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Daniel, that is, "God is my judge"; probably of the blood royal (compare Da 1:3, with 1Ch 3:1, where a son of David is named so). Jerusalem may have been his birthplace (though Da 9:24, "thy holy city," does not necessarily imply this). He was carried to Babylon among the Hebrew captives brought thither by Nebuchadnezzar at the first deportation in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. As he and his three companions are called (Da 1:4) "children," he cannot have been more than about twelve years old when put in training, according to Eastern etiquette, to be a courtier (Da 1:3, 6). He then received a new name, by which it was usual to mark a change in one's condition (2Ki 23:34; 24:17; Ezr 5:14; Es 2:7), Belteshazzar, that is, "a prince favored by Bel" (Da 1:7). His piety and wisdom were proverbial among his countrymen at an early period; probably owing to that noble proof he gave of faithfulness, combined with wisdom, in abstaining from the food sent to him from the king's table, as being polluted by the idolatries usual at heathen banquets (Da 1:8-16). Hence Ezekiel's reference to him (Eze 14:14, 20; 28:3) is precisely of that kind we should expect; a coincidence which must be undesigned. Ezekiel refers to him not as a writer, but as exhibiting a character righteous and wise in discerning secrets, in those circumstances now found in his book, which are earlier than the time when Ezekiel wrote. As Joseph rose in Egypt by interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, so Daniel, by interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's, was promoted to be governor of Babylonia, and president of the Magian priest-caste. Under Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's successor, as a change of officers often attends the accession of a new king, Daniel seems to have had a lower post, which led him occasionally to be away from Babylon (Da 8:2, 27). Again he came into note when he read the mystic writing of Belshazzar's doom on the wall on the night of that monarch's impious feast. Berosus calls the last Babylonian king Nabonidus and says he was not killed, but had an honorable abode in Carmania assigned to him, after having surrendered voluntarily in Borsippa. Rawlinson has cleared up the discrepancy from the Nineveh inscription. Belshazzar was joint king with his father, Evil-merodach or Nabonidus (called Minus in the inscriptions), to whom he was subordinate. He shut himself up in Babylon, while the other king took refuge elsewhere, namely, in Borsippa. Berosus gives the Chaldean account, which suppresses all about Belshazzar, as being to the national dishonor. Had Daniel been a late book, he would no doubt have taken up the later account of Berosus. If he gave a history differing from that current in Babylonia, the Jews of that region would not have received it as true. Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares II, succeeded and reigned two years. The mention of this monarch's reign, almost unknown to profane history (being eclipsed by the splendor of Cyrus) is an incidental proof that Daniel wrote as a contemporary historian of events which he knew, and did not borrow from others. In the third year of Cyrus he saw the visions (the tenth through twelfth chapters) relating to his people down to the latest days and the coming resurrection. He must have been about eighty-four years old at this time. Tradition represents Daniel as having died and been buried at Shushan. Though his advanced age did not allow him to be among those who returned to Palestine, yet he never ceased to have his people's interests nearest to his heart (Da 9:3-19; 10:12).
Authenticity of the Book of Daniel. Da 7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1, 2; 12:4, 5, testify that it was composed by Daniel himself. He does not mention himself in the first six chapters, which are historical; for in these it is not the author, but the events which are the prominent point. In the last six, which are prophetical, the author makes himself known, for here it was needed, prophecy being a revelation of words to particular men. It holds a third rank in the Hebrew canon: not among the prophets, but in the Hagiographa (Chetubim), between Esther and Ezra, books like it relating to the captivity; because he did not strictly belong to those who held exclusively the profession of "prophets" in the theocracy, but was rather a "seer," having the gift, but not the office of prophet. Were the book an interpolated one, it doubtless would have been placed among the prophets. Its present position is a proof of its genuineness, as it was deliberately put in a position different from that where most would expect to find it. Placed between Esther, and Ezra and Nehemiah, it separated the historical books of the time after the captivity. Thus, Daniel was, as Bengel calls him, the politician, chronologer, and historian among the prophets. The Psalms also, though many are prophetical, are ranked with the Hagiographa, not with the prophets; and the Revelation of John is separated from his Epistles, as Daniel is from the Old Testament prophets. Instead of writing in the midst of the covenant people, and making them the foreground of his picture, he writes in a heathen court, the world kingdoms occupying the foreground, and the kingdom of God, though ultimately made the most significant, the background. His peculiar position in the heathen court is reflected in his peculiar position in the canon. As the "prophets" in the Old Testament, so the epistles of the apostles in the New Testament were written by divinely commissioned persons for their contemporaries. But Daniel and John were not in immediate contact with the congregation, but isolated and alone with God, the one in a heathen court, the other on a lonely isle (Re 1:9). Porphyry, the assailant of Christianity in the third century, asserted that the Book of Daniel was a forgery of the time of the Maccabees (170-164 B.C.), a time when confessedly there were no prophets, written after the events as to Antiochus Epiphanes, which it professes to foretell; so accurate are the details. A conclusive proof of Daniel's inspiration, if his prophecies can be shown to have been before the events. Now we know, from Josephus [Antiquities, 10.11.7], that the Jews in Christ's days recognized Daniel as in the canon. Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah, centuries before Antiochus, refer to it. Jesus refers to it in His characteristic designation, "Son of man," Mt 24:30 (Da 7:13); also expressly by name, and as a "prophet," in Mt 24:15 (compare Mt 24:21, with Da 12:1, &c.); and in the moment that decided His life (Mt 26:64) or death, when the high priest adjured him by the living God. Also, in Lu 1:19-26, "Gabriel" is mentioned, whose name occurs nowhere else in Scripture, save in Da 8:16; 9:21. Besides the references to it in Revelation, Paul confirms the prophetical part of it, as to the blasphemous king (Da 7:8, 25; 11:36), in 1Co 6:2; 2Th 2:3, 4; the narrative part, as to the miraculous deliverances from "the lions" and "the fire," in Heb 11:33, 34. Thus the book is expressly attested by the New Testament on the three points made the stumbling-block of neologists—the predictions, the narratives of miracles, and the manifestations of angels. An objection has been stated to the unity of the book, namely, that Jesus quotes no part of the first half of Daniel. But Mt 21:44 would be an enigma if it were not a reference to the "stone that smote the image" (Da 2:34, 35, 44, 45). Thus the New Testament sanctions the second, third, sixth, seventh, and eleventh chapters. The design of the miracles in the heathen courts where Daniel was, as of those of Moses in Egypt, was to lead the world power, which seemed to be victorious over the theocracy, to see the essential inner superiority of the seemingly fallen kingdom of God to itself, and to show prostrate Israel that the power of God was the same as of old in Egypt. The first book of Maccabees (compare 1 Maccabees 1:24; 9:27, 40, with Da 12:1; 11:26, of the Septuagint) refers to Daniel as an accredited book, and even refers to the Septuagint Alexandrian version of it. The fact of Daniel having a place in the Septuagint shows it was received by the Jews at large prior to the Maccabean times. The Septuagint version so arbitrarily deviated from the Hebrew Daniel, that Theodotius' version was substituted for it in the early Christian Church. Josephus [Antiquities, 11.8.5] mentions that Alexander the Great had designed to punish the Jews for their fidelity to Darius, but that Jaddua (332 B.C.), the high priest, met him at the head of a procession and averted his wrath by showing him Daniel's prophecy that a Grecian monarch should overthrow Persia. Certain it is, Alexander favored the Jews, and Josephus' statement gives an explanation of the fact; at least it shows that the Jews in Josephus' days believed that Daniel was extant in Alexander's days, long before the Maccabees. With Jaddua (high priest from 341-322 B.C.) the Old Testament history ends (Ne 12:11). (The register of the priests and Levites was not written by Nehemiah, who died about 400 B.C., but was inserted with divine sanction by the collectors of the canon subsequently.) An objection to Daniel's authenticity has been rested on a few Greek words found in it. But these are mostly names of Greek musical instruments, which were imported by Greece from the East, rather than vice versa. Some of the words are derived from the common Indo-Germanic stock of both Greek and Chaldee: hence their appearance in both tongues. And one or two may have come through the Greeks of Asia Minor to the Chaldee. The fact that from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh, the language is Chaldee, but the rest Hebrew, is not an argument against, but for, its authenticity. So in Ezra the two languages are found. The work, if that of one author, must have been composed by someone in the circumstances of Daniel, that is, by one familiar with both languages. No native-born Hebrew who had not lived in Chaldea would know Chaldee so well as to use it with the same idiomatic ease as his native tongue; the very impurities in Daniel's use of both are just such as were natural to one in his circumstances, but unnatural to one in a later age, or to one not half Hebrew, half Chaldean in residence as Daniel was. Those parts of Daniel which concern the whole world are mostly Chaldee, then the language of the world empire. So Greek was made the language of the New Testament, which was designed for the whole world. Those affecting the Jews, mostly Hebrew; and this not so impure as that of Ezekiel. His Chaldee is a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic. Two predictions alone are enough to prove to us that Daniel was a true prophet. (1) That his prophecies reach beyond Antiochus; namely, he foretells the rise of the four great monarchies, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (the last not being in Daniel's time known beyond the precincts of Italy, or rather of Latium), and that no other earthly kingdom would subvert the fourth, but that it would divide into parts. All this has come to pass. No fifth great earthly monarchy has arisen, though often attempted, as by Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon. (2) The time of Messiah's advent, as dated from a certain decree, His being cut off, and the destruction of the city. "He who denies Daniel's prophecies," says Sir Isaac Newton, "undermines Christianity, which is founded on Daniel's prophecies concerning Christ."
Characteristics of Daniel. The vision mode of revelation is the exception in other prophets, the rule in Daniel. In Zechariah (Zec 1:1-6:15), who lived after Daniel, the same mode appears, but the other form from the seventh chapter to the end. The Revelation of St. John alone is perfectly parallel to Daniel, which may be called the Old Testament Apocalypse. In the contents too there is the difference above noticed, that he views the kingdom of God from the standpoint of the world kingdoms, the development of which is his great subject. This mode of viewing it was appropriate to his own position in a heathen court, and to the relation of subjection in which the covenant-people then stood to the world powers. No longer are single powers of the world incidentally introduced, but the universal monarchies are the chief theme, in which the worldly principle, opposed to the kingdom of God, manifests itself fully. The near and distant are not seen in the same perspective, as by the other prophets, who viewed the whole future from the eschatological point; but in Daniel the historical details are given of that development of the world powers which must precede the advent of the kingdom [Auberlen].
Significance of the Babylonian Captivity. The exile is the historical basis of Daniel's prophecies, as Daniel implies in the first chapter, which commences with the beginning, and ends with the termination, of the captivity (Da 1:1, 21; compare Da 9:1, 2). A new stage in the theocracy begins with the captivity. Nebuchadnezzar made three incursions into Judah. The first under Jehoiakim (606 B.C.), in which Daniel was carried away, subjected the theocracy to the Babylonian world power. The second (598 B.C.) was that in which Jehoiachin and Ezekiel were carried away. In the third (588 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and carried away Zedekiah. Originally, Abraham was raised out of the "sea" (Da 7:2) of the nations, as an island holy to God, and his seed chosen as God's mediator of His revelations of love to mankind. Under David and Solomon, the theocracy, as opposed to the heathen power, attained its climax in the Old Testament, not only being independent, but lord of the surrounding nations; so that the period of these two kings was henceforth made the type of the Messianic. But when God's people, instead of resting on Him, seek alliance with the world power, that very power is made the instrument of their chastisement. So Ephraim (722 B.C.) fell by Assyria; and Judah also, drawn into the sphere of the world's movements from the time of Ahaz, who sought Assyrian help (740 B.C., Isa 7:1-25) at last fell by Babylon, and thenceforth has been more or less dependent on the world monarchies, and so, till Messiah, was favored with no revelations from the time of Malachi (four hundred years). Thus, from the beginning of the exile, the theocracy, in the strict sense, ceased on earth; the rule of the world powers superseding it. But God's covenant with Israel remains firm (Ro 11:29); therefore, a period of blessing under Messiah's kingdom is now foretold as about to follow their long chastisement. The exile thus is the turning point in the history of the theocracy, which Roos thus divides: (1) From Adam to the exodus out of Egypt. (2) From the exodus to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. (3) From the captivity to the millennium. (4) From the millennium to the end of the world. The position of Daniel in the Babylonian court was in unison with the altered relations of the theocracy and the world power, which new relation was to be the theme of his prophecy. Earlier prophets, from the standpoint of Israel, treated of Israel in its relation to the world powers; Daniel, from Babylon, the center of the then world power, treats of the world powers in their relation to Israel. His seventy years' residence in Babylon, and his high official position there, gave him an insight into the world's politics, fitting him to be the recipient of political revelations; while his spiritual experiences, gained through Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation, Belshazzar's downfall, and the rapid decay of the Babylonian empire itself, as well as the miraculous deliverances of himself and his friends (the third through sixth chapters), all fitted him for regarding things from the spiritual standpoint, from which the world's power appears transient, but the glory of God's kingdom eternal. As his political position was the body, the school of magicians in which he had studied for three years (Da 1:4, 5) was the soul; and his mind strong in faith and nourished by the earlier prophecies (Da 9:2), the spirit of his prophecy, which only waited for the spirit of revelation from above to kindle it. So God fits His organs for their work. Auberlen compares Daniel to Joseph: the one at the beginning, the other at the end of the Jewish history of revelation; both representatives of God and His people at heathen courts; both interpreters of the dim presentiments of truth, expressed in God-sent dreams, and therefore raised to honor by the powers of the world: so representing Israel's calling to be a royal priesthood among the nations; and types of Christ, the true Israel, and of Israel's destination to be a light to lighten the whole Gentile world, as Ro 11:12, 15 foretells. As Achilles at the beginning, and Alexander at the end, of Grecian history are the mirrors of the whole life of the Hellenic people, so Joseph and Daniel of Israel.
Contents of the Book. Historical and biographical introduction in the first chapter. Daniel, a captive exile, is representative of his nation in its servitude and exile: while his heavenly insight into dreams, far exceeding that of the magi, represents the divine superiority of the covenant-people over their heathen lords. The high dignities, even in the world, which he thereby attained, typify the giving of the earth-kingdom at last "to the people of the saints of the Most High" (Da 7:27). Thus Daniel's personal history is the typical foundation of his prophecy. The prophets had to experience in themselves, and in their age, something of what they foretold about future times; just as David felt much of Christ's sufferings in his own person (compare Ho 1:2-9, 10, 11; 2:3). So Jon 1:1-17, &c. [Roos]. Hence biographical notices of Daniel and his friends are inserted among his prophecies. The second through twelfth chapters contain the substance of the book, and consist of two parts. The first (the second through seventh chapters) represents the development of the world powers, viewed from a historical point. The second (the eighth through twelfth chapters), their development in relation to Israel, especially in the future preceding Christ's first advent, foretold in the ninth chapter. But prophecy looks beyond the immediate future to the complete fulfilment in the last days, since the individual parts in the organic history of salvation cannot be understood except in connection with the whole. Also Israel looked forward to the Messianic time, not only for spiritual salvation, but also for the visible restoration of the kingdom which even now we too expect. The prophecy which they needed ought therefore to comprise both, and so much of the history of the world as would elapse before the final consummation. The period of Daniel's prophecies, therefore, is that from the downfall of the theocracy at the captivity till its final restoration, yet future—the period of the dominion of the world powers, not set aside by Christ's first coming (Joh 18:36; for, to have taken the earth-kingdom then, would have been to take it from Satan's hands, Mt 4:8-10), but to be superseded by His universal and everlasting kingdom at His second coming (Re 11:15). Thus the general survey of the development and final destiny of the world powers (the second through seventh chapters) fittingly precedes the disclosures as to the immediate future (the eighth through twelfth chapters). Daniel marks the division by writing the first part in Chaldee, and the second, and the introduction, in Hebrew; the former, referring to the powers of the world, in the language of the then dominant world power under which he lived; the latter, relating to the people of God, in their own language. An interpolator in a later age would have used Hebrew, the language of the ancient prophets throughout, or if anywhere Aramaic, so as to be understood by his contemporaries, he would have used it in the second rather than in the first part as having a more immediate reference to his own times [Auberlen].
Da 1:1-21. The Babylonian Captivity Begins; Daniel's Education at Babylon, &C.
1. third year—compare Jer 25:1, "the fourth year; Jehoiakim came to the throne at the end of the year, which Jeremiah reckons as the first year, but which Daniel leaves out of count, being an incomplete year: thus, in Jeremiah, it is "the fourth year"; in Daniel, "the third" [Jahn]. However, Jeremiah (Jer 25:1; 46:2) merely says, the fourth year of Jehoiakim coincided with the first of Nebuchadnezzar, when the latter conquered the Egyptians at Carchemish; not that the deportation of captives from Jerusalem was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim: this probably took place in the end of the third year of Jehoiakim, shortly before the battle of Carchemish [Fairbairn]. Nebuchadnezzar took away the captives as hostages for the submission of the Hebrews. Historical Scripture gives no positive account of this first deportation, with which the Babylonian captivity, that is, Judah's subjection to Babylon for seventy years (Jer 29:10), begins. But 2Ch 36:6, 7, states that Nebuchadnezzar had intended "to carry Jehoiakim to Babylon," and that he "carried off the vessels of the house of the Lord" thither. But Jehoiakim died at Jerusalem, before the conqueror's intention as to him was carried into effect (Jer 22:18, 19; 36:30), and his dead body, as was foretold, was dragged out of the gates by the Chaldean besiegers, and left unburied. The second deportation under Jehoiachin was eight years later.
2. Shinar—the old name of Babylonia (Ge 11:2; 14:1; Isa 11:11; Zec 5:11). Nebuchadnezzar took only "part of the vessels," as he did not intend wholly to overthrow the state, but to make it tributary, and to leave such vessels as were absolutely needed for the public worship of Jehovah. Subsequently all were taken away and were restored under Cyrus (Ezr 1:7).
his god—Bel. His temple, as was often the case among the heathen, was made "treasure house" of the king.
3. master of … eunuchs—called in Turkey the kislar aga.
of the king's seed—compare the prophecy, 2Ki 20:17, 18.
4. no blemish—A handsome form was connected, in Oriental ideas, with mental power. "Children" means youths of twelve or fourteen years old.
teach … tongue of … Chaldeans—their language and literature, the Aramaic-Babylonian. That the heathen lore was not altogether valueless appears from the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses; the Eastern Magi who sought Jesus, and who may have drawn the tradition as to the "King of the Jews" from Da 9:24, &c., written in the East. As Moses was trained in the learning of the Egyptian sages, so Daniel in that of the Chaldeans, to familiarize his mind with mysterious lore, and so develop his heaven-bestowed gift of understanding in visions (Da 1:4, 5, 17).
5. king's meat—It is usual for an Eastern king to entertain, from the food of his table, many retainers and royal captives (Jer 52:33, 34). The Hebrew for "meat" implies delicacies.
stand before the king—as attendant courtiers; not as eunuchs.
6. children of Judah—the most noble tribe, being that to which the "king's seed" belonged (compare Da 1:3).
7. gave names—designed to mark their new relation, that so they might forget their former religion and country (Ge 41:45). But as in Joseph's case (whom Pharaoh called Zaphnath-paaneah), so in Daniel's, the name indicative of his relation to a heathen court ("Belteshazzar," that is, "Bel's prince"), however flattering to him, is not the one retained by Scripture, but the name marking his relation to God ("Daniel," God my Judge, the theme of his prophecies being God's judgment on the heathen world powers).
Hananiah—that is, "whom Jehovah hath favored."
Shadrach—from Rak, in Babylonian, "the King," that is, "the Sun"; the same root as in Abrech (Ge 41:43, Margin), "Inspired or illumined by the Sun-god."
Mishael—that is, "who is what God is?" Who is comparable to God?
Meshach—The Babylonians retained the first syllable of Mishael, the Hebrew name; but for El, that is, God, substituted Shak, the Babylonian goddess, called Sheshach (Jer 25:26; 51:41), answering to the Earth, or else Venus, the goddess of love and mirth; it was during her feast that Cyrus took Babylon.
Azariah—that is, "whom Jehovah helps."
Abed-nego—that is, "servant of the shining fire." Thus, instead of to Jehovah, these His servants were dedicated by the heathen to their four leading gods [Herodotus, Clio]; Bel, the Chief-god, the Sun-god, Earth-god, and Fire-god. To the last the three youths were consigned when refusing to worship the golden image (Da 3:12). The Chaldee version translates "Lucifer," in Isa 14:12, Nogea, the same as Nego. The names thus at the outset are significant of the seeming triumph, but sure downfall, of the heathen powers before Jehovah and His people.
8. Daniel … would not defile himself with … king's meat—Daniel is specified as being the leader in the "purpose" (the word implies a decided resolution) to abstain from defilement, thus manifesting a character already formed for prophetical functions. The other three youths, no doubt, shared in his purpose. It was the custom to throw a small part of the viands and wine upon the earth, as an initiatory offering to the gods, so as to consecrate to them the whole entertainment (compare De 32:38). To have partaken of such a feast would have been to sanction idolatry, and was forbidden even after the legal distinction of clean and unclean meats was done away (1Co 8:7, 10; 10:27, 28). Thus the faith of these youths was made instrumental in overruling the evil foretold against the Jews (Eze 4:13; Ho 9:3), to the glory of God. Daniel and his three friends, says Auberlen, stand out like an oasis in the desert. Like Moses, Daniel "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb 11:25; see Da 9:3-19). He who is to interpret divine revelations must not feed on the dainties, nor drink from the intoxicating cup, of this world. This made him as dear a name to his countrymen as Noah and Job, who also stood alone in their piety among a perverse generation (Eze 14:14; 28:3).
requested—While decided in principle, we ought to seek our object by gentleness, rather than by an ostentatious testimony, which, under the plea of faithfulness, courts opposition.
9. God … brought Daniel into favour—The favor of others towards the godly is the doing of God. So in Joseph's case (Ge 39:21). Especially towards Israel (Ps 106:46; compare Pr 16:7).
10. worse liking—looking less healthy.
your sort—of your age, or class; literally, "circle."
endanger my head—An arbitrary Oriental despot could, in a fit of wrath at his orders having been disobeyed, command the offender to be instantly decapitated.
11. Melzar—rather, the steward, or chief butler, entrusted by Ashpenaz with furnishing the daily portion to the youths [Gesenius]. The word is still in use in Persia.
12. pulse—The Hebrew expresses any vegetable grown from seeds, that is, vegetable food in general [Gesenius].
13-15. Illustrating De 8:3, "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord."
17. God gave them knowledge—(Ex 31:2, 3; 1Ki 3:12; Job 32:8; Jas 1:5, 17).
Daniel had understanding in … dreams—God thus made one of the despised covenant-people eclipse the Chaldean sages in the very science on which they most prided themselves. So Joseph in the court of Pharaoh (Ge 40:5; 41:1-8). Daniel, in these praises of his own "understanding," speaks not through vanity, but by the direction of God, as one transported out of himself. See my Introduction, "Contents of the Book."
18. brought them in—that is, not only Daniel and his three friends, but other youths (Da 1:3, 19, "among them all").
19. stood … before the king—that is, were advanced to a position of favor near the throne.
20. ten times—literally, "ten hands."
magicians—properly, "sacred scribes, skilled in the sacred writings, a class of Egyptian priests" [Gesenius]; from a Hebrew root, "a pen." The word in our English Version, "magicians," comes from mag, that is, "a priest." The Magi formed one of the six divisions of the Medes.
astrologers—Hebrew, "enchanters," from a root, "to conceal," pactisers of the occult arts.
21. Daniel continued … unto … first year of Cyrus—(2Ch 36:22; Ezr 1:1). Not that he did not continue beyond that year, but the expression is designed to mark the fact that he who was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, lived to see the end of the captivity. See my Introduction, "Significance of the Babylonian Captivity." In Da 10:1 he is mentioned as living "in the third year of Cyrus." See Margin Note, on the use of "till" (Ps 110:1, 112:8).
Da 2:1-49. Nebuchadnezzar's Dream: Daniel's Interpretation of It, and Advancement.
1. second year of … Nebuchadnezzar—Da 1:5 shows that "three years" had elapsed since Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem. The solution of this difficulty is: Nebuchadnezzar first ruled as subordinate to his father Nabopolassar, to which time the first chapter refers (Da 1:1); whereas "the second year" in the second chapter is dated from his sole sovereignty. The very difficulty is a proof of genuineness; all was clear to the writer and the original readers from their knowledge of the circumstances, and so he adds no explanation. A forger would not introduce difficulties; the author did not then see any difficulty in the case. Nebuchadnezzar is called "king" (Da 1:1), by anticipation. Before he left Judea, he became actual king by the death of his father, and the Jews always called him "king," as commander of the invading army.
dreams—It is significant that not to Daniel, but to the then world ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, the dream is vouchsafed. It was from the first of its representatives who had conquered the theocracy, that the world power was to learn its doom, as about to be in its turn subdued, and for ever by the kingdom of God. As this vision opens, so that in the seventh chapter developing the same truth more fully, closes the first part. Nebuchadnezzar, as vicegerent of God (Da 2:37; compare Jer 25:9; Eze 28:12-15; Isa 44:28; 45:1; Ro 13:1), is honored with the revelation in the form of a dream, the appropriate form to one outside the kingdom of God. So in the cases of Abimelech, Pharaoh, &c. (Ge 20:3; 41:1-7), especially as the heathen attached such importance to dreams. Still it is not he, but an Israelite, who interprets it. Heathendom is passive, Israel active, in divine things, so that the glory redounds to "the God of heaven."
2. Chaldeans—here, a certain order of priest-magicians, who wore a peculiar dress, like that seen on the gods and deified men in the Assyrian sculptures. Probably they belonged exclusively to the Chaldeans, the original tribe of the Babylonian nation, just as the Magians were properly Medes.
3. troubled to know the dream—He awoke in alarm, remembering that something solemn had been presented to him in a dream, without being able to recall the form in which it had clothed itself. His thoughts on the unprecedented greatness to which his power had attained (Da 2:29) made him anxious to know what the issue of all this should be. God meets this wish in the way most calculated to impress him.
4. Here begins the Chaldee portion of Daniel, which continues to the end of the seventh chapter. In it the course, character, and crisis of the Gentile power are treated; whereas, in the other parts, which are in Hebrew, the things treated apply more particularly to the Jews and Jerusalem.
Syriac—the Aramean Chaldee, the vernacular tongue of the king and his court; the prophet, by mentioning it here, hints at the reason of his own adoption of it from this point.
live for ever—a formula in addressing kings, like our "Long live the king!" Compare 1Ki 1:31.
5. The thing—that is, The dream, "is gone from me." Gesenius translates, "The decree is gone forth from me," irrevocable (compare Isa 45:23); namely, that you shall be executed, if you do not tell both the dream and the interpretation. English Version is simpler, which supposes the king himself to have forgotten the dream. Pretenders to supernatural knowledge often bring on themselves their own punishment.
cut in pieces—(1Sa 15:33).
houses … dunghill—rather, "a morass heap." The Babylonian houses were built of sun-dried bricks; when demolished, the rain dissolves the whole into a mass of mire, in the wet land, near the river [Stuart]. As to the consistency of this cruel threat with Nebuchadnezzar's character, see Da 4:17, "basest of men"; Jer 39:5, 6; 52:9-11.
6. rewards—literally, "presents poured out in lavish profusion."
8. gain … time—literally, "buy." Compare Eph 5:16; Col 4:5, where the sense is somewhat different.
the thing is gone from me—(See on Da 2:5).
9. one decree—There can be no second one reversing the first (Es 4:11).
till the time be changed—till a new state of things arrive, either by my ceasing to trouble myself about the dream, or by a change of government (which perhaps the agitation caused by the dream made Nebuchadnezzar to forebode, and so to suspect the Chaldeans of plotting).
tell … dream, and I shall know … ye can show … interpretation—If ye cannot tell the past, a dream actually presented to me, how can ye know, and show, the future events prefigured in it?
