Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Daniel 9:2

in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jeremiah;   Jerusalem;   Prophecy;   Prophets;   Seventy;   Thompson Chain Reference - Daniel;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Time;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Daniel;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Canon;   Daniel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Understanding;   Word;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Reconciliation;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Captivity;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Canon of the Old Testament;   Captivity;   Chronicles, the Books of;   Chronology;   Daniel, the Book of;   Ezra, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Abomination, Abomination of Desolation;   Book(s);   Daniel, Book of;   Ezekiel;   Seventy Years;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bible;   Book;   Daniel, Book of;   Number;   Prayer;   Thessalonians, Second Epistle to the;   Writing;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   Fulfilment;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jubilee;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Scripture;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bible;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Accomplish;   Bible, the;   Canon of the Old Testament;   Jeremiah (1);   Libraries;   Number;   Seventy Years;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Belshazzar;   Bible Canon;   Eschatology;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for February 17;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I Daniel understood by books - The prophecy referred to here is found Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 29:10. The people must have been satisfied of the Divine inspiration of Jeremiah, or his prophecies would not have been so speedily collected nor so carefully preserved. It appears that there was a copy of them then in Daniel's hands.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/daniel-9.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I Daniel understood by books - By the sacred books, and especially by the writings of Jeremiah. It has been made a ground of objection to the genuineness of Daniel that he mentions “books” in this place (ספרים sephârı̂ym ) as if there were at that time a collection of the sacred books, or as if they had been enrolled together in a volume. The objection is, that the writer speaks as if the canon of the Scriptures was completed, or that he uses such language as the Hebrews did when the canon of the Scriptures was finished, and thus betrays himself. See Bertholdt, “Commentary” p. 78. Compare DeWette, “Einl.” Section 13. This objection has been examined by Hengstenberg, “Beitrag.” pp. 32-35. It is sufficient to reply to it, that there is every probability that the Jews in Babylon would be in possession of the sacred books of their nation, and that, though the canon of the Scriptures was not yet completed, there would exist private collections of those writings. The word used here by Daniel is just such as he would employ on the supposition that he referred to a private collection of the writings of the prophets. Compare Lengerke, in loc. See the Introduction, where the objection is examined.

The number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah - The number of the years in respect to which the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah; that is, which he had revealed to Jeremiah. The “books” referred to, therefore, were evidently a collection of the writings of Jeremiah, or a collection which embraced his writings.

That he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem - That Jerusalem would so long lie waste. This was expressly declared by Jeremiah Jeremiah 25:11-12: “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity,” etc. So also Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” The time of the desolation and of the captivity, therefore, was fixed and positive, and the only difficulty in determining when it would “close,” was in ascertaining the exact year when it “commenced.” There were several occurrences which might, perhaps, be regarded as the beginning of the desolations and the captivity - the “terminus a quo ” - and, according as one or another of them was fixed on, the close would be regarded as nearer or more remote.

Daniel, it seems, by close study, had satisfied his own mind on that subject, and had been able to fix upon some period that was undoubtedly the proper beginning, and hence, compute the time when it would close. The result showed that his calculation was correct, for, at the time he expected, the order was given by Cyrus to rebuild the city and temple. When he instituted this inquiry, and engaged in this solemn act of prayer, it would have been impossible to have conjectured in what way this could be brought about. The reigning monarch was Cyaxares II, or, as he is here called, Darius, and there was nothing in “his” character, or in anything that he had done, that could have been a basis of calculation that he would favor the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the city, and there was then no probability that Cyrus would so soon come to the throne, and nothing in his character, as known, that could be a ground of hope that he would voluntarily interpose, and accomplish the Divine purposes and promises in regard to the holy city. It was probably such circumstances as these which produced the anxiety in the mind of Daniel, and which led him to offer this fervent prayer; and his fervent supplications should lead us to trust in God that he will accomplish his purposes, and should induce us to pray with fervour and with faith when we see no way in which he will do it. In all cases he can as easily devise a way in answer to prayer, as he could remove Cyaxares from the throne, and incline the heart of Cyrus to undertake the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/daniel-9.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

In the first year of his reign,.... Which was also the first of Cyrus, who was partner with him in the kingdom; in which year ended the seventy years' captivity of the Jews, and proclamation was made to have their liberty to go up to Jerusalem, and build the temple, Ezra 1:1, reckoning from the third, or the beginning of the fourth, of Jehoiakim king of Judah, when the desolation of the land began, and Daniel himself was carried captive; and which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, during whose reign, and that of his son, and son's son, the Jews were to be detained captives, Daniel 1:1.

