Matthew Poole's 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.Daniel, having humbled himself, seeth a glorious vision, and is troubled with fear, Daniel 10:1-9. An angel comforteth him, and, telling him of the opposition of the prince of Persia, the assistance he had from Michael, and the coming in of the prince of Grecia, promiseth him further information, Daniel 10:10-21.
This fell out in the thirty-first year, which was the last year of the kingdom of Persia, but the third year after his seizure and monarchy of Babylon; indeed it is said, Daniel 1:21, that Daniel continued to the first year of Cyrus, i.e. in his place of honour, but he lived much longer.
A thing was revealed unto Daniel; revealed by an angel from heaven, not in a dream, or in any more obscure and uncertain way, but plainly. This chapter is but a general preface to what is more particularly declared in the next chapter.
Belteshazzar: by this name Daniel was famous among many people, and they took notice of him by his honourable place, name, and prophecy.
The thing was true; both in the matter, and that which was truly to come to pass, not feigned, nor a bare conjecture, hman it was truth. The time appointed was long, i.e. for three hundred years’ space, as was said, Daniel 8:26, or to the end of Antiochus’s persecution, or of the world, Daniel 12:2.
And he understood the thing and the vision. This is doubled, to beget the greater credit, and assurance of the truth of it.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.There are several causes of Daniel’s mourning.
1. Because the Jews had liberty to go out of captivity, yet many of them staid still in Babylon.
2. Because when they were building the temple, walls, and city they were greatly hindered and molested, Ezra 4:4.
3. Because he foresaw the many calamities of the Jews that would befall them for their sins, especially in destroying the Messiah, and rejecting his gospel.
Three full weeks; he fasted and mourned all that time, both to declare his deep sense of those calamities ensuing, and to be in a better posture to receive Divine impressions, which usually God reveals to humble souls.
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.Fasting and feasting are very inconsistent; Daniel at other times lived magnificently, according to the dignity of his place, he had the best bread, flesh, wine, and anointing after the manner of the East, all which he laid aside, that by austerity he might afflict his body, and quicken his soul suitably to the time of Jacob’s trouble and to a true fasting frame.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;The first month; it was the month Nisan, which is March. This
Hiddekel was Tigris, which is a great branch of Euphrates: the prophets had many of their visions by rivers.
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:He beheld wistly and with a composed mind.
A certain man; which man some will have an angel, either Gabriel, who appeared to him before, or Michael, chief among the angels, Jude 9, archangel, who is mentioned after. Or rather, Christ, who was true man.
1. He appeared to Daniel in royal and priestly robes, which was not proper for any angel.
2. He appeared in so great brightness and majesty, which made Daniel astonished, and laid him prostrate.
3. Compare this place with Daniel 12:6,7, and you find him the same as here, revealing the secrets of times, and of God’s providence towards his church, which is Christ.
Clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: see Revelation 1:13-17, where the Lord Jesus Christ is described as here in Daniel, and for the same end. Now he appeared thus before his incarnation, in the Old Testament, as a prelude of it, as the best expositors grant it. By this appearance the Lord Christ held out clearly his three offices of King, Priest, and Prophet. The girding of loins signifies his readiness to obey the commands and do the work of his Father; besides the ornament of the curious golden girdle.
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.Like the beryl, which is of a sea colour; others translate it the chrysolite, others the jacinth, the word in the text vyvrtk like the tarsis, this is a colour like the sea: the beryl, which is azure, and like the heavens, show Christ to be immortal and glorious, the Lord from heaven, heavenly, 1 Corinthians 15:47. See Ezekiel 1:16 10:9 28:13. His face as the lightning quickens to succour his saints and terrify his enemies, Matthew 24:27 28:3 Revelation 4:5. His eyes like lamps of fire, signify omniscience, splendour, and terror in Christ. His arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, note his incredible power and swiftness to defend or to destroy invincibly. The voice of his words like the voice of a multitude: by this the Lord would distinguish the Lord Christ from creatures, and when he comes with a noise and a sound, to show the grandeur and terror of his presence. And thus his presence is wont to be ushered in before the revelation of great things, Ezekiel 1:24 43:2 Acts 2:2 Revelation 1:10,15 14:2 19:1; by the example of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the apostles; noting also the mighty power of Christ to fear.
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.So Luke 24:16 Acts 9:7.
1. The Lord hereby shows his power over our senses, both outward and inward, in a signal, distinguishing way.
2. The weakness of mortals to see or hear heavenly things, unless he strengthen them.
3. Their fleeing and quaking argued the terror of God upon them; and thereby the truth and certainty of the vision, by hearing such a sound though they saw it not, Acts 9:7,8.
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.This great vision; great in the appearance, and great in the great things revealed.
There remained no strength in me; by the recoiling of his spirits inward.
My comeliness was turned in me into corruption; his colour was changed into paleness, as one that is faint, and pining into a consumption, by terror and consternation.
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.Yet heard I the voice of his words; nevertheless he made me to hear: here was power in weakness, and yet this added to his fear and frailty.
Then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground; as one that swooned, or as one that slumbered, and as one that adored the ground.
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.What a poor worm is man to crush or to raise by the mighty hand of God! This dealt the angel Gabriel with him before, Daniel 8:16,17.
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.A man greatly beloved: the Lord moulds and models us as clay in his hands to receive his impressions: we are not fit for any great thing till we are abased; and yet when we are vilest in our eyes we are most precious in God’s eyes.
Understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright. Thus Saul, when he was struck down, and struck blind, then he received his call and commission to be an apostle, and to know the mystery of Christ: see Habakkuk 3:16.
