Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
Da 10:1-21. Daniel Comforted by an Angelic Vision.
The tenth through twelfth chapters more fully describe the vision in the eighth chapter by a second vision on the same subject, just as the vision in the seventh chapter explains more fully that in the second. The tenth chapter is the prologue; the eleventh, the prophecy itself; and the twelfth, the epilogue. The tenth chapter unfolds the spiritual worlds as the background of the historical world (Job 1:7; 2:1, &c.; Zec 3:1, 2; Re 12:7), and angels as the ministers of God's government of men. As in the world of nature (Joh 5:4; Re 7:1-3), so in that of history here; Michael, the champion of Israel, and with him another angel, whose aim is to realize God's will in the heathen world, resist the God-opposed spirit of the world. These struggles are not merely symbolical, but real (1Sa 16:13-15; 1Ki 22:22; Eph 6:12).
1. third year of Cyrus—two years after Cyrus' decree for the restoration of the Jews had gone forth, in accordance with Daniel's prayer in Da 9:3-19. This vision gives not merely general outlines, or symbols, but minute details of the future, in short, anticipative history. It is the expansion of the vision in Da 8:1-14. That which then "none understood," he says here, "he understood"; the messenger being sent to him for this (Da 10:11, 14), to make him understand it. Probably Daniel was no longer in office at court; for in Da 1:21, it is said, "Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus"; not that he died then. See on Da 1:21.
but the time appointed was long—rather, "it (that is, the prophecy) referred to great calamity" [Maurer]; or, "long and calamitous warfare" [Gesenius]. Literally, "host going to war"; hence, warfare, calamity.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
2. mourning—that is, afflicting myself by fasting from "pleasant bread, flesh and wine" (Da 10:3), as a sign of sorrow, not for its own sake. Compare Mt 9:14, "fast," answering to "mourn" (Da 10:15). Compare 1Co 8:8; 1Ti 4:3, which prove that "fasting" is not an indispensable Christian obligation; but merely an outward expression of sorrow, and separation from ordinary worldly enjoyments, in order to give one's self to prayer (Ac 13:2). Daniel's mourning was probably for his countrymen, who met with many obstructions to their building of the temple, from their adversaries in the Persian court.
I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
3. no pleasant bread—"unleavened bread, even the bread of affliction" (De 16:3).
anoint—The Persians largely used unguents.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;
4. first month—Nisan, the month most suited for considering Israel's calamity, being that in which the feast of unleavened bread reminded them of their Egyptian bondage. Daniel mourned not merely for the seven days appointed (Ex 12:18), from the evening of the fourteenth to the twenty-first of Nisan, but thrice seven days, to mark extraordinary sorrow. His mourning ended on the twenty-first day, the closing day of the passover feast; but the vision is not till the twenty-fourth, because of the opposition of "the prince of Persia" (Da 10:13).
I was by … the … river—in waking reality, not a trance (Da 10:7); when younger, he saw the future in images, but now when old, he receives revelations from angels in common language, that is, in the apocalyptic mode. In the patriarchal period God often appeared visibly, that is, theophany. In the prophets, next in the succession, the inward character of revelation is prominent. The consummation is when the seer looks up from earth into the unseen world, and has the future shown to him by angels, that is, apocalypse. So in the New Testament there is a parallel progression: God in the flesh, the spiritual activity of the apostles and the apocalypse [Auberlen].
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
5. lifted up mine eyes—from the ground on which they had been fixed in his mourning.
certain man—literally, "one man." An angel of the highest order; for in Da 8:16 he commands Gabriel to make Daniel to understand the vision, and in Da 12:6 one of the two angels inquires of him how long it would be till the end predicted.
linen—the raiment of priests, being the symbol of sanctity, as more pure than wool (Ex 28:42); also of prophets (Jer 13:1); and of angels (Re 15:6).
girded with … gold—that is, with a girdle interwoven with gold (Re 1:13).
His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
6. beryl—literally, "Tarshish," in Spain. The beryl, identical with the chrysolite or topaz, was imported into the East from Tarshish, and therefore is called "the Tarshish stone."
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
7. they fled—terrified by the presence of the presence of the angel.
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
8. comeliness—literally, "vigor," that is, lively expression and color.
into corruption—"deadliness," that is, death-like paleness (Da 5:6; 7:28).
