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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Daniel 10

 

 

Verse 1

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, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.

Daniel 10:1-21; Daniel 11:1-45; Daniel 12:1-13 more fully describe the vision in Daniel 8:1-27, 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 world as the background of the historical world (Job 1:7; Job 2:1, etc.; Zechariah 3:1-2), and angels as the ministers of God's government of men. As in the world of nature angels counteract, by God's will, much of the evil and misery caused by Satan (as the angel troubled the waters of Bethesda, so as to give them medicinal power, John 5:4; and as the angel would not allow the four angels to let loose the four destructive winds on the earth, the sea, and the trees, until he had first sealed the servants of God in their foreheads, 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 pagan world, resist the God-opposed spirit of the world (Revelation 12:7, "There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven"). These struggles are not merely symbolical, but real (so "the evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul," when "the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him;" whereas "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David," 1 Samuel 16:13-15; "a lying spirit" also was "in the mouth of the prophets of Ahab," 1 Kings 22:22; Ephesians 6:12).

In the 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 9:1-27. 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 8:1-27. 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; because in Daniel 1:21 it is said, "Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus;" not that he died then, but that he then ceased to hold office under the king; probably owing to his advanced age. See note there.

A thing was revealed unto Daniel ... and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long - rather, 'it

(i:e., the prophecy) referred to great calamity' (Maurer); or, 'long and calamitous warfare' (Gesenius). [ tsaabaa' (Hebrew #6635), literally, a host going to war; hence, warfare, calamity.] The same Hebrew word in Job 7:1 is translated "an appointed time" in the text, and 'a warfare' in the margin. However, the English version is not against the Hebrew, which, from the times of military service being a fixed period, came to mean an appointed time: and agrees with Daniel 10:14, "for yet the vision is for many days" - i:e., refers to 'events yet distant.'


Verse 2

In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.

I Daniel was mourning - i:e., 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), and therefore implying that fasting was a recognized outward indication of inward mourning, and not practiced merely for its own sake, as if it were meritorious and sanctifying in itself. Compare 1 Corinthians 8:8, "Meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse:" 1 Timothy 4:3, "Commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving," is given as a mark of the apostasy, which passages 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, "They ministered to the Lord and fasted"). Daniel's mourning was probably for his countrymen, who met with ma ny obstructions to their building of the temple, from their adversaries in the Persian court.


Verse 3

I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

I ate no pleasant bread - "unleavened bread, even the bread of affliction" (Deuteronomy 16:3).

Neither did I anoint myself at all - the Persians largely used unguents.


Verse 4

And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;

In the four and twentieth day of the 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 14th to the 21st of Nisan, but thrice seven days, "three full weeks" (Daniel 10:2), to mark extraordinary sorrow. His mourning ended on the 21st day, the closing day of the Passover feast; but the vision is not until the 24th, because of the opposition of "the prince of Persia" (Daniel 10:13).

I was by the side of the great 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 - i:e., in the apocalyptic mode. In the patriarchal period God often appeared visibly - i:e., by 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 - i:e., 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).

Which is Hiddekel - the Tigris.


Verse 5

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:

Then I lifted up mine eyes - from the ground, on which they had been fixed in his mourning.

And behold a certain man - literally, one man. An angel of the highest order; because 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 until the end predicted.

Clothed in 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).

Whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz - i:e., with a girdle interwoven with gold (Revelation 1:13).


Verse 6

His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

His body also was like the 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.'

His face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like ... to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. The description seems too glorious to apply to any except the uncreated Angel of the Covenant, the Divine Son of God.


Verse 7

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, so that they fled to hide themselves.

A great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled - terrified by the presence of the angel.


Verse 8

Therefore 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.

My comeliness - literally, vigour, i:e., lively expression and colour.

Was turned in me into corruption - deadliness, i:e., death-like paleness. Such was the usual effect on those to whom a manifestation of the heavenly beings was made (Daniel 5:6; Daniel 7:28).


Verse 9

Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. Yet heard I the voice of his words - the sound of his words.

Then was I in a deep sleep - `I sank into a deep sleep' (Lengkerke).


Verse 10

And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.

Behold, an hand - namely, of Gabriel, who interpreted other revelations to Daniel (Daniel 8:16). (Theodoret.)

Touched me, which set me upon my knees. Gesenius translates, 'caused me to reel on my knees,' etc.


Verse 11

And he said unto me, O Daniel, a 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.

