Notes on Daniel
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 27 February 2010; Revised 30 October 2015
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). The text for this chapter may be found here. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Most versions can be accessed on the Internet.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here. Citations for Talmud tractates are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebraic and Jewish nature of Scripture I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament) and Besekh (New Testament), as well as the terms Yeshua (Jesus) and Messiah (Christ).
Vocabulary: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB."
Please see the Introduction for background information on the book of Daniel, interpretative approaches and historical context.
1― Now at that time--Gabriel continues his narrative begun in chapter eleven and refers back to the campaign of the King of the North described in 11:31-45. "Time," Heb. eth may refer to the time of an event, the usual time of the year that something occurs, an appointed time or the time of day (BDB 773). Michael was introduced in 10:13 where he was described as one of the sar rishon, chief prince. Here he is identified as sar gadol, great prince. Gadol is the word "High" in High Priest. Michael could be the ranking archangel among the angels of the Presence because of his role as guardian of Israel.
The time of distress, Heb. tsarah, straits, distress, trouble (BDB 865) alludes to a specific event in Jewish history that interpreters have connected with "Jacob's distress" (Heb. tsarah) in Jeremiah 30:7 and the great tribulation of Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14. the LXX renders tsarah in Daniel with thlipsis, the same word used for the tribulation in the Besekh. As Yeshua affirmed and repeated in the Olivet Discourse, Daniel is told the scope of the distress, the victims of the distress, the length of the distress and the results of the distress. such as never occurred--the same sort of hyperbole used in Matthew 24:21 of the great tribulation.
The qualification of since there was a nation points backward to the post-Flood generations that began the first great empire. Yeshua repeated this prophecy by saying that "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" (Matt 24:21). In the past tribulations of Godís people were localized, but Yeshua prophesied a great tribulation that will be global in scope. The narratives of Matthew 24:22; Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9-17, 15:2-4 and 20:4 all tell of an experience of horror. Millions will suffer betrayal, economic privation, hunger, thirst, imprisonment, homelessness, grief and death.
Your people--could be taken generally as the Jewish people or a people with the values of Daniel and commitment to the God of Israel. Dispensationalists favor the former view believing that Christians will be raptured into Heaven before this tribulation begins. The latter view is more likely considering the general term "saints" as victims of the antichrist's warfare in Daniel 7:21-25 and Revelation 13:7. Your people is further qualified by the phrase written in the book. The book is an allusion to the Book of Life containing a census roll of the righteous (see also Ex 32:32, Ps 69:28; 87:6; 139:16, Isa 4:3; Mal 3:16).
In the Besekh the Book of Life is a registry of heavenís citizens and property owners who were enrolled on the basis of faith in Yeshua (Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Heb 12:23; Rev 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). While the nation of Israel will be delivered from total annihilation the emphasis on names written in the book makes it clear that not every Israelite or Jew that has ever lived will be saved as Paul makes clear in Romans 9:6 and 11:26. The New Covenant Scriptures affirm that believing in Yeshua is the only means of salvation (John 14:6). If this is the basis for Jews being saved, the same principle holds for Gentiles.
Rescued--(KJV/NIV "delivered"), Heb. malat, lit. means "to slip away" (BDB 572). Malat may have the sense of being rescued or being allowed to escape. The prophecy is not about escaping from the distress or being killed. Many faithful Jews accepted martyrdom under the brutal reign of Antiochus rather than compromise their principles. God's people, whether Jew or Christian, have suffered death countless times in history, so God is not promising to do something radically different (cf. John 17:15; Rev 6:9-11). The rescue here as verse 2 plainly implies is from eternal death when the books are opened after the resurrection and the millennial reign. Everyone not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15).
2― those who sleep in the dust of the ground--an idiomatic expression for those who have died. Those who have died will awake or rouse from the sleep of death. A similar promise was given to Isaiah, "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits" (Isa 26:19). This is metaphorical language. Taking it literalistically would be pointless, since people do not stay on the earth when they die. There are only two possible destinations (Luke 16:22-23). The last half of the verse points to the dual nature of the resurrection: everlasting life or everlasting contempt. Every person, good and bad, will be resurrected as Paul said, "there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15).
3― Those who have insight--Heb. sakal. See note on 11:33. Shine--metaphorical language that hints at the glory of the resurrected body. See 1 Corinthians 15:40-44. The resurrected body will not only be qualitatively superior to our present body, but assured of eternal longevity as the stars shine forever (cf. Ps 148:3-6).
4― Conceal--Heb. satham, which means to stop up, shut up, or keep close (BDB 711) and seal up, Heb chatham, to seal, affix a seal, seal up (BDB 367), are parallel clauses denoting preservation of the document (Miller). Idiomatically the sentence probably means "finish the writing, seal it and then keep it in a safe place." God then promises that his book would last until the end of time. Many efforts down through history have tried to destroy the Bible and its future hope, but all have failed. The clause many will go back and forth has been interpreted as a reference to the historical development of modes of travel (so Morris), but Miller points out that the expression refers to going here and there in search of a person or thing (cf. 2Chr 16:9; Jer 5:1; Amos 8:12; Zech 4:10).
