And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
And at that time - At the period referred to in the preceding chapter. The fair construction of the passage demands this interpretation, and if that refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, then what is here said must also; and we are to look for the direct and immediate fulfillment of this prediction in something that occurred under him, however, it may be supposed to have an ultimate reference to other and more remote events. The phrase "at that time," however, does not limit what is here said to any one part of his life, or to his death, but to the general period referred to in the time of his reign. That reign was but eleven years, and the fulfillment must be found somewhere during that period.
Shall Michael - On the meaning of this word, and the being here referred to, see the notes at Daniel 10:13.
Stand up - That is, he shall interpose; he shall come forth to render aid. This does not mean necessarily that he would visibly appear, but that he would in fact interpose. In the time of great distress and trouble, there would be supernatural or angelic aid rendered to the people of God. No man can prove that this would not be so, nor is there any inherent improbability in the supposition that good angels may be employed to render assistance in the time of trouble. Compare the notes at Daniel 10:13.
The great prince which standeth for the children of thy people - See the notes as above at Daniel 10:13. The meaning is, that he had the affairs of the Hebrew people, or the people of God, especially under his protection, or he was appointed to watch over them. This doctrine is in accordance with the notions that prevailed at that time; and no one can demonstrate that it is not true. There is no authority for applying this to the Messiah, as many have done, for the term Michael is not elsewhere given to him, and all that the language fairly conveys is met by the other supposition. The simple meaning is, that he who was the guardian angel of that nation, or who was appointed to watch over its interests, would at that time of great trouble interpose and render aid.
And there shall be a time of trouble - Under Antiochus Epiphanes. See the notes at Daniel 11:21-45. Compare the books of the Maccabees, passim.
Such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time - This might be construed with reference to the Jewish nation, as meaning that the trouble would be greater than any that had occurred during its history. But it may also be taken, as our translators understand it, in a more general sense, as referring to any or all nations. In either sense it can hardly be considered as the language of hyperbole. The troubles that came upon the land under the persecutions of Antiochus probably surpassed any that the Hebrew nation ever experienced, nor could it be shown that, for the same period of time, they were surpassed among any other people. The Saviour has employed this language as adapted to express the intensity of the trials which would be brought upon the Jews by the Romans Mat 24:21, but he does not say that as used in Daniel it had reference originally to that event. It was language appropriate to express the thought which he wished to convey, and he, therefore, so employed it.
And at that time - When these troubles are at their height.
Thy people shall be delivered - To wit, by the valor and virtues of the Maccabees. See the accounts in the books of the Maccabees. Compare Prideaux, Con. iii. 257, following.
Every one that shall be found written in the book - Whose names are enrolled; that is, enrolled as among the living. The idea is, that a register was made of the names of those who were to be spared, to wit, by God, or by the angel, and that all whose names were so recorded would be preserved. Those not so enrolled would be cut off under the persecutions of Antiochus. The language here does not refer to the book of eternal life or salvation, nor is it implied that they who would thus be preserved would necessarily be saved, but to their preservation from death and persecution, as if their names were recorded in a book, or were enrolled. We frequently meet with similar ideas in the Scriptures. The idea is, of course, poetical, but it expresses with sufficient clearness the thought that there was a Divine purpose in regard to them, and that there was a definite number whom God designed to keep alive, and that these would be delivered from those troubles, while many others would be cut off. Compare the notes at Daniel 10:21.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And many of them - The natural and obvious meaning of the word "many" (רבים rabı̂ym) here is, that a large portion of the persons referred to would thus awake, but not all. So we should understand it if applied to other things, as in such expressions as these - "many of the people," "many of the houses in a city," "many of the trees in a forest," "many of the rivers in a country," etc. In the Scriptures, however, it is undeniable that the word is sometimes used to denote the whole considered as constituted of many, as in Romans 5:15-16, Romans 5:19. In these passages no one can well doubt that the word many is used to denote all, considered as composed of the "many" that make up the human race, or the "many" offences that man has committed. So if it were to be used respecting those who were to come forth from the caves and fastnesses where they had been driven by persecution, or those who sleep in their graves, and who will come forth in a general resurrection, it might be used of them considered as the many, and it might be said "the many" or "the multitude" comes forth.
Not a few interpreters, therefore, have understood this in the sense of all, considered as referring to a multitude, or as suggesting the idea of a multitude, or keeping up the idea that there would be great numbers. If this is the proper interpretation, the word "many" was used instead of the word "all" to suggest to the mind the idea that there would be a multitude, or that there would be a great number. Some, as Lengerke, apply it to all the Israelites who "were not written in the book" Daniel 12:1, that is, to a resurrection of all the Israelites who had died; some, as Porphyry, a coining forth of the multitudes out of the caves and fastnesses who had been driven there by persecution; and some, as Rosenmuller and Havernick, understand it as meaning all, as in Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19. The sum of all that can be said in regard to the meaning of the word, it seems to me, is, that it is so far ambiguous that it might be applied
(a) to "many" considered as a large portion of a number of persons or things;
(b) or, in an absolute sense, to the whole of any number of persons or things considered as a multitude or great number.
As used here in the visions of the future, it would seem to denote that the eye of the angel was fixed on a great multitude rising from the dust of the earth, without any particular or distinct reference to the question whether all arose. There would be a vast or general resurrection from the dust; so much so that the mind would be interested mainly in the contemplation of the great hosts who would thus come forth. Thus understood, the language might, of itself, apply either to a general arousing of the Hebrew people in the time of the Maccabees, or to a general resurrection of the dead in the last day.
