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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 10

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

Verses 1-21



Daniel 10:1-21

This chapter begins the consideration of the seventh prophetic section of Daniel, Daniel 10. The theme of the chapter is the glorious vision of the Son of God. In the first discussion on Daniel 9 we have seen the prophet in great distress because, though the seventy years of desolation foretold by Jeremiah were about ended, and though Cyrus, the deliverer, according to Isaiah, had come, yet Israel remained in captivity. In this chapter we find the prophet in great distress again, because, though Cyrus had issued his decree of restoration, and though a number of the exiles had returned, yet the work of restoration at Jerusalem was moving slowly, and in the midst of great opposition.

To get a clear view of the last section of the book of Daniel we must look at Daniel 10 as a prologue; Daniel 2 and three verses of Daniel 12 as the prophecy, and the rest of Daniel 12 as the epilogue.

The whole section of three chapters is a revelation concerning a great war which opens first in the spiritual world between contending angels, back of the nations, whose details are given in Daniel 10, and there opens on earth a war whose details are given in chapter II. The date is the third year of Cyrus, about the twenty-fourth day of the first month of the Jewish year, that is, the twenty-fourth day of Nisan.

The occasion is the great mourning, fasting, and prayer of Daniel lasting three weeks. How higher critics can object to this book on the ground that Daniel shows little interest in his countrymen is an amazing thing. When we study Daniel 9 and see his very soul poured out to God in behalf of his people; when we look at him here for three weeks bowed down in mourning and prayer and in fasting on account of his people, we can’t have any respect for the objection of a higher critic.

The place is on the Tigris (Hiddekel), about sixty miles from Babylon, the Tigris and Euphrates being connected with a canal. I don’t know that Daniel went on the canal boat, but there was connection, in Daniel’s time and before his time, between these two rivers by a canal, just as the canal built by the Chicago people connecting the Chicago River with the Illinois, thus putting the waters of Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River in touch with each other. The Tigris is to Persia what the Euphrates was to Babylonia. Those present are Daniel and a few companions.

Since the prophecy in Daniel 9 great events have occurred, but the results are so far disappointing. These events (that come in between Daniel 9 and Daniel 10) are:

The first event.– The Cyrus decree, not only put in writing, but preserved in the archives where it was found by Darius Hystaspes many years later. (See Ezra 6:1-5.) It is in the first chapter of Ezra:

Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever is left, in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the free-will offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. – Ezra 1:1-5.

That is the first event. Upon that event, note this remark: We must not conclude too much from these words of Cyrus. While he is the servant of Jehovah even more than he knows, yet political rather than religious motives influenced him to issue this proclamation. We know from an inscription brought to light in 1879 that he was just as complimentary in his references to the heathen gods as to Jehovah. His policy was to leave all his subjects free to worship any god they chose, without state interference, and that is a grand policy. His further policy was to send back to their own places the captured idols or sacred vessels stored in Babylon by the preceding government, the one which he overthrew. This inscription, speaking of the various races dwelling between the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf) reads as follows:

The gods who dwelt among them to their places I restored, and I assigned them a permanent habitation. All their pride I assembled, and I increased their property; and the gods of Sumin and Akkad whom Nabonidus had introduced at the festivals of the Lord of the gods at Kal-anna by the command of Merodach the great Lord, I assigned them an honorable seat in the sanctuaries, as was enjoyed by all the other gods in their own cities. And daily I prayed to Bel and Nebo that they would lengthen my days, and increase my good fortune, and would repeat to Merodach my Lord that "Thy worshipper, Cyrus, the king, and his son Cambyses, etc."

This shows that Cyrus was a shrewd politician. He captured Babylon largely by claiming to be the friend of the imprisoned deities and priests that the Babylonians had gathered there from plundered nations, therefore a big crowd inside was in favor of his capturing Babylon, and when he got it he did send all these captured idols back home to their own places, as the allied armies when they defeated Bonaparte and captured Paris sent back the masterpieces of painting and sculpture appropriated by the French armies when they overran Italy and the other nations of the earth.

The second event. – In response to his decree concerning the Jews, as we learn from the book of Ezra, only 42,600 Jews re-turned at that time. They were mainly of the tribe of Judah, but the record shows representatives of the tribes of Levi, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Of this number about one-tenth, 4,280, were priests. It speaks well for the priests that they were so large-ly represented, but there were only about 750 Levites, which is disparaging to them, as they constituted the bulk of the tribe of Levi. The civil leader was Zerubbabel, of the line of David, and the spiritual leader was Joshua, the high priest. It is noteworthy that on their return they make no attempt to restore the monarchy. Zerubbabel is only a governor, and subject to the Persian viceroy of Syria. A council of twelve men, chiefs of the fathers, including Zerubbabel and Joshua, constitute their civil government. It took them seven months merely to clear away the rubbish and get a level place for putting the Temple back on its old site, and so matters moved slowly. As the decree of restoration was in the first year of Cyrus, and this vision in his third year, we do not have to go far to find out the cause of Daniel’s mourning and fasting. He is grieving at the small number who were willing to return and restore Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple; he was grieving at the difficulties in the way of the returned exiles and the oppositions obstructing their progress. He couldn’t understand it, and so the first day of the first month of the Jewish year he begins to fast and pray. He prays two weeks, until the Passover comes, the fourteenth of Nisan, and gets no answer. He continues to pray through the week of the days of unleavened bread – seven days more, making twenty-one days of mourning, fasting, and prayer. Let us observe the kind of fasting, not absolute abstinence from food, as in the forty days of Moses and Elijah, but as our record says, "I ate no pleasant bread, neither flesh nor wine came into my mouth." From his position overlooking the whole world, and having charge of its affairs, he knows that his brethren at Jerusalem are at this time keeping their first Passover after their return.