10. There is not a man … that can show—God makes the heathen out of their own mouth, condemn their impotent pretensions to supernatural knowledge, in order to bring out in brighter contrast His power to reveal secrets to His servants, though but "men upon the earth" (compare Da 2:22, 23).
therefore, &c.—that is, If such things could be done by men, other absolute princes would have required them from their magicians; as they have not, it is proof such things cannot be done and cannot be reasonably asked from us.
11. gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh—answering to "no man upon the earth"; for there were, in their belief, "men in heaven," namely, men deified; for example, Nimrod. The supreme gods are referred to here, who alone, in the Chaldean view, could solve the difficulty, but who do not communicate with men. The inferior gods, intermediate between men and the supreme gods, are unable to solve it. Contrast with this heathen idea of the utter severance of God from man, Joh 1:14, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us"; Daniel was in this case made His representative.
12, 13. Daniel and his companions do not seem to have been actually numbered among the Magi or Chaldeans, and so were not summoned before the king. Providence ordered it so that all mere human wisdom should be shown vain before His divine power, through His servant, was put forth. Da 2:24 shows that the decree for slaying the wise men had not been actually executed when Daniel interposed.
14. captain of the king's guard—commanding the executioners (Margin; and Ge 37:36, Margin).
15. Why is the decree so hasty—Why were not all of us consulted before the decree for the execution of all was issued?
the thing—the agitation of the king as to his dream, and his abortive consultation of the Chaldeans. It is plain from this that Daniel was till now ignorant of the whole matter.
16. Daniel went in—perhaps not in person, but by the mediation of some courtier who had access to the king. His first direct interview seems to have been Da 2:25 [Barnes].
time—The king granted "time" to Daniel, though he would not do so to the Chaldeans because they betrayed their lying purpose by requiring him to tell the dream, which Daniel did not. Providence doubtless influenced his mind, already favorable (Da 1:19, 20), to show special favor to Daniel.
17. Here appears the reason why Daniel sought "time" (Da 2:16), namely he wished to engage his friends to join him in prayer to God to reveal the dream to him.
18. An illustration of the power of united prayer (Mt 18:19). The same instrumentality rescued Peter from his peril (Ac 12:5-12).
19. revealed … in … night vision—(Job 33:15, 16).
20. answered—responded to God's goodness by praises.
name of God—God in His revelation of Himself by acts of love, "wisdom, and might" (Jer 32:19).
21. changeth … times … seasons—"He herein gives a general preparatory intimation, that the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is concerning the changes and successions of kingdoms" [Jerome]. The "times" are the phases and periods of duration of empires (compare Da 7:25; 1Ch 12:32; 29:30); the "seasons" the fitting times for their culmination, decline, and fall (Ec 3:1; Ac 1:7; 1Th 5:1). The vicissitudes of states, with their times and seasons, are not regulated by chance or fate, as the heathen thought, but by God.
removed kings—(Job 12:18; Ps 75:6, 7; Jer 27:5; compare 1Sa 2:7, 8).
giveth wisdom—(1Ki 3:9-12; Jas 1:5).
22. revealeth—(Job 12:22). So spiritually (Eph 1:17, 18).
knoweth what is in … darkness—(Ps 139:11, 12; Heb 4:13).
light … him—(Jas 1:17; 1Jo 1:4). Apocalypse (or "revelation") signifies a divine, prophecy a human, activity. Compare 1Co 14:6, where the two are distinguished. The prophet is connected with the outer world, addressing to the congregation the words with which the Spirit of God supplies him; he speaks in the Spirit, but the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit in his whole person (Re 1:10; 4:2). The form of the apocalyptic revelation (the very term meaning that the veil that hides the invisible world is taken off) is subjectively either the dream, or, higher, the vision. The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was a preparatory education to Daniel himself. By gradual steps, each revelation preparing him for the succeeding one, God fitted him for disclosures becoming more and more special. In the second and fourth chapters he is but an interpreter of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams; then he has a dream himself, but it is only a vision in a dream of the night (Da 7:1, 2); then follows a vision in a waking state (Da 8:1-3); lastly, in the two final revelations (Da 9:20; 10:4, 5) the ecstatic state is no longer needed. The progression in the form answers to the progression in the contents of his prophecy; at first general outlines, and these afterwards filled up with minute chronological and historical details, such as are not found in the Revelation of John, though, as became the New Testament, the form of revelation is the highest, namely, clear waking visions [Auberlen].
23. thee … thee—He ascribes all the glory to God.
God of my fathers—Thou hast shown Thyself the same God of grace to me, a captive exile, as Thou didst to Israel of old and this on account of the covenant made with our "fathers" (Lu 1:54, 55; compare Ps 106:45).
given me wisdom and might—Thou being the fountain of both; referring to Da 2:20. Whatever wise ability I have to stay the execution of the king's cruel decree, is Thy gift.
me … we … us—The revelation was given to Daniel, as "me" implies; yet with just modesty he joins his friends with him; because it was to their joint prayers, and not to his individually, that he owed the revelation from God.
known … the king's matter—the very words in which the Chaldeans had denied the possibility of any man on earth telling the dream ("not a man upon the earth can show the king's matter," Da 2:10). Impostors are compelled by the God of truth to eat up their own words.
24. Therefore—because of having received the divine communication.
bring me in before the king—implying that he had not previously been in person before the king (see on Da 2:16).
25. I have found a man—Like all courtiers, in announcing agreeable tidings, he ascribes the merit of the discovery to himself [Jerome]. So far from it being a discrepancy, that he says nothing of the previous understanding between him and Daniel, or of Daniel's application to the king (Da 2:15, 16), it is just what we should expect. Arioch would not dare to tell an absolute despot that he had stayed the execution of his sanguinary decree, on his own responsibility; but would, in the first instance, secretly stay it until Daniel had got, by application from the king, the time required, without Arioch seeming to know of Daniel's application as the cause of the respite; then, when Daniel had received the revelation, Arioch would in trembling haste bring him in, as if then for the first time he had "found" him. The very difficulty when cleared up is a proof of genuineness, as it never would be introduced by a forger.
27. cannot—Daniel, being learned in all the lore of the Chaldeans (Da 1:4), could authoritatively declare the impossibility of mere man solving the king's difficulty.
soothsayers—from a root, "to cut off"; referring to their cutting the heavens into divisions, and so guessing at men's destinies from the place of the stars at one's birth.
28. God—in contrast to "the wise men," &c. (Da 2:27).
revealeth secrets—(Am 3:7; 4:13). Compare Ge 41:45, Zaphnath-paaneah, "revealer of secrets," the title given to Joseph.
the latter days—literally, "in the after days" (Da 2:29); "hereafter" (Ge 49:1). It refers to the whole future, including the Messianic days, which is the final dispensation (Isa 2:2).
visions of thy head—conceptions formed in the brain.
29. God met with a revelation Nebuchadnezzar, who had been meditating on the future destiny of his vast empire.
30. not … for any wisdom that I have—not on account of any previous wisdom which I may have manifested (Da 1:17, 20). The specially-favored servants of God in all ages disclaim merit in themselves and ascribe all to the grace and power of God (Ge 41:16; Ac 3:12). The "as for me," disclaiming extraordinary merit, contrasts elegantly with "as for thee," whereby Daniel courteously, but without flattery, implies, that God honored Nebuchadnezzar, as His vicegerent over the world kingdoms, with a revelation on the subject uppermost in his thoughts, the ultimate destinies of those kingdoms.
for their sakes that shall make known, &c.—a Chaldee idiom for, "to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king."
the thoughts of thy heart—thy subject of thought before falling asleep. Or, perhaps the probation of Nebuchadnezzar's character through this revelation may be the meaning intended (compare 2Ch 32:31; Lu 2:35).
31. The world power in its totality appears as a colossal human form: Babylon the head of gold, Medo-Persia the breast and two arms of silver, Græco-Macedonia the belly and two thighs of brass, and Rome, with its Germano-Slavonic offshoots, the legs of iron and feet of iron and clay, the fourth still existing. Those kingdoms only are mentioned which stand in some relation to the kingdom of God; of these none is left out; the final establishment of that kingdom is the aim of His moral government of the world. The colossus of metal stands on weak feet, of clay. All man's glory is as ephemeral and worthless as chaff (compare 1Pe 1:24). But the kingdom of God, small and unheeded as a "stone" on the ground is compact in its homogeneous unity; whereas the world power, in its heterogeneous constituents successively supplanting one another, contains the elements of decay. The relation of the stone to the mountain is that of the kingdom of the cross (Mt 16:23; Lu 24:26) to the kingdom of glory, the latter beginning, and the former ending when the kingdom of God breaks in pieces the kingdoms of the world (Re 11:15). Christ's contrast between the two kingdoms refers to this passage.
a great image—literally, "one image that was great." Though the kingdoms were different, it was essentially one and the same world power under different phases, just as the image was one, though the parts were of different metals.
32. On ancient coins states are often represented by human figures. The head and higher parts signify the earlier times; the lower, the later times. The metals become successively baser and baser, implying the growing degeneracy from worse to worse. Hesiod, two hundred years before Daniel, had compared the four ages to the four metals in the same order; the idea is sanctioned here by Holy Writ. It was perhaps one of those fragments of revelation among the heathen derived from the tradition as to the fall of man. The metals lessen in specific gravity, as they downwards; silver is not so heavy as gold, brass not so heavy as silver, and iron not so heavy as brass, the weight thus being arranged in the reverse of stability [Tregelles]. Nebuchadnezzar derived his authority from God, not from man, nor as responsible to man. But the Persian king was so far dependent on others that he could not deliver Daniel from the princes (Da 6:14, 15); contrast Da 5:18, 19, as to Nebuchadnezzar's power from God, "whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive" (compare Ezr 7:14; Es 1:13-16). Græco-Macedonia betrays its deterioration in its divisions, not united as Babylon and Persia. Iron is stronger than brass, but inferior in other respects; so Rome hardy and strong to tread down the nations, but less kingly and showing its chief deterioration in its last state. Each successive kingdom incorporates its predecessor (compare Da 5:28). Power that in Nebuchadnezzar's hands was a God-derived (Da 2:37, 38) autocracy, in the Persian king's was a rule resting on his nobility of person and birth, the nobles being his equals in rank, but not in office; in Greece, an aristocracy not of birth, but individual influence, in Rome, lowest of all, dependent entirely on popular choice, the emperor being appointed by popular military election.
33. As the two arms of silver denote the kings of the Medes and Persians [Josephus]; and the two thighs of brass the Seleucidæ of Syria and Lagidæ of Egypt, the two leading sections into which Græco-Macedonia parted, so the two legs of iron signify the two Roman consuls [Newton]. The clay, in Da 2:41, "potter's clay," Da 2:43, "miry clay," means "earthenware," hard but brittle (compare Ps 2:9; Re 2:27, where the same image is used of the same event); the feet are stable while bearing only direct pressure, but easily broken to pieces by a blow (Da 2:34), the iron intermixed not retarding, but hastening, such a result.
34. stone—Messiah and His kingdom (Ge 49:24; Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16). In its relations to Israel, it is a "stone of stumbling" (Isa 8:14; Ac 4:11; 1Pe 2:7, 8) on which both houses of Israel are broken, not destroyed (Mt 21:32). In its relation to the Church, the same stone which destroys the image is the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:20). In its relation to the Gentile world power, the stone is its destroyer (Da 2:35, 44; compare Zec 12:3). Christ saith (Mt 21:44, referring to Isa 8:14, 15), "Whosoever shall fall on this stone (that is, stumble, and be offended, at Him, as the Jews were, from whom, therefore, He says, 'The kingdom shall be taken') shall be broken; but (referring to Da 2:34, 35) on whomsoever it shall fall (referring to the world power which had been the instrument of breaking the Jews), it will (not merely break, but) grind him to powder" (1Co 15:24). The falling of the stone of the feet of the image cannot refer to Christ at His first advent, for the fourth kingdom was not then as yet divided—no toes were in existence (see on Da 2:44).
cut out—namely, from "the mountain" (Da 2:45); namely, Mount Zion (Isa 2:2), and antitypically, the heavenly mount of the Father's glory, from whom Christ came.
without hands—explained in Da 2:44, "The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom," as contrasted with the image which was made with hands of man. Messiah not created by human agency, but conceived by the Holy Ghost (Mt 1:20; Lu 1:35; compare Zec 4:6; Mr 14:58; Heb 9:11, 24). So "not made with hands," that is, heavenly, 2Co 5:1; spiritual, Col 2:11. The world kingdoms were reared by human ambition: but this is the "kingdom of heaven"; "not of this world" (Joh 18:36). As the fourth kingdom, or Rome, was represented in a twofold state, first strong, with legs of iron, then weak, with toes part of iron, part of clay; so this fifth kingdom, that of Christ, is seen conversely, first insignificant as a "stone," then as a "mountain" filling the whole earth. The ten toes are the ten lesser kingdoms into which the Roman kingdom was finally to be divided; this tenfold division here hinted at is not specified in detail till the seventh chapter. The fourth empire originally was bounded in Europe pretty nearly by the line of the Rhine and Danube; in Asia by the Euphrates. In Africa it possessed Egypt and the north coasts; South Britain and Dacia were afterwards added but were ultimately resigned. The ten kingdoms do not arise until a deterioration (by mixing clay with the iron) has taken place; they are in existence when Christ comes in glory, and then are broken in pieces. The ten have been sought for in the invading hosts of the fifth and sixth century. But though many provinces were then severed from Rome as independent kingdoms, the dignity of emperor still continued, and the imperial power was exercised over Rome itself for two centuries. So the tenfold divisions cannot be looked for before A.D. 731. But the East is not to be excluded, five toes being on each foot. Thus no point of time before the overthrow of the empire at the taking of Constantinople by the Turks (A.D. 1453) can be assigned for the division. It seems, therefore, that the definite ten will be the ultimate development of the Roman empire just before the rise of Antichrist, who shall overthrow three of the kings, and, after three and a half years, he himself be overthrown by Christ in person. Some of the ten kingdoms will, doubtless, be the same as some past and present divisions of the old Roman empire, which accounts for the continuity of the connection between the toes and legs, a gap of centuries not being interposed, as is objected by opponents of the futurist theory. The lists of the ten made by the latter differ from one another; and they are set aside by the fact that they include countries which were never Roman, and exclude one whole section of the empire, namely, the East [Tregelles].
upon his feet—the last state of the Roman empire. Not "upon his legs." Compare "in the days of these kings" (see on Da 2:44).
35. broken … together—excluding a contemporaneous existence of the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God (in its manifested, as distinguished from its spiritual, phase). The latter is not gradually to wear away the former, but to destroy it at once, and utterly (2Th 1:7-10; 2:8). However, the Hebrew may be translated, "in one discriminate mass."
chaff—image of the ungodly, as they shall be dealt with in the judgment (Ps 1:4, 5; Mt 3:12).
summer threshing-floors—Grain was winnowed in the East on an elevated space in the open air, by throwing the grain into the air with a shovel, so that the wind might clear away the chaff.
no place … found for them—(Re 20:11; compare Ps 37:10, 36; 103:16).
became … mountain—cut out of the mountain (Da 2:45) originally, it ends in becoming a mountain. So the kingdom of God, coming from heaven originally, ends in heaven being established on earth (Re 21:1-3).
filled … earth—(Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). It is to do so in connection with Jerusalem as the mother Church (Ps 80:9; Isa 2:2, 3).
36. we—Daniel and his three friends.
37. Thou … art a king of kings—The committal of power in fullest plenitude belongs to Nebuchadnezzar personally, as having made Babylon the mighty empire it was. In twenty-three years after him the empire was ended: with him its greatness is identified (Da 4:30), his successors having done nothing notable. Not that he actually ruled every part of the globe, but that God granted him illimitable dominion in whatever direction his ambition led him, Egypt, Nineveh, Arabia, Syria, Tyre, and its Phœnician colonies (Jer 27:5-8). Compare as to Cyrus, Ezr 1:2.
38. men … beasts … fowls—the dominion originally designed for man (Ge 1:28; 2:19, 20), forfeited by sin; temporarily delegated to Nebuchadnezzar and the world powers; but, as they abuse the trust for self, instead of for God, to be taken from them by the Son of man, who will exercise it for God, restoring in His person to man the lost inheritance (Ps 8:4-6).
Thou art … head of gold—alluding to the riches of Babylon, hence called "the golden city" (Isa 14:4; Jer 51:7; Re 18:16).
39. That Medo-Persia is the second kingdom appears from Da 5:28 and Da 8:20. Compare 2Ch 36:20; Isa 21:2.
inferior—"The kings of Persia were the worst race of men that ever governed an empire" [Prideaux]. Politically (which is the main point of view here) the power of the central government in which the nobles shared with the king, being weakened by the growing independence of the provinces, was inferior to that of Nebuchadnezzar, whose sole word was law throughout his empire.
brass—The Greeks (the third empire, Da 8:21; 10:20; 11:2-4) were celebrated for the brazen armor of their warriors. Jerome fancifully thinks that the brass, as being a clear-sounding metal, refers to the eloquence for which Greece was famed. The "belly," in Da 2:32, may refer to the drunkenness of Alexander and the luxury of the Ptolemies [Tirinus].
over all the earth—Alexander commanded that he should be called "king of all the world" [Justin, 12. sec. 16.9; Arrian, Campaigns of Alexander, 7. sec. 15]. The four successors (diadochi) who divided Alexander's dominions at his death, of whom the Seleucidæ in Syria and the Lagidæ in Egypt were chief, held the same empire.
40. iron—This vision sets forth the character of the Roman power, rather than its territorial extent [Tregelles].
breaketh in pieces—So, in righteous retribution, itself will at last be broken in pieces (Da 2:44) by the kingdom of God (Re 13:10).
41-43. feet … toes … part … clay … iron—explained presently, "the kingdom shall be partly strong, partly broken" (rather, "brittle," as earthenware); and Da 2:43, "they shall mingle … with the seed of men," that is, there will be power (in its deteriorated form, iron) mixed up with that which is wholly of man, and therefore brittle; power in the hands of the people having no internal stability, though something is left of the strength of the iron [Tregelles]. Newton, who understands the Roman empire to be parted into the ten kingdoms already (whereas Tregelles makes them future), explains the "clay" mixture as the blending of barbarous nations with Rome by intermarriages and alliances, in which there was no stable amalgamation, though the ten kingdoms retained much of Rome's strength. The "mingling with the seed of men" (Da 2:44) seems to refer to Ge 6:2, where the marriages of the seed of godly Seth with the daughters of ungodly Cain are described in similar words. The reference, therefore, seems to be to the blending of the Christianized Roman empire with the pagan nations, a deterioration being the result. Efforts have been often made to reunite the parts into one great empire, as by Charlemagne and Napoleon, but in vain. Christ alone shall effect that.
44. in the days of these kings—in the days of these kingdoms, that is, of the last of the four. So Christianity was set up when Rome had become mistress of Judea and the world (Lu 2:1, &c.) [Newton]. Rather, "in the days of these kings," answers to "upon his feet" (Da 2:34); that is, the ten toes (Da 2:42), or ten kings, the final state of the Roman empire. For "these kings" cannot mean the four successional monarchies, as they do not coexist as the holders of power; if the fourth had been meant, the singular, not the plural, would be used. The falling of the stone on the image must mean, destroying judgment on the fourth Gentile power, not gradual evangelization of it by grace; and the destroying judgment cannot be dealt by Christians, for they are taught to submit to the powers that be, so that it must be dealt by Christ Himself at His coming again. We live under the divisions of the Roman empire which began fourteen hundred years ago, and which at the time of His coming shall be definitely ten. All that had failed in the hand of man shall then pass away, and that which is kept in His own hand shall be introduced. Thus the second chapter is the alphabet of the subsequent prophetic statements in Daniel [Tregelles].
God of heaven … kingdom—hence the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 3:2).
not … left to other people—as the Chaldees had been forced to leave their kingdom to the Medo-Persians, and these to the Greeks, and these to the Romans (Mic 4:7; Lu 1:32, 33).
break … all—(Isa 60:12; 1Co 15:24).
45. without hands—(See on Da 2:35). The connection of the "forasmuch," &c. is, "as thou sawest that the stone," &c., this is an indication that "the great God," &c., that is, the fact of thy seeing the dreams as I have recalled it to thy recollection, is a proof that it is no airy phantom, but a real representation to these from God of the future. A similar proof of the "certainty" of the event was given to Pharaoh by the doubling of his dream (Ge 41:32).
46. fell upon … face, and worshipped Daniel—worshipping God in the person of Daniel. Symbolical of the future prostration of the world power before Messiah and His kingdom (Php 2:10). As other servants of God refused such honors (Ac 10:25, 26; 14:13-15; Re 22:8, 9), and Daniel (Da 1:8) would not taste defiled food, nor give up prayer to God at the cost of his life (Da 6:7, 10), it seems likely that Daniel rejected the proffered divine honors. The word "answered" (Da 2:47) implies that Daniel had objected to these honors; and in compliance with his objection, "the king answered, Of a truth, your God is a God of gods." Daniel had disclaimed all personal merit in Da 2:30, giving God all the glory (compare Da 2:45).
commanded … sweet odours—divine honors (Ezr 6:10). It is not said his command was executed.
47. Lord of kings—The world power shall at last have to acknowledge this (Re 17:14; 19:16); even as Nebuchadnezzar, who had been the God-appointed "king of kings" (Da 2:37), but who had abused the trust, is constrained by God's servant to acknowledge that God is the true "Lord of kings."
48. One reason for Nebuchadnezzar having been vouchsafed such a dream is here seen; namely, that Daniel might be promoted, and the captive people of God be comforted: the independent state of the captives during the exile and the alleviation of its hardships, were much due to Daniel.
49. Daniel requested—Contrast this honorable remembrance of his humble friends in his elevation with the spirit of the children of the world in the chief butler's case (Ge 40:23; Ec 9:15, 16; Am 6:6).
in the gate—the place of holding courts of justice and levees in the East (Es 2:19; Job 29:7). So "the Sublime Porte," or "Gate," denotes the sultan's government, his counsels being formerly held in the entrance of his palace. Daniel was a chief counsellor of the king, and president over the governors of the different orders into which the Magi were divided.
Da 3:1-30. Nebuchadnezzar's Idolatrous Image; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego Are Delivered from the Furnace.
Between the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in the second chapter and that of Daniel in the seventh, four narratives of Daniel's and his friends' personal history are introduced. As the second and seventh chapters go together, so the third and sixth chapters (the deliverance from the lions' den), and the fourth and fifth chapters. Of these last two pairs, the former shows God's nearness to save His saints when faithful to Him, at the very time they seem to be crushed by the world power. The second pair shows, in the case of the two kings of the first monarchy, how God can suddenly humble the world power in the height of its insolence. The latter advances from mere self-glorification, in the fourth chapter, to open opposition to God in the fifth. Nebuchadnezzar demands homage to be paid to his image (Da 3:1-6), and boasts of his power (Da 4:1-18). But Belshazzar goes further, blaspheming God by polluting His holy vessels. There is a similar progression in the conduct of God's people. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refuse positive homage to the image of the world power (Da 3:12); Daniel will not yield it even a negative homage, by omitting for a time the worship of God (Da 6:10). Jehovah's power manifested for the saints against the world in individual histories (the third through sixth chapters) is exhibited in the second and seventh chapters, in world-wide prophetical pictures; the former heightening the effect of the latter. The miracles wrought in behalf of Daniel and his friends were a manifestation of God's glory in Daniel's person, as the representative of the theocracy before the Babylonian king, who deemed himself almighty, at a time when God could not manifest it in His people as a body. They tended also to secure, by their impressive character, that respect for the covenant-people on the part of the heathen powers which issued in Cyrus' decree, not only restoring the Jews, but ascribing honor to the God of heaven, and commanding the building of the temple (Ezr 1:1-4) [Auberlen].
1. image—Nebuchadnezzar's confession of God did not prevent him being a worshipper of idols, besides. Ancient idolaters thought that each nation had its own gods, and that, in addition to these, foreign gods might be worshipped. The Jewish religion was the only exclusive one that claimed all homage for Jehovah as the only true God. Men will in times of trouble confess God, if they are allowed to retain their favorite heart-idols. The image was that of Bel, the Babylonian tutelary god; or rather, Nebuchadnezzar himself, the personification and representative of the Babylonian empire, as suggested to him by the dream (Da 2:38), "Thou art this head of gold." The interval between the dream and the event here was about nineteen years. Nebuchadnezzar had just returned from finishing the Jewish and Syrian wars, the spoils of which would furnish the means of rearing such a colossal statue [Prideaux]. The colossal size makes it likely that the frame was wood, overlaid with gold. The "height," sixty cubits, is so out of proportion with the "breadth," exceeding it ten times, that it seems best to suppose the thickness from breast to back to be intended, which is exactly the right proportion of a well-formed man [Augustine, The City of God, 15.26]. Prideaux thinks the sixty cubits refer to the image and pedestal together, the image being twenty-seven cubits high, or forty feet, the pedestal thirty-three cubits, or fifty feet. Herodotus [1.183] confirms this by mentioning a similar image, forty feet high, in the temple of Belus at Babylon. It was not the same image, for the one here was on the plain of Dura, not in the city.
2. princes—"satraps" of provinces [Gesenius].
captains—rulers, not exclusively military.
sheriffs—men learned in the law, like the Arab mufti [Gesenius].
3. stood before the image—in an attitude of devotion. Whatever the king approved of, they all approve of. There is no stability of principle in the ungodly.
4. The arguments of the persecutor are in brief, Turn or burn.
5. cornet—A wind instrument, like the French horn, is meant.
flute—a pipe or pipes, not blown transversely as our "flute," but by mouthpieces at the end.
sackbut—a triangular stringed instrument, having short strings, the sound being on a high sharp key.
psaltery—a kind of harp.
dulcimer—a bagpipe consisting of two pipes, thrust through a leathern bag, emitting a sweet plaintive sound. Chaldee sumponya, the modern Italian zampogna, Asiatic zambonja.
fall down—that the recusants might be the more readily detected.
6. No other nation but the Jews would feel this edict oppressive; for it did not prevent them worshipping their own gods besides. It was evidently aimed at the Jews by those jealous of their high position in the king's court, who therefore induced the king to pass an edict as to all recusants, representing such refusal of homage as an act of treason to Nebuchadnezzar as civil and religious "head" of the empire. So the edict under Darius (Da 6:7-9) was aimed against the Jews by those jealous of Daniel's influence. The literal image of Nebuchadnezzar is a typical prophecy of "the image of the beast," connected with mystical Babylon, in Re 13:14. The second mystical beast there causeth the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship the first beast, and that as many as would not, should be killed (Re 13:12, 15).
furnace—a common mode of punishment in Babylon (Jer 29:22). It is not necessary to suppose that the furnace was made for the occasion. Compare "brick-kiln," 2Sa 12:31. Any furnace for common purposes in the vicinity of Dura would serve. Chardin, in his travels (A.D. 1671-1677), mentions that in Persia, to terrify those who took advantage of scarcity to sell provisions at exorbitant prices, the cooks were roasted over a slow fire, and the bakers cast into a burning oven.
7. None of the Jews seem to have been present, except the officers, summoned specially.
8. accused the Jews—literally, "ate the rent limbs," or flesh of the Jews (compare Job 31:31; Ps 14:4; 27:2; Jer 10:25). Not probably in general, but as Da 3:12 states, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Why Daniel was not summoned does not appear. Probably he was in some distant part of the empire on state business, and the general summons (Da 3:2) had not time to reach him before the dedication. Also, the Jews' enemies found it more politic to begin by attacking Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who were nearer at hand, and had less influence, before they proceeded to attack Daniel.
