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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Daniel 10


C. Daniel’s most detailed vision of the future chs. 10-12

We have observed that God’s method of revealing what He wanted Daniel to know and to communicate about the future follows good pedagogy. God first gave the prophet a general picture of the future, first about humanity generally and then about Israel. Then, after Daniel had had time to think about what God had told him, He filled in more detail. In other words, God went from the known to the unknown in teaching Daniel these things. In this final vision of the book, we have even more detail about the future, particularly about Israel’s future.

"There is hardly anything in the Bible that is just like these chapters, especially like chapter 11. The word, the vision, and minute prediction are combined in a manner that is found nowhere else in the Scriptures." [Note: Leupold, p. 441.]

The first chapter (ch. 10) and Daniel 10:1 of chapter 11 introduce the vision that follows. There are two parts to this vision: the immediate future from Darius through Antiochus (Daniel 11:2-35); and the distant future, namely: the seventieth seven (Daniel 9:27), or the Tribulation Period (Daniel 11:36 to Daniel 12:4). The rest of chapter 12 provides a conclusion to this revelation.

Verse 1

1. Daniel’s preparation to receive the vision 10:1-11:1

This section can be divided into seven parts.

The background of the vision 10:1

The third year of Cyrus’ rule as king over Babylon was 536 B.C. Cyrus had begun ruling over Persia in 558 B.C., but Daniel’s and the other biblical writers’ interest in Cyrus was as ruler over Babylon, which he conquered in 539 B.C. (Daniel 5:31). Cyrus had issued his decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and to rebuild their temple in 538 B.C. Some of them had departed that same year under Zerubbabel’s leadership. They had reinstituted the sacrifices by 537 B.C. (Ezra 3:6), and by 536 B.C. they had begun to rebuild the temple (Ezra 3:8). Daniel would have been in his 80s in 536 B.C., and his age may account for his not returning to the Promised Land. Daniel remained in government service until the first year of Cyrus (538 B.C., Daniel 1:21), but he remained in Babylon for several additional years, perhaps in "retirement."

Critics have attacked the Book of Daniel because, they claim, the title "Cyrus king of Persia" was not a contemporary way of referring to him. [Note: E.g., Montgomery, p. 405.] However, this would have been a perfectly legitimate way of referring to this king unofficially, if not officially. [Note: Young, p. 223. See also R. D. Wilson, "The Title ’King of Persia’ in the Scriptures," Princeton Theological Review 15 (1917):90-145.] Perhaps Daniel’s Babylonian name appears again here to assure the reader that this was the same Daniel whom we met in preceding chapters (cf. Daniel 1:7). He was the Daniel who had unusual skill in understanding visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17).

The message that came to Daniel was a revelation from God that included a vision. The emphasis on "message" in this verse may indicate that, in contrast to the preceding visions, this one came primarily as a spoken message, perhaps again from an angel. Daniel claimed that the message was true and that it involved a revelation of great conflict to come. The AV translation "the time appointed was long" has less linguistic support, but the message did involve prophecy yet far distant in the future. Daniel apparently understood this vision better than he had some of the earlier ones (e.g., Daniel 8:27). This verse as a whole prepares the reader for the revelation itself, which has major significance.

"The revelation in the vision given to Daniel on this occasion shattered any hope the prophet might have had that Israel would enjoy her new freedom and peace for long." [Note: Pentecost, "Daniel," p. 1365.]

Verses 2-3

Daniel’s personal preparations 10:2-3

The vision in chapter 9 came after Daniel had been praying and fasting (Daniel 9:3). The vision that follows also came to him after he had been mourning, fasting, and undoubtedly praying, for three weeks (cf. Daniel 1:11-13). Obviously these were literal weeks of days. Evidently, the previous revelations from God, and the welfare of the Jews-who had returned to Palestine but were encountering opposition, were the reasons for Daniel’s grave concern (cf. Ezra 4:1-5; Ezra 4:24; Philippians 4:6-7). Even though many Israelites were returning to Palestine, God had already revealed that they would experience trouble there.

