Daniel's vision near the river Hiddekel. (1-9) He is to expect a discovery of future events. (10-21)
1-9. This chapter relates the beginning of Daniel's last vision, which is continued to the end of the book. The time would be long before all would be accomplished; and much of it is not yet fulfilled. Christ appeared to Daniel in a glorious form, and it should engage us to think highly and honourably of him. Let us admire his condescension for us and our salvation. There remained no strength in Daniel. The greatest and best of men cannot bear the full discoveries of the Divine glory; for no man can see it, and live; but glorified saints see Christ as he is, and can bear the sight. How dreadful soever Christ may appear to those under convictions of sin, there is enough in his word to quiet their spirits.
Verses 10-21 Whenever we enter into communion with God, it becomes us to have a due sense of the infinite distance between us and the holy God. How shall we, that are dust and ashes, speak to the Lord of glory? Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual to revive the drooping spirits of the saints, than to be assured of God's love to them. From the very first day we begin to look toward God in a way of duty, he is ready to meet us in the way of mercy. Thus ready is God to hear prayer. When the angel had told the prophet of the things to come, he was to return, and oppose the decrees of the Persian kings against the Jews. The angels are employed as God's ministering servants, ( Hebrews 1:14 ) . Though much was done against the Jews by the kings of Persia, God permitting it, much more mischief would have been done if God had not prevented it. He would now more fully show what were God's purposes, of which the prophecies form an outline; and we are concerned to study what is written in these Scriptures of truth, for they belong to our everlasting peace. While Satan and his angels, and evil counsellors, excite princes to mischief against the church, we may rejoice that Christ our Prince, and all his mighty angels, act against our enemies; but we ought not to expect many to favour us in this evil world. Yet the whole counsel of God shall be established; and let each one pray, Lord Jesus, be our righteousness now, and thou wilt be our everlasting confidence, through life, in death, at the day of judgment, and for evermore.
Daniel 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. Zechariah 3:1 Zechariah 3:2 , Revelation 12:7 ), and angels as the ministers of God's government of men. As in the world of nature ( John 5:4 , Revelation 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 ( 1 Samuel 16:13-15 , 1 Kings 22:22 , Ephesians 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 Daniel 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 Daniel 8:1-14 . That which then "none understood," he says here, "he understood"; the messenger being sent to him for this ( Daniel 10:11 Daniel 10:14 ), to make him understand it. Probably Daniel was no longer in office at court; for in Daniel 1:21 , it is said, "Daniel continued even unto the first year of
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" ( Daniel 10:3 ), as a sign of sorrow, not for its own sake. Compare Matthew 9:14 , "fast," answering to "mourn" ( Daniel 10:15 ). Compare 1 Corinthians 8:8 , 1 Timothy 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 ( Acts 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" ( Deuteronomy 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 ( Exodus 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" ( Daniel 10:13 ).
I was by . . . the . . . river--in waking reality, not a trance ( Daniel 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 Daniel 8:16 he commands Gabriel to make Daniel to understand the vision, and in Daniel 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 ( Exodus 28:42 ); also of prophets ( Jeremiah 13:1 ); and of angels ( Revelation 15:6 ).
girded with . . . gold--that is, with a girdle interwoven with gold ( Revelation 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 ( Daniel 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 ( Daniel 8:16 ) [THEODORET].
set me upon my knees--GESENIUS translates, "cause me to reel on my knees," &c.
11. man . . .
understand--"attend to." See Daniel 8:17 Daniel 8:18 .
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 Daniel 10:14 ).
chasten thyself--( Daniel 10:2 Daniel 10:3 ).
thy words were heard--( Acts 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 ( Daniel 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" ( Daniel 10:12 ), the good angel did not come to him until more than three weeks had elapsed ( Daniel 10:4 ).
one and twenty days--answering to the three weeks of Daniel's mourning ( Daniel 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 ( Daniel 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 ( Genesis 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 ( Mark 7:33 ). He alone can give spiritual utterance ( Isaiah 6:6 Isaiah 6:7 , Ephesians 6:19 ), enabling one to "open the mouth boldly." The same one who makes dumb ( Daniel 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 Judges 13:21 Judges 13:22 , 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 ( Daniel 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 ( Psalms 139:16 , Revelation 5:1 ), which are truth, that is, the things which shall most surely come to pass, being determined by God (compare John 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.