What does it mean when the scriptures use the phrase cut off? Does this just mean to put someone or something to death or is there a deeper meaning? What can the Ancient Hebrew Pictograms reveal to us that would help explain a deeper meaning? Does anything in these pictograms point us to Messiah?
In about the year 538 BC the angel Gabriel revealed an amazing picture of the future to the Prophet Daniel. Daniel was still in Babylon having been taken there by Nebuchadnezzar nearly 67 years before. As Daniel was praying and confessing his sin and the sins of his people Gabriel gave him both wisdom and understanding concerning the impending advent of Messiah.
As Gabriel explains the coming events he relays this in the first half of verse 26 of Chapter 9:
"And after the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off but not for himself;"
The words cut off used here are the Hebrew word Karath. We understand by the way this word is used in this verse that it means Messiah will be put to death. Why is Karath used to describe the death of Messiah? Karath doesn’t actually mean to put to death and there are a number of other Hebrew words for murder or execution that could have been used.
First of all, the conventional meaning of Karath is to cut, specifically to cut or make a covenant originally by cutting flesh and passing between the pieces. Where have we seen this before?
In Genesis Chapter 15 verse 18 God made a covenant with Abram:
"In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."
The word made is Karath. How did the LORD do this? The LORD had Abram split a heifer, a goat, and a ram and separate the parts from one another. Then in verse 17 we are told that:
"when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces."
This was emblematic of God Himself passing between the animals that were cut in two confirming His promise to make Abram a great nation and give him a land for an inheritance. If you notice verse 12, a deep sleep fell upon Abram and he did not pass through the cut parts. The point is clear. God knew that Abram and his descendants would eventually break the covenant, so God took the responsibility totally on Himself. God will always have His people and they will always own their land. This was an unconditional covenant: there is nothing Abram or his descendants could do to nullify it.
Now let’s study pictograms for Karath, and then we’ll go back to Messiah in Daniel Chapter 9. Karath is spelled Kaf Reysh Tav.
Kaf is the picture of the palm of the hand and means to cover, to open, to allow, or to atone.
Reysh is the picture of the head and means the master, the leader, or the prince.
Tav is the picture of crossed wooden sticks and means to seal, a sign, or to covenant.
In the pictograms of Karath an amazing picture unfolds. There will be an atonement by the master or the prince that will be a sign or a covenant. This directs us to the heart of the matter. By using Karath, Gabriel is pointing us to a hidden mystery that will be a great blessing to the gentiles.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us this about the Prince who was cut off in Chapter 9 verse 15:
"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Here we see that a new covenant or testament will result in an eternal inheritance for those who would otherwise be denied because of sin. How does this happen? Hebrews Chapter 10 verses 19 and 20 reveals this:
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say his flesh."
The covenant God made with Abram was for him and his descendants, the Hebrew nation. God passed in the blood and through the flesh of the animals that had been cut or Karath and confirmed the covenant. It was unconditional; it depended wholly upon God to keep it.
In the Karath of Messiah the Prince, a new covenant is now available that offers an eternal inheritance for the gentiles. However, this covenant has one major difference. This new covenant is conditional. Both parties must enter into this covenant for it to be confirmed.
Messiah the Prince has done His part. Gabriel told us Messiah has been Karath or cut, and we now know that through his flesh and in his blood an atonement has been provided. But it only works for those who by faith believe. Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 6 confirms this:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Paul adds to this in Ephesians Chapter 1 verse 13 where he writes of those who trusted in Christ:
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."
The pictograms of Karath unfold for us what was a great mystery for Daniel: that Messiah the Prince would provide a covenant through His flesh and in His blood that would atone for sin. To enter into that covenant with Him you must by faith believe in Him and pass through the blood. There is no other way.