The Linguistic Connection Between Daniel 8:14 and 11:31
A fundamental principle of hermeneutics is to focus upon a problem verse all parallel passages of Scripture. This principle has not been fully applied by Seventh-day Adventists to that verse which above all others in Holy Writ makes us a distinct people with a message that is both distinctive and vital.
It is claimed by our critics that Seventh-day Adventists base their unique doctrine of the investigative judgment upon a faulty translation of Daniel 8:14. "On what grounds," it is asked, "do Adventists continue to link Daniel 8:14 with Leviticus 16:19 and 30 when they are aware that the Hebrew words translated 'cleansed' and 'cleanse,' respectively, are different and not to be equated?"
It is the suggestion of this article that the above contention with reference to the Hebrew original is easily answered by using the parallel passage to Daniel 8:13, 14, namely Daniel 11:31. Let us compare the verses and their contexts.
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 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. 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 practised, and prospered. 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? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (Dan. 8:9-14).
He that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious holy land, which by his hand shall be consumed. . . . And with the arms of a flood shall they be overthrown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.... And his heart shall be against the holy covenant. . . . 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 they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days . . . even to the time of the end. . . . And the king shall do according to his will . . . and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. . . He shall come to his end, and none shall help him (Dan. 11:16-45).
It is no peculiar quirk of Adventist interpretation that holds that the theme of each passage is identical, that the prophecy of Daniel 8 is enlarged in Daniel 11. In each instance we have a blasphemous, conquering power coming against the people of the holy covenant. The Prince of the covenant, His sanctuary, and the worshipers are described as being cast down, but in each instance the promise is given that such iniquity shall not triumph forever, inasmuch as God has determined to vindicate His people and truth, and pour out His indignation upon the idolatrous and persecuting oppressor. Such vindication, however, is not to take place till "the time of the end" (Dan. 8:17; 11:35, 36) after 2300 days.
The point that should be particularly noticed is that the cleansing of the sanctuary (promised in Daniel 8:14 after the description of the sanctuary's profanation) is also the answer to the polluting of the sanctuary of strength mentioned in Daniel 11:31. By considering the significance of the Hebrew word for "pollute," and by studying its synonyms and antonyms, much light is cast upon the meaning of the word translated "cleansed" in Danial 8:14. It cannot be overemphasized that Daniel 11: 31 is saying in different words the same thing as Daniel 8:9-13, and that therefore a broader understanding of Daniel 8:14 may be secured through this second and enlarged description of the situation that makes "cleansing" necessary.
The Hebrew word for "pollute" in Daniel 11:31 is chalal, and its chief synonyms are chaneph and tame. (Gaal is another.) Each of these terms is translated "defile," "pollute," and "profane," and each is found in connection with the sanctuary or the holy land to which the sanctuary belonged. Study of the following verses makes it clear that the three Hebrew words here stressed were sufficiently synonymous to be used interchangeably by one of Daniel's near contemporaries, Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 2:7—Ye defiled [tame] my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
Jeremiah 3:1, 2, 9—Shall not that land be greatly polluted? . . . Thou hast polluted [chaneph] the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. She defiled [chaneph] the land.
Jeremiah 16:18—They have defiled [chalal] my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.
The context shows that in each instance wickedness, particularly that form associated with substitute worship—idolatry, was viewed as "polluting," "defiling," "profaning," the land God hallowed by the sanctuary that had once housed the symbol of His presence.
We would next inquire as to the antonyms of these words. What Hebrew terms suggest the undoing of the defilement and pollution suggested by chalal, chaneph, and tame?
Numbers 35:33 and 34 employs two of the three Hebrew words under discussion, and also an antonym.
So ye shall not pollute [chaneph] the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed [kaphar] of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile [tame] not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit.
These verses speak of the defiling of the land, as did the verses in Jeremiah. Two antonyms are suggested here for chaneph and tame, even kaphar used in verse 33, and taher used throughout the whole Old Testament as the most common antonym for tame.
