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Unusual clobber text: Daniel 11:37

May 4, 2017

Daniel 11:37 contains an interesting prediction about the anti-Christ, who is destined to rule the world just prior to our Lord’s return to set up his Kingdom. ‘Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women …’ This suggests that the anti-Christ may be a homosexual. If he is, that would explain the significance of the influential group of international homosexuals who are rumored to be gaining worldwide political influence.

So says republican Tim LeHaye, author of the ‘Left Behind’ series. It’s also on weird websites such as one that has the heading Antichrist: Tony Blair?

BUT other verisons:

the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all.

English Standard Version or to the one beloved by women..

Holman Christian Standard Bible the god longed for by women,
International Standard Version neither the gods of his ancestors nor those desired by women—he won’t recognize any god,
NET Bible not even the god loved by women.
New Heart English Bible nor the one desired by women
Douay-Rheims Bible And he shall make no account of the God of his fathers: and he shall follow the lust of women

The key phrase in that passage is hemdath nashiym חֶמְדַּ֥ת נָשִׁ֛ים, which KJV translates “the desire of women”. This is not a bad translation, but almost any translation here would risk being misleading. Here we have two nouns in a “construct”, wherein the latter noun modifies the former one (an idiom common in Hebrew and unique to it). The possibilities for the relationship which the ruling noun (i.e., the second one = “women”) bears to its modifier (the first one = “desire”) may run the gamut of everything the word “of” can mean in English or the genitive case can mean in Greek (including in both examples the phenomena of objective and subjective genitives, one of which we surely have here given the verbal nature of the word “desire”).

In the context of Dan.11:37 we have four sequential elements: 1) antichrist being unconcerned with the God of his fathers (i.e., the Lord); 2) antichrist being unconcerned with the hemdath nashiym; 3) antichrist being unconcerned with any god/gods at all; 4) antichrist as a result exalting himself over all gods.

Given that the other three elements all tend in the same direction (i.e., antichrist’s mental estimation of other gods vs. himself), it is virtually certain that we should take the phrase hemdath nashiym in a similar way. This is why many interpreters and versions have attempted to identify the hemdath nashiym as a particular pagan god (Tammuz or Adonis being the most common). In my view it is not necessary to go to that extreme. In the history of Israel’s other kings, it was more often than not their (often foreign) wives that led them astray into the worship of other gods. That was notably true of all of Solomon’s wives and of Jezebel in the case of Ahab (cf. also the idolatrous behavior of the women of Jerusalem generally outlined in Jer.44).

Therefore I am inclined to understand the phrase hemdath nashiym as the natural balance to the phrase “God of his fathers” and as contrasting that phrase so that I would translate as follows:

He (i.e., antichrist) will have no regard for the God of his fathers (i.e., the Lord), nor those favored by their wives…

Some believe it refers to his sexual orientation. In other words, this final Antichrist will either be celibate or he will have an unnatural desire for men instead of women. Either seems to be possible with this translation. A number of Bible commentators believe this is the meaning here.

Other Translations Have A Different Understanding Of The Meaning

Other translations, however, do not translate the verse in the same way. For example, the English Standard Version translates the phrase “the one beloved by women.” It reads as follows.

He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all (Daniel 11:37 ESV).

The NIV has something similar. It says: He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all (Daniel 11:37 NIV).

Some translations understand this to mean he has no desire for “the god loved by women.” The New Living Translation says: He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all (Daniel 11:37 NLT).

With these translations his sexual orientation is not an issue. Consequently, another meaning for this phrase has to be found.

What Does It Mean?

If it is not referring to his sexual orientation then what does this phrase mean? There have been a number of suggestions offered.

Option 1: He Has Not Desire For The God Of Israel

Some take it to mean that Antichrist has no interest in the God of Israel. The phrase “desire of women” is translated to mean “the one desired by women.” This is viewed as a reference to the desire of Jewish women to be the mother of the Messiah.

Thus, the phrase “the desire of women” is referring to a Person, the promised Messiah. Antichrist has contempt for the genuine Messiah.

Option 2: He Has Desire For Any Human Love

There are others who see this as a reference to human love. For whatever reason, Antichrist has no desire for human love from anyone whether it be male or female.

Whatever the exact meaning of the phrase which Daniel uses to describe this coming man of sin, we do not have to assume that he indicates Antichrist will be a homosexual.

So the phrase “the desire of women” may refer to a person, the long-awaited Messiah. It was the hope of every young Jewish girl to be the mother of the Messiah. Antichrist has no respect for this hope. Thus, the phrase “the desire of women” would be referring to a Person, the Messiah.

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From → Biblical, Sexuality

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