That sleep - This expression is one that denotes either natural sleep, or anything that resembles sleep. In the latter sense it is often used to denote death, and especially the death of the pious - who calmly slumber in their graves in the hope of awaking in the morning of the resurrection. See the notes at 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It cannot be denied that it might be applied to those who, for any cause, were inactive, or whose energies were not aroused - as we often employ the word sleep or slumber - and that it might be tints used of those who seemed to slumber in the midst of the persecutions which raged, and the wrongs that were committed by Antiochus; but it would be most natural to understand it of those who were dead, and this idea would be particularly suggested in the connection in which it stands here.
In the dust of the earth - Hebrew, "In the ground, or earth of dust" - ארמת־עפר 'ademath ‛âphâr. The language denotes the ground or earth considered as composed of dust, and would naturally refer to those who are dead and buried - considered as sleeping there with the hope of awaking in the resurrection.
Shall awake - This is language appropriate to those who are asleep, and to the dead considered as being asleep. It might, indeed, be applied to an arousing from a state of lethargy and inaction, but its most obvious, and its full meaning, would be to apply it to the resurrection of the dead, considered as an awaking to life of those who were slumbering in their graves.
Some - One portion of them. The relative number is not designated, but it is implied that there would be two classes. They would not all rise to the same destiny, or the same lot.
To everlasting life - So that they would live forever. This stands in contrast with their" sleeping in the dust of the earth," or their being dead, and it implies that that state would not occur in regard to them again. Once they slept in the dust of the earth; now they would live for ever, or would die no more. Whether in this world or in another is not here said, and there is nothing in the passage which would enable one to determine this. The single idea is that of living forever, or never dying again. This is language which must have been derived from the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and of the future state, and which must imply the belief of that doctrine in whatever sense it may be used here. It is such as in subsequent times was employed by the sacred writers to denote the future state, and the rewards of the righteous. The most common term employed in the New Testament, perhaps, to describe true religion, is life, and the usual phrase to denote the condition of the righteous after the resurrection is eternal or everlasting life. Compare Matthew 25:46. This language, then, would most naturally be referred to that state, and covers all the subsequent revelations respecting the condition of the blessed.
And some to shame - Another portion in such a way that they shall have only shame or dishonor. The Hebrew word means reproach, scorn, contumely; and it may be applied to the reproach which one casts on another, Job 16:10; Psalm 39:8 (9); Psalm 79:12; or to the reproach which rests on anyone, Joshua 5:9; Isaiah 54:4. Here the word means the reproach or dishonor which would rest on them for their sins, their misconduct, their evil deeds. The word itself would apply to any persons who were subjected to disgrace for their former misconduct. If it be understood here as having a reference to those who would be aroused from their apathy, and summoned from their retreats in the times of the Maccabees, the meaning is, that they would be called forth to public shame on account of their apostasy, and their conformity to pagan customs; if it be interpreted as applying to the resurrection of the dead, it means that the wicked would rise to reproach and shame before the universe for their folly and vileness. As a matter of fact, one of the bitterest ingredients in the doom of the wicked will be the shame and confusion with which they will be overwhelmed in the great day on account of the sins and follies of their course in this world.
And everlasting contempt - The word "everlasting" in this place is the same which in the former part of the verse is applied to the other portion that would awake, and like that properly denotes eternal; as in Matthew 25:46, the word translated "everlasting" (punishment) is the same which is rendered "eternal" (life), and means what is to endure forever. So the Greek here, where the same word occurs, as in Matthew 25:46 - "some to everlasting life," εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον eis zōēn aiōnion, "and some to everlasting contempt," εἰς αἰσχύνην αἰώνιον eis aischunēn aiōnion - is one which would denote a strict and proper eternity. The word "contempt" (דראון derâ'ôn) means, properly, a repulse; and then aversion, abhorrence. The meaning here is aversion or abhorrence - the feeling with which we turn away from what is loathsome, disgusting, or hateful. Then it denotes the state of mind with which we contemplate the vile and the abandoned; and in this respect expresses the emotion with which the wicked will be viewed on the final trial. The word everlasting completes the image, meaning that this feeling of loathing and abhorrence would continue forever. In a subordinate sense this language might be used to denote the feelings with which cowards, ingrates, and apostates are regarded on earth; but it cannot be doubted that it will receive its most perfect fulfillment in the future world - in that aversion with which the lost will be viewed by all holy beings in the world to come.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
And they that be wise - This is the language which, in the Scriptures, is employed to denote the pious, or those who serve God and keep his commandments. See the book of Proverbs, passim. True religion is wisdom, and sin is folly, and they who live for God and for heaven are the truly wise. The meaning is, that they have chosen the path which true wisdom suggests as that in which man should walk, while all the ways of sin are ways of folly. The language used here is expressive of a general truth, applicable in itself to all the righteous at all times, and nothing can be inferred from the term employed as to what was designed by the angel.
Shall shine as the brightness of the firmament - As the sky above us. The image is that of the sky at night, thick set with bright and beautiful stars. No comparison could be more striking. The meaning would seem to be, that each one of the righteous will be like a bright and beautiful star, and that, in their numbers, and order, and harmony, they would resemble the heavenly constellations at night. Nothing can be more sublime than to look on the heavens in a clear night, and to think of the number and the order of the stars above us as an emblem of the righteous in the heavenly world. The word rendered firmament means, properly, expanse, or what is spread out, and it is applied to the sky as it appears to be spread out above us.
And they that turn many to righteousness - Referring to those who would be instrumental in converting men to the worship of the true God, and to the ways of religion. This is very general language, and might be applied to any persons who have been the means of bringing sinners to the knowledge of the truth. It would apply in an eminent degree to ministers of the gospel who were successful in their work, and to missionaries among the pagan. From the mere language, however, nothing certain can be argued as to the original reference as used by the angel, and it seems to have been his intention to employ language so general that it might be applied to all, of all ages and countries, who would be instrumental in turning men to God.
