Tuesday, June 6th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ daniel-10.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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THE ANGELS OF THE NATIONS.
The three chapters (10, 11; and 12.) form a section apart from the rest of Daniel. One marked peculiarity is the long and very old interpolation which occupies nearly the whole of Daniel 11:1-45. Not improbably something has dropped out, and. not a few things have been modified in consequence of this interpolation.
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. The Septuagint rendering is, "In the first year of Cyrus King of the Persians." This is at variance with all other versions. As, however, these other versions are derived from the Palestinian recension, they unitedly do not much more than counterbalance the LXX, "A decree (πρόσταγμα) was revealed to Daniel who was called Beltasar, and the vision is true and the decree." This is a case of doublet. Evidently some Egyptian manuscripts read חָזוֹן (ḥazon) instead of חַדָּבָר (ḥaddabar), and this, or the rendering of it, has slipped into the text from the margin. "And a strong multitude understood the decree." The translator here has had יבין, not ובין, before him. Aquila has the same reading; here צָבָא (tzaba) is taken in its usual sense of "host," "And I understood it in vision." Here the LXX. has לִי instead of לוֹ. From the fact that the first person appears in the next verse, there is at least a probability in favour of this reading. Theodotion is, as usual, closer to the Massoretic. צָבָא is rendered δύναμις. The text before him has had הוּבין, the hophal, instead of ובין, which is possibly the kal. The Peshitta seems to have used a text practically identical with that of the Massoretes; tile same is true of the Vulgate. The Peshitta renders צָבָא by heel, and the Vulgate by fortitudo. In the third year of Cyrus. The various reading of the Septuagint is of value. It is not to be dismissed as due to a desire to harmonize this date with that in Daniel 1:21, for the numeral "third" might easily be an accidental mistake present in some few Palestinian manuscripts due to the beginning of the eighth chapter. The first chapter, as we have seen, has many traces that it is at once an epitome and a compilation. It is evident that the writer in the first chapter would have the rest of the book before him, and would mean to harmonize his statements with that of the chapter before us. It seems difficult to imagine that the compiler of the first chapter could have this statement before him, and yet write as he did. We should therefore be inclined to leave the question doubtful. Even if it should be admitted that the Massoretic date is correct, as we have already seen, the difficulties created are by no means insuperable. Hitzig has made it a difficulty that Daniel did not avail himself of the permission to return to his own country, granted by Cyrus. Professor Bevan says, "For those who believe Daniel to be an ideal figure, no explanation is necessary." In that assertion he is mistaken. If Daniel were presented as an ideal Jew, why does he not conform to the ideal of Judaism? The statement that Daniel was a man of nearly ninety years of age at the date of Cyrus's proclamation is a sufficient answer to this difficulty. Hitzig thinks he rebuts this answer of Havernick's by referring to the old men (Ezra 3:12) who remembered the former temple; but these might have been children of ten or twelve when they were carried away captive eighteen years after Daniel, and thus might not be more than sixty when Cyrus's decree came. Further, we know that only a very limited number of Jews returned, and that so many of the best of the Jews remained that it was declared that the chaff came to Jerusalem, but that the finest of the wheat remained in Babylon. A thing was revealed unto Daniel whose name was called Belteshazzar. "Thing" is the general term dabar, which means sometimes "decree," sometimes "word," or sometimes, as rendered by the Authorized, " thing." As Professor Fuller remarks, this is to be taken as the title of the rest of the remaining sections. The recurrence of the Babylonian name "Belteshazzar" may be due to the recency of the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy. And the thing was true, but the time appointed was long. Hitzig thinks that in the first clause the author betrays his standpoint, as he would not know the thing was true till fact had proved it so. But, besides that an editor might have added this clause, a man might well be certain of the truth of a thing he had got from God; he might wish to impress this upon his hearers. The last clause here is certainly mistranslated in the Authorized. The time appointed was long. צָבָא (tzaba) never means "appointed time," although it is twice translated so in Job, as here; but in all these cases with greater accuracy render "warfare." With this sense is to be compared the use we find in Num 15:23 -43, where the Levites' service in the sanctuary is called צָבָא (tzaba). If we are to keep to the Massoretic reading, then the rendering of the Revised is really the only one to be thought of. Professor Bevan, following Ewald, thinking that tzaba means in Numbers 8:1 :4 "temple service," would apply this meaning here. As we saw, in considering that verse, the word there was of very doubtful authenticity, we need not apply that meaning here, as it would only suit by being twisted into "obligation." Hitzig, Kranichfeld, Zöckler, Keil, and others regard this word as meaning "difficulty," "oppression." Something may, however, be said for the Septuagint rendering, all the more that it was adopted by Aquila. According to these renderings, we conjoin these words, great hosts, צָבָא גָדול, with the next, which they understand read as third person singular imperfect kal, or omit the conjunction, "And a great multitude understood the decree." "The host" in this interpretation would here naturally mean "the host of heaven." We find that throughout this chapter, and in the twelfth, we have to do with the angels, so it is natural that in this title and summary of what is to follow the fact that the great host of heaven understood this mystery should be stated. Theodotion's rendering, "power," though supported by Jerome in the Vulgate, need not detain us. The view of Jephet-ibn-Ali is that the host may be of Edom, probably meaning by this Rome. And he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. This is a fairly correct rendering of the Hebrew. Von Lengerke would make the verbs imperative, which certainly they might be, so far as form goes, but the intrusion of imperatives here into the title of a section seems violent. The main difficulty, moreover, is not touched. As they stand, these two clauses assert the same thing, and if with Yon Lengerke we make them both imperatives, we have the difficulty still present with us. It may be a case of "doublet." This is an hypothesis we scarcely would adopt except in necessity, since the Septuagint has both clauses. Theodotion, however, has only one of them. We feel ourselves inclined to follow the reading of the Septuagint. The angels understood the matter, and he—Daniel—understood it also by the vision.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. The versions are close to the Massoretic, only the Septuagint, and, following it, the Vetus, as quoted by Tertullian, omit "days," in the literal rendering of the Hebrew phrase, "weeks of days". Mourning. Zöckler and Fuller think this mourning due to the difficulties the released captives had in carrying out their desire of rebuilding the temple. It may have been that he was grieved that so few of the people were willing to avail themselves of the privilege. We are here assuming that the chronology of this passage reckons from the overthrow of Nabunahid, that is, from Cyrus's accession to the throne of Babylon; but, as we have seen, this "third year" may be reckoned from his assumption of the title King of Persia, San Parsua, in which case it may be the same year with that vision narrated in the previous chapter. Three full weeks; literally, three weeks of days—to mark off the duration of Daniel's fast from the weeks of years referred to in the ninth chapter. Keil objects to this interpretation, but assigns no reason. At the same time, it is to be observed that "year of days" means a full year, but a week is such a short period that the necessity of saying that it was complete by defining it a "week of days" is not so obvious, and is unexampled.
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. The versions are in perfect agreement with the Massoretic text. Pleasant bread; "bread of desires" is the rendering of the Septuagint and of Theodotion; the word is the same in Hebrew and Greek as that applied to Daniel. Neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth. This shows that the practice adopted by Daniel and his fellows during their training was not regarded by Daniel, at least as incumbent on him after he could regulate his own affairs. His ordinary habit was to eat flesh and to drink wine; but during these weeks of fast, he denied himself these dainties. Neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. The pleasure of anointing the body with oil was highly esteemed among the ancients. It is impossible to fail to recognize, in this passage, the origin of the Essenian discipline. The Essenes abstained, from flesh, from wine, and from anointing themselves. Daniel thus abstained, as a sign of sorrow for the sin of his people; they made this fast a perpetual discipline. They waited for the salvation of Israel, and endeavoured, by fasting, to hasten the coming of the Lord. The converse of this, that Daniel's fast is derived from the Essene discipline, is not to be thought of. It is a sign of a later development, when such practices of self-denial, from being the incidents of a life which occur on special occasions, become its rule. As early as b.c. 106 an Essene is mentioned teaching in the temple, and mentioned with no evidence that his sect was a thing of recent origin. The limits are narrow between the critical date of Daniel and this date that within them so prominent a sect as the Essenes should spring up.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel. The LXX. differs from this only in rendering Hiddekel by its Greek name "Tigris." Theodotion subjoins to Tigris Eddekel, on the same principle that we have on the margin of our Bibles different renderings from those in the text. The Peshitta makes the river the Euphrates. The Vulgate follows the Septuagint. There seems no reasonable doubt that Behrmann is right in regarding the Phrat of the Syriac as a gloss. It certainly was a natural suggestion, that, as Babylon was on the Euphrates, Daniel should rather be found walking there at the termination of his fast, than forty or fifty miles off. The four and twentieth day of the first month; that is, the month Nisan or Abib—the month in which the Passover was celebrated in every Jewish home. It would seem that Daniel did not join in this festival at this time. It is noted that, from the days of Saul, the two first days of every month were devoted to a feast, and hence, that Daniel's fast could only begin on the third day. Since-he mast have refrained from partaking of the Paschal lamb, we cannot deduce that he might not occupy the opening days of the month with sadness rather than feasting. If Daniel is an ideal figure, intended to represent the model Jew resident in a foreign land, why is he thus represented as not partaking of the Paschal feast? It is true that, with the temple in ruins, the Paschal lamb could not be slain in the way enjoined in the Law; but the modern Jew keeps the Passover without the lamb. I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel. The name is a transference of the Assyrian name Iddiklat. It would seem that Daniel was then on the banks of the Tigris, not in vision, but in actual person, as here there is no reference, as in Daniel 8:2, to his being there in vision; the mention of attendants also renders it unlikely that it was only in vision that Daniel was on the banks of the Tigris. His purpose in being there was probably governmental, as he had attendants with him.
