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?
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(6) And one said.—The speaker is evidently one of the persons just mentioned, but the LXX. and St. Jerome suppose Daniel to address the man clothed in white linen, who is obviously the same person who has already spoken (Daniel 10:5, &c.). The position which he occupies is striking. He appears “upon” or (see margin) from above, i.e., hovering over the waters of the Tigris. If, as is frequently the case in the symbolical language of Scripture (see Isaiah 8:6-7, Psalm 93:4), waters or streams are the emblems of nationalities, the Hiddekel will represent the Persian Empire, in the third year of which Daniel had this vision, and the position of the person implies his power to protect his people from all the assaults of the Persians. But at the same time, the remarkable word used for “river” recalls the Nile, and seems to be employed for the purpose of assuring the readers of the book that “He who smote the waters of the Nile” will restrain all earthly powers which war against His people.

How long . . . end.—The end is that which has been frequently spoken of (Daniel 11:40 to Daniel 12:3). The question asks, “How long will the end of these wonders continue? The end always appears to be at hand, yet it never comes. How long will this continue?”

12:5-13 One of the angels asking how long it should be to the end of these wonders, a solemn reply is made, that it would be for a time, times, and a half, the period mentioned ch. 7:25, and in the Revelation. It signifies 1260 prophetic days or years, beginning from the time when the power of the holy people should be scattered. The imposture of Mohammed, and the papal usurpation, began about the same time; and these were a twofold attack upon the church of God. But all will end well at last. All opposing rule, principality, and power, shall be put down, and holiness and love will triumph, and be in honour, to eternity. The end, this end, shall come. What an amazing prophecy is this, of so many varied events, and extending through so many successive ages, even to the general resurrection! Daniel must comfort himself with the pleasing prospect of his own happiness in death, in judgment, and to eternity. It is good for us all to think much of going away from this world. That must be our way; but it is our comfort that we shall not go till God calls us to another world, and till he has done with us in this world; till he says, Go thou thy way, thou hast done thy work, therefore now, go thy way, and leave it to others to take thy place. It was a comfort to Daniel, and is a comfort to all the saints, that whatever their lot is in the days of their lives, they shall have a happy lot in the end of the days. And it ought to be the great care and concern of every one of us to secure this. Then we may well be content with our present lot, and welcome the will of God. Believers are happy at all times; they rest in God by faith now, and a rest is reserved for them in heaven at last.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.

6. one—namely, of the two (Da 12:5).

man … in linen—who had spoken up to this point. God impelled the angel to ask in order to waken us out of our torpor, seeing that the very "angels desire to look into" the things affecting man's redemption (1Pe 1:12), as setting forth the glory of their Lord and ours (Eph 3:10).

How long … to the end of these wonders—This question of the angel refers to the final dealings of God in general, Antichrist's overthrow, and the resurrection. Daniel's question (Da 12:8) refers to the more immediate future of his nation [Auberlen].

To the man clothed in linen; to Michael, Daniel 10:5; Christ, who seemed to stand between the banks, i.e. in the air above the waters, or upon them, Matthew 14:25; upon many people, say some, Revelation 10:2.

How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? the angels themselves inquire into these things, for they do not know all, yea, they are ignorant of many things, Matthew 24:36 Ephesians 3:10.

And one said to the man clothed with linen,.... One of the angels on one side of the bank of the river spoke to Christ, who appeared in a human form, as a presage of his future incarnation; and as clothed in linen, expressive of his priestly office, and of his purity and holiness, which qualified him for it; See Gill on Daniel 10:6. Which of the angels it was that spake is not said, or on which side of the river he stood; very probably each of them spake in their turn, and joined: in the same request to Christ:

which was upon the waters of the river: or above (m) them; denoting his power and dominion over men, kingdoms, and nations, sometimes signified by waters, and even over those the most tumultuous and raging:

how long shall it be to the end of these wonders, these wonderful things before predicted, concerning the state and condition of the people of God, their troubles and afflictions, the fall and ruin of antichrist, and the glorious things that shall follow upon that: angels, as they are inquisitive creatures, and pry into the mysteries of grace, so into those of Providence; especially such as concern the church of God, for whom they have a great regard; of the secrets of which they have no knowledge until revealed unto them; though this question seems to be put not so much for their own sakes as for the sake of Daniel, who was present, but had not that courage and presence of mind as they had; nor could use that freedom with Christ as they did, at least at first, till encouraged by their example.