He receives no instant answer to his prayer as in Daniel 9. And then sets out on his visit to the Tigris River, sixty miles away, and there, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, that is, three days after he quit praying, attended by a few companions, he gets an answer to his prayer that knocks him off his feet: He sees the vision of the Son of God and obtains an explanation of the delay in the answer to his prayer. When centuries later Saul of Tarsus saw at midday near Damascus a vision of the same glorious Person that Daniel sees here, the record says:

"The men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man." Now this record says (and let us observe the likeness), verse Daniel 10:7: "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." How very much like that is the account of Saul’s seeing the Lord! What Daniel saw was this: "I lifted mine eyes and looked and beheld a man clothed in new linen whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like the beryl and his arms and his feet like unto burnished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude."

Now let us see how he looked when John saw him in the island of Patmos, that we may note another remarkable likeness: "I saw one like unto the Son of man clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about at the breast with a golden girdle." That tallies exactly with this account, "And his head and his hair were white as snow and his eyes were as a flame of fire." In this account the eyes are "like flaming torches," "and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace, and his voice as the voice of many waters." The tally is perfect.

What Daniel saw was a pre-manifestation of the Son of God. There are three pre-manifestations in this book. (Daniel 3:24; Daniel 8:15; Daniel 10:5-6). There are many others in the Old Testament. As the Son of God, or the Logos, he appeared to Abraham, Moses, Job, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and always he appears in the time of a great darkness and of great distress to his people. The effect of the appearance on Daniel is very great. Let us see: "So," that is, when the companions went away, "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." He refers to it again in another place, showing that he fell into a trance of unconsciousness.

It is both interesting and suggestive to compare the effect on Daniel when he saw the glorious Son of God with the experience of others who saw him in glory, both before his incarnation and after his exaltation. It terrified all of them, took away all human strength, humbled them in the very dust, made them keenly conscious of their own sinfulness in the light of the divine holiness, led them into most gracious experiences of the divine condescension and to higher consecration and power.

Abraham was converted by it (Genesis 15), as also was Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22), and later by another experience became a prince, having power with God and man (Genesis 32:22-32). The face of Moses was made to shine (Exodus 34:29-30), Paul fell to the earth and was converted (Acts 9,22,26). Nebuchadnezzar was startled and reformed (Daniel 3:24-30). John fell like one dead (Revelation 1:17). Ezekiel fell as if struck by lightning (Ezekiel 1:28). Job, who could proudly maintain his righteousness and hold up his head before Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, thus speaks when he meets the Almighty: "Behold, I am of small account, and what shall I answer thee? I laid my hand upon my mouth; once have I spoken. I will not answer, yea twice, but I will proceed no further." The Almighty spoke to him again. Then Job said, "I know that thou canst do all things, that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. You ask who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? I am the man, but therein I uttered that which I understood not, things too wonderful for me which I knew not, and I beseech thee and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Let us now see exactly how it affected Isaiah. We find it in Isaiah 6:5. It is in the year that King Uzziah died. Here is how it affected him: "Then I said, woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King Jehovah of hosts." I repeat the statement of the last chapter, that –

Only people very far off from God can ever appear unto themselves to be perfect or sinless.

Those very near to God always behold themselves to be vile and sinful. A garment supposed to be white, exhibited in a dark cellar, may seem clean, but if we bring it out in the bright light of day we can see how spotted and tarnished it is. In Daniel’s case, three of his senses – sight, hearing, and touch – took cognizance of this divine vision. In mercy this King of Glory strengthened and cheered Daniel as he had strengthened and cheered Isaiah and Ezekiel before. This is the way the record puts the tenderness of the divine mercy (Daniel 10:10) : And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And said unto me, O Daniel, thou man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken these words unto me, I stood trembling. Then he said 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 word’s sake. – Daniel 10:10-12.

The Son of God leaves heaven and comes to earth in person to answer prayer. He continues: 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 Son of man 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. 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. – Daniel 10:14-19.

How tender that is! How sweet the word! And notice the marvelous touch that reached out and took hold of that prostrate, benumbed man. The first touch rouses him from his trance, the second touch unseals his dumb lips, the third touch gives him strength to stand before God and talk with him.