Daniel 10:5, Daniel 10:6
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphas: 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. The version given by the Septuagint exhibits traces of confluence, "And it was [apparently reading וַיִּהִי (vayyehee)] on the four and twentieth day of the first month, I was upon the bank of the great river Tigris, and I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold a man clothed in fine linen (βύσσινα), and girt about the loins with fine linen (βυσσίνῳ), and from his middle there was light, and his month was as the sea, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, his arms and feet as gleaming brass, and the voice (φωνὴ) of his speech as the voice of a multitude." It would seem that the translator had בַּדִּים twice; that might be due to blunder, or may be a case of doublet—a phenomenon so frequent. The difficult word Uphaz, which only occurs elsewhere in Jeremiah 10:9, is omitted; "from his middle there was light" is probably an effort to render this clause, which the translator seems to have read mithoq 'or. Possibly the mysterious clause, "and his mouth was like the sea," may be another attempt to render these unaccustomed words. Theodotion merely transliterates בדים into βαδδίν, and תַרְשִׁישׁ into θαρσίς, and regards Uphaz as a garment, which, in the case before us, was golden (χρυσίῳ). In the Syriac of the Peshitta, the translator escapes the difficulty of baddeem by rendering it "glory." The next clause is also paraphrastic, "the girdle of his loins (back) was of splendid magnificence:" this last is his rendering of Uphaz. The next verse does not call for remark. Jerome, in the Vulgate, renders tarsheesh as chrysolithus—an interpretation very generally followed now. In the Massoretic text, the use of the numeral "one," almost as our indefinite article, has to be noted. Baddeem is the plural of a word used mainly for the material of which the garments of the priests were made; it occurs also in the vision of Ezekiel. The singularity is that in Ezekiel, as in Daniel, the word is always plural whereas in the rest of Scripture it is always singular. Uphaz occurs, as above mentioned, only in Jeremiah 10:9; it is by some supposed to be a variation on Ophir. As here, it is connected in Jeremiah with Tarshish. Fiirst suggests paz, "fine gold" (Job 28:17), and אוּ—אִי. "coast or island," thus making it equivalent to "Gold Coast." Kethem, "fine gold," is associated in Isaiah 13:12 with "Ophir," as here with" Uphaz;" this might hint at the identity of the two places. That, however, is an uncertain basis. The fact that Tarshish and Uphaz are brought together, would indicate that, like Tarshish, it was in Spain. Kneucker, in Schenkel's 'Bibellexikon,' decides for Hy-phasis, South Arabia, on the uncertain ground of the sound of the name. Bochart would place it in Ceylon, because Ptolemy mentions a harbour and river of the name of Phasis. Tarshish is the Tartessus of the Greeks and the modern Tharsis; here the chrysolite or topaz, as brought from thence. Margelothayo, "his feet," is the most common rendering; but yon Lengerke would render, "the place where his feet rested"—a rendering which, while it suits the form of the word, does not suit the context. It occurs four times in Ruth in one connection, and not elsewhere, save here. "Like in colour to polished brass" is a phrase which occurs in Ezekiel 1:7. Professor Bevan says, "What meaning the author attached to קָלָל (qalal),' 'polished,' it is impossible to say." All the versions render" gleaming," in both passages; there seems no need to suggest a corruption of the text. The vision here has a great resemblance, though with many pointsof contrast, to Ezekiel 1:4-25; Ezekiel 8:2; Ezekiel 9:2; Ezekiel 10:1-22. Many passages in the Apocalypse show traces of its influence: thus Revelation 1:14, Revelation 1:15, the appearance of our Lord; also Revelation 10:1-3. The vision in Ezekiel 1:1-28. is a theophany; this, however, is not the appearance of a direct symbol of God, but the appearance of one of his angels. The whole aspect is one of terror and splendour. It has been noted that the yellow gleam of the topaz suits well the tint of the Oriental complexion. When we compare this with Ezekiel's vision, we find a reticence in Ezekiel's description; he does not affirm (Ezekiel 1:27) that it is a man he sees, but only one in human likeness. Whereas Daniel distinctly says that it was a man. In the case of Ezekiel, it was a theophany which he saw; it was an angelophany which appeared to Daniel. "The voice of a multitude" refers to the sound of the shout of a multitude; the effect it produces is not merely the volume of sound, but the difference of tones and the difference of moment of utterance give a sense of vastness and multitudinousness, always impressive, and indeed awe-inspiring.
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. The LXX. in the main agrees with this, but seems to have read lemahar, "in haste," instead of behayhabay. Theodotion renders the last word ἐν φόβῳ, implying that he read behaga'. The reading of the Massoretic is superior, as being less expected. The Peshitta renders in accordance with Theodotion. Jerome agrees very exactly with the Massoretic text. And I Daniel alone saw the vision (comp. Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9). The Apostle Paul was solitary in hearing intelligible words and seeing Christ; his attendants saw the bright light and heard a voice, but neither saw the speaker nor were able to distinguish the purport of the words. For the men that were with me saw not the vision. Who those were that were with Daniel we cannot tell; probably they were the ordinary attendants of an officer of rank in the court of the great king. Rashi's idea that they were Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, has no probability in favour of it. As little has Professor Fuller's hint that they were Hananiah, Michael, and Azariah. But a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves (comp. Exodus 20:18; Genesis 3:8). A yet finer parallel is Job 4:12-16. Eliphaz there describes a spirit passing before him, although invisible; yet in the horror of contact with the spiritual, all his bones shook and the hair of his flesh stood up. There is a difference to be noted hero between the conduct of the attendants of Daniel and those of the Apostle Paul. As we read here, the attendants of Daniel flee to hide themselves, those of the apostle are first struck to the earth and then stand stupefied.
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. The versions do not call for much remark. The LXX. renders "glory" by "spirit" or "breath;" and the Peshitta renders it by "body." The Massoretic is superior, as more difficult and more likely to be the source of the other two than either of them. Theodotion's rendering, δόξα, confirms this. Daniel explains how he alone had seen the vision, and narrates the effects contact with the spiritual had on him, "There remained no strength in me;… And I retained no strength"—a redoubled statement of weakness not necessarily meaning, as Jephet-ibn-Ali would have it, that the one refers to his inability to flee like his attendants, and the other to his inability to stand upright. It is probably due merely to the great impression this sudden powerlessness made on him. For my comeliness was turned in me into corruption. From the natural brightness of the skin in life the face assumed the yellow pallor of death (comp. Daniel 7:28). "And my countenance was changed in me;" comp. also Habakkuk 3:16, "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones." While the ideas here are the same, the parallelism is made more striking by the difference of the terms.
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. The Septuagint rendering here is briefer than the Massoretic, "And I heard the sound of his speech (λαλιᾶς, ' talking'), and I was fallen upon my face upon the earth." The Septuagint translator seems to have read נְפַלְתִּי (nephalti) instead of נִרְדַם (nir'dam). Theodotion is somewhat nearer the Massoretic text, but renders nirdam by "stupefied." The Pesifitta is an accurate rendering of the text behind the Septuagint. Jerome agrees with Theodotion, rendering nirdam by consternatus; he strengthens the phrase, "my face toward the ground," by inserting haerebat. It would seem that nirdam is of doubtful authenticity. It may be said this was omitted because of the difficulty of imagining the prophet seeing while in a deep sleep. But a state of sleep does not preclude the possibility of seeing a vision. In the parallel passage (Daniel 8:18) the LXX. has no difficulty in translating, נִרְדַמְתִּי ἐκοιμήθην. By assuming the reading of the LXX. and the Peshitta to be correct, we make the process of events more natural; according to the Massoretic reading, though we have an account of his sense of weakness, we have no record that he fell to the ground, and yet we are told that he was "in a deep sleep, with his face toward the ground" The resemblance is very great to Job 4:12, "A thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof in thoughts from the vision of the night, when sleep falleth on men (תַּרְדֵמָה, tardaymah)." If there has been imitation, the originality and beauty of the passage in Job render it certain that it is the original. It seems more likely to be a change introduced to bring the revelation to Daniel in line with other prophetic revelations. The attitude Daniel assumed was one which implied the deepest abasement—the envoy of the great king kisses the ground at the feet of the envoy of the King of kings. Even the revelation given while sleep had fallen on the subject of the revelation, seems paralleled with what took place at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:32, "And Peter and those that were with him were heavy with sleep," yet it was when they were awaked that they saw the glory). So with Gethsemane. The Hebrew word is the same as that used when Eve was taken out of the side of Adam; he then was asleep—a deepsleep had fallen on him, תַּרְדֵמָה (tardaymah)." (For further illustrations, see Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 3:23; Zechariah 4:1; Revelation 1:17.)