As the stars - As the stars that are distinguished by their size and luster in the firmament. In the former part of the verse, when speaking of those who were "wise," the design seems to be to compare them to the sky as it appears, set over with innumerable stars, and in their numbers and groupings constituting great beauty; in this member of the sentence the design seems to be to compare these who are eminent in converting men, to the particular beautiful and bright stars that strike us as we look on the heavens - those more distinguished in size and splendor, and that seem to lead on the others. The meaning is, that amidst the hosts of the saved they will be conspicuous, or they will be honored in proportion to their toils, their sacrifices, and their success.
Forever and ever - To all eternity. This refers to those who shall turn many to righteousness; and the meaning is, that they shall continue thus to be distinguished and honored to all eternity.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words - To wit, by sealing them up, or by closing the book, and writing no more in it. The meaning is, that all has been communicated which it was intended to communicate. The angel had no more to say, and the volume might be sealed up.
And seal the book - This would seem to have been not an unusual custom in closing a prophecy, either by affixing a seal to it that should be designed to confirm it as the prophet's work - as we seal a deed, a will, or a contract; or to secure the volume, as we seal a letter. Compare the notes at Daniel 8:26; Isaiah 8:16.
Even to the time of the end - That is, the period when all these things shall be accomplished. Then
(a) the truth of the prediction now carefully sealed up will be seen and acknowledged;
(b) and then, also, it may be expected that there will be clearer knowledge on all these subjects, for the facts will throw increased light on the meaning and the bearing of the predictions.
Many shall run to and fro - Shall pass up and down in the world, or shall go from place to place. The reference is clearly to those who should thus go to impart knowledge; to give information; to call the attention of men to great and important matters. The language is applicable to any methods of imparting important knowledge, and it refers to a time when this would be the characteristic of the age. There is nothing else to which it can be so well applied as to the labors of Christian missionaries, and ministers of the gospel, and others who, in the cause of Christian truth, go about to rouse the attention of men to the great subjects of religion; and the natural application of the language is to refer it to the times when the gospel would be preached to the world at large.
And knowledge shall be increased - To wit, by this method. The angel seems to mean that in this way there would be an advance in knowledge on all the subjects of religion, and particularly on the points to which he had referred. This would be one of the characteristics of these times, and this would be the means by which it would be accomplished. Our own age has furnished a good illustration of the meaning of this language, and it will be still more fully and strikingly illustrated as the time approaches when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole world.
Having thus gone through with an exposition of these, the closing words of the vision Daniel 12:1-4, it seems proper that we should endeavor to ascertain the meaning of the angel in what is here said, and the bearing of this more particularly on what he had said before. With this view, therefore, several remarks may be made here.
(1) it seems clear that there was in some respects, and for some purpose, a primary reference to Antiochus, and to the fact that in his times there would be a great rousing up of the friends of God and of religion, as if from their graves.
(a) The connection demands it. If the close of the last chapter refers to Antiochus, then it cannot be denied that this does also, for it is introduced in immediate connection with that, and as referring to that time: "And at that time."
(b) The facts referred to would require the same interpretation. Thus it is said that it would be a time of trouble, such as there had never been since the nation existed - a state of things which clearly refers to the calamities which would be brought upon them by the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes.
(c) This interpretation seems to be in accordance with the purpose of the angel to give the assurance that these troubles would come to an end, and that in the time of the greatest calamity, when everything seemed tending to ruin, God would interpose, and would secure the people, and would cause his own worship to be restored. Porphyry then, it appears to me, was so far right as to apply this to the times of Antiochus, and to the events that occurred under the Maccabees. "Then," says he, "those who, as it were, sleep in the dust of the earth, and are pressed down with the weight of evils, and, as it were, hid in sepulchres of misery, shall rise from the dust of the earth to unexpected victory, and shall raise their heads from the ground the observers of the law rising to everlasting life, and the violators of it to eternal shame." He also refers to the history, in which it is said that, in the times of the persecutions, many of the Jews fled to the desert, and hid themselves in caves and caverns, and that after the victories of the Maccabees they came forth, and that this was metaphorically (μεταφορικῶς metaphorikōs) called a resurrection of the dead. - Jerome, in loc. According to this interpretation, the meaning would be, that there would be a general uprising of the people; a general arousing of them from their lethargy, or summoning them from their retreats and hiding-places, as if the dead, good and bad, should arise from their dust.
(2) This language, however, is derived from the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the dead. It implies the belief of that doctrine. It is such language as would be used only where that doctrine was known and believed. It would convey no proper idea unless it were known and believed. The passage, then, may be adduced as full proof that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust, was understood and believed in the time of Daniel. No one can reasonably doubt this. Such language is met used in countries where the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is not believed, and where used, as it is in Christian lands, is full proof, even when employed for illustration, that the doctrine of the resurrection is a common article of belief. Compare the notes at Isaiah 26:19. This language is not found in the Greek and Latin classic writers; nor in pagan writings in modern times; nor is it found in the earlier Hebrew Scriptures; nor is it used by infidels even for illustration; and the proof, therefore, is clear that as employed in the time of Daniel the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead was known and believed. If so, it marks an important fact in the progress of theological opinion and knowledge in his times. How it came to be known is not intimated here, nor explained elsewhere, but of the fact no one can have any reasonable doubt. Even now, so clear and accurate is the language, that if we wish to express the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, we cannot do it better than by employing the language of the angel in addressing Daniel. (See Editor's Preface to volume on Job.)
