Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentDANIEL 10
This entire chapter is actually preliminary to the final two chapters, the whole chapter along with Dan. 11:1 dealing with the events that led up to the sensational predictions made in the following two chapters.
One of the very interesting things in this chapter is the revelation of the activities of the holy angels upon behalf of God's people. The Holy Scriptures have reference to this phenomenon elsewhere, especially in Heb. 1:14; but Daniel's revelation goes beyond what is stated there.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, even a great warfare: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three whole weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine into my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Even a great warfare
(Daniel 10:1). Young has pointed out that the meaning of great in this phase is for a long time. The word has now been found on the tablets of Mari in the sense of 'time.'F1
Robert D. Culver is correct in the opinion that Daniel's fasting here was not due to asceticism, but applied to a special reason for his mourning.F2 Note also that "mourning" and fasting here are in apposition, the word mourning carrying with it the idea of fasting as indicated in Dan. 10:3. The special reason for Daniel's mourning would appear to be that, in the 3rd years of Cyrus, the restoration of the Temple (Ezra 1--3, especially Ezra 4:4-5) had been stopped, hence Daniel's concern and anxiety.
Three whole weeks were fulfilled
(Daniel 10:3). The literal words from which this expression is translated are: three sevens days. The reason for using the word 'days' here is to show the difference in the meaning of sevens from previous passages (where it means sevens of years).F3 Thus we have a strong indication here that the previous mention of seventy weeks is actually a reference to sevens of years, as we have interpreted it.
The critical quibble based on the first verse here as compared with Dan. 1:21 where Daniel is said to have lived until the first year of Cyrus, whereas in Dan. 10:1 he is said to have seen a vision in the third year of Cyrus, is typical of that class of objection. In the first place, the statements are not contradictory but supplementary. Also, as Wilson put it:
"If we suppose that Belshazzar was king of the Chaldeans while his father was king of Babylon, just as Cambyses was king of Babylon while his father Cyrus was king of the lands, or as Nabonidus II seems to have been king of Haran while his father, Nabonidus I, was king of Babylon, this statement will harmonize with the other statements made with regard to Belshazzar."F4
Thomson likewise offered almost the same explanation of this. "We are here assuming that the chronology of this passage reckons from the overthrow of Nabunahid, that is from Cyrus' accession to the throne of Babylon; this `third year' may be reckoned from his assumption of the title `King of Persia.'F5
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel, I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as flaming torches, and his arms and his feet like unto burnished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words; and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I fallen into a deep sleep on my face, with my face toward the ground.
Of all the picayune objections that Bible enemies have cited in this passage, the prize-winner must be the objection that since Babylon was on the Euphrates River, this mention of the Hiddekel (the Tigris), some fifty miles distant from Babylon, is therefore an error. What a ridiculous objection! Daniel was a man of high authority in Babylon and could very well have been at the Hiddekel on business for the king, as the fact of his being accompanied by a number of men surely appears to suggest. Such quibbles are merely the knee-jerk response of persons who have no desire to believe the Bible anyway.
Who is this magnificent person who appeared here to Daniel? Some have suggested that he was Gabriel; but the remarkable similarity between this passage and the description of the Christ in Rev. 1 points to Christ himself. As Young noted, "This is a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of the Eternal Son."F6 As Keil said, "This understanding is placed beyond doubt by a Comparison with Rev. 1:13, where John saw the glorified Christ, who is there described by a name definitely referring to Dan. 7:13."F7
As for the reason that Daniel was on the banks of the Tigris, Thomson stated that, "His purpose in being there was probably governmental, as he had attendants with him."F8
The fact of Daniel alone seeing the great vision corresponds with that which occurred to the apostle Paul and his companions on the Damascus road. Paul's companions heard only the voice but saw no man (Acts 9:3ff). Inherent in such facts is the truth that when Christ appeared to a person, he was seen only by those whom Christ wished to see him. It has been supposed that only Daniel was prepared in heart to receive such a vision, whereas his companions were not so prepared.
And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, thou man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, and to humble thyself before thy God, thy words were heard: and I am come for thy words' sake. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for the vision is yet for [many] days: and when he had spoken unto me according to these words, I set my face toward the ground, and was dumb. And, behold, one in the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by reason of the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I retain no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither was there breath left in me.
One of the things of very great interest in this passage is the glimpse of the work of the holy angels striving with the rulers of this world's darkness. This is the only passage in the Bible where this information surfaces. We are not informed just what the nature of such activity really entails; but according to Heb. 1:14, we are certain that the mightiest of God's angels are diligent to bring about world conditions favorable to the achievement of the purposes of God.
The other principal factor in the passage is that of the weakness and helplessness of Daniel due to the awesome appearance of the celestial visitors who came unto him in this scene. It is idle to speculate upon the identity of the persons appearing to Daniel, as their names are not given. Some believe Gabriel was one of the angels, since he had appeared to Daniel earlier. Habakkuk also used words similar to these to mark his weakness when he heard "the voice":
"I heard, and my body trembled,
My lips trembled at the voice;
Rottenness entered into my bones, and I tremble in my place"
And stand upright; for unto thee am I sent
(Daniel 10:11). Thomson has this comment:
"In the Assyrian marbles, however lowly the obeisance made to the monarch by anyone admitted to his presence, he stands when he receives the monarch's commands. Standing implies attention."F9
Unto thee am I sent
Indicates that the messenger had the authority to command Daniel in the name of God Himself.