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. The LXX. agrees with this, but does not bring out any more than this the pregnant sense of the Hebrew. This is given in the margin of the Revised, "Set me tottering on my knees," etc. Strangely enough, the LXX. renders, "soles of my feet "—an impossible attitude; that this is the true reading of the LXX. is confirmed by Paulus Telleusis. Theodotion omits "the palms of the hands." The Peshitta renders as the LXX. The Vulgate renders כַּפוֹת by articulos, "joints." An hand touched me. The hand of him that appeared to him—though Daniel does not say. It is needless to multiply angelic agencies. A discussion has been raised on the question whether this is Gabriel who appeared to Daniel in the eighth chapter, or Michael, or the angel of the presence. It is not a matter of importance, but Michael is excluded by verse 13, and also, to our thinking, "the angel of the presence," if by that title the Second Person of the Trinity is indicated. Which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. Although the touch communicated to Daniel some strength, yet he was unable to raise himself so as to look up—his face was still to the ground, his attitude was still one of abasement, and he was trembling.
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 dew sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. The versions do not afford cause for remark. O Daniel, a man greatly beloved. This is the same term as that applied to Daniel (Daniel 9:23), "man of desires" (which see). Understand the words that I speak unto thee; "have understanding in the words," or better, "matters, which I am speaking or telling to thee." As the language used was one intelligible to Daniel, it was needless to command him to understand the words, but the "matters" communicated by the words might require a special effort of attention to comprehend. Debareem means "matters" as well as "words." And stand upright; "'stand upon thy standing." Gesenius would render this word when it occurs before (Daniel 8:18), "place;" but both here and there the contrast is in the attitude. From being absolutely prone, as in the eighth chapter, or on hands and knees as here, he is to be upright, and, taking his previous attitude into account, this is not merely to stand where he is, and neither approach nor depart. The LXX. renders, τόπου; Theodotion, στάσει; the Vulgate has gradu. For unto thee am I now sent. This assigns a reason for the command to stand upon his feet. In the Assyrian marbles, however lowly the obeisance made to the monarch by any one admitted to his presence, he stands when he receives the monarch's commands. Standing implies attention. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. He obeyed the command, but still trembling took hold of him in the angelic presence.
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. Both the LXX. and Theodotion insert Kepler before Θεοῦ. This is the more remarkable as Κύριος stands for "Jehovah" usually in the Greek versions—a title rarely occurring in Daniel in, and only in, the prayer of the preceding chapter. This addition does not occur in the Peshitta or Vulgate. He said unto me, Fear not, Daniel. Still the signs of terror were manifest in Daniel, and the angel spoke encouragingly to him. For from the first day, etc. When Daniel had begun his petition to God and his effort to understand God's purpose concerning his people, then God had commissioned Gabriel. The whole process of humiliation, fasting, and prayer was allowed to go on to its completion before Gabriel came, in order to deepen in Daniel the desire for the hoped-for revelation, and thus enhance the joy of it when it came, and, perchance, also to justify to higher intelligences the giving of this special communication (comp. Daniel 9:20) as to the answer being ready even while the petition was being put up. And I am come for thy words. Professor Fuller sees in this an additional tenderness. Zöckler sees in it that in the Divine counsel Gabriel was commissioned, but was hindered for reasons assigned in the next verse.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the ohief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. The rendering of the LXX. is, "And the general (στρατηγὸς) of the King of the Persians withstood me one and twenty days, and behold Michael, one of the first princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the general of the King of the Persians." The sense of Theedotion is nearly the same as the LXX; only he has βασιλείας Περσῶν instead of βασιλέως. Like the LXX; Thee-dotion declares that Michael was left with the Prince of Persia. The Peshitta agrees more with the Massoretic, but, like the LXX. and Theedotion, it is with the "Prince" of Persia that there is some one remaining. The Peshitta here, in opposition to the Greek versions, has the statement that Gabriel remained, not Michael. The Vulgate agrees still further with the Massoretic, only instead of the plural "kings," it has "king." The most important differences are in the last clause, where the LXX. and Theodotion must have had the hiphil of יָתִר where the Massoretic has the niphal. Gratz adopts this reading, which certainly has the advantage of making sense of an otherwise unintelligible passage. Professor Bevan, in his easy way, suggests this to be probably a mere guess, the insertion of αὐτὸν, and the substitution of a transitive for an intransitive verb are quite in the manner of the LXX. translators. He forgets that Theodotion also has this variation, and also that, without any justification from the versions, he himself has suggested various readings. He does not observe that this interpretation affords a reason for Gabriel's presence with Daniel. Michael relieved him in his opposition to the Prince of Persia. The other variant, "prince" instead of "king," has the support of all the versions. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days. That is to say, during the whole of Daniel's fast. The angelology of later Judaism is a very complicated, not to say confused, subject. The angelology of one age is not that of another; and the angelology of the Jews in one country is not that of the Jews in another. The Jews themselves understood that the Babylonian captivity did a great deal to develop the doctrine of the angels; the Jewish tradition was that they brought back from Babylon the names of the angels. Not only had their residence in Babylon defined the Jewish ideas as to the names f the angels, they began to have clearer ideas of their functions. They reached the idea that every race had its guardian angel. This view is expressed in Deuteronomy 32:8, according to the Septuagint, "He set bounds for the nations according to the number of the angels of God." To a similar purport is Ecclus. 17:17, "To each of the nations he appointed a leader, and Israel is the portion of the Lord." There seems, however, a preparation for this in Isaiah 24:21 (comp. also Psalms 29:1; Psalms 106:9). As independent of revelation there is a strong inherent probability that there are races of beings of intelligence and might vastly superior to man, there is nothing inherently improbable in these intelligences being employed by the Almighty in furthering his providential scheme. Men are instruments of God; is it not at least not improbable that, if there are angels, they, too, co-operate with God in the working out of his great purpose? That every nation should have an angelic prince over it is not more extraordinary than that every Church should have a special angel over it (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:2, etc.). That there should be conflicts between these angelic princes is simply to say they are finite. Hitzig's reference to Revelation 12:7 is not to the point, for there is no indication of warlike opposition here. By the indications here, we might judge that the opposition of the Prince of Persia was to the coming of Gabriel to reveal to Daniel the purpose of God. We know nothing of the means employed in the opposition, or of the reason of it. Keil and Kliefoth have the idea that Gabriel was striving to influence the King of Persia, but was hindered in his efforts by the "Prince of Persia;" this is scarcely berne out by the context. But, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me. Michael ("Who is like God?") is, in the twenty-first verse, declared to be the "prince" of the Jewish people, therefore equivalent to "the captain of the host of the Lord" (Joshua 5:14). He is referred to in Revelation 12:7 and Jud Revelation 1:9. Where he is called one of "the chief princes," there is reference to an angelic hierarchy, whether the same as that we find developed in the Book of Enoch or not cannot be decided certainly. In the Book of Tobit 12:15 Raphael declares himself "one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints, and who go in and out before the glory of the Holy One." The Book of Tobit seems to have been written about b.c. 400; hence this is an indication of opinion before the Books of Enoch. In the Enoch books not only are the great angels mentioned, but their names arc given, and functions are assigned to them; but they are numbered as four, not seven. Enoch is posterior to Tobit, and finds a place for Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. We have no means of testing whether the number of the chief angelic princes, of whom Michael was one, was four or seven, according to the opinion of Daniel. From the fact that Enoch is, so to speak, in the direct line of apocalyptic descent from Daniel, and Tobit is not, and, moreover, as the angelology of Tobit is in close connection with the Persian hierarchy of amhaspentas, of which there were seven,—we may regard four as the more genuinely Jewish number. The later Jewish angelology has many Persian elements, as shown by Dr. Kohut, in his 'Angelologie und Demonologie.' Whether the number of the archangels be made four or seven, both Gabriel and Michael are of the number, whereas Gabriel's words would rather indicate that, though Michael belonged to the rank of chief prince, he did not. As we cannot tell the nature of the opposition, we cannot tell the nature of the help afforded. And I remained there with the kings of Persia. It is very difficult to interpret this if we retain the Massoretic reading. In the first place, the sense given to nothartee in the Authorized and Revised is unsuitable. The angel is explaining how, after having delayed three whole weeks, he has now come. The sentence, as interpreted above,would have explained why he could not come at all to Daniel. It is attempted to get over this by explaining that Gabriel had beaten off the "Prince" of Persia, and that Michael remained with the King of Persia instead of him. This view, however, contradicts the function assigned to angels of nations, and implies a quasi-omnipresence on the part of Gabriel, and would render his explanation no explanation. The explanation of Gesenius, Havernick, and yon Lengerke, that nothartee is to be taken as meaning "I received the pre-eminence," as Wirier, "superior discessi apud reges Persarum," has no justification in usage. Gescnius would bring in the Syriac use of the hithpael of this verb, but though both Castell and Brockehuann assign meanings suitable, none of their quotations represents a sense precisely similar to that assigned to the verb here Hitzig's interpretation, "I was delayed," fails to explain his coming. Ewald's explanation, "I was superfluous," is logical, but has no grammatical justification. Professor Bevan's explanation, which would take this last clause as parenthetical, is untenable, as it supplies no redden for the presence of Gabriel with Daniel. We must follow the LXX. and Theodotion in reading, either as Meinhold and Behrmann, וְהוֹתַרְתִּין or better, as Gratz, אִתּוֹ הֹותַרְתִּי, as the vav in the former ease would naturally be read conversively. Besides, Gratz's reading explains the needlessly emphatic אֲנִי. Further, it seems needful to accept the reading of the two Greek versions and the Peshitta, and instead of מַלְכֵי read שד. None of the old versions support the Massoretic; the Vulgate is the nearest; and all of them have either read מֶלֶךְ or regarded מלכי as a form of the construct state, and so vocalized differently. Further, the later context here implies the contiuance of the conflict or controversy (verses 20, 21). We must understand, then, that Gabriel left Michael to maintain the conflict against the angelic "Prince" of Persia, while he came in obedience to Daniel's prayer. We can have but little idea of what is meant by this conflict in the heavenlies between angelic beings.