(3) The full meaning of the language is not met by the events that occurred in the times of the Maccabees. As figurative, or, as Porphyry says, metaphorical, it might be used to describe those events. But what then occurred would not come up to the proper and complete meaning of the prediction. That is, if nothing more was intended, we should feel that the event fell far short of the full import of the language; of the ideas which it was fitted to convey; and of the hopes which it was adapted to inspire. If that was all, then this lofty language would not have been used. There was nothing in the facts that adequately corresponded with it. In the obvious and literal sense, there was nothing which could be called a resurrection to "everlasting life;" nothing that could be called an awaking to "everlasting shame and contempt." There was nothing which would justify literally the language "they shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever." The language naturally has a higher signification than this, and even when employed for illustration, that higher signification should be recognized and would be suggested to the mind.
Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.
Then I Daniel looked - My attention was attracted in a new direction. Hitherto, it would seem, it had been fixed on the angel, and on what he was saying. The angel now informed him that he had closed his communication, and Daniel was now attracted by a new heavenly vision.
And, behold, there stood other two - Two other angels. The connection requires us to understand this of angels, though they are not expressly called so.
The one on this side of the bank of the river - Margin, as in Hebrew, "lip." The word is used to denote the bank of the river from its resemblance to a lip. The river referred to here is the Hiddekel or Tigris, the notes at Daniel 10:4. These angels stood on each side of the river, though it does not appear that there was any special significancy in that fact. It perhaps contributed merely to the majesty and solemnity of the vision. The names of these angels are not mentioned, and their appearing is merely an indication of the interest which they take in the affairs of men, and in the Divine purposes and doings. They came heine as if they had been deeply interested listeners to what the angel had been saying, and for the purpose of making inquiry as to the final result of all these wonderful events. The angel which had been addressing Daniel stood over the river, Daniel 12:6.
And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
And one said - One of these angels. It would seem that, though before unseen by Daniel, they had been present, and had listened with deep interest to the communication respecting the future which the angel had made to him. Feeling a deep concern in the issue of these wonderful events - thus evincing the interest which we are taught to believe the heavenly beings take in human affairs (see the notes at 1 Peter 1:12) - one of them now addressed him who had been endowed with so much ability to disclose the future, as to the termination of these events. Such an inquiry was natural, and accords with what we should suppose an angel would make on an occasion like this.
To the man clothed in linen - The angel. See the notes at Daniel 10:5.
Which was upon the waters of the river - Margin, from above. So the Hebrew. The meaning is, the man seemed to stand over the river. Compare Daniel 8:16. Lengerke supposes that by this was intimated the fact that the Divine control was over the waters as well as over the land - in other words, over the whole earth.
How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? - Nothing had been said on this point that could determine it. The angel had detailed a succession of remarkable events which must, from the nature of the case, extend far into future years; he had repeatedly spoken of an end, and had declared that that series of events would terminate, and had thus given the assurance to Daniel that these troubles would be succeeded by brighter and happier times, but he had said nothing by which it could be determined when this would be. It was natural to start this inquiry, and as well for the sake of Daniel as himself, the angel here puts the question when this would be.
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
And I heard the man ... - That is, he replied to the question at once, and in a most solemn manner, as if he were communicating a great and momentous truth respecting the future.
When he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven - Toward heaven; as if appealing to heaven for the sincerity and truth of what he was about to utter. The act of swearing or taking an oath was often accompanied with the lifting up of the hand to heaven, usually the right hand (compare Genesis 14:22; Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5; Revelation 10:5); but here the angel stretched both hands toward heaven, as if he were about to make the affirmation in the most solemn manner conceivable.
And sware by him that liveth for ever - By the eternal God. That is, he appealed to him: he made the solemn asseveration in his presence; he called him to witness to the truth of what he said. The occasion; the manner; the posture of the angel; the appeal to the Eternal One - all give great sublimity to this transaction, and all imply that the answer was to be one of great consequence in regard to future times.
That it shall be for a time, times, and an half - Margin, or, a part. The word חצי chătsı̂y means, properly, half, the half part, that which is divided (חצץ châtsats) - to divide), s. c., in the middle. The word "times" means two times, for it is dual in its form, and the expression means three times, or periods, and a half. See the meaning of the language fully considered and explained in the notes at Daniel 7:24-28. (See Editor's Essay on Year-day Principle, prefixed to the vol. on Revelation.)
And when he shall have accomplished - When he shall have finished his purpose in the matter; when he shall have done all that he could do.
To scatter the power - All that constituted the power - their armies, means of defense, etc. The word rendered "power" (יד yâd) means, properly, hand, but it is sometimes used to denote a part of a thing - as a portion that we take up by the hand - a handful; that is, a part of a thing taken up at once in dividing - Gesenius, Lexicon See Jeremiah 6:3; 2 Kings 11:7; Genesis 47:24. In accordance with this, Gesenius, Lengerke, and De Wette suppose that the reference here is to the scattering of a portion or part of the Hebrew people in other lands, and to the hope that they would be restored again to their own country; and that the meaning of the angel is, that when these dispersions were ended, all this would have been accomplished. The word has also the sense of power, might, strength (Gesenius, Lexicon), the hand being regarded as the seat of strength, Isaiah 28:2; Job 27:11; Psalm 76:5 (6).
