INTRODUCTION TO Daniel 10
This chapter is an introduction to the prophecies contained in the two following chapters; and begins with an account of Daniel's mourning and fasting, preparatory to the vision he had, Daniel 10:1, and of the appearance of Christ to him, with the time and place of it; who is described by his clothing, and the several parts of his body, which were very glorious, he appearing in a human form, Daniel 10:4, then follows an account of the effects it had upon him, Daniel 10:7, and of what encouragement and strength he received from him, by words and touches, to listen to what he said; and to expect a discovery and an understanding of things of moment and importance, which should be in future times, Daniel 10:10.
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.In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia,.... Not of his being king of Persia only, but of the Medopersian empire, after he had subdued the Babylonian empire, and annexed it to his dominions; and this is not to be reckoned from the time of his taking Babylon, and putting the government of it into the hands of his uncle Darius, with whom he jointly reigned; but from the time of his uncle's death, when he was sole monarch of the whole empire: he reigned thirty years, as Cicero (t), from a Persian writer, relates; which is to be reckoned from the time of his being appointed by his uncle commander-in-chief of the Persian and Median armies; for from his taking of Babylon to his death were but nine years; and so many years the canon of Ptolemy assigns to his reign, taking in the two years he reigned with his uncle; for from his being sole monarch, after the death of Cyaxares, or Darius the Mede his uncle, were but seven years; which, according to Xenophon (u), is the whole of his reign, who reckons it from thence; and it was in the third of these that Daniel had the visions contained in this and the two following chapters; which, according to Bishop Usher (w), and Dean Prideaux (x), was in the year of the world 3470 A.M. and 534 B.C. Mr. Bedford (y) places it in the year 533 B.C.: how long Daniel 54ed after this is not certain; very probably he died quickly after, since he must be in a very advanced age; for the third year of Cyrus being the seventy third of his captivity, as Dean Prideaux (z) observes; and if he was eighteen years of age, as that learned man thinks is the least that can be supposed at the time of his carrying into Babylon, he must have been in the ninety first year of his age at this time; or if he was but fifteen years of age at that time, which is the opinion of Aben Ezra on Daniel 1:4, he must be in the third year of Cyrus eighty eight years of age. The Dutch annotators observe, that Daniel 54ed in the court of Babylon above seventy seven years, which will carry his age to a greater length still. Jarchi on Daniel 1:21 asserts Daniel to be the same with Hatach in Esther 4:5 and so the Targum on that place, who lived in the times of Ahasuerus, supposed to be Xerxes: now between the third of Cyrus, and the beginning of Xerxes's reign, is mentioned a space of seventy one years, which, added to the least number eighty eight before given, will make Daniel now to be one hundred and fifty nine years old, when Ahasuerus or Xerxes began his reign; which is not only an age unfit for such business Hatach was employed in; but agrees not with the period in which Daniel 54ed, when it was not usual for men to live so long, and must be exploded as fabulous:
a thing was revealed unto Daniel; a secret, which he otherwise could never have known; and which was a singular favour to him, and showed him to be a friend of God, a favourite of his; and this respected the Persian and Grecian monarchies; the various kings of Egypt and Syria, and what should befall them; and the times of Antiochus, and the troubles the Jews would have through him:
(whose name was called Belteshazzar); a name given him by the prince of the eunuchs; see Daniel 1:7,
and the thing was true; was not a false vision, a mere fancy of the brain, an empty conjecture, a delusion of the mind, like the divination and soothsaying of the Gentiles, but a real thing, that was sure and certain, and would be fulfilled, and might be depended upon: but the time appointed was long; ere the whole would be accomplished; for it reached to the times of Antiochus, three hundred years after this, yea, to the resurrection of the dead, and the end of all things: or, "a great host", or "army" (a); a vast appearance of things were represented to him; not a host of angels, as Saadiah; but a vast number of facts, like an army of them, and which respected armies and battles; or it may denote the force, power, and efficacy of the word that was true, which should not fail, but be certainly fulfilled:
and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision; that is, Daniel understood "the word" (b), or words of the prophecy, in which it was expressed; they were clear and plain, and not obscure, dark, and doubtful; and he had a clear view of each of the parts of it, of the whole series of things, the connection of facts, and their dependence on one another, and their certain accomplishment; he saw them in their order, as they were presented to him in vision and prophecy; and was not at any loss about the meaning of any part of them, or the words by which they were signified.