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. None of the versions call for remark. The Peshitta inserts lesooph, "at the end," before "days." The Massoretic Hebrew has a peculiarity unsupported by the curlier versions: it has "for the days." Of course, these versions may simply have neglected the article, as have our English versions, Authorized and Revised. In the latter drays. Kranichfeld holds that this refers to the tatter portion of the vision in Daniel 8:1-27; not at the end of time. For yet the vision is for many days. Professor Bevan would translate, "since there is yet a vision for the days," i.e. for the days already referred to in the eighth chapter. This would make both clauses have practically the same meaning, which this logical connection implies. There seems no need to take the "end of days," as the end of the world.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. The versions agree with the above. I set my face toward the ground does not mean that Daniel again fell prostrate, but that his eyes naturally sought the ground. And I became dumb. Not to be regarded as equivalent to "I remained silent," though there is nothing in the narrative to indicate that Daniel had been speaking; he may have had the sensation of paralyzed vocal cords. Certainly the verb 'alam means "to be dumb," although, as with ourselves, this phrase dots not mean always physiological dumbness, but simply a silence which, from shyness or fear, one is unable to break. This is the meaning the versions attach to it. The opinion we indicate finds support in the dumbness of Zacharias, the father of John Baptist, after Gabriel appeared to him, and, still more, in what is related in the following verse.
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. The LXX. rendering differs from this, "And behold, as the likeness of the hand of a man"—due, more likely to explanatory paraphrase than to various reading of יר for בני; still the phrase, "a likeness of sons of man," is somewhat violent, and not to be paralleled by Psalms 45:3—"touched my lips, and I opened my mouth, and spake, and I said to him who stood before me, Lord, even when the vision was turned upon my side to me." Clearly צידי (tzeedee) has been read by mistake for צירי (tzeeree). The sense of the Massoretic is difficult; but this is nonsense. "And there was no strength in me," reading איולי instead of עצרתי. Theodotion renders, "And behold, as the likeness of a son of man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth, and spake, and said to him that stood before me, In thy appearance my bowels (τὸ ἐντός μου) were turned in me, and I had no strength." Theodotion has evidently had the singular בֶּן instead of בְנֵי, or perhaps regarded it as a survival of the old form of the construct. It is probably not due to a different reading, but to a different meaning given to צירים, that we have ἐντός. The Peshitta resembles Theodotion very closely, having, however, enosh, "man," instead of "son of man." We have also go', "body," or "viscera," as the translation of tzeereem. The Vulgate renders to the same purport; the last portion of the verse runs thus: In visions tua dissolutas sunt compages meae et nihil in me remansit virium. It also has, in the first clause, similitudo filii hominis. It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that we should read "son of man" instead of "sons of man" Were there any diplomatic or other evidence in favour of the reading of the LXX; it would be much preferable to any other, as we have the description of the visitant whose hand touched Daniel, in verses 5 and 6. Hence the assertion here, that the likeness of a son of man touched him, does not harmonize with this, as it seems to introduce a new person. There is no reference to hands in the description in verses 5 and 6, "the hand as of a man" there would not be the introduction of something already mentioned. Touched my lips. In the previous chapter, verse 21, the angel Gabriel "touches" Daniel. The emphasis of the act, in the present instance, does not be in the fact of touching, but in this—that it was the lips that were touched. In Isaiah 6:6 and Isaiah 6:7 one of the seraphim touches the lips of the prophet with "a live coal from off the altar." In Isaiah the object is purification; in the case before us it is the restoration of the power of speech. Then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me. This is the result of the touch of the angelic hand. O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. "Lord" here is not "Jehovah," but "Adonai"—a title of respect, certainly, but not necessarily of adoration. Theodotion and the Vulgate render "thy vision," understanding by that "thy appearance." The meaning is the same as that of the ordinary reading. Hence it is probably due to a desire to emphasize this rather than to any difference of reading. "My sorrows are turned upon me." This is a term that involves great difficulty. The term is used of the pangs of childbirth (1 Samuel 4:19), and transferred to sorrows (Isaiah 13:8). And this is the sense in which it has generally been taken here; the more readily that in 1 Samuel 4:19 the same phrase is used as here But the sense does not seem very good; the appearance of the angel was not an occasion of sorrow, however much of awe there might be in it. The word has a number of meanings, which it is certainly difficult to bring into relationship with each other. Thus in Proverbs 26:14 it means a "hinge;" in Proverbs 25:13 it means "messenger," and this is the meaning it most frequently bears (Proverbs 13:17; Isaiah 18:2; Jeremiah 49:14; Obadiah 1:1). Neither of these meanings is at all suitable. In Psalms 49:16 we have the word appearing in the K'thib, and translated "beauty;" hence it would be equivalent to הודי (hodee) of Psalms 49:8. The LXX. is out of court. Theodotion, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate differ from each other, so that nothing is to be drawn from them. We would, then, take this phrase as equivalent to that in the eighth verse, "I have retained no strength." This fitly follows up what has been already stated.
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. The LXX. does not preserve the peculiar use of the demonstrative which we have here. Theodotion has it in the second case only; the Peshitta retains it; but the Vulgate omits it altogether. The rendering of neshama by πνεῦμα in the Greek versions may be noted. Jerome renders, halitus. The Aramaic influence is seen in הֵיךְ. (hayeh) instead of אֵיךְ ('ayeh). "How can the servant," etc; exhibits respect and humility. For as for me, etc. This seems not to be part of Daniel's address to the angel, but a note which he has added to indicate his condition while he was speaking. Neither is there breath left in me. There is no certainty whether this is to be taken in the physical or metaphysical sense; whether we should regard the prophet as declaring that awe deprived him of the power of breath, or he felt his consciousness so numbed as that he seemed to be without it.
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. The versions here call for no remark. The prophet still stood, but trembling and powerless, unable to comprehend fully the revelation; but now again the strengthening hand touches him. It cannot be regarded as a strain put upon the meaning here, if we see in this repeated presence of one in the form of man a symbol of Christ, who took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man.
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. The LXX. has its ordinary translation of the phrase rendered, "man greatly beloved (ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινὸς εἶ)." They give three words for the repetition of the command, "be strong:" ὑγίαινε, "be in good health;" ἀνδρίζου, "play the man;" ἴσχυε, "be strong." In the last clause the third person is retained, "Let my lord speak, for he strengthened me"—a change made for symmetry. Theodotion is much closer to the Massoretic text, only he, too, varies the words in the command, and has ἀνδρίζου καὶ ἵσχυε. The Peshitta, like Theodotion, varies the word in the command, In the last clause the verb is put in the passive, "and I was strengthened," For the command the Vulgate has, confortare et esto robustus; but the last clause is in strict agreement with the Massoretic. It is to be noted that the repetition of the imperative, united by ray, is unexampled; the various renderings in the versions point to this being felt a difficulty, but do not suggest any variations of reading. Not only is the strengthening touch given, but consoling words are added, "Be strong, yea, be strong." Daniel was called upon to put forth energy, to summon his forces mental and spiritual. He had received the strengthening touch, but his own volition must go along with the aid divinely afforded. It is the combination which we find in our Lord's life; without faith even the miraculous power of our Lord could not be put forth. As we have noted, there is some uncertainty as to the reading, but no change would alter the sense of the passage, "And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened." The words spoken called forth the power that was latent, and had been imparted to Daniel. And said, Let my lord speak, for thou hast strengthened me. Even to hold converse with angelic beings, entailed expenditure of vital energy. The overpowering sense of the spiritual has to be resisted, at least so far, in order that mental action may go on. Had strength not been imparted, the revelations bestowed would not have produced any permanent impression on the mind.