I Daniel understood by books; the sacred Scriptures, which, though a prophet, he was not above reading; and, though a prime minister of state, yet found time to look into these divine oracles; which he read, studied, thoroughly considered, and well weighed in his mind; whereby he came to have knowledge of

the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem; Daniel might possibly have heard this prophecy of Jeremiah from his own mouth, before he went to Babylon; since the first intimation of it was in the first year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 27:1, and after this the prophecy might be sent to Babylon for the use of the captive Jews there; and indeed a copy of all his prophecies was no doubt brought thither at the last captivity of the people; so that it is easy to account for it how Daniel came by it; and it is plain it was now before him; for he uses the very word, חרבות, "desolations", which Jeremiah does, Jeremiah 25:9, the prophecy of the seventy years' captivity, and of deliverance from it at the expiration of that term, stands in Jeremiah 25:12, which Daniel carefully read over, thoroughly considered, and as he full well knew what was the epoch of them, or when they begun, he found that they were just ready to expire; and this set him to the work of prayer, as in the following verses. From hence it is manifest that the law was not burnt, nor the Scriptures lost, in the Babylonish captivity; so that none knew what were or would be done by the Lord, as is falsely asserted in the Apocrypha:

"For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the work that shall begin. &c.' (2 Esdras 14:21)

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/daniel-9.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by c books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

(c) For even though he was an excellent Prophet, yet he daily increased in knowledge by the reading of the scriptures.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/daniel-9.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

understood by books — rather, “letters,” that is, Jeremiah‘s letter (Jeremiah 29:10) to the captives in Babylon; also Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 25:12; compare 2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 31:38. God‘s promises are the ground on which we should, like Daniel, rest sure hope; not so as to make our prayers needless, but rather to encourage them.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/daniel-9.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

By books — By the sacred books.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/daniel-9.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

seventy years

Cf. Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 25:12. (See Scofield "Jeremiah 25:11").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Daniel 9:2". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/daniel-9.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Daniel 9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Ver. 2. I Daniel understood by books.] Consideravi in libris. Daniel was a great student in the Scriptures, and well knew that there was no readier way to speed in heaven than by putting the promises in suit. The like also was done by Jacob; [Genesis 32:9; Genesis 32:12] {See Trapp on "Genesis 32:9"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 32:12"} [2 Samuel 7:19; 2 Samuel 7:25] by Eliah, [1 Kings 18:42-44] and others. If we speak in our prayers no otherwise than the Lord doth in his promises, there shall be a sweet concert of voice, begun by the Spirit in the promises, seconded in the spirit of faith by the saints’ prayers, and answered by God in his gracious providences. Daniel here took this course; and had not only what he begged, but a revelation concerning the Lord Christ beyond expectation.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/daniel-9.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Daniel 9:2. I Daniel understood by books Daniel had with him in the captivity the holy Scriptures, and in particular the prophesies of Jeremiah, which he here calls so many books: he refers more particularly to the 25th and 29th chapters of that prophet. We may hence observe, that the later prophets studied the writings of the former, for the more perfect understanding of the times when their prophesies were to be fulfilled. Daniel saw a part of Jeremiah's prediction fulfilled, by the vengeance which the Lord had taken upon the house of Nebuchadnezzar; but he saw no appearance of that deliverance of the people of Israel which the prophet foretold. This was the cause of his uneasiness, and the motive of his prayers.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/daniel-9.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Understood by books; by sacred books, both of Jeremiah the prophet, Jeremiah 25:11,12 29:10; so also the Pentateuch, which he had, as is plain, Daniel 9:10-13, &c.; by which we see this great prophet did not disdain to study the word of God, and the state of the church of God, though he had the converse and revelation of angels, and though he was in a heathen court, and in high office, which required great attendance.