Verse 4

Daniel had gone to the Tigris (Hiddekel, AV) River, perhaps to pray for the exiles who had returned, and he had probably gone there with other godly Jews. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread fell on the fourteenth through the twenty-first days of the first month. The Jews did not observe these festivals in captivity as they had formerly in their own land. Three days after these important memorial days, God gave Daniel a vision that he alone saw (cf. Daniel 12:5).

Verses 4-9

Daniel’s vision of the man by the Tigris river 10:4-9

Verses 5-6

The man whom Daniel saw in this vision was probably the Son of God. [Note: Keil, p. 409; Young, p. 225; Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 243; Feinberg, p. 141; Whitcomb, p. 138; Campbell, p. 118; Merrill, "A Theology . . .," p. 388; Wiersbe, p. 297; Culver, "Daniel," p. 796.] The Jewish interpreters and some modern Christian scholars preferred the view that he was an angel. [Note: E.g., Leupold, pp. 447-48; Archer, "Daniel," p. 123; Pentecost, "Daniel," pp. 1365-66; Baldwin, p. 180; and Ironside, p. 174.] The similarities between this man, and the one Ezekiel and the Apostle John saw, argue for his being divine (cf. Ezekiel 1:26-28; Revelation 1:13-16; Revelation 2:18). However, what this man proceeded to say (esp. Daniel 10:13) has led some to prefer the view that he was an angel.

Expensive linen dress is what the priests in Israel wore, and it distinguished them as God’s special servants. Likewise, the sash around this angel’s waist, evidently embroidered with or made completely of the best gold, would have identified Him as a special person. The meaning of "Uphaz" is uncertain. It may be the same as "Ophir," since the translators of the Syriac version of Jeremiah substituted "Ophir" for "Uphaz" in Jeremiah 10:9. The location of Ophir is also uncertain. It may have been in southwestern or southeastern Arabia, on the northeast African coast, or in India. [Note: The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. "Ophir," by D. J. Wiseman.] Alternatively, "Uphaz" may be a technical term for "refined gold." [Note: Ibid., s.v. "Uphaz," by D. J. Wiseman.] The personal descriptions of this man resemble what John saw on the island of Patmos, namely: the Son of God (Revelation 1:13-16; cf. Ezekiel 1:13-14). All these features picture a person of great glory and splendor.

"The impression given to Daniel was that the entire body of the man in the vision was like a gigantic transparent jewel reflecting the glory of the rest of the vision." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 243.]

Verses 7-9

Daniel’s companions, sensing that something awesome was happening (cf. Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9), hid themselves while Daniel viewed what God showed him (Daniel 10:7). His personal reaction to this vision was also similar to the Apostle John’s (Daniel 10:8; cf. Daniel 8:27; Revelation 1:17). The words of the person Daniel saw, along with his glorious appearance, caused the prophet to faint (Daniel 10:9).

Verses 10-11

The "man" who touched Daniel and who proceeded to speak to him may have been the same one the prophet saw in the vision (Daniel 10:5-6). Walvoord held, correctly I think, that the person in Daniel 10:5-6 was God, but the person in Daniel 10:10-21 was an angel. [Note: Ibid., pp. 243, 245.] The angel described Daniel as a man of high esteem (cf. Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:19). We know that Daniel enjoyed a good reputation among his contemporaries, but this title probably reflects God’s estimate of him. The Hebrew words (’ish hemudot) literally mean "man of preciousness." Daniel was precious to God, not only because he was one of God’s chosen people, but also because God had been precious to him.

". . . Daniel’s privileged status as one especially precious to God resulted from his complete absorption in the will and glory of the Lord to whom he had yielded his heart." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 124.]

It was only appropriate for Daniel to "stand" in order to receive a message from this impressive messenger from God.

Verses 10-14

The subject of the Revelation 10:10-14

Verse 12

Still, it was an unnerving experience for Daniel to stand in the presence of such a glorious person. The angel realized how Daniel felt and encouraged him not to fear. The angel informed the prophet that God had heard his first prayer for understanding, and that what follows came in answer to that petition (cf. Daniel 9:23). Humbling himself before God involved taking the role of a learner before Him.

"This verse constitutes a great encouragement to those whose prayers are not answered immediately. The cause of the delay may be something totally unknown to us; yet although the answer may be delayed, the prayer is always heard immediately." [Note: Feinberg, p. 141.]