(m) "super aquas", Pagninus; "desuper aquas", Montanus; "supra aquas", Calvin, Cocceius, Michaelis.

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?
6. And one] i.e. one of the angels just mentioned, whom Daniel hears speaking (cf. Daniel 8:13).

the man clothed in linen] The glorious figure described more fully in Daniel 10:5-6.

upon] above, i.e. hovering in the air, above the stream; cf. Daniel 8:16.

the wonders] or extraordinary things, viz. the extraordinary trials and sufferings described in Daniel 11:31-36 (cf. the same expression, with regard to the deeds, or words, of Antiochus, in Daniel 8:24 and Daniel 11:36).

Verse 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? The Septuagint renderingis, "And I said" - reading אמר instead of יאמר - "to one clothed in fair linen (βύσσινα), which is above the water of the river" - the last five words being omitted from the Syriac of Paulus Tellensis - "When, then, shall the end be of these marvels which thou hast told me, and their purification?" The last clause, which does not represent anything in the Massoretic, is due to a confusion between אֶשְׁמַע, with which the next verse begins, and אַשָׁמַם. Theodotion's rendering is, as usual, closer to the Massoretic, "and he said to the man clothed in baddin, who was upon the waters of the river, When shall be the end of those marvels of which thou speakest?" Both the Greek versions insert "of which thou speakest." The rendering of the Peshitta differs slightly, "And they said" - a reading that one would be wishful to adopt if it had any probability in its favour - "to the man clothed in beautiful apparel, who was standing above the waters of the river, Until when shall the end of these things be?" The omission of "wonders" is to be observed. The Vulgate follows the Septuagint in making Daniel the speaker, "And I said to the man clothed in linen, who was standing over the waters of the river, When shall be the end of these marvels?" And one said. Aben Ezra makes this one of the two who spoke. This suggestion is the most natural, only the sentence is singularly abrupt, and favours the idea that there is an omission here. The LXX. and Vulgate, as we have seen, read, "I said." While the reading is an easy one, it is, as Professor Bevan remarks, against the analogy of Daniel 8:13. To the man clothed in linen. This man is mentioned in Daniel 10:5, presumably Gabriel. Which was upon the waters of the river. The reference may be to Daniel 8:16, where a voice comes to him from between the banks of the river Ulai. Here, not upon the waters of the river Tigris, but over them, was the appearance of the angel Gabriel. How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? One difficulty that strikes one is that there are no wonders foretold. That the rulers of Syria should war against the possessors of Egypt was not a marvellous thing. Professor Bevan, who holds that the marvels referred to are the events foretold, quotes Isaiah 29:14 as a parallel instance, but, though marvels are there mentioned, such marvels that all the wisdom of the wise should fail, etc., yet here nothing is told of the nature of these marvels. Had there been visions of symbolic animals, as in the seventh and eighth chapters, we could have understood these things being spoken of as marvels. The probability, then, is heightened that there have been omissions as well as insertions here. The time contemplated is the end, when judgment and resurrection are passed. It is, in fact, the question of the apostles (Matthew 24:3), "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Daniel 12:6Besides these two now first seen by Daniel, he who was "clothed in linen" is named as standing above the waters of the river; but when we take into view the whole scene, he is by no means to be regarded as now for the first time coming into view. The use of the article (לאישׁ), and the clothing that characterized him, point him out as the person spoken of in Daniel 10:5. Hence our view developed in p. 768 is confirmed, viz., that previously the man clothed in linen was visible to Daniel alone, and announced to him the future. He also in the sequel alone speaks with Daniel. One of the other two makes inquiry regarding the end of the wonderful things, so as to give occasion to him (as in Daniel 8:13 and Daniel 8:14) to furnish an answer. With this the question presses itself upon us, For what purpose do the two angels appear, since only one of them speaks - the other neither does anything nor speaks? Leaving out of view the opinion of Jerome, Grotius, Studlin, and Ewald, that the two angels were the guardian spirits of Persia and Greece, and other conceits, such e.g., as that they represent the law and the prophets (after a gloss in the Cod. Chis.), which Geier has rejected as figmenta hominum textus auctoritate destituta, we confine ourselves to a consideration of the views of Hitzig and Kliefoth.

