Why do Christians and Jews have different interpretations for the meaning of the word “Moshiach” in Daniel chapter 9 verses 25-26? Why do Jews translate “Moshiach” as “the anointed one” but Christians translate it as the word “Messiah”?


If we transliterate the Hebrew word Moshiach, we get Messiah.  If we translate it, we get Anointed One.  But, of course, Christians and Jews both understand the Messiah to be the Anointed One.  The difference is this:  An anointed one can refer to anyone who is a king, including one of Israel’s or Judah’s kings.  Let us suppose that a person wants to interpret Daniel 9:24-25 so as to allow for it to NOT be a messianic prophecy, then one will translate the word as anointed one, as opposed to Messiah.  Bottom line, Anointed One and Messiah are the same person—the only difference is whether one translates or transliterates the Hebrew word.  That is the Christian understanding of the passage, and you will find both translations in Christian Bibles.  Jews who deny that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the Messiah will be unanimous in using the word anointed one rather than Messiah, but this would be the result of a bias.  Of course, Jews might accuse Christians who translate the Hebrew word as Messiah of also being biased.  You can decide that for yourself.

However, look at the words in the passage.  In Daniel 9:24 the passage describes One who will put an end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousnes and seal up vision and prophecy.  This person will be anointed, and will be called the Anointed One.  It is rather obviously a passage about the Messiah.  So, who is biased in this case?  Of course, one can do what most translators do, and translate rather than transliterate the Hebrew words, which allows the reader to interpret.  This is what most Bibles do, as they should.

Actually, I did some research and, to my surprise, the English translations are split almost 50:50 on translating the Hebrew Moshioch as Anointed One and Messiah.  The more literal versions—the ones generally thought of as most precise, tend to have Messiah rather than Anointed One.

John Oakes

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