A man greatly beloved - (Daniel 9:23, note). So 'David' means one beloved; because he was the "man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14).

Understand the words - attend to them. See Daniel 8:17-18.


Verse 12

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

Fear not - be not affrighted at my presence.

For from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand - what shall come to pass to thy people at the last times (cf. Daniel 10:14). And to chasten thyself before thy God - (Daniel 10:2-3).

Thy words were heard - (Acts 10:4, an angel said to Cornelius, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God"). 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 would believe that God's angel is on his way to us, what consolation it would give us!

And I am come for thy words - because of thy prayers.


Verse 13

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.

But the prince of ... Persia withstood me - the angel of darkness that represented the Persian world-power, to which Israel was then subject, withstood the angel who was coming to relieve Daniel, as the representative of God's people Israel. 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 full weeks" of Daniel's mourning (Daniel 10:2).

But, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes - i:e., "Michael," 'Who is like God?' Though an archangel, and "one of the chief princes," Michael was not to be compared to God.

Came to help me - Michael, as patron of Israel before God Daniel 10:21; (Daniel 12:1), "helped" to influence the Persian king to permit the Jews' return to Jerusalem.

And I remained there - I was detained there with the kings of Persia - i:e., with the angel of the Persian rulers, with whom I had to contend, and from whom I should not have gotten free but for the help of Michael. Gesenius translates [ nowtartiy (Hebrew #3498), from yaatar (Hebrew #3498)], 'I obtained the ascendancy' - i:e., I gained my point against the adverse angel of Persia, so as to influence the Persian authorities to favour Israel's restoration. The Hebrew admits of this rendering, as well as that of the English version, and the sense decidedly favours it.


Verse 14

Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

I am come to make thee understand 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 second coming-calamities of which Antiochus' persecutions were the type.

For yet the vision is for many days - i:e., extends far into the future.


Verse 15

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.

I set my face toward the ground - in humble reverence, the proper attitude for those receiving an immediate revelation from God (Genesis 19:1, Lot, seeing the two angels, "bowed himself with his face toward the ground").

And I became dumb - with overwhelming awe.


Verse 16

And, behold, one like the similitude 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 the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

One like the similitude of the sons of men 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" (Ephesians 6:19), enabling one to "open the mouth boldly:" so Isaiah 6:6-7. The same one who makes mute (Daniel 10:15), opens the mouth.

O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me - "sorrows," literally, writhings as of a woman in travail.


Verse 17

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 is there breath left in me. How can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? To avoid the tautology in the English version, join rather "this" with servant-`How can this servant of my lord (i:e., 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).


Verse 18

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man. It was gradually that Daniel recovered his strength. Hence, there was need of the second touch, that he might hear the angel with composure.


Verse 19

And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

O man greatly beloved ... peace be unto thee - God is favourable to thee and to thy people Israel. See Judges 13:21-22, as to the fear of some evil resulting from a vision of angels ("Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God").


Verse 20

Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.

Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? 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.

And when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come - Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia, and favoured 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, of whom he proceeds accordingly to foretell in the next chapter, and his antitype, Antichrist; but him, too, with the help of Michael, Israel's champion, I shall overcome (Gejer).


Verse 21

But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth - in the secret book of God's decrees (Psalms 139:16; Revelation 5:1); those decrees which are truth - i:e., the things which shall most surely come to pass, being determined by God (cf. John 17:17, "Thy word is truth").

And there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince - 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.

Remarks:

(1) There is a spiritual world unseen, which is closely connected with the world of sense that meets our eyes. This chapter draws aside the veil, and gives us a glimpse into the spirit-world, where we see the hidden springs which govern the movements adverse to the people of God in our world, and also the counteracting agency of the loving angels, who, by God's commission, defend His Church on earth. How solemn is the thought that we are not only a "spectacle to angels" (1 Corinthians 4:9), but are a subject of the liveliest and most personal interest to them! If angels of darkness, far more powerful than we, are against us, blessed be God, angels of light, more than able to thwart their sinister designs, are our spiritual champions arrayed on our side, and shall foil all the adversary's designs against us, if indeed we be the people of the Lord!

