Daniel chapter 10 introduces the final vision that is detailed in chapter 11, including verbal links to the vision of the ram and goat – Daniel 10:1-21.
The tenth chapter introduces the final vision that Daniel received from one with the “appearance of a man.” Several verbal links connect it to the preceding visions. It begins by expanding on the vision of the “goat” that foresaw Greece divided into four “lesser kingdoms,” then focuses on the intermittent warfare between two of those realms until the rise of the “contemptible” king and the “abomination that desolates.”
In chapter 10, the conflicts between angelic forces set the stage for the change of empires and conflicts pictured in chapter 11. Angelic involvement demonstrates the control of Yahweh over the historical processes that were taking place.
- (Daniel 10:1-9) – “In the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, a matter was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and faithful was the matter, but concerned great warfare, and he marked the word, and had understanding in the revelation. In those days, I, Daniel was mourning three sevens of days: food to delight in I did not eat, neither flesh nor wine came into my mouth, nor did I so much as anoint myself until were fulfilled three sevens of days. And on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, when I was by the side of the great river Tigris, I lifted up my eyes and looked, and lo, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with the bright gold of Uphaz; whose body was like Tarshish-stone, and his face like the appearance of lightning, and his eyes were like torches of fire, and his arms and his feet like the look of bronze burnished, and the sound of his words was like the sound of a multitude. And I alone beheld the revelation, and the men who were with me beheld not the revelation, in truth, a great terror had fallen upon them, and they had fled while hiding themselves. I, therefore, was left alone and beheld this great revelation, and there remained in me no strength, but my freshness was turned upon me into disfigurement, and I retained no strength. So then I heard the sound of his words, and when I heard the sound of his words, then I myself came to be in a deep sleep upon my face, with my face to the earth.”
The vision is dated to the “third year of Cyrus.” This means Daniel did not return to Jerusalem after Cyrus released the Jewish exiles. It was received when he was beside the Tigris River in Persian territory (the Hiddekel, Genesis 2:14).
“I was mourning three sevens of days.” That is for twenty-one days. Daniel now delimits time in the same manner as in the preceding chapter (e.g., “three sevens,” “seven sevens”). The Hebrew text adds the term yôm or “day,” which here is emphatic. Thus,the angel did not arrive until the “three sevens” had run their full course.
In the preceding vision, Gabriel “divided seven sevens” into three divisions – “seven sevens,” “sixty-two sevens,” and one “seven.” In the interpretation of the “fourth beast,” the “little horn” persecuted the “saints” over a threefold period – “season, seasons, part of a season.” Similarly, here, the angel divides the period into “three sevens of days.”
“Whose name was called Belteshazzar.” This is a link to the first chapter of the book when Daniel was given this Babylonian name. The final vision of “Belteshazzar” will now complete the revelation that began seven decades earlier – (Daniel 1:6-7).
“A thing was revealed to Daniel… and faithful was the matter.” In other words, Daniel received further insight into the matter previously disclosed. More correctly, “great warfare” reads the “great host” as in an army. It is a verbal link to the vision of the “ram and goat”:
- (Daniel 8:10-13) – “Yea, it became great as far as the host of the heavens, and caused to fall to the earth some of the host and some of the stars, and trampled them underfoot, even as far as the ruler of the host showed his greatness, and because of him was taken away the daily burnt offering, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down; and a host was set over the daily burnet offering by transgression, and faithfulness was cast down to the ground and so he acted with effect, and succeeded.”
“He had understanding in the vision.” The term rendered “vision” occurs five times in the interpretation of the “ram and goat,” and in the seventy weeks prophecy, and always in the singular – (Daniel 8:15-16, 8:26-27, 9:23).
Daniel was troubled by his understanding of the earlier vision and its significance for the Jewish nation, which is why he fasted and mourned. The men with him did not understand, another link to the earlier visions that caused Daniel great turmoil – (Daniel 7:28, 8:27: “And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; then I rose up, and did the king’s business: and I wondered at the vision, but none understood it”).