Verse 13

Someone had delayed the arrival of God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer. He was the "prince of Persia," evidently a fallen angel who, under Satan’s authority, had a special responsibility for Persia (cf. Daniel 10:20; Ephesians 2:2). Clearly, "prince" here refers to an angel, since Michael was also called a "prince" (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21). [Note: See Zöckler, 7:2:228, in Lange’s commentary, for further support.] "The prince of Persia" must have been an evil angel since he opposed God’s purpose. Angelic hostility in the unseen world had resulted in the 21-day delay of this good angel’s arrival with God’s message (cf. Daniel 10:2).

"The powers of evil apparently have the capacity to bring about hindrances and delays, even of the delivery of the answers to believers whose requests God is minded to answer. . . .

"While God can, of course, override the united resistance of all the forces of hell if he chooses to do so, he accords to demons certain limited powers of obstruction and rebellion somewhat like those he allows humans. In both cases the exercise of free will in opposition to the Lord of heaven is permitted by him when he sees fit. But as Job 1:12; Job 2:6 indicate, the malignity of Satan is never allowed to go beyond the due limit set by God, who will not allow the believer to be tested beyond his limit (1 Corinthians 10:13)." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," pp. 124, 125.]

It seems unlikely to me that the prince of Persia could have resisted the Son of God this way, if He were the person addressing Daniel. Moreover, God’s messenger had received help from Michael, one of the chief princes (angels), so it seems unlikely that he was God Himself. Some angels have more authority and power than others do (Ephesians 1:21).

"Although the entire subject of the unseen struggle between the holy angels and the fallen angels is not clearly revealed in the Scriptures, from the rare glimpses which are afforded, as in this instance, it is plain that behind the political and social conditions of the world there is angelic influence-good on the part of the holy angels, evil on the part of the angels under satanic control. This is the struggle to which Paul referred in Ephesians 6:10-18." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 247.]

"Bad angels, called demons in the New Testament, are, without a doubt, referred to here. In the course of time, these demonic powers gained a very strong influence over certain nations and the government of these nations. They became the controlling power. They used whatever resources they could muster to hamper God’s work and to thwart His purposes." [Note: Leupold, pp. 457-58.]

Evidently the good angel who spoke to Daniel had performed some duty in Persia that involved the kings or rulers of that land. However, having received a commission from God to visit Daniel, he was not able to break away to deliver it because of the influence of the bad angel who exercised strong influence over Persia. Michael visited the good angel and helped him break away from this wicked angel’s power so he could visit Daniel.

Keil projected this idea even further. His view is speculation.

"The plural [kings of Persia] denotes, that by the subjugation of the demon of the Persian kingdom, his influence not merely over Cyrus, but over all the following kings of Persia, was brought to an end, so that the whole of the Persian kings became accessible to the influence of the spirit proceeding from God and in advancing the welfare of Israel." [Note: Keil, p. 419.]

There has been much interest in spiritual warfare in recent years among professing Christians. [Note: See the bibliography at the end of these notes for some titles.] Certainly spiritual warfare is a biblical revelation, and we need to be aware of it and live accordingly. However, much that is being taught about spiritual warfare, and particularly about "territorial demons," goes beyond the teaching of Scripture. (The idea that there are "territorial demons" rests primarily on Daniel 10:13.) For example, there is no biblical instruction or precedent that would justify praying against, and claiming victory over certain demons by name, as some are doing and advocating today. Clearly, Daniel did not know about this heavenly conflict between these angels. Michael’s success was not due to Daniel’s praying, for or against, certain angels or demons.

"Daniel, while supporting the idea of territorial identification of certain angels especially in chap. 10, does not support any sort of human involvement in angelic warfare." [Note: Gerry Breshears, "The Body of Christ: Prophet, Priest, or King?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37:1 (March 1994):14.]

There may be hindrances to our praying-about which we know nothing-as we wonder why an answer to our prayer does not come. Nevertheless we should keep on praying (Luke 18:1-8). This incident reminds us of the importance of persisting in prayer. If Daniel had stopped praying on the twentieth day, he might not have received the great revelation of chapter 11 on the twenty-first day.