(t) De Divinatione, l. 1.((u) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 45. (w) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3470. (x) Connexion, &c. par. 1. p. 161, 162. (y) Scripture Chronology, p. 718. (z) Ut supra. (Connexion, &c. par. 1. p. 161, 162) (a) "et militia magna", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "militia seu belligeratio ingens", Michaelis. (b) "verbum", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.In those days I Daniel was mourning,.... Either on account of what had been revealed to him in the last vision or prophecy of the seventy weeks; by which it appeared what wickedness the people of the Jews would be guilty of in cutting off the Messiah; and what desolations would come upon their land, city, and temple, for such usage of him: as also because of the present case of his people; many of them continuing in the country of Babylon, when they had liberty to return to their land: or because of the hinderance the Jews met with in rebuilding their city and temple, who had returned thither; of which Daniel had an account, and which caused him to mourn in secret: and so he continued
three full weeks; or, "three weeks of days" (c); so called, to distinguish them from weeks of years, mentioned in the preceding chapter.
(c) "tribus hebdomadibus dierum", Munster, Calvin, Tigurine version; "trium hebdomadarum diebus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, so Junius & Tremellius, Medus.
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.I ate no pleasant bread,.... Or, "bread of desires" (d); such as was made of the finest of the wheat, and was eaten in the courts of princes where Daniel was: according to some Jewish Rabbins in Ben Melech, hot bread is meant; but in general it means the best of bread, such as had good qualities to make it desirable; and this Daniel refrained from, while he was humbling and afflicting himself on this sorrowful occasion, but ate coarse bread, black and grainy:
neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth; not delicate meat, as of fish, fowl, deer, and the like, as Saadiah observes; but contented himself with meaner fare; nor did he drink generous wine, as he had used to do, living in a king's court, and which his old age made necessary for him, since he could come at it; but he abstained from it, and other lawful pleasures of nature, the more to give himself up to acts of devotion and contemplation:
neither did I anoint myself at all, until three whole weeks were fulfilled; which was wont to be frequently done by the Jews, especially at feasts; and by the Persians every day, among whom he now was; but this he refrained from, as was usual in times of fasting and humiliation; see Matthew 6:17.
(d) "panem desideriorum", Pagninus, Montanus; "desiderabilium", Junius & Tremellius; "desiderabilem", V. L. Vatablus, Piscator.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;And in the four and twentieth day of the first month,.... Of the third year of Cyrus, as Jacchiades; or rather of the Jewish year, the month Ab or Nisan, which answers to part of March and April; so that Daniel's fast began on the third day of the month, and lasted to the twenty fourth, in which time was the Jewish passover; and by this it seems it was not now kept; and perhaps in those times was not used to be observed by the Jews in a foreign land:
as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; the same with the Tigris, called by both names from the swiftness and rapidity of its motion, "hiddekel" signifying both sharp and swift; and tigris, in the Persian language, a dart; see Genesis 2:14. This is the same river the Targum of Jonathan on Genesis 2:14 calls Diglath; and is by Pliny (e) called Diglito, who observes that it has the name of Tigris from its swiftness; so he says the Medes call an arrow; likewise Curtius (f) takes notice of the same, and says that it is named Tigris from the celerity with which it flows; for in the Persian language they call a dart "tigris": so signifies in the Hebrew language "sharp" or "polished", as an arrow is; and "swift", as an arrow flies, and both make Hiddekel: now this river was near Shushan, where Daniel resided; nay, Benjamin of Tudela (g) says, that the river Hiddekel divides the city of Shushan, over which is a bridge, on one side of which Jews dwelt, at the time he was there; unless he means that it cuts and divides the province of Elam in Persia, he had before been speaking of; and so Diodorus Siculus (h) says, that both Euphrates and Tigris pass through Media into Mesopotamia; wherefore it is no wonder to hear of Daniel by the side of the river Hiddekel or Tigris: here Daniel was, not in vision, but in person, having others with him, as appears from a following verse; by it he was walking, contemplating, praying, or conversing.