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. The versions here are in close agreement with the Massoretic text. Theodetion, since he begins the speech of the angel with εἰ, may have read הֵן (hayn), "if," instead of הֲ (ha), the sign of interrogation. The Peshitta has, "to make war," instead of "fight," indicating a beginning of hostilities, not a continuance of them. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? This question appears to be abruptly put, and to be put without awaiting an answer. Probably the meaning would be better brought out by rendering, somewhat colloquially, "You know, don't you? After I have revealed the future to you, I must return." In considering this whole subject, we must beware of taking everything literally. We may not deduce, because of the statement here, that angels are under the limitations of time and space, or that there is actual warfare. We must regard the matter as, to a large extent, figurative. And now will I return to fight with the Prince of Persia. Every one who studies history in a philosophic spirit must see that the progress of the race, the evolution of that ultimate ideal state—the kingdom of heaven among men—is accomplished by successive steps, and over each step a nationality presides. This nationality represents the special moment of spiritual force necessary to secure the new step the race is required to take. While in the lower plane of history the nations themselves do these things; in the higher sphere it is their angels who are the actors. A nation has in it much of the characteristics of a living organism, and the angel of the nation is the life of that organism. As a finite being, the angel of any nation of necessity is imperfect; his knowledge of the Divine plan only limited. His instrument—the nation committed to his charge—is yet more imperfect. Let an imperfect being, however holy, have a piece of work to do, that work must assume, to him, an exaggerated importance; let him be associated as patron with sentient beings, and his affections must go forth to these beings in a special way. He will resist any attempt to limit in any way the function of that race which is specially his, and will be apt to interpret too widely this function, and be loth to recognize that its time is past, or this or that region is beyond its province. If we regard Gabriel as an angel—not of Egypt, as Hitzig, but of the kingdom of heaven, and by this the angel of prophecy (Ewald)—then he must exercise a watchful care over the actions of each nationality, and therefore of its angel, lest the ultimate purpose of God be in any way hindered. The angel of Persia might regard the national semi-independence allowed to the Jews as hindering the evolution of the idea exhibited by the Persian race. The Persian rule allowed races a good deal of licence if tribute were paid. It was required to specialize its treatment of the Jews; to convey them back from Babylon to Palestine; to protect them in Palestine; to assist them to set up a quasi-independence. All this was contrary to the negative character of the Persian rule, in contradiction to its spirit, and therefore opposed by its angel, who represented this spirit. Michael, the special angel of the Jews, naturally came to assist Gabriel. What a conflict between angelic spirits may mean, what may be the weapons of their warfare, we know not; we do know that, though not carnal, they are mighty. And when I am gone forth. To this phrase several meanings have been attached. Havernick, Maurer, and Ewald take it as meaning "going forth to war." Ewald renders, "I will return to contend against the Prince of Persia; so, while I am going forth, the Prince of Javan will come." In this connection it is very doubtful whether יָצָא (yatza') can mean "going forth to battle." Motion to the field of battle is indicated by "return." Yatza' simply means to go from a given place; the purpose may be indicated by some other word. Another view is that of Hitzig, Hofmann, and Bertheau, "to go out," not to, but from "a conflict." This meaning is possible; it would certainly need some determinant to fix this meaning on it, but this may be supplied from the preceding clause. This view, though suiting admirably with the otherwise untenable supposition that the "prince" speaking with Daniel is the angel of Egypt, does not suit with the view that Gabriel, the "prince" talking with Daniel, is the angel of prophecy, and therefore of the ideal kingdom. Keil would take the first meaning of yatza', and would paraphrase thus, "Now shall I return to resume and continue the war with the Prince of Persia; but while I thus go forth to war—while I continue the conflict, the prince of Javan shall come, and then there shall be a new conflict." Yatza' never does mean "to continue a conflict;" it means to begin either a war, a battle, or a campaign. A great deal of the difficulty is due to maintaining that angels are under the time-relation of human beings. The matter is clearer if we take it as meaning simply that when Gabriel went out from the presence of Daniel, the "Prince of Grecia" would come. Lo, the Prince of Grecia shall come. This does not refer to Alexander the Great, or the overthrow of the Persian Empire, still less to the Seleucids and their persecutions. Before his Babylonian reign, Cyrus encountered the Greeks, and roused their opposition. The angel, then, of the Greek nation began to stir up his people. Then came the Ionian revolt, and the successive invasions of Greece, which compelled the Persians to leave the "holy people" alone. The angelic Prince of Grecia appears first as an instrument of the angel of prophecy, to limit the power of Persia. When, after prolonged conflicts, the empire of Persia gives place to that of Greece, the conflict of the people of God must be renewed in a fiercer form.
But I will show 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. The LXX. rendering is, "And in very truth (μάλα) I will show thee the first things in the writing of truth: and there was no one helping with me against these, but Michael the angel." The Septuagint translator read הָרָאשִׁים (hara'sheem), "the heads," instead of הָרָשׁוּם (harashoom), written with a inserted as mater lectionis. Theodotion is in accordance with our English Version. The Peshitta renders, "Yet will I show thee something noted in the writing of truth; and there was none in all these who helped me but Michael your prince." The Vulgate agrees with the Massoretic and the English. But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth. אָבֲל ('abal) is a strongly adversative conjunction. The use of it is explained by Kranichfeld and Zöckler as due to the fears for the theocracy aroused by the thought that the Greek power was rising against Israel. If the idea had been that Gabriel was called to hurry back to his post because of the threatened approach of the Prince of Grecia, then it might be defended; only even then either the fact of the necessity for speedy return to the Persian court would have been emphasized, or the fact that he is delaying to make known the contents of the writing of truth. It is, perhaps, better rendered by "nevertheless," as it is in 2 Chronicles 19:3. We can see the force of this particle by turning to 2 Chronicles 19:7, "I Daniel alone saw the vision, for the men that were with me saw not the vision, but (equivalent to 'nevertheless') a great quaking fell upon them." This clause, we see, then, has all the appearance of being intruded violently into the text; it interrupts the progress of thought, and does not suit the context. There is no indication that he, Gabriel, will have to hasten back to the court of Persia with such rapidity as would necessitate the introduction of אֲבָל ('abal), "nevertheless." But even so, why revert in the next clause to the contents of verse 20, without the slightest indication that the line of thought in the past clause was dropped as soon as taken up? The last clause of this verse reads much better in connection with verse 20 than with verse 21a. Behrmann transposes the clauses in this verse, so as to get over tiffs difficulty, and Professor M. Stuart puts the first clause in brackets. "The scripture of truth" is a phrase that might have been suggested by Psalms 139:16, "In thy book were all my members written." It is in line with a great number of phrases in apocalyptic literature; thus Enoch Psalms 93:1, "And after that Enoch began to recount from the books;" the Book of Jubilees, 1:24; 4:31; 5:15, etc; "the tablets of the heavens." The idea was that all the events that were to happen in the world's history were record, d beforehand in the books or tablets of the heavens. It is from failing to notice this that the late Professor Fuller was led to say "the scripture of truth "is the title for the ensuing section. Against this view is the preposition "in;" it is in the scripture of truth, among other matters, that these things are noted which form the succeeding section. At the same time, the form the representation of the heavenly books, which note beforehand what was to happen, assumes here is simpler than that in Enoch or the Book of Jubilees. And there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. As we have above said, this clause is closely connected with verse 20. In these things. This is rendered in the Revised Version "against these," in accordance with the majority of recent commentators, Ewald, Hitzig, Fuller, Zöckler, Bevan, Stuart, Kranlohfeld Keil, Kliefoth, Behrmann, etc; and, among older commentators, Jephet-ibn-Ali; but none of the older versions have it. The LXX. renders, ὑπὲρ τούτων; Theodotion, περὶ τούτων; the Peshitta has the preposition; the Vulgate renders, in his omnibus. With these Calvin agrees, though Luther renders, wider jene. Certainly, the most common meaning of עַל in such a connection is "against." So, notwithstanding the weight of the versions, we feel constrained to translate, "against these persons," and not "in regard to these things." In the first place, "in" is a far less frequent meaning of the preposition, and next, אֵלֵה (aylayh), "these," most naturally refers to the persons last named. Although "the Prince of Grecia" was to be the instrument of the overthrow of the power of Persia, it was to become oppressive afterwards, as had been revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and the he-goat. Gabriel, the angel of prophecy, the special guardian of God's great ideal kingdom of heaven, was assisted in his guardianship only by Michael, the angelic Prince of Israel. The fact that along the line of the development of Israel as a nation ran, so far at least, the Divine plan concerning the kingdom of heaven, made it natural that Michael should favour that which furthered the interests of the race that was more specially under his care. As we have already said, we cannot even guess at the nature of these angelic conflicts.