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
9. voice of his words—the sound of his words.
was I in a deep sleep—"I sank into a deep sleep" [Lengkerke].
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
10. an hand—namely, of Gabriel, who interpreted other revelations to Daniel (Da 8:16) [Theodoret].
set me upon my knees—Gesenius translates, "cause me to reel on my knees," &c.
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
11. man … beloved—(See on Da 9:23).
understand—"attend to." See Da 8:17, 18.
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
12. Fear not—Be not affrighted at my presence.
didst set thine heart to understand—what shall come to pass to thy people at the last times (compare Da 10:14).
chasten thyself—(Da 10:2, 3).
thy words were heard—(Ac 10:4). Prayer is heard at once in heaven, though the sensible answer may seem to be delayed. God's messenger was detained on the way (Da 10:13) by the opposition of the powers of darkness. If in our prayers amidst long protracted sorrows we believed God's angel is on his way to us, what consolation it would give us!
for thy words—because of thy prayers.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
13. prince of … Persia—the angel of darkness that represented the Persian world power, to which Israel was then subject. This verse gives the reason why, though Daniel's "words were heard from the first day" (Da 10:12), the good angel did not come to him until more than three weeks had elapsed (Da 10:4).
one and twenty days—answering to the three weeks of Daniel's mourning (Da 10:2).
Michael—that is, "Who is like God?" Though an archangel, "one of the chief princes," Michael was not to be compared to God.
help me—Michael, as patron of Israel before God (Da 10:21; 12:1), "helped" to influence the Persian king to permit the Jews' return to Jerusalem.
I remained—I was detained there with the kings of Persia, that is, with the angel of the Persian rulers, with whom I had to contend, and from whom I should not have got free, but for the help of Michael. Gesenius translates, "I obtained the ascendency," that is, I gained my point against the adverse angel of Persia, so as to influence the Persian authorities to favor Israel's restoration.
Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
14. what shall befall thy people in the latter days—an intimation that the prophecy, besides describing the doings of Antiochus, reaches to the concluding calamities of Israel's history, prior to the nation's full restoration at Christ's coming—calamities of which Antiochus' persecutions were the type.
vision is for many days—that is, extends far into the future.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
15. face toward the ground—in humble reverence (Ge 19:1).
dumb—with overwhelming awe.
And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.
16. touched my lips—the same significant action wherewith the Son of man accompanied His healing of the dumb (Mr 7:33). He alone can give spiritual utterance (Isa 6:6, 7; Eph 6:19), enabling one to "open the mouth boldly." The same one who makes dumb (Da 10:15) opens the mouth.
sorrows—literally, "writhings" as of a woman in travail.
For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.
17. this … this my lord—to avoid the tautology in English Version, join rather "this," with "servant," "How can this servant of my lord (that is, how can I who am so feeble) talk with this my lord (who is so majestic)?" Thus Daniel gives the reason why he is so overwhelmed with awe [Maurer].
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,
18. again … touched me—It was gradually that Daniel recovered his strength. Hence there was need of the second touch, that he might hear the angel with composure.
And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
19. peace be unto thee—God is favorable to thee and to thy people Israel. See Jud 13:21, 22, as to the fear of some evil resulting from a vision of angels.
Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
20. Knowest thou wherefore—The angel asks, after Daniel had recovered from his fright, whether he has understood what was revealed (Da 10:13). On Daniel, by his silence, intimating that he did understand, the angel declares he will return to renew the fight with the evil angel, the prince of Persia. This points to new difficulties to the Jews' restoration which would arise in the Persian court, but which would be counteracted by God, through the ministry of angels.
prince of Grecia shall come—Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia, and favored the Jews [Calvin]. Rather, as the prince of Persia is an angel, representing the hostile world power, so the prince of Grecia is a fresh angelic adversary, representing Greece. When I am gone forth from conquering the Persian foe, a fresh one starts up, namely, the world power that succeeds Persia, Greece; Antiochus Epiphanes, and his antitype Antichrist, but him, too, with the help of Michael, Israel's champion, I shall overcome [Gejer].
But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
21. noted in the scripture of truth—in the secret book of God's decrees (Ps 139:16; Re 5:1), which are truth, that is, the things which shall most surely come to pass, being determined by God (compare Joh 17:17).
none … but Michael—To him alone of the angels the office of protecting Israel, in concert with the angelic speaker, was delegated; all the world powers were against Israel.