That he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem: see Jeremiah 7:3,1 22:5 25:18.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/daniel-9.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.By the books (or, rolls) of Jeremiah’s prophecies, which Daniel possessed, he understood the number of years which the Lord had decreed “for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years” (R.V.; compare Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10).

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/daniel-9.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Somehow Daniel had obtained a copy of Jeremiah"s prediction of the length of Jerusalem"s desolation (cf. Jeremiah 36:23; Jeremiah 36:28). Jeremiah had revealed that the city would lie in ruins for70 years and then God would destroy Babylonia ( Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10-14; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21). Daniel received this vision about67 years after Nebuchadnezzar had deported the first group of exiles, including himself, in605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in586 B.C. The specific period of desolation in Daniel 9:2 probably refers to586-515 B.C, since "the desolations of Jerusalem" are in view. Daniel may also have been aware of Isaiah"s prophecy that God would raise up a king named Cyrus, who would order the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple ( Isaiah 44:28; cf. Isaiah 45:1-2; cf. Isaiah 45:4; cf. Isaiah 45:13). However, there is no mention of this in the Book of Daniel.

Daniel interpreted literally the "70 years" that Jeremiah predicted. As he saw the end of this period approaching, he prayed for the restoration of his people. Daniel"s understanding of a literal fulfillment of numbers in prophecy helps us know how we should understand at least some of them. Notice also that he regarded Jeremiah"s prophecy as "the word of the LORD."

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/daniel-9.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Jerusalem. He read attentively the sacred volumes, particularly the prophecy of Jeremias xxv. 11. and xxix. 10. Knowing that many predictions were conditional, he was afraid lest this might be so; notwithstanding a part of it seemed to be verified by the death of Baltassar. (Calmet) --- Darius had reigned in Persia before. He only ruled part of a year, at Babylon, the 70th of the captivity. (2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 22.) Daniel perceiving that the time of the Jews' deliverance was at hand, prayed with great zeal and confidence. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/daniel-9.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

understood = came to an understanding; perceived, or observed. Hebrew. bin, to separate or distinguish. Implying that he had not known this before.

by books = by the writings [of Jeremiah]. Jeremiah 29:1, Jeremiah 29:10, as well as Daniel 25:11. Note the definite Article in the Hebrew.

the number of the years. Which were now drawing to an end.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

Jeremiah. The passage was doubtless Daniel 25:11-14; Daniel 29:10-14.

accomplish = fulfil [within].

seventy years. Note the bearing of this on Daniel 9:24.

the desolations of Jerusalem. From 479 to 409 B.C. See note on 2 Chronicles 36:21. The "desolations" had therefore lasted 42 (6 x 7) years, and had yet 28 (4 x 7) years to run before they were "accomplished". We find the same subdivisions of the "servitude"; for from the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (496) to the decree of Artaxerxes (Astyages) (454) was forty-two years; and from the decree to the end of the servitude was twenty-eight years.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/daniel-9.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

I Daniel understood by books - rather, letters, i:e., Jeremiah's letter (Jeremiah 29:10, "After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place") to the captives in Babylon; also Jeremiah 25:11-12; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 31:38. [ bac

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/daniel-9.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Understood.—He gave special attention to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy years of the Captivity. Two passages occur in that prophet’s writings where the duration of the Captivity is mentioned (Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 29:10), to the former of which Daniel refers (see especially Daniel 9:9; Daniel 9:11-12). It will be observed that there existed at this time a collection of sacred books, consisting of what had been already admitted into the Canon.