Knowledge: Heb. da'ath may be intellectual knowledge, a skill, discernment, understanding, or wisdom (BDB 395). The Hebrew word has the definite article (Kohlenberger), so "the knowledge" likely refers to a specific kind of understanding or discernment, not simply an increase of scientific knowledge. The kind of knowledge sought by so many believers is what the predictions of the end time really mean. God has preserved these precious promises but only at the end of history will the mystery of God's plan be unveiled. We will "know" it when we experience it.
5― The two others are presumptively angels who have joined the man dressed in linen--Gabriel (see comment concerning his identity at 10:5).
6― One of the angels asks the question on Daniel's mind, "how long?" On the lips of humans the question often springs from the context of suffering, but for the angel it falls into the category of "things into which angels long to look" (1 Pet 1:12). God has not revealed the deep secrets of his future plan to the angels as Yeshua said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matt 24:36). Wonders--Heb. pelaot (pl. of pele), refers to unusual, in the sense of hard to be understood, or extraordinary events of God's dealings with his people in judgment and redemption (BDB 810). Perhaps the angels marvel at the time and effort that the Creator God expends on weak, sinful human beings.
7― Daniel notes that the man in linen was positioned above and over the river and then saw him raise his hand as one would in making an oath. Swore--Heb. shava: This verse is remarkably parallel to the actions of the strong angel in Revelation:
"Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever" (Rev 10:5-6).
Gabriel initiates a sworn statement to Daniel just as he later does for John's benefit. The common understanding of making a sworn statement is associated with affirming the veracity of a claim or offering testimony in a legal proceeding. The biblical practice meant that having bound oneself with a sacred oath the one swearing would perform some promised deed or would refrain from some evil act (Gen 14:22f; 21:23; 1 Kgs 2:8) (TWOT 2:900). In this case the angel proceeds to make an oath in the name of the One who is eternal creator God.
The Hebrew word shava, "swear" is identical to the feminine form of the word for "seven" (TWOT 2:899f) and there is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." A relationship is suggested between the two words where Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34), and Abraham named the well where he and Abimelech met "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31). Thus, BDB gives the literal meaning of shava to "seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things" (BDB 989). This ancient Hebrew practice may have a bearing on the proliferation of the number "seven" in Revelation, which is the sworn testimony of Yeshua (1:1). The Lord affirms in every way possible that His Word about the End of the Age is utterly reliable.
The sworn testimony answers the critical question. How long will the time of distress last? The expression time, times, and half a time repeats the prophecy of 7:25. (See the note there.) This terrible time will end with the shattering: Heb. naphats means to shatter, dash to pieces, beat or destroy (BDB 658), here of the power of the holy people. Power--Heb. yad, lit. "hand" (BDB 388). Besides its literal meaning "hand" is often used as a metaphor for power or strength. In Scripture the power is often associated with a king. Thus, the power that is being shattered could be political, economic or military. It does not mean the annihilation of every Jew (cf. Jer 31:35-36). At any rate when this goal is reached so will the end of the time of distress.
8― Even though Daniel heard the words, he did not fully understand the message. Daniel is rightfully concerned not just about the length of the distress, but about the impact of these events on his people.
9― sealed up until the end time--Gabriel makes it clear that the message is preserved for the end times, the last days of the present age. Only then will its full meaning be understood.
10― Gabriel further prophesies the spiritual reviving and renewing of God's people (cf. Zech 13:9; Mal 3:3). purged, purified and refined--see the note on 11:35 where the same verbs occur, but in a different order. Malachi was given a vision of this refining activity,
"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. 4 "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years." (Mal 3:2-6)
the wicked--Heb. rasha, adjective meaning wicked or criminal (BDB 967). will act wickedly--their behavior may be against God or man, but in either case their actions are intentional transgressions of God's Law; and none of the wicked will understand--Heb. bene, to discern or perceive. The wicked are devoid of spiritual understanding, so they will not believe God's Word or comprehend just how close to judgment and damnation they are.
Those who have insight--Heb. sakal, to be prudent, to have insight or comprehension (BDB 968). Will understand--the prudent will have insight, discernment or understanding. This is parallel to the thought of "let the reader understand" in the Olivet Discourse when Yeshua prophesied that the abomination of desolation would still be in the future (Matt 24:15). The reader should understand that while the prophecy of Daniel 11:31 and verse 11 below could be said to be fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes as a type, its full horrific reality will be experienced under the regime of the Antichrist.
11― Gabriel informs Daniel that the time of distress is marked by the coincidental events of the regular sacrifice being removed and the abomination of desolation being set up. Then follows a specific time period 1,290 days, although he does not say that this is the end of the great tribulation. The cessation of the regular sacrifice, which refers to the morning and evening animal, drink and bread offerings at the Temple, and the imposition of an abomination that causes defilement of the Temple has previously been prophesied in 8:11-13; 9:27; and 11:31. However, this prophecy cannot pertain to the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes because the period of the abolition of the regular sacrifice in his day was "2,300 evenings and mornings" (Dan 8:14).
