Daniel 12:2
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.
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(2) Many . . . that sleep in the dust.—Literally, Many sleepers in the land of dust. The word “sleep” is applied to death (Jeremiah 51:39; comp. 1Thessalonians 4:14); while “dust” is used for the grave (Psalm 22:29). Some difficulty is presented by the use of the word “many” where “all” would have been expected. Theodoret explains it from Romans 5:15, where he observes “many” stands for “all.” It is, however, more in accordance with the language to suppose that by the word “many” some contrast is implied, which is apparently between the many who sleep in the dust and the comparatively small number of those who “are alive and remain.” (See John 5:28, &c.) It should be noted that this passage not only teaches the doctrine of a general resurrection, which had already been incidentally revealed by Daniel’s contemporary, Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:1-4), but also the facts of eternal life, and a resurrection of the unjust as well as of the just.

Shame and everlasting contempt.—The latter word occurs only in this passage and Isaiah 66:24, where see the Note. For the use of the word “shame,” comp. Jeremiah 23:40.

Daniel 12:2. And many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake — This may be understood, 1st, Of those saints who rose from the dead immediately upon the resurrection of Christ, spoken of Matthew 27:52-53, where we read that the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 2d, It may be interpreted figuratively of the mystical resurrection of Jews and Gentiles from spiritual death to spiritual life, by the preaching of the gospel, or of their conversion to true Christianity. Calmet thinks that this, without all question, is the primary sense of the verse, and that it is only in a secondary sense that it can be understood of the resurrection of men’s bodies. Most commentators, however, are of a different opinion, and consider the words as being primarily intended of the general resurrection which will take place at the last day. And they think, that the next clause, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt, requires this application of the words, and does not admit of any other interpretation. The Lord Jesus certainly seems to have referred to this passage, John 5:28, where he speaks of the resurrection of life, and the resurrection of damnation; and upon the ground of it chiefly, the Jews are said by St. Paul, Acts 24:15, to expect a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. And nothing could be brought in more seasonably than this doctrine is here; for under Antiochus’s persecution some basely betrayed their religion, others bravely adhered to it. Now it would be a trouble to the upright and faithful among the Jews, that they could neither reward the one nor punish the other; this therefore would be a satisfaction to them, that they would both be recompensed at the general resurrection. And the apostle, speaking of the pious Jews that suffered martyrdom under Antiochus, tells us, that though they were tortured, yet they accepted not deliverance, (namely, deliverance offered them on terms they could not conscientiously comply with,) because they hoped to obtain a better resurrection. In accordance with this sense of the words, which seems evidently to be that primarily intended, it must be observed, that the word many in the first clause of the verse must include all mankind, as it does in Romans 5:19, where St. Paul says, By one man’s disobedience MANY were made sinners.12:1-4. Michael signifies, Who is like God, and his name, with the title of the great Prince, points out the Divine Saviour. Christ stood for the children of our people in their stead as a sacrifice, bore the curse for them, to bear it from them. He stands for them in pleading for them at the throne of grace. And after the destruction of antichrist, the Lord Jesus shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and He shall appear for the complete redemption of all his people. When God works deliverance from persecution for them, it is as life from the dead. When his gospel is preached, many who sleep in the dust, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be awakened by it out of their heathenism of Judaism. And in the end the multitude that sleep in the dust shall awake; many shall arise to life, and many to shame. There is glory reserved for all the saints in the future state, for all that are wise, wise for their souls and eternity. Those who turn many to righteousness, who turn sinners from the errors of their ways, and help to save their souls from death, Jas 5:20, will share in the glory of those they have helped to heaven, which will add to their own glory.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.