(e) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. (f) Hist. l. 4. c. 9. (g) Itinerarium, p. 86. (h) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 99.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked,.... Being excited to it, by an object presented, of an unusual appearance, which engaged his attention, and caused him to look wistly at it:
and, behold a certain man clothed in linen; not Gabriel, but the Son of God, the Messiah; who, though not as yet incarnate, yet was so in the counsel and purpose of God; had agreed in covenant to be man, was promised and prophesied of as such; and now appeared in a human form, as he frequently did before his incarnation, as a pledge of it, and showing his readiness to assume human nature: he appears here "clothed in linen", in the habit of a priest; which office he sustains, and executes by the sacrifice of himself, and by his prevalent intercession; and may denote his purity and innocence, as well as direct us to his spotless righteousness he is the author of, which is like fine linen, clean and white, Revelation 19:8,
whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz; or of Fez, which is the best gold. Some take it to be the same with the gold of Ophir, often spoken of in Scripture; so the Targum on Jeremiah 10:9, renders Uphaz by Ophir. Ptolemy (i) makes mention of a river called Phasis in the island of Taprobane or Zeilan, where Bochart (k) seems to think Ophir was, from whence the gold of that name came; and the same geographer (l) takes notice of a city and river of the same name in Colchis; perhaps the same with Pison, which encompassed Havilah, where was good gold, Genesis 2:11, and both Strabo (m) and Pliny (n) say that much gold was found in that country, and taken out of rivers there; and was so plentiful, that even chambers were made of gold, Some think that this was an island in India called Paz or Topaz, and might with the Jews go by all three names, Paz, Topaz, and Uphaz (o); however, it is certain, that very fine gold, even the finest gold, is here designed: and the loins of this illustrious Person being girded with a girdle made of it, as it may be expressive of his royal dignity, so likewise of his readiness to do any service he was employed in, as man and Mediator; and especially the great work of man's redemption and salvation, for the sake of which he would really become man, as he has, as well as now he appeared as one; see Revelation 1:13 where Christ is said to be "girt with a golden girdle"; and such an one was this; and which is to be understood, not of his girdle as a King, which is a girdle of faithfulness and righteousness, Isaiah 11:5, all his administrations of government being just and true; though such a girdle well suits him, and his character in the discharge of every office, as well as his kingly office; nor of his girdle as a Prophet, which is the girdle of truth, which all his faithful ministers are girt with, Ephesians 6:14, and he in a more eminent manner, who is full of grace and truth, and by whom both came, and who is truth itself; but of his girdle as a Priest; for as such is he here habited, and such a girdle the priests used to wear, even the girdle of the ephod, made of gold, blue, purple, and fine twined linen, Exodus 28:8, and this is the girdle of love, which constrained Christ to become the surety and substitute of his people; to take upon him their nature, and their sins; to offer himself a sacrifice for them, and to be their advocate with the Father; and the form and matter of this girdle being round about him, and of gold, may denote the perfection, duration, and eternity of his love.
(i) Geograph. l. 7. c. 4. (k) Phaleg. l. 2. c. 27. Colossians 141. (l) Ptolem. Geograph. l. 5. c. 10. (m) Geograph. l. 11. p. 343. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 3.((o) Hiller. Onomastic. Sacr. c. 8. p. 141.
