…It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench…
(New International Version)
....The street shall be built again, and the wall...
(King James Version) & (New King James Version)
Guy Cramer: Why is this an important issue? Christians and Jews interpret Daniel 9:25-26 as the most important Old Testament prophetic calculation for the time of the Messiah. Not all Christians are in agreement on the interpretation of the passages. The biggest disagreement comes from the choice of four separate decrees within a one hundred year time span that can be used as the starting point for the calculations. One of the decrees is the issuing of the Royal letters to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. If Daniel 9:25 is speaking of a trench and not a wall, then the command to Nehemiah cannot be used as the starting point. On the other hand, if Daniel is speaking of the wall then the Nehemiah command would be the logical starting point.
The Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:25 is charuwts (Strong's Concordance Hebrew word #2742) This word is literally translated as "ditch" but in the side text the author has tried to make a direct translation for our English and he translates this same word as wall. The New International Version (NIV Bible) translates the word as trench while both the KJV and the NKJV translate the word as wall. I know the word could mean wall but why have the King James authors chosen wall over ditch when other words may be more appropriate to say wall?
Dr. James Price, Prof. of Hebrew, sent me the following reply;
Brown-Driver-Briggs page 358, meaning III lists "trench, moat" having its derivation from a root verb that means "to cut, sharpen, decide." However, while one "builds" a street or a plaza, not so for a ditch, trench, or moat. They are dug or cut, as the very root of the word indicates. So the idea of trench or moat is not in semantic harmony with the verb "build." The ancient Jews who translated this into Greek rendered the word as "wall." That is likely where the KJV translators got the meaning of the word, and the NKJV editors thought that was justified.
Jerry Brown emailed the following question:
Guy Cramer: Wall and trench in our language mean two different things, but in Biblical times these were the two elements you put around your city to protect it. A wall, a trench or both. They are defensive measures. So you can see why one word in Hebrew can represent both.
In this case Dr. Price points out that Wall should be the correct choice for a proper translation. The Jews also translated the word in Daniel 9:25 to 'Wall' instead of 'Trench' in the original Greek manuscripts.
The problem with modern interpretations seems to be with which English version of the Bible you read. Most people I know use the New International Version (NIV) because the King James Version (KJV) seems very difficult to understand with English that was used prior to the year 1762. However, in recent time (1979) the New King James Version (NKJV) has come out and is made for the modern use of English. I personally tend to find the New King James Version closer to the original meaning of the original language (Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek) when compared to the same passages in the New International Version. As we can see from above one word can make a big difference on the meaning. The literal interpretation of a word can be misleading unless we understand the rules of the original language as Dr. Price does.
Let us hope that the Hebrew and Greek translators of your Bible version understood such rules.