2. many … that sleep—"many from among the sleepers … these shall be unto everlasting life; but those (the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time) shall be unto shame" [Tregelles]. Not the general resurrection, but that of those who share in the first resurrection; the rest of the dead being not to rise till the end of the thousand years (Re 20:3, 5, 6; compare 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:16). Israel's national resurrection, and the first resurrection of the elect Church, are similarly connected with the Lord's coming forth out of His place to punish the earth in Isa 26:19, 21; 27:6. Compare Isa 25:6-9. The Jewish commentators support Tregelles. Auberlen thinks the sole purpose for which the resurrection is introduced in this verse is an incitement to faithful perseverance in the persecutions of Antiochus; and that there is no chronological connection between the time of trouble in Da 12:1 and the resurrection in Da 12:2; whence the phrase, "at that time," twice occurs in Da 12:1, but no fixing of time in Da 12:2, 3; 2 Maccabees 7:9, 14, 23, shows the fruit of this prophecy in animating the Maccabean mother and her sons to brave death, while confessing the resurrection in words like those here. Compare Heb 11:35. Newton's view that "many" means all, is not so probable; for Ro 5:15, 19, which he quotes, is not in point, since the Greek is "the many," that is, all, but there is no article in the Hebrew here. Here only in the Old Testament is "everlasting life" mentioned. So enamoured are some of their notions, though found false and ill-grounded, that they will pertinaciously hold them, and seek still to prove one absurdity from another, as Grotius doth here, still expounding all of Antiochus, and so makes this resurrection metaphorical, and not the real ultimate one; whereas the most learned Jews themselves are against him, as the late Manasseh Ben Israel in his book de Resurrectione. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,.... Which is not to be understood in a figurative and metaphorical, sense, as by R. Jeshuah the Jew, Porphyry the Heathen, and by some Christian writers; neither of the deliverance of the Jews from the troubles of Antiochus, or their present captivity; nor of the spiritual resurrection of them, or others, from their state of infidelity to a profession of the Gospel, which in some is real, in others only hypocritical; but, in a literal sense, of the resurrection of the dead at the last day, which, with respect to the righteous, will take place upon the personal appearance of Christ at first, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, for, as death is oftentimes compared to "sleep", in which the senses are bound up, and the body is in a state of inactivity; see John 11:11, so the resurrection from the dead is expressed by awaking out of sleep, when the body shall rise fresh and vigorous, in full health and strength, as a man out of a comfortable sleep; see Psalm 17:15. The word "many" is used, either because, as all will not sleep, so all will not be awaked; there will be some that will be alive and awake at Christ's coming, 1 Corinthians 15:51, or, as it signifies, a multitude, Psalm 97:1 and so here the innumerable multitude of the dead, who are afterwards distributively considered; and indeed the word is sometimes used for "all"; see Romans 5:15,

some to everlasting life; to the enjoyment of everlasting life and happiness with Christ in the world to come; a phrase often used in the New Testament, though never before in the Old; expressive of that felicity and bliss which the saints enjoy in heaven after this life is over, first in the separate state of the soul, and then, at the resurrection, in soul and body, and of the everlasting continuance of it; they that shall enjoy this are those that are written in the Lamb's book of life, or are ordained unto eternal life; who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, regenerated by his Spirit and grace, justified by his righteousness, adopted into the family of God, are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; these are the dead in Christ, which rise first:

and some to shame and everlasting contempt; wicked men, who lived in a course of sin in this world, without any remorse or shame; but, when they shall rise from the dead, they will rise with all their sins upon them, and with a full conviction of them in their consciences; and will be ashamed of them, and to appear before God the Judge of all; and will be had in contempt by the Lord, by elect angels, and all good men; and this reproach shall never be wiped off; see Isaiah 66:24. Our Lord seems manifestly to have respect to this passage, when he speaks of men coming out of their graves at the last day, "some unto the resurrection of life, and others unto the resurrection of damnation", John 5:28 and upon these words it may well be thought the Apostle Paul grounded his faith of the resurrection of the dead, both just and unjust, Acts 24:15, and though the resurrection of both is spoken of here and elsewhere together, yet it will be at distinct periods of time; the resurrection of the just at the beginning of the thousand years, and that of the wicked at the end of them, Revelation 20:5, between which will be the intermediate state of the saints dwelling with Christ on earth; where they will be favoured with his presence, and the rewards of his grace, to which the following verse has respect.

And many {b} of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

(b) Meaning all will rise at the general resurrection, which thing he here names because the faithful should always consider that: for in the earth there will be no sure comfort.