Seventy years.—It appears from Haggai 1:2, Zechariah 1:12, that considerable uncertainty prevailed as to the time whence the seventy years were to be reckoned. It has been pointed out (Professor Leathes’ Old Testament Prophecy, p. 179) that three periods of seventy years occur in connection with the Captivity:—(1) from B.C. 606, the date of Jeremiah’s prophecy, to B.C. 536, the edict of Cyrus; (2) from B.C. 598, Jehoiachin’s captivity, to B.C. 528, the period of Ezra 4:6; (3) from B.C. 588, the destruction of the Temple, to B.C. 518, the edict of Darius (Ezra 6:1). In the first year of Cyrus, seventy years had elapsed since the captivity of Daniel, but to him it was a question of melancholy importance whether his computation had begun at the right date.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/daniel-9.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
understood
8:15,16; Psalms 119:24,99,100; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; Acts 8:34; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 1:3
to Jeremiah
2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 25:11,12; 27:7; 29:10; Zechariah 7:5
the desolations
Psalms 74:3-7; 79:1,2; Isaiah 6:11,12; 24:10-12; 64:10; Jeremiah 7:34; 25:18; Jeremiah 26:6,18; Lamentations 1:1; Micah 3:12
Reciprocal: Leviticus 26:32 - And I;  Deuteronomy 8:19 - I testify against;  Psalm 102:13 - the set;  Psalm 102:18 - This;  Isaiah 40:2 - warfare;  Isaiah 45:11 - Ask;  Jeremiah 27:22 - until;  Jeremiah 28:12 - GeneralJeremiah 51:50 - remember;  Ezekiel 5:13 - shall mine;  Ezekiel 6:9 - remember;  Ezekiel 29:11 - forty;  Daniel 5:26 - God;  Habakkuk 3:2 - in the;  Zechariah 1:12 - thou hast

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/daniel-9.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

We began to say yesterday, that the faithful do not so acquiesce in the promises of God as to grow torpid, and become idle and slothful through the certainty of their persuasion that God will perform his promises, but are rather stimulated to prayer. For the true proof of faith is the assurance when we pray that God will really perform what he has promised us. Daniel is here set before us as an example of this. For when he understood the time of deliverance to be at hand, this knowledge became a stimulus to him to pray more earnestly than he was accustomed to do. It is clear then, as we have already seen, that the Prophet was diligent and anxious in this particular. He did not deviate from his usual habit when he saw the greatest risk of being put to death; for while the king’s edict prohibited every one from praying to God, he still directed his face towards Jerusalem. This was the holy Prophet’s daily habit. But we shall perceive the extraordinary nature of his present prayer, when he says, he prayed in dust arid ashes. From this it appears, how God’s promise stirred him up to supplication, and hence we gather what I have lately touched upon, — that faith is no careless speculation, satisfied with simply assenting to God. For the stupid seem to assent by outward hearing, while true faith is something far more serious. When we really embrace the grace of God which he offers us, he meets us and precedes us with his goodness, and thus we in time respond to his offers, and bear witness to. our expectation of his promises. Nothing, therefore, can be better for us, than to ask for what he has promised. Thus in the prayers of the saints these feelings are united, as they plead God’s promises wherein they entreat him. And we cannot possibly exercise true confidence in prayer, except by resting firmly on God’s word. An example of this kind is here presented to us in Daniel’s case. When he understood the number of the years to be at hand of which God had spoken by Jeremiah, he applied his mind to supplication. It is worth while to notice what I have mentioned: — Daniel is not here treating of his daily prayers. We may easily collect from the whole of his life, how Daniel had exercised himself in prayer before Jeremiah had spoken of the seventy years. Because he knew the time of redemption to be at hand, he was then stimulated to more than his usual entreaties. He expresses this, by saying, in fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes For the saints were not accustomed to throw ashes over their heads every day, nor yet to separate themselves for prayer, by either fasting or putting on sackcloth. This action was rare, used only when God gave some sign of his wrath, or when he held out some scarce and singular benefit. Daniel’s present prayer was not; after his usual habit, but when he put on sackcloth and sprinkled himself with ashes, and endured fasting, he prostrated himself suppliantly before God. He also pleaded for pardon, as we shall afterwards see, and begged the performance of what the Almighty had surely promised.

