Daniel 9:21
Yes, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Being caused to fly swiftly.—A very difficult expression, occurring only here. The Authorised Version follows the LXX. and Theodotion. The rendering has been defended on the ground that the word translated “swiftly” comes from a root meaning “to fly.” and is literally rendered by flight. Thus “caused to fly in flight” means “caused to fly swiftly.” The marginal version “with weariness” finds supporters, and, if adopted, must be taken to refer to the bodily condition of Daniel (Daniel 8:17-27). The former translation is most in accordance with the context. The “flight” of angels is implied in Isaiah 6:2, and should not be regarded as an idea foreign to the Old Testament.

Touched me.—Literally, reached me. (Comp. this use of the word, Jonah 3:6.) The time of the evening sacrifice Isaiah 3 P.M., being the hour of evening prayer. (See Exodus 29:39; Numbers 28:4.)

9:20-27 An answer was immediately sent to Daniel's prayer, and it is a very memorable one. We cannot now expect that God should send answers to our prayers by angels, but if we pray with fervency for that which God has promised, we may by faith take the promise as an immediate answer to the prayer; for He is faithful that has promised. Daniel had a far greater and more glorious redemption discovered to him, which God would work out for his church in the latter days. Those who would be acquainted with Christ and his grace, must be much in prayer. The evening offering was a type of the great sacrifice Christ was to offer in the evening of the world: in virtue of that sacrifice Daniel's prayer was accepted; and for the sake of that, this glorious discovery of redeeming love was made to him. We have, in verses 24-27, one of the most remarkable prophecies of Christ, of his coming and his salvation. It shows that the Jews are guilty of most obstinate unbelief, in expecting another Messiah, so long after the time expressly fixed for his coming. The seventy weeks mean a day for a year, or 490 years. About the end of this period a sacrifice would be offered, making full atonement for sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness for the complete justification of every believer. Then the Jews, in the crucifixion of Jesus, would commit that crime by which the measure of their guilt would be filled up, and troubles would come upon their nation. All blessings bestowed on sinful man come through Christ's atoning sacrifice, who suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. Here is our way of access to the throne of grace, and of our entrance to heaven. This seals the sum of prophecy, and confirms the covenant with many; and while we rejoice in the blessings of salvation, we should remember what they cost the Redeemer. How can those escape who neglect so great salvation!Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer - How "long" the prayer continued we are not informed. It is probable that we have only the substance of it, and that Daniel has recorded only the topics on which he dwelt more at length. The subject was of great importance, and it is reasonable to suppose that a day had been devoted to an examination of the prophecies, and to solemn prayer.

Even the man Gabriel - Who had the appearance of a man, and hence, so called.

Whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning - That is, in a "former" vision. See the notes at Daniel 8:16. It cannot refer to what is mentioned in this (the ninth) chapter, for

(a) he had as yet had no vision, but all that is recorded is a prayer;

(b) there is no intimation that Gabriel had appeared to him at the beginning of the prayer; and

(c) it is declared that at the beginning of the prayer, Gabriel, then evidently in heaven, had received commandment to go to Daniel, and to communicate the message to him, Daniel 9:23.

The meaning undoubtedly is, that the personage who now appeared to him he recognized to be the same who had appeared in a former vision on the banks of the Ulai. The proper meaning of the Hebrew here is, "in a vision at the beginning," as in our translation. So the Vulgate, "a principio;" and so Theodotion - ἐν τῇ ἀρχῇ en tē archē. The Hebrew word תחלה techı̂llâh means, properly, "beginning," Hosea 1:2; Proverbs 9:10; but, in connection with the preposition, as here - בתחלה battechı̂llâh - it means also, "before, formerly," Genesis 13:3; Genesis 41:21; Genesis 43:18, Genesis 43:20; Isaiah 1:26.

