Daniel - Introduction


CHARACTERISTICS OF DANIEL. The vision mode of revelation is the exception in other prophets, the rule in Daniel. In Zechariah ( Zechariah 1:1-6:15 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 ( Daniel 1:1 Daniel 1:21 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" ( Daniel 7:2 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., Isaiah 7:1-25 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 ( Romans 11:29 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 ( Daniel 1:4 Daniel 1:5 nourished by the earlier prophecies ( Daniel 9:2 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 Romans 11:12 Romans 11:15 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" ( Daniel 7:27 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 Hosea 1:2-9 Hosea 1:10 Hosea 1:11 ; 2:3 [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 ( John 18:36 then, would have been to take it from Satan's hands, Matthew 4:8-10 but to be superseded by His universal and everlasting kingdom at His second coming ( Revelation 11:15 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].

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