“VERSE 1. 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.”
This verse introduces us to the last of the recorded visions of the prophet Daniel, the instruction imparted to him at this time being continued through chapters 11 and 12, to the close of the book. The third year of Cyrus was B.C.534. Six years had consequently elapsed since Daniel’s vision of the four beasts in the first year of Belshazzar, B.C.540; four years since the vision of the ram, he-goat, little horn, and 2300 days of chapter 8, in the third year of Belshazzar, B.C.538; and four years since the instruction given to Daniel respecting the seventy weeks, in the first year of Darius, B.C.538, as recorded in chapter 9. On the overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, B.C.538, Darius, through the courtesy of his nephew, Cyrus, was permitted to occupy the throne. This he did till the time of his death, about two years after. About this time, Cambyses, king of Persia, father of Cyrus, having also died, Cyrus became sole monarch of the second universal empire of prophecy, B.C.538. This being reckoned as his first year, his third year, in which this vision was given to Daniel, would be dated B.C.534. The death of Daniel is supposed to have occurred soon after this, he being at this time, according to Prideaux, not less than ninety- one years of age.
“VERSE 2. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3. 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.”
The marginal reading for “three full weeks” is “weeks of days;” which term Dr. Stonard thinks is here used to distinguish the time spoken of from the weeks of years, brought to view in the preceding chapter. For what purpose did this aged servant of God thus humble himself and afflict his soul? – Evidently for the purpose of understanding more fully the divine
“VERSE 4. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 5. 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: 6. 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 color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7. 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. 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. 9. 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.”
By the River Hiddekel the Syriac understands the Euphrates; the Vulgate, Greek, and Arabic, the Tigris; hence Wintle concludes that the prophet had this vision at the place where these rivers unite, as they do not far from the Persian Gulf. A most majestic personage visited Daniel on this occasion. The description of him is almost parallel to that given of Christ in the Revelation, chapter 1:14-16; and the effect of his presence was about such as was experienced by Paul and his companions when the Lord met them on their way to Damascus. Acts.9:1-7. But this was not the Lord: for the Lord is introduced as Michael in verse 13. It must therefore have been an angel, but one of no ordinary character. The inquiry then arises, Of what angel can such a description be truthfully given? There are some points of identity between this and other passages which plainly show that this was the angel Gabriel. In chapter 8:16 Gabriel is introduced by name. His interview with Daniel at that time produced exactly the same effect upon the prophet as that described in the passage before us. At that time Gabriel was commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, and he himself promised to make him know what should be in the last end of the indignation. Having given Daniel all the instruction he was able
to bear on that occasion, he subsequently resumed his work, and explained another great point in the vision, as recorded in chapter 9:20-27. Yet we learn from chapter 10 that there were some points still unexplained to the prophet; and he set his heart again, with fasting and supplication, to understand the matter. A personage now appears whose presence has the same effect upon Daniel as that produced by the presence of Gabriel at the first; and he tells Daniel (verse 14), “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days,” the very information Gabriel had promised to give, as recorded in chapter 8:19. But one conclusion can be drawn from these facts. Daniel was seeking further light on the very vision which Gabriel had been commanded to make him understand. Once, already, he had made a special visit to Daniel to give him additional information when he sought it with prayer and fasting. Now, when he is prepared for further instruction, and again seeks it in the same manner in reference to the same subject, can it for a moment be supposed that Gabriel disregarded his instruction, lost sight of his mission, and suffered another angel to undertake the completion of his unfinished work? And the language of verse 14 clearly identifies the speaker with the one, who, in the vision of chapter 8, promised to do that work.
“VERSE 10. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. 11. 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. 12. 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.”
third of his captivity; and being a youth when carried captive, he cannot be supposed to have been less than ninety. Old as he was, ‘he set his heart to understand’ the former revelations which had been made to him, and particularly the vision of the ram and he-goat, as may be collected from the sequel; and for this
in divine knowledge must imitate Daniel, and habituate himself to study, temperance, and devotion.”
“VERSE 13. 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.”