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.His body also was like the beryl,.... That is, that part of it which was not covered with the linen garment, and was seen, was like such a precious stone, said to be of an azure and sky colour, signifying he was the Lord from heaven; though, according to its name, it should be of a sea colour, greenish; and so, according to some, the beryl is. Cocceius thinks the sardonyx is meant, which is of a flesh colour, and so more fit to express the comeliness of a human body; the beryl, being of a different colour, seems not so apt to set forth the agreeable colour of a man. Braunius (p) is of opinion that the chrysolite is meant, a stone of a golden colour; and takes the sense to be, that such was the lustre of the golden girdle about his loins, that the rest of the parts of the body about it appeared as if all of gold:
and his face the appearance of lightning; exceeding bright, very dazzling to the eye, and striking terror to the mind; expressive of something very awful and majestic; and agrees well with Christ the sun of righteousness, whose face or countenance at his transfiguration on the mount, and when John saw him in a visionary way, was as the sun shineth in his strength, in the summer solstice, or at noonday, Matthew 17:2, from whom is all the light of knowledge and truth, of joy, peace, and comfort, of grace and glory; and which darts as swiftly and as powerfully from him as the rays of the sun, or as lightning from one end of the heaven to the other; and irradiates and illuminates as brightly and clearly:
and his eyes as lamps of fire; denoting his omniscience of all persons and things; and how piercing and penetrating his eyes are into the affairs of men and states, by whom they are clearly seen, and to whom they are exactly known; and how fierce and terrible his wrath is towards his enemies, and whose looks must inject dread and terror into them; see Revelation 19:12,
and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass; denoting his great strength for action, his stability and firmness, and the glory of his power, in trampling upon his enemies, and subduing them; especially as displayed in the redemption of his people, when his own arm wrought salvation for them; when he came travelling in the greatness of his strength, and trod the winepress of his father's wrath alone; when he set his feet on the necks of his and his people's enemies, and got an entire victory over sin, Satan, and the world, under whose feet they are, and ever will be subject:
and the voice of his words; not of the law, which was a voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more, and were very sonorous and dreadful; but rather of the Gospel, of the words and doctrines of grace and truth, which proceeded out of the mouth of Christ, and were such as were wondered at; which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, sweet, charming, and alluring, powerful and efficacious; and the words of it are the words of peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; yea, this voice of Christ may take in his voice and words of commands, his ordinances and institutions, which he requires an obedience unto; and even his threatenings of wrath and ruin to wicked men, as well as his gracious and precious promises to his people: and this voice of his is said to be
like the voice of a multitude; of a great many men together; whose voice is heard a long way off, and is very strong and powerful: or,
as the voice of noise (q); which may be understood either of the noise of a multitude of men, or of the sea, or of many waters; see Revelation 1:15 and may intend the power and efficacy of his words, whether in his doctrines, or in his judgments, in a way of grace and comfort, or of wrath and vengeance.
(p) De Vestitu Sacerdot. Hebr. l. 2. c. 17. sect 10, 11, 12. p. 721, 722. (q) "ut vox tumultus", Montanus, "vel strepitus", Piscator, Michaelis.
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.And I Daniel alone saw the vision,.... The object or person described; though he was not alone when he saw it, yet he alone saw it; the eyes of his body and mind being quicker than the rest, the Lord strengthening and enlightening both; for this was a peculiar and distinguishing favour granted to him:
for the men that were with me saw not the vision; at least not so clearly and distinctly as Daniel did; they might have some confused sight of an object that appeared very terrible; but, being struck with consternation, they had not presence of mind to look at it; and so could neither form nor retain scarce any idea of it: or their eyes might be held, and their sight clouded; or be stricken with a kind of blindness, or want of sight for a time, as the men of Sodom were; or the object was of such a nature, that without special illumination it could not be seen: the like happened to Elisha's young man, who saw not the chariots and horses of fire the prophet did, and to the men that were with the Apostle Paul, 2 Kings 6:17, who these men were, that were with Daniel, is not material to know; whether they were his three companions, who had been cast into the fiery furnace; or the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, as Jarchi and Saadiah say from their Rabbins (r); neither of which are likely, since these, being good men and prophets, would doubtless have been favoured with the same vision: but rather they were the servants of Daniel, who waited upon him, he being now a great man in the Persian court; and these men being very likely Heathens, profane and unregenerate men, were not fit and prepared to see such a vision:
but a great quaking fell upon them: or "for", so Noldius; giving a reason why they saw not, because or the great fear and trembling upon them; either at the glimmering sight of this strange appearance, which they knew not what to make of; or rather at the sound of his voice, which was so very loud and terrible:
so that they fled to hide themselves; among the trees that grew upon the banks of the Tigris, as Adam among the trees of the garden; or in some wood or forest hard by; or in some caves and dens, which might be near at hand: this not only shows the confusion and consternation they were in, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it,
they fled with terror; or
through it, as the Syriac version; but serves to confirm the truth of the vision, that it was not a mere fancy and imagination of Daniel.
(r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 2.