9. live for ever—A preface of flattery is closely akin to the cruelty that follows. So Ac 24:2, 3, &c., Tertullus in accusing Paul before Felix.
12. serve not thy gods—not only not the golden image, but also not any of Nebuchadnezzar's gods.
13. bring—Instead of commanding their immediate execution, as in the case of the Magi (Da 2:12), Providence inclined him to command the recusants to be brought before him, so that their noble "testimony" for God might be given before the world powers "against them" (Mt 10:18), to the edification of the Church in all ages.
14. Is it true—rather, as the Margin [Theodotion], "Is it purposely that?" &c. Compare the Hebrew, Nu 35:20, 22. Notwithstanding his "fury," his past favor for them disposes him to give them the opportunity of excusing themselves on the ground that their disobedience had not been intentional; so he gives them another trial to see whether they would still worship the image.
15. who is that God—so Sennacherib's taunt (2Ki 18:35), and Pharaoh's (Ex 5:2).
16. not careful to answer thee—rather, "We have no need to answer thee"; thou art determined on thy side, and our mind is made up not to worship the image: there is therefore no use in our arguing as if we could be shaken from our principles. Hesitation, or parleying with sin, is fatal; unhesitating decision is the only safety, where the path of duty is clear (Mt 10:19, 28).
17. If it be so—Vatablus translates, "Assuredly." English Version agrees better with the original. The sense is, If it be our lot to be cast into the furnace, our God (quoted from De 6:4) is able to deliver us (a reply to Nebuchadnezzar's challenge, "Who is that God that shall deliver you?"); and He will deliver us (either from death, or in death, 2Ti 4:17, 18). He will, we trust, literally deliver us, but certainly He will do so spiritually.
18. But if not, &c.—connected with Da 3:18. "Whether our God deliver us, as He is able, or do not, we will not serve thy gods." Their service of God is not mercenary in its motive. Though He slay them, they will still trust in Him (Job 13:15). Their deliverance from sinful compliance was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as that from the furnace was in the kingdom of nature. Their youth, and position as captives and friendless exiles, before the absolute world potentate and the horrid death awaiting them if they should persevere in their faith, all enhance the grace of God, which carried them through such an ordeal.
19. visage … changed—He had shown forbearance (Da 3:14, 15) as a favor to them, but now that they despise even his forbearance, anger "fills" him, and is betrayed in his whole countenance.
seven times more than it was wont—literally, "than it was (ever) seen to be heated." Seven is the perfect number; that is, it was made as hot as possible. Passion overdoes and defeats its own end, for the hotter the fire, the sooner were they likely to be put out of pain.
21. coats … hosen … hats—Herodotus [1.195] says that the Babylonian costume consisted of three parts: (1) wide, long pantaloons; (2) a woollen shirt; (3) an outer mantle with a girdle round it. So these are specified [Gesenius], "their pantaloons, inner tunics (hosen, or stockings, are not commonly worn in the East), and outer mantles." Their being cast in so hurriedly, with all their garments on, enhanced the miracle in that not even the smell of fire passed on their clothes, though of delicate, inflammable material.
22. flame … slew those men—(Da 6:24; Ps 7:16).
23. fell down—not cast down; for those who brought the three youths to the furnace, perished by the flames themselves, and so could not cast them in. Here follows an addition in the Septuagint, Syrian, Arabic, and Vulgate versions. "The Prayer of Azarias," and "The Song of the Three Holy Children." It is not in the Chaldee. The hymn was sung throughout the whole Church in their liturgies, from the earliest times [Rufinus in Commentary on the Apostles Creed, and Athanasius]. The "astonishment" of Nebuchadnezzar in Da 3:24 is made an argument for its genuineness, as if it explained the cause of his astonishment, namely, "they walked in the midst of the fire praising God, but the angel of the Lord came down into the oven" (vs. 1 and vs. 27 of the Apocryphal addition). But Da 3:25 of English Version explains his astonishment, without need of any addition.
24. True, O king—God extorted this confession from His enemies' own mouths.
25. four—whereas but three had been cast in.
loose—whereas they had been cast in "bound." Nebuchadnezzar's question, in Da 3:24, is as if he can scarcely trust his own memory as to a fact so recent, now that he sees through an aperture in the furnace what seems to contradict it.
walking in … midst of … fire—image of the godly unhurt, and at large (Joh 8:36), "in the midst of trouble" (Ps 138:7; compare Ps 23:3, 4). They walked up and down in the fire, not leaving it, but waiting for God's time to bring them out, just as Jesus waited in the tomb as God's prisoner, till God should let Him out (Ac 2:26, 27). So Paul (2Co 12:8, 9). So Noah waited in the ark, after the flood, till God brought him forth (Ge 8:12-18).
like the Son of God—Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas (Joh 11:49-52), and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths. "Son of God" in his mouth means only an "angel" from heaven, as Da 3:28 proves. Compare Job 1:6; 38:7; Ps 34:7, 8; and the probably heathen centurion's exclamation (Mt 27:54). The Chaldeans believed in families of gods: Bel, the supreme god, accompanied by the goddess Mylitta, being the father of the gods; thus the expression he meant: one sprung from and sent by the gods. Really it was the "messenger of the covenant," who herein gave a prelude to His incarnation.
26. the most high God—He acknowledges Jehovah to be supreme above other gods (not that he ceased to believe in these); so he returns to his original confession, "your God is a God of gods" (Da 2:47), from which he had swerved in the interim, perhaps intoxicated by his success in taking Jerusalem, whose God he therefore thought unable to defend it.
27. nor … an hair—(Lu 12:7; 21:18).
fire had no power—fulfilling Isa 43:2; compare Heb 11:34. God alone is a "consuming fire" (Heb 12:29).
nor … smell of fire—compare spiritually, 1Th 5:22.
28. In giving some better traits in Nebuchadnezzar's character, Daniel agrees with Jer 39:11; 42:12.
changed the king's word—have made the king's attempt to coerce into obedience vain. Have set aside his word (so "alter … word," Ezr 6:11) from regard to God. Nebuchadnezzar now admits that God's law should be obeyed, rather than his (Ac 5:29).
yielded … bodies—namely, to the fire.
not serve—by sacrificing.
nor worship—by prostration of the body. Decision for God at last gains the respect even of the worldly (Pr 16:7).
29. This decree promulgated throughout the vast empire of Nebuchadnezzar must have tended much to keep the Jews from idolatry in the captivity and thenceforth (Ps 76:10).
Da 4:1-37. Edict of Nebuchadnezzar Containing His Second Dream, Relating to Himself.
Punished with insanity for his haughtiness, he sinks to the level of the beasts (illustrating Ps 49:6, 12). The opposition between bestial and human life, set forth here, is a key to interpret the symbolism in the seventh chapter concerning the beasts and the Son of man. After his conquests, and his building in fifteen days a new palace, according to the heathen historian, Abydenus (268 B.C.), whose account confirms Daniel, he ascended upon his palace roof (Da 4:29, Margin), whence he could see the surrounding city which he had built, and seized by some deity, he predicted the Persian conquest of Babylon, adding a prayer that the Persian leader might on his return be borne where there is no path of men, and where the wild beasts graze (language evidently derived by tradition from Da 4:32, 33, though the application is different). In his insanity, his excited mind would naturally think of the coming conquest of Babylon by the Medo-Persians, already foretold to him in the second chapter.
1. Peace—the usual salutation in the East, shalom, whence "salaam." The primitive revelation of the fall, and man's alienation from God, made "peace" to be felt as the first and deepest want of man. The Orientals (as the East was the cradle of revelation) retained the word by tradition.
2. I thought it good—"It was seemly before me" (Ps 107:2-8).
signs—tokens significant of God's omnipotent agency. The plural is used, as it comprises the marvellous dream, the marvellous interpretation of it, and its marvellous issue.
4. I was … at rest—my wars over, my kingdom at peace.
flourishing—"green." Image from a tree (Jer 17:8). Prosperous (Job 15:32).
6. It may seem strange that Daniel was not first summoned. But it was ordered by God's providence that he should be reserved to the last, in order that all mere human means should be proved vain, before God manifested His power through His servant; thus the haughty king was stripped of all fleshly confidences. The Chaldees were the king's recognized interpreters of dreams; whereas Daniel's interpretation of the one in Da 2:24-45 had been a peculiar case, and very many years before; nor had he been consulted on such matters since.
8. Belteshazzar—called so from the god Bel or Belus (see on Da 1:7).
9. spirit of the holy gods—Nebuchadnezzar speaks as a heathen, who yet has imbibed some notions of the true God. Hence he speaks of "gods" in the plural but gives the epithet "holy," which applies to Jehovah alone, the heathen gods making no pretension to purity, even in the opinion of their votaries (De 32:31; compare Isa 63:11). "I know" refers to his knowledge of Daniel's skill many years before (Da 2:8); hence he calls him "master of the magicians."
troubleth—gives thee difficulty in explaining it.
10. tree—So the Assyrian is compared to a "cedar" (Eze 31:3; compare Eze 17:24).
in the midst of the earth—denoting its conspicuous position as the center whence the imperial authority radiated in all directions.
12. beasts … shadow under it—implying that God's purpose in establishing empires in the world is that they may be as trees affording men "fruits" for "meat," and a "shadow" for "rest" (compare La 4:20). But the world powers abuse their trust for self; therefore Messiah comes to plant the tree of His gospel kingdom, which alone shall realize God's purpose (Eze 17:23; Mt 13:32). Herodotus [7.19] mentions a dream (probably suggested by the tradition of this dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel) which Xerxes had; namely, that he was crowned with olive, and that the branches of the olive filled the whole earth, but that afterwards the crown vanished from his head: signifying his universal dominion soon to come to an end.
13. watcher and an holy one—rather, "even an holy one." Only one angel is intended, and he not one of the bad, but of the holy angels. Called a "watcher," because ever on the watch to execute God's will [Jerome], (Ps 103:20, 21). Compare as to their watchfulness, Re 4:8, "full of eyes within … they rest not day and night." Also they watch good men committed to their charge (Ps 34:7; Heb 1:14); and watch over the evil to record their sins, and at God's bidding at last punish them (Jer 4:16, 17), "watchers" applied to human instruments of God's vengeance. As to God (Da 9:14; Job 7:12; 14:16; Jer 44:27). In a good sense (Ge 31:49; Jer 31:28). The idea of heavenly "watchers" under the supreme God (called in the Zendavesta of the Persian Zoroaster, Ormuzd) was founded on the primeval revelation as to evil angels having watched for an opportunity until they succeeded in tempting man to his ruin, and good angels ministering to God's servants (as Jacob, Ge 28:15; 32:1, 2). Compare the watching over Abraham for good, and over Sodom for wrath after long watching in vain for good men it it, for whose sake He would spare it, Ge 18:23-33; and over Lot for good, Ge 19:1-38 Daniel fitly puts in Nebuchadnezzar's mouth the expression, though not found elsewhere in Scripture, yet substantially sanctioned by it (2Ch 16:9; Pr 15:3; Jer 32:19), and natural to him according to Oriental modes of thought.
14. Hew down—(Mt 3:10; Lu 13:7). The holy (Jude 14) one incites his fellow angels to God's appointed work (compare Re 14:15, 18).
beasts get away from under it—It shall no longer afford them shelter (Eze 31:12).
15. stump—The kingdom is still reserved secure for him at last, as a tree stump secured by a hoop of brass and iron from being split by the sun's heat, in the hope of its growing again (Isa 11:1; compare Job 14:7-9). Barnes refers it to the chaining of the royal maniac.
16. heart—understanding (Isa 6:10).
times—that is, "years" (Da 12:7). "Seven" is the perfect number: a week of years: a complete revolution of time accompanying a complete revolution in his state of mind.
17. demand—that is, determination; namely, as to the change to which Nebuchadnezzar is to be doomed. A solemn council of the heavenly ones is supposed (compare Job 1:6; 2:1), over which God presides supreme. His "decree" and "word" are therefore said to be theirs (compare Da 4:24, "decree of the Most High"); "the decree of the watchers," "the word of the holy ones." For He has placed particular kingdoms under the administration of angelic beings, subject to Him (Da 10:13, 20; 12:1). The word "demand," in the second clause, expresses a distinct idea from the first clause. Not only as members of God's council (Da 7:10; 1Ki 22:19; Ps 103:21; Zec 1:10) do they subscribe to His "decree," but that decree is in answer to their prayers, wherein they demand that every mortal who tries to obscure the glory of God shall be humbled [Calvin]. Angels are grieved when God's prerogative is in the least infringed. How awful to Nebuchadnezzar to know that angels plead against him for his pride, and that the decree has been passed in the high court of heaven for his humiliation in answer to angels' demands! The conceptions are moulded in a form peculiarly adapted to Nebuchadnezzar's modes of thought.
the living—not as distinguished from the dead, but from the inhabitants of heaven, who "know" that which the men of the world need to the taught (Ps 9:16); the ungodly confess there is a God, but would gladly confine Him to heaven. But, saith Daniel, God ruleth not merely there, but "in the kingdom of men."
basest—the lowest in condition (1Sa 2:8; Lu 1:52). It is not one's talents, excellency, or noble birth, but God's will, which elevates to the throne. Nebuchadnezzar abased to the dunghill, and then restored, was to have in himself an experimental proof of this (Da 4:37).
19. Daniel … Belteshazzar—The use of the Hebrew as well as the Chaldee name, so far from being an objection, as some have made it, is an undesigned mark of genuineness. In a proclamation to "all people," and one designed to honor the God of the Hebrews, Nebuchadnezzar would naturally use the Hebrew name (derived from El, "God," the name by which the prophet was best known among his countrymen), as well as the Gentile name by which he was known in the Chaldean empire.
astonied—overwhelmed with awe at the terrible import of the dream.
one hour—the original means often "a moment," or "short time," as in Da 3:6, 15.
let not the dream … trouble thee—Many despots would have punished a prophet who dared to foretell his overthrow. Nebuchadnezzar assures Daniel he may freely speak out.
the dream be to them that hate thee—We are to desire the prosperity of those under whose authority God's providence has placed us (Jer 29:7). The wish here is not so much against others, as for the king: a common formula (2Sa 18:32). It is not the language of uncharitable hatred.
20. The tree is the king. The branches, the princes. The leaves, the soldiers. The fruits, the revenues. The shadow, the protection afforded to dependent states.
22. It is thou—He speaks pointedly, and without circumlocution (2Sa 12:7). While pitying the king, he uncompromisingly pronounces his sentence of punishment. Let ministers steer the mean between, on the one hand, fulminations against sinners under the pretext of zeal, without any symptom of compassion; and, on the other, flattery of sinners under the pretext of moderation.
to the end of the earth—(Jer 27:6-8). To the Caspian, Euxine, and Atlantic seas.
24. decree of the Most High—What was termed in Da 4:17 by Nebuchadnezzar, "the decree of the watchers," is here more accurately termed by Daniel, "the decree of the Most High." They are but His ministers.
25. they shall drive thee—a Chaldee idiom for "thou shalt be driven." Hypochondriacal madness was his malady, which "drove" him under the fancy that he was a beast, to "dwell with the beasts"; Da 4:34 proves this, "mine understanding returned." The regency would leave him to roam in the large beast-abounding parks attached to the palace.
eat grass—that is, vegetables, or herbs in general (Ge 3:18).
they shall wet thee—that is, thou shalt be wet.
till thou know, &c.—(Ps 83:17, 18; Jer 27:5).
26. thou shalt have known, &c.—a promise of spiritual grace to him, causing the judgment to humble, not harden, his heart.
heavens do rule—The plural is used, as addressed to Nebuchadnezzar, the head of an organized earthly kingdom, with various principalities under the supreme ruler. So "the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 4:17; Greek, "kingdom of the heavens") is a manifold organization, composed of various orders of angels, under the Most High (Eph 1:20, 21; 3:10; Col 1:16).
27. break off—as a galling yoke (Ge 27:40); sin is a heavy load (Mt 11:28). The Septuagint and Vulgate translate not so well, "redeem," which is made an argument for Rome's doctrine of the expiation of sins by meritorious works. Even translate it so, it can only mean; Repent and show the reality of thy repentance by works of justice and charity (compare Lu 11:41); so God will remit thy punishment. The trouble will be longer before it comes, or shorter when it does come. Compare the cases of Hezekiah, Isa 38:1-5; Nineveh, Jon 3:5-10; Jer 18:7, 8. The change is not in God, but in the sinner who repents. As the king who had provoked God's judgments by sin, so he might avert it by a return to righteousness (compare Ps 41:1, 2; Ac 8:22). Probably, like most Oriental despots, Nebuchadnezzar had oppressed the poor by forcing them to labor in his great public works without adequate remuneration.
if … lengthening of … tranquillity—if haply thy present prosperity shall be prolonged.
29. twelve months—This respite was granted to him to leave him without excuse. So the hundred twenty years granted before the flood (Ge 6:3). At the first announcement of the coming judgment he was alarmed, as Ahab (1Ki 21:27), but did not thoroughly repent; so when judgment was not executed at once, he thought it would never come, and so returned to his former pride (Ec 8:11).
in the palace—rather, upon the (flat) palace roof, whence he could contemplate the splendor of Babylon. So the heathen historian, Abydenus, records. The palace roof was the scene of the fall of another king (2Sa 11:2). The outer wall of Nebuchadnezzar's new palace embraced six miles; there were two other embattled walls within, and a great tower, and three brazen gates.
30. Babylon, that I have built—Herodotus ascribes the building of Babylon to Semiramis and Nitocris, his informant under the Persian dynasty giving him the Assyrian and Persian account. Berosus and Abydenus give the Babylonian account, namely, that Nebuchadnezzar added much to the old city, built a splendid palace and city walls. Herodotus, the so-called "father of history," does not even mention Nebuchadnezzar. (Nitocris, to whom he attributes the beautifying of Babylon, seems to have been Nebuchadnezzar's wife). Hence infidels have doubted the Scripture account. But the latter is proved by thousands of bricks on the plain, the inscriptions of which have been deciphered, each marked "Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopolassar." "Built," that is, restored and enlarged (2Ch 11:5, 6). It is curious, all the bricks have been found with the stamped face downwards. Scarcely a figure in stone, or tablet, has been dug out of the rubbish heaps of Babylon, whereas Nineveh abounds in them; fulfilling Jer 51:37, "Babylon shall become heaps." The "I" is emphatic, by which he puts himself in the place of God; so the "my … my." He impiously opposes his might to God's, as though God's threat, uttered a year before, could never come to pass. He would be more than man; God, therefore, justly, makes him less than man. An acting over again of the fall; Adam, once lord of the world and the very beasts (Ge 1:28; so Nebuchadnezzar Da 2:38), would be a god (Ge 3:5); therefore he must die like the beasts (Ps 82:6; 49:12). The second Adam restores the forfeited inheritance (Ps 8:4-8).
31. While, &c.—in the very act of speaking, so that there could be no doubt as to the connection between the crime and the punishment. So Lu 12:19, 20.
O king … to thee it is spoken—Notwithstanding thy kingly power, to thee thy doom is now spoken, there is to be no further respite.
33. driven from men—as a maniac fancying himself a wild beast. It is possible, a conspiracy of his nobles may have co-operated towards his having been "driven" forth as an outcast.
hairs … eagles' feathers—matted together, as the hair-like, thick plumage of the ossifraga eagle. The "nails," by being left uncut for years, would become like "claws."
34. lifted up mine eyes unto heaven—whence the "voice" had issued (Da 4:31) at the beginning of his visitation. Sudden mental derangement often has the effect of annihilating the whole interval, so that, when reason returns, the patient remembers only the event that immediately preceded his insanity. Nebuchadnezzar's looking up towards heaven was the first symptom of his "understanding" having "returned." Before, like the beasts, his eyes had been downward to the earth. Now, like Jonah's (Jon 2:1, 2, 4) out of the fish's belly, they are lifted up to heaven in prayer. He turns to Him that smiteth him (Isa 9:13), with the faint glimmer of reason left to him, and owns God's justice in punishing him.
praised … him—Praise is a sure sign of a soul spiritually healed (Ps 116:12, 14; Mr 5:15, 18, 19).
I … honoured him—implying that the cause of his chastisement was that he had before robbed God of His honor.
everlasting dominion—not temporary or mutable, as a human king's dominion.
35. all … as nothing—(Isa 40:15, 17).
according to his will in … heaven—(Ps 115:3; 135:6; Mt 6:10; Eph 1:11).
army—the heavenly hosts, angels and starry orbs (compare Isa 24:21).
none … stay his hand—literally, "strike His hand." Image from striking the hand of another, to check him in doing anything (Isa 43:13; 45:9).
What doest thou—(Job 9:12; Ro 9:20).
36. An inscription in the East India Company's Museum is read as describing the period of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity [G. V. Smith]. In the so-called standard inscription read by Sir H. Rawlinson, Nebuchadnezzar relates that during four (?) years he ceased to lay out buildings, or to furnish with victims Merodach's altar, or to clear out the canals for irrigation. No other instance in the cuneiform inscriptions occurs of a king recording his own inaction.
my counsellors … sought unto me—desired to have me, as formerly, to be their head, wearied with the anarchy which prevailed in my absence (compare Note, see on Da 4:33); the likelihood of a conspiracy of the nobles is confirmed by this verse.
majesty was added—My authority was greater than ever before (Job 42:12; Pr 22:4; "added," Mt 6:33).
37. praise … extol … honour—He heaps word on word, as if he cannot say enough in praise of God.
all whose works … truth … judgment—that is, are true and just (Re 15:3; 16:7). God has not dealt unjustly or too severely with me; whatever I have suffered, I deserved it all. It is a mark of true contrition to condemn one's self, and justify God (Ps 51:4).
those that walk in pride … abase—exemplified in me. He condemns himself before the whole world, in order to glorify God.
Da 5:1-31. Belshazzar's Impious Feast; the Handwriting on the Wall Interpreted by Daniel of the Doom of Babylon and Its King.
1. Belshazzar—Rawlinson, from the Assyrian inscriptions, has explained the seeming discrepancy between Daniel and the heathen historians of Babylon, Berosus and Abydenus, who say the last king (Nabonidus) surrendered in Borsippa, after Babylon was taken, and had an honorable abode in Caramania assigned to him. Belshazzar was joint king with his father (called Minus in the inscriptions), but subordinate to him; hence the Babylonian account suppresses the facts which cast discredit on Babylon, namely, that Belshazzar shut himself up in that city and fell at its capture; while it records the surrender of the principal king in Borsippa (see my Introduction to Daniel). The heathen Xenophon's description of Belshazzar accords with Daniel's; he calls him "impious," and illustrates his cruelty by mentioning that he killed one of his nobles, merely because, in hunting, the noble struck down the game before him; and unmanned a courtier, Gadates, at a banquet, because one of the king's concubines praised him as handsome. Daniel shows none of the sympathy for him which he had for Nebuchadnezzar. Xenophon confirms Daniel as to Belshazzar's end. Winer explains the "shazzar" in the name as meaning "fire."
made … feast—heaven-sent infatuation when his city was at the time being besieged by Cyrus. The fortifications and abundant provisions in the city made the king despise the besiegers. It was a festival day among the Babylonians [Xenophon].
drank … before the thousand—The king, on this extraordinary occasion, departed from his usual way of feasting apart from his nobles (compare Es 1:3).
2. whiles he tasted the wine—While under the effects of wine, men will do what they dare not do when sober.
his father Nebuchadnezzar—that is, his forefather. So "Jesus … the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Mt 1:1). Daniel does not say that the other kings mentioned in other writers did not reign between Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar, namely, Evil-merodach (Jer 52:31), Neriglissar, his brother-in-law, and Laborasoarchod (nine months). Berosus makes Nabonidus, the last king, to have been one of the people, raised to the throne by an insurrection. As the inscriptions show that Belshazzar was distinct from, and joint king with, him, this is not at variance with Daniel, whose statement that Belshazzar was son (grandson) of Nebuchadnezzar is corroborated by Jeremiah (Jer 27:7). Their joint, yet independent, testimony, as contemporaries, and having the best means of information, is more trustworthy than any of the heathen historians, if there were a discrepancy. Evil-merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar (according to Berosus), reigned but a short time (one or two years), having, in consequence of his bad government, been dethroned by a plot of Neriglissar, his sister's husband; hence Daniel does not mention him. At the elevation of Nabonidus as supreme king, Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was doubtless suffered to be subordinate king and successor, in order to conciliate the legitimate party. Thus the seeming discrepancy becomes a confirmation of genuineness when cleared up, for the real harmony must have been undesigned.
wives … concubines—not usually present at feasts in the East, where women of the harem are kept in strict seclusion. Hence Vashti's refusal to appear at Ahasuerus' feast (Es 1:9-12). But the Babylonian court, in its reckless excesses, seems not to have been so strict as the Persian. Xenophon [Cyropædia, 5.2,28] confirms Daniel, representing a feast of Belshazzar where the concubines are present. At the beginning "the lords" (Da 5:1), for whom the feast was made, alone seem to have been present; but as the revelry advanced, the women were introduced. Two classes of them are mentioned, those to whom belonged the privileges of "wives," and those strictly concubines (2Sa 5:13; 1Ki 11:3; So 6:8).
3. This act was not one of necessity, or for honor's sake, but in reckless profanity.
4. praised—sang and shouted praises to "gods," which being of gold, "are their own witnesses" (Isa 44:9), confuting the folly of those who fancy such to be gods.
5. In the same hour—that the cause of God's visitation might be palpable, namely, the profanation of His vessels and His holy name.
fingers of … hand—God admonishes him, not by a dream (as Nebuchadnezzar had been warned), or by a voice, but by "fingers coming forth," the invisibility of Him who moved them heightening the awful impressiveness of the scene, the hand of the Unseen One attesting his doom before the eyes of himself and his guilty fellow revellers.
against the candlestick—the candelabra; where the mystic characters would be best seen. Barnes makes it the candlestick taken from the temple of Jerusalem, the nearness of the writing to it intimating that the rebuke was directed against the sacrilege.
upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace—Written in cuneiform letters on slabs on the walls, and on the very bricks, are found the perpetually recurring recital of titles, victories, and exploits, to remind the spectator at every point of the regal greatness. It is significant, that on the same wall on which the king was accustomed to read the flattering legends of his own magnificence, he beholds the mysterious inscription which foretells his fall (compare Pr 16:18; Ac 12:21-23).
part of the hand—the anterior part, namely, the fingers.
6. countenance—literally, "brightness," that is, his bright look.
joints of his loins—"the vertebræ of his back" [Gesenius].
7. He calls for the magicians, who more than once had been detected in imposture. He neglects God, and Daniel, whose fame as an interpreter was then well-established. The world wishes to be deceived and shuts its eyes against the light [Calvin]. The Hebrews think the words were Chaldee, but in the old Hebrew character (like that now in the Samaritan Pentateuch).
third ruler—The first place was given to the king; the second, to the son of the king, or of the queen; the third, to the chief of the satraps.
8. The words were in such a character as to be illegible to the Chaldees, God reserving this honor to Daniel.
10. queen—the queen mother, or grandmother, Nitocris, had not been present till now. She was wife either of Nebuchadnezzar or of Evil merodach; hence her acquaintance with the services of Daniel. She completed the great works which the former had begun. Hence Herodotus attributes them to her alone. This accounts for the deference paid to her by Belshazzar. (See on Da 4:36). Compare similar rank given to the queen mother among the Hebrews (1Ki 15:13).
11. spirit of the holy gods—She remembers and repeats Nebuchadnezzar's language (Da 4:8, 9, 18). As Daniel was probably, according to Oriental custom, deprived of the office to which Nebuchadnezzar had promoted him, as "master of the magicians" (Da 4:9), at the king's death, Belshazzar might easily be ignorant of his services.
the king … thy father the king … thy father—The repetition marks with emphatic gravity both the excellencies of Daniel, and the fact that Nebuchadnezzar, whom Belshazzar is bound to reverence as his father, had sought counsel from him in similar circumstances.