Thus employed, it may denote whatever constituted their strength; and then the idea in the passage before us is, that all this would be scattered. When that should have been done; when that dispersion should have been ended; when these scattered forces and people should have been again restored, then all this that was predicted would be accomplished, and these troubles cease. This would be in the period designated by the "time, and times, and an half." If it refers to Antiochus, it means that the scattered forces and people of the Hebrews would be rallied under the Maccabees, and that on their return victory would crown their efforts, and the land would be again at peace. If it has a higher and an ultimate signification, it would seem to imply that when the scattered Hebrew people should be gathered into the Christian church - when their dispersions and their wanderings should come to an end by their returning to the Messiah, and, under him, to the true God, then the series of predictions will have received their complete fulfillment - for then religion will triumph in the world, and the kingdom of God be set up over all the nations, agreeably to Romans 11:15-25. In reference, then, to the meaning of the passage as used by the angel here, the following remarks may be made:
(1) It had an applicability to the times of Antiochus, and to the duration of the calamities that would come upon the Hebrew people under his reign. If there had been nothing further intended than this, the mere language employed would have found a literal fulfillment in these events, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the primary reference of the angel was to them. See this point fully considered and illustrated in the notes at Daniel 7:24-28.
(2) Yet there are circumstances which lead us to suppose that, at the same time, and by the laws of prophetic suggestion (see Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7.), more important events were also referred to, and were designed to be connected with this statement. Those circumstances are
(a) the manner in which the angel introduces the subject - by a solemn appeal, with out-stretched arms, to heaven. This would look as if he regarded the answer as of momentous importance, and as if he were contemplating vast movements in the future.
(b) The fact that the language here had a settled meaning - referring, as used, elsewhere, to future events deeply affecting the welfare of the world. The language is so couched, indeed, that it would express the fact in regard to the duration of the troubles under Antiochus; but it was also of such a nature that in its higher signification it would describe the duration of more momentous transactions, and would designate a period when the true religion would begin its universal reign; when the evils of a vast Anti-christian power would come to an end, and when the kingdom of the saints would be set up in the world. See the notes at Daniel 7:24-28.
(3) The full meaning of the language would then seem to be, that the angel designed to include all in the future to which those words, as intended by the Divine Spirit, would be applicable. The period designated by the phrase, "a time, and times, and an half," was most momentous. In that time the troubles introduced by Antiochus would end, and a state of peace and prosperity would succeed; and in that time, also, far greater troubles and woes - those connected with a most fearful apostasy from the true religion, and the setting up of a kingdom of oppression and wrong over the people of God, of which the oppressions and wrongs under Antiochus would be but an emblem, would also come to an end, and there would be a state of peace - a reign of righteousness - a prevalence of religion - and a far-diffused happiness in the world, at which the joy at the dedication of the temple, and the triumphs over Antiochus, would be but a symbol. The ultimate reference, therefore, I suppose, is to the downfall of that great Anti-christian power, the Papacy, and the spread and triumphs of the true religion subsequent to that, and consequent on that in the world. These were events that justified the solemn asseveration of the angel, and that made it proper for him, in referring to them, to stretch out both his hands in this sublime manner to heaven.
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
And I heard, but I understood not - He understood not the full significance of the language employed - "a time, and times, and an half." This would make it probable that there was something more intended than merely three years and a half as the period of the continuation of these troubles. Daniel saw, apparently from the manner of the angel, as well as from the terms which he used, that there was something mystical and unusual in those terms, and he says, therefore, that he could not understand their full import.
Then said I, O my Lord - A term of civil address. The language is such as would be used by an inferior when respectfully addressing one of superior rank. It is not a term that is peculiarly appropriate to God, or that implies a Divine nature, but is here given to the angel as an appellation of respect, or as denoting one of superior rank.
What shall be the end of these things? - Indicating great anxiety to know what was to be the termination of these wonders. The "end" had been often referred to in the communication of the angel, and now he had used an enigmatical expression as referring to it, and Daniel asks, with great emphasis, when the end was to be.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel - That is, make no further inquiries. All has been disclosed that is to be. At the close of his communication Daniel 12:4, he had told Daniel to shut up, and seal the book, for his revelations were ended. He here repeats substantially the same thing, and he assures him that no more could be imparted on the subject.
For the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end - He had finished his communication, and had directed Daniel to close up the record which he made of it, and to affix a seal to the volume, Daniel 12:4. He regarded the whole, therefore, as closed and sealed, until the "end" should come. The events themselves would unfold the meaning of the prediction more fully, and would confirm its truth by their exact correspondence with it. Yet, though the revelation was closed, and all that the angel had designed to say had been said, he does, in the subsequent verses, throw out some suggestions as to the time, or as to some important events which were to mark the termination of the wonders referred to. They are bare hints, however, the meaning of which was to be reserved until the time when the predictions would be accomplished, and they are not of such a nature that they can be supposed to have furnished any additional light to Daniel, or to have done anything to relieve the perplexity of his mind in the case.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Many shall be purified - In future times. That is, as the connection would seem to require, there will be a system introduced by which many will become purified, and made holy. Daniel might hope and expect that under the arrangements which God would make, many of the human race would be cleansed from sin. To what he would apply this we cannot determine, but it is a great truth of immense importance in regard to the human family, that, before the "end," or the consummation, "many" will be made holy.
And made white - White is the emblem of innocence or purity, and hence, the term is so often applied to the righteous. "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," "they shall walk before me in white," etc. Hence, the angels are represented as appearing in white raiment. The meaning here is, that many on the earth would be made holy before the end would come. The mind of Daniel was thus directed onward to one of the most glorious truths pertaining to future times - that multitudes of the human race would be redeemed, and would be prepared for a holy heaven.
