. I will let the reader judge. I cannot change anyone’s mind, but in light of the attempts at interpretation mentioned above, I ask that you open your hearts and minds and prayerfully consider what follows.
I believe the solution to 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel 12:11-12 to be as follows:
1) Jesus has the final say on what the ‘abomination of desolation’ is. This abomination is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24, and Mark 13, and by cross reference is defined in Luke 21.
The surrounding of Jerusalem by armies in the first century and its subsequent desolation at the hands of the Romans is referred to by Jesus as ‘the abomination of desolation’. This is as solid a scriptural fact as can be determined and should be beyond dispute. Since the 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel 12:11-12 commence in some way from this epoch, then any proper interpretation must deal honestly with this fact.
Comparing Matthew 24 with Luke 21:
Mat 24:15-16 “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:) (16) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains”
Luk 21:20-21 “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains”
2) ALL passages which refer to the ‘abomination of desolation’ concern the Jewish nation and NOT the Christian Church. The prophecies in Daniel and the gospels clearly refer to the ‘taking away of the daily sacrifice’, the destruction of the Jewish temple, and the desolation of Jerusalem.
Since the 1290 and 1335 ‘days’ of Daniel 12 are connected with these events, then these also concern the Jewish nation, and not the Christian church. Any attempt to properly interpret these periods must deal with this fact.
3) We must then look for specific and not vague fulfillments of these time periods in the history of the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.
4) We will reckon the 1290 and 1335 ‘days’ of Daniel 12 as so many years based on the precedent of the ‘seventy weeks’ prophecy of Daniel 9, in which 70 weeks were equal to 70 ‘weeks’ of years, or 490 years, as is the nearly unanimous opinion of most interpreters.
5) Logically then, the time periods reckoned as 1290 and 1335 years, cover centuries of history and in some way mark events in the desolation of Jerusalem and the fate of the Jewish people, the beginning of which is connected with the destruction and desolation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans as prophesied by Jesus.
Now notice the following timeline in the history of Jerusalem:
63 BC – Roman General Pompey captures Jerusalem. Jerusalem officially comes under Roman control.
66 AD – Jews revolt against Roman rule starting the Jewish-Roman war. Jerusalem is surrounded by armies as Jesus had predicted in Luke 21.
70 AD – Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple desolating the city as Jesus had predicted.
The first mistake we must avoid in properly interpreting the 1290 and 1335 prophetic days is to conclude that the Roman desolation of Jerusalem ENDED with the end of the Jewish war and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. This is simply not the case. In fact, although the temple was destroyed the Jewish population in Jerusalem recovered successfully enough to again revolt in 135 AD. Continuing our timeline…
135 AD – Bar Kochba revolt of Jews in Jerusalem against Rome. Rome puts down the rebellion, completely desolates the city, renames the city Aelia Capitolina, and expels all Jews from the city on pain of death. A statue of the Roman god Jupiter is built on the temple mount.
At this point in the history of Jerusalem we notice something very interesting. There are NO major events in the history of the city from the desolation of the city in 135 until the conversion of the emperor Constantine to the Christian religion. Roman desolation of the city continued unabated.
As noted above, the desolation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD did not end their occupation or desolation of Jerusalem. Rome continued to make the city a desolation.
Constantine ‘converted’ to Christianity at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. Constantine would then proclaim Rome to bea ‘Christian Empire’ – church and state merged, and Christianity was overrun by pagan beliefs and practices as throngs of unconverted pagans were assimilated into its ranks.
With the conversion Constantine and Rome now a supposedly ‘Christian Empire’, something very interesting also happened in the history of Jerusalem. Interest in Jerusalem as the city from which Jesus came was reignited. Constantine’s mother Helena traveled to Jerusalem and discovered numerous supposed ‘relics’ such as the Robe Jesus wore during his trial, the nails used during the crucifixion, and the very cross that Jesus was crucified on! All of these relics had supposedly miraculous powers. This is the beginning of the practice of ‘relic worship’ within the church. Additionally Helena supposedly identified the location of every major event within the life of Jesus. Numerous ‘christian’ shrines began to be built in the city on these locations – each one is ‘sanctified’ by some supposed relic.