2. The resurrection. The doctrine of a future life is not fully developed in the O.T.; it is nascent; and the stages in its growth are clearly distinguishable. The idea of a resurrection appears first, though in a national, not in an individual sense, in Hosea 6:2 : it appears next, also in a national sense (see Davidson’s note, p. 267), in Ezekiel’s famous vision of the Valley of dry bones (xxxvii. 1–14): the resurrection of individuals appears first in the post-exilic prophecy of Isaiah 24-27, viz. Isaiah 26:19 (see Skinner’s note), though, as in Ezek. (Ezekiel 37:11), it is still expressly limited to Israel (it is denied, Ezekiel 37:14, of Israel’s foes): in the present passage, a resurrection of the wicked, as well as of the righteous, is taught for the first time, and the doctrine of a different future reserved for each is also for the first time enunciated. See further the Introd. p. xcii.

many] The resurrection is still limited implicitly to Israel. It is not said who are to compose the ‘many’: perhaps the author thinks in particular of the martyrs, and apostates, respectively, who, on the one side or the other, had been prominent during the reign of Antiochus.

sleep] in death: cf. Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10.

in the dusty ground] lit. the ground of dust. The expression is peculiar, and occurs only here. ‘Dust’ is often said of the grave, as to ‘lie down upon the dust’ (Job 20:11; Job 21:26), and ‘they that go down to the dust’ (Psalm 22:29).

shall awake] cf., in the same sense, Isaiah 26:19; also (where it is denied) Job 14:12, and (of the Babylonians) Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57.

some to everlasting life] The expression occurs only here in the O.T., but it is frequent in post-Biblical Jewish writings: e.g. in Enoch (xxxvii. 4, xl. 9, lviii. 3, lxii. 14); Psalms of Sol. 3:16 (cf. 13:9); 4Ma 15:3 (cf. 2Ma 7:9; 2Ma 7:36); and in the Targums (in which passages of the O.T. relating really to the present life are often interpreted as referring to a future life)[394]. A more common synonym is ‘the life of the age to come’ (חיי העולם הבא), Aboth ii. 7, &c. (Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 129).

[394] See examples in the writer’s Sermons on the O.T. (1892), pp. 83, 88–91; Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 128.

