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Daniel, having humbled himself, seeth a vision: being troubled with fear, he is comforted by the angel.
Before Christ 534.
THIS chapter contains the preparatory circumstances to the final revelation which was made to Daniel in the two last chapters of the book. The vision was to be of great extent, and is therefore ushered in with a preface of considerable length; in which are pointed out the humiliation of the prophet, the attention that was paid to it, the appearance of the divine messenger, the impression it made on Daniel's mind, the design of the vision, and the strength from heaven with which he was favoured, in order to enable him to comprehend it; with other circumstances relating to the angels that make the discovery.
Daniel 10:1. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia— That is, after the death of Darius, or the seventy-second year from the commencement of the captivity, the two hundred and fourteenth of the aera of Nabonassar, and the fifth of his reign, according to the canon: then, as follows in one manuscript, יהוה דבר debar Jehovah, "the word of JEHOVAH was revealed." By this time the prophet must have been at least ninety years of age, and persons have often been favoured with stronger and farther illuminations a little before their deaths, as was the case of Isaac and Jacob, in the book of Genesis. The kingdom of Elam, from the son of Shem of that name, was considerable among the nations in the time of Abraham, under Chedorlaomer, Gen 14:4-5 and seems to have continued increasing and flourishing afterwards till it was subdued by the united powers of Media and Babylon. By an union with the Medes it recovered this defeat, so as to become the seat of extensive or universal empire under the name of Peres or Persia, in the first year of Cyrus.
Daniel 10:2. I Daniel was mourning three full weeks— Various causes are assigned for this mourning of the prophet. Usher thinks that it was on account of the interruption given by the Samaritans to the rebuilding of the temple. But I am persuaded, says Calmet, that it arose principally from the obscurity which the prophet found in the prophesies revealed to him; which indeed may be collected from the angel's touching upon no other cause of mourning. In consequence of Daniel's fasting, &c. he appears, and explains to him, in a clearer manner, what had been more obscurely revealed in the preceding visions.
Daniel 10:5. Fine gold of Uphaz— If we compare this place with Jer 10:9 and the reading of some of the versions, we shall probably be inclined to agree with Bochart and Calmet, that Ophir and Uphaz are the same. Origen on Job 22:24 observes, that some interpreters will have Sophir or Ophir to be Africa; and the ancient navigators touched upon it when they sailed from the Red Sea round the Cape of Good Hope, and returned by the Mediterranean. Mr. Bruce thinks Ophir to have been in Abyssinia, where the mines of Sofala now are, and that some part near this coast was called by Eupolemus in Eusebius Ophri, and also that Tarshish was on the same coast, nearer the Arabian Gulph, vol. i. c. 4. And in the Abyssinian Annals in vol. 2: he finds the name of Tarshish mentioned as one of the petty kingdoms in the neighbourhood of Adel, and which lay directly in the road from the Red Sea to Sofala or Ophir. See Bishop Lowth on Isaiah, chap. Daniel 2:13-16.
Daniel 10:8. For my comeliness was turned, &c.— The flower of my strength withered, and all my powers failed me. Houbigant. The reader will observe, that this description given of the angel is very similar to that given by St. John, Revelation 1:13; Rev 1:20 of the great High-Priest of the church: and one would be ready thence to conclude, that the same person was intended to be described in both places.
Daniel 10:9. Then was I in a deep sleep— Then I lay lifeless with my face prone upon the ground. Houbigant.
Daniel 10:13. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me— "Stood before me." Purver. This is thought by some to be either Cyrus or Cambyses, making opposition to the building of the temple, and becoming hostile to the people of God: but as this is not at all probable so soon after passing the decree in their favour, so neither could it be properly deemed resisting an angel. Others have thought that there is an allusion in this verse, and at Dan 10:20 to the guardian or tutelary angels of different countries; which doctrine seems countenanced by several passages in Scripture, and especially by Zechariah 6:5. Grotius is of this opinion. Mr. Lowth has treated this matter very fully, and to his note I would refer the reader; he adds also, that others suppose the contest may be between a good and an evil angel, as in Zec 3:1 and St. Jude, Daniel 10:9. Which latter opinion is perhaps the most just, as there should seem to be no dispute or contest between the ministering spirits of heavens who are always obedient to the pleasure of their Lord. And when the Almighty sent a superior angel, Michael, his office probably was to assist Gabriel in subduing the prince of the power of the air, the powers of this darksome world, or the spirits that rule over the children of disobedience. The opposition was made twenty-one days; and as this was exactly the number of days that Daniel fasted, the contest may possibly have some allusion to this struggle.
Daniel 10:16. One like the similitude, &c.— Most of the versions read, He being in appearance like a man; see Daniel 10:18. The angel Gabriel, most probably, is meant, who appeared to the prophet in a human form. Compare chap. Dan 8:15 Daniel 9:21.
Daniel 10:18. Then there came, &c.— Then he being in appearance like a man, came again, and touched me, &c.
Daniel 10:20. To fight, &c.— To withstand the prince of Persia.
