“And He will have nothing” from Dan. 9:26 is one of the THE most misunderstood phrases in the Bible. Read to learn more.
The passage that this phrase comes from is found in Dan. 9:26
Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. (Dan. 9:26)
This is a very difficult passage to understand. Complicating our understanding is a mistranslation of this passage in the King James Version of Bible. In that version, the passage is rendered, “Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.” This is the way I originally memorized the passage; and perhaps you did too. So let’s explore why the KJV is mistaken about this phrase and what the passage means.
Despite the fact that the KJV differs from the meaning of the actual Hebrew words which lie behind the translation of “and have nothing,” nearly all translations properly render the other portion of Dan. 9:26: “the Messiah will be cut off.” And this is a perfect place to begin our analysis.
“Cut off” is a very unusual phrase as well! The Hebrew word is karath and means to “cut down” or “kill.” Therefore, the basic meaning of this phrase is that the Messiah will be killed, and this is a clear reference to Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world.
This Hebrew word karath is also found in Isaiah, and this verse perfectly foretells Jesus’s sacrificial death as well:
He was cut off (karath) out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (Isa. 53:8)
The first time this word is found in the Old Testament is an unexpected setting. When God made the Abrahamic Covenant with Abraham, he “cut” (karath) the covenant. This is where we get the slang English phrase “cutting a deal.” When God made this covenant, God himself walked between pieces of cut animals. Usually in those days, two parties would walk between the pieces in order to symbolically say, “If I break this covenant let this (being cut in half) be done to me.” However, God was the only one who walked between the pieces in Gen. 15:17-21. In essence, he was saying, “If YOU break this covenant, let this be done to ME.”
This is the meaning of karath in Dan. 9:26, that because we broke God’s laws and could not save ourselves, Jesus paid the price for us on the cross.
And He Will Have Nothing
This wonderful promise that someday Jesus would pay for the sins of the world is followed by the strange phrase “and have nothing.” In trying to figure out what what this means, the translators of the KJV interpreted it in a beautiful but mistaken manner. By saying Jesus would be killed “but not for himself,” these translators implied that Jesus’s sacrifice wasn’t for his own good, but the salvation of all who would believe. This is an awesome truth, but unfortunately not what the words in Dan. 9:26 mean.
The actual Hebrew words (אין ‘ēyn) in this phrase are literally translated “but not to” which is even stranger than the translation. This is a Hebrew idiom which in its basic sense means “emptiness or nothing.” This phrase as been the source of debate for the centuries.
If we are going to make sense out of it, we need to connect it to the first half of the phrase, that about the Messiah being cut off. Essentially, the phrase says the Messiah will be killed and have nothing, or maybe nothing to show for his death.
I think the reason Christians struggle so much with this phrase is that we are Christians. We know that the death of Jesus was everything (not nothing)! Our salvation and the defeat of Satan was won on the cross, How could this be “nothing?” We don’t allow our minds to “go there.” Thus translators like those of the KJV create another meaning.
What Does “Have Nothing Mean?”
So what “nothing” did Jesus earn on the cross? Remember context is everything and the “nothing” in this passage is related to what came earlier in the passage. The context will tell us.
There are 9 specific goals that the 70 Weeks were to accomplish. Six of them are specifically stated by the angel Gabriel in Dan. 9:24 and three are implied. These purposes are:
- to finish the transgression
- to put an end to sin,
- to atone for iniquity
- to bring in everlasting righteousness
- to seal up both vision and prophet
- to anoint a most holy place
- to rebuild the temple and the city
- to provide a countdown to the first coming of Messiah
- to provide a countdown to the second coming of Messiah
And this is the “nothing” that Jesus achieved on the cross. Although his death won our salvation, the job is not done yet. Most of these goals (possibly all of them) are still unfinished. They weren’t completed at the first coming of Jesus, they won’t be finished until the second coming!
The rejection of Jesus by the Jews left their temple “desolate.”
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. (Matt. 23: 37-38)
The rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple was a key feature of the 70 Weeks prophecy. The countdown to the first coming began with the decree to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:25). Yet, in the very next verse after learning the Messiah will have nothing, we see that the temple and city that Daniel prayed for and that Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes I decreed could be rebuilt, would be destroyed yet again!
And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. (Dan. 9:26)
Instead of sitting on His throne in Jerusalem as most Jews expected the Messiah to do, the Messiah (Jesus) left the city desolate (without his presence). Not only that, the city and temple were to be destroyed in AD 70.
What is the Solution?
So something else would be required to complete the purposes of 70 Weeks Prophecy. That something is the 70th Week of Daniel!!! Only the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age will complete the 70 Weeks prophecy. The purposes of the 70th Week COULD have been fulfilled in the first century if the Jews had not rejected Jesus, but they did reject him. For that reason, the prophecy was incomplete – the purposes aren’t fulfilled yet. That is why there is a 70th Week. When its complete, then all the purposes will be fulfilled.
A very large portion of the Christian population are historicists or preterists and believe the 70 Weeks Prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. They believe that the 70th Week of the prophecy has already come and gone. But this is incorrect.
Therefore, this little phrase “and have nothing” and the incomplete purposes of the 70 Weeks Prophecy are only one of a DOZEN proofs found in our new book 70 Times 7: Daniel’s Mysterious Countdown and the Church’s Heroic Future that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the 70th Week of Daniel is a future event.
I am very excited to share this new book with you all. It presents revolutionary understanding of this critical prophecy.