Who is our God? Chapter 14


What are we to understand by this expression, "The Ancient of Days", found in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22? The translation appears to have come down from Jerome's Latin Vulgate version, which reads antiquus dierum, which has much the same meaning. Since Jerome's day, no one appears to have questioned his rendering or suggested anything answering more faithfully to the Chaldee, which reads, athiq yomaya, or athiq yamin.

Coverdale (1535-1550) rendered as follows in Dan. 7:9, "I loked till the seates were prepared and till the old aged sat him downe."

Dr. Driver thought the expression was a figure of God as if He were an "old man." And so most people naturally think. The Companion Bible suggested "the everlasting One." Perhaps the only original, reading since the Bishop's Bible of 1572 introduced "the auncient of dayes" has been that of Ferrar Fenton, who reads "the Splendour of Time." This is picturesque, but it is not translation.

The Vulgate translation does not go back to the Chaldee, but to the Greek Old Testament, which reads palaios, meaning old.

Now it is both impossible and absurd to think of God as being or becoming old. Such an idea is refuted by Heb. 1:10-12. While the Lord was upon earth, He certainly did look much older than He really was, to be taken for close on fifty years old. But after resurrection He must have seemed as youthful as every child of resurrection will be.

The general basic meaning of the Hebrew word athaq is to change, alter, vary, transfer, or remove. When the Son of Man comes He will either be the Changer of Days or the Changed One of Days. In a very true sense He will introduce a vast change when He abolishes Man's Day and brings in the great Day of Jehovah. No change in all history will have been so vast, so sudden, and so far-reaching. The Apocalypse or Revelation tells how Man's Day will terminate, and be replaced by Jehovah's Day. Daniel 7:9 is evidently related to Rev. 1:14, while Rev. 1:10 finds John no longer taken up with the things of Man's Day, but "in spirit in the Lordly (or Imperial) Day," that is, the Day of the Lord.

Although perhaps no term is found in Revelation corresponding to Daniel's expression, "Changer of Days," one might say the whole twenty-two chapters detail the process whereby Man's Day is brought to its ignominious end and the New Age introduced.

The Hebrew word athaq in all its twenty occurrences is seldom properly rendered in our ordinary versions. As a verb it is rendered "become old," "wax old," "leave off," "copy," and "remove." As a noun or adjective it is "ancient," "durable," "drawn from," "arrogancy," "grievous things," "hard things," and "stiff." This wide disparity shews that the true meaning was lost in most cases. There was little difficulty, twenty-five years ago, in retrieving the original idea contained in the word. In the closely related Assyrian language, the word was much more commonly used (etequ) and Delitzsch's Assyrian Dictionary shewed its meaning as defined by move, remove, march, push, promote, displace, advance, draw near. In each word, it will be seen, there is, both change and motion.

In the following examples from the King James version we find this idea of change and motion:—Gen. 12:8 Abram "removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-El." Gen. 26:22, Isaac "removed from thence, and digged another well." Job 9:5, "Which removeth the mountains, and they know not." Job 14:18, "The rock is removed out of his place" (cf. 18:4). Job 32:15, "They left off speaking" (margin, removed speeches from themselves). In our parlance, they "changed the subject."

There is little doubt that the Greek Septuagint hit upon the rendering "become old" at Job 21:7 and Psalm 6:7 because this seemed a natural enough rendering. Job 21:7, "Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?" Psalm 6:7, "Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old." Yet the wicked or wrongdoers do not require to become old in order to become mighty. We suggest that there comes a change in their fortunes or circumstances, making them mighty. In the latter case, "Mine eye is troubled from vexation; it is changed because of all mine adversaries," would be a closer rendering.

A most interesting and illuminating case is found in Prov. 25:1. "These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.' The Septuagint uses a Greek word meaning "copied out" or transcribed, but the real meaning is probably what Professor Naville thought, that the proverbs were transcribed from the cumbrous old cuneiform or wedge-shaped Babylonian script into the current square Hebrew script of the time of Hezekiah.
In Psalm 31:18 the word athaq is used in connection with things spoken. "Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak grievous things (margin: a hard thing) proudly and contemptuously against the righteous." Young reads "ancient sayings," which does not make good sense. Rotherham reads "arrogantly," which is not concordant. The lying lips misrepresent, by speaking what has been altered, a variation of the facts. Do we not find this a very common failing in humanity? Few people try to stand conscientiously in the shoes of a speaker or writer and follow him in his method of thinking.