Daniel 10:2, Daniel 10:8
The exercise of fasting seems to grow out of natural spiritual instincts, as it is found in nearly all religions, and is not forbidden but recognized and regulated in the teaching of Christ and his apostles (Luke 5:35; Acts 13:2, Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23). It is, however, an exercise which is surrounded with erroneous ideas, and which needs to be cleared of them before it can be admitted as healthy and profitable. Let us notice—
I. SOME ABUSES OF THE EXERCISE OF FASTING.
1. Ostentatious fasting. Such was the vulgar fasting of the Pharisees Ostentation in regard to an expression of deep spiritual feelings tends to destroy those very feelings. The study of "effect" and anxiety about the good opinion of men directly counteracts the influence of those emotions of spiritual grief and shame before God which fasting is supposed to express. Thus ostentatious lasting becomes hypocritical (Matthew 6:16).
2. Formal fasting. Fasting which implies no real self-denial, though certain rules of abstinence are observed, is a mockery, and, if it is relied on for religions efficacy, a superstitious rite. It is then only a bodily exercise, and can have no spiritual force (1 Timothy 4:8).
3. Meritorious fasting.
(1) If we are to depend on God's mercy, it is foolish to think that we can win this by any meritorious actions.
(2) Even if we could merit anything from God, it would be by useful service, not by merely putting ourselves to inconvenience. There is no merit in self-denial for its own sake. We cannot please God by simply displeasing ourselves. Any idea of the kind is a relic of the terror-worship of cruel deities.
4. Holiness in fasting. There is a foolish conceit with some people that fasting is more holy than natural living. But Christ teaches us that nature is holy and that joy is holy. Holiness does not imply abstinence, but purity and temperance.
II. THE RIGHT EXERCISE OF FASTING.
1. Involuntary fasting. Strong emotion destroys natural bodily appetite. Sorrow, especially, has this purely physical effect. Thus fasting is often a natural result of certain religious emotions. There is a sense of harmony which makes lawful worldily pleasures distasteful at a season of spiritual darkness. At such times fasting is exercised by instinct. Daniel was in sorrow; therefore he fasted.
2. Fasting to assist repentance. This is not undertaken to win merit with God, but simply for its effect on our own souls. The feeling of repentance is often too ephemeral. It is soon counteracted by the influx of other influences from the world without. Yet there are times when a man becomes convinced of some great sin. He may then find his compunction deepened and his repentance strengthened if for a season he abstains from lawful bodily comforts.
3. Fasting to assist spiritual thought. This cannot be enforced as a duty nor recommended for universal practice. But experience teaches that there are persons whose spiritual perceptions are quickened while their bodily nature is restrained. For all of us the full indulgence of appetite—even when this does not lead to what is called excess—deadens the spiritual energies.
4. Mental fasting. It is sometimes well to abstain from active thinking, from the assertion of our own inclinations and reasonings, and to become passive recipients of truth, as it is borne in to the mind by the influences of nature and the active communings of the Divine Spirit (Zechariah 2:13).
Daniel 10:18, Daniel 10:19
I. THE NEED OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
1. In trouble. It is difficult to work bravely and earnestly in the midst of calamity. The calamities of Israel were discouragements in the way of the service of God.
2. In guilt. Daniel had been confessing the sins of himself and his nation (Daniel 9:5). Nothing is so depressing as the feeling of failure and the knowledge that it has come by our own fault.
3. In weakness. The burden of the mystery of life oppresses all who feel it, as it oppressed Daniel. Before the needs of the world and the tasks of life the strongest man may well feel weak in his own resources, and then his weakness may damp his zeal for service.
4. In fear. When the mystery of the future begins to unveil itself and future troubles appear to be drawing near, the vagueness with which they are seen magnifies the terror of them. The fear which is then roused paralyzes our energies.
II. THE SOURCES OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
1. They are found in God. God sends the angel to strengthen Daniel Until we know God, we dread his presence; but when we know him, the more we enter into his presence, the more peace and confidence shall we receive.
2. They spring from the love of God. Daniel is "greatly beloved." The assurance of God's love is his greatest encouragement. If we know God loves us, we may be assured that he will ward off all real harm, and thus we may lose our fear in his love (1 John 4:18).
3. They flow to us through channels of brotherly sympathy. "One like the appearance of a man" touched Daniel. God comes to us in "the Son of man," and through the brotherly sympathy of Christ communicates his Divine encouragement.
4. They manifest themselves by practical results in communicating real strength. Daniel was strengthened. There is a real supply of spiritual strength which is bestowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The encouragement this gives is not only in idea, it is in fact. The weak man is encouraged by finding himself becoming strong in the strength of God (Isaiah 40:29; 2 Corinthians 12:10).
III. THE WAY TO OBTAIN DIVINE ENCOURAGEMENT.
1. By humility and contritions. Daniel had humbled himself and confessed sin, and thus was prepared for God's help. We can only be filled with God's strength when we are emptied of our own self-confidence.
2. By prayer. Daniel was a man of prayer (verse 12). God encourages us in proportion as we seek his help.
3. By faith As we trust God, he strengthens us, because his strength is spiritual and can only enter us as we voluntarily submit to his influence (Hebrews 11:33, Hebrews 11:34).
HOMILIES BY H.T. ROBJOHNS
Daniel 10:1-12, Daniel 10:14-19
The vision of the Christ.
"I was left alone, and saw this great vision" (Daniel 10:8). It is well to begin by clearing up the context. We have now only one more prophecy in Daniel. This occupies the eleventh chapter. The tenth contains a prologue to the prophecy; the twelfth, an epilogue. In Daniel 10:1 the character of the prophecy is indicated:
1. Its subject-matter is afflictive. "The conflict is great." It covers a time of great calamities (see the Hebrew).
2. The prophecy was to be unusually intelligible. "And he understood the word, and understanding was there to him in the vision." Some haze of mystery there might be, but not the thick darkness which had enrobed preceding revelations.
3. It would certainly be true. "A word was revealed to Daniel … and true the word." The prophecy of Daniel 11:1-45. is the most minute of Scripture; and hence men have been tempted to disbelieve in it as prophecy, and to regard it as prophecy written after the event, lien might have disregarded it before fulfilment; hence Daniel gives this assurance. We now here concern ourselves with Daniel's vision of the Christ.
I. THE SCENE OF THE VISION On the Tigris. The first migration to Jerusalem had taken place. Daniel's advanced age made it, perhaps, impossible that he should have joined in it. He may have been on the Tigris:
1. Either on an embassage.
2. Or retired from all official life.
II. THE TIME OF THE VISION.
1. Two years after the first migration back from captivity (verse 1).
2. A time of sorrow. Mourning was usually for seven days: Daniel mourned for three times seven. Fasting, etc. Why? Realize the circumstances. The temple was indeed rising; but neighbouring peoples were exerting all their influence with the Persian king to frustrate the work. Therefore anxiety and fear. Daniel's affliction would be in proportion as success seemed certain. Good men grieve over slow progress of the Divine kingdom, and the fierceness of the opposition.
3. Time of the Passover. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month came the vision. We infer that Daniel had consecrated the first three weeks of the new year to devotion. This included the Passover week—a time of unusual solemnity—when he would be in earnest sympathy with his nation.
III. THE VISION. That this was none other than the vision of Christ the Lord appears:
1. From the after-developments of the scene.
2. From a comparison with the vision of Christ in the Apocalypse. (Revelation 1:1-20.)
Compare the two descriptions of clothing—the girdle, the countenance, the eyes, the feet, the voice. Daniel adds, "His body also was like the beryl." John adds, "His head and his hairs were white," etc. In drawing out the description into detail, note: the clothing was of the finest, purest—the garb of priests, prophets, saints, and angels; the uncovered portions of the body shone with gemlike splendour; all the symbols suggest light-splendour; the girdle of fine gold; the arms and feet "like the eye of polished brass," the part that catches the blaze of sunlight and throws it back; the face as lightning, and the eyes as fire; the voice majestic. All this may be spiritually expanded.
IV. THE EFFECT OF THE VISION.
1. On the companions of the seer. (Verse 7.) Compare effect on Paul's companions on the way to Damascus, of the vision of the same Christ.