Being caused to fly swiftly - Margin, "with weariness," or "flight." On the difficult Hebrew expression here - ביעף מעף mu‛âp bı̂y‛âp - Lengerke may be consulted, in loc. The words, according to Gesenius, are derived from יעף yâ‛ap, to go swiftly, and then, to be wearied, to faint, either with running, Jeremiah 2:24, or with severe labor, Isaiah 40:28, or with sorrows, Isaiah 50:4. If derived from this word, the meaning in Hophal, the form used here, would be, "wearied with swift running," and the sense is, that Gabriel had borne the message swiftly to him, and appeared before him as one does who is wearied with a rapid course. If this be the idea, there is no direct allusion to his "flying," but the reference is to the rapidity with which he had come on the long journey, as if exhausted by his journey. The Latin Vulgate renders it cito volans - quickly flying; Theodotion, πετόμενος petomenos - flying; the Codex Chisianus, τάχει φερόμενος tachei pheromenos - "borne swiftly." The Syriac, "with a swift flying he flew and came from heaven." It cannot be determined with certainty, from the words used here, that the coming of Gabriel was by an act of "flying" as with wings. The common representation of the angels in the Old Testament is not with wings, though the cherubim and Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2, following.) are represented with wings; and in Revelation 14:6, we have a representation of an angel flying. Probably the more exact idea here is that of a rapid course, so as to produce weariness, or such as would naturally produce fatigue.

Touched me - Daniel was doubtless at this time engaged in prayer.

About the time of the evening oblation - The evening sacrifice. This was at the ninth hour of the day, or about three o'clock in the afternoon.

21. I had seen in the vision at the beginning—namely, in the former vision by the river Ulai (Da 8:1, 16).

fly swiftly—literally, "with weariness," that is, move swiftly as one breathless and wearied out with quick running [Gesenius]. English Version is better (Isa 6:2; Eze 1:6; Re 14:6).

time of … evening oblation—the ninth hour, three o'clock (compare 1Ki 18:36). As formerly, when the temple stood, this hour was devoted to sacrifices, so now to prayer. Daniel, during the whole captivity to the very last, with pious patriotism never forgot God's temple-worship, but speaks of its rites long abolished, as if still in use.1. By this we see Daniel used vocal prayer, pouring out his soul.

2. That the saints in prayer do parley with God; it is a humble, and holy, and fervent unbosoming our soul to God.

3. That holy men, in confessing the sins of the nation, confess their own sins too, and that impartially, begging pardon for all.

4. That when a child of God sets himself in earnest to seek God by prayer, the Lord hears him. Compare Daniel 9:20 with Daniel 9:23.

5. As the angels are all ministering spirits, so the chiefest angels are sent in the chiefest messages relating to the church of God. Thus Gabriel before, Daniel 8:16. Thus here. Also to Zacharias, and Mary, Luke 1:11,19,26, about the incarnation of Christ, and our salvation by him.

6. God herein gives a great encouragement to prayer, and fulfils his promises made of old to his people in this behalf, Leviticus 26:40-42 Deu 30:1-3 Isaiah 30:19; and Isaiah 65:24,

It shall come to pass, before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.

7. The Lord is quick in hearing and helping his people. The angel was made

to fly swiftly, even unto weariness, as some translate it. Or, to fly with flight, Habakkuk 1:8.

The time of the evening sacrifice was a solemn and set time of devotion. Then God heard Elijah and did wonders, 1 Kings 18:36-38; and Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world was sacrificed for us at that time, about the ninth hour, Matthew 27:46 Mark 15:34 Luke 23:44, &c.; all these three evangelists mention Christ’s giving up the ghost at the ninth hour, which was the time of the evening sacrifice. At this time Gabriel is sent to Daniel to tell him the time of the Messiah’s death, and the consequence of it. See Daniel 9:24, &c.

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer,.... Which is repeated, that it might be observed, that while he was in prayer, before he had finished it, or got off of his knees, an answer was sent him; see Isaiah 65:24,

even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning; either at the beginning of Belshazzar's reign, in the third year of it, Daniel 8:1, or rather "before", as the Syriac version renders it; before this time, in the vision of the ram and he goat, Daniel 8:16, when he saw this angel Gabriel that appeared in a human form, and he knew this to be his name, by a man's voice calling him by it; and now he knew him to be the same angel by his appearance and voice; at the sight of whom he does not seem to be terrified, as before, having had free conversation with him, and being made acquainted by him with many secrets; and no doubt inwardly rejoiced to see him again, as hoping and believing he had something to communicate to him:

being caused to fly swiftly; having an order from the Lord, and being strengthened by him to make quick dispatch to Daniel, which is signified by flying swiftly; and for which reason angels are represented as having wings, to denote their celerity and quick dispatch of business: or "flying with weariness" (m), as some render it; he made such haste as to be weary with it; as he appeared in the form of a man, he looked like one out of breath, and panting for it, occasioned by his swift flight; and which expresses the haste he made, according to his orders, and his eagerness to bring to Daniel the welcome tidings of the coming of the Messiah, and the time of it, which angels desired to look into:

