Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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.XII.
(1) At that time—i.e., in the times spoken of in Daniel 11:45, previous to the overthrow of the king. During the tribulation which precedes his overthrow, Michael (see Daniel 10:13) comes to stand up in aid of the people.
A time of trouble.—This is the tribulation spoken of in Matt. in Matthew 24:21-22, which follows, as it does in the Book of Daniel, the wars, rumours of wars, and uprisings of sundry nations. (See Matthew 24:6-7.) It should be observed that the mere presence of Michael does not avert the times of trouble. He helps God’s people during the time of their trouble. On the mode in which the intensity of the tribulation is described, comp. Jeremiah 30:7.
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.(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.
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.(3) They that be wise.—Comp. Matthew 13:43, Notes. “The wise” are the same as “those that understand” who were spoken of in Daniel 11:33, meaning those who by their own righteousness—that is, by their faithfulness to their covenant with God—had set a bright example to the others, as in Daniel 11:35. Such is the consolation held out for the support of those who shall witness the tribulation of the last days. (See Notes on Matthew 24 and the parallel passages.)
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.(4) Shut up the words.—The revelation, which commenced in Daniel 10:20, now draws towards a close, and the prophet receives a further revelation respecting the time of the end. The revelation continues to be called by the same name, “the words,” as in Daniel 10:1; and now the prophet is told that the book in which this revelation is written must be placed in a safe and sure place, for the need of it will be felt in “the time of the end,” that is, in the time when the fulfilment makes the meaning of the prophecy clear and unambiguous.
Many shall run to and fro.—The verb “to run” is used in Jeremiah 5:1 of searching after knowledge. In this sense it is used of “the eyes of the Lord” (Zechariah 4:10; comp. Amos 8:12). In the same sense it is used in this verse. Many will anxiously search in this book for knowledge of the manner of God’s dealings with His people, and will derive comfort and understanding therefrom.
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.(5) Other two.—Two heavenly beings are now seen by the prophet. As the absence of the article shows he had not seen them before, St. Jerome supposes them to be the angels of Persia and Greece, but of course it is impossible to identify them.
The river—i.e., the Hiddekel, as in Daniel 10:4, though a different word for “river” is used, which is generally employed to designate the Nile. For the reason of the choice of this word, see the next Note.
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 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?”
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.(7) Held up his right hand . . .—In general, a person when swearing lifted up the right hand only (see Genesis 14:22; Deuteronomy 32:40). Both hands are represented here as being raised up, so as to give greater importance to the words. (See Note on Revelation 10:5, and comp. Daniel 4:34.)
A time, times . . .—See Note on Daniel 7:25; and observe that any reference to the period of the persecution under Antiochus is impossible, on account of the difference between the measures of time. (See Daniel 7:14.)
To scatter.—The ancient versions (not the LXX., however) appear to have understood this to mean the dispersion of Israel (see Deuteronomy 7:6), and seem to have connected the “end,” of which Daniel speaks, with the cessation of the dispersion of Israel, or, in other words, to have regarded it as a prediction of the re-gathering of Israel, which would immediately precede the coming of Elias. (See the remarks of Theodoret on the passage.) But by the “holy people” are meant, more probably, those who shall suffer in the last days (comp. Daniel 7:25, “the saints”), and the word “scatter” means to break in pieces, as Psalm 2:9, &c. So that the words imply that the end will not come till “the shattering of the power of the saints” has been accomplished, or till persecution appears to have stamped out all that remains of godliness. This makes the prophecy accord with Daniel 7:25 and the parallel passages in the New Testament.
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?(8) I understood not.—He did not understand the answer given in Daniel 12:7. The question did not seem to have had any reply. It had been asked how long the end should continue, and the answer had been only the obscure words, “time, times, and an half.”
What shall be the end?—Daniel refers to the “wonderful things” mentioned in Daniel 12:6, and using a different word for “end,” asks which of these wonders is to be the last—i.e., which of them is to come immediately before the end of all things.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.(9) Go thy way.—That is, be at peace. Observe that the matter is not explained to Daniel any further. He is assured that the end will most certainly come. Compare another gentle rebuke that was addressed to one who wished to see further than was fitting into the future (John 21:21-22).
Closed up and sealed.—To be explained as in Daniel 12:4. The book is to be carefully preserved till the end of time.
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.(10) Many shall be purified.—See Notes on Revelation 22:11, and comp. Daniel 11:35. The words imply that all shall be fulfilled, the time of persecution shall certainly arise, the righteous will be purified, while the wicked will become apostates. The wise (see Daniel 11:33), and they only, will understand the true meaning and profit of tribulation as it is set forth in this prophecy.
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.(11) From the time.—It appears as if at this verse the prophecy recurs to the more immediate future, and that these words point to the same subject as Daniel 11:31. The language used respecting the “abomination” is almost verbally the same as that in Daniel 8:3; Daniel 8:11; Daniel 9:27, and prevents us from arriving at any other conclusion. The great and apparently insoluble difficulty is the relation which the 1,290 or the 1,335 days occupy with regard to the 2,300 days, or the time, times, and the dividing of a time. Assuming that these four periods all commence at the same epoch (see Note on Daniel 8:14), the death of Antiochus closes the 1,290 days, and the 1,335 days point to some event which occurred forty-five days, or a month and a half, later. The principal objection to this view is that the exact date of the death of Antiochus is uncertain, and therefore all calculations based upon the precise day of his death must be untrustworthy. It is obvious that neither of the two periods mentioned in this and the following verse can be made to agree with three years and a half without setting the rules of arithmetic at defiance. Also the obscurity which rests over the greater portion of the history of Israel should guard us against assuming that we can explain all the contents of the last three chapters by means of what occurred in those times, and also against assuming our historical facts from Daniel, and then making use of them to illustrate his prophecies.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.(12) Blessed is he.—Last words to Daniel. He shall rest in the grave, and stand up in his own lot at the end of the days.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.(13) In thy lot.—The reference is to the partition of Palestine by lot in the times of Joshua. Even so shall one greater than Joshua divide the heavenly Canaan among His saints who follow Daniel in faith, firmness, and consistency. (See Colossians 1:12.)