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.Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision,.... Which was great indeed, both with respect to the object now seen, and with respect to the subject matter, the things afterwards revealed, the nature, use, and importance of them; and it was so wisely ordered by the Lord, that the men with Daniel should be seized with a panic, and flee and leave him alone; that they being removed from him, he might have the secrets of the Lord revealed to him as a peculiar favourite of his, and hear and see the things he did:
and there remained no strength in me: either through the intenseness of his mind upon the object before him, and to what he said; or through the awe he was struck with at the sight of him; his blood running back to the heart to secure that; his nerves loosened; his hands weak and hanging down; his knees feeble, and spirits faint, just ready to sink and swoon away:
for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption; the form of his countenance was marred; his forehead wrinkled; his eyes sunk; the sprightliness and vivacity of them gone; his cheeks turned pale; his lips quivering; his joints trembling; his vigour and health impaired; all nature convulsed; and he lifeless and spiritless, like a dead carcass:
and I retained no strength; or, "restrained" (s) it not; his strength; could not keep it from going out of him, either of body or mind; he could not rally the powers of nature, so depressed was he with the vision: all which is observed, both to exaggerate the greatness of the vision, and the favour and goodness of God after shown him; as well as to observe the weakness of human nature, not being able to bear the sight of a divine Person, or such discoveries the Lord is sometimes pleased to make, without being strengthened and supported in an extraordinary manner.
(s) "non cohibui", Gejerus.
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.Yet heard I the voice of his words,.... Though he was struck with so much awe, and his spirits so greatly depressed, and his body reduced to so low a condition; yet he was capable of attending to the voice, and of hearing the articulate sounds pronounced, and of understanding what was said:
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; as soon as he heard his words, he fell upon his face to the ground, either in a way of worship and adoration, of prayer and supplication, as the Arabic version suggests; or through awe and reverence of the speaker, as well as through faintness of spirits; and these being quite exhausted, as it were, might be the reason of his falling into a deep sleep; unless it can be thought he was lulled into it, through the sweetness of the voice he had heard.
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.And, behold, an hand touched me,.... Not the hand of the man clothed with linen, whose voice he heard, and whose hand was like polished brass, Daniel 10:6, but the hand of one distinct from him, one of his attendants, Daniel 12:5 that had the similitude of the sons of men, Daniel 10:16, and whose hand was softer, and nearer a human one; very probably the hand of the Angel Gabriel in human form, who had touched him before, when in the like circumstances, Daniel 8:16,
which set me upon my knees, and upon the palms of my hands; or, "which caused him to move" (t); from the prostrate condition in which he was, and raised him up a little upon his hands; so that, with a little difficulty, he might be able to raise himself to stand upright.
(t) "movere fecit me", Pagninus, Montanus; "commovit me", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius; "movit me", Tigurine version, Michaelis.
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 now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved,.... Or, "a man of desires" (u); a most desirable man, lovely to God and men; the same epithet Gabriel gives him, Daniel 9:22, which confirms the sentiment, that it is he that touched Daniel, and is here speaking, distinct from the glorious Person before described:
understand the words that I speak unto thee; attend unto them, in order to understand them; and which he was sent to give him an understanding of, as in Daniel 8:16, which is a further confirmation that this is Gabriel:
and stand upright; being upon his hands and knees, Daniel 10:10, but now is bid to "stand on his standing" (w), or his station; upon his feet, in an erect posture, which was fittest for attention, and most decent and becoming a hearer and learner of the mind of God, from one of his messengers: and therefore, the more to excite him to such a posture, he adds,
for unto thee am I now sent: of God, and particularly to the prophet, and that after three weeks' fasting and mourning: this is another proof that not the glorious Person before described, but an angel of his, is meant, since he is said to be "sent" to Daniel:
and when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling: he got up and stood upon his feet, as the angel had bid him, but trembling and tottering, not yet recovered from his fainting fit; like a man that has been ill, and got upon his legs again, trembles and totters as he goes or stands: and also, though the angel was kind and serviceable to him, set him on his knees and hands, and spoke to him in a tender manner; yet the appearance of such a divine messenger had such an effect upon him, as we find such appearances used to have on good men.