And tried - Tried as in a furnace; that is, they will be subjected to persecutions, and to various other forms of suffering, that will test the strength of their faith, and the nature of their religion. This language, also, is of a general character, and would in itself apply to the times of Antiochus, but it is also fitted to describe what would occur in other ages. Perhaps the meaning is, that it would be a prominent thing in the future, in introducing the triumphs of religion; and in preparing the people of God for heaven, that they would be subjected to various forms of trial. There have been facts enough of this kind in the history of the church to justify this description, and to show that it would be a marked feature in spreading religion on the earth, that its friends would be persecuted. "But the wicked shall do wickedly." They will continue to do wickedly. Notwithstanding all the judgments that will come upon men; notwithstanding all that will be done to purify the people of God, and, notwithstanding the fact that "many" will be of a different character - will be "purified and made white, and tried," yet it will be a truth still, that there will be wicked men upon the earth, and that they will act out their nature.
This remark seems to have been thrown in by the angel to prevent the impression which Daniel might possibly get from what was said, not only that the true religion would generally prevail, but that wickedness would wholly cease in the earth. Such a time, perhaps, we are not authorized to look for; while we may hope and believe that there will be a period when the worship of God will pervade the world, and will supersede all other forms of worship, yet we have no reason to expect that every individual of the human family at any one time will be converted, and that none of the remains of the apostasy will be seen on the earth. There will be wicked men still, and they will act out their nature, despite all that is done to save them, and despite the fact that religion will have the ascendency in the hearts and lives of the great mass of mankind. For an illustration of this, see the notes at Revelation 9:20-21; notes at Revelation 20:7.
And none of the wicked shall understand - This, also, is a general declaration. It means, that none of the wicked would understand the import of these prophecies, or the true nature of religion. Their depravity of heart would prevent it; their purpose to lead a wicked life would so cloud their understandings, and pervert their moral judgments, that they would have no correct appreciation of the government of God, and the nature of the Divine plans and dispensations. Compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 2:14. The fact here asserted has been always true, and always will be, that sin prevents a clear perception of Divine truth, and that wicked men have no appropriate views of the plans and purposes of God. To comprehend religion aright a man needs a pure heart; and no one under the influence of depraved feelings, and corrupt propensities and appetites, can expect to have a just appreciation of what is good. Doubtless it will be found to be true in the days of millennial glory, when the true religion shall spread over the world, and when the earth shall be filled with light, that there will be wicked men who will have no correct understanding of the nature of religion, and whose minds will be blind to all the evidences of the truth of revelation which shall be diffused around them. No man, unless he is converted, has any proper conception of the beauty of religion.
But the wise shall understand - They who serve God and love him, and who, therefore, come under the denomination of the truly wise. See the notes at Daniel 12:3. The meaning is, that religion - the love of God and a pure heart - will qualify them to perceive the import of Divine truth; to appreciate what is revealed, and to obtain a just view of passing events - or to "understand the signs of the times." Humble and sincere piety - a heart and mind made pure and clear by the influence of Divine truth - is the best preparation for understanding the works and ways of God. Compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 2:9-12, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
And from the time - Though the angel had said Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:9 that his communication was closed, and that he imparted all that he was commissioned to communicate to Daniel, yet, as it would seem, in reply to the earnest request of Daniel, he volunteers an additional statement, in regard to certain important periods that were to occur in the future. The language, however, is very obscure; and it would appear, from Daniel 12:13, that the angel scarcely expected that Daniel would understand it. The statement relates to certain periods that would succeed the time when the daily sacrifice would be taken away. Two such periods are mentioned as marking important epochs in the future.
That the daily sacrifice shall be taken away - This is the point of reckoning - the terminus a quo. The "taking away of the daily sacrifice" refers, undoubtedly, to some act, or some state of things, by which it would be made to cease; by which the daily offerings at Jerusalem would be either temporarily suspended or totally abolished. See the notes at Daniel 8:11; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31. The language here is applicable to either of two events: to the act of Antiochus, causing the daily sacrifice to cease in Jerusalem Daniel 8:11; Daniel 11:31, or to the final closing of those sacrifices by the death of the Messiah as the great offering to whom they referred, and the destruction of the temple and the altar by the Romans, Daniel 9:27. The view taken in the interpretation of this passage will depend on the question to which of these there is allusion here by the angel, or whether there is an allusion to both. The language evidently is applicable to both, and might be employed with reference to either.
And the abomination that maketh desolate set up - See these words explained in the notes at Daniel 8:13; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31. The same remark may be made here which was made respecting the previous expression - that the language is applicable to two quite distinct events, and events which were separated by a long interval of time: to the act of Antiochus in setting up an image of Jupiter in the temple, and to a similar act on the part of the Romans when the temple was finally destroyed. The view which is taken of the time referred to here will depend on the question which of these is to be regarded as the stand-point or the terminus a quo, or whether the language is designedly so used that an important epoch was to occur in both cases within a specified period after these events. On these points there has been great diversity of opinion.
There shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days - If this is to be taken literally, it would be three years and two hundred and ten days, reckoning the year at 360 days, and is thirty days more than the three years and a half referred to in Daniel 12:7. Prof. Stuart, who supposes that the time is to be taken literally, and that the passage refers exclusively to Antiochus Epiphanes, explains the application of the language in the following manner: "Antiochus took away the daily sacrifice as is here declared. This was in the latter part of May, 168 b.c. Profane history does not indeed give us the day, but it designates the year and the season. As we have already seen (compare the extract copied from Prof. Stuart on Daniel 7:24-28), about three and a half years elapsed, after the temple worship was entirely broken up, before Judas Maccabeus expurgated the temple and restored its rites. The terminus ad quem is not mentioned in the verse now before us; but still it is plainly implied. The end of the 1290 days must, of course, be marked by some signal event, just as the commencement of them is so marked. And as the suppression of the temple rites constitutes the definitive mark of the commencement, so it would seem plain that the restoration of the same rites must mark the conclusion of the period which is designated.