We come now to a doctrine of the angels hinted at more than once before in this book:

The Ministry of the Angels in Human Governments. The record says, "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days." "You have been praying one and twenty days. I heard you when you first commenced to pray, 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 king of Persia." Again he says, in the twentieth and twenty-first verses: "Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I am come unto thee? And now will I return to fight the prince of Persia: and when I go forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come. And there is none that holdeth with me against thee but Michael your prince," that is, of all the angel princes of the nations there was only one to stand with the Son of God, and that was the angel of the Jewish nation (Daniel 11:1): "And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him."

This language on its face teaches:

1. That Israel, Persia, and Greece had each an angel who was charged particularly with the affairs of that nation, and implies that it was so with other nations.

2. That these national angels would sometimes withstand one another, which implies that the conflicting angels were not appointed by one central power, else they would not conflict.

3. That the spiritual world is the background of the historical world.

4. That over the conflicting angels was, at the last analysis, a supreme power that settled the conflicts.

The higher critics contend:

1. That the book of Daniel makes an advance in the doctrine of angel ministry far beyond the teaching of the preceding Old Testament books.

2. That its doctrine of a guardian angel for each nation belongs to a much later period, namely, the inter-biblical times, or early Christian times.

To which it may be answered: That an advance in doctrine on any subject is characteristic of the Old Testament. Doctrines develop and are elaborated as the ages pass; for example, the doctrine of the Messiah. But it cannot be successfully urged that any teaching of Daniel on angel ministration is out of harmony with the teaching on the same subject in either the Old or New Testament books. The inter-biblical uninspired books only imitate Daniel’s ideas, but have not his discreet reticence, and betray their purely human origin by wild extravagances.

And yet the advance in Daniel on this subject is vastly overstated. From the beginning of revelation angel ministrations appear in behalf of or against both individuals and nations. In the book of Job, written, as I think, by Moses in Midian, and further, as I think, the first Bible book written, we first see clearly that the spiritual world is the background of the historical world) and that there are angels good and bad touching human affairs, and without a knowledge of which we could not understand the age-long problem of the undeserved afflictions of the righteous. From it also we learn the limitations on evil angels, their subordination to one Supreme Being, who, as well as good angels, must report statedly to Jehovah, and whose evil work is only permissive and temporary.

From Genesis and the Psalms we learn not only when, but why their interest in the history of men began. Throughout the Old Testament history they touch both the individual man and nations. It is true that the Septuagint translators of the Pentateuch attribute the first conception of national angels to Moses, rather than Daniel, in their rendering of Deuteronomy 32:8: "He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God." But long before the days of the Septuagint translators Isaiah had hinted at a kindred thought to Daniel’s (Isaiah 24:21).

In the great council of heaven, both good and evil spirits present, seen by the prophet Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19-23), an evil spirit is permitted to mislead the wicked Ahab and his ally as to the issue of the disastrous battle of Ramoth-Gilead. Satan, as the usurping king of this world, naturally puts his angels in charge of heathen governments and through them moves their earthly kings to obstruct the progress of the kingdom of God. Supernatural forces of evil were back of Jannes and Jambres when they withstood Moses. A basis of real fact underlies the perverted idea of the heathen, that each nation or city had its special deity. In Ezra and Nehemiah we can easily see the human forces obstructing the progress of the restoration of Jerusalem. Edom, Moab, and Samaria, through their misrepresentations at the Persian court, repeatedly blocked the way, but this chapter tells us that back of the Edomites and Moabites and Samaritans and Persians was the devil, and the angel through whom he controlled this nation.


1. What is the theme of Daniel 10?

2. What is the relations of Daniel 10, 11, 12 to each other?

3. What is the date of the vision?

4. What is its occasion?

5. Why does Daniel mourn, fast and pray so long?

6. What contention of the critics do his prayers in Daniel 9-10 refute?

7. Where is the place of the vision?

8. Who was present, human, and superhuman?

9. What is the first great event that intervenes between Daniel 9-10?

10. Does this decree prove that Cyrus was a monotheist, and how do you prove that political reasons influenced him?

11. What is the second intervening event?

12. What is the distinction in time between the answer to this prayer and the one in Daniel 9, and why the delay here?

13. What similarity in the cases of the companions of Daniel and Saul at the time of their visions?

14. State the likeness between the visions of Daniel and John.

15. What other pre-manifestations of the Son of God in this book?

16. What is the effect of the vision on Daniel?

17. Compare this effect with that of others, in both Old and New Testament, having similar visions.

18. What great lesson does this teach?

19. What are four great lessons on angelology deducted from Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20 and Daniel 11:1?

20. State the contention of higher critics on the angelology of the book of Daniel, and your reply.

21. Who was the angel of the Jewish nation, and why did the angels of other nations oppose him?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Daniel 10". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/daniel-10.html.
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