What does all this mean? That the desolation of Jerusalem by the Romans continued, but now under an apostate, Paganized form of Roman ‘christianity’.
Why is this important to the understanding of the 1290 and 1335 days? Note carefully the next major event in the history of Jerusalem.
614 AD – The ‘Christianization’ of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire came to halt in 614 AD when Persian invaders laid siege to the city and captured it. IN THIS EVENT ROME LOST CONTROL OF JERUSALEM FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 63 BC.
The significance of this event in the history of Jerusalem cannot be overstated. Not only did the Persians capture the city, but they destroyed nearly all of the ‘christian’ shrines and relics which had been set up by the Romans. They also stole the ‘true cross’ – the cross that Constantine’s mother had discovered.
Note the following history of this period from the site http://www.sacredsites.com/:
“The conversion to Christianity of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine (306-337 CE) and the pilgrimage of his mother, Empress Helena, to Jerusalem in 326 CE inaugurated one of the city’s most peaceful and prosperous epochs. According to Christian legends, Empress Helena discovered the relics of the ‘True Cross of the Crucifixion’ at the place of the Resurrection upon Mt. Calvary. Scholars however, believe this so-called ‘finding’ of the relics to be a story fabricated for political reasons by Constantine and his mother, and that the cross relics were most probably manufactured, as were so many other relics during early and medieval Christian times. Whatever the case, Helena’s pilgrimage and Constantine’s royal support made possible the building of many Christian shrines in the city.
Foremost among the Christian shrines was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church marked the site of the Resurrection and soon became the supremely sacred place in all of Christendom. Finished in 335 CE, the great basilica was apparently built upon the foundations of an earlier Roman shrine dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. It was during this splendid era of church construction that the tradition of Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem began.
The most visited pilgrimage sites were Bethlehem, were Jesus was born; Golgatha, the site of his supposed crucifixion (and where legend says the skull of Adam is buried); the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; and the Mount of Olives, where Jesus (supposedly) ascended to heaven. The Christian glorification of Jerusalem continued until 614 CE when the Persians invaded the city, killed many of its inhabitants and destroyed numerous churches and monasteries.”
While the Byzantines would briefly re-capture the city from Persians in 629 AD (losing it again to the Muslims in 638) the Roman control and desolation of Jerusalem which began when they surrounded the city by armies in 66 AD ENDED IN 614 AD.
Sacredsites.com goes on to describe the history of Jerusalem following 614 AD:
“Following a brief period of Persian rule, the Muslim Caliph Umar captured Jerusalem in 638, six years after the death of Muhammad. Soon after his occupation of the city, Umar cleansed the Temple Mount, built a small mosque and dedicated the site to Muslim worship. The most imposing structure the Muslims found in Jerusalem was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Nearby the Arab conquerors undertook to build a more spectacular edifice, the Dome of the Rock, not only to proclaim the supremacy of Islam, but also to ensure that Christianity would not tempt the new followers of Islam. The site chosen was the very same rock where previously had stood the Jupiter temple of the Romans and before that, the two temples of the Jews.”
Read again the words of Daniel 12:
“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. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”
The Abomination of Desolation was the desolation of Jerusalem by the Romans. It began in 66-70 AD and ended in 614 AD.
Note this: ‘From the time (elsewhere translated season) that the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of that maketh desolate set up….
That ‘time’ (SEASON) came to an end in 614 AD – from that time there shall be 1290 days (years)
If this understanding is correct then we should see some great change in the affairs of the Jewish people and Jerusalem beginning 1290 years from 614 AD.