The 'time of the end,' i. e., the period at the close of which the persecutions of Antiochus would cease, is distinctly adverted to in Daniel 7:25; Daniel 11:30-35; Daniel 12:7. The nature of the case, in the verse before us, shows that the same period is tacitly referred to in the words of the speaker. No doubt remains that his march (the march of Antiochus) from Antioch to Egypt, for hostile purposes, was in the spring of the year 168 b.c. He was delayed for some time on this march by ambassadors from Egypt, who met him in Coelo-Syria. Very naturally, therefore, we may conclude that he arrived opposite Jerusalem in the latter part of May, and that there and then he commissioned Apollonius to rifle and profane the temple. The exact time from the period when this was done, down to the time of the expurgation, seems to have been, and is designated as being, 1290 days." - Hints on Prophecy, pp. 94, 95. It is evident, however, that there is here no clear making out of the exact time by any historical records, though it is in itself not improbable. Still the great difficulty is, that in the supposition that the "time, and times, and an half" refers to Antiochus, as denoting the period of his persecutions, thus limiting it to three years and a half - a period which can be made out without material difficulty (compare the notes at Daniel 7:24-28) - that another time or period should be mentioned here of thirty days more, concerning which there is no corresponding event in the historical facts, or at least none that can now be demonstrated to have occurred. See the remarks at the close of the next verses.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
Blessed is he that waiteth - This indicates a patient expectation of an event that was to occur, and the happy state of him who would reach it. The angel refers to another period different from the "time, and times, and an half," and different also from the twelve hundred and ninety days. He speaks of this as the consummation - as the desirable time; and pronounces him blessed who shall be permitted to see it. The idea here is, that of one looking out for this as a happy period, and that he would be regarded as a happy man who should live in that age.
And cometh to - literally, "touches." That is, whose life would reach to that time; or who would not be cut off before that period.
The thousand three hundred and five and thirty days - The article is not used in the original, and its insertion here seems to make the period more distinct and definite than it is necessarily in the Hebrew. There is much apparent abruptness in all these expressions; and what the angel says in these closing and additional communications has much the appearance of a fragmentary character - of hints, or detached and unexplained thoughts thrown out on which he was not disposed to enlarge, and which, for some reason, he was not inclined to explain. In respect to this period of 1335 days, it seems to stand by itself. Nothing is said of the time when it would occur; no intimation is given of its commencement, as in the former cases - the terminus a quo; and nothing is said of its characteristics further than that he would be blessed who should be permitted to see it - implying that it would be, on some accounts, a happy period.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
But go thou thy way until the end be - See Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:9. The meaning is, that nothing more would be communicated, and that he must wait for the disclosures of future times. When that should occur which is here called "the end," he would understand this more fully and perfectly. The language implies, also, that he would be present at the development which is here called "the end;" and that then he would comprehend clearly what was meant by these revelations. This is such language as would be used on the supposition that the reference was to far-distant times, and to the scenes of the resurrection and the final judgment, when Daniel would be present. Compare the notes at Daniel 12:2-3.
For thou shalt rest - Rest now; and perhaps the meaning is, shalt enjoy a long season of repose before the consummation shall occur. In Daniel 12:2, he had spoken of those who "sleep in the dust of the earth;" and the allusion here would seem to be the same as applied to Daniel. The period referred to was far distant. Important events were to intervene. The affairs of the world were to move on for ages before the "end"' should come. There would be scenes of revolution, commotion, and tumult - momentous changes before that consummation would be reached. But during that long interval Daniel would "rest." He would quietly and calmly "sleep in the dust of the earth" - in the grave. He would be agitated by none of these troubles - disturbed by none of these changes, for he would peacefully slumber in the hope of being awaked in the resurrection. This also is such language as would be employed by one who believed in the doctrine of the resurrection, and who meant to say that he with whom he was conversing would repose in the tomb while the affairs of the world would move on in the long period that would intervene between the time when he was then speaking and the "end" or consummation of all things - the final resurrection. I do not see that it is possible to explain the language on any other supposition than this. The word rendered "shalt rest" - תנוּח tânûach - would be well applied to the rest in the grave. So it is used in Job 3:13, "Then had I been at rest;" Job 3:17, "There the weary be at rest."
And stand in thy lot - In thy place. The language is derived from the lot or portion which falls to one - as when a lot is cast, or anything is determined by lot. Compare Judges 1:3; Isaiah 57:6; Psalm 125:3; Psalm 16:5. Gesenius (Lexicon) renders this, "And arise to thy lot in the end of days; i. e., in the Messiah's kingdom." Compare Revelation 20:6. The meaning is, that he need have no apprehension for himself as to the future. That was not now indeed disclosed to him; and the subject was left in designed obscurity. He would "rest," perhaps a long time, in the grave. But in the far-distant future he would occupy ills appropriate place; he would rise from his rest; he would appear again on the stage of action; he would have the lot and rank which properly belonged to him. What idea this would convey to the mind of Daniel it is impossible now to determine, for he gives no statement on that point; but it is clear that it is such language as would be appropriately used by one who believed in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and who meant to direct the mind onward to those far-distant and glorious scenes when the dead would all arise, and when each one of the righteous would stand up in his appropriate place or lot.
At the end of the days - After the close of the periods referred to, when the consummation of all things should take place. It is impossible not to regard this as applicable to a resurrection from the dead; and there is every reason to suppose that Daniel would so understand it, for
(a) if it be interpreted as referring to the close of the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, it must be so understood. This prophecy was uttered about 534 years b.c. The death of Antiochus occurred 164 b.c. The interval between the prophecy and that event was, therefore, 370 years. It is impossible to believe that it was meant by the angel that Daniel would continue to live during all that time, so that he should then "stand in his lot," not having died; or that he did continue to live during all that period, and that at the end of it he "stood in his lot," or occupied the post of distinction and honor which is referred to in this language. But if this had been the meaning, it would have implied that he would, at that time, rise from the dead.