(u) "vir desideriorum", V. L. (w) "sta super stare tuum", Montanus, Calvin; "sta in statione tua", Piscator; "super statione tua", Michaelis.
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.Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel,.... Perceiving him to shake and tremble, and to be intimidated at his presence, he speaks comfortably to him, and encourages him to lay aside his fears, that he might be more capable of attending to what he was about to say to him; and which had a tendency of themselves to remove his fears, and increase his confidence in the Lord:
for from the first day thou didst set thine heart to understand; not so much the former visions which he had an understanding of, as the future state of his people; or rather, the reason of their present distressed condition, being hindered by their enemies in rebuilding their city and temple:
and to chasten thyself before thy God; to humble himself in prayer, and to afflict himself by fasting:
thy words were heard; his prayers were heard, and an answer ordered to be given, the very first day he began to pray, and fast, and mourn, though it was now full three weeks since; just as, at the beginning of his former supplications, Gabriel had a commandment to go and show him that they were heard, Daniel 9:23,
and I am come forth for thy words; on account of his prayers, to bring an answer to them; the reason why he came no sooner, when it was three weeks since he received his order, is as follows:
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days,.... Which was just the time Daniel had been mourning and fasting, Daniel 10:2, and the angel had had his instructions to acquaint him with the Lord's answer to his prayers: by "the prince of the kingdom of Persia" is not to be understood the then reigning king of Persia, Cyrus, or his son Cambyses; who either of them would have been called rather king of Persia; nor were they able to withstand an angel, and such an one as Gabriel; nor is a good angel meant, the tutelar one of this kingdom; for it cannot be reasonably thought that good angels should militate against one another; but an evil angel, either Satan, the prince and god of this world, or one of his principal angels under him, employed by him to do what mischief he could in the court of Persia, against the people of God, the Jews; and with this sense agree the contests ascribed to Satan and the Angel of the Lord concerning Joshua, Zechariah 3:1 and to Michael and the devil disputing about the body of Moses, Jde 1:9 and to Michael and his angels, and the devil and his angels, warring in heaven, Revelation 12:7, now Gabriel's business in the court of Persia was to work upon the minds of the king of Persia and his nobles, and to influence their counsels, and put them on such measures as would be in favour of the Jews, and be encouraging to them to go on in the rebuilding of their city and temple: in this he was withstood and opposed by an evil spirit that counterworked him; by exasperating the spirit of Cambyses against them; by stirring up the Samaritans to corrupt the Persian courtiers with gifts, to take their part against the Jews; and by influencing them to accept of their gifts, and act in their favour; and this business on the angel's hands, to oppose these measures, detained him at the Persian court for the three weeks Daniel had been fasting and praying:
but, lo, Michael one of the chief Princes, came to help me; called in the New Testament an Archangel, the Prince of angels, the Head of all principality and power; and is no other than Christ the Son of God, an uncreated Angel; who is "one", or "the first of the chief Princes" (x), superior to angels, in nature, name, and office; he came to "help" Gabriel, not as a fellow creature, but as the Lord of hosts; not as a fellow soldier, but as General of the armies in heaven and earth, as superior to him in wisdom and strength; and he helped him by giving him fresh counsels, orders, and instructions, which he following succeeded:
and I remained there with the kings of Persia; with the king of Persia and his nobles, putting into execution the orders Michael had given him, and so baffled the designs of the evil spirit; and this retarded him from being with the prophet one and twenty days. The Septuagint and Arabic versions very wrongly render the words, "and I left him there with the kings of Persia"; as if Michael was left there by Gabriel, whereas it was just the reverse.
(x) "primus", Junius & Tremellius.
