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23 January 2019

Final Vision - Introduction (Daniel 10:1 - 11:4)

Four Beasts from the sea
The tenth chapter introduces the book’s final vision that Daniel received from one with “the appearance of a man” (Daniel 10:1-12:4).
This vision is connected by verbal links to the previous visions from chapters seven and eight, and particularly from the latter. It builds on the earlier vision of the ram and goat, the kingdoms of the “Medes and Persians” and Greece (8:1-14, 21-26; 11:1-4).
This last vision describes years of intermittent conflict between two kingdoms, the “king of the north and the king of the south” (11:5-20), though the focus is on one particular “northern king” (11:21-45). The kingdoms of the “north” and “south” are two of the four realms that descended from the conquests of Greece’s first great ruler, Alexander the Great (8:7-9; 11:1-4).
The concern of this vision is the future persecution of the Jewish nation by one of the “kings of the north”: his desecration of the Temple, the cessation of the daily sacrifice and the imposition of the “abomination that desolates” (11:31-36).
Reader attention often concentrates on the description of the conflict between angelic forces assigned to specific nations. But this sets the stage for the change of empires described in Daniel 11:1-4 and the consequent conflicts between the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.”
The involvement of angelic forces demonstrates God’s control over historical processes. Greece, for example, for decades harbored a desire to destroy the Persian Empire but was unable to do so until the proper time.
Along the Tigris
(Daniel 10:1-9) – “In the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, a word was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and faithful was the word, but concerned a great host, and he marked the word, and had understanding in the vision. In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning three sevens of days: food to delight in did I not eat, neither flesh nor wine came into my mouth, nor did I so much as anoint myself, until were fulfilled three weeks. And on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, when I was by the side of the great river, the Tigris, Then lifted I up mine eyes and looked, and behold, 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, Daniel 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,” approximately 535 B.C. (cp. Daniel 1:21). This means Daniel did not return to Jerusalem after Cyrus released the Jewish exiles. What follows is not concerned with the return of the Jews, the end of the Babylonian Captivity or the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Daniel received this while he was beside the Tigris River or the Hiddekel in Persian territory (Genesis 2:14). For comparison, the related visions are dated as follows:
(7:1) – “In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel, beheld a dream, and visions of his head upon his bed” (Four beasts from the sea).
(8:1) – “In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king, a vision, appeared unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the beginning” (vision of the Ram and the Goat).
(9:1) – “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made a king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (Seventy Weeks).
The placement of Daniel in “the third year of Cyrus” does not contradict the statement from Daniel 1:21, “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.” The earlier verse did not say that he lived until Cyrus’ first year, but that he continued in the service of Babylon for the entire period from the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign until the fall of that kingdom to Persia. How much longer Daniel lived after Babylon’s fall is not stated.
The context of Daniel 1:21 was concerned with how God gave Daniel “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams…And in every matter of wisdom and understanding, concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.”
The passage was followed by a story validating its claims when Daniel “in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar” was able to interpret a dream that troubled the king (1:17-2:1).
Daniel does not now receive a new “vision” but a “word revealed,” about a previous vision, one that concerned “a great host” (Hebrew, ţabah). These two terms are verbal links to the previous vision from chapter 8. “Host” occurs only here and in chapter 8, as follows:
(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 continual ascending-sacrifice, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down; and a host was set over the continual ascending-sacrifice by transgression, and faithfulness was cast down to the ground and so he acted with effect, and succeeded. Then heard I a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that certain holy one who was speaking, How long is the vision of the continual ascending-sacrifice as taken away, and the transgression that desolates, for both sanctuary and host to be given over to be trampled underfoot?
The term translated “vision” or “appearance” occurs four times in chapter 8, another link between the two visions:
1.     (8:15) – “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.”
2.    (8:16) – “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”
3.    (8:26) – “And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
4.    (8:27) – “And I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.”
What caused Daniel turmoil was his understanding of the earlier vision and its ramifications for the Jewish nation. This is the reason he mourned and fasted for three weeks. He understood the vision because God gave it to him “understanding in all visions and dreams.” Those with him did not understand.
This is a conceptual link to the earlier vision of the four beasts from the sea and the vision of the ram and goat. Both visions caused Daniel great turmoil. Note the following parallels:
(7:28) – “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.”
(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.”
(10:8-11) – “So 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.”
There are also parallels between this vision and that of chapter 8 in how Daniel interacts with angels. Thus, in Daniel 8:15-18 Gabriel was sent to make Daniel “understand the vision.” His approach frightened Daniel and caused him to fall upon his face into “into a deep sleep.”
But Gabriel “touched me and set me upright.” Similarly, in Daniel 9:20-23, Gabriel was sent in response to Daniel’s supplication to “give him wisdom and understanding” concerning the previous vision from Daniel 8:1-14: “Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning”).
So also, in Daniel 10:8-11, an angelic being “touched me and set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands, and said to me, understand the words that I speak to you and stand upright…and when he had spoken this word to me, I stood, trembling.”  The chronological references are also parallel, as follows:
(8:19, 23-26) – “Behold, I will make you know what shall be in the last end of the indignation (za‘am); for at the time appointed the end shall be…And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences will stand up… And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