When he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling: the Lord doth not restore at once his servants from their frailties, that they by gradual comforts may prize every drop of mercy, being not quickened at once, when they are mortified, but may be admonished, by the remains of fears and frailties, to keep their hearts humble.
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.1. The Lord is quick in hearing the fervent prayer of a humble soul, though he doth not presently let them know it. God heard the first day, though he sent not his angel to tell Daniel of it till three weeks after.
2. A soul that would obtain great things from God by prayer must be solemn and fervent in seeking God.
3. The fervent and constant prayers of the saints make God to send from heaven and save. Thus in Peter’s case, Acts 12:5-15, and here in Daniel’s.
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.But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: this place hath some difficulty, therefore variously expounded. Some expound it of earthly princes, some of angels, and among them some will have good angels meant, who they say have the patronage of the kingdoms and provinces of the earth; but who can imagine that good angels should quarrel one with the other? therefore, say others, they are bad angels that oppose the people of God, and their deliverance, seeking rather their ruin, as Michael and the devil strove, Revelation 12:7: now sometimes God permits Satan to do much this way. But I judge by the prince of Persia is meant Cambyses, who was an enemy to the Jews, and hindered the building of the temple. Now he could not properly resist the angel, but figuratively he did. Angels’ power is not unlimited, but by commission and instructions from God, and their works successive. Therefore God suffered the wicked counsels of Cambyses to take place a while; but Daniel by his prayers, and the angel by his power, overcame him at last. And this very thing laid a foundation of the Persian monarchy’s ruin, Daniel 10:20; and doubtless that king was stirred up to his evil machinations against the people of God by the prince of the powers of darkness, that ruleth in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.
Michael: this we take to be Christ.
1. His name signifies, who is like God.
2. He is the first in dignity above all the angels, Hebrews 1:4-7, &c., called archangel, and the church’s prince, Daniel 10:21.
3. The chief champion of his church, helping Gabriel not as his fellow, but as his general. Thus we see what care God takes of his church’s safety against their potent enemies, by doubling their succours, (when he could do it, if he pleased, without means,) thereby to consult his own glory in the world by defeating the counsels and breaking the powers of the mightiest enemies, after he had given them rope to do their worst.
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.Now at last, with much ado, after the contest is over, I am come to give thee understanding touching all the purposes and providences of God relating to his church: this made amends for the delay; this was the comfortable effect of effectual fervent prayer; this was God’s overflowing kindness to his servant Daniel, to certify him by so honourable a messenger as this, that God would not only give him the knowledge of the present times and dispensations towards his church and their enemies, but for a long time after, even four hundred and ninety years, to the coming of the Messias, as he did to David, 2 Samuel 7:19. By which we learn this solemn truth, that God will never leave himself without witness to his people; but in the worst of times he will afford them sufficient discoveries of his care of them; as he did by this prophecy in those dark days.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.He was not yet quite free of all his fear, of which we heard, Daniel 10:9; haply this pressed him down the more, when he considered the majesty of the angel, the greatness of the vision, and his own frailty; this transported him with astonishment; and above all, that he saw so much of God in it, in his favour to him and his poor church.
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.One like the similitude of the sons of men; an angel in the shape of a man, and no other but Jesus Christ, as before he that had humbled him now helped and encouraged him.
I opened my mouth, and spake; which cannot be till the Lord touch our lips, Psalm 51:15 Isaiah 6:5-7 Jeremiah 1:9. Though the angel appeared to him, and spake to him as a man, yet could not Daniel bear his presence without some dread.
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.The condition of the church under the gospel is a better dispensation than the law and the prophets, when God spake often by angels; but now by his Son, and that not in angelical shape and splendour, but as a mean man, in a meek and humble garb, and most familiar, Isaiah 61:1-3 John 13:5 Acts 3:22.
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,Daniel needed a second touch, and another word of encouragement, before he could hear and bear the angel’s words as to the vision and prophecy; and now, being fortified by degrees, he hath got courage.
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.The Lord is gracious and compassionate towards his saints under their infirmities, Psalm 103:13,14. And this tender carriage towards him was a token for good to him and his people, that the Lord would be propitious to them.
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.Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? i.e. by what I have said already, and what I have further to tell thee upon thy prayers, which God hath accepted, and hath given me in charge to reveal to thee as followeth to the end.
To fight with the prince of Persia; Cyrus, or Cambyses, who by his counsels and captains hinder the work of God; and to bring the prince of Greece upon him, viz. Alexander the Great, who utterly ruined the Persian monarchy, which is ushered with the word
to, because it was a wonder that the prince of Greece with thirty thousand men should do it. Thus the Lord sets and disposeth the fates of empires, and changeth them as he lists; especially in his church’s quarrel.
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.In the scripture of truth, i.e. in the peremptory decree and purpose of God, more authentic and unalterable than the laws of the Medes and Persians. Now God hath appointed to deliver the Jews from the Persians by the Greeks; and from the Greeks by the Maccabees, especially the Seleucidae and Lagidae; and how the Romans should come after, and plague the people of God long, both by the persecuting emperors and by antichrist, and how that also should have an end.
Michael your prince; Jesus Christ alone is the Champion and Protector of his church, and that all-sufficient, when all the princes of the earth besides deserted or opposed it. For it cannot be meant of
angels in any sound sense, as popish interpreters would have it, thereby to countenance their angel worship; for can we imagine upon rational and orthodox principles, that the angels of heaven should be divided into parties, and but two of them mind the cause of the church of God, with other like absurdities, which accompany the popish sense that Maldonate, a Lapide, &c. fasten upon this scripture?