13. the captivity of Judah—the captive Jews residing in Babylon.
17. Not inconsistent with Da 5:29. For here he declares his interpretation of the words is not from the desire of reward. The honors in Da 5:29 were doubtless urged on him, without his wish, in such a way that he could not with propriety refuse them. Had he refused them after announcing the doom of the kingdom, he might have been suspected of cowardice or treason.
18. God gave—It was not his own birth or talents which gave him the vast empire, as he thought. To make him unlearn his proud thought was the object of God's visitation on him.
majesty—in the eyes of his subjects.
glory—from his victories.
honour—from the enlargement and decoration of the city.
19. A purely absolute monarchy (Jer 27:7).
21. heart was made like … beasts—literally, "he made his heart like the beasts," that is, he desired to dwell with them.
22. Thou hast erred not through ignorance, but through deliberate contempt of God, notwithstanding that thou hadst before thine eyes the striking warning given in thy grandfather's case.
23. whose are all thy ways—(Jer 10:23).
24. Then—When thou liftedst up thyself against the Lord.
the part of the hand—the fore part, the fingers.
was … sent from him—that is, from God.
25. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin—literally, "numbered, weighed, and dividers."
26. God hath fixed the number of years of thine empire, and that number is now complete.
27. weighed in the balances—The Egyptians thought that Osiris weighed the actions of the dead in a literal balance. The Babylonians may have had the same notion, which would give a peculiar appropriateness to the image here used.
found wanting—too light before God, the weigher of actions (1Sa 2:3; Ps 62:9). Like spurious gold or silver (Jer 6:30).
28. Peres—the explanation of "dividers" (Da 5:25), the active participle plural there being used for the passive participle singular, "dividers" for "divided." The word "Peres" alludes to the similar word "Persia."
divided—namely, among the Medes and Persians [Maurer]; or, "severed" from thee [Grotius].
29. Belshazzar … clothed Daniel with scarlet—To come from the presence of a prince in a dress presented to the wearer as a distinction is still held a great honor in the East. Daniel was thus restored to a similar rank to what he had held under Nebuchadnezzar (Da 2:48). Godly fidelity which might be expected to bring down vengeance, as in this case, is often rewarded even in this life. The king, having promised, was ashamed before his courtiers to break his word. He perhaps also affected to despise the prophecy of his doom, as an idle threat. As to Daniel's reasons for now accepting what at first he had declined, compare Note, see on Da 5:17. The insignia of honor would be witnesses for God's glory to the world of his having by God's aid interpreted the mystic characters. The cause of his elevation too would secure the favor of the new dynasty (Da 6:2) for both himself and his captive countrymen. As the capture of the city by Cyrus was not till near daylight, there was no want of time in that eventful night for accomplishing all that is here recorded. The capture of the city so immediately after the prophecy of it (following Belshazzar's sacrilege), marked most emphatically to the whole world the connection between Babylon's sin and its punishment.
30. Herodotus and Xenophon confirm Daniel as to the suddenness of the event. Cyrus diverted the Euphrates into a new channel and, guided by two deserters, marched by the dry bed into the city, while the Babylonians were carousing at an annual feast to the gods. See also Isa 21:5; 44:27; Jer 50:38, 39; 51:36. As to Belshazzar's being slain, compare Isa 14:18-20; 21:2-9; Jer 50:29-35; 51:57.
31. Darius the Median—that is, Cyaxares II, the son and successor of Astyages, 569-536 B.C. Though Koresh, or Cyrus, was leader of the assault, yet all was done in the name of Darius; therefore, he alone is mentioned here; but Da 6:28 shows Daniel was not ignorant of Cyrus' share in the capture of Babylon. Isa 13:17; 21:2, confirm Daniel in making the Medes the leading nation in destroying Babylon. So also Jer 51:11, 28. Herodotus, on the other hand, omits mentioning Darius, as that king, being weak and sensual, gave up all the authority to his energetic nephew, Cyrus [Xenophon, Cyropædia, 1.5; 8.7].
threescore and two years old—This agrees with Xenophon [Cyropædia, 8.5,19], as to Cyaxares II.
Da 6:1-28. Darius' Decree: Daniel's Disobedience, and Consequent Exposure to the Lions: His Deliverance by God, and Darius' Decree.
1. Darius—Grotefend has read it in the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis, as Darheush, that is, "Lord-King," a name applied to many of the Medo-Persian kings in common. Three of that name occur: Darius Hystaspes, 521 B.C., in whose reign the decree was carried into effect for rebuilding the temple (Ezr 4:5; Hag 1:1); Darius Codomanus, 336 B.C., whom Alexander overcame, called "the Persian" (Ne 12:22), an expression used after the rule of Macedon was set up; and Darius Cyaxares II, between Astyages and Cyrus [ÆSCHYLUS, The Persians, 762, 763].
hundred and twenty—satraps; set over the conquered provinces (including Babylon) by Cyrus [Xenophon, Cyropædia, 8.6.1]. No doubt Cyrus acted under Darius, as in the capture of Babylon; so that Daniel rightly attributes the appointment to Darius.
3. Daniel was preferred—probably because of his having so wonderfully foretold the fall of Babylon. Hence the very expression used by the queen mother on that occasion (Da 5:12) is here used, "because an excellent spirit was in him."
king thought to set him over the whole realm—Agreeing with Darius' character, weak and averse to business, which he preferred to delegate to favorites. God overruled this to the good both of Daniel, and, through him, of His people.
4. occasion … concerning the kingdom—pretext for accusation in his administration (Ec 4:4).
5. It is the highest testimony to a godly man's walk, when his most watchful enemies can find no ground of censure save in that he walks according to the law of God even where it opposes the ways of the world.
6. assembled together—literally, "assembled hastily and tumultuously." Had they come more deliberately, the king might have refused their grant; but they gave him no time for reflection, representing that their test-decree was necessary for the safety of the king.
live for ever—Arrian [Alexander, 4] records that Cyrus was the first before whom prostration was practised. It is an undesigned mark of genuineness that Daniel should mention no prostration before Nebuchadnezzar or Darius (see on Da 3:9).
7. The Persian king was regarded as representative of the chief god, Ormuzd; the seven princes near him represented the seven Amshaspands before the throne of Ormuzd; hence Mordecai (Es 3:4) refused such homage to Haman, the king's prime minister, as inconsistent with what is due to God alone. A weak despot, like Darius, much under the control of his princes, might easily be persuaded that such a decree would test the obedience of the Chaldeans just conquered, and tame their proud spirits. So absolute is the king in the East, that he is regarded not merely as the ruler, but the owner, of the people.
All … governors … counsellors, &c.—Several functionaries are here specified, not mentioned in Da 6:4, 6. They evidently exaggerated the case of the weak king, as if their request was that of all the officers in the empire.
den of lions—an underground cave or pit, covered with a stone. It is an undesigned proof of genuineness, that the "fiery furnace" is not made the means of punishment here, as in Da 3:20; for the Persians were fire-worshippers, which the Babylonians were not.
8. decree—or, "interdict."
that it be not changed—(Es 1:19; 8:8). This immutability of the king's commands was peculiar to the Medes and Persians: it was due to their regarding him infallible as the representative of Ormuzd; it was not so among the Babylonians.
Medes and Persians—The order of the names is an undesigned mark of genuineness. Cyrus the Persian reigned subordinate to Darius the Mede as to dignity, though exercising more real power. After Darius' death, the order is "the Persians and Medes" (Es 1:14, 19, &c.).
9. Such a despotic decree is quite explicable by remembering that the king, as the incarnation of Ormuzd, might demand such an act of religious obedience as a test of loyalty. Persecuting laws are always made on false pretenses. Instead of bitter complaints against men, Daniel prays to God. Though having vast business as a ruler of the empire, he finds time to pray thrice a day. Daniel's three companions (Da 3:12), are not alluded to here, nor any other Jew who conscientiously may have disregarded the edict, as the conspirators aimed at Daniel alone (Da 6:5).
10. when Daniel knew … writing … signed—and that, therefore, the power of advising the king against it was taken from him.
went into his house—withdrawing from the God-dishonoring court.
windows … open—not in vainglory, but that there might be no obstruction to his view of the direction in which Jerusalem, the earthly seat of Jehovah under the Old Testament, lay; and that the sight of heaven might draw his mind off from earthly thoughts. To Christ in the heavenly temple let us turn our eyes in prayer, from this land of our captivity (1Ki 8:44, 48; 2Ch 6:29, 34, 38; Ps 5:7).
chamber—the upper room, where prayer was generally offered by the Jews (Ac 1:13). Not on the housetop (Ac 10:9), where he would be conspicuous.
upon his knees—Humble attitudes in prayer become humble suppliants.
three times a day—(Ps 55:17). The third, sixth, and ninth hour; our nine, twelve, and three o'clock (Ac 2:15; 10:9; 3:1; 10:30; compare Da 9:21).
as … aforetime—not from contempt of the king's command.
11. assembled—as in Da 6:6, "assembled" or "ran hastily," so as to come upon Daniel suddenly and detect him in the act.
12. They preface their attack by alleging the king's edict, so as to get him again to confirm it unalterably, before they mention Daniel's name. Not to break a wicked promise, is not firmness, but guilty obstinacy (Mt 14:9; Mr 6:26).
13. That Daniel—contemptuously.
of … captivity of Judah—recently a captive among thy servants, the Babylonians—one whom humble obedience most becomes. Thus they aggravate his guilt, omitting mention of his being prime minister, which might only remind Darius of Daniel's state services.
regardeth not thee—because he regarded God (Ac 4:19; 5:29).
14. displeased with himself—for having suffered himself to be entrapped into such a hasty decree (Pr 29:20). On the one hand he was pressed by the immutability of the law, fear that the princes might conspire against him, and desire to consult for his own reputation, not to seem fickle; on the other, by regard for Daniel, and a desire to save him from the effects of his own rash decree.
till … going down of … sun—The king took this time to deliberate, thinking that after sunset Daniel would be spared till morning, and that meanwhile some way of escape would turn up. But (Da 6:15) the conspirators "assembled tumultuously" (literally) to prevent this delay in the execution, lest the king should meantime change his decree.
16. Thy God … will deliver thee—The heathen believed in the interposition of the gods at times in favor of their worshippers. Darius recognized Daniel's God as a god, but not the only true God. He had heard of the deliverance of the three youths in Da 3:26, 27 and hence augurs Daniel's deliverance. I am not my own master, and cannot deliver thee, however much I wish it. "Thy God will." Kings are the slaves of their flatterers. Men admire piety to God in others, however disregarding Him themselves.
17. stone … sealed—typical of Christ's entombment under a seal (Mt 27:66). Divinely ordered, that the deliverance might be the more striking.
his own signet, and … of his lords—The concurrence of the lords was required for making laws. In this kingly power had fallen since it was in Nebuchadnezzar's hands. The Median king is a puppet in his lords' hands; they take the security of their own seal as well as his, that he should not release Daniel. The king's seal guaranteed Daniel from being killed by them, should he escape the lions.
18. neither were instruments of music, &c.—Gesenius translates, "concubines." Daniel's mentioning to us as an extraordinary thing of Darius, that he neither approached his table nor his harem, agrees with Xenophon's picture of him as devoted to wine and women, vain, and without self-control. He is sorry for the evil which he himself had caused, yet takes no steps to remedy it. There are many such halters between good and bad, who are ill at ease in their sins, yet go forward in them, and are drawn on by others.
19. His grief overcame his fear of the nobles.
20. living God—having life Himself, and able to preserve thy life; contrasted with the lifeless idols. Darius borrowed the phrase from Daniel; God extorting from an idolater a confession of the truth.
thou servest continually—in times of persecution, as well as in times of peace.
is thy God … able—the language of doubt, yet hope.
21. Daniel might have indulged in anger at the king, but does not; his sole thought is, God's glory has been set forth in his deliverance.
22. his angel—the instrument, not the author, of his deliverance (Ps 91:11; 34:7).
shut … lions' mouths—(Heb 11:33). So spiritually, God will shut the roaring lion's mouth (1Pe 5:8) for His servants.
forasmuch as before him innocency—not absolutely (in Da 9:7, 18 he disclaims such a plea), but relatively to this case. God has attested the justice of my cause in standing up for His worship, by delivering me. Therefore, the "forasmuch" does not justify Rome's doctrine of works meriting salvation.
before thee—Obedience to God is in strictest compatibility with loyalty to the king (Mt 22:21; 1Pe 2:17). Daniel's disobedience to the king was seeming, not real, because it was not from contempt of the king, but from regard to the King of kings (compare Ac 24:16).
23. because he believed—"Faith" is stated in Heb 11:33 to have been his actuating principle: a prelude to the Gospel. His belief was not with a view to a miraculous deliverance. He shut his eyes to the event, committing the keeping of his soul to God, in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1Pe 4:19), sure of deliverance in a better life, if not in this.
24. (De 19:19; Pr 19:5).
accused—literally, "devoured the bones and flesh." It was just that they who had torn Daniel's character, and sought the tearing of his person, should be themselves given to be torn in pieces (Pr 11:8).
their children—Among the Persians, all the kindred were involved in the guilt of one culprit. The Mosaic law expressly forbade this (De 24:16; 2Ki 14:6).
or ever—that is, "before ever." The lions' sparing Daniel could not have been because they were full, as they showed the keenness of their hunger on the accusers.
26. Stronger than the decree (Da 3:29). That was negative; this, positive; not merely men must say "nothing amiss of," but must "fear before God."
28. It was in the third year of Cyrus that Daniel's visions (Da 10:1-12:13) were given. Daniel "prospered" because of his prophecies (Ezr 1:1, 2).
Da 7:1-28. Vision of the Four Beasts.
This chapter treats of the same subject as the second chapter. But there the four kingdoms, and Messiah's final kingdom, were regarded according to their external political aspect, but here according to the mind of God concerning them, and their moral features. The outward political history had been shown in its general features to the world ruler, whose position fitted him for receiving such a revelation. But God's prophet here receives disclosures as to the characters of the powers of the world, in a religious point of view, suited to his position and receptivity. Hence in the second chapter the images are taken from the inanimate sphere; in the seventh chapter they are taken from the animate. Nebuchadnezzar saw superficially the world power as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom of God as a mere stone at the first. Daniel sees the world kingdoms in their inner essence as of an animal nature lower than human, being estranged from God; and that only in the kingdom of God ("the Son of man," the representative man) is the true dignity of man realized. So, as contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the kingdom of God appears to Daniel, from the very first, superior to the world kingdom. For though in physical force the beasts excel man, man has essentially spiritual powers. Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represents mankind in its own strength, but only the outward man. Daniel sees man spiritually degraded to the beast level, led by blind impulses, through his alienation from God. It is only from above that the perfect Son of man comes, and in His kingdom man attains his true destiny. Compare Ps 8:1-9 with Ge 1:26-28. Humanity is impossible without divinity: it sinks to bestiality (Ps 32:9; 49:20; 73:22). Obstinate heathen nations are compared to "bulls" (Ps 68:30); Egypt to the dragon in the Nile (Isa 27:1; 51:9; Eze 29:3). The animal with all its sagacity looks always to the ground, without consciousness of relation to God. What elevates man is communion with God, in willing subjection to Him. The moment he tries to exalt himself to independence of God, as did Nebuchadnezzar (Da 4:30), he sinks to the beast's level. Daniel's acquaintance with the animal colossal figures in Babylon and Nineveh was a psychological preparation for his animal visions. Ho 13:7, 8 would occur to him while viewing those ensigns of the world power. Compare Jer 2:15; 4:7; 5:6.
1. Belshazzar—Good Hebrew manuscripts have "Belshazzar"; meaning "Bel is to be burnt with hostile fire" (Jer 50:2; 51:44). In the history he is called by his ordinary name; in the prophecy, which gives his true destiny, he is called a corresponding name, by the change of a letter.
visions of his head—not confused "dreams," but distinct images seen while his mind was collected.
sum—a "summary." In predictions, generally, details are not given so fully as to leave no scope for free agency, faith, and patient waiting for God manifesting His will in the event. He "wrote" it for the Church in all ages; he "told" it for the comfort of his captive fellow countrymen.
2. the four winds—answering to the "four beasts"; their several conflicts in the four quarters or directions of the world.
strove—burst forth (from the abyss) [Maurer].
sea—The world powers rise out of the agitations of the political sea (Jer 46:7, 8; Lu 21:25; compare Re 13:1; 17:15; 21:1); the kingdom of God and the Son of man from the clouds of heaven (Da 7:13; compare Joh 8:23). Tregelles takes "the great sea" to mean, as always elsewhere in Scripture (Jos 1:4; 9:1), the Mediterranean, the center territorially of the four kingdoms of the vision, which all border on it and have Jerusalem subject to them. Babylon did not border on the Mediterranean, nor rule Jerusalem, till Nebuchadnezzar's time, when both things took place simultaneously. Persia encircled more of this sea, namely, from the Hellespont to Cyrene. Greece did not become a monarchy before Alexander's time, but then, succeeding to Persia, it became mistress of Jerusalem. It surrounded still more of the Mediterranean, adding the coasts of Greece to the part held by Persia. Rome, under Augustus, realized three things at once—it became a monarchy; it became mistress of the last of the four parts of Alexander's empire (symbolized by the four heads of the third beast), and of Jerusalem; it surrounded all the Mediterranean.
3. beasts—not living animals, as the cherubic four in Re 4:7 (for the original is a different word from "beasts," and ought to be there translated, living animals). The cherubic living animals represent redeemed man, combining in himself the highest forms of animal life. But the "beasts" here represent the world powers, in their beast-like, grovelling character. It is on the fundamental harmony between nature and spirit, between the three kingdoms of nature, history, and revelation, that Scripture symbolism rests. The selection of symbols is not arbitrary, but based on the essence of things.
4. lion—the symbol of strength and courage; chief among the kingdoms, as the lion among the beasts. Nebuchadnezzar is called "the lion" (Jer 4:7).
eagle's wings—denoting a widespread and rapidly acquired (Isa 46:11; Jer 4:13; La 4:19; Hab 1:6) empire (Jer 48:40).
plucked—Its ability for widespread conquests passed away under Evil-merodach, &c. [Grotius]; rather, during Nebuchadnezzar's privation of his throne, while deranged.
it was lifted up from the earth—that is, from its grovelling bestiality.
made stand … as a man—So long as Nebuchadnezzar, in haughty pride, relied on his own strength, he forfeited the true dignity of man, and was therefore degraded to be with the beasts. Da 4:16: "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him." But after he learned by this sore discipline that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Da 4:35, 36), the change took place in him, "a man's heart is given to him; instead of his former beast's heart, he attains man's true position, namely, to be consciously dependent on God." Compare Ps 9:20.
5. bear—symbolizing the austere life of the Persians in their mountains, also their cruelty (Isa 13:17, 18; Cambyses, Ochus, and other of the Persian princes were notoriously cruel; the Persian laws involved, for one man's offense, the whole kindred and neighborhood in destruction, Da 6:24) and rapacity. "A bear is an all-devouring animal" [Aristotle, 8.5], (Jer 51:48, 56).
raised … itself on one side—but the Hebrew, "It raised up one dominion." The Medes, an ancient people, and the Persians, a modern tribe, formed one united sovereignty in contrast to the third and fourth kingdoms, each originally one, afterwards divided. English Version is the result of a slight change of a Hebrew letter. The idea then would be, "It lay on one of its fore feet, and stood on the other"; a figure still to be seen on one of the stones of Babylon [Munter, The Religion of Babylonia, 112]; denoting a kingdom that had been at rest, but is now rousing itself for conquest. Media is the lower side, passiveness; Persia, the upper, active element [Auberlen]. The three ribs in its mouth are Media, Lydia, and Babylon, brought under the Persian sway. Rather, Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, not properly parts of its body, but seized by Medo-Persia [Sir Isaac Newton]. Called "ribs" because they strengthened the Medo-Persian empire. "Between its teeth," as being much grinded by it.
devour much flesh—that is, subjugate many nations.
6. leopard—smaller than the lion; swift (Hab 1:8); cruel (Isa 11:6), the opposite of tame; springing suddenly from its hiding place on its prey (Ho 13:7); spotted. So Alexander, a small king, of a small kingdom, Macedon, attacked Darius at the head of the vast empire reaching from the Ægean Sea to the Indies. In twelve years he subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia from Illyricum and the Adriatic to the Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering [Jerome]. Hence, whereas Babylon is represented with two wings, Macedon has four, so rapid were its conquests. The various spots denote the various nations incorporated into his empire [Bochart]; or Alexander's own variation in character, at one time mild, at another cruel, now temperate, and now drunken and licentious.
four heads—explained in Da 8:8, 22; the four kingdoms of the Diadochi or "successors" into which the Macedonian empire was divided at the death of Alexander, namely, Macedon and Greece under Cassander, Thrace and Bithynia under Lysimachus, Egypt under Ptolemy, and Syria under Seleucus.
dominion … given to it—by God; not by Alexander's own might. For how unlikely it was that thirty thousand men should overthrow several hundreds of thousands! Josephus [Antiquities, 11.6] says that Alexander adored the high priest of Jerusalem, saying that he at Dium in Macedonia had seen a vision of God so habited, inviting him to go to Asia, and promising him success.
7. As Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world power manifests fully its God-opposing nature. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively, as a lion, bear, and leopard, no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; for Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by any one, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence thrice (Da 7:7, 19, 23) it is repeated, that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Da 7:2, and again at Da 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into three parts—the first embracing the three kingdoms, the second the fourth and its overthrow, the third Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in the second chapter is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Da 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.
ten horns—It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kingdom that this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The ten kings (Da 7:24, the "horns" representing power), that is, kingdoms, into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are thought by many to be here intended. But the variation of the list of the ten, and their ignoring the eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued till A.D. 731, and the Eastern, till A.D. 1453. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes" (Da 2:41; compare Re 13:1; 17:12), are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided when Antichrist shall appear [Tregelles]. These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.
8. little horn—little at first, but afterwards waxing greater than all others. He must be sought "among them," namely, the ten horns. The Roman empire did not represent itself as a continuation of Alexander's; but the Germanic empire calls itself "the holy Roman empire." Napoleon's attempted universal monarchy was avowedly Roman: his son was called king of Rome. The czar (Cæsar) also professes to represent the eastern half of the Roman empire. The Roman civilization, church, language, and law are the chief elements in Germanic civilization. But the Romanic element seeks universal empire, while the Germanic seeks individualization. Hence the universal monarchies attempted by the Papacy, Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon have failed, the iron not amalgamating with the clay. In the king symbolized by "the little horn," the God-opposing, haughty spirit of the world, represented by the fourth monarchy, finds its intensest development. "The man of sin," "the son of perdition" (2Th 2:3). Antichrist (1Jo 2:18, 22; 4:3). It is the complete evolution of the evil principle introduced by the fall.
three of the first horns plucked up—the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards and the state of Rome, which constituted the Pope's dominions at the first; obtained by Pope Zachary and Stephen II in return for acknowledging the usurper Pepin lawful king of France [Newton]. See Tregelles' objections, Da 7:7, "ten horns," Note. The "little horn," in his view, is to be Antichrist rising three and a half years before Christ's second advent, having first overthrown three of the ten contemporaneous kingdoms, into which the fourth monarchy, under which we live, shall be finally divided. Popery seems to be a fulfilment of the prophecy in many particulars, the Pope claiming to be God on earth and above all earthly dominions; but the spirit of Antichrist prefigured by Popery will probably culminate in ONE individual, to be destroyed by Christ's coming; He will be the product of the political world powers, whereas Popery which prepares His way, is a Church become worldly.
eyes of man—Eyes express intelligence (Eze 1:18); so (Ge 3:5) the serpent's promise was, man's "eyes should be opened," if he would but rebel against God. Antichrist shall consummate the self-apotheosis, begun at the fall, high intellectual culture, independent of God. The metals representing Babylon and Medo-Persia, gold and silver, are more precious than brass and iron, representing Greece and Rome; but the latter metals are more useful to civilization (Ge 4:22). The clay, representing the Germanic element, is the most plastic material. Thus there is a progress in culture; but this is not a progress necessarily in man's truest dignity, namely, union and likeness to God. Nay, it has led him farther from God, to self-reliance and world-love. The beginnings of civilization were among the children of Cain (Ge 4:17-24; Lu 16:8). Antiochus Epiphanes, the first Antichrist, came from civilized Greece, and loved art. As Hellenic civilization produced the first, so modern civilization under the fourth monarchy will produce the last Antichrist. The "mouth" and "eyes" are those of a man, while the symbol is otherwise brutish, that is, it will assume man's true dignity, namely, wear the guise of the kingdom of God (which comes as the "Son of man" from above), while it is really bestial, namely, severed from God. Antichrist promises the same things as Christ, but in an opposite way: a caricature of Christ, offering a regenerated world without the cross. Babylon and Persia in their religion had more reverence for things divine than Greece and Rome in the imperial stages of their history. Nebuchadnezzar's human heart, given him (Da 4:16) on his repentance, contrasts with the human eyes of Antichrist, the pseudo son of man, namely, intellectual culture, while heart and mouth blaspheme God. The deterioration politically corresponds: the first kingdom, an organic unity; the second, divided into Median and Persian; the third branches off into four; the fourth, into ten. The two eastern kingdoms are marked by nobler metals; the two western, by baser; individualization and division appear in the latter, and it is they which produce the two Antichrists.
9. I beheld till—I continued looking till.
thrones … cast down—rather, "thrones were placed" [Vulgate and Luther], namely, for the saints and elect angels to whom "judgment is given" (Da 7:22), as assessors with the Judge. Compare Da 7:10, "thousand thousands ministered unto Him" (Mt 19:28; Lu 22:30; 1Co 6:2, 3; 1Ti 5:21; Re 2:26; 4:4). In English Version the thrones cast down are those of the previously mentioned kings who give place to Messiah.
Ancient of days—"The everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). He is the Judge here, as THE Son does not judge in His own cause, and it is His cause which is the one at issue with Antichrist.
sit—the attitude of a judge about to pass sentence.
white—The judicial purity of the Judge, and of all things round Him, is hereby expressed (Re 1:14).
wheels—as Oriental thrones move on wheels. Like the rapid flame, God's judgments are most swift in falling where He wills them (Eze 1:15, 16). The judgment here is not the last judgment, for then there will be no beast, and heaven and earth shall have passed away; but it is that on Antichrist (the last development of the fourth kingdom), typical of the last judgment: Christ coming to substitute the millennial kingdom of glory for that of the cross (Re 17:12-14; 19:15-21; 11:15).
10. thousand … ministered unto him—so at the giving of the law (De 33:2; Ps 68:17; Heb 12:22; Jude 14).
ten … thousand before him—image from the Sanhedrim, in which the father of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side, in the form of a semicircle, and the people standing before him.
judgment was set—The judges sat (Re 20:4).
books … opened—(Re 20:12). Forensic image; all the documents of the cause at issue, connected with the condemnation of Antichrist and his kingdom, and the setting up of Messiah's kingdom. Judgment must pass on the world as being under the curse, before the glory comes; but Antichrist offers glory without the cross, a renewed world without the world being judged.
11. Here is set forth the execution on earth of the judgment pronounced in the unseen heavenly court of judicature (Da 7:9, 10).
body … given to … flame—(Re 19:20).