From this we should learn two lessons. First, we must perseveringly exercise our faith by prayers; next, when God promises us anything remarkable and valuable, we ought then to be the more stirred up, and to feel this expectation as a sharper stimulus. With reference to the fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. we may shortly remark, how the holy fathers under the law were in the habit of adding extraordinary ceremonies to their prayers, especially when they wished to confess their sins to God, and to cast themselves before him as thoroughly guilty and convicted, and as placing their whole hope in their supplication for mercy. And in the present day the faithful are justified in adding certain external rites to their prayers; although no necessity either can, or ought to be laid down beforehand in this case. We know also, the, Orientals to be more devoted to ceremonies than we are ourselves. And this difference must be noticed between the ancient people and the new Church, since Christ by his advent abolished many ceremonies. For the fathers under the Law were, in this sense, like children, as Paul says. (Galatians 4:3.) The discipline which God had formerly instituted, involved the use of more ceremonies than were afterwards practiced. As there is this important difference between our position and theirs, whoever desires to copy them in all their actions, would rather become the ape than the imitator of antiquity. Meanwhile, we must notice that the reality remains for us, although external rites are abolished. Two kinds of prayer, therefore, exist; one which we ought to practice daily, in the morning, evening, and if possible, every moment; for we see how constancy in prayer is commended to us in Scripture. (Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.) The second kind is used, when God denounces his wrath against us, or we have need of his special aid, or seek anything unusual from him. This was Daniel’s method of praying when he put on sackcloth, and sprinkled himself with ashes. But as I have treated this subject elsewhere, I now use greater brevity.

When Daniel perceived the period of deliverance at hand, he not only prayed as usual, but left all his other occupations for the purpose of being quite at ease and at leisure, and thus he applied his mind exclusively to prayer, and made use of other aids to devotion. For the sackcloth and the ashes availed far more than mere outward testimony; they are helps to increase our ardor in praying, when any one feels sluggish and languid. It is true, indeed, that when the fathers under the Law prayed with sackcloth and ashes, this appearance was useful as an outward mark of their profession. It testified before men, how they came before God as guilty suppliants, and placed their whole hope of salvation in pardon alone. Still this conduct was useful in another way, as it stirred them up more eagerly to the desire to pray. And both these points are to be noticed in Daniel’s case. For if the Prophet had such need of this assistance, what shall be said of our necessities? Every one ought surely to comprehend how dull and cold he is in this duty. Nothing else, therefore, remains, except for every one to become conscious of his infirmity, to collect all the aids he can command for the correction of his sluggishness, and thus stimulate himself to ardor in supplication. For when Daniel. according to his daily custom, prayed so as to run the risk of death on that very account, we ought to gather from this, how naturally alert he was in prayer to God. He was conscious of the want of sufficiency in himself, and hence he adds the use of sackcloth, and ashes, and fasting.

I pass by what might be treated more diffusely — -how fasting is often added to extraordinary prayers. We conclude also, how works by themselves fail to please the Almighty, according to the fictions of the Papists of these days, and also to the foolish imaginations of many others. For they think fasting a part of the worship of God, although Scripture always commends it to us for another purpose. By itself it is of no consequence whatever, but when mingled with prayers, with exhortations to penitence, and with the confession of sinfulness, then it is acceptable, but not otherwise. Thus, we observe Daniel to have made use of fasting correctly, not as wishing to appease God by this discipline, but to render him more earnest in his prayers.

We must next notice another point. Although Daniel was an interpreter of dreams, he was not so elated with confidence or pride as to despise the teaching delivered by other prophets. Jeremiah was then at Jerusalem, when Daniel was dragged into exile, where he discharged the office of teacher for a long period afterwards, so that Babylon became a kind of pulpit. (82) And Ezekiel names him the third among the most excellent servants of God, (Ezekiel 14:14,) because Daniel’s piety, integrity, and holiness of life, were even then celebrated. As to Jeremiah, we know him to have been either just deceased in Egypt, or perhaps to be still living, when this vision was offered to Daniel, who had perused his prophecies previously to this occasion. We observe also, the great modesty of this holy man, because he exercised himself in reading the writings of Jeremiah; and was not ashamed to own how he profited by them. For he knew this prophet to have been appointed to instruct himself as well as the rest of the faithful. Thus he willingly submitted to the instruction of Jeremiah, and ranged himself among his disciples. And if he had not deigned to read those prophecies, he would have been unworthy to partake of the promised deliverance. As he was a member of the Church, he ought to have been a disciple of Jeremiah, so in like manner, Jeremiah would not have objected to profit in his turn, if any prophecy of Daniel’s had been presented to him. This spirit of modesty ought to flourish among the servants of God, even if they excel in the gift of prophecy, inducing them to learn from each other, while no one should raise himself above the common level. While we are teachers, we ought at the same time to continue learners. And Daniel teaches us this by saying, he understood the number of years in books, and the number was according to the word of Jehovah to the prophet Jeremiah. He shews why he exercised himself in the writings of Jeremiah, — because he was persuaded that God had spoken by his voice. Thus it caused him no trouble to read what he knew to have proceeded from God.