2. On the seer. (Verses 8, 9.) He swooned; but the mighty voice came rolling into his ear, as the roar of ocean breaks into the caves upon the shore. Here we have a picture of the inability of man to stand before the unveiled revelations of God (comp. Revelation 1:17).
V. THE RESTORING OF CHRIST THE LORD. Christ:
1. Sets man erect in the presence of Divine revelations. (Verse 11.) No need of cringing. We ourselves are made. in the image of God, and have affinity with the Divine.
2. He does so gradually. Daniel was first flat on his face; then on all fours; then half-raised and trembling; and finally stood upright on his feet. In this, see how man is gradually led up to all the light which God has to give. In heaven the unveiling may be gradual (verses 9, 10, 11).
3. Sympathetically. "Behold, a hand touched me" (verses 10, 16-19).
4. Assures man that his devout aspirations are recognized beyond the sky. Daniel's was the attitude of a devout truth-seeker. He "had set his heart to understand," and "to chasten himself before his God." We should have more uniformity of Scripture interpretation, were the interpreter always of this spirit.
5. And of the sure answer to his prayers. (Verse 12.) As soon as prayer was offered, it was heard, and secret agencies were evoked for its answer; but there were many obstacles to be overcome. The later part of the chapter shows this. So may it ever be, before our prayers can be answered, long lines and combinations of secondary causes may have to he set in operation, and formidable hostilities subdued. Patience in waiting for, as well as faith in expecting, the answer, are both necessary in the matter of prayer.—R.
Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20-ch. 11:1
War in the realm supernatural.
"And now will I return to fight with the Prince of Persia" (Daniel 11:20). In these verses we have opened out the fact that there is war in the realm supernatural. To understand them, it is absolutely necessary to revise the English version. We read thus: "And the prince of the kingdom of Persia stood against me twenty and one days, and behold Michael one of the chief princes came to help me, and I gained the superiority there by the side of the kings of Persia And he said, Dost thou know why I came unto thee? And now I will return to war with the Prince of Persia, and while I [thus] go forth [to war], behold the Prince of Javan will come. But yet I will show to thee that which is written in the book of truth. And not one is there showing himself strong with me against these [the princes of Persia and Javan] except Michael your prince; I also in the first year of Darius the Mode stood in order to strengthen and for a fortress to him" (i.e. Michael). This reading of ours is necessary to make clear the meaning of our homiletical culture. Lest any should be surprised at the fulness of the revelation in Daniel as to angels and the angel-world, we may observe that there are two epochs in Hebrew history, when angels are specially prominent.
1. The time of the judges. Destitute of direct revelation or prophetic guidance.
2. The period of the Captivity. One of special trial, incident to contact wit h heathenism.
I. THE ANTAGONISTS.
1. On the side of God.
(1) The Angel-God. The Loges. The "certain man" of verse 5. The Lord Jesus. The speaker throughout (verses 13, 20—Daniel 11:1).
(2) Michael. His name means, "Who is like unto God?" and implies that, however high is the scale of being, there is an infinite distance between him and God (see Daniel 12:1; Jud Daniel 1:7; Revelation 12:7). The following propositions seem clear about him: He is not the Loges; for he is here distinguished from him. "One of the chief princes," one of the principal in the hierarchy of heaven. "Your prince," the angelic representative and guardian of the Jewish nation. "The great prince who standeth for the children of thy people." An archangel.
2. On the side of the world. The "princes" here named are the supernatural power standing behind the daimoniae, who stood behind the national gods, and were represented by them. They are spirits of evil, inspiring the worldly anti-Divine action of the great empires of earth.
(1) The "Prince of Persia."
(2) The Prince of Javan; i.e. Greece.
II. THE WAR. The war was on behalf of Israel, and may be described as being prosecuted through three supernatural campaigns. We consider them separately.
1. The first campaign. (Daniel 11:1.)
(1) The antagonist. Not mentioned here by name, but, following the analogy of the rest of the description, is certainly the celestial "Prince" of Babylonia.
(2) The casus belli. The occasion of conflict. This, doubtless, was the necessity of placing on the Babylonian throne one who would be favourable to the return of Israel from the Captivity.
(a) Michael carried on the war.
(b) The Christ supported him.
This order is reversed in the next campaign.
(4) The victory. Lies with the Divine in every case.
2. The second campaign. (Verse 15.)
(1) The antagonist. "The Prince of Persia.'
(2) The casus belli. The obstruction raised against the restoration of the temple, at the instigation of Israel's enemies.
(a) This campaign was carried on by the Angel-God himself.
(b) But aided by Michael. Here should be noted the doctrine that angels and men may be co-workers together with God.
(c) Was synchronous with Daniel's prayer. All the way through the twenty-one days the prayer was being answered through a mighty conflict carried on in a higher world.
(4) The victory. Specially mentioned: "And I gained the superiority there by the side of the kings of Persia."
3. The third campaign. (Verses 20, 21.)
(1) The antagonists. The "princes" of Persia and Javan.
(2) The casus belli. All that, in their worldliness, was attempted by Persia afterwards, by Greece, by Alexander and his successors, especially Antiochus, to the sore detriment of the Jewish people.
(3) A speciality. Only Michael in this great contention was on the Christ-side. Note:
(a) There is, then, liberty in heaven as on earth to do or not to do—to go forth to war or to rest in peace.
(b) Michael made a noble use of liberty.
(c) By endowment he towered above others "One of the chief princes."
(d) Therefore to him were great responsibilities entrusted. He was made the guardian spirit of the Hebrew nation and Church. "To whom much is given" etc; seems to be a law of all moral worlds. "Michael your prince." "To a subordinate spirit God will not entrust a work demanding special power and greatness."
(4) The victory. Again not expressly mentioned, but sure.
The following deductions from the whole subject should, perhaps, have special mention and emphasis:
1. The Church has many and powerful enemies.
2. It abides under most powerful protection. What Michael was to Israel of old, that, and more than that, is the Lord Jesus to Israel now; and he has many helpers.
3. Its destiny is in conflict in the worlds above, as well as here below.
4. In the holy war here, the humblest may take a share. The Son of God stooped to avail himself of the help of Michael; so he ever stoops to accept the humblest contribution, the lowliest service.
"The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar;
Who follows in his train?"
HOMILIES BY J.D. DAVIES
Man's foolish terror in the presence of a heavenly visitor.
In accepting the testimony of others, with respect to matters beyond the reach of our own senses and experience, we must be satisfied on three points.
(1) Is the subject-matter of the testimony opposed to reason?
(2) Was the witness himself deceived?
(3) Is the witness truthful? Now, on all these points the record of Daniel is thoroughly reliable.
The matter of this vision is most reasonable in itself. We have an accumulation of proof that Daniel was not deceived. It was not a subjective hallucination, but an objective reality. As evidence of Daniel's thorough truthfulness, he places on record the minutest circumstances of time and place. If there had been any inaccuracy here it would have been detected in the age while Daniel's contemporaries were yet alive. In many parts of the narrative we have the confirmations of secular historians; and best evidence of all have we that this was a real visit of an angel, viz. that his predictions of events have been verified in history.
I. THERE WAS PERSONAL PREPARATION TO RECEIVE THIS HEAVENLY VISION. The habit which Daniel formed in youth was of inestimable service to him in old age. Incidentally we may observe how self-consistent are the several parts of this prophetical book. The flesh has always been, more or less, hostile to the spirit. Daniel had wisely repressed and held in control his bodily appetites in the days of his youth; and by reason of this the finer feelings and loftier faculties of his soul had been gradually developed. The practice of abstinence and self-denial had become easy. Yet he did not abstain from food because the act possessed in itself any meritorious excellence. He abstained because his soul was so absorbed in nobler occupation that appetite had lost its edge and food its charm. We are not told the particular reason of this long mourning, yet we can easily infer that his grief was excited by the depressed condition of his people Israel. Self had long since been sacrificed on the altar of his God. He rejoiced in Israel's joy; he mourned in Israel's sorrow. Such tears clear the eye of the soul for the perception of heavenly things.
II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE VISION. It was the vision of a celestial being, in the form and raiment of a man. To what extent this august person, as he appeared to Daniel, appeared in his native essence, or accommodated himself to human eyes, no living man can say. Whether the unfallen angels have any definite form apprehensible to human eyes, is a question more curious than important. But certain it is that in many vital respects men resemble angels. They have understanding of God's works. They can appreciate truth. Both angels and regenerate men love righteousness and hate wickedness. Both are gifted with benevolence. Both have conscience, affection, choice, will. Here are ample grounds for intercourse and friendship—a joint occupation of heaven. In this resplendent vision we may see what ransomed man shall be. Precious stones, fire, electric flame, burnished brass,—these are the emblems of our transfigured nature. Earthly dulness and deformity shall give place to the refinements of celestial splendour. What we call, in our ignorance, supernatural, is but Nature in her higher forms and essences. Whether communication of thought among the angels is by means of outward signs—something akin to words—we cannot tell. On this occasion there was not only the form of a glorious man, there was also the language of a man and the sympathy of a man. To accommodate themselves to the necessities of men is a delight to angelic natures as it is to God.