12. the rest of the beasts—that is, the three first, had passed away not by direct destroying judgments, such as consumed the little horn, as being the finally matured evil of the fourth beast. They had continued to exist but their "dominion was was taken away"; whereas the fourth beast shall cease utterly, superseded by Messiah's kingdom.
for a season … time—Not only the triumph of the beasts over the godly, but their very existence is limited to a definite time, and that time the exactly suitable one (compare Mt 24:22). Probably a definite period is meant by a "season and time" (compare Da 7:25; Re 20:3). It is striking, the fourth monarchy, though Christianized for fifteen hundred years past, is not distinguished from the previous heathen monarchies, or from its own heathen portion. Nay, it is represented as the most God-opposed of all, and culminating at last in blasphemous Antichrist. The reason is: Christ's kingdom now is not of this world (Joh 18:36); and only at the second advent of Christ does it become an external power of the world. Hence Daniel, whose province it was to prophesy of the world powers, does not treat of Christianity until it becomes a world power, namely, at the second advent. The kingdom of God is a hidden one till Jesus comes again (Ro 8:17; Col 3:2, 3; 2Ti 2:11, 12). Rome was worldly while heathen, and remains worldly, though Christianized. So the New Testament views the present æon or age of the world as essentially heathenish, which we cannot love without forsaking Christ (Ro 12:2; 1Co 1:20; 2:6, 8; 3:18; 7:31; 2Co 4:4; Ga 1:4; Eph 2:2; 2Ti 4:10; compare 1Jo 2:15, 17). The object of Christianity is not so much to Christianize the present world as to save souls out of it, so as not to be condemned with the world (1Co 11:32), but to rule with Him in His millennium (Mt 5:5; Lu 12:32; 22:28-30; Ro 5:17; 1Co 6:2; Re 1:6; 2:26-28; 3:21; 20:4). This is to be our hope, not to reign in the present world course (1Co 4:8; 2Co 4:18; Php 3:20; Heb 13:14). There must be a "regeneration" of the world, as of the individual, a death previous to a resurrection, a destruction of the world kingdoms, before they rise anew as the kingdoms of Christ (Mt 19:28). Even the millennium will not perfectly eradicate the world's corruption; another apostasy and judgment will follow (Re 20:7-15), in which the world of nature is to be destroyed and renewed, as the world of history was before the millennium (2Pe 3:8-13); then comes the perfect earth and heaven (Re 21:1). Thus there is an onward progress, and the Christian is waiting for the consummation (Mr 13:33-37; Lu 12:35, 36, 40-46; 1Th 1:9, 10), as His Lord also is "expecting" (Heb 10:13).
13. Son of man—(See on Eze 2:1). Not merely Son of David, and King of Israel, but Head of restored humanity (corresponding to the world-wide horizon of Daniel's prophecy); the seed of the woman, crushing Antichrist, the seed of the serpent, according to the Prot-evangel in Paradise (Ge 3:15). The Representative Man shall then realize the original destiny of man as Head of the creation (Ge 1:26, 28); the center of unity to Israel and the Gentiles. The beast, which taken conjointly represents the four beasts, ascends from the sea (Da 7:2; Re 13:1); the Son of man descends from "heaven." Satan, as the serpent, is the representative head of all that bestial; man, by following the serpent, has become bestial. God must, therefore, become man, so that man may cease to be beast-like. Whoever rejects the incarnate God will be judged by the Son of man just because He is the Son of man (Joh 5:27). This title is always associated with His coming again, because the kingdom that then awaits Him in that which belongs to Him as the Saviour of man, the Restorer of the lost inheritance. "Son of man" expresses His VISIBLE state formerly in his humiliation hereafter in His exaltation. He "comes to the Ancient of days" to be invested with the kingdom. Compare Ps 110:2: "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength (Messiah) out of Zion." This investiture was at His ascension "with the clouds of heaven" (Ac 1:9; 2:33, 34; Ps 2:6-9; Mt 28:18), which is a pledge of His return "in like manner" in the clouds" (Ac 1:11; Mt 26:64), and "with clouds" (Re 1:7). The kingdom then was given to Him in title and invisible exercise; at His second coming it shall be in visible administration. He will vindicate it from the misrule of those who received it to hold for and under God, but who ignored His supremacy. The Father will assert His right by the Son, the heir, who will hold it for Him (Eze 1:27; Heb 1:2; Re 19:13-16). Tregelles thinks the investiture here immediately precedes Christ's coming forth; because He sits at God's right hand until His enemies are made His footstool, then the kingdom is given to the Son in actual investiture, and He comes to crush His so prepared footstool under His feet. But the words, "with the clouds," and the universal power actually, though invisibly, given Him then (Eph 1:20-22), agree best with His investiture at the ascension, which, in the prophetic view that overleaps the interval of ages, is the precursor of His coming visibly to reign; no event of equal moment taking place in the interval.
15. body—literally, "sheath": the body being the "sheath" of the soul.
17. kings—that is, kingdoms. Compare Da 7:23, "fourth kingdom"; Da 2:38; 8:20-22. Each of the four kings represents a dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Antiochus, and Antichrist, though individually referred to, are representatives of characteristic tendencies.
18. the Most High—the emphatic title of God in this prophecy, who delegates His power first to Israel; then to the Gentiles (Da 2:37, 38) when Israel fails to realize the idea of the theocracy; lastly, to Messiah, who shall rule truly for God, taking it from the Gentile world powers, whose history is one of continual degeneracy culminating in the last of the kings, Antichrist. Here, in the interpretation, "the saints," but in the vision (Da 7:13, 14), "the Son of man," takes the kingdom; for Christ and His people are one in suffering, and one in glory. Tregelles translates, "most high places" (Eph 1:3; 2:6). Though oppressed by the beast and little horn, they belong not to the earth from which the four beasts arise, but to the most high places.
19. Balaam, an Aramean, dwelling on the Euphrates, at the beginning of Israel's independent history, and Daniel at the close of it, prophetically exhibit to the hostile world powers Israel as triumphant over them at last, though the world powers of the East (Asshur) and the West (Chittim) carry all before them and afflict Eber (Israel) for a time (Nu 23:8-10, 28; 24:2, 7-9, 22-24). To Balaam's "Asshur" correspond Daniel's two eastern kingdoms, Babylon and Medo-Persia; to "Chittim," the two western kingdoms, Greece and Rome (compare Ge 10:4, 11, 22). In Babel, Nimrod the hunter (revolter) founds the first kingdom of the world (Ge 10:8-13). The Babylonian world power takes up the thread interrupted at the building of Babel, and the kingdom of Nimrod. As at Babel, so in Babylon the world is united against God; Babylon, the first world power, thus becomes the type of the God-opposed world. The fourth monarchy consummates the evil; it is "diverse" from the others only in its more unlimited universality. The three first were not in the full sense universal monarchies. The fourth is; so in it the God-opposed principle finds its full development. All history moves within the Romanic, Germanic, and Slavonic nations; it shall continue so to Christ's second advent. The fourth monarchy represents universalism externally; Christianity, internally. Rome is Babylon fully developed. It is the world power corresponding in contrast to Christianity, and therefore contemporary with it (Mt 13:38; Mr 1:15; Lu 2:1; Ga 4:4).
20. look … more stout than … fellows—namely, than that of the other horns.
21. made war with the saints—persecuted the Church (Re 11:7; 13:7).
prevailed—but not ultimately. The limit is marked by "until" (Da 7:22). The little horn continues, without intermission, to persecute up to Christ's second advent (Re 17:12, 14; 19:19, 20).
22. Ancient of days came—The title applied to the Father in Da 7:13 is here applied to the Son; who is called "the everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). The Father is never said to "come"; it is the Son who comes.
judgment was given to … saints—Judgment includes rule; "kingdom" in the end of this verse (1Co 6:2; Re 1:6; 5:10; 20:4). Christ first receives "judgment" and the "kingdom," then the saints with Him (Da 7:13, 14).
24. ten horns—answering to the ten "toes" (Da 2:41).
out of this kingdom—It is out of the fourth kingdom that ten others arise, whatever exterior territory any of them possess (Re 13:1; 17:12).
rise after them—yet contemporaneous with them; the ten are contemporaries. Antichrist rises after their rise, at first "little" (Da 7:8); but after destroying three of the ten, he becomes greater than them all (Da 7:20, 21). The three being gone, he is the eighth (compare Re 17:11); a distinct head, and yet "of the seven." As the previous world kingdoms had their representative heads (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; Persia, Cyrus; Greece, Alexander), so the fourth kingdom and its Antichrists shall have their evil concentrated in the one final Antichrist. As Antiochus Epiphanes, the Antichrist of the third kingdom in Da 8:23-25, was the personal enemy of God, so the final Antichrist of the fourth kingdom, his antitype. The Church has endured a pagan and a papal persecution; there remains for her an infidel persecution, general, purifying, and cementing [Cecil]. He will not merely, as Popery, substitute himself for Christ in Christ's name, but "deny the Father and the Son" (1Jo 2:22). The persecution is to continue up to Christ's second coming (Da 7:21, 22); the horn of blasphemy cannot therefore be past; for now there is almost a general cessation of persecution.
25. Three attributes of Antichrist are specified: (1) The highest worldly wisdom and civilization. (2) The uniting of the whole civilized world under his dominion. (3) Atheism, antitheism, and autotheism in its fullest development (1Jo 2:22). Therefore, not only is power taken from the fourth beast, as in the case of the other three, but God destroys it and the world power in general by a final judgment. The present external Christianity is to give place to an almost universal apostasy.
think—literally, "carry within him as it were the burden of the thought."
change times—the prerogative of God alone (Da 2:21); blasphemously assumed by Antichrist. The "times and laws" here meant are those of religious ordinance; stated times of feasts [Maurer]. Perhaps there are included the times assigned by God to the duration of kingdoms. He shall set Himself above all that is called God (2Th 2:4), putting his own "will" above God's times and laws (Da 11:36, 37). But the "times" of His wilfulness are limited for the elect's sake (Mt 24:22).
given into his hand—to be persecuted.
time … times and … dividing of time—one year, two years, and half a year: 1260 days (Re 12:6, 14); forty-two months (Re 11:2, 3). That literally three and a half years are to be the term of Antichrist's persecution is favored by Da 4:16, 23, where the year-day theory would be impossible. If the Church, moreover, had been informed that 1260 years must elapse before the second advent, the attitude of expectancy which is inculcated (Lu 12:38; 1Co 1:7; 1Th 1:9, 10; 2Pe 3:12) on the ground of the uncertainty of the time, would be out of place. The original word for "time" denotes a stated period or set feast; or the interval from one set feast to its recurrence, that is, a year [Tregelles]; Le 23:4, "seasons"; Le 23:44, "feasts." The passages in favor of the year-day theory are Eze 4:6, where each day of the forty during which Ezekiel lay on his right side is defined by God as meaning a year. Compare Nu 14:34, where a year of wandering in the wilderness was appointed for each day of the forty during which the spies searched Canaan; but the days were, in these two cases, merely the type or reason for the years, which were announced as they were to be fulfilled. In the prophetic part of Nu 14:34 "years" are literal. If the year-day system was applied to them, they would be 14,400 years! In Eze 4:4-6, if day meant year, Ezekiel would have lain on his right side forty years! The context here in Da 7:24, 25, is not symbolical. Antichrist is no longer called a horn, but a king subduing three out of ten kings (no longer horns, Da 7:7, 8). So in Da 12:7, where "time, times, and half a time," again occurs, nothing symbolic occurs in the context. So that there is no reason why the three and a half years should be so. For the first four centuries the "days" were interpreted literally; a mystical meaning of the 1260 days then began. Walter Brute first suggested the year-day theory in the end of the fourteenth century. The seventy years of the Babylonian captivity foretold by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12; 29:10) were understood by Daniel (Da 9:2) as literal years, not symbolical, which would have been 25,200 years! [Tregelles]. It is possible that the year-day and day-day theories are both true. The seven (symbolical) times of the Gentile monarchies (Le 26:24) during Israel's casting off will end in the seven years of Antichrist. The 1260 years of papal misrule in the name of Christ may be represented by three and a half years of open Antichristianity and persecution before the millennium. Witnessing churches may be succeeded by witnessing individuals, the former occupying the longer, the latter the shorter period (Re 11:3). The beginning of the 1260 years is by Elliott set at A.D. 529 or 533, when Justinian's edict acknowledged Pope John II to be head of the Church; by Luther, at 606, when Phocas confirmed Justinian's grant. But 752 is the most likely date, when the temporal dominion of the popes began by Pepin's grant to Stephen II (for Zachary, his predecessor's recognition of his title to France), confirmed by Charlemagne. For it was then first that the little horn plucked up three horns, and so became the prolongation of the fourth secular kingdom [Newton]. This would bring us down to about A.D. 2000, or the seventh thousand millenary from creation. But Clinton makes about 1862 the seventh millenary, which may favor the dating from A.D. 529.
26. consume … destroy—a twofold operation. Antichrist is to be gradually "consumed," as the Papacy has been consuming for four hundred years past, and especially of late years. He is also to be "destroyed" suddenly by Christ at His coming; the fully developed man of sin (2Th 2:3) or false prophet making a last desperate effort in confederacy with the "beast" (Re 16:13, 14, 16) or secular power of the Roman empire (some conjecture Louis Napoleon): destroyed at Armageddon in Palestine.
27. greatness of the kingdom under … whole heaven—The power, which those several kingdoms had possessed, shall all be conferred on Messiah's kingdom. "Under … heaven" shows it is a kingdom on earth, not in heaven.
people of … saints of … Most High—"the people of the saints," or "holy ones" (Da 8:24, Margin): the Jews, the people to whom the saints stand in a peculiar relation. The saints are gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, but the stock of the Church is Jewish (Ro 9:24; 11:24); God's faithfulness to this election Church is thus virtually faithfulness to Israel, and a pledge of their future national blessing. Christ confirms this fact, while withholding the date (Ac 1:6, 7).
everlasting kingdom—If everlasting, how can the kingdom here refer to the millennial one? Answer: Daniel saw the whole time of future blessedness as one period. The clearer light of the New Testament distinguishes, in the whole period, the millennium and the time of the new heaven and new earth (compare Re 20:4 with Re 21:1 and Re 22:5). Christ's kingdom is "everlasting." Not even the last judgment shall end it, but only give it a more glorious appearance, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, with the throne of God and the Lamb in it (compare Re 5:9, 10; 11:15).
28. cogitations … troubled me—showing that the Holy Spirit intended much more to be understood by Daniel's words than Daniel himself understood. We are not to limit the significance of prophecies to what the prophets themselves understood (1Pe 1:11, 12).
Da 8:1-27. Vision of the Ram and He-Goat: The Twenty-three Hundred Days of the Sanctuary Being Trodden Down.
With this chapter the Hebrew part of the book begins and continues to be the language of the remainder; the visions relating wholly to the Jews and Jerusalem. The scene here narrows from world-wide prophecies to those affecting the one covenant-people in the five centuries between the exile and the advent. Antichrist, like Christ, has a more immediate future, as well as one more remote. The vision, the eighth chapter, begins, and that, the tenth through twelfth chapters, concludes, the account of the Antichrist of the third kingdom. Between the two visions the ninth chapter is inserted, as to Messiah and the covenant-people at the end of the half millennium (seventy weeks of years).
1. vision—a higher kind of revelation than a dream.
after that … at the first—that in Da 7:1.
2. Shushan—Susa. Though then comparatively insignificant, it was destined to be the capital of Persia after Cyrus' time. Therefore Daniel is transported into it, as being the capital of the kingdom signified by the two-horned ram (Ne 1:1; Es 1:2-5).
Elam—west of Persia proper, east of Babylonia, south of Media. Daniel was not present there personally, but in vision.
Ulai—called in Pliny Eulœus; by the Greeks, Choaspes. Now Kerah, or Karasu. So in Da 10:4 he receives a vision near another river, the Hiddekel. So Ezekiel (Eze 1:1) at the Chebar. Perhaps because synagogues used to be built near rivers, as before praying they washed their hands in the water [Rosenmuller], (Ps 137:1).
3. two horns—The "two" ought not to be in italics, as if it were not in the original; for it is expressed by the Hebrew dual. "Horn" in the East is the symbol of power and royalty.
one … higher than … other … the higher came up last—Persia, which was of little note till Cyrus' time, became then ascendant over Media, the more ancient kingdom. Darius was sixty-two years old (Da 5:31) when he began to reign; during his short reign of two years, being a weak king (Da 6:1-3), the government was almost entirely in Cyrus' hands. Hence Herodotus does not mention Darius; but Xenophon does under the name of Cyaxares II. The "ram" here corresponds to the "bear" (Da 7:5), symbolizing clumsy firmness. The king of Persia wore a jewelled ram's head of gold instead of a diadem, such as are seen on the pillars at Persepolis. Also the Hebrew for "ram" springs from the same root as "Elam," or Persia [Newton]. The "one horn higher than the other" answers to the bear "raising itself on one side" (compare Note, see on Da 7:5).
4. ram pushing westward—Persia conquered westward Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor.
northward—Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the dwellers on the Caspian Sea.
southward—Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya; also India, under Darius. He does not say eastward, for the Persians themselves came from the east (Isa 46:11).
did according to his will—(Da 11:3, 16; compare Da 5:19).
notable horn—Alexander. "Touched not … ground," implies the incredible swiftness of his conquests; he overran the world in less than twelve years. The he-goat answers to the leopard (Da 7:6). Caranus, the first king of Macedonia, was said to have been led by goats to Edessa, which he made the seat of his kingdom, and called Æge, that is, "goat-city."
6. standing before the river—Ulai. It was at the "river" Granicus that Alexander fought his first victorious battle against Darius, 334 B.C.
7. moved with choler—Alexander represented the concentrated wrath of Greece against Persia for the Persian invasions of Greece; also for the Persian cruelties to Greeks, and Darius' attempts to seduce Alexander's soldiers to treachery [Newton].
stamped upon him—In 331 B.C. he defeated Darius Codomanus, and in 330 B.C. burned Persepolis and completed the conquest of Persia.
none … could deliver—Not the immense hosts of Persia could save it from the small army of Alexander (Ps 33:16).
8. when he was strong … great horn was broken—The empire was in full strength at Alexander's death by fever at Babylon, and seemed then least likely to fall. Yet it was then "broken." His natural brother, Philip Aridœus, and his two sons, Alexander Ægus and Hercules, in fifteen months were murdered.
four … toward … four winds—Seleucus, in the east, obtained Syria, Babylonia, Media, &c.; Cassander, in the west, Macedon Thessaly, Greece; Ptolemy, in the south, Egypt, Cyprus, &c.; Lysimachus, in the north, Thrace, Cappadocia, and the north parts of Asia Minor.
9. little horn—not to be confounded with the little horn of the fourth kingdom in Da 7:8. The little horn in Da 7:8 comes as an eleventh horn after ten preceding horns. In Da 8:9 it is not an independent fifth horn, after the four previous ones, but it arises out of one of the four existing horns. This horn is explained (Da 8:23) to be "a king of fierce countenance," &c. Antiochus Epiphanes is meant. Greece with all its refinement produces the first, that is, the Old Testament Antichrist. Antiochus had an extraordinary love of art, which expressed itself in grand temples. He wished to substitute Zeus Olympius for Jehovah at Jerusalem. Thus first heathen civilization from below, and revealed religion from above, came into collision. Identifying himself with Jupiter, his aim was to make his own worship universal (compare Da 8:25 with Da 11:36); so mad was he in this that he was called Epimanes (maniac) instead of Epiphanes. None of the previous world rulers, Nebuchadnezzar (Da 4:31-34), Darius (Da 6:27, 28), Cyrus (Ezr 1:2-4), Artaxerxes Longimanus (Ezr 7:12), had systematically opposed the Jews' religious worship. Hence the need of prophecy to prepare them for Antiochus. The struggle of the Maccabees was a fruit of Daniel's prophecy (1 Maccabees 2:59). He is the forerunner of the final Antichrist, standing in the same relation to the first advent of Christ that Antichrist does to His second coming. The sins in Israel which gave rise to the Greek Antichrist were that some Jews adopted Hellenic customs (compare Da 11:30, 32), erecting theaters, and regarding all religions alike, sacrificing to Jehovah, but at the same time sending money for sacrifices to Hercules. Such shall be the state of the world when ripe for Antichrist. At Da 8:9 and Da 8:23 the description passes from the literal Antiochus to features which, though partially attributed to him, hold good in their fullest sense only of his antitype, the New Testament Antichrist. The Mohammedan Antichrist may also be included; answering to the Euphratean (Turk) horsemen (Re 9:14-21), loosed "an hour, a day, a month, a year" (391 years, in the year-day theory), to scourge corrupted, idolatrous Christianity. In A.D. 637 the Saracen Moslem mosque of Omar was founded on the site of the temple, "treading under foot the sanctuary" (Da 8:11-13); and there it still remains. The first conquest of the Turks over Christians was in A.D. 1281; and 391 years after they reached their zenith of power and began to decline, Sobieski defeating them at Vienna. Mohammed II, called "the conqueror," reigned A.D. 1451-1481, in which period Constantinople fell; 391 years after brings us to our own day, in which Turkey's fall is imminent.
waxed … great, toward … south—(Da 11:25). Antiochus fought against Ptolemy Philometer and Egypt, that is, the south.
toward the east—He fought against those who attempted a change of government in Persia.
toward the pleasant land—Judea, "the glorious land" (Da 11:16, 41, 45; compare Ps 48:2; Eze 20:6, 15). Its chief pleasantness consists in its being God's chosen land (Ps 132:13; Jer 3:19). Into it Antiochus made his inroad after his return from Egypt.
10. great, even to … host of heaven—explained in Da 8:24, "the mighty and holy people," that is, the Jews (Da 7:21) and their priests (compare Isa 24:21). The Levites' service is called "a warfare" (Nu 8:24, 25, Margin). Great civil and religious powers are symbolized by "stars" (Mt 24:29). See 1 Maccabees 1:25, &c.; 1 Maccabees 2:35, &c.; 1 Maccabees 5:2, 12, 13. Tregelles refers "stars" to those Jews whose portion from God is heavenly glory (Da 12:3), being believers in Him who is above at God's right hand: not the blinded Jews.
cast … stars to the ground—So Babel, as type of Antichrist, is described (Isa 14:13, 14), "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Compare Re 12:4; 2 Maccabees 9:10, as to Antiochus.
11. to the prince of the host—that is, God Himself, the Lord of Sabaoth, the hosts in heaven and earth, stars, angels, and earthly ministers. So Da 8:25, "he shall stand up against the Prince of princes"; "against the God of gods" (Da 11:36; compare Da 7:8). He not only opposes God's ancient people, but also God Himself.
daily sacrifice—offered morning and evening (Ex 29:38, 39).
taken away—by Antiochus (1 Maccabees 1:20-50).
sanctuary … cast down—Though robbed of its treasures, it was not strictly "cast down" by Antiochus. So that a fuller accomplishment is future. Antiochus took away the daily sacrifice for a few years; the Romans, for many ages, and "cast down" the temple; and Antichrist, in connection with Rome, the fourth kingdom, shall do so again after the Jews in their own land, still unbelieving, shall have rebuilt the temple, and restored the Mosaic ritual: God giving them up to him "by reason of transgression" (Da 8:12), that is, not owning the worship so rendered [Tregelles]; and then the opposition of the horn to the "truth" is especially mentioned.
12. an host—rather, "the host was given up to him," that is, the holy people were given into his hands. So in Da 8:10 "the host" is used; and again in Da 8:13, where also "give" is used as here for "giving up" for destruction (compare Da 11:6) [Maurer].
against … daily sacrifice—rather (the host was given up for him to tread upon), "together with the daily sacrifice" (compare Da 8:13).
by reason of transgression—1 Maccabees 1:11-16 traces all the calamities suffered under Antiochus to the transgression of certain Jews who introduced heathen customs into Jerusalem just before. But transgression was not at the full (Da 8:23) under Antiochus; for Onias the high priest administered the laws in godliness at the time (2 Maccabees 3:1). Therefore the "transgression" must refer to that of the Jews hereafter restored to Palestine in unbelief.
the truth—the worship of the true God. Isa 59:14, "Truth is fallen in the street."
practised, and prospered—Whatever he undertook succeeded (Da 8:4; 11:28, 36).
13. that certain saint—Daniel did not know the names of these two holy angels, but saw only that one was speaking to the other.
How long shall be the vision concerning … daily sacrifice—How long shall the daily sacrifice be suspended?
transgression of desolation—literally, "making desolate," that is, Antiochus desolating profanation of the temple (Da 11:31; 12:11). Compare as to Rome and the last Antichrist, Mt 24:15.
14. unto me—The answer is to Daniel, not to the inquirer, for the latter had asked in Daniel's name; as vice versa the saint or angel (Job 15:15; Ps 89:6, 7) speaks of the vision granted to Daniel, as if it had been granted to himself. For holy men are in Scripture represented as having attendant angels, with whom they are in a way identified in interests. If the conversation had been limited to the angels, it could have been of no use to us. But God conveys it to prophetical men, for our good, through the ministry of angels.
two thousand … three hundred days—literally, "mornings and evenings," specified in connection with the morning and evening sacrifice. Compare Ge 1:5. Six years and a hundred ten days. This includes not only the three and a half years during which the daily sacrifice was forbidden by Antiochus [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 1:1.1], but the whole series of events whereby it was practically interrupted: beginning with the "little horn waxing great toward the pleasant land," and "casting down some of the host" (Da 8:9, 10); namely, when in 171 B.C., or the month Sivan in the year 142 of the era of the Seleucidæ, the sacrifices began to be neglected, owing to the high priest Jason introducing at Jerusalem Grecian customs and amusements, the palæstra and gymnasium; ending with the death of Antiochus, 165 B.C., or the month Shebath, in the year 148 of the Seleucid era. Compare 1 Maccabees 1:11-15; 2 Maccabees 4:9, &c. The reason for the greater minuteness of historical facts and dates, given in Daniel's prophecies, than in those of the New Testament, is that Israel, not having yet the clear views which Christians have of immortality and the heavenly inheritance, could only be directed to the earthly future: for it was on earth the looked-for Messiah was to appear, and the sum and subject of Old Testament prophecy was the kingdom of God upon earth. The minuteness of the revelation of Israel's earthly destiny was to compensate for the absence, in the Old Testament, of views of heavenly glory. Thus, in Da 9:24-27, the times of Messiah are foretold to the very year; in Da 8:14 the times of Antiochus, even to the day; and in Da 11:5-20 the Syro-Egyptian struggles in most minute detail. Tregelles thinks the twenty-three hundred "days" answer to the week of years (Da 9:27), during which the destroying prince (Da 9:26) makes a covenant, which he breaks in the midst of the week (namely, at the end of three and a half years). The seven years exceed the twenty-three hundred days by considerably more than a half year. This period of the seven years' excess above the twenty-three hundred days may be allotted to the preparations needed for setting up the temple-worship, with Antichrist's permission to the restored Jews, according to his "covenant" with them; and the twenty-three hundred days may date from the actual setting up of the worship. But, says Auberlen, the more accurate to a day the dates as to Antiochus are given, the less should we say the 1290, or 1335 days (Da 12:11, 12) correspond to the half week (roughly), and the twenty-three hundred to the whole. The event, however, may, in the case of Antichrist, show a correspondence between the days here given and Da 9:27, such as is not yet discernible. The term of twenty-three hundred days cannot refer twenty-three hundred years of the treading down of Christianity by Mohammedanism, as this would leave the greater portion of the time yet future; whereas, Mohammedanism is fast waning. If the twenty-three hundred days mean years, dating from Alexander's conquests, 334 B.C. to 323, we should arrive at about the close of the sixth thousand years of the world, just as the 1260 years (Da 7:25) from Justinian's decree arrive at the same terminus. The Jews' tradition represents the seventh thousand as the millennium. Cumming remarks, 480 B.C. is the date of the waning of the Persian empire before Greece; deducting 480 from 2300, we have 1820; and in 1821, Turkey, the successor of the Greek empire, began to wane, and Greece became a separate kingdom. See on Da 12:11.
cleansed—literally, "justified," vindicated from profanation. Judas Maccabeus celebrated the feast of dedication after the cleansing, on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month, Kisleu (1 Maccabees 4:51-58; 2 Maccabees 10:1-7; Joh 10:22). As to the antitypical dedication of the new temple, see Eze 43:1-27, &c.; also Am 9:11, 12.