614+1290= 1904 ADFrom Wikipedia:1904 – Second Aliyah:
“The Second Aliyah was the most important and influential aliyah. It took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 40,000 Jews immigrated into Ottoman Palestine, mostly from Russia and Poland, some from Yemen. “
This migration of the Jews back to their homeland is important for several reasons. In the late 1800’s Theodore Herzl founded the Zionist movement – the first political campaign to push for the re-establishment of a Jewish nation in their homeland. Herzl would not live to see this become a reality. He died in 1904 at the age of 44, convinced that he had laid the foundation for what he was certain would become a reality – the reestablishment of a Jewish nation in the land of Israel. The Zionist movement, the work of Herzl, and his death in 1904 were instrumental in bringing about the Second Aliyah, the first mass Zionist migration of Jews back to their homeland since being expelled by the Romans in the first century. It was during this ‘Aliyah’ that the Jews also revived the Hebrew language.
From the time the Roman desolation of Jerusalem ended in 614 AD, to the first Zionist migration of Jews, intent on reestablishing a Jewish State in Israel is exactly 1290 years. Is this merely a coincidence?
‘Blessed is he who WAITS (literally ‘patiently waits’) and comes to the 1335 days’ – Daniel 12:12
The migration of Jews back to the land of Israel caused many hardships. Many found it difficult to make a new life in the land. Many left. The migration was halted altogether by the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914.
The outbreak of World War 2 began one of the darkest periods in the history of the Jewish people. Nearly 6 million Jews perished during the holocaust. Is it a mere coincidence that beginning in 1904, just when the promise of Zionism and the migration of the Jews back to their native land begins to become a reality, that the Jews begin to face one the darkest periods in their entire history?
‘Blessed is he who patiently waits….’
If we are correct that the 1290 years of Daniel 12 ended in 1904 AD, then we would expect this to be followed by a period in which the Jewish people must patiently wait for a termination of events which would take place 45 years later…
614 + 1290 = 1904
614 + 1335 = 1949
In 1948 Israel declared independence- the first time a Jewish state had existed since the first century. Immediately, on the very day this independence was declared, the nation of Israel was attacked by five Arab nations. Against all odds the tiny new nation of Israel defended itself and won their war of independence becoming an official state in 1949. More than one historian has called this victory a ‘miracle’.
BLESSED IS HE WHO WAITS AND COMES TO THE 1335 DAYS – 1949 AD
The facts of history are:
1) Jesus predicted that Jerusalem would be desolated by the Romans. He called the Roman destruction and desolation of the city the ‘abomination of desolation’. This came to pass beginning with the Jewish-Roman war in 66-70 AD.
2) The Roman desolation of Jerusalem continued, first under Rome as a Pagan empire devastating the city in 135 AD making it a wasteland, and second under Rome as a ‘Christian’ empire, overspreading it with relics and shrines.
3) Jerusalem continued under Roman control until 614 AD when the city was lost to the Persians who made it a point to destroy the shrines and relics which the Romans had placed there.
4) Exactly 1290 years later in 1904 40,000 Jews, inspired by Zionism and the passion of Theodore Herzl to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine return to the land of Israel.
5) 45 years later in 1949, after a period of intense persecution an official homeland for the Jews in Israel becomes a reality.
I am not a statistician, but I believe the odds against this being ‘accidental’ could hardly be calculated. To me, this is clearly one of the most profound, yet unnoticed and overlooked fulfillments of prophecy in all of history. It is amazing to me that so many teachers of prophecy, while considering the reestablishment of the nation of Israel ‘highly significant’ are so blind to this clear application and amazing prophetic fulfillment.
There are two interesting footnotes in the history of the reestablishment of Israel.
In 1897 after the first Zionist conference in Basle Switzerland Theodore Herzl wrote:
“Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word– which I shall GUARD AGAINST PRONOUNCING PUBLICLY– it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.”
Did Theodor Herzl know just how prophetic and true his words were in light of Daniel’s prophecy?Secondly, and sadly, Herzl died of heart failure in 1904 (the end of the 1290 days) without seeing the dream of a homeland for the Jewish people become a reality. In his will he stated that he wanted the poorest of funerals with no speeches or flowers. He wrote: ‘I wish to be buried in the vault beside my father, and to lie there till the Jewish people shall take my remains to Palestine”
Herzl ‘s remains were moved by the Jewish people to the land of Israel in 1949. Blessed indeed is the one who waits, and comes to the 1335 days.