Hitzig thinks that the two angels appear as witnesses of the oath, and that for that reason there are two; cf. Deuteronomy 19:15 with Deuteronomy 31:28. But these passage do not prove that for the ratification of an oath witnesses are necessary. The testimony of two or three witnesses was necessary only for the attestation of an accusation laid before a judge. Add to this also that in Daniel 8:13. two angels appear along with him whose voice came from the Ulai (Daniel 8:16), without any oath being there given. It is true that there the two angels speak, but only the utterance of one of them is communicated. Hence the conjecture is natural, that here also both of the angels spake, the one calling to the other the question that was addressed to the Angel of the Lord hovering over the water, as Theodot. and Ephrem Syrus appear to have thought, and as Klief. regards as probable. In any case the appearance of the angels on the two banks of the river stands in actual connection with the hovering of the man clothed in linen above the waters of this river, in which the circumstance merits consideration that the river, according to Daniel 10:4 the Tigris, is here called יאר, as besides the Nile only is called in the O.T. The hovering above the stream can represent only the power or dominion over it. But Kliefoth is inclined to regard the river as an emblem of time flowing on to eternity; but there is no support in Scripture for such a representation. Besides, by this the appellation יאר is not taken into consideration, by which, without doubt, the river over which the Angel of the Lord hovers is designated as a Nile; i.e., it is indicated that as the Angel of the Lord once smote the waters of the Nile to ransom his people out of Egypt, so in the future shall he calm and suppress the waves of the river which in Daniel's time represented the might of the world-kingdom.

(Note: C. B. Michaelis has similarly interpreted the standing (or hovering) over the waters of the river as symbolum potestatis atque dominii supremi, quo non solum terram continentem et aridam, sed etiam aquas pedibus quasi suis subjectas habet, et ea quae aquarum instar tumultuantur, videlicet gentes, adversus ecclesiam Dei insurgentes atque frementes, compescere et coercere potest. Only he has not in this regard to the name יאר.)

The river Hiddekel (Tigris) was thus a figure of the Persian world-power, through whose territory it flowed (cf. for this prophetic type, Isaiah 8:6-7; Psalm 124:3-4), and the designation of the river as יאר, Nile, contains an allusion to the deliverance of Israel from the power of Egypt, which in its essence shall be repeated in the future. Two other angels stand as servants by the side of the Angel of the Lord, the ruler over the Hiddekel, prepared to execute his will. Thus interpreted, all the features of the vision gain an interpretation corresponding with the contents of the prophecy.

But the significance of the whole scene, which presents itself to the prophet after he received the announcement, at the same time shows that the Daniel 12:5-12 form no mere supplementary communication, which is given to Daniel before he is wholly dismissed for his prophetical office, regarding the question that lay upon his heart as to the duration of the severe tribulation that was announced, but that this disclosure constitutes an integral part of the foregoing revelation, and is placed at the end of the angel's message only because a change of scene was necessary for the giving prominence to the import of this disclosure.