16. Gabriel—meaning, "the strength of God."
17. the time of the end—so Da 8:19; Da 11:35, 36, 40. The event being to take place at "the time of the end" makes it likely that the Antichrist ultimately referred to (besides the immediate reference to Antiochus) in this chapter, and the one in Da 7:8, are one and the same. The objection that the one in the seventh chapter springs out of the ten divisions of the Roman earth, the fourth kingdom, the one in the eighth chapter and the eleventh chapter from one of the four divisions of the third kingdom, Greece, is answered thus: The four divisions of the Grecian empire, having become parts of the Roman empire, shall at the end form four of its ten final divisions [Tregelles]. However, the origin from one of the four parts of the third kingdom may be limited to Antiochus, the immediate subject of the eighth and eleventh chapter, while the ulterior typical reference of these chapters (namely, Antichrist) may belong to one of the ten Roman divisions, not necessarily one formerly of the four of the third kingdom. The event will tell. "Time of the end" may apply to the time of Antiochus. For it is the prophetic phrase for the time of fulfilment, seen always at the end of the prophetic horizon (Ge 49:1; Nu 24:14).
19. the last end of the indignation—God's displeasure against the Jews for their sins. For their comfort they are told, the calamities about to come are not to be for ever. The "time" is limited (Da 9:27; 11:27, 35, 36; 12:7; Hab 2:3).
21. the first king—Philip was king of Macedon before Alexander, but the latter was the first who, as a generalissimo of Greece, subdued the Persian empire.
22. not in his power—not with the power which Alexander possessed [Maurer]. An empire united, as under Alexander, is more powerful than one divided, as under the four Diadochi.
23. transgressors are come to the full—This does not hold good of the times of Antiochus, but of the closing times of the Christian era. Compare Lu 18:8, and 2Ti 3:1-9, as to the wickedness of the world in general just before Christ's second coming. Israel's guilt, too, shall then be at the full, when they who rejected Christ shall receive Antichrist; fulfilling Jesus words, "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (compare Ge 15:16; Mt 23:32; 1Th 2:16).
of fierce countenance—(De 28:50); one who will spare neither old nor young.
understanding dark sentences—rather, "artifices" [Gesenius]. Antiochus made himself master of Egypt and Jerusalem successively by craft (1 Maccabees 1:30, &c.; 2 Maccabees 5:24, &c.).
24. not by his own power—which in the beginning was "little" (Da 8:9; 7:8); but by gaining over others through craft, the once little horn became "mighty" (compare Da 8:25; 11:23). To be fully realized by Antichrist. He shall act by the power of Satan, who shall then be permitted to work through him in unrestricted license, such as he has not now (Re 13:2); hence the ten kingdoms shall give the beast their power (2Th 2:9-12; Re 17:13).
prosper and practise—prosper in all that he attempts (Da 8:12).
holy people—His persecutions are especially directed against the Jews.
25. by peace—by pretending "peace" and friendship; in the midst of security [Gesenius], suddenly striking his blow (compare Note, see on Jer 15:8). "A spoiler at noon-day."
also … against the Prince of princes—not merely against the Jews (Da 8:11; 11:36).
broken without hand—by God's special visitation. The stone "cut out of the mountain without hands," that is, Christ is to smite the world power image on his feet (Da 2:34), that is, in its last development (compare Da 7:11). Antiochus' horrible death by worms and ulcers, when on his way to Judea, intending to take vengeance for the defeat of his armies by the Maccabees, was a primary fulfilment, foreshadowing God's judgment on the last enemy of the Jewish Church.
26. shut … up … vision—implying the vision was not to be understood for the present. In Re 22:10 it is said, "Seal not the vision, for the time is at hand." What in Daniel's time was hidden was more fully explained in Revelation, and as the time draws nearer, it will be clearer still.
it shall be for many days—It refers to remote times (Eze 12:27).
27. I … was sick—through grief at the calamities coming on my people and the Church of God (compare Ps 102:14).
afterward I … did the king's business—He who holds nearest communion with heaven can best discharge the duties of common life.
none understood it—He had heard of kings, but knew not their names; He foresaw the events, but not the time when they were to take place; thereupon he could only feel "astonished," and leave all with the omniscient God [Jerome].
Da 9:1-27. Daniel's Confession and Prayer for Jerusalem: Gabriel Comforts Him by the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.
The world powers here recede from view; Israel, and the salvation by Messiah promised to it, are the subject of revelation. Israel had naturally expected salvation at the end of the captivity. Daniel is therefore told, that, after the seventy years of the captivity, seventy times seven must elapse, and that even then Messiah would not come in glory as the Jews might through misunderstanding expect from the earlier prophets, but by dying would put away sin. This ninth chapter (Messianic prophecy) stands between the two visions of the Old Testament Antichrist, to comfort "the wise." In the interval between Antiochus and Christ, no further revelation was needed; therefore, as in the first part of the book, so in the second, Christ and Antichrist in connection are the theme.
1. first year of Darius—Cyaxares II, in whose name Cyrus, his nephew, son-in-law, and successor, took Babylon, 538 B.C. The date of this chapter is therefore 537 B.C., a year before Cyrus permitted the Jews to return from exile, and sixty-nine years after Daniel had been carried captive at the beginning of the captivity, 606 B.C.
son of Ahasuerus—called Astyages by Xenophon. Ahasuerus was a name common to many of the kings of Medo-Persia.
made king—The phrase implies that Darius owed the kingdom not to his own prowess, but to that of another, namely, Cyrus.
2. understood by books—rather, "letters," that is, Jeremiah's letter (Jer 29:10) to the captives in Babylon; also Jer 25:11, 12; compare 2Ch 36:21; Jer 30:18; 31:38. God's promises are the ground on which we should, like Daniel, rest sure hope; not so as to make our prayers needless, but rather to encourage them.
3. prayer … supplications—literally, "intercessions … entreaties for mercy." Praying for blessings, and deprecating evils.
4. my confession—according to God's promises in Le 26:39-42, that if Israel in exile for sin should repent and confess, God would remember for them His covenant with Abraham (compare De 30:1-5; Jer 29:12-14; Jas 4:10). God's promise was absolute, but prayer also was ordained as about to precede its fulfilment, this too being the work of God in His people, as much as the external restoration which was to follow. So it shall be at Israel's final restoration (Ps 102:13-17). Daniel takes his countrymen's place of confession of sin, identifying himself with them, and, as their representative and intercessory priest, "accepts the punishment of their iniquity." Thus he typifies Messiah, the Sin-bearer and great Intercessor. The prophet's own life and experience form the fit starting point of the prophecy concerning the sin atonement. He prays for Israel's restoration as associated in the prophets (compare Jer 31:4, 11, 12, 31, &c.) with the hope of Messiah. The revelation, now granted, analyzes into its successive parts that which the prophets, in prophetical perspective, heretofore saw together in one; namely, the redemption from captivity, and the full Messianic redemption. God's servants, who, like Noah's father (Ge 5:29), hoped many a time that now the Comforter of their afflictions was at hand, had to wait from age to age, and to view preceding fulfilments only as pledges of the coming of Him whom they so earnestly desired to see (Mt 13:17); as now also Christians, who believe that the Lord's second coming is nigh, are expected to continue waiting. So Daniel is informed of a long period of seventy prophetic weeks before Messiah's coming, instead of seventy years, as he might have expected (compare Mt 18:21, 22) [Auberlen].
great and dreadful God—as we know to our cost by the calamities we suffer. The greatness of God and His dreadful abhorrence of sin should prepare sinners for reverent, humble acknowledgment of the justice of their punishment.
keeping … covenant and mercy—that is, the covenant of Thy mercy, whereby Thou hast promised to deliver us, not for our merits, but of Thy mercy (Eze 36:22, 23). So weak and sinful is man that any covenant for good on God's part with him, to take effect, must depend solely on His grace. If He be a God to be feared for His justice, He is one to be trusted for His "mercy."
love … keep his commandments—Keeping His commandments is the only sure test of love to God (Joh 14:15).
5. Compare Nehemiah's confession (Ne 9:1-38).
sinned … committed iniquity … done wickedly … rebelled—a climax. Erred in ignorance … sinned by infirmity … habitually and wilfully done wickedness … as open and obstinate rebels set ourselves against God.
6. prophets … spake … to our kings … to all the people—They fearlessly warned all without respect of persons.
7. confusion of faces, as at this day—Shame at our guilt, betrayed in our countenance, is what belongs to us; as our punishment "at this day" attests.
near, and … far off—the chastisement, however varied, some Jews not being cast off so far from Jerusalem as others, all alike were sharers in the guilt.
9. mercies—The plural intensifies the force; mercy manifold and exhibited in countless ways. As it is humbling to recollect "righteousness belongeth unto God," so it is comforting, that "mercies belong to the Lord OUR God."
though we have rebelled—rather, "since," &c. [Vulgate], (Ps 25:11). Our punishment is not inconsistent with His "mercies," since we have rebelled against Him.
10. set before us—not ambiguously, but plainly, so that we were without excuse.
11. all—(Ps 14:3; Ro 3:12).
the curse … and … oath … in … law—the curse against Israel, if disobedient, which God ratified by oath (Le 26:14-39; De 27:15-26; 28:15-68; 29:1-29).
12. confirmed his words—showed by the punishments we suffer, that His words were no idle threats.
under … heaven hath not been done as … upon Jerusalem—(La 1:12).
13. yet made we not our prayer before—literally, "soothed not the face of." Not even our chastisement has taught us penitence (Isa 9:13; Jer 5:3; Ho 7:10). Diseased, we spurn the healing medicine.
that we might turn, &c.—Prayer can only be accepted when joined with the desire to turn from sin to God (Ps 66:18; Pr 28:9).
understand thy truth—"attentively regard Thy faithfulness" in fulfilling Thy promises, and also Thy threats [Calvin]. Thy law (Da 8:12), [Maurer].
14. watched upon the evil—expressing ceaseless vigilance that His people's sins might not escape His judgment, as a watchman on guard night and day (Job 14:16; Jer 31:28; 44:27). God watching upon the Jews' punishment forms a striking contrast to the Jews' slumbering in their sins.
God is righteous—True penitents "justify" God, "ascribing righteousness to Him," instead of complaining of their punishment as too severe (Ne 9:33; Job 36:3; Ps 51:4; La 3:39-42).
15. brought thy people … out of … Egypt—a proof to all ages that the seed of Abraham is Thy covenant-people. That ancient benefit gives us hope that Thou wilt confer a like one on us now under similar circumstances (Ps 80:8-14; Jer 32:21; 23:7, 8).
as at this day—is known.
16. thy righteousness—not stern justice in punishing, but Thy faithfulness to Thy promises of mercy to them who trust in Thee (Ps 31:1; 143:1).
thy city—chosen as Thine in the election of grace, which changes not.
for … iniquities of … fathers—(Ex 20:5). He does not impugn God's justice in this, as did the murmurers (Eze 18:2, 3; compare Jer 31:29).
thy people … a reproach—which brings reproach on Thy name. "All the nations that are about us" will say that Thou, Jehovah, wast not able to save Thy peculiar people. So Da 9:17, "for the Lord's sake"; Da 9:19, "for Thine own sake" (Isa 48:9, 11).
17. cause thy face to shine—metaphor from the sun, which gladdens all that it beams upon (Nu 6:25; Mal 4:2).
18. present … supplications—literally, "cause to fall," &c. (compare Note, see on Jer 36:7).
19. The short broken ejaculations and repetitions show the intense fervor of his supplications.
defer not—He implies that the seventy years are now all but complete.
thine own sake—often repeated, as being the strongest plea (Jer 14:21).
20. whiles I was speaking—repeated in Da 9:21; emphatically marking that the answer was given before the prayer was completed, as God promised (Isa 30:19; 65:24; compare Ps 32:5).
21. I had seen in the vision at the beginning—namely, in the former vision by the river Ulai (Da 8:1, 16).
fly swiftly—literally, "with weariness," that is, move swiftly as one breathless and wearied out with quick running [Gesenius]. English Version is better (Isa 6:2; Eze 1:6; Re 14:6).
time of … evening oblation—the ninth hour, three o'clock (compare 1Ki 18:36). As formerly, when the temple stood, this hour was devoted to sacrifices, so now to prayer. Daniel, during the whole captivity to the very last, with pious patriotism never forgot God's temple-worship, but speaks of its rites long abolished, as if still in use.
22. to give thee … understanding—Da 8:16; Da 8:26 shows that the symbolical vision had not been understood. God therefore now gives "information" directly, instead of by symbol, which required interpretation.
23. At the beginning of thy supplications, &c.—The promulgation of the divine decree was made in heaven to the angels as soon as Daniel began to pray.
came forth—from the divine throne; so Da 9:22.
thou art greatly beloved—literally, "a man of desires" (compare Eze 23:6, 12); the object of God's delight. As the apocalyptic prophet of the New Testament was "the disciple whom Jesus loved," so the apocalyptic prophet of the Old Testament was "greatly beloved" of God.
the vision—the further revelation as to Messiah in connection with Jeremiah's prophecy of seventy years of the captivity. The charge to "understand" is the same as in Mt 24:15, where Rome primarily, and Antichrist ultimately, is referred to (compare Note, see on Da 9:27).
24. Seventy weeks—namely, of years; literally, "Seventy sevens"; seventy heptads or hebdomads; four hundred ninety years; expressed in a form of "concealed definiteness" [Hengstenberg], a usual way with the prophets. The Babylonian captivity is a turning point in the history of the kingdom of God. It terminated the free Old Testament theocracy. Up to that time Israel, though oppressed at times, was; as a rule, free. From the Babylonian captivity the theocracy never recovered its full freedom down to its entire suspension by Rome; and this period of Israel's subjection to the Gentiles is to continue till the millennium (Re 20:1-15), when Israel shall be restored as head of the New Testament theocracy, which will embrace the whole earth. The free theocracy ceased in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, and the fourth of Jehoiakim; the year of the world 3338, the point at which the seventy years of the captivity begin. Heretofore Israel had a right, if subjugated by a foreign king, to shake off the yoke (Jud 4:1-5:31; 2Ki 18:7) as an unlawful one, at the first opportunity. But the prophets (Jer 27:9-11) declared it to be God's will that they should submit to Babylon. Hence every effort of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah to rebel was vain. The period of the world times, and of Israel's depression, from the Babylonian captivity to the millennium, though abounding more in afflictions (for example, the two destructions of Jerusalem, Antiochus' persecution, and those which Christians suffered), contains all that was good in the preceding ones, summed up in Christ, but in a way visible only to the eye of faith. Since He came as a servant, He chose for His appearing the period darkest of all as to His people's temporal state. Always fresh persecutors have been rising, whose end is destruction, and so it shall be with the last enemy, Antichrist. As the Davidic epoch is the point of the covenant-people's highest glory, so the captivity is that of their lowest humiliation. Accordingly, the people's sufferings are reflected in the picture of the suffering Messiah. He is no longer represented as the theocratic King, the Antitype of David, but as the Servant of God and Son of man; at the same time the cross being the way to glory (compare Da 9:1-27 with Da 2:34, 35, 44; 12:7). In the second and seventh chapters, Christ's first coming is not noticed, for Daniel's object was to prophesy to his nation as to the whole period from the destruction to the re-establishment of Israel; but this ninth chapter minutely predicts Christ's first coming, and its effects on the covenant people. The seventy weeks date thirteen years before the rebuilding of Jerusalem; for then the re-establishment of the theocracy began, namely, at the return of Ezra to Jerusalem, 457 B.C. So Jeremiah's seventy years of the captivity begin 606 B.C., eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem, for then Judah ceased to exist as an independent theocracy, having fallen under the sway of Babylon. Two periods are marked in Ezra: (1) The return from the captivity under Jeshua and Zerubbabel, and rebuilding of the temple, which was the first anxiety of the theocratic nation. (2) The return of Ezra (regarded by the Jews as a second Moses) from Persia to Jerusalem, the restoration of the city, the nationality, and the law. Artaxerxes, in the seventh year of his reign, gave him the commission which virtually includes permission to rebuild the city, afterwards confirmed to, and carried out by, Nehemiah in the twentieth year (Ezr 9:9; 7:11, &c.). Da 9:25, "from the going forth of the commandment to build Jerusalem," proves that the second of the two periods is referred to. The words in Da 9:24 are not, "are determined upon the holy city," but "upon thy people and thy holy city"; thus the restoration of the religious national polity and the law (the inner work fulfilled by Ezra the priest), and the rebuilding of the houses and walls (the outer work of Nehemiah, the governor), are both included in Da 9:25, "restore and build Jerusalem." "Jerusalem" represents both the city, the body, and the congregation, the soul of the state. Compare Ps 46:1-11; 48:1-14; 87:1-7. The starting-point of the seventy weeks dated from eighty-one years after Daniel received the prophecy: the object being not to fix for him definitely the time, but for the Church: the prophecy taught him that the Messianic redemption, which he thought near, was separated from him by at least a half millennium. Expectation was sufficiently kept alive by the general conception of the time; not only the Jews, but many Gentiles looked for some great Lord of the earth to spring from Judea at that very time [Tacitus, Histories, 5.13; Suetonius, Vespasian, 4]. Ezra's placing of Daniel in the canon immediately before his own book and Nehemiah's was perhaps owing to his feeling that he himself brought about the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophecy (Da 9:20-27) [Auberlen].
determined—literally, "cut out," namely, from the whole course of time, for God to deal in a particular manner with Jerusalem.
thy … thy—Daniel had in his prayer often spoken of Israel as "Thy people, Thy holy city"; but Gabriel, in reply, speaks of them as Daniel's ("thy … thy") people and city, God thus intimating that until the "everlasting righteousness" should be brought in by Messiah, He could not fully own them as His [Tregelles] (compare Ex 32:7). Rather, as God is wishing to console Daniel and the godly Jews, "the people whom thou art so anxiously praying for"; such weight does God give to the intercessions of the righteous (Jas 5:16-18).
finish—literally, "shut up"; remove from God's sight, that is, abolish (Ps 51:9) [Lengkerke]. The seventy years' exile was a punishment, but not a full atonement, for the sin of the people; this would come only after seventy prophetic weeks, through Messiah.
make an end of—The Hebrew reading, "to steal," that is, to hide out of sight (from the custom of sealing up things to be concealed, compare Job 9:7), is better supported.
make reconciliation for—literally, "to cover," to overlay (as with pitch, Ge 6:14). Compare Ps 32:1.
bring in everlasting righteousness—namely, the restoration of the normal state between God and man (Jer 23:5, 6); to continue eternally (Heb 9:12; Re 14:6).
seal up … vision … prophecy—literally, "prophet." To give the seal of confirmation to the prophet and his vision by the fulfilment.
anoint the Most Holy—primarily, to "anoint," or to consecrate after its pollution "the Most Holy" place but mainly Messiah, the antitype to the Most Holy place (Joh 2:19-22). The propitiatory in the temple (the same Greek word expresses the mercy seat and propitiation, Ro 3:25), which the Jews looked for at the restoration from Babylon, shall have its true realization only in Messiah. For it is only when sin is "made an end of" that God's presence can be perfectly manifested. As to "anoint," compare Ex 40:9, 34. Messiah was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Ac 4:27; 10:38). So hereafter, God-Messiah will "anoint" or consecrate with His presence the holy place at Jerusalem (Jer 3:16, 17; Eze 37:27, 28), after its pollution by Antichrist, of which the feast of dedication after the pollution by Antiochus was a type.
25. from the going forth of the commandment—namely the command from God, whence originated the command of the Persian king (Ezr 6:14). Auberlen remarks, there is but one Apocalypse in each Testament. Its purpose in each is to sum up all the preceding prophecies, previous to the "troublous times" of the Gentiles, in which there was to be no revelation. Daniel sums up all the previous Messianic prophecy, separating into its individual phases what the prophets had seen in one and the same perspective, the temporary deliverance from captivity and the antitypical final Messianic deliverance. The seventy weeks are separated (Da 9:25-27) into three unequal parts, seven, sixty-two, one. The seventieth is the consummation of the preceding ones, as the Sabbath of God succeeds the working days; an idea suggested by the division into weeks. In the sixty-nine weeks Jerusalem is restored, and so a place is prepared for Messiah wherein to accomplish His sabbatic work (Da 9:25, 26) of "confirming the covenant" (Da 9:27). The Messianic time is the Sabbath of Israel's history, in which it had the offer of all God's mercies, but in which it was cut off for a time by its rejection of them. As the seventy weeks end with seven years, or a week, so they begin with seven times seven, that is, seven weeks. As the seventieth week is separated from the rest as a period of revelation, so it may be with the seven weeks. The number seven is associated with revelation; for the seven spirits of God are the mediators of all His revelations (Re 1:4; 3:1; 4:5). Ten is the number of what is human; for example, the world power issues in ten heads and ten horns (Da 2:42; 7:7). Seventy is ten multiplied by seven, the human moulded by the divine. The seventy years of exile symbolize the triumph of the world power over Israel. In the seven times seventy years the world number ten is likewise contained, that is, God's people is still under the power of the world ("troublous times"); but the number of the divine is multiplied by itself; seven times seven years, at the beginning a period of Old Testament revelation to God's people by Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, whose labors extend over about half a century, or seven weeks, and whose writings are last in the canon; and in the end, seven years, the period of New Testament revelation in Messiah. The commencing seven weeks of years of Old Testament revelation are hurried over, in order that the chief stress might rest on the Messianic week. Yet the seven weeks of Old Testament revelation are marked by their separation from the sixty-two, to be above those sixty-two wherein there was to be none.
Messiah the Prince—Hebrew, Nagid. Messiah is Jesus' title in respect to Israel (Ps 2:2; Mt 27:37, 42). Nagid, as Prince of the Gentiles (Isa 55:4). Nagid is applied to Titus, only as representative of Christ, who designates the Roman destruction of Jerusalem as, in a sense, His coming (Mt 24:29-31; Joh 21:22). Messiah denotes His calling; Nagid, His power. He is to "be cut off, and there shall be nothing for Him." (So the Hebrew for "not for Himself," Da 9:26, ought to be translated). Yet He is "the Prince" who is to "come," by His representative at first, to inflict judgment, and at last in person.
wall—the "trench" or "scarped rampart" [Tregelles]. The street and trench include the complete restoration of the city externally and internally, which was during the sixty-nine weeks.
26. after threescore and two weeks—rather, the threescore and two weeks. In this verse, and in Da 9:27, Messiah is made the prominent subject, while the fate of the city and sanctuary are secondary, being mentioned only in the second halves of the verses. Messiah appears in a twofold aspect, salvation to believers, judgment on unbelievers (Lu 2:34; compare Mal 3:1-6; 4:1-3). He repeatedly, in Passion week, connects His being "cut off" with the destruction of the city, as cause and effect (Mt 21:37-41; 23:37, 38; Lu 21:20-24; 23:28-31). Israel might naturally expect Messiah's kingdom of glory, if not after the seventy years' captivity, at least at the end of the sixty-two weeks; but, instead of that, shall be His death, and the consequent destruction of Jerusalem.
not for himself—rather, "there shall be nothing to Him" [Hengstenberg]; not that the real object of His first coming (His spiritual kingdom) should be frustrated; but the earthly kingdom anticipated by the Jews should, for the present, come to naught, and not then be realized. Tregelles refers the title, "the Prince" (Da 9:25), to the time of His entering Jerusalem on an ass's colt, His only appearance as a king, and six days afterwards put to death as "King of the Jews."
the people of the prince—the Romans, led by Titus, the representative of the world power, ultimately to be transferred to Messiah, and so called by Messiah's title, "the Prince"; as also because sent by Him, as His instrument of judgment (Mt 22:7).
end thereof—of the sanctuary. Tregelles takes it, "the end of the Prince," the last head of the Roman power, Antichrist.
with a flood—namely, of war (Ps 90:5; Isa 8:7, 8; 28:18). Implying the completeness of the catastrophe, "not one stone left on another."
unto the end of the war—rather, "unto the end there is war."
determined—by God's decree (Isa 10:23; 28:22).
27. he shall confirm the covenant—Christ. The confirmation of the covenant is assigned to Him also elsewhere. Isa 42:6, "I will give thee for a covenant of the people" (that is, He in whom the covenant between Israel and God is personally expressed); compare Lu 22:20, "The new testament in My blood"; Mal 3:1, "the angel of the covenant"; Jer 31:31-34, describes the Messianic covenant in full. Contrast Da 11:30, 32, "forsake the covenant," "do wickedly against the covenant." The prophecy as to Messiah's confirming the covenant with many would comfort the faithful in Antiochus' times, who suffered partly from persecuting enemies, partly from false friends (Da 11:33-35). Hence arises the similarity of the language here and in Da 11:30, 32, referring to Antiochus, the type of Antichrist.
with many—(Isa 53:11; Mt 20:28; 26:28; Ro 5:15, 19; Heb 9:28).
in … midst of … week—The seventy weeks extend to A.D. 33. Israel was not actually destroyed till A.D. 79, but it was so virtually, A.D. 33, about three or four years after Christ's death, during which the Gospel was preached exclusively to the Jews. When the Jews persecuted the Church and stoned Stephen (Ac 7:54-60), the respite of grace granted to them was at an end (Lu 13:7-9). Israel, having rejected Christ, was rejected by Christ, and henceforth is counted dead (compare Ge 2:17 with Ge 5:5; Ho 13:1, 2), its actual destruction by Titus being the consummation of the removal of the kingdom of God from Israel to the Gentiles (Mt 21:43), which is not to be restored until Christ's second coming, when Israel shall be at the head of humanity (Mt 23:39; Ac 1:6, 7; Ro 11:25-31; 15:1-32). The interval forms for the covenant-people a great parenthesis.
he shall cause the sacrifice … oblation to cease—distinct from the temporary "taking away" of "the daily" (sacrifice) by Antiochus (Da 8:11; 11:31). Messiah was to cause all sacrifices and oblations in general to "cease" utterly. There is here an allusion only to Antiochus' act; to comfort God's people when sacrificial worship was to be trodden down, by pointing them to the Messianic time when salvation would fully come and yet temple sacrifices cease. This is the same consolation as Jeremiah and Ezekiel gave under like circumstances, when the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was impending (Jer 3:16; 31:31; Eze 11:19). Jesus died in the middle of the last week, A.D. 30. His prophetic life lasted three and a half years; the very time in which "the saints are given into the hand" of Antichrist (Da 7:25). Three and a half does not, like ten, designate the power of the world in its fulness, but (while opposed to the divine, expressed by seven) broken and defeated in its seeming triumph; for immediately after the three and a half times, judgment falls on the victorious world powers (Da 7:25, 26). So Jesus' death seemed the triumph of the world, but was really its defeat (Joh 12:31). The rending of the veil marked the cessation of sacrifices through Christ's death (Le 4:6, 17; 16:2, 15; Heb 10:14-18). There cannot be a covenant without sacrifice (Ge 8:20; 9:17; 15:9, &c.; Heb 9:15). Here the old covenant is to be confirmed, but in a way peculiar to the New Testament, namely, by the one sacrifice, which would terminate all sacrifices (Ps 40:6, 11). Thus as the Levitical rites approached their end, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, with ever increasing clearness, oppose the spiritual new covenant to the transient earthly elements of the old.
for the overspreading of abominations—On account of the abominations committed by the unholy people against the Holy One, He shall not only destroy the city and sanctuary (Da 9:25), but shall continue its desolation until the time of the consummation "determined" by God (the phrase is quoted from Isa 10:22, 23), when at last the world power shall be judged and dominion be given to the saints of the Most High (Da 7:26, 27). Auberlen translates, "On account of the desolating summit of abominations (compare Da 11:31; 12:11; thus the repetition of the same thing as in Da 9:26 is avoided), and till the consummation which is determined, it (the curse, Da 9:11, foretold by Moses) will pour on the desolated." Israel reached the summit of abominations, which drew down desolation (Mt 24:28), nay, which is the desolation itself, when, after murdering Messiah, they offered sacrifices, Mosaic indeed in form, but heathenish in spirit (compare Isa 1:13; Eze 5:11). Christ refers to this passage (Mt 24:15), "When ye see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place" (the latter words being tacitly implied in "abominations" as being such as are committed against the sanctuary). Tregelles translates, "upon the wing of abominations shall be that which causeth desolation"; namely, an idol set up on a wing or pinnacle of the temple (compare Mt 4:5) by Antichrist, who makes a covenant with the restored Jews for the last of the seventy weeks of years (fulfilling Jesus' words, "If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive"), and for the first three and a half years keeps it, then in the midst of the week breaks it, causing the daily sacrifices to cease. Tregelles thus identifies the last half week with the time, times, and a half of the persecuting little horn (Da 7:25). But thus there is a gap of at least 1830 years put between the sixty-nine weeks and the seventieth week. Sir Isaac Newton explains the wing ("overspreading") of abominations to be the Roman ensigns (eagles) brought to the east gate of the temple, and there sacrificed to by the soldiers; the war, ending in the destruction of Jerusalem, lasted from spring A.D. 67 to autumn A.D. 70, that is, just three and a half years, or the last half week of years [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.6].
poured upon the desolate—Tregelles translates, "the causer of desolation," namely, Antichrist. Compare "abomination that maketh desolate" (Da 12:11). Perhaps both interpretations of the whole passage may be in part true; the Roman desolator, Titus, being a type of Antichrist, the final desolator of Jerusalem. Bacon [The Advancement of Learning, 2.3] says, "Prophecies are of the nature of the Author, with whom a thousand years are as one day; and therefore are not fulfilled punctually at once, but have a springing and germinant accomplishment through many years, though the height and fulness of them may refer to one age."