(b) If it be referred, as Gesenius explains it, to the times of the Messiah, the same thing would follow - for that time was still more remote; and, if it be supposed that Daniel understood it as relating to those times, it must also be admitted that he believed that there would be a resurrection, and that he would then appear in his proper place.
(c) There is only one other supposition, and that directly involves the idea that the allusion is to the general resurrection, as referred to in Daniel 12:3, and that Daniel would have part in that. This is admitted by Lengerke, by Maurer, and even by Bertholdt, to be the meaning, though he applies it to the reign of the Messiah. No other interpretation, therefore, can be affixed to this than that it implies the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and that the mind of Daniel was directed onward to that. With this great and glorious doctrine the book appropriately closes. The hope of such a resurrection was fitted to soothe the mind of Daniel in view of all the troubles which he then experienced, and of all the darkness which rested on the future, for what we most want in the troubles and in the darkness of the present life is the assurance that, after having "rested" in the grave - in the calm sleep of the righteous - we shall "awake" in the morning of the resurrection, and shall "stand in our lot" - or in our appropriate place, as the acknowledged children of God, "at the end of days" - when time shall be no more, and when the consummation of all things shall have arrived.
In reference to the application of this prophecy, the following general remarks may be made:
I. One class of interpreters explain it literally as applicable to Antiochus Epiphanes. Of this class is Prof. Stuart, who supposes that its reference to Antiochus can be shown in the following manner: "The place which this passage occupies shows that the terminus a quo, or period from which the days designated are to be reckoned, is the same as that to which reference is made in the previous verse. This, as we have already seen, is the period when Antiochus, by his military agent Apollonius, took possession of Jerusalem, and put a stop to the temple worship there. The author of the first book of Maccabees, who is allowed by all to deserve credit as an historian, after describing the capture of Jerusalem by the agent of Antiochus (in the year 145 of the Seleucidae - 168 b.c.), and setting before the reader the widespread devastation which ensued, adds, respecting the invaders: 'They shed innocent blood around the sanctuary, and defiled the holy place; and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled away: the sanctuary thereof was made desolate; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, and her honor into disgrace;' 1 Macc. 1:37-39. To the period when this state of things commenced we must look, then, in order to find the date from which the 1335 days are to be reckoned. Supposing now that Apollonius captured Jerusalem in the latter part of May, 168 b.c., the 1335 days would expire about the middle of February, in the year 164 b.c. Did any event take place at this period which would naturally call forth the congratulations of the prophet, as addressed in the text before us to the Jewish people?
"History enables us to answer this question. Late in the year 165 b.c., or at least very early in the year 164 b.c., Antiochus Epiphanes, learning that there were great insurrections and disturbances in Armenia and Persia, hastened thither with a portion of his armies, while the other portion was commissioned against Palestine. He was victorious for a time; but being led by cupidity to seek for the treasures that were laid up in the temple of the Persian Diana at Elymais, he undertook to rifle them. The inhabitants of the place, however, rose en masse and drove him out of the city; after which he fled to Ecbatana. There he heard of the total discomfiture by Judas Maccabeus of his troops in Palestine, which were led on by Micanor and Timotheus. In the rage occasioned by this disappointment, he uttered the most horrid blasphemies against the God of the Jews, and threatened to make Jerusalem the burying-place of the nation. Immediately he directed his course toward Judea; and designing to pass through Babylon, he made all possible haste in his journey. In the meantime he had a fall from his chariot which injured him; and soon after, being seized with a mortal sickness in his bowels (probably the cholera), he died at Tabae, in the mountainous country, near the confines of Babylonia and Persia. Report stated, even in ancient times, that Antiochus was greatly distressed on his death-bed by the sacrilege which he had committed.
"Thus perished the most bitter and bloody enemy which ever rose up against the Jewish nation and their worship. By following the series of events, it is easy to see that his death took place some time in February of the year 164 b.c. Assuming that the commencement or terminus a quo of the 1335 days is the same as that of the 1290 days, it is plain that they terminate at the period when the death of Antiochus is said to have taken place. 'It was long before the commencement of the spring,' says Froelich, 'that Antiochus passed the Euphrates, and made his attack on Elymais: so that no more probable time can be fixed upon for his death than at the expiration of the 1335 days; i. e., some time in February of 164 b.c. No wonder that the angel pronounced those of the pious and believing Jews to be blessed who lived to see such a day of deliverance." - Hints on Prophecy, pp. 95-97.
There are, however, serious and obvious difficulties in regard to this view, and to the supposition that this is all that is intended here - objections and difficulties of so much force that most Christian interpreters have supposed that something further was intended. Among these difficulties and objections are the following:
(a) The air of mystery which is thrown over the whole matter by the angel, as if he were reluctant to make the communication; as if something more was meant than the words expressed; as if he shrank from disclosing all that he knew, or that might be said. If it referred to Antiochus alone, it is difficult to see why so much mystery was made of it, and why he was so unwilling to allude further to the subject - as if it were something that did not pertain to the matter in hand.
(b) The detached and fragmentary character of what is here said. It stands aside from the main communication. It is uttered after all that the angel had intended to reveal had been said. It is brought out at the earnest request of Daniel, and then only in hints, and in enigmatical language, and in such a manner that it would convey no distinct conception to his mind. This would seem to imply that it referred to something else than the main point that had been under consideration.