III. THE STRANGE EFFECTS OF THIS VISION UPON MEN. One might have supposed that this visit of a heavenly stranger would be to Daniel, if not to his attendants, an occasion of unmixed delight. It was, without doubt, a special mark of God's favour. When we wish to show a distinguishing mark of respect to a friend we send our messages, not by a menial servant, but by a person of distinction. And that God should have sent a special despatch to Daniel—not a mere voice, not a human messenger, not an ordinary angel—but Gabriel himself, this ought to have been welcomed as a high mark of Divine kindness. To be assured that God has other orders of servants beside ourselves, this is a pleasure. To be assured that these nobler and more loyal natures regard us, not as dangerous rivals of their privileges, but as fellow-heirs of their home, this ought to be rich delight. On what ground, then, does this pious man shrink from contact with this glorious servant of Jehovah? We can conceive of no other ground than this, viz. the sense of personal sin. Notwithstanding Daniel's penitence for sin, and his faith in God's mercy, there yet remained the consciousness of great unworthiness. Hence a messenger from God may be an instrument to visit just recompense. Still, we must note that the effect o, Daniel was very different from the effect on his companions. At the sound of the angel's overpowering voice the attendants on this aged statesman fled. Regardful chiefly of their own safety, they fled to hide themselves. Like the Gravelling companions of St. Paul, they heard a voice but saw no person. There is such a thing, even in our present life, as a refinement of the bodily senses—a development and quickening of the sensitive capacity—to discern immaterial things. On the eve of the Saviour's crucifixion the Father's voice pierced the blue welkin. Bystanders, with dull and stolid souls, said that it thundered. Others, having a finer perception of things, caught an articulate sound, and averred that an angel spake. Yet One at least detected the very words, and recognized them as the response of the eternal God. Daniel's senses were overpowered by the splendour of this distinguished visitor. Strength failed him. He was prostrate with awe, yet his mind was awake and active, so that he heard the words which this glorious spirit spake.
IV. THE PROOFS THAT THIS VISION HAD AN OBJECTIVE REALITY. The votaries of science make a demand for facts. Theologians respond to the demand, and supply them with facts in abundance—facts which cannot be gainsaid. Here was the fact that Daniel's companions heard a voice so novel and so startling that they ran to hide themselves—a type this of what guilty men do in every age of the world. Here was the fact of which Daniel's eye was witness, the fact to which Daniel's ear testified, the fact to which Daniel's sense of touch responded. Here is an accumulation of evidence—one faculty corroborated the testimony of another faculty. Here were facts attested by the organs of his body, and confirmed by all the powers of his mind. Here were facts which entered into the inmost experiences of the man—clear answers to prayer, which satisfied his wish, and expanded his knowledge, and invigorated his hope. Here were facts predicted which, in due time, were verified in the actual history of the nations. If anything in history or in science is credible, this is certain—that Daniel's vision was no subjective illusion, no hallucination of the brain, but an objective reality. He obtained positive information, which has served ever since for the instruction of mankind. He received from his distinguished visitor strength—a positive communication of blessing. Here are solid facts, which refuse to evaporate before the breath of honest inquiry.—D.
Variety of angelic service.
It is quite legitimate for us to reason from God's conduct towards men in the past to his probable conduct towards men now. If in his wisdom he employed his angels to be ministers of good to Daniel and to Israel two thousand years ago, we may conclude that it is an exercise of wisdom to do the like to-day. Perfect wisdom will only change its plans, so far as new circumstances and needs arise. Hence there is instruction and consolation for us in this Scripture.
I. ANGELS ARE EMPLOYED TO BRING TO MEN ASSURANCE OF THEIR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. This angel, who was probably Gabriel, was commissioned to assure Daniel that he was "greatly beloved." Every doubt upon that head was completely removed. The angel knew what were God's dispositions of mind towards Daniel, and he was empowered to convey the intelligence. There is nothing unreasonable in this; no improbability that beings of refined nature exist in nearer relation to God than do men; no improbability that they perform acts of service for men. That which is naturally probable is made certain by the written revelation. It is often the case that we cannot account for our moods of feeling, our hopefulness and our despondency, by any known events. Who shall say that these states of mind are not the result of angelic visitation? That we are not conscious of the presence of angels is no proof that they do not visit us. Their ethereal natures may be impervious to human sight, except by miraculous interposition. Elisha's servant did not perceive the angelic host sent for their protection until God had specially opened his eyes. Once and again this angel assured Daniel of his interest in God's love, charged him to dismiss his fears, and brought to him heavenly peace.
II. ANGELS ARE EMPLOYED TO INFORM THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. One main object of Gabriel's visit to Daniel was to shed light upon passing events, and to enlarge Daniel's comprehension of God's government. So high was God's esteem for Daniel, that Gabriel was despatched on purpose to dislodge ignorance and doubt from his mind. He assures him that the want of visible answer to prayer is no proof that God has not heard, nor that he is unwilling to reply. On the contrary, Daniel's prayer had taken effect from the very beginning, and measures were at once set in motion in accordance therewith. The prayers and lastings of good men are links (ordained by God) in the chain of causes and effects. As soon as man interceded for Israel, Gabriel was despatched on business of high importance to the kingdom of Persia. And Gabriel was further charged to unfold to Daniel what was in the volume of God's purposes—the series of vicissitudes through which Israel would be destined to pass. God's thoughts were loftier than Daniel's; his designs had a wider scope and range than his servant's. Nothing short of the establishment of permanent righteousness will satisfy God.
III. ANGELS ARE EMPLOYED TO INCREASE OUR STRENGTH. It is noteworthy that as Daniel's needs arose one after the other, the angel was prepared to meet each one. Daniel was prostrate; the angel set him upright. Daniel was so stunned with the intelligence, that he was dumb; the angel opened his mouth, and gave him speech. Daniel fainted under a sense of awe and wonder; the angel imparted new strength with his touch. We are impressed with the considerateness, the tenderness, the thoughtful sympathy, of this angelic visitor. There was strength imparted to his physical nature by a touch; there was strength imparted to his soul by the angel's words. According to the constitution of man's nature is the agency employed by God. The angel who strengthened Christ Jesus in the garden of suffering can also strengthen us.
IV. ANGELS ARE ENGAGED TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE CHURCH IN PALACES AND IN COUNCILS OF STATE. There are times when they can best serve us, not at our side, but at a distance from us. Probably Daniel was agitated in soul, because for three weeks no sign of answer came from heaven. Yet, all the while, answer had come, though he was unconscious of it. Daniel was concerned, not for himself, but for the well-being and fortunes of Israel. But he might rest assured that God had more at heart these interests—than man, however zealous, ever can. This report of Gabriel opens to our minds a new view of angelic ministration. It is evident that they do perform their service on earth, for the most part, unseen by human eyes. Gabriel had been with the kings and statesmen of Persia. So important to Israel's well-being was his presence in that court, that for three weeks he had remained there. His power was limited; he could not be in two places at once, nor could he accomplish his mission without the assistance of Michael. For the time being, it was better that Daniel should remain in ignorance of the fact. His continued fasting and prayer were essential to complete success. In what fashion Gabriel rendered service we are not told. Most probably he had power to influence the views, the motives, the ambitious of men. A thousand subtle agencies were at his command, by which he could direct the counsels of men and bring about the purposes of God. Angelic influence, then, is a factor in state concerns which we do well not to ignore.
V. ANGELS HAVE OFTEN TO CONTEND WITH EVIL SPIRITS IN FULFILLING THE BEHESTS OF GOD. There can be little doubt that the language here employed by Gabriel, viz. "the prince of the kingdom of Persia," refers to one of the leading spirits of darkness, one of the fallen angels. There are principalities and powers in hell. Satan is termed the "prince of this world," "the prince of the power of the air." An antagonist of Gabriel would be fittingly an evil spirit. Gabriel speaks of fighting with him. There was hot warfare. So we read in the Epistle of Jude that Michael disputed with the devil about the body of Moses. That some bold and crafty spirit, in the confederate host of hell, should be told off to do some particular evil work is probable enough; and that such, having subordinates under him, should be styled leader or prince of a particular earthly empire is equally probable. This earth, then, is the scene of mighty conflicts. Angels here have their combats as well as men. Here, perhaps, is being fought out the crucial conflict between the Creator and his rebellious creatures—the conflict between righteousness and wickedness. Gabriel, though "excelling in power," is not omnipotent. Some things even an angel alone cannot do. They learn that in union is strength. Michael is sent to help him—Michael, who is set apart as the prince or protector of Israel. Gabriel cannot be long spared from the particular scene of conflict. During a temporary truce he visits Daniel This accomplished, he returns to the troublous scene in the court of Persia.—D.