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.Now I am come to make thee to understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days,.... The contest being over with the prince of Persia, and having got an advantage, and carried his point in favour of the Jews; he came directly to Daniel, to inform him of what should befall the people of the Jews in the succeeding monarchies, especially in the times of Antiochus; and even of all that should befall them until the Messiah came, as Aben Ezra rightly interprets it; for the last days generally design the days of the Messiah; see Genesis 49:1,
for yet the vision is for many days; before it will be accomplished; reaching not only to the times of Antiochus, three hundred years after this, but even to the times of antichrist, of whom he was a type; and to the resurrection of the dead, and the end of time, as the two next chapters show; see Habakkuk 2:3.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.And when he had spoken such words unto me,.... As before related, concerning the contest between him and the prince of Persia; and especially concerning what would befall the people of the Jews in the latter day:
I set my face toward the ground; not being able to look up; his eyes were fixed upon the earth like one confounded and thunderstruck, filled with amazement and wonder:
and I became dumb; not able to speak a word, as is the case of persons sometimes in surprise, or through excess of any of the passions: this arose either from the majesty of the angel; or rather from the nature and importance of the things he said; or from a consciousness of his own impurity, and so of his unworthiness to converse with so exalted a creature, and to be favoured with such secrets. The Arabic version is, "and I supplicated"; very wrongly.
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.And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men,.... Not the man clothed with linen, or Christ; but either the same angel, Gabriel, who appeared more manifestly to him in a human form; or another of the attendants of Christ, who also had the similitude of a man:
touched my lips; with his hand, as the Prophet Isaiah's were, by a seraph, with a live coal from the altar, Isaiah 6:7, thereby restoring him to his speech, and giving him freedom and boldness to make use of it; and removing from him his impurity, and a sense of it, which occasioned his silence:
then I opened my mouth, and spake freely, and yet with all becoming modesty:
and said unto him that stood before me, O lord; the angel that appeared in the likeness of a man, and stood before the prophet, and touched his lips, whom he calls "lord"; not because of sovereignty and dominion over him, which belong to Christ, as the Creator of all things, and Head of the church; but for honour's sake, being a noble and exalted creature:
by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me; on sight of the glorious object represented to him in the vision, pains seized his body in all parts of it, sharp and pungent, like those of a woman in travail. Gussetius (y) interprets it of the knuckle bones, which turned in the pan of them, like the hinges of a door, of which the word is used, Proverbs 26:14, and this through the tendons being loosed by the dissipation of the spirits; and this sense the Vulgate Latin version gives countenance to,
my joints are dissolved; the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, are, "my inward parts or bowels are turned in me: and I have retained no strength"; See Gill on Daniel 10:8.
(y) Comment. Ebr. p. 713.
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.For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord?.... Or, "talk with that my lord?" (z) pointing to the man clothed in linen, who appeared so glorious, and whom Daniel knew to be more than a man; and therefore he, who was a mere mortal sinful man, and reckoned himself a servant of the angel of the Lord that was now before him, and had touched him, and was conversing with him, and to whom he was greatly inferior, must be very unfit and unworthy to have conversation with one that was infinitely above him; "with such an one", his Lord, as Noldius (a) renders it, as Christ the Son of God, the Head of angels, King of kings, and Lord of lords; what was he, dust and ashes, that he should speak unto him, or be admitted to any discourse with him? so sensible was he of the greatness of Christ, and of his own frailty, sinfulness, and nothingness;
for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me; as soon as ever he saw this great and glorious person; See Gill on Daniel 10:8,
neither is there breath left in me: when he fainted away, and became like a dead man; and though he was raised up again, and set upon his feet, and had a little recovered his speech, yet it was with great difficulty that he breathed and spoke; as it is with men when their spirits are greatly oppressed, it is as if their life and soul were gone out of them, and they move more like dead than living men.
(z) "cum domino meo illo", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Junius & Tremellius. (a) Concord. Ebr. Part. p. 353.
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man,.... Or one like a man again touched him; the same that touched him before, Daniel 10:16, perhaps Gabriel, since he uses the same language in the following verse as he does Daniel 10:11,
and he strengthened me; both in body and mind, by his free and familiar conversation with him, and the comfortable words he spoke to him, a divine power accompanying them for that purpose.
