Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
analysis of the chapter
There are several general remarks which may be made respecting this, the closing chapter of the book of Daniel.
I. It is a part, or a continuation of the general prophecy or vision which was commenced in Dan. 10, and which embraces the whole of the eleventh chapter. Except for the length of the prophecy there should have been no division whatever, and it should be read as a continuous whole; or if a division were desirable, what was made by Cardinal Hugo in the 13th century, and which occurs in our translation of the Bible, is one of the most unhappy. On every account, and for every reason, the division should have been at the close of the fourth verse of this chapter, and the first four verses should have been attached to the previous portion. That the beginning of this chapter is a continuation of the address of the angel to Daniel, is plain from a mere glance. The address ends at Dan 12:4; and then commences a colloquy between two angels who appear in the vision, designed to cast further light on what had been said. It will contribute to a right understanding of this chapter to remember, that it is a part of the one vision or prophecy which was commenced in Dan. 10, and that the whole three chapters Dan. 10; 11; Dan 12:1-13 should be read together. If Dan. 11, therefore, refers to the historical events connected with the reign of Antiochus, and the troubles under him, it would seem to be plain that this does also, and that the angel meant to designate the time when these troubles would close, and the indications by which it might be known that they were about to come to an end.
II. At the same time that this is true, it must also be admitted that the language which is used is such as is applicable to other events, and that it supposed that there was a belief in the doctrines to which that language would be naturally applied. It is not such language as would have been originally employed to describe the historical transactions respecting the persecutions under Antiochus, nor unless the doctrines which are obviously conveyed by that language were understood and believed. I refer here to the statements respecting the resurrection of the dead and of the future state. This language is found particularly in Dan 12:2-3 : "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. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they thai turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever." This language is appropriate to express such doctrines as the following:
(a) that of the resurrection of the dead - or a being raised up out of the dust of the earth;
(b) that of retribution after the resurrection: a part being raised to everlasting life, and a part to everlasting shame;
(c) that of the eternity of future retribution, or the eternity of rewards and punishments: awaking to everlasting life, and to everlasting shame;
(d) that of the high honors and rewards of those who would be engaged in doing good, or of that portion of mankind who would be instrumental in turning the wicked from the paths of sin: "they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever."
It is impossible to conceive that this language would have been used unless these doctrines were known and believed, and unless it be supposed that they were so familiar that it would be readily understood. Whatever may have been the particular thing to which it was applied by the angel, it is such language as could have been intelligible only where there was a belief of these doctrines, and it may, therefore, be set down as an indication of a prevalent belief in the time of Daniel on these subjects. Such would be understood now if the same language were used by us, to whatever we might apply it, for it would not be employed unless there was a belief of the truth of the doctrines which it is naturally adapted to convey.
III. If the angel intended, therefore, primarily to refer to events that would occur in the time of Antiochus - to the arousing of many to defend their country, as if called from the dust of the earth, or to their being summoned by Judas Maccabeus from caves and fastnesses, and to the honor to which many of them might be raised, and the shame and contempt which would await others, it seems difficult to doubt that the mind of the speaker, at the same time, glanced onward to higher doctrines, and that it was the intention of the angel to bring into view far-distant events, of which these occurrences might be regarded as an emblem, and that he meant to advert to what would literally occur in the time of the Maccabees as a beautiful and striking illustration of more momentous and glorious scenes when the earth should give up its dead, and when the final judgment should occur. On these scenes, perhaps, the mind of the angel ultimately rested, and a prominent. part of the design of the entire vision may have been to bring them into view, and to direct the thoughts of the pious onward, far beyond the troubles and the triumphs in the days of the Maccabees, to the time when the dead should arise, and when the retributions of eternity should occur. It was no uncommon thing among the prophets to allow the eye to glance from one object to another lying in the same range of vision, or having such points of resemblance that the one would suggest the other; and it often happened, that a description which commenced with some natural event terminated in some more important spiritual truth, to which that event had a resemblance, and which it was adapted to suggest. Compare Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7. Three things occur often in such a case:
(1) language is employed in speaking of what is to take place, which is derived from the secondary and remote event, and which naturally suggests that;
(2) ideas are intermingled in the description which are appropriate to the secondary event only, and which should be understood as applicable to that; and
(3) the description which was commenced with reference to one event or class of events, often passes over entirely, and terminates on the secondary and ultimate events. This point will be more particularly examined on the note at the chapter.
