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Time, times and half a time: What does it mean? July 21, 2011

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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Whilst I claim to be no expert on eschatology I do sometimes like to raise questions concerning end time issues. The reason for this is not so much to confound the popular interpretations that abound but rather to highlight the fact that some of the more popular interpretations are not necessarily correct.

 The question I would like to raise here then is whether the reference “a time, times and an half” in Dan 12:7 is really 3.5 years as many interpreters seem to think? It is important however to put the phrase in context before attempting to answer this question.

 In Chapter 9 (Book of Daniel), Daniel makes clear that following the 70 year desolation which saw Israel exiled in Babylon, the city of Jerusalem was to be rebuilt again along with the temple leading up to the time of Messiah. Later in the chapter we are told that following Messiah’s departure (being cut off) the city and the sanctuary shall again be destroyed by a people that shall come. In Daniel 10 an angel in a vision appeared to Daniel again to tell Daniel what would become of his people in the latter days and the angel began his account from Chapter 11. In verse 22 of chapter 11 the angel makes reference to the same “prince of the covenant” who was previously mentioned in Daniel 9:26-27 so the events are related (interconnected). This is further confirmed by verse 31 where it is further mentioned that the prince shall pollute the sanctuary, take away the daily sacrifice and shall put in place the abomination which makes desolate. Chapter 11 therefore further explains the prophecy from Chapter 9. Chapter 12 again is a continuation of the explanations made in Chapter 11 by the angel concerning the future of the Israelites. 

To further confirm that the prophesy is the one and the same, we note in  Dan 10:4-5 that Daniel was by the side of the river (Hiddekel) when the angel was explaining the vision and he was still by the side of the river in Dan 12:5-6 when the following question was asked:

 Dan 12:6

How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

 The end of the “wonders” here is referring to the end of the vision which is ended by the consummation of the world as described in the preceding verses in Daniel 12. The question that was being asked therefore was basically when will the end come?

 The response by the angel was that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” Some have interpreted this phrase to mean 3.5 years (or 42 months or 1260 days) based on a similar reference in Revelation 12: 6, 14. It should be obvious though that from the time of Daniel’s vision through to the very end of the age could not possibly be 3.5 years. It would seem therefore that the “time, times, and an half” reference covers a very different span of time than what some interpreters previously thought. Recall that the angel said in Daniel 10:14 that “for yet the vision is for many days”. Clearly the angel left Daniel with a bit of a mystery and it is not solved by applying 3.5 years to it. Given that Daniel was told to shut the Book when he enquired of what should be the end of these things, emphasises the point that attempts to interpret these things amounts mostly to speculation.