Da 10:1-21. Daniel Comforted by an Angelic Vision.
The tenth through twelfth chapters more fully describe the vision in the eighth chapter by a second vision on the same subject, just as the vision in the seventh chapter explains more fully that in the second. The tenth chapter is the prologue; the eleventh, the prophecy itself; and the twelfth, the epilogue. The tenth chapter unfolds the spiritual worlds as the background of the historical world (Job 1:7; 2:1, &c.; Zec 3:1, 2; Re 12:7), and angels as the ministers of God's government of men. As in the world of nature (Joh 5:4; Re 7:1-3), so in that of history here; Michael, the champion of Israel, and with him another angel, whose aim is to realize God's will in the heathen world, resist the God-opposed spirit of the world. These struggles are not merely symbolical, but real (1Sa 16:13-15; 1Ki 22:22; Eph 6:12).
1. third year of Cyrus—two years after Cyrus' decree for the restoration of the Jews had gone forth, in accordance with Daniel's prayer in Da 9:3-19. This vision gives not merely general outlines, or symbols, but minute details of the future, in short, anticipative history. It is the expansion of the vision in Da 8:1-14. That which then "none understood," he says here, "he understood"; the messenger being sent to him for this (Da 10:11, 14), to make him understand it. Probably Daniel was no longer in office at court; for in Da 1:21, it is said, "Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus"; not that he died then. See on Da 1:21.
but the time appointed was long—rather, "it (that is, the prophecy) referred to great calamity" [Maurer]; or, "long and calamitous warfare" [Gesenius]. Literally, "host going to war"; hence, warfare, calamity.
2. mourning—that is, afflicting myself by fasting from "pleasant bread, flesh and wine" (Da 10:3), as a sign of sorrow, not for its own sake. Compare Mt 9:14, "fast," answering to "mourn" (Da 10:15). Compare 1Co 8:8; 1Ti 4:3, which prove that "fasting" is not an indispensable Christian obligation; but merely an outward expression of sorrow, and separation from ordinary worldly enjoyments, in order to give one's self to prayer (Ac 13:2). Daniel's mourning was probably for his countrymen, who met with many obstructions to their building of the temple, from their adversaries in the Persian court.
3. no pleasant bread—"unleavened bread, even the bread of affliction" (De 16:3).
anoint—The Persians largely used unguents.
4. first month—Nisan, the month most suited for considering Israel's calamity, being that in which the feast of unleavened bread reminded them of their Egyptian bondage. Daniel mourned not merely for the seven days appointed (Ex 12:18), from the evening of the fourteenth to the twenty-first of Nisan, but thrice seven days, to mark extraordinary sorrow. His mourning ended on the twenty-first day, the closing day of the passover feast; but the vision is not till the twenty-fourth, because of the opposition of "the prince of Persia" (Da 10:13).
I was by … the … river—in waking reality, not a trance (Da 10:7); when younger, he saw the future in images, but now when old, he receives revelations from angels in common language, that is, in the apocalyptic mode. In the patriarchal period God often appeared visibly, that is, theophany. In the prophets, next in the succession, the inward character of revelation is prominent. The consummation is when the seer looks up from earth into the unseen world, and has the future shown to him by angels, that is, apocalypse. So in the New Testament there is a parallel progression: God in the flesh, the spiritual activity of the apostles and the apocalypse [Auberlen].
5. lifted up mine eyes—from the ground on which they had been fixed in his mourning.
certain man—literally, "one man." An angel of the highest order; for in Da 8:16 he commands Gabriel to make Daniel to understand the vision, and in Da 12:6 one of the two angels inquires of him how long it would be till the end predicted.
linen—the raiment of priests, being the symbol of sanctity, as more pure than wool (Ex 28:42); also of prophets (Jer 13:1); and of angels (Re 15:6).
girded with … gold—that is, with a girdle interwoven with gold (Re 1:13).
6. beryl—literally, "Tarshish," in Spain. The beryl, identical with the chrysolite or topaz, was imported into the East from Tarshish, and therefore is called "the Tarshish stone."
7. they fled—terrified by the presence of the presence of the angel.
8. comeliness—literally, "vigor," that is, lively expression and color.
into corruption—"deadliness," that is, death-like paleness (Da 5:6; 7:28).
9. voice of his words—the sound of his words.
was I in a deep sleep—"I sank into a deep sleep" [Lengkerke].
10. an hand—namely, of Gabriel, who interpreted other revelations to Daniel (Da 8:16) [Theodoret].
set me upon my knees—Gesenius translates, "cause me to reel on my knees," &c.
11. man … beloved—(See on Da 9:23).
understand—"attend to." See Da 8:17, 18.
12. Fear not—Be not affrighted at my presence.
didst set thine heart to understand—what shall come to pass to thy people at the last times (compare Da 10:14).
chasten thyself—(Da 10:2, 3).
thy words were heard—(Ac 10:4). Prayer is heard at once in heaven, though the sensible answer may seem to be delayed. God's messenger was detained on the way (Da 10:13) by the opposition of the powers of darkness. If in our prayers amidst long protracted sorrows we believed God's angel is on his way to us, what consolation it would give us!
for thy words—because of thy prayers.
13. prince of … Persia—the angel of darkness that represented the Persian world power, to which Israel was then subject. This verse gives the reason why, though Daniel's "words were heard from the first day" (Da 10:12), the good angel did not come to him until more than three weeks had elapsed (Da 10:4).
one and twenty days—answering to the three weeks of Daniel's mourning (Da 10:2).
Michael—that is, "Who is like God?" Though an archangel, "one of the chief princes," Michael was not to be compared to God.
help me—Michael, as patron of Israel before God (Da 10:21; 12:1), "helped" to influence the Persian king to permit the Jews' return to Jerusalem.
I remained—I was detained there with the kings of Persia, that is, with the angel of the Persian rulers, with whom I had to contend, and from whom I should not have got free, but for the help of Michael. Gesenius translates, "I obtained the ascendency," that is, I gained my point against the adverse angel of Persia, so as to influence the Persian authorities to favor Israel's restoration.
14. what shall befall thy people in the latter days—an intimation that the prophecy, besides describing the doings of Antiochus, reaches to the concluding calamities of Israel's history, prior to the nation's full restoration at Christ's coming—calamities of which Antiochus' persecutions were the type.
vision is for many days—that is, extends far into the future.
15. face toward the ground—in humble reverence (Ge 19:1).
dumb—with overwhelming awe.
16. touched my lips—the same significant action wherewith the Son of man accompanied His healing of the dumb (Mr 7:33). He alone can give spiritual utterance (Isa 6:6, 7; Eph 6:19), enabling one to "open the mouth boldly." The same one who makes dumb (Da 10:15) opens the mouth.
sorrows—literally, "writhings" as of a woman in travail.
17. this … this my lord—to avoid the tautology in English Version, join rather "this," with "servant," "How can this servant of my lord (that is, how can I who am so feeble) talk with this my lord (who is so majestic)?" Thus Daniel gives the reason why he is so overwhelmed with awe [Maurer].
18. again … touched me—It was gradually that Daniel recovered his strength. Hence there was need of the second touch, that he might hear the angel with composure.
19. peace be unto thee—God is favorable to thee and to thy people Israel. See Jud 13:21, 22, as to the fear of some evil resulting from a vision of angels.
20. Knowest thou wherefore—The angel asks, after Daniel had recovered from his fright, whether he has understood what was revealed (Da 10:13). On Daniel, by his silence, intimating that he did understand, the angel declares he will return to renew the fight with the evil angel, the prince of Persia. This points to new difficulties to the Jews' restoration which would arise in the Persian court, but which would be counteracted by God, through the ministry of angels.
prince of Grecia shall come—Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia, and favored the Jews [Calvin]. Rather, as the prince of Persia is an angel, representing the hostile world power, so the prince of Grecia is a fresh angelic adversary, representing Greece. When I am gone forth from conquering the Persian foe, a fresh one starts up, namely, the world power that succeeds Persia, Greece; Antiochus Epiphanes, and his antitype Antichrist, but him, too, with the help of Michael, Israel's champion, I shall overcome [Gejer].
21. noted in the scripture of truth—in the secret book of God's decrees (Ps 139:16; Re 5:1), which are truth, that is, the things which shall most surely come to pass, being determined by God (compare Joh 17:17).
none … but Michael—To him alone of the angels the office of protecting Israel, in concert with the angelic speaker, was delegated; all the world powers were against Israel.
Da 11:1-45. This chapter is an enlargement of the eighth: The Overthrow of Persia by Grecia: The Four Divisions of Alexander's Kingdom: Conflicts between the Kings of the South and of the North, the Ptolemies and Seleucidæ: Antiochus Epiphanes.
1. I—the angel (Da 10:18).
first year of Darius—Cyaxares II; the year of the conquest of Babylon (Da 5:31). Cyrus, who wielded the real power, though in name subordinate to Darius, in that year promulgated the edict for the restoration of the Jews, which Daniel was at the time praying for (Da 9:1, 2, 21, 23).
stood—implying promptness in helping (Ps 94:16).
strengthen him—namely, Michael; even as Michael (Da 10:21, "strengtheneth himself with me") helped the angel, both joining their powers in behalf of Israel [Rosenmuller]. Or, Darius, the angel "confirming him" in his purpose of kindness to Israel.
2. three kings in Persia—Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes. (Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius, in Ezr 4:6, 7, 24). The Ahasuerus of Esther (see on Da 9:1) is identified with Xerxes, both in Greek history and in Scripture, appearing proud, self-willed, careless of contravening Persian customs, amorous, facile, and changeable (Da 11:2).
fourth … riches … against … Grecia—Xerxes, whose riches were proverbial. Persia reached its climax and showed its greatest power in his invasion of Greece, 480 B.C. After his overthrow at Salamis, Persia is viewed as politically dead, though it had an existence. Therefore, Da 11:3, without noticing Xerxes' successors, proceeds at once to Alexander, under whom, first, the third world kingdom, Grecia, reached its culmination, and assumed an importance as to the people of God.
stir up all—Four years were spent in gathering his army out of all parts of his vast empire, amounting to two millions six hundred and forty-one thousand men. [Prideaux, Connexion, 1.4. l. 410].
3. mighty king … do according to his will—answering to the he-goat's "notable horn" (Da 8:6, 7, 21). Alexander invaded Persia 334 B.C., to avenge the wrongs of Greece on Persia for Xerxes' past invasion (as Alexander said in a letter to Darius Codomanus, Arrian, Alexander. 2.14.7).
4. kingdom … divided toward … four winds—the fourfold division of Alexander's kingdom at his death (Da 8:8, 22), after the battle of Ipsus, 301 B.C.
not to his posterity—(See on Da 8:8; Da 8:22).
nor according to his dominion—None of his successors had so wide a dominion as Alexander himself.
others besides those—besides Alexander's sons, Hercules by Barsine, Darius' daughter, and Alexander by Roxana, who were both slain [Maurer]. Rather, besides the four successors to the four chief divisions of the empire, there will be other lesser chiefs who shall appropriate smaller fragments of the Macedonian empire [Jerome].
5. Here the prophet leaves Asia and Greece and takes up Egypt and Syria, these being in continual conflict under Alexander's successors, entailing misery on Judea, which lay between the two. Holy Scripture handles external history only so far as it is connected with God's people, Israel [Jerome]. Tregelles puts a chasm between the fourth and fifth verses, making the transition to the final Antichrist here, answering to the chasm (in his view) at Da 8:22, 23.
king of … south—literally, "of midday": Egypt (Da 11:8, 42), Ptolemy Soter, son of Lagus. He took the title "king," whereas Lagus was but "governor."
one of his princes—Seleucus, at first a satrap of Ptolemy Lagus, but from 312 B.C. king of the largest empire after that of Alexander (Syria, Babylon, Media, &c.), and called therefore Nicator, that is, "conqueror." Connect the words thus, "And one of his (Ptolemy's) princes, even he (Seleucus) shall be strong above him" (above Ptolemy, his former master).
6. in … end of years—when the predicted time shall be consummated (Da 11:13, Margin; Da 8:17; 12:13).
king's daughter of the south—Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt. The latter, in order to end his war with Antiochus Theus, "king of the north" (literally, "midnight": the prophetical phrase for the region whence came affliction to Israel, Jer 1:13-15; Joe 2:20), that is, Syria, gave Berenice to Antiochus, who thereupon divorced his former wife, Laodice, and disinherited her son, Seleucus Callinicus. The designation, "king of the north" and "of the south," is given in relation to Judea, as the standpoint. Egypt is mentioned by name (Da 11:8, 42), though Syria is not; because the former was in Daniel's time a flourishing kingdom, whereas Syria was then a mere dependency of Assyria and Babylon: an undesigned proof of the genuineness of the Book of Daniel.
agreement—literally, "rights," that is, to put things to rights between the belligerents.
she shall not retain the power of the arm—She shall not be able to effect the purpose of the alliance, namely, that she should be the mainstay of peace. Ptolemy having died, Antiochus took back Laodice, who then poisoned him, and caused Berenice and her son to be put to death, and raised her own son, Seleucus Nicator, to the throne.
neither shall he stand—The king of Egypt shall not gain his point of setting his line on the throne of Syria.
his arm—that on which he relied. Berenice and her offspring.
they that brought her—her attendants from Egypt.
he that begat her—rather as Margin, "the child whom she brought forth" [Ewald]. If English Version (which Maurer approves) be retained, as Ptolemy died a natural death, "given up" is not in his case, as in Berenice's, to be understood of giving up to death, but in a general sense, of his plan proving abortive.
he that strengthened her in these times—Antiochus Theus, who is to attach himself to her (having divorced Laodice) at the times predicted [Gejer].
7. a branch of her roots … in his estate—Ptolemy Euergetes, brother of Berenice, succeeding in the place (Margin) of Philadelphus, avenged her death by overrunning Syria, even to the Euphrates.
deal against them—He shall deal with the Syrians at his own pleasure. He slew Laodice.
8. carry … into Egypt their gods, &c.—Ptolemy, on hearing of a sedition in Egypt, returned with forty thousand talents of silver, precious vessels, and twenty-four hundred images, including Egyptian idols, which Cambyses had carried from Egypt into Persia. The idolatrous Egyptians were so gratified, that they named him Euergetes, or "benefactor."
continue more years—Ptolemy survived Seleucus four years, reigning in all forty-six years. Maurer translates, "Then he for several years shall desist from (contending with) the king of the north" (compare Da 11:9).
9. come into his kingdom—Egypt: not only with impunity, but with great spoil.
10. his sons—the two sons of the king of the north, Seleucus Callinicus, upon his death by a fall from his horse, namely, Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus the Great.
one shall … come—Ceraunus having died, Antiochus alone prosecuted the war with Ptolemy Philopater, Euergetes' son, until he had recovered all the parts of Syria subjugated by Euergetes.
pass through—like an "overflowing" torrent (Da 11:22, 26, 40; Isa 8:8). Antiochus penetrated to Dura (near Cæsarea), where he gave Ptolemy a four months' truce.
return—renew the war at the expiration of the truce (so Da 11:13).
even to his fortress—Ptolemy's; Raphia, a border-fortress of Egypt against incursions by way of Edom and Arabia-Petræa, near Gaza; here Antiochus was vanquished.
11. the king of the south … moved with choler—at so great losses, Syria having been wrested from him, and his own kingdom imperilled, though otherwise an indolent man, to which his disasters were owing, as also to the odium of his subjects against him for having murdered his father, mother, and brother, whence in irony they called him Philopater, "father-lover."
he shall set forth a great multitude—Antiochus, king of Syria, whose force was seventy thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry.
but … multitude … given into his hand—into Ptolemy's hands; ten thousand of Antiochus' army were slain, and four thousand made captives.
12. when he hath taken away—that is, subdued "the multitude" of Antiochus.
heart … lifted up—instead of following up his victory by making himself master of the whole of Syria, as he might, he made peace with Antiochus, and gave himself up to licentiousness [Polybius, 87; Justin, 30.4], and profaned the temple of God by entering the holy place [Grotius].
not be strengthened by it—He shall lose the power gained by his victory through his luxurious indolence.
13. return—renew the war.
after certain years—fourteen years after his defeat at Raphia. Antiochus, after successful campaigns against Persia and India, made war with Ptolemy Epiphanes, son of Philopater, a mere child.
14. many stand up against the king of the south—Philip, king of Macedon, and rebels in Egypt itself, combined with Antiochus against Ptolemy.
robbers of thy people—that is, factious men of the Jews shall exalt themselves, so as to revolt from Ptolemy, and join themselves to Antiochus; the Jews helped Antiochus' army with provisions, when on his return from Egypt he besieged the Egyptian garrison left in Jerusalem [Josephus, Antiquities, 12:3.3].
to establish the vision—Those turbulent Jews unconsciously shall help to fulfil the purpose of God, as to the trials which await Judea, according to this vision.
but they shall fall—Though helping to fulfil the vision, they shall fail in their aim, of making Judea independent.
15. king of … north—Antiochus the Great.
take … fenced cities—Scopas, the Egyptian general, met Antiochus at Paneas, near the sources of the Jordan, and was defeated, and fled to Sidon, a strongly "fenced city," where he was forced to surrender.
chosen people—Egypt's choicest army was sent under Eropus, Menocles, and Damoxenus, to deliver Scopas, but in vain [Jerome].
16. he that cometh against him—Antiochus coming against Ptolemy Epiphanes.
glorious land—Judea (Da 11:41, 45; Da 8:9; Eze 20:6, 15).
by his hand shall be consumed—literally, "perfected," that is, completely brought under his sway. Josephus [Antiquities, 12:3.3] shows that the meaning is not, that the Jews should be utterly consumed: for Antiochus favored them for taking his part against Ptolemy, but that their land should be subjected to him [Lengkerke]. Grotius translates, "shall be perfected by him," that is, shall flourish under him. English Version gives a good sense; namely, that Judea was much "consumed" or "desolated" by being the arena of conflict between the combatants, Syria and Egypt. Tregelles refers (Da 11:14), "robbers of thy people," to the Gentiles, once oppressors, attempting to restore the Jews to their land by mere human effort, whereas this is to be effected only by divine interposition: their attempt is frustrated (Da 11:16) by the wilful king, who makes Judea the scene of his military operations.
17. set his face—purpose steadfastly. Antiochus purpose was, however, turned from open assault to wile, by his war with the Romans in his endeavor to extend his kingdom to the limits it had under Seleucus Nicator.
upright one—Jasher, or Jeshurun (De 32:15; Isa 44:2); the epithet applied by the Hebrews to their nation. It is here used not in praise; for in Da 11:14 (see on Da 11:14) they are called "robbers," or "men of violence, factious": it is the general designation of Israel, as having God for their God. Probably it is used to rebuke those who ought to have been God's "upright ones" for confederating with godless heathen in acts of violence (the contrast to the term in Da 11:14 favors this).
thus shall he do—Instead of at once invading Ptolemy's country with his "whole strength," he prepares his way for doing so by the following plan: he gives to Ptolemy Epiphanes his daughter Cleopatra in marriage, promising Cœlo-Syria and Judea as a dowry, thus securing his neutrality in the war with Rome: he hoped through his daughter to obtain Syria, Cilicia, and Lycia, and even Egypt itself at last; but Cleopatra favored her husband rather than her father, and so defeated his scheme [Jerome]. "She shall not stand on his side."
18. isles—He "took many" of the isles in the Ægean in his war with the Romans, and crossed the Hellespont.
prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach … to cease—Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, the Roman general, by routing Antiochus at Magnesia (190 B.C.), caused the reproach which he offered Rome by inflicting injuries on Rome's allies, to cease. He did it for his own glory.
without his own reproach—with untarnished reputation.
19. Then he shall turn … toward … his own land—Compelled by Rome to relinquish all his territory west of the Taurus, and defray the expenses of the war, he garrisoned the cities left to him.
stumble … not be found—Attempting to plunder the temple of Jupiter at Elymais by night, whether through avarice, or the want of money to pay the tribute imposed by Rome (a thousand talents), he was slain with his soldiers in an insurrection of the inhabitants [Justin, 32.2].
20. in his estate—in Antiochus' stead: his successor, Seleucus Philopater, his son.
in the glory of the kingdom—that is, inheriting it by hereditary right. Maurer translates, "one who shall cause the tax gatherer (Heliodorus) to pass through the glory of the kingdom," that is, Judea, "the glorious land" (Da 11:16, 41; Da 8:9). Simon, a Benjamite, in spite against Onias III, the high priest, gave information of the treasures in the Jewish temple; and Seleucus having reunited to Syria Cœlo-Syria and Palestine, the dowry formerly given by Antiochus the Great to Cleopatra, Ptolemy's wife, sent Heliodorus to Jerusalem to plunder the temple. This is narrated in 2 Maccabees 3:4, &c. Contrast Zec 9:8, "No oppressor shall pass through … any more."
within few days … destroyed—after a reign of twelve years, which were "few" compared with the thirty-seven years of Antiochus' reign. Heliodorus, the instrument of Seleucus' sacrilege, was made by God the instrument of his punishment. Seeking the crown, in the absence at Rome of Seleucus' only son and heir, Demetrius, he poisoned Seleucus. But Antiochus Epiphanes, Seleucus' brother, by the help of Eumenes, king of Pergamos, succeeded to the throne, 175 B.C.
neither in anger, nor in battle—not in a popular outbreak, nor in open battle.
21. vile—Antiochus called Epiphanes, that is, "the illustrious," for vindicating the claims of the royal line against Heliodorus, was nicknamed, by a play of sounds, Epimanes, that is, "the madman," for his mad freaks beneath the dignity of a king. He would carouse with the lowest of the people, bathe with them in the public baths, and foolishly jest and throw stones at passers-by [Polybius, 26.10]. Hence, as also for his crafty supplanting of Demetrius, the rightful heir, from the throne, he is termed "vile."
they shall not give … kingdom: but … by flatteries—The nation shall not, by a public act, confer the kingdom on him, but he shall obtain it by artifice, "flattering" Eumenes and Attalus of Pergamos to help him, and, as he had seen candidates at Rome doing, canvassing the Syrian people high and low, one by one, with embraces [Livy, 41.20].
22. shall they be overflown … before him—Antiochus Epiphanes shall invade Egypt with overwhelming forces.
prince of the covenant—Ptolemy Philometer, the son of Cleopatra, Antiochus' sister, who was joined in covenant with him. Ptolemy's guardians, while he was a boy, sought to recover from Epiphanes Cœlo-Syria and Palestine, which had been promised by Antiochus the Great as Cleopatra's dowry in marrying Ptolemy Epiphanes. Hence arose the war. Philometer's generals were vanquished, and Pelusium, the key of Egypt, taken by Antiochus, 171 B.C.
23. Tregelles notes three divisions in the history of the "vile person," which is continued to the end of the chapter: (1) His rise (Da 11:21, 22). (2) The time from his making the covenant to the taking away of the daily sacrifice and setting up of the abomination of desolation (Da 11:23-31). (3) His career of blasphemy, to his destruction (Da 11:32-45); the latter two periods answering to the "week" of years of his "covenant with many" (namely, in Israel) (Da 9:27), and the last being the closing half week of the ninth chapter. But the context so accurately agrees with the relations of Antiochus to Ptolemy that the primary reference seems to be to the "league" between them. Antitypically, Antichrist's relations towards Israel are probably delineated. Compare Da 8:11, 25, with Da 11:22 here, "prince of the covenant."
work deceitfully—Feigning friendship to young Ptolemy, as if he wished to order his kingdom for him, he took possession of Memphis and all Egypt ("the fattest places," Da 11:34) as far as Alexandria.
with a small people—At first, to throw off suspicion, his forces were small.
24. peaceably—literally, "unexpectedly"; under the guise of friendship he seized Ptolemy Philometer.
he shall do that which his fathers have not done—His predecessors, kings of Syria, had always coveted Egypt, but in vain: he alone made himself master of it.
scatter among them … prey—among his followers (1 Maccabees 1:19).
forecast his devices against … strongholds—He shall form a studied scheme for making himself master of the Egyptian fortresses. He gained them all except Alexandria, which successfully resisted him. Retaining to himself Pelusium, he retired to Judea, where, in revenge for the joy shown by the Jews at the report of his death, which led them to a revolt, he subdued Jerusalem by storm or stratagem.
for a time—His rage shall not be for ever; it is but for a time limited by God. Calvin makes "for a time" in antithesis to "unexpectedly," in the beginning of the verse. He suddenly mastered the weaker cities: he had to "forecast his plans" more gradually ("for a time") as to how to gain the stronger fortresses.
25. A fuller detail of what was summarily stated (Da 11:22-24). This is the first of Antiochus' three (Da 11:29) open invasions of Egypt.
against the king of the south—against Ptolemy Philometer. Subsequently, Ptolemy Physcon (the Gross), or Euergetes II, was made king by the Egyptians, as Ptolemy Philometer was in Antiochus' hands.
great army—as distinguished from the "small people" (Da 11:23) with which he first came. This was his first open expedition; he was emboldened by success to it. Antiochus "entered Egypt with an overwhelming multitude, with chariots, elephants, and cavalry" (1 Maccabees 1:17).
stirred up—by the necessity, though naturally indolent.
not stand—Philometer was defeated.
they shall forecast, &c.—His own nobles shall frame treacherous "devices" against him (see Da 11:26). Eulœus and Lenœus maladministered his affairs. Antiochus, when checked at last at Alexandria, left Ptolemy Philometer at Memphis as king, pretending that his whole object was to support Philometer's claims against the usurper Physcon.
26. they that feed of … his meat—those from whom he might naturally have looked for help, his intimates and dependents (Ps 41:9; Joh 13:18); his ministers and guardians.
his army shall overflow—Philometer's army shall be dissipated as water. The phrase is used of overflowing numbers, usually in a victorious sense, but here in the sense of defeat, the very numbers which ordinarily ensure victory, hastening the defeat through mismanagement.
many shall fall down slain—(1 Maccabees 1:18, "many fell wounded to death"). Antiochus, when he might have slain all in the battle near Pelusium, rode around and ordered the enemy to be taken alive, the fruit of which policy was, he soon gained Pelusium and all Egypt [Diodorus Siculus, 26.77].