In Psalm 75:5 we read "Lift not up your horn on high; speak not with a stiff neck." Ginsburg and Kittel would read "Rock" for neck (merely pointing the Hebrew word tzur differently). Rotherham reads, "Nor speak of the Rock with arrogance." Perhaps we should read, "Nor say there is changableness in the Rock," or "Nor speak of the Rock in a changeable manner." Those who do not love truth generally mangle the facts, or garble statements. Nothing is more easy than to pervert or exaggerate the truth. In Psalm 94:4 we read, "How long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things, and all the workers of inquity boast themselves?" The reason why the utterances are so hard to bear, is that truth has been changed into lies. Misrepresentation is a most cruel art. The same thought is found in 1. Sam. 2:3, "Let not arrogancy (margin: hard) come out of your mouth," Then follows "For Jehovah is a God of knowledge," and thus knows what is the truth.

Anyone can see the absurdity of the above false terms, as it would be impossible to apply the terms hard, stiff, arrogant, grievous, to the coming Messiah, in Daniel 7.

In Prov. 8:18 we read, "Riches and honour are with me; (yea) durable riches and righteousness." Young says "lasting substance," while Rotherham says "lordly wealth." But the true concordant sense is wealth in variety. In Isa. 23:18 we read of "durable (margin: old) clothing." Young reads, "a lasting covering," while Rotherham reads "stately apparel." The true meaning is variety of covering, just as we would speak of a change of raiment.

Another instructive example is found at Isa. 28:9, "Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." Young correctly has "removed." There is a transfer, a change over from one state to another.

In one case the Greek translators of the Hebrew were unable, to find an equivalent. 1. Chron. 4:22 reads, "And (these are) ancient things. The Septuagint merely leave this as they found it, athoukiim, which is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew; actually a change over from one script to another. Without knowing it they illustrated the real meaning of the word. We ought to read, "And the words are transcribed, or transferred," carried over from one ancient script to a more modern one.

One further point requires to be settled. If the Ancient of Days is really the Changed One of Days, or the Changer of Days, meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, how are we to explain verse 13 of Daniel 7? "One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him." Can it be that after all the Ancient of Days is the Father? This can hardly be, as we are unable to think of Invisible Spirit, God the Father, being in motion and travelling from place to place, if He is ubiquitous. "Do not I fill the heavens and the earth?" (Jer. 23:24).

Here is how we should read Dan. 7:13, "I am observing in the visions of the night, and lo! with the clouds of heaven One is coming, like a Son of Man; (I am observing) even until the Changed One of days arrives, and before Him they bring it near' (that is, the beast). Compare Rev. 19:19-20, where the beast and kings, with their armies, are gathered to wage war against the Horse-Sitter, and the beast is taken or arrested. In verse 11 Daniel beholds until the beast was slain, and he appears to be reverting to the same matter when in verse 13 he says "and they brought him near before Him." In this chapter Daniel is chiefly occupied with two outstanding marvels, the monstrous beast and his wild doings, and the awful unveiling of the Changed One.

We must now enquire whether there was any reason for the Greek Septuagint rendering the Hebrew word athiq by a word meaning "old." This Greek word, palaios has to do with that which is antique. The palaeologist is a student of antiquity. It will be observed that there is a considerable resemblance between the Hebrew word and the Latin word, antiquus. Suppose the Latin word is derived from the Hebrew word? Or it might be cognate with it. All languages reject through time certain combinations of letters or sounds. The Hebrew tongue did not find the sound anth easy to pronounce, so dropped the letter N and in its place doubled the th, to make the word anthah (meaning thou) sound as aththah. Enosh, meaning man or mankind (as "weakly") has its feminine form ishshah, instead of enoshah. The plural pronoun (you) is now aththem, in place of anthem. The Hebrew word athiq might originally, therefore, have been anthiq.

One can see a connection between the ideas of "change" and "antiquity," because the things of antiquity are generally different from the things of today. The changes of time render things antiquated.

We note in passing that the basic thought in the Greek terms for "conciliate" and "reconcile" is change, or "otherness."

When the great Changer comes to earth, we can think of nothing that will not in some measure be altered.

God is so immense, so infinite, that mankind is unable to comprehend Him, and often unable to entertain the thought of such a God. Yet man requires that God must ever be partially unknowable and beyond his grasp. In other words, man demands a God who is infinite. Yet the strange paradox is that man demands something else: he needs a God whom he can see and with whom he can become acquainted, whom he can freely worship and delight in. Such a God we find in Psalm 139, one who seems so distant and so immense, and yet one who knows all our movements, even the very words in our mouths, and comes closer than a brother. This Psalm reveals a great secret—how God can be One and yet Two. As God, He is so utterly transcendent, yet as the Son of God He comes so close.

But in that tremendous day when the Changer of Days comes, no one will be in the slightest doubt as to who He is. Jehovah, the God of heaven, comes to earth in great majesty and might. The transcendent and the immanent seem to be now one. "And Jehovah comes to be for King over all the earth; in that day Jehovah is coming to be One (or, proving to be One), and His name one." (Zech. 14:9).

Let us then rejoice in hope. That glorious day is almost two thousand five hundred years nearer than it was in Zechariah's time. Would that it might come soon!

End Chapter 14 (Alexander Thomson)

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009