We must now remark The Time Of This Prophecy-the first year of Darius I will not dwell upon this point here, because I had rather discuss the years when we come to the second part; of the chapter. I stated yesterday that this chapter embraced two principal divisions. Daniel first records his own prayer, and then he adds the prediction which was brought to him by the hand of the angel. We shall next speak of the seventy years, because the discussion will then prove long enough. I will now touch but briefly upon one point — the time of redemption was at hand, as the Babylonian monarchy was changed and transferred to the Medes and Persians. In order to render the redemption of his people the more conspicuous, God desired to wake up the whole East after the Medes and Persians had conquered the Babylonians. Cyrus and Darius published their edict about the same time, by which the Jews were permitted to return to their native country. In that year, therefore, meaning the year in which Darius began his reign. Here it may be asked, Why does he name Darius alone, when Cyrus was far superior to him in military prowess, and prudence, and other endowments? ‘The ready answer is this, Cyrus set out immediately on other expeditions, for we know what an insatiable ambition had seized upon him. He was not stimulated by avarice but by an insane ambition, and never could rest quiet in one place. So, when he had acquired Babylon and the whole of that monarchy, he set out for Asia Minor, and harassed himself almost to death by continual restlessness. Some say he was slain in battle, while Xenophon describes his death as if he was reclining on his bed, and at his ease was instructing his sons in what he wished to have done. But whichever be the true account, all history testifies to his constant motion from place to place. Hence we are not surprised at the Prophet’s speaking here of Darius only, who was more advanced in age and slower in his movements through his whole life. It is sufficiently ascertained that he was not a man fond of war; Xenophon calls him Cyaxares, and asserts him to have been the son of Astyages. We know, again, that Astyages was the maternal grandfather of Cyrus; and thus this Darius was the uncle as well as father-in-law of Cyrus, as the mother of Cyrus was his sister. When the Prophet calls his father Ahasuerus, it need not occasion us any trouble, as the names vary very much when we compare the Greek with the Hebrew. Without the slightest doubt, Astyages was called Ahasuerus, or at least one was his name and the other his surname. All doubt is removed by the expression, Darius was of the seed of the Medes He distinguishes here between the Medes and Persians, because the Medes had seized upon rich and splendid territories, stretching far and wide on all sides, while the Persians were shut up within their own mountains, and were more austere in their manner of life. But the Prophet here states of this Darius his Median origin, and adds another circumstance, namely, his obtaining the kingdom of the Chaldees For Cyrus allowed him to be called king, not only on account of his age and of his being both his uncle and father-in-law, but because he would not attempt anything against his authority. He knew he had no heir who might in future become troublesome to him. Cyrus therefore yielded the empty title to his father-in-law, while the whole power and influence remained completely within his own grasp.

He says, then, When I understood in books the number of the years for filling up the desolation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years This prophecy is found in the 25th chapter of Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 25:0), and is repeated in the 29th, (Jeremiah 29:0). God fixed beforehand seventy years for the captivity of his people, as it was a grievous trial to be cast out of the land of Canaan, which had been granted them as a perpetual inheritance. They remembered those celebrated sentences,

“This shall be my rest for ever,” and
“Ye shall possess the land for ever.” (
Psalms 132:14.)

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Daniel 9:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/daniel-9.html. 1840-57.