Daniel 9:27 is the first indication of a three and a half year period for the cessation of offerings at the Temple. Here the angel gives the very exact number as 1,290 days. Yeshua pointed to the future for the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15), so in the first century his disciples might have expected that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 would be followed by the Second Coming 1,290 days later. We are still waiting. Much debate has occurred among interpreters over the difference between the time periods given in Daniel and Revelation. Although there are 30 and 45 day differences all the numbers fit the general designation of "times, time and half a time" of Daniel 7:27 and verse seven above.
The book of Revelation expresses the three and a half year period five times in three different ways: (1) 1,260 days is the period the two witnesses testify (Rev 11:3) and the time of the Woman's sojourn in the wilderness (Rev 12:6). (2) forty-two months is the period that Gentiles trample the holy city (Rev 11:2) and the reign of the beast (Rev 13:5). (3) The expression time, times and half a time is the period that the Woman is protected in the wilderness (Rev 12:14). Based on the relatedness of the events associated with each of the ways the 3Ĺ-year period is expressed, the events are probably concurrent, but if not they substantially overlap. Revelation provides only the most general calendar of these various events in relation to one another.
12― Gabriel further asserts that great blessing will be received by those who wait for 1,335 days. However, the time periods in Revelation begs the question, why is the period given as 1,290 days in Daniel? And, why is it even more blessed to wait until 1,335 days? While most commentators offer no specific explanation, the best answer may be from Rosenthal (274) who points out that thirty days is the period of mourning for Jews (Num 20:29; Deut 34:8). In this instance the thirty day mourning period may refer to the national mourning described in Zechariah 12:10 (repeated in Rev 1:7).
"I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn."
Many commentators assume the mourning mentioned in Zechariah and Revelation refers to remorse at having rejected Yeshua as Messiah and Savior and anticipation of divine judgment. There are several reasons why this interpretation does not fit the context: (1) The verb koptō (lit. "to beat one's breast") in Rev 1:7 (also in the LXX of Zech 12:10), refers to the normal grief felt at the loss of a loved one (cf. Matt 11:17; Luke 23:27). The mourning that may include regret or repentance is the verb pentheō or the noun penthos (cf. Matt 5:4; Mark 16:10; Luke 6:25). (2) The context of Zechariah 12:10 is judgment on the Gentile nations opposing Israel and deliverance by the Messiah of his beloved people. (3) The mourning in Zechariah follows the "Spirit of grace and of supplication" received from the Messiah. (4) The focus of the mourning is Yeshua himself, not what he does negatively to wicked people. Stern (789) comments that in Hebrew to mourn "over" someone means simply "to mourn him" and mourning generally includes both grief over the death itself and sorrow at what one failed to do in relation to the deceased.
This is not the national confession of Israel that must take place before the Lord will return. As Yeshua said, "Behold your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ĎBlessed is He who comes in the name of the Lordí" (Luke 13:35; cf. Luke 16:30f). In the Zechariah context the mourning follows receipt of the Spirit of "grace and supplication" (cf. Eph 2:8) and looking to (i.e. believing in) the Messiah for salvation. The nation then expresses a deep grief of having rejected the Messiah for so long and gives Yeshua the respect of the customary mourning period that should have been offered when he died on the cross. Moreover, Zechariah clarified the mourning "as one mourns for an only son," which is not a synonym for the initiation of repentance, but as a result of true confession experiencing the grief of the Father who gave His only son and through Yeshua bore our sins. This grief is so profound that Zechariah compares it to the sorrow of Israel over the death of Josiah (Zech 12:11) and depicts each Jewish family as mourning privately (Zech 12:12-14).
As for the 1,335 days the period of 75 days (30 + 45) equals the time from Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) until Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication). Hanukkah celebrates the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes and the cleansing and rededication of the Temple. So the 45 days could be devoted to preparing the Temple that will serve the millennial reign as prophesied by Ezekiel. Miller and Archer mark the 1,335 days as the specific inauguration day of the reign of the Messiah and the commencement of the millennial Kingdom. There will be no more blessed day in history than that day! Hallelujah!
13― As for you--Daniel is told to go on with his life. Don't fret over things you can't control. Your life will come to its end, but trust in the promise of resurrection. Allotted portion--Heb. goral, means a lot used for casting and making decisions (BDB 174). In this context goral probably alludes backwards to the division of the Land of Canaan by Joshua among the tribes (Josh 18:10) and its future division (Ezek 45:1; 47:13). Interestingly this allotment is to include space for non-Jews (Ezek 47:22-23). The promise of land division is carried over into the Besekh concept of the inheritance of which all the disciples are joint-heirs with the Messiah (Rom 8:17; Gal 3:29; Eph 3:6; 1Pet 1:4). May all who love the Lord anticipate that great day when we, like Daniel, shall rise for our reward and share in the kingdom of our Messiah.
Copyright © 2010-2015 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.