Daniel 10:21. Michael your prince— This shews in what sense the word prince is to be understood in the preceding parts of this chapter, and to what order of beings it is to be applied. Michael and Gabriel were probably the tutelary angels of the Jews. These names do not occur in any books of the Old Testament that were written before the captivity. Castell mentions the names of four that were said to stand around the throne of God, Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael; two only of which seem to be named in Scripture. But whatever may be determined concerning their names, it is certain, from various passages of the Old Testament, that ministering spirits continually attend upon the service of God, and execute the divine commands. In the two last verses these blessed spirits appear to have been intended. We know, and can know, no more of the offices or employments of these celestial agents than what is revealed to us, and therefore it is in vain to indulge conjecture. In general we may conclude, that they will be favourable or unfavourable to any nation or people according to the state of religion, holiness, and virtue among them; and that all things and all powers will work together for good to those who fear and love God.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, In the third year of Cyrus, this last of Daniel's prophesies bears date. He was now a very aged man, and high in the favour of God, who revealed to him another scene of events, which would certainly come to pass in their appointed season: and this vision was not couched under any emblematical figures, as the former, but delivered in direct words; so that he had a clear understanding of the facts related, and of the things which should come to pass.
We have an account,
1. Of the situation in which the prophet was, when this vision appeared to him: he had been mourning three full weeks, and ate no pleasant bread; what he used was coarse as well as scanty; he neither tasted flesh nor wine, nor anointed himself during the whole time, but spent it in deep humiliation of soul and body before the Lord. The cause, some suggest, was the wickedness of the Jews which he had foreseen, in cutting off the Messiah, and the desolations which would follow: or, as others, the backwardness of many in Babylon to return to Jerusalem; or the obstruction and difficulties that they met with who were returned to Judaea. But whatever was the cause, it shewed the mortified spirit of this holy saint of God, and the concern that he bore toward his people.
2. A glorious personage appears to him: he was by the river Hiddekel, with others probably assembled for the purposes of devotion, when, lifting up his eyes, he saw a certain man, &c. This glorious person was visible to him, but not to those who were with him; yet they heard and saw enough to fill them with deep consternation, so that they fled to hide themselves; while Daniel remained alone with this celestial personage, and overwhelmed fell into a swoon at his feet, pale as death, and his strength utterly gone: yet, though prostrate on the ground, and his bodily senses locked up in sleep, he heard the voice of his words.
2nd, From this debilitated state of body, the prophet is by degrees restored, and raised up to hear the words of the vision.
1. An hand touched me, and raised him upon his hands and knees, then bid him stand upright, which he did, though still trembling. Thus the Lord himself raises up dejected souls from the depths of despair; a beam of hope and comfort first breaks in: improving the little strength that God bestows, they begin to stand up; yet, notwithstanding this, their fears and doubts frequently for a while keep them trembling.
2. The angel kindly encourages him: he assures him of God's great regard to him, and bids him not fear, but receive with attention what he was about to declare to him; for God had heard his supplications from the moment he began to speak, had respect unto his humiliations, and had sent on purpose to acquaint him of what should befal his people in the latter days; for the prophesy extends to the most distant events, even to the reign of Antichrist, the resurrection of the dead, and the end of time; for the vision is for many days. The angel farther informs him, that he was detained in the court of Persia one and twenty days, the time of Daniel's mourning, to counteract the devices of the prince of the kingdom of Persia, either Cambyses, or rather an evil angel, who had been endeavouring at the court of Persia to do some mischief to the people of God; but the enemy was disappointed; for Michael, a chief archangel, came to Gabriel's help, and aided him to disappoint the designs that were forming; for which end he had abode so long with the king and nobles of Persia. Note; (1.) A sense of God's love to our souls, is the grand barrier against terrifying fear. (2.) The moment God's people begin to speak, his ear is attentive to their prayers, and he is ready to grant their petitions. (3.) Whatever plots devils or men form against Christ's people, he is able to baffle their attempts, and save his faithful ones from the power of evil. (4.) Though we need not pry curiously into the nature and employment of angels, much less pay them adoration, we may be thankful to their great Master who employs them, for unnumbered kind offices that we owe them, when ourselves were not apprehensive of the least danger.
3. The prophet, though raised upon his feet, with downcast eyes, dumb with amazement and awe, stood statue-like and motionless at these words, till the same kind hand which probably raised him before, touched his lips, and gave him liberty of speech: when, with great respect addressing the heavenly messenger, the prophet owns his terrors, and acknowledges their cause. The vision had overpowered him, conscious of his own defilement and impurity; for saith he, How can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord.
4. To remove all his fears, the third time the angelic messenger drew near, and by a touch communicated strength unto him, that he might be capable of conversing with him, and attending to the message that he was sent to bring him. To remove all his fears, the angel repeats the assurances of God's love; encourages him to resume his wonted peace; wishes him all prosperity in body and soul; bids him be strong in the Lord and the power of his might, and cast away every distressing apprehension, since God so highly regarded him. Power accompanied his word; and Daniel, now sensible of an increase of strength, and acknowledging the favour, is ready, with deepest respect, to hear whatever his honoured visitant should say. Note; (1.) God speaks peace to the troubled consciences of his praying and believing people, and by his Spirit seals the word in their hearts. (2.) Though of ourselves weak as infancy, we can do all things through Christ strengthening us.
5. He gives him in general a hint of what he more fully explains afterwards. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? it was, as he had told him, in answer to his prayers, and to inform him concerning his people; and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia; to continue to baffle his malice against the people of God: and when I am gone forth, having finished his work successfully, lo! the prince of Grecia shall come. See the Annotations. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth, concerning these future events: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. The glorious God, by whose upholding strength the ministry of his servants becomes effectual, will be the everlasting protector and defender of his faithful saints from all the malice and enmity of earth or hell.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Daniel 10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29