touched me about the time of the evening oblation; the time of offering the evening sacrifice; which, though not now offered, the altar being destroyed, and the Lord's people in a foreign land; yet the time was observed by them, and which was the time of prayer, being about the ninth hour of the day, or three o'clock in the afternoon, see Acts 3:1, as the time of the morning sacrifice was another hour of prayer; at which time very likely Daniel began, and continued till now, since he was fasting, Daniel 9:3 and this was the time when Christ, the antitype of the daily sacrifice, was offered up; of the time of whose coming, sufferings, and death, the angel here brings an account: and, in order to excite the attention of Daniel to it, "touched him"; for he, being on his knees, and intent in prayer, might not at first observe him; and therefore gives him a gentle touch, to let him know he was present, and had something to say to him; and to suggest to him to break off his prayer, to which he had brought an answer, as well as to lift him up, and encourage familiarity with him.

(m) "volans in lassitudine", Montanus; "cum lassitudine, vel fatigatione", so some in Vatablus; "cum, lassitudine", as others in Michaelis.

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. even the man] ‘even’ arises from an incorrect apprehension of the syntax, and should be omitted (as is done in R.V.).

in the vision at the beginning] Daniel 8:16.

being caused to fly swiftly] The Hebrew is peculiar, and has been variously understood. The first word may be derived equally from two different verbs, meaning respectively to fly and to be weary; the second word, as it stands, could only be derived naturally from the latter verb: thus we get the two renderings, being made to fly in weariness (i.e. being exhausted by his flight), and (Ges., Keil, Meinh.) being made weary in weariness (cf. R.V. marg. ‘being sore wearied’), the words in the latter case being referred either (Ges.) to Gabriel, or (Keil, Meinh.) to Daniel (‘whom I had seen …, when exhausted,’ &c.), in accordance with what is said in Daniel 8:17 f. Neither explanation is satisfactory, but the present text admits of nothing better. ‘Swiftly’ (A.V.), though found in the ancient versions (LXX, τάχει φερόμενος, Vulg. cito volans), is a very questionable paraphrase. The second word might have arisen by an erroneous and incorrect repetition of the first. Of the first word, being made to fly is the more natural rendering. Angels are elsewhere in the O.T. represented as possessing human form, but not as winged (only seraphim, Isaiah 6:2, and cherubim, Ezekiel 1:6, have wings): winged angels (unless one is presupposed here, or in Daniel 12:6, 1 Chronicles 21:16?) appear first in Enoch lxi. 1, ‘And I saw in those days how cords were given to those angels, and they took to themselves wings and flew, and they went towards the north’; cf. Revelation 14:6.

touched me] was approaching close to me.

the evening meal offering] 2 Kings 16:15; Ezra 9:4-5; Psalm 141:2 : cf. 1 Kings 18:29; 1 Kings 18:36.Daniel interprets to the king his dream, repeating only here and there in an abbreviated form the substance of it in the same words, and then declares its reference to the king. With vv. 17 (Daniel 4:20) and 18 (Daniel 4:21) cf. vv. 8 (Daniel 4:11) and 9 (Daniel 4:12). The fuller description of the tree is subordinated to the relative clause, which thou hast seen, so that the subject is connected by הוּא (Daniel 4:19), representing the verb. subst., according to rule, with the predicate אילנא. The interpretation of the separate statements regarding the tree is also subordinated in the relative clauses to the subject. For the Kethiv רבית equals רביתּ, the Keri gives the shortened form רבת, with the elision of the third radical, analogous to the shortening of the following מטת for מטת. To the call of the angel to "cut down the tree," etc. (Daniel 4:20, cf. Daniel 4:10-13), Daniel gives the interpretation, Daniel 4:24, "This is the decree of the Most High which is come upon the king, that he shall be driven from men, and dwell among the beasts," etc. על מטא equals Hebr. על בּוא. The indefinite plur. form טרדין stands instead of the passive, as the following לך יטעמוּן and מצבּעין, cf. under Daniel 3:4. Thus the subject remains altogether indefinite, and one has neither to think on men who will drive him from their society, etc., nor of angels, of whom, perhaps, the expulsion of the king may be predicated, but scarcely the feeding on grass and being wet with dew.
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