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.And said, O man, greatly beloved,..... Or, "man of desires", as before, Daniel 10:11, which shows it to be the same here speaking as there, and probably Gabriel:
fear not; for a man has nothing to fear, from men or devils, that is beloved of the Lord; and especially from good angels, how glorious and majestic soever they are:
peace be unto thee; all prosperity of body and soul; inward peace of mind, a freedom from all hurry of thought, and commotion of the passions, and eternal peace and joy in the world to come:
be strong, yea, be strong; take heart, pull up the spirits, be of good courage, play the man; be strong in the Lord, and in his grace, and fear nothing: the word is repeated for the greater encouragement:
and when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened: divine power going along with his word; the prophet found his bodily strength renewed, his spirits revived, his heart cheerful, and his soul comforted, and all fear and dread removed from him; which was owing to the energy of divine grace; for otherwise not only men, but angels too, would speak in vain:
and said, let my lord speak, for thou hast strengthened me; and so was able to bear the sight of him, support in his presence, and hear his words, and take in what he said, which before he was unfit for; so an angel may be an instrument of strengthening a saint, yea, a prophet, and even our Lord Jesus Christ himself as man, Luke 22:43.
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.Then said he, knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee?.... He had told him before, Daniel 10:12, that it was on account of his prayers, and to bring an answer to them; and particularly to inform him what would befall his people in the latter day; and now, lest, through the hurry of his spirits, he had not observed it, or had forgot it, he reminds him of it, to stir up his desire the more after the knowledge of particulars, which he was now about to relate unto him: and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia; the evil spirit, in the court of Persia, he had been contesting with before, and had got the better of by the help of Michael; but since this good angel had been with Daniel, the evil one had been working upon the king and counsellors of Persia, and had wrought them up to an indifference unto, or carelessness about, the affairs of the people of the Jews, and to listen to their adversaries, whereby the building of the city and temple went on heavily and slowly; and so things were, through the evil influence of Satan, more or less, until the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus: and, indeed, Satan was continually soliciting mischief against the Jews, and stirring up enemies to them in the court of Persia, as long as that monarchy lasted, though he had not always the wished for success; the times of Esther and Mordecai are a proof of this:
and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come; meaning, when he was gone forth from the court of Persia, having done his business he was sent about; confounded the schemes and baffled the designs of the evil spirit, conquered him, and obliged him to give way, and cease from being troublesome any more, and obtained peace and rest for the Jews, and settled their affairs: the Persian monarchy being translated to the Grecians, the evil spirit began to work among them, to put them on doing mischief to the people of God; as in Alexander himself, who set out against them, but was pacified by the meeting of the high priest; and more especially in his successors; and above all in Antiochus, who was a violent persecutor of them; which this clause, as well as the following prophecy, has a respect unto.
But I will shew 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.But I will show that which is noted in the Scripture of truth,.... Not in the written word, though there are many things relating to what should befall the Jews in the latter day, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1 but in the decrees and purposes of God, which are sometimes signified by a book, and things written in it; because so particular and distinct, and so sure and certain, and which will be most truly, infallibly, and punctually performed: these are "noted", marked, engraven, in the eternal mind of God; they are "in writing", and they are "truth" (b), as it may be rendered, since there is a distinguishing accent between "Scripture" and "truth": they are written in the book of God's decrees, and are his true and faithful words and sayings, and will most surely be accomplished: now these are the deep things of God, which angels themselves know nothing of, till they are revealed unto them: the angel here having a revelation of such of them as concerned the future monarchies of the earth, and the case of the Jews under them, promises to show them to Daniel; which was the work he was appointed to do:
and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your Prince; Christ the Prince of the kings of the earth, he was the Prince, Protector, and Guardian of the people of the Jews; he is the Angel that went before them in the wilderness, and guarded them in it, and guided them into the land of Canaan; he is the Angel of God's presence, that bore, carried, and saved them all the days of old, and was their King and their God, their Defender and Deliverer, still; he took their part, and was on their side; yea, he was on the side of, and took part with, them that were for them, the holy angels; and there was none but him that exerted his power, and strengthened Gabriel to act for them in "these things" relating to their peace and prosperity: or, "against these" (c), as it may be rendered; against the princes of Persia and Greece, the evil spirits that worked in these kingdoms, in the children of disobedience there; and had it not been for him, and the exertion of his mighty power, it would have been soon all over with the people of the Jews; as it would be now with the church of Christ, of which they were typical, but the Lord is on their side; Michael the Archangel, and his angels under him, fight for it, protect and defend it; and since he is for his people, who shall be against them? or to what purpose will an opposition be? the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of God, the saints of the most High.
(b) "quod exaratum est in Scripto, in Scripto verace", Piscator. (c) "contra illos", Piscator, Gejerus.