Thus, to give the prophet the firm certainty that the oppression of his people spoken of, on the part of the ungodly world-rulers, when it has gained its end, viz., The purification of the people, shall bring about, along with the destruction of the enemy of the last time, the salvation of those who are truly the people of God in their advancement to eternal life in glory, the Angel of the Lord standing above the waters of the river presents himself to view as the guide and ruler of the affairs of the nations, and announces with a solemn oath the duration and the end of the time of tribulation. This announcement is introduced by the question of the angel standing by the river: "Till when the end, i.e., how long continues the end, of these wonderful things?" not: "When shall the end of these things be?" (Kran.) הפּלאות are, according to the context, the extraordinary things which the prophecy had declared, particularly the unheard-of oppressions described in Daniel 11:30.; cf. with פּלאות the synonym נפּלאות, Daniel 11:36 and Daniel 8:24. But the question is not: "How long shall all these פּלאות themselves continue?" but: "How long shall הפּלאות קץ, the end of these wonderful things, continue?" The end of these things is the time of the end prophesied of from Daniel 11:40 to Daniel 12:3, with all that shall happen in it. To this the man clothed with linen answers with a solemn oath for the confirmation of his statement. The lifting up of his hands to heaven indicates the solemnity of the oath. Commonly he who swears lifts up only one hand; cf. Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5, and the remark under Exodus 6:8; but here with greater solemnity both hands are lifted up, and he swears העולם בּחי, by Him that liveth for ever. This predicate of God, which we have already heard from the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:31, here points back to Deuteronomy 32:40, where God swears, "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever," and is quoted from this verse before us in Revelation 10:6, and there further expanded. This solemn form of swearing shows that the question and answer must refer not to the duration of the period of the persecution under Antiochus, but to that under the last enemy, the Antichrist. The definition of time given in the answer leads us also to this conclusion: a time, two times, and half a time; which accurately agrees with the period of time named in Daniel 7:25 as that of the duration of the actions of the enemy of God who would arise out of the fourth world-kingdom. The כּי serves, as ὅτι frequently, only for the introducing of the statement or the answer. ל before מועד does not signify till ( equals עד, Daniel 7:25), but to or upon, at. In both of the clauses of the answer, "space of time and point of time, duration and final end, are connected, and this relation is indicated by an interchange of the prepos. ל and כ" (Hitzig). In וגו למועד (for a time, etc.) is given the space of time on or over which the פּלאות קץ (the end of these wonders) stretches itself, and in the following clause, וגו וּככלּות (and when he shall have accomplished, etc.), the point of time in which the wonderful things reach their end. Thus the two expressions of the oath are related to one another.

In the second clause יד נפּץ are differently expounded. Ancient and very wide-spread is the exposition of נפּץ by to scatter. Theodotion has translated the words thus: ἐν τῷ συντελεσθῆναι διασκορπισμόν; and Jerome (Vulg.): cum completa fuerit dispersio manus populi sancti. Hvernick, v. Lengerke, Gesenius, de Wette, Hitzig: when at the end of the dispersion of a portion of the holy people, which Hv., v. Leng., and others understand of the dispersion of Israel into the different countries of the world, which dispersion shall be brought to an end, according to the prophetic view, at the time of the Messianic final victory; Joel 3:5. (Daniel 2:32.); Amos 9:11. Hitzig, however, refers this to the circumstance that Simon and Judas Maccabaeus brought back their people to Judea who were living scattered among the heathen in Galilee and Gilead (1 Macc. 5:23, 45, 53, 54). But against such an interpretation of the word נפּץ, Hofmann (Weiss. u. Erf. i. p. 314) has with justice replied, that the reference to the reunion of Israel, which is nowhere else presented in Daniel, would enter very unexpectedly into this connection, besides that נפּץ does not agree with its object יד, though we should translate this by "might," or altogether improperly by "part." יד has not the meaning "part," which is attributed to it only on the ground of an incorrect interpretation of certain passages. נפּץ signifies to beat to pieces, to shatter; cf. Psalm 2:9; Psalm 137:9, and in the Pu. Isaiah 27:9. This is the primary meaning of the word, from which is attempted to be derived the meaning, to burst asunder, to scatter. This primary meaning of the word, however, Hengstenberg, Maurer, Auberlen, Kranichfeld, Kliefoth, and Ewald have rightly maintained in this place. Only we may not, with them, translate כּלּות by: to have an end, for then the answer would be tautological, since the breaking to pieces of the might of the people is identical with their scattering, but it has the meaning to make perfect, to accomplish, so that nothing more remains to be done. יד, hand, is the emblem of active power; the shattering of the hand is thus the complete destruction of power to work, the placing in a helpless and powerless condition, such as Moses has described in the words יד אזלת כּי (for the hand is gone), Deuteronomy 32:36, and announced that when this state of things shall arise, then "the Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants." With this harmonizes the conclusion of the oath: then all these things shall be finished, or shall complete themselves. כּל־אלּה (all these things) are the פּלאות, Daniel 12:6. To these "wonderful things" belong not merely the crushing of the holy people in the tribulation such as never was before, but also their deliverance by the coming of the angel-prince Michael, the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal separation of the righteous from the wicked (Daniel 12:1-3). This last designation of the period of time goes thus, beyond a doubt, to the end of all things, or to the consummation of the kingdom of God by the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment. With this also agrees with expression קדשׁ עם, which is not to be limited to the converted Jews. The circumstance that in Daniel's time the Israel according to the flesh constituted the "holy people," does not necessitate our understanding this people when the people of God are spoken of in the time of the end, since then the faithful from among all nations shall be the holy people of God.