27. both … to do mischief—each to the other.
speak lies at one table—They shall, under the semblance of intimacy, at Memphis try to deceive one another (see on Da 11:3; Da 11:25).
it shall not prosper—Neither of them shall carry his point at this time.
yet the end shall be—"the end" of the contest between them is reserved for "the time appointed" (Da 11:29, 30).
28. (1 Maccabees 1:19, 20, &c.).
against the holy covenant—On his way back to Syria, he attacked Jerusalem, the metropolis of Jehovah's covenant-people, slew eighty thousand, took forty thousand prisoners, and sold forty thousand as slaves (2 Maccabees 5:5-14).
he shall do exploits—He shall effect his purpose. Guided by Menelaus, the high priest, he entered the sanctuary with blasphemies, took away the gold and silver vessels, sacrificed swine on the altar, and sprinkled broth of the flesh through the temple (2 Maccabees 5:15-21).
29. At the time appointed—"the time" spoken of in Da 11:27.
return—his second open invasion of Egypt. Ptolemy Philometer, suspecting Antiochus' designs with Physcon, hired mercenaries from Greece. Whereupon Antiochus advanced with a fleet and an army, demanding the cession to him of Cyprus, Pelusium, and the country adjoining the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile.
it shall not be as the former—not successful as the former expedition. Popilius Lœnas, the Roman ambassador, met him at Eleusis, four miles from Alexandria, and presented him the decree of the senate; on Antiochus replying that he would consider what he was to do, Popilius drew a line round him with a rod and said, "I must have a reply to give to the senate before you leave this circle." Antiochus submitted, and retired from Egypt; and his fleets withdrew from Cyprus.
or as the latter—that mentioned in Da 11:42, 43 [Tregelles]. Or, making this the third expedition, the sense is "not as the first or as the second" expeditions [Piscator]. Rather "not as the former, so shall be this latter" expedition [Grotius].
30. ships of Chittim—the Roman ambassadors arriving in Macedonian Grecian vessels (see on Jer 2:10). Chittim, properly Cyprian, so called from a Phœnician colony in Cyprus; then the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean in general.
grieved—humbled and dispirited through fear of Rome.
indignation against the holy covenant—Indignant that meantime God's worship had been restored at Jerusalem, he gives vent to his wrath at the check given him by Rome, on the Jews.
intelligence with them that forsake the … covenant—namely, with the apostates in the nation (1 Maccabees 1:11-15). Menelaus and other Jews instigated the king against their religion and country, learning from Greek philosophy that all religions are good enough to keep the masses in check. These had cast off circumcision and the religion of Jehovah for Greek customs. Antiochus, on his way home, sent Apollonius (167 B.C.) with twenty-two thousand to destroy Jerusalem, two years after its capture by himself. Apollonius slew multitudes, dismantled and pillaged the city. They then, from a fortress which they built commanding the temple, fell on and slew the worshippers; so that the temple service was discontinued. Also, Antiochus decreed that all, on pain of death, should conform to the Greek religion, and the temple was consecrated to Jupiter Olympius. Identifying himself with that god, with fanatical haughtiness he wished to make his own worship universal (1 Maccabees 1:41; 2 Maccabees 6:7). This was the gravest peril which ever heretofore threatened revealed religion, the holy people, and the theocracy on earth, for none of the previous world rulers had interfered with the religious worship of the covenant-people, when subject to them (Da 4:31-34; 6:27, 28; Ezr 1:2, 4; 7:12; Ne 2:18). Hence arose the need of such a forewarning of the covenant-people as to him—so accurate, that Porphyry, the adversary of revelation, saw it was hopeless to deny its correspondence with history, but argued from its accuracy that it must have been written subsequent to the event. But as Messianic events are foretold in Daniel, the Jews, the adversaries of Jesus, would never have forged the prophecies which confirm His claims. The ninth chapter was to comfort the faithful Jews, in the midst of the "abominations" against "the covenant," with the prospect of Messiah who would "confirm the covenant." He would show by bringing salvation, and yet abolishing sacrifices, that the temple service which they so grieved after, was not absolutely necessary; thus the correspondence of phraseology would suggest comfort (compare Da 9:27 with Da 11:30, 31).
31. arms—namely, of the human body; not weapons; human forces.
they—Antiochus' hosts confederate with the apostate Israelites; these latter attain the climax of guilt, when they not only, as before, "forsake the covenant" (Da 11:30), but "do wickedly against" it (Da 11:32), turning complete heathens. Here Antiochus' actings are described in language which reach beyond him the type to Antichrist the antitype [Jerome] (just as in Ps 72:1-20 many things are said of Solomon the type, which are only applicable to Christ the Antitype); including perhaps Rome, Mohammed, and the final personal Antichrist. Sir Isaac Newton refers the rest of the chapter from this verse to the Romans, translating, "after him arms (that is, the Romans) shall stand up"; at the very time that Antiochus left Egypt, the Romans conquered Macedon, thus finishing the reign of Daniel's third beast; so here the prophet naturally proceeds to the fourth beast. Jerome's view is simpler; for the narrative seems to continue the history of Antiochus, though with features only in type applicable to him, fully to Antichrist.
sanctuary of strength—not only naturally a place of strength, whence it held out to the last against the besiegers, but chiefly the spiritual stronghold of the covenant-people (Ps 48:1-3, 12-14). Apollonius "polluted" it with altars to idols and sacrifices of swine's flesh, after having "taken away the daily sacrifice" (see on Da 8:11).
place … abomination that maketh desolate—that is, that pollutes the temple (Da 8:12, 13). Or rather, "the abomination of the desolater," Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 1:29, 37-49). Compare Da 9:27, wherein the antitypical desolating abomination of Rome (the eagle standard, the bird of Jupiter, sacrificed to by Titus' soldiers within the sacred precincts, at the destruction of Jerusalem), of Mohammed and of the final Antichrist, is foretold. 1 Maccabees 1:54, uses the very phrase, "the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty-fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation on the altar"; namely, an idol-altar and image of Jupiter Olympius, erected upon Jehovah's altar of burnt offerings. "Abomination" is the common name for an idol in the Old Testament. The Roman emperor Adrian's erection of a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus where the temple of God had stood, A.D. 132; also the erection of the Mohammedan mosque of Omar in the same place (it is striking, Mohammedanism began to prevail in A.D. 610, only about three years of the time when Popery assumed the temporal power); and the idolatry of the Church of Rome in the spiritual temple, and the final blasphemy of the personal Antichrist in the literal temple (2Th 2:4) may all be antitypically referred to here under Antiochus the type, and the Old Testament Antichrist.
32. (1 Maccabees 1:52).
corrupt—seduce to apostasy.
by flatteries—promises of favor.
people that … know their God—the Maccabees and their followers (1 Maccabees 1:62, 63).
33. they that understand—who know and keep the truth of God (Isa 11:2).
instruct many—in their duty to God and the law, not to apostatize.
yet they shall fall—as Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6:18, &c.). They shall be sorely persecuted, even to death (Heb 11:35, 36, 37; 2 Maccabees 6, 7). Their enemies took advantage of the Sabbath to slay them on the day when they would not fight. Tregelles thinks, from comparison with Da 11:35, it is the people who "fall," not those of understanding. But Da 11:35 makes the latter "fall," not an unmeaning repetition; in Da 11:33 they fall (die) by persecution; in Da 11:35 they fall (spiritually) for a time by their own weakness.
flame—in caves, whither they had retired to keep the Sabbath. Antiochus caused some to be roasted alive (2 Maccabees 7:3-5).
many days—rather, "certain days," as in Da 8:27. Josephus [Antiquities, 12:7.6,7] tells us the persecution lasted for three years (1 Maccabees 1:59; 4:54; 2 Maccabees 10:1-7).
34. a little help—The liberty obtained by the Maccabean heroes for the Jews was of but short duration. They soon fell under the Romans and Herodians, and ever since every attempt to free them from Gentile rule has only aggravated their sad lot. The period of the world times (Gentile rule) is the period of depression of the theocracy, extending from the exile to the millennium [Roos]. The more immediate reference seems to be, the forces of Mattathias and his five sons were originally few (1 Maccabees 2:1-5).
many shall cleave to them—as was the case under Judas Maccabeus, who was thus able successfully to resist Antiochus.
with flatteries—Those who had deserted the Jewish cause in persecution, now, when success attended the Jewish arms, joined the Maccabean standard, for example, Joseph, the son of Zecharias, Azarias, &c. (1 Maccabees 5:55-57; 2 Maccabees 12:40; 13:21). Maurer explains it, of those who through fear of the Maccabees' severity against apostates joined them, though ready, if it suited their purpose, to desert them (1 Maccabees 2:44; 3:58).
35. to try them—the design of affliction. Image from metals tried with fire.
to purge—Even in the elect there are dregs which need to be purged out (1Pe 1:7). Hence they are allowed to fall for a time; not finally (2Ch 32:31; Lu 22:31). Image from wheat cleared of its chaff by the wind.
make … white—image from cloth (Re 7:9).
to … time of … end—God will not suffer His people to be persecuted without limitation (1Co 10:13). The godly are to wait patiently for "the end" of "the time" of trial; "for it is (to last) yet for a time appointed" by God.
36. The wilful king here, though primarily Antiochus, is antitypically and mainly Antichrist, the seventh head of the seven-headed and ten-horned beast of Re 13:1-18, and the "beast" of Armageddon (Re 16:13, 16; 19:19). Some identify him with the revived French emperorship, the eighth head of the beast (Re 17:11), who is to usurp the kingly, as the Pope has the priestly, dignity of Christ—the false Messiah of the Jews, who will "plant his tabernacle between the seas in the holy mountain," "exalting himself above every god" (2Th 2:4; Re 13:5, 6). This last clause only in part holds good of Antiochus; for though he assumed divine honors, identifying himself with Jupiter Olympius, yet it was for that god he claimed them; still it applies to him as the type.
speak marvellous things against … God of gods—so Da 7:25, as to the "little horn," which seemingly identifies the two (compare Da 8:25). Antiochus forbade the worship of Jehovah by a decree "marvellous" for its wickedness: thus he was a type of Antichrist. Compare Da 7:8, "a mouth speaking great things."
indignation … accomplished—God's visitation of wrath on the Jews for their sins (Da 8:19).
that … determined—(Da 9:26, 27; 10:21).
37. Neither … regard … the desire of women—(Compare Eze 24:16, 18). The wife, as the desire of man's eyes, is the symbol of the tenderest relations (2Sa 1:26). Antiochus would set at naught even their entreaties that he should cease from his attack on Jehovah's worship [Polanus]. Maurer refers it to Antiochus' attack on the temple of the Syrian Venus, worshipped by women (1 Maccabees 6:1, &c.; 2 Maccabees 1:13). Newton refers it to Rome's "forbidding to marry." Elliott rightly makes the antitypical reference be to Messiah. Jewish women desired to be mothers with a view to Him, the promised seed of the woman (Ge 30:23; Lu 1:25, 28).
nor regard any god—(2Th 2:4).
38. God of forces—probably Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom Antiochus began to erect a temple at Antioch [Livy, 41.20]. Translate, "He shall honor the god of fortresses on his basis," that is, the base of the statue. Newton translates, "And the god 'Mahuzzim' (guardians, that is, saints adored as 'protectors' in the Greek and Roman churches) shall he honor."
honour with gold, &c.—Compare Re 17:4 as to Antiochus' antitype, Antichrist.
39. Newton translates, "to be defenders of Mahuzzim (the monks and priests who uphold saint worship), together with the strange god whom he shall acknowledge, he shall multiply honor." English Version is better: He shall do (exploits) in the most strongholds (that is, shall succeed against them) with a strange god (under the auspices of a god which he worshipped not before, namely, Jupiter Capitolinus, whose worship he imported into his empire from Rome). Antiochus succeeded against Jerusalem, Sidon, Pelusium, Memphis.
cause them—Antiochus "caused" his followers and the apostates "to rule over many" Jews, having "divided their land" (Judea), "for gain" (that is, as a reward for their compliance).
40. The difficulty of reconciling this with Antiochus' history is that no historian but Porphyry mentions an expedition of his into Egypt towards the close of his reign. This Da 11:40, therefore, may be a recapitulation summing up the facts of the first expedition to Egypt (171-170 B.C.), in Da 11:22, 25; and Da 11:41, the former invasion of Judea, in Da 11:28; Da 11:42, 43, the second and third invasions of Egypt (169 and 168 B.C.) in Da 11:23, 24, 29, 30. Auberlen takes rather Porphyry's statement, that Antiochus, in the eleventh year of his reign (166-165 B.C.), invaded Egypt again, and took Palestine on his way. The "tidings" (Da 11:44) as to the revolt of tributary nations then led him to the East. Porphyry's statement that Antiochus starting from Egypt took Arad in Judah, and devastated all Phœnicia, agrees with Da 11:45; then he turned to check Artaxias, king of Armenia. He died in the Persian town Tabes, 164 B.C., as both Polybius and Porphyry agree. Doubtless, antitypically, the final Antichrist, and its predecessor Mohammed, are intended, to whom the language may be more fully applicable than to Antiochus the type. The Saracen Arabs "of the south" "pushed at" the Greek emperor Heraclius, and deprived him of Egypt and Syria. But the Turks of "the north" not merely pushed at, but destroyed the Greek empire; therefore more is said of them than of the Saracens. Their "horsemen" are specified, being their chief strength. Their standards still are horse tails. Their "ships," too, often gained the victory over Venice, the great naval power of Europe in that day. They "overflowed" Western Asia, and then "passed over" into Europe, fixing their seat of empire at Constantinople under Mohammed II [Newton].
41. Antiochus, according to Porphyry, marching against Ptolemy, though he turned from his course to wreak his wrath on the Jews, did not meddle with Edom, Moab, and Ammon on the side of Judea. In 1 Maccabees 4:61; 5:3; &c., it is stated that he used their help in crushing the Jews, of whom they were the ancient enemies. Compare Isa 11:14, as to Israel's future retribution, just as the Maccabees made war on them as the friends of Antiochus (1 Maccabees 5:1-68). Antitypically, the Turks under Selim entered Jerusalem on their way to Egypt, and retain "the glorious land" of Palestine to this day. But they never could conquer the Arabs, who are akin to Edom, Moab, and Ammon (Ge 16:12). So in the case of the final Antichrist.
42, 43. Egypt … Libyans … Ethiopians—The latter two, being the allies of the first, served under Antiochus when he conquered Egypt. Antitypically, Egypt, though it held out long under the Mamelukes, in A.D. 1517 fell under the Turks. Algiers, Tunis, and other parts of Africa, are still under them.
at his steps—following him (Ex 11:8, Margin; Jud 4:10).
44. tidings out of the east and out of the north—Artaxias, king of Armenia, his vassal, had revolted in the north, and Arsaces, leader of the Parthians, in the east (1 Maccabees 3:10, &c., 1 Maccabees 3:37; Tacitus, Histories, 5.8). In 147 B.C. Antiochus went on the expedition against them, on the return from which he died.
great fury—at the Jews, on account of their successes under Judas Maccabeus, whence he desired to replenish his treasury with means to prosecute the war with them; also at Artaxias and Arsaces, and their respective followers. De Burgh makes the "tidings" which rouse his fury, to be concerning the Jews' restoration; such may be the antitypical reference.
45. plant … between the seas—the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
tabernacles of … palace—his palace-like military tents, such as Oriental princes travel with. See on Da 11:40, as to the time of Antiochus' attack on Judea, and his subsequent "end" at Tabes, which was caused by chagrin both at hearing that his forces under Lysias were overcome by the Jews, and at the failure of his expedition against the temple of Elymais (2 Maccabees 9:5).
holy mountain—Jerusalem and Mount Zion. The desolation of the sanctuary by Antiochus, and also the desecration of the consecrated ground round Jerusalem by the idolatrous Roman ensigns, as also by the Mohammedan mosque, and, finally, by the last Antichrist, are referred to. So the last Antichrist is to sit upon "the mount of the congregation" (Isa 14:13), but "shall be brought down to hell" (compare Note, see on Da 7:26; 2Th 2:8).
Da 12:1-13. Conclusion of the Vision (Tenth through Twelfth Chapters) AND Epilogue to the Book.
Compare Da 12:4, 13; as Da 12:6, 7 refer to Da 7:25, that is, to the time of Antichrist, so the subsequent Da 12:8-12 treat of the time of Antiochus (compare Da 12:11 with Da 11:31), thus putting together in one summary view the two great periods of distress. The political resurrection of the Jews under the Maccabees is the starting-point of transition to the literal resurrection about to follow the destruction of Antichrist by Christ's coming in glory. The language passes here from the nearer to the more remote event, to which alone it is fully applicable.
1. at that time—typically, towards the close of Antiochus' reign; antitypically, the time when Antichrist is to be destroyed at Christ's coming.
Michael—the guardian angel of Israel ("thy people"), (Da 10:13). The transactions on earth affecting God's people have their correspondences in heaven, in the conflict between good and bad angels; so at the last great contest on earth which shall decide the ascendency of Christianity (Re 12:7-10). An archangel, not the Lord Jesus; for he is distinguished from "the Lord" in Jude 9.
there shall be—rather, "it shall be."
time of trouble, such as never was—partially applicable to the time of Antiochus, who was the first subverter of the Jews' religion, and persecutor of its professors, which no other world power had done. Fully applicable to the last times of Antichrist, and his persecutions of Israel restored to Palestine. Satan will be allowed to exercise an unhindered, unparalleled energy (Isa 26:20, 21; Jer 30:7; Mt 24:21; compare Da 8:24, 25; 11:36).
thy people shall be delivered—(Ro 11:26). The same deliverance of Israel as in Zec 13:8, 9, "the third part … brought through the fire … refined as silver." The remnant in Israel spared, as not having joined in the Antichristian blasphemy (Re 14:9, 10); not to be confounded with those who have confessed Christ before His coming, "the remnant according to the election of grace" (Ro 11:5), part of the Church of the first-born who will share His millennial reign in glorified bodies; the spared remnant (Isa 10:21) will only know the Lord Jesus when they see Him, and when the spirit of grace and supplication is poured out on them [Tregelles].
written in the book—namely, of God's secret purpose, as destined for deliverance (Ps 56:8; 69:28; Lu 10:20; Re 20:15; 21:27). Metaphor from a muster-roll of citizens (Ne 7:5).
2. many … that sleep—"many from among the sleepers … these shall be unto everlasting life; but those (the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time) shall be unto shame" [Tregelles]. Not the general resurrection, but that of those who share in the first resurrection; the rest of the dead being not to rise till the end of the thousand years (Re 20:3, 5, 6; compare 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:16). Israel's national resurrection, and the first resurrection of the elect Church, are similarly connected with the Lord's coming forth out of His place to punish the earth in Isa 26:19, 21; 27:6. Compare Isa 25:6-9. The Jewish commentators support Tregelles. Auberlen thinks the sole purpose for which the resurrection is introduced in this verse is an incitement to faithful perseverance in the persecutions of Antiochus; and that there is no chronological connection between the time of trouble in Da 12:1 and the resurrection in Da 12:2; whence the phrase, "at that time," twice occurs in Da 12:1, but no fixing of time in Da 12:2, 3; 2 Maccabees 7:9, 14, 23, shows the fruit of this prophecy in animating the Maccabean mother and her sons to brave death, while confessing the resurrection in words like those here. Compare Heb 11:35. Newton's view that "many" means all, is not so probable; for Ro 5:15, 19, which he quotes, is not in point, since the Greek is "the many," that is, all, but there is no article in the Hebrew here. Here only in the Old Testament is "everlasting life" mentioned.
3. wise—(Pr 11:30). Answering to "they that understand" (Da 11:33, 35), the same Hebrew, Maskilim; Israelites who, though in Jerusalem when wickedness is coming to a head, are found intelligent witnesses against it. As then they appeared worn out with persecutions (typically, of Antiochus; antitypically, of Antichrist); so now in the resurrection they "shine as the brightness of the firmament." The design of past afflictions here appears "to make them white" (Mt 13:43; Re 7:9, 14).
turn … to righteousness—literally, "justify," that is, convert many to justification through Christ (Jas 5:20).
stars—(1Co 15:41, 42).
4. shut up … seal the book—John, on the contrary, is told (Re 22:10) not to seal his visions. Daniel's prophecy refers to a distant time, and is therefore obscure for the immediate future, whereas John's was to be speedily fulfilled (Re 1:1, 3; 22:6). Israel, to whom Daniel prophesied after the captivity, with premature zeal sought after signs of the predicted period: Daniel's prophecy was designed to restrain this. The Gentile Church, on the contrary, for whom John wrote, needs to be impressed with the shortness of the period, as it is, owing to its Gentile origin, apt to conform to the world, and to forget the coming of the Lord (compare Mt 25:13, 19; Mr 13:32-37; 2Pe 3:8, 12; Re 22:20).
run to and fro—not referring to the modern rapidity of locomotion, as some think, nor to Christian missionaries going about to preach the Gospel to the world at large [Barnes], which the context scarcely admits; but, whereas now but few care for this prophecy of God, "at the time of the end," that is, near its fulfilment, "many shall run to and fro," that is, scrutinize it, running through every page. Compare Hab 2:2 [Calvin]: it is thereby that "the knowledge (namely, of God's purposes as revealed in prophecy) shall be increased." This is probably being now fulfilled.
5. A vision of two other angels, one on one side of the Hiddekel or Tigris, the other on the other side, implying that on all sides angels attend to execute God's commands. The angel addressing Daniel had been over the river "from above" (Da 12:6, Margin).
6. one—namely, of the two (Da 12:5).
man … in linen—who had spoken up to this point. God impelled the angel to ask in order to waken us out of our torpor, seeing that the very "angels desire to look into" the things affecting man's redemption (1Pe 1:12), as setting forth the glory of their Lord and ours (Eph 3:10).
How long … to the end of these wonders—This question of the angel refers to the final dealings of God in general, Antichrist's overthrow, and the resurrection. Daniel's question (Da 12:8) refers to the more immediate future of his nation [Auberlen].
7. held up … right … and … left hand—Usually the right hand was held up in affirmation as an appeal to heaven to attest the truth (De 32:40; Re 10:5, 6). Here both hands are lifted up for the fuller confirmation.
time, times, and a half—(See on Da 7:25). Newton, referring this prophecy to the Eastern apostasy, Mohammedanism, remarks that the same period of three and a half years, or 1260 prophetic days, is assigned to it as the Western apostasy of the little horn (Da 7:25); and so, says Prideaux, Mohammed began to forge his imposture, retiring to his cave, A.D. 606, the very year that Phocas made the grant to the bishop of Rome, whence he assumed the title, The Universal Pastor; Antichrist thus setting both his feet on Christendom together, the one in the East, and the other in the West. Three and a half is the time of the world power, in which the earthly kingdoms rule over the heavenly [Auberlen]. "Three and a half" represents the idea of spiritual trial; (besides this certain symbolical meaning, there is doubtless an accurate chronological meaning, which is as yet to us uncertain): it is half of "seven," the complete number, so a semi-perfect state, one of probation. The holy city is trodden by the Gentiles forty-two months (Re 11:2), so the exercise of the power of the beast (Re 13:5). The two witnesses preach in sackcloth 1260 days, and remained unburied three days and a half: so the woman in the wilderness: also the same for a "time, times, and a half" (Re 11:3, 9, 11; 12:6, 14). Forty-two connects the Church with Israel, whose haltings in the wilderness were forty-two (Nu 33:1-50). The famine and drought on Israel in Elijah's days were for "three years and six months" (Lu 4:25; Jas 5:17); there same period as Antiochus' persecution: so the ministry of the Man of Sorrows, which ceased in the midst of a week (Da 9:27) [Wordsworth, Apocalypse].
scatter … holy people—"accomplished" here answers to "the consummation" (Da 9:27), namely, the "pouring out" of the last dregs of the curse on the "desolated holy people." Israel's lowest humiliation (the utter "scattering of her power") is the precursor of her exaltation, as it leads her to seek her God and Messiah (Mt 23:39).
8. understood not—Daniel "understood" the main features of the vision as to Antiochus (Da 10:1, 14), but not as to the times. 1Pe 1:10-12 refers mainly to Daniel: for it is he who foretells "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow"; it is he who prophesies "not unto himself, but unto us"; it is he who "searched what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ in him did signify."
9. Daniel's desire of knowing more is thus deferred "till the time of the end." John's Revelation in part reveals what here is veiled (see on Da 12:4; Da 8:26).
10. There is no need of a fuller explanation as to the time; for when the predictions so far given shall have come to pass, the godly shall be "purified" by the foretold trials and shall understand that the end is at hand; but the wicked shall not understand, and so shall rush on to their own ruin (Da 11:33-35) [Maurer]. The "end" is primarily, of Antiochus' persuasion; antitypically, the end of Antichrist's. It is the very clearness in the main which renders necessary the obscurity. The fulfilment of God's decree is not a mere arithmetical problem which the profane may understand by arithmetical calculations, but a holy enigma to stimulate to a faithful observance of God's ways, and to a diligent study of the history of God's people [Auberlen]. To this Christ refers (Mt 24:15), "Whose readeth, let him understand."
11. from … sacrifice … taken way … abomination—(Da 11:31). As to this epoch, which probably is prophetically germinant and manifold; the profanation of the temple by Antiochus (in the month Ijar of the year 145 B.C., till the restoration of the worship by Judas Maccabeus on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month [Chisleu] of 148 B.C., according to the Seleucid era, 1290 days; forty-five days more elapsed before Antiochus' death in the month Shebat of 148 B.C., so ending the Jews' calamities [Maurer]); by pagan Rome, after Christ's death; by Mohammed; by Antichrist, the culmination of apostate Rome. The "abomination" must reach its climax (see Auberlen's translation, "summit," Da 9:27), and the measure of iniquity be full, before Messiah comes.
thousand two hundred and ninety days—a month beyond the "time, times, and a half" (Da 12:7). In Da 12:12, forty-five days more are added, in all 1335 days. Tregelles thinks Jesus at His coming will deliver the Jews. An interval elapses, during which their consciences are awakened to repentance and faith in Him. A second interval elapses in which Israel's outcasts are gathered, and then the united blessing takes place. These stages are marked by the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. Cumming thinks the 1260 years begin when Justinian in A. D. 533 subjected the Eastern churches to John II, bishop of Rome; ending in 1792, when the Code Napoleon was established and the Pope was dishonored. 1290 reach to 1822, about the time of the waning of the Turkish power, the successor to Greece in the empire of the East. Forty-five years more end in 1867, the end of "the times of the Gentiles." See Le 26:24, "seven times," that is, 7 X 360, or 2520 years: 652 B.C. is the date of Judah's captivity, beginning under Manasseh; 2520 from this date end in 1868, thus nearly harmonizing with the previous date, 1867. See on Da 8:14. The seventh millenary of the world [Clinton] begins in 1862. Seven years to 1869 (the date of the second advent) constitute the reign of the personal Antichrist; in the last three and a half, the period of final tribulation, Enoch (or else Moses) and Elijah, the two witnesses, prophesy in sackcloth. This theory is very dubious (compare Mt 24:36; Ac 1:7; 1Th 5:2; 2Pe 3:10); still the event alone can tell whether the chronological coincidences of such theories are fortuitous, or solid data on which to fix the future times. Hales makes the periods 1260, 1290, 1335, begin with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and end with the precursory dawn of the Reformation, the preaching of Wycliffe and Huss.
13. rest—in the grave (Job 3:17; Isa 57:2). He, like his people Israel, was to wait patiently and confidently for the blessing till God's time. He "received not the promise," but had to wait until the Christian elect saints should be brought in, at the first resurrection, that he and the older Old Testament saints "without us should not be made perfect" (Heb 11:40).
stand—implying justification unto life, as opposed to condemnation (Ps 1:5).
thy lot—image from the allotment of the earthly Canaan.