some to reproaches (Psalm 69:9-10 [Heb.]) and everlasting abhorrence] the last word (only once besides) from Isaiah 66:24 ‘And they [the carcases of the transgressors, slain outside Jerusalem] shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.’ Cf. in the N.T., Matthew 25:46; John 5:29.Verse 2. - 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. The Septuagint rendering is, "And many that sleep in the breadth (πλάτει) of the earth shall arise, some to life eternal, and some to reproach, some to dispersion (διασπορὰν) and eternal shame." These terms, "reproach" and "dispersion," are different attempts to render חֲרָפות (haraphoth), "reproaches." The differences between the above and Theodotion are merely verbal; "dispersion" is omitted, χώματι, "dust," is instead of πλάτει, The rendering of the Peshitta is, "And many of those that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to life everlasting, and some to destruction and contempt of their friends for ever." The Vulgate has a somewhat singular version of the last clause, "And many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to life eternal, and some to contempt, in order that they may always see it (ut videant semper)." Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth. Sleep, as a symbol of death, is frequent, both in the Old Testament and the New: Psalm 13:3; Job 3:13; for the New Testament, Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6. "Dust" is a common phrase for the grave: Job 7:21; Psalm 22:30; Psalm 30:10; Genesis 3:19. The reference here is to those who are not only dead, but buried. The phrase translated, "dust of the earth," literally means "earth of dust." The phrase is so singular that Professor Robertson Smith has suggested that instead of reading 'admath 'aphar, we should read 'armath 'aphar - aram in Arabic meaning a "cairn" or "mound." There is, however, as Professor Bevan remarks, no instance in Hebrew or Aramaic of such a word being in use. It is assumed that the reference here (Behrmann, etc.) is to the Jews alone; but for this assumption there is no justification. While, on the one hand, one cannot prove from this that others besides Israel shall partake in the resurrection; on the other, as little can we assert that "the Jews," at the period when this verse was written, excluded all but Jews. We cannot deduce that" many" here excludes "all." The idea suggested is rather multitudinousness. Shall awake, sores to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. This is a distinct reference to the resurrection of the body; it is those that "sleep in the dust" that shall thus "awake." It is to be noted that at the resurrection the condition of each is fixed frailly - it is to "everlasting life" and "over-lasting contempt" This resurrection is individual, not national, as shown by the contrasted fates. The doctrine of the resurrection is thus clearly stated. There is no need to examine how much the Jews of the time of the Maccabees understood of this doctrine. Isaiah 26:14-19, as clearly as does this passage, proclaims the same belief. Ezekiel 37:1-14 shows that resurrection was to the Israelites not such an incongruous or impossible idea as it was to the Greeks. But when is this? We might be led by the juxtaposition of this to the account of the sufferings of the Jews under Antiochus, to think that the writer believed the end of the world would take place immediately on the fall of Antiochus. But in the first place we must remember that we have not the vision given to Daniel; it has been replaced by the eleventh chapter. Further, the method of prophecy must be borne in mind. The future was made known in vision. If, as seems probable, distance in space from the apparent standpoint of the prophet represented distance in time from his actual or assumed chronological position, then, if the description of the vision proceeded from one side of the picture to the other, those things would be in close juxtaposition which were to be far removed from each other chronologically. Thus an astronomer may place in the same constellation stars inconceivably distant from each other - nay, may even unite as one binary star two suns, the one nearer the earth than the other by thousands of millions of miles. So our Lord correlates the destruction of Jerusalem with the end of the world. Moreover, the misery endured by the Jewish saints under Antiochus was a type of the sufferings of the people of God of every age. With Daniel 7:2 Daniel begins his written report: "Daniel began and said," introduces the matter. חזוי עם־ליליא, visions in (during) the night, cf. Daniel 2:19. Daniel 7:2 and Daniel 7:3 describe the scene in general. The four winds of heaven break loose upon the great sea, and rage fiercely, so that four great beasts, each diverse from the others, arise out of its bosom. The great sea is not the Mediterranean (Berth., Ges., Hitz., Ewald), for such a geographical reference is foreign to the context. It is the ocean; and the storm on it represents the "tumults of the people," commotions among the nations of the world (Hv., Leng., Hofm., etc.), corresponding to the prophetic comparison found in Jeremiah 17:12; Jeremiah 46:7. "Since the beasts represent the forms of the world-power, the sea must represent that out of which they arise, the whole heathen world" (Hofmann). In the interpretation of the image (Daniel 7:17) יגּמא מן is explained by ארעא מן. גּיח means to break forth (Ezekiel 32:2), to burst out in storm, not causative, "to make the great sea break forth" (Kran.). The causative meaning is not certainly found either in the Hebrew or the Chaldee. The four winds stand in relation to the four quarters of the heavens; cf. Jeremiah 49:39. Calvin remarks: Mundus similis turbulento mari, quod non agitatur una procella vel uno vento, sed diversis ventis inter se confligentibus, ac si totum coelum conspiraret ad motus excitandos. With this, however, the meaning of the words is not exhausted. The four winds of heaven are not merely diversi venti, and their bursting forth is not only an image of a general commotion represented by a storm in the ocean. The winds of the heavens represent the heavenly powers and forces by which God sets the nations of the world in motion; and the number four has a symbolical meaning: that the people of all regions of the earth are moved hither and thither in violent commotion. "(Ecumenical commotions give rise to oecumenical kingdoms" (Kliefoth). As a consequence of the storm on the sea, there arise out of it four fierce beasts, not all at once, but, as Daniel 7:6 and Daniel 7:7 teach, one after another, and each having a different appearance. The diversity of the form of the beasts, inasmuch as they represent kingdoms, is determined beforehand, not only to make it noticeable that the selection of this symbol is not arbitrary but is significant (Hvernick), but emphatically to intimate that the vision of different kingdoms is not to be dealt with, as many interpreters seem inclined to do, as one only of different kings of one kingdom.
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