Verse 14

The good angel had come to explain to Daniel what would happen to the Jews in the latter days yet future. Daniel had already received some revelation about what lay ahead for the Jews (Daniel 8:23-26; Daniel 9:24-27). It was evidently this revelation that puzzled him and led to his requesting clarification in prayer (Daniel 10:2). What follows in Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 12:4 is more information on this subject. As in Daniel 8:23-26 and Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 12:4 contains information about Israel’s fate relative to Antiochus Epiphanes, in the near future, and information about Israel’s fate relative to Antichrist, in the distant future.

Verse 15

Apparently the angel’s explanation about the angelic conflict was something about which Daniel had known nothing. His only reaction to this information, on top of the vision that he had just seen, was to bow his head and silently accept this revelation.

Verses 15-17

Daniel’s continuing weakness 10:15-17

Verses 16-17

The one who resembled a human being was probably an angel who touched his lips and thereby enabled him to speak (cf. Daniel 7:16; Daniel 8:15-19; Daniel 9:21-22; Isaiah 6:7; Jeremiah 1:9). The prophet proceeded to explain to the angel that the vision had caused him anxiety and had robbed him of his strength (cf. Isaiah 6:5). He said he felt so inferior to the angel that he considered himself unworthy to talk to him. [Note: R. H. Charles, The Book of Daniel, p. 116.] Furthermore, he felt without sufficient strength and breath to do so.

Verse 18

This is the third instance in this chapter, of Daniel receiving strength from an angel who touched him (Daniel 10:10; Daniel 10:16; cf. Hebrews 1:14). Compare Luke’s record of an angel strengthening Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-44). This human-appearing angel was probably the same one who touched Daniel’s lips (Daniel 10:16), but he is perhaps different from the angel who had helped him to his feet (Daniel 10:10).

Verses 18-19

Daniel’s further strengthening 10:18-19

Verse 19

The angel repeated the complimentary description "man of high esteem" (cf. Daniel 10:11; Daniel 9:23), which reassured Daniel. He also encouraged him not to fear, to feel at peace, to take courage, and to be courageous (Daniel 10:19; cf. Joshua 1:9). These words strengthened the aged prophet (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), and he asked the angel to give him the rest of the revelation.

The total effect of these many verses that dwell on Daniel’s felt weakness, and the strength that an angel or angels provided him, is to make the reader anticipate the following revelation. It is very important.

"This vision [in Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 12:4] contains the most detailed prophetic revelation in the Book of Daniel." [Note: Pentecost, "Daniel," p. 1366.]

The angel’s explanation of his activity 10:20-11:1

Verse 20

The angel asked if Daniel knew why he had come to him. He apparently did this to focus the prophet’s attention on the vision to follow, and since Daniel was quite weak.

The angel informed Daniel that he had to return to resume fighting against the demon who was influencing Persia (Daniel 10:13), and then battle the one that would be influencing Greece. The prince of Greece may be a reference to Alexander the Great. [Note: Feinberg, p. 145.] Persia and Greece, of course, are two of the kingdoms that have been the focus of prophecy in this book (chs. 2; 7; 8; 9; Daniel 11:2-35).

"From this we can learn that, behind the many details of prophecy relating to the history of this period, there is the unseen struggle between angelic forces that the will of God may be accomplished." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 250.]

Verse 21

The "writing of truth" seems to refer to all that God has recorded as truth. This includes Scripture, but it also includes all that is true that God has not revealed. The angel would make part of what God had established as "truth" known to Daniel. The angel intended this revelation to encourage Daniel, in view of his having to leave the prophet to return to spiritual warfare. Likewise, the fact that Michael stood with this angel in his warfare, would have encouraged Daniel-even though Michael was apparently his only other angelic comrade in battle. "Your prince" links Michael with Daniel, and identifies Michael as the good angel whom God had commissioned to help him and his Jewish brethren (Daniel 12:1; cf. Revelation 12:7; Revelation 20:2).

"It is encouraging for God’s people to know that he has mighty champions among the holy angels whose task is to defend the saints against the attacks of the evil one." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 127. Cf. Hebrews 1:14.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Daniel 10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.