- (Daniel 10:10-15) – “And a hand touched me and roused me up on my knees and the palms of my hands. Then said he, O Daniel, a man greatly loved, have understanding in the words which I am about to speak, and stand up where you are, for now, have I been sent to you. And when he had spoken with me, I stood trembling. Then said he to me, Do not fear, for, from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard; and I am come by reason of your words. But the ruler of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but lo, Michael, one of the chief rulers, came to help me, and I left him there beside the kings of Persia. So then I have come to let you understand that which will befall your people in the afterpart of the days, for yet is the vision for those days. And when he had spoken with me such words as these, I set my face towards the earth, and was dumb.”
There are further parallels to the preceding visions in how Daniel interacted with the angels in the present chapter. For example, in chapter 8, Gabriel was sent to make Daniel “understand the vision.” Frightened, he fell on his face and into “into a deep sleep,” but Gabriel touched him and set him upright.
“O Daniel, greatly beloved, have understanding.” This provides more verbal parallels with the earlier visions, including the “seventy weeks.” Previously, “understanding” and “beloved” were both used by Gabriel when he appeared to explain the “seventy sevens” prophecy:
- (Daniel 9:22-23) – “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications, the commandment went forth, and I am come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved, therefore consider the matter and understand the vision.”
The connection to the previous visit is important. The next revelation will provide a further understanding of the preceding one. “For from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself.” This refers to the preceding chapter when Daniel inquired about the “word” of Yahweh through Jeremiah and petitioned God over the “desolations of Jerusalem” – (Daniel 9:1-23).
The references to the “ruler of Persia” and the “ruler of Greece” link the angelic visitation to the earlier vision about the “ram and goat,” and they prepare us for the next chapter where that conflict is described within history. Since minimal information is provided on the “ruler (Sar) of Persia,” it is difficult to conclude who and what he was. He was labeled a sar or “ruler.” Since he is contrasted with “Michael,” the “chief prince (sar),” he probably was an angel of some rank – (Daniel 11:1-4, 12:1-4).
The “prince” represents the realm of Persia. Whether he was good or malevolent is not stated. The passage prepares us for the rise of Greece to become the next World-Power, and to understand that larger forces are at work behind the scenes.
“In the afterpart of the days.” The same term was used in the vision of the “ram and goat.” By itself, it does not mean the “last days” and does not necessarily refer to the final years of history. This is the same period referred to earlier as the “afterpart of the indignation” and the “afterpart of their kingdom” – that is, the later years of the Greek kingdoms. It also connects to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar when God showed the king “what things will come to pass in the afterpart of days.” That dream also concerned the eventual destruction of the World-Power and the establishment of God’s kingdom – (Daniel 2:28, 8:19, 8:23).
“The vision.” The noun is singular and refers to a specific vision for “the afterpart of days.” In context, it refers to the vision received in chapter 8, which was explained further in chapter 9 – (Daniel 8:1-2, 8:13-17, 8:26, 9:21-24:
“While I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation… Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
“I set my face toward the ground.” Likewise, in the vision of the “ram and goat,” Daniel fell into a deep sleep with his “face toward the ground” after the angel had finished speaking with him – (Daniel 8:19).
- (Daniel 10:16-21) – “And, behold, one in the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth and said to him that stood before me, O my lord, by reason of the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I retain no strength. 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 was there breath left in me. Then there touched me again one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. And he said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto you, be strong. And when he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, Let my lord speak; for you have strengthened me. Then said he, Do you know why I am come? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I go forth, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you that which is inscribed in the writing of truth: and there is none that holds with me against these, but Michael your prince.”
In verse 20, the angel applies the term “latter days” to the period of the kingdoms of Persia and Greece (“for yet is the vision for those days”). The division of chapters in modern Bible translations at this point is unfortunate. The first paragraph of chapter 11 summarizes the historical events of concern here, and it transitions the narrative to the conflict between two of the four Greek kingdoms that is recorded in the remainder of the eleventh chapter.
In Revelation, the description of the being with the “appearance of a man” is combined with the image of one “like a son of man” from chapter 7 to portray the glorious risen Christ – (Daniel 7:13, 10:5-6, Revelation 1:12-18: – “And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the lampstands, one like a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle”).
When interpreting the visions of Daniel, it is vital to identify and consider the many verbal links between the several visions. While new information is provided in the book’s final vision, it builds on the previous visions, and several times, the same events are referred to from the earlier visions – (e.g., the “abomination that desolates”).
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