27 May 2021

Time, Times, Half-Time

Stopwatch - Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash
In the interpretation of the “fourth beast,” Daniel received the limits for the time allotted to the “little horn” to wage war “on the saints” – “Time, times, and part of a time.” While this is an ambiguous description, it becomes more detailed with each subsequent vision. Centuries later, the book of Revelation used this chronological marker as the basis for the “short while” during which the “beast from the sea” was authorized to “make war” on the “saints.” - [
Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash].
  • (Daniel 7:21-26) – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom…And he will speak words against the Most-High and wear out the saints; and he shall think to change seasons and law; and they will be given into his hand until a time and times and part of a time. But the judgment will be set, and they will take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end.”
Years earlier, before interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had declared that Yahweh alone “changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.” This declaration became a key theme for the remainder of the book, as God used Daniel to proclaim the rise and fall of empires - (Daniel 2:20-21).

In the interpretation of the “four beasts from the sea,” the “little horn spoke words against the Most-High” – It presumed to challenge Yahweh by “changing seasons and laws”; this was the “mouth speaking great things” in actionIt received authority to make “war on the saints” until judgment was given for the saints.” Then he was to lose his “dominion” and suffer destruction - (Daniel 7:20-25).

This “war” was conducted by attempts to “change seasons and laws.” Most probably, this refers to the suppression of the ritual practices of the “saints,” especially those connected to the annual calendar - (e.g., Passover, Day of Atonement). If so, then the term “laws” has in view the calendrical and sacrificial regulations of the Levitical code.

Times” translates the Aramaic term ‘iddan, a general term for “time” that can have the sense “year,” depending on context. “Season” represents the Aramaic word zemân, or “season, set time.” The terms can be used synonymously. However, in places, zemân or “season” is substituted for its Hebrew counterpart mo’ed, often used for the “appointed feasts of Yahweh.”

In “time, times, part of a time,” “time” refers to one “time,” “times” to two, and “part of a time” to just that – some portion of a whole “time.” The Aramaic term pelag or “part” means a “dividing” or “portion” of something - not necessarily “half.” In this passage, if “time” represents a year, then a period of over three-years is intended by the description.

The little horn is central to the next vision, the “ram and the goat.” In it, this figure “magnified himself against the prince of princes,” cast some “stars to the ground,” removed the daily burnt offering, and profaned the sanctuary by erecting the “trespass that desolates.”
  • (Daniel 8:9-14) – “And out of one of them came forth a little horn…it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host and of the stars it cast to the ground, and trampled upon them. Yea, it magnified itself, even to the prince of the host; and it took away from him the continual burnt-offering, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression; and it cast down truth to the ground, and it did its pleasure and prospered. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who spoke - How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that desolates, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings-mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
In the interpretation, the “king of fierce countenance” sets out to “destroy the mighty ones and the saints,” which corresponds to the previous vision when the “little horn made war on the saints and prevailed over them.” Thus, the same set of events is in view in both visions.

As before, a time limit is set for the aggression against the “saints” - Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings-mornings.” The key to understanding the number is the description – “evenings-mornings” - (there is no conjunction between the two words in the Hebrew clause). It alludes to the regulations governing the daily “burnt offering” in the sanctuary that was offered from morning to evening - (Leviticus 6:20).

The 2,300 “evening-mornings” equates to 1,150 full days, or a little over three years – (whether Daniel was calculating with a 365-day or 360-day calendar is not specified in the book). This is another way to describe the period of “time, times, part of a time.”

In the prophecy of the “seventy weeks,” the period of intense conflict occurs in the final half of the “seventieth week,” or three and one-half years. This conflict includes the removal of the daily sacrifice and the profanation of the sanctuary by the “abomination that desolates,” clear verbal links to the vision of the “ram and the goat” - (Daniel 9:27).

The conclusion of the book recaps this same set of events and their chronological markers, including the “time, times, and part of a time” - The same timeframe and events are in view as in the preceding several visions:
  • (Daniel 12:7-12) – “And I heard the man clothed with linen who was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left unto the heavens, and swore by him that lives forever, For a set time and times and part of a time, and when the dispersion of a part of the holy people is brought to an end, then shall come to an end all these things…and from the time of the taking away of the daily burnt offering and the placing of the abomination that desolates will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.”
A period of 1,290-days equates to three and one-half years. Though presented in different formats, in each vision, the assault against the “saints” and the “sanctuary” was predicted to last for over three years. Whether this figure was intended literally or figuratively, consistently, the several descriptions point to the same predetermined endpoint. This chronological marker is just one of several verbal and conceptual links that connect the visions of Daniel recorded in chapters 7-12.

The period of a “time, times, and part of a time” during which the “little horn” attacks the “saints” provides the background for the “forty-two months” or “1,260 days” in the book of Revelation, the “short while” during which the “Dragon” and his vassals wage war on the “saints” - (Revelation 11:1-4, 12:12-14, 13:4-10, 20:3).

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