But by the majority of modern interpreters the designation of time, three and a half times, is referred to the duration of the oppression of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes; whence Bleek, v. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, and others conclude that the Maccabean pseudo-Daniel placed together as synchronous the death of Antiochus and the beginning of the Messianic salvation. Hvernick finds in the answer two different designations of time, but has said nothing as to the relation they bear to each other; Hofmann (Weiss. u. Erf. i. p. 314) finds an obscurity in this, that the end of all things is simply placed in connection with the end of the oppressor Antiochus (see under Daniel 12:1). But, thus Kliefoth rightly asks, on the contrary, "How is it only possible that the catastrophe of Antiochus, belonging to the middle of the times, and the time of the end lying in the distant future, are so comprehended in one clause in an answer to a question regarding a point of time? How as it possible that to the question, How long continues the end of the wonders? it could be answered: For three and a half years shall Antiochus carry on his work; and when it comes to an end in the breaking of the people, then all shall come to an end? Thus the last only would be an answer to the question, and the first an addition not appertaining to it. Or how were it possible that for the expression, 'all shall be ended,' two characteristics were given, one of which belonged to the time of Antiochus and the other to the time of the end?" And, we must further ask, are we necessitated by the statement to make such an unnatural supposition? Certainly not. The two clauses do not give two different definitions of time, i.e., refer to different periods of time, but only two definitions of one period of time, the first of which describes its course according to a symbolical measure of time, the second its termination according to an actual characteristic. None of these definitions of time has any reference to the oppression of the holy people by Antiochus, but the one as well as the other refers to the tribulation of the time of the end. The measure of time: time, times, and half a time, does not indeed correspond to the duration of the dominion of the little horn proceeding from the Javanic world-kingdom (spoken of in Daniel 8) equals 2300 evening-mornings (Daniel 8:14), but literally (for מועד corresponds with the Chald. עדּן) agrees with that in Daniel 7:25, for the dominion of the hostile king, the Antichrist, rising out of the ten kingdoms of the fourth or last world-kingdom. יד נפּץ כּכלּות also refers to this enemy; for of him it is said, Daniel 7:21, Daniel 7:25, that he shall prevail against and destroy the saints of the Most High (יבלּא, Daniel 7:25).

The reference of both the statements in the oath to the history of the end, or the time of Antichrist, has therefore been recognised by Auberlen and Zndel, although the latter understands also, with Hofmann, Daniel 11:36-45 of the oppression of Israel by Antiochus. To the question, how long the end of the terrible things prophesied of in Daniel 11:40-12:1 shall continue, the Angel of the Lord hovering over the waters answered with a solemn oath: Three and a half times, which, according to the prophecy of Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 9:26-27, are given for the fullest unfolding of the power of the last enemy of God till his destruction; and when in this time of unparalleled oppression the natural strength of the holy people shall be completely broken to piece, then shall these terrible things have reached their end. Regarding the definition of time, cf. The exposition under Daniel 7:25.

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