In the latter days
(Daniel 10:14). Many commentators deny that this is a reference to what is called eschatological events or to the final summation of all things. As Thomson said, There seems no need to take `end of the days' as the end of the world.F10 However, we find that agreement with that view is most difficult. Throughout all of the prophets, especially the multiple references to this in the Minor Prophets, such words as the latter days, the end of the days, etc., invariably carry the implication that the final summation of the Adamic probation is in view. For example, the last days (Joel 2:28) was specifically declared by the apostle Peter to be a reference to Messianic times (Acts 2:16ff). The ASV weakened the passage by translating it afterward, probably out of deference to the opinions of scholars denying its reference to eschatological events. In our own view, the mention of the resurrection of the dead in Dan. 12:2 makes it a practical certainty that the scenes of the Final Judgment itself are envisioned here. Such a view makes the events of the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes which, in a sense, are repeated in Dan. 11 with the inclusion of many details not cited earlier, a type of many of the final events. If this is not the case, this restatement of the Anticohus terror would seem to have no meaning whatever. It had already been prophesied with sufficient detail (Dan. 8).
From the first day that thou didst set thy heart. etc
(Daniel 10:12). Barnes cited this as proof that, Prayer is heard at once, though the answer may be long delayed.F11
In this whole paragraph, a feature of the teaching is that Daniel was raised up, somewhat gradually, and finally endowed with full strength and understanding, which actually did not occur until he had been "touched" for the third time (Daniel 10:18).
Then there touched me again one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. And he said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he spake unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I am come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I go forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come. But I will tell thee that which is inscribed in the writing of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me against these, but Michael your prince.
Lo, the prince of Greece shall come
(Daniel 10:20), and, Michael your prince ... (Daniel 10:21). Here is a glimpse of the unseen world; and what seems to be indicated is that the nations of the world themselves are being monitored and to the extent of God's will being directed, influenced, or controlled by the mighty angels of God. It must be admitted that we know very little of this subject, due to the absence of specific teaching on it in the Word of God. Here, Michael is presented as the guardian angel of the Jews.F12 The idea of guardian angels for the different nations is hinted at in earlier portions of the Old Testament.F13 Cited in this connection were the following passages:
"A time is coming when the Lord will punish the powers above the rulers of the earth. God will crowd kings together like prisoners in a pit (Isaiah 24:21). God presides in the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision (Psalms 82:1). Both of these quotations are taken from Good News Bible."F14
The firm New Testament word on the function of angels includes the following: (1) They bear away the souls of the departed in death (Luke 16:22). (2) They exercise diligence to watch over little children (Matthew 18:11). (3) All of the angels are engaged in the service of those who shall inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). (4) They aid providentially in bringing sinners in contact with the gospel (Acts 8:26). (5) They execute the sentence of God in the destruction of sinners whose importance justifies their immediate removal from the earth (Acts 12:23). (6) One of the mightiest angels, The Rainbow Angel of Rev. 10 has charge of maintaining an open Bible, "the little book," "until time shall be no more." (7) On special occasion when God's great prophets and preachers of the Word needed special encouragement an angel of God stood by to inform, to prophesy, and to encourage (Acts 27:23). This last would appear to have been a special thing upon behalf of the apostles.
Here in Daniel, however, there is definitely another function of the blessed angels, i.e., that of influencing human affairs through human governments for the achievement of God's purposes among men.
Also, it is not amiss here to point out that there most definitely existed in the early Church in the city of Jerusalem a conviction that every Christian had a guardian angel. We base this conviction upon the words attributed to the whole church praying in the home of Mary the sister of Barnabas, when informed by Rhoda that Peter was standing at the door, they said, "It is his angel!" (Acts 12:15).
One of the great mysteries of the New Testament is why the references to angels, which are plentiful enough in the earliest days of the church, nevertheless ceased almost completely, except for their mention in connection with Revelation. Some have pointed out that this is powerful evidence supporting the authenticity of the appearances of angels that are recorded. The psychological likelihood of this phenomenon having been continued and greatly expanded, had it been anything other than actual appearances, is very, very great.
Significantly only two angels are named in the Bible, both names appearing here in Daniel. Michael is called "archangel" in Jude 1:9, and he is mentioned as the leader of the angelic war against "the Dragon (Satan) and his angels" in Rev. 12:7-8. It has been assumed that Gabriel was also an archangel; but many have pointed out that there could be only one archangel! The Hebrew traditions on this are extensive, but no one has ever attributed any dependability to them.
Footnotes for Daniel 10
1: Robert D. Culver, Abingdon Bible Commentary, Daniel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 796.
2: John Joseph Owens, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, Daniel (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971), p. 444.
3: R. Dick Wilson, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, Daniel (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company, 1915), p. 786.
4: J. E. Thomson, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 13, Daniel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 289.
5: Edward J. Young, The New Bible Commentary, Revised, Daniel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 700.
6: Edward J. Young, The New Bible Commentary, Revised, Daniel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 700.
7: C. F. Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament by Keil and Delitzsch (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 410.
8: J. E. H. Thomson, op. cit., p. 290.
9: J. E. H. Thomson, op. cit., p. 292.
10: Ibid., p. 294.
11: Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes, Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, p. 197.
12: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 541.
13: Herbert L. Willett, Daniel (New York: Abingdon Press, 1929), p. 757.
14: Good News Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1976), en loco.