Key words of Leviticus 16 are kaphar and taher, the words just noted as being in certain contexts, the antonyms to the words expressing pollution and defilement. We would emphasize, therefore, that a linguistic tie-up between Daniel 8 and Leviticus 16 does exist inasmuch as the former centers upon the sanctuary's defilement and the latter upon its purification. So much is this the case that many scholars believe that MSS using taher rather than tsadaq in Daniel 8:14 may yet be found (see the Interpreter's Bible on this verse). For the same reason, Gesenius, in referring to the translation of tsadaq as "cleansed," makes the comment that this rendering "is not inapt." No doubt he had in mind the linguistic associations existing between the various Hebrew terms mentioned in the preceding. The Pulpit Commentary says, "All the versions translate as if the word had been some derivative of taher."*
Why then does Daniel 8:14 not use the word taher, the typical word for the cleansing? The reveIator's use of Daniel 8 in his apocalyptic presentation of the great controversy between Christ and Satan (Rev. 12:4, 5, cf. Dan. 8:10, 11) suggests the answer. The question found in Daniel 8:13 is one that recurs throughout Scripture, and indeed it is one that has been voiced by human lips since sin began. It is an inquiry as to when God will arise and vindicate Himself, His people, and His truth by rewarding righteousness and punishing iniquity (see Ps. 13:1, 2; 94:3; Hab. 1:2; Rev. 6:10).
Thus the question in Daniel 8:13 is actually as follows in intent: "How long before the pollution of the sanctuary is atoned for, how long before its defilements are removed, its wrongs righted, its authority vindicated? How long is it to be before substitute systems of worship, idolatrous systems, shall be exposed and God and His people triumph? When will the power of the wicked be broken and the everlasting kingdom of righteousness be established?" The closing chapter of Daniel, with its description of the setting up of the eternal state, shows that such, indeed, were the thoughts in the mind of the inspired prophet.
Obviously we would expect in reply a term broad enough to meet all that is required by such a comprehensive question. J. P. Justesen's article Meaning of Tsadaq gives abundant evidence that only one Hebrew word involves all that this situation demanded. That word is tsadaq, and it is found in the niphal form in the reply of Daniel 8:14. Tsadaq includes all that is implied by kaphar and taher, but goes beyond both to express vindication and salvation. When the psalmist requested that he be cleansed from sin he used taher (Ps. 51:2), and justification includes such cleansing (Isa. 53:11).
Had only the scandals of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes been in the mind of Daniel, as some non-Adventist Bible students claim, then in writing Daniel 8 he could have used the term taher, which would have been sufficient to have expressed the righting by the Maccabean heroes of those temporary wrongs. Instead of taher, however, we find in Daniel 8:14 a word that is more forensically weighted than ceremonially, and this is entirely appropriate when we recollect that Daniel 8:14 parallels both the judgment scene of Daniel 7:9 and 10 and the situation calling for judgment described in Daniel 11:16-45, especially verse 31. Only the judgment with its complete revelation of all the deeds of Christ and antichrist and their followers will vindicate God before the universe (Eph. 3:10; Rom. 3:4; Rev. 15:5; 16:5, 7). This judgment is not merely the investigative phase but also includes the executive phase, when the antitypical Azazel and his hosts will be led away to destruction after having confessed God's justice before the witnessing universe (Phil. 2:10, H). Such was the teaching of Adventist pioneers based upon Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16, and such an interpretation is amply supported by modern linguistic exegesis.
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* While it is true that taher is chiefly used in ceremonial contexts. it should be kept in mind that the whole ceremonial of the sanctuary was a lesson book without moral issues. The ceremonial defilements contracted by the Israelites were symbolic of the contagion of sin that has rendered all people in need of the cleansing blood of Christ. Thus taher in some contexts specifically has to do not merely with ceremonial uncleanness but also with moral cleansing (see Job 4:17; Ps. 51:2).