How often the prayers of God’s people are heard, while as yet there is no apparent answer. It was even so in this case with Daniel. The angel tells him that from the first day he set his heart to understand, his words were heard. Yet Daniel continued to afflict his soul with fasting, and to wrestle with God for three full weeks, all unaware that any respect was yet paid to his petition. But why was the delay? – The king of Persia withstood the angel. The answer to Daniel’s prayer involved some action on the part of that king. This action he must be influenced to perform. It doubtless pertained to the work which he was to do, and had already begun to do, in behalf of the temple at Jerusalem and the Jews, his decree for the building of that temple being the first of the series which finally constituted that notable commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, at the going forth of which the great prophetic period of 2300 days was to begin. And the angel is dispatched to influence him to go forward in accordance with the divine will. Ah, how little do we realize what is going on in the unseen world in relation to human affairs! Here, as it were, the curtain is for a moment lifted, and we catch a glimpse of the movements within. Daniel prays. The Creator of the universe hears. The command is issued to Gabriel to go to his relief. But the king of Persia must act before Daniel’s prayer is answered; and the angel hastens to the Persian king. Satan no doubt musters his forces to oppose. They meet in the royal palace of Persia. All the motives of selfish interest and worldly policy which Satan can play upon, he doubtless uses to the best advantage to influence the king against compliance with God’s will, while Gabriel brings to bear his influence in the other direction. The king struggles between conflicting emotions. He hesitates; he delays. Day after day passes away; yet Daniel prays on. The king still refuses to yield to the influence of the angel; three weeks expire, and lo! a mightier than Gabriel takes his place in the palace of the king, and Gabriel appears to Daniel to acquaint him with the progress of events. From the first, said he, your prayer was heard; but during these three weeks which you have devoted to prayer and fasting, the king of Persia has resisted my influence and prevented my coming. Such was the effect of prayer. And God has erected no barriers between himself and his people since Daniel’s time. It is still their privilege to offer up prayer as fervent and effectual as his, and, like Jacob, to have power with God, and to prevail. Who was Michael, who here came to Gabriel’s assistance? The term signifies, “He who is like God;” and the Scriptures clearly show that Christ is the one who bears this name. Jude (verse 9) declares that Michael is the archangel. Archangel signifies “head or chief angel;” and Gabriel, in our text, calls him one, or, as the margin reads, the first, of the chief princes. There can be but one archangel; and hence it is manifestly improper to use the word, as some do, in the plural. The Scriptures never so use it. Paul, in 1Thess.4:16, states that when the Lord appears the second time to raise the dead, the voice of the archangel is heard. Whose voice is heard when the dead are raised? – The voice of the Son of God. John 5:28. Putting these scriptures together, they prove, (1) that the dead are called from their graves by the voice of the Son of God; (2) that the voice which is then heard is the voice of the archangel, proving that the archangel is called Michael; from which it follows that Michael is the Son of God. In the last verse of Daniel 10, he is called “your prince,” and in the first chapter 12, “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people,” expressions which can appropriately be applied to Christ, but to no other being.
“VERSE 14. 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.”
The expression, “yet the vision is for many days,” reaching far into the future, and embracing what should befall the people of God even in the latter days, shows conclusively that the days given in that vision, namely
“VERSE 15. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. 16. 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. 17. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remaineth no strength in me, neither is there any breath left in me.”
One of the most marked characteristics manifested by Daniel was the tender solicitude he felt for his people. Having come now clearly to comprehend that the vision portended long ages of oppression and suffering for the church, he was so affected by the view that his strength departed from him, his breath ceased, and the power of speech was gone. The vision of verse 16 doubtless refers to the former vision of chapter 8.
“VERSE 18. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. 19. 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. 20. Then said he, Knowest thou therefore 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. 21. But I will show 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.”
The prophet is at length strengthened to hear in full the communication which the angel has to make. And Gabriel says, “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee?” That is, do you now know to what end I have come? Do you understand my purpose so that you will no more fear? He then announced his intention to return, as soon as his communication was complete, to fight with the king of Persia. The word with is, in the Septuagint, meta, and signifies, not against, but in common with, alongside
Gabriel then announced that none – God of course excepted – had an understanding with him in the matters he was about to communicate except Michael the prince. And after he had made them known to Daniel, then there were four beings in the universe with whom rested a knowledge of these important truths, – Daniel, Gabriel, Christ, and God. Four links in this ascending chain of witnesses, – the first, Daniel, a member of the human family; the last, Jehovah, the God of all!