(10:14; 11:21, 36) – “Now I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in latter days, for yet the vision is for many days… And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries… And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation (za‘ambe accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done.” [za‘am or “indignation” occurs only in these two passages in Daniel]
Angelic Battles
(Daniel 10:10-21) – “And, behold, a hand touched me; and roused me up on my knees and the palms of my hands. Then said he to me, O Daniel, a man greatly delighted in, have understanding in the words which I am about to speak to you, and stand up where you are, for now, have I been sent to you. And when he had spoken with me this word, I stood up trembling. Then said he to me, Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your 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, behold, Michael, one of the chief rulers, came in to help me, and I left him there beside the kings of Persia. So then I am come to let you understand that which shall befall your people in latter 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. Then, behold, like the similitude of the sons of men one was touching my lips, so I opened my mouth, and spoke, and said to him who was standing before me, O my lord, by the revelation my pains have seized me, and I retain no strength. How then can the servant of this my lord speak with this my lord, seeing that as for me, henceforth there remains in me no strength, and no spirit is left in me? Then again there touched me one like in appearance to a son of earth, and he strengthened me. And he said, Do not fear, O man greatly delighted in; peace to you, be strong, yea be strong. And as he spoke with me I gained strength and said, Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me. And he said, Know you wherefore I have come to you? But now must I return to fight with the ruler of Persia; I, therefore, am going forth, and, behold, the ruler of Greece is coming. Howbeit I will tell you that which is inscribed in the writing of truth, but there is no one who holds strongly with me concerning these things, save Michael your ruler.
Note carefully how in chapter 8 “there stood before me as the appearance of a man” (8:15). This parallels the description in chapter 10 where Daniel is touched by “one like the appearance of a man and strengthened me” (10:18).
The references to the “ruler of Persia” and the coming “ruler of Greece” link this to the earlier vision of the ram (Medo-Persia) and the goat (Greece). “Know you wherefore I have come to you?” The question is rhetorical; Daniel is expected to remember what was told to him earlier by Gabriel.
This angel was sent to overcome another angelic being attempting to influence royal decisions in the Persian kingdom, the latter presumably a demonic spirit. This angel must return to “fight with the ruler of Persia,” then deal with matters concerning the “ruler of Greece.” Apparently, demonic forces were also attempting to thwart God’s plans for Greece.
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 at this point is unfortunate; the first verses of chapter 11 sum up the historical events of concern in chapter 10 and transition the narrative to the conflict between two of the four kingdoms descended from Greece.
Darius Stirs up Greece
(Daniel 11:1-4) – “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him. And now will I show you the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.”
The verbal and conceptual links to the vision of the ram and goat are clear, especially the mention of Greece, its first powerful king, his downfall and the subsequent four lesser kingdoms. The reference to the “four winds of heaven” also links this passage to the vision of four beasts from the sea (Daniel 7:1-8). Note the following verbal parallels:
(Daniel 8:8) – “And the goat magnified himself exceedingly: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken (shabar); and instead of it there came up four notable horns toward the four winds of heaven.”
(Daniel 8:21-22) – “And the goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. And as for that which was broken (shabar), in its place four stood up, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his power.
(Daniel 11:1-4) – “He shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken (shabar), and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.”
(Daniel 7:2-3) – “I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”
The passage states that the fourth ruler after Cyrus would “wax strong through his riches and stir up all against the realm of Greece.” Some claim this demonstrates the historical ignorance of the author of Daniel, since far more than four Persian rulers succeeded Cyrus. But the passage does not state that the fourth king was the last ruler of Persia or that Greece overthrew him, only that he was responsible for stirring up the Greeks. This is historically accurate.
The fourth king after Cyrus was Darius I, also known as Darius the Great and Darius Hystaspis (reigned 550-486 B.C.). He was the richest of the Persian kings and extended the empire to its furthest limits. Under his reign, Persian rule extended to the shores of the Aegean Sea, which put Persia into direct conflict with the city-states of Greece and Macedonia.
Most famously, Darius invaded Greece in an attempt to subjugate Athens, which culminated in Persian defeat by Athens at the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.). The meddling by Persia in the internal affairs of Greecefomented resentment and conflict over several decades. Retribution against Persia became one of the alleged justifications for the invasion of Persian territory in 333 B.C. by Alexander the Great.
Alexander died in 323 B.C. His royal heir was still an infant. His untimely death caused a struggle for the succession among his generals, which lasted for approximately twenty years. In the end, the bulk of his empire was divided among four generals, with Ptolemy taking Egypt (“king of the south”) and the general, Seleucus, taking Syria and the east (“king of the south”). Thus, Daniel’s visions are firmly rooted in history.
In the Book of Revelation
The description of the being with the “appearance of a man” is combined with that of the one “like a son of man” from Daniel 7:13 to portray the glorious risen Christ in Revelation 1:12-18:
(Daniel 7:13) – “I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.”
(Daniel 10:5-6) – “I lifted up my eyes, and looked, and, behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as flaming torches, and his arms and his feet like unto burnished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
(Revelation 1:12-18) – “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
The phrase “four winds of heaven” occurs twice in Daniel and once in Revelation, just prior to the sealing of God’s servants, only in Revelation it is changed to the “four winds of the earth”:
(Daniel 7:2) – “Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of heaven brake forth upon the great sea.
(Daniel 11:4) – “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven.”
(Revelation 7:1-3) – “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascend from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

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