(2) In many of God's revelations to His people it may be said, as in the case of the revelation to Daniel (Daniel 10:1), "The thing is true, but the time appointed is long." It is the Lord's all-wise way to keep his people waiting, in order to test and to discipline their faith, their patience, and their hope unto the end. Meanwhile, like Daniel, we cannot but "mourn" at times for the trials and depressed state of the Church of Christ. While fasting (Daniel 10:2-3) is not compulsory, nor necessary generally for Christians, yet doubtless, if it can be made to consist of that abstinence whereby the flesh is subdued to the spirit, it becomes a mean of devotion, humiliation, and spiritual-mindedness. In all cases the child of God should not suffer his spirit to be over-powered by the dainties of sense and the pleasures of the appetite.

(3) When sinful, and therefore weak and fearful, man is brought into close contact with angelic beings, his instinctive feeling is that of alarm, and a desire to flee away through fright. The men who were with Daniel, at the first sight of the angel were affected with a great quaking, and fled to hide themselves (Daniel 10:7). Even the prophet himself lost all strength, and waxed deadly pale (Daniel 10:8), and fell with his "face toward the ground" (Daniel 10:9). This instinct of man is a sad testimony to the reality of the fall. The relations of holy communion between heavenly beings and man is interrupted, and love and confidence have given place to guilty fear and trembling.

(4) But the angel raised Daniel again to a standing posture (Daniel 10:9-10), and told him not to fear (Daniel 10:11-12). The child of God may for a time give way to the impulses of his old fleshly infirmity; but he has no real and lasting cause for fear. For angels are not his adversaries, but his fellow-servants and brethren (Revelation 22:9). Every believer is "a man greatly beloved" of God, as was Daniel; and his heavenly Father would have him not to tremble, as do the demons (James 2:19), but to have toward Him that perfect love which casteth out slavish and tormenting fear (1 John 4:18).

(5) From the first day that Daniel did set his heart to understand, and to chasten himself before his God, his woe rds were heard (Daniel 10:12). How comforting it is to us who pray, and are kept seemingly long waiting for the answer, to know that real prayer, resting on the promise of God, is heard at once, and from the very first, though the angel of God's presence may delay for a time in making known to us the answer of peace from God! Prayer delayed is not prayer denied. Nay more, prayer is more effectually answered by being deferred until God's time, and by being granted in God's way, than if it were answered in our time and our way. Therefore, though the answer "tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Habakkuk 2:3). Angels of darkness may, for wise purposes of God, be allowed to retard the manifestation of deliverance to God's people, but they cannot prevent it. At last the cause of the saints shall triumph; because their "help" is laid on one that is mighty (Daniel 10:13; Psalms 89:19). From the first day that we turn to God in prayer, He turns to us in grace.

(6) While slavish fear should be put away from us in our approaches to God, we ought never to lose sight of the majesty of God, and the deep humility and profound reverence which become us as worms of the dust addressing the Lord of glory. As Daniel set his face toward the ground and became dumb (Daniel 10:15), so ought we, when we kneel in the attitude of suppliants, to be dumb in respect to all words of self-justification before Him, overwhelmed with a sense of our own nothingness, and with awe because of His unspeakable holiness Then, as in the case of Daniel, the same glorious God who has made us mute will give us spiritual "utterance," so as "that we may open our mouth boldly as we ought to speak" (Ephesians 6:19-20). And as our weakness, needs a continually fresh supply of spiritual strength, the same God who strengthened Daniel with a touch a second time (Daniel 10:18) will enable those who wait on Him to go on "from strength to strength" until, our earthly pilgrimage having been past, we shall in the heavenly Zion appear before God (Psalms 84:7 ).

(7) Every child of God may be encouraged by taking to himself the words addressed to Daniel, "Fear not: peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong." Being justified by faith, he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; and this peace, accompanied with "joy in God," is the secret of spiritual "strength" (Nehemiah 8:10; Romans 5:1; Romans 5:11).

(8) When one trial to the Church passes away another succeeds. When the difficulties arising from Satanic influences acting through the Persian court against Israel had been counteracted by the ministry of angels sent from God, a new enemy started up in the person of the prince of Grecia, who also was a weapon in Satan's hand, wielded against the people of God. But the new enemy, too, must finally give way to the mighty power wielded by Israel's tutelary angel-prince, Michael in defense of Israel (Daniel 10:20-21). In this evil world the saints must expect tribulation, because Satan their enemy is its prince. But though none else "holds with" them on earth, they have on their side the count less heavenly hosts of the Lord God of Sabaoth: above all, they have Christ Himself, who saith, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Therefore let us take courage, remembering that "the scripture of truth" (Daniel 10:21) hath said, "If God be for us, who can be againt us?" (Romans 8:31.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/daniel-10.html. 1871-8.


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Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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