IV. The contents of the chapter are as follows:
(1) The concluding statement of what would occur at the time referred to Dan 11:1-3. This statement embraces many particulars: that Michael, the guardian angel, would stand up in behalf of the people; that there would be great trouble, such as there had not been since the time when the nation began to exist; that there would be deliverance for all whose names were recorded in the book; that there would be an awakening of those who slept in the dust - some coming to life and honor, and some to shame and dishonor; and that distinguished glory would await those who turned many to righteousness.
(2) At this stage of the matter, all having been disclosed that the angel purposed to reveal, Daniel is commanded to shut and seal the book; yet with the encouragement held out that more would yet be known on the subject, Dan 12:4. The matter was evidently involved still in mystery, and there were many points on which it could not but be desired that there should be fuller information - points relating to the time when these things would happen, and a more particular account of the full meaning of what had been predicted, etc. On these points it is clear that many questions might be asked, and it is probable that the mind of Daniel would be left still in perplexity in regard to them. To meet this state of mind, the angel says to Daniel that "many would run to and fro, and that knowledge would be increased;" that is, that by intercourse with one another in future times; by spreading abroad the knowledge already obtained; by diffusing information, and by careful inquiry, those of coming ages would obtain much clearer views on these points; or, in other words, that time, and the intercourse of individuals and nations, would clear up the obscurities of prophecy.
(3) In this state of perplexity, Daniel looked and saw two other personages standing on the two sides of the river, and between them and the angel who had conversed with Daniel a colloquy or conversation ensues, respecting the time necessary to accomplish these things, Dan 12:5-7. They are introduced as interested in the inquiry as to the time of the continuance of these things - that is, how long it would be to the end of these wonders. These were evidently angels also, and they are represented
(a) as ignorant of the future - a circumstance which we must suppose to exist among the angels; and
(b) as feeling a deep interest in the transactions which were to occur, and the period when it might be expected they would have their completion.
To this natural inquiry, the angel who had conversed withe Daniel gives a solemn answer Dan 12:7, that the period would be "a time, and times, and an half;" and that all these things would be accomplished, when he to whom reference was made had finished his purpose of scattering the holy people.
(4) Daniel, perplexed and overwhelmed with these strange predictions, hearing what was said about the time, but not understanding it, asks with intense interest when the end of these things should be, Dan 12:8. He had heard the reply of the angel, but it conveyed no idea to his mind. He was deeply solicitous to look into the future, and to ascertain when these events would end, and what would be their termination. The answer to his anxious, earnest inquiry, is contained in Dan 12:9-13, and embraces several points - giving sonic further information, but still evidently designed to leave the matter obscure in many respects.
(a) The matter was sealed up, and his question could not be definitely answered, Dan 12:9. When the time of the end should come, it is implied the matter would be clearer, and might be understood, but that all had been communicated substantially that could be.
(b) A statement is made Dan 12:10 of the general result of the trials on two classes of persons: the things that would occur would tend to make the righteous more holy, but the wicked would continue to do wickedly, notwithstanding all these heavy judgments. The latter too would, when these events took place, fail to understand their design; but the former would obtain a just view of them, and would be made wiser by them. Time, to the one class, would disclose the meaning of the Divine dealings, and they would comprehend them; to the other they would still be dark and unintelligible.
(c) A statement is, however, made as to the time when these things would be accomplished, but still so obscure as to induce the angel himself to say to Daniel that he must go his way until the end should be, Dan 12:11-13. Two periods of time are mentioned, both different from the one in Dan 12:7. In one of them Dan 12:11 it is said that from the time when the daily sacrifice should be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate should be set up, would be thousand two hundred and ninety days. In the other Dan 12:12 it is said that he would be blessed or happy who should reach a certain period mentioned - a thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. What these different periods of time refer to will of course be the subject of inquiry in the note at the chapter.
(d) The whole closes, therefore Dan 12:13, with a direction to Daniel that, for the present, he should go his way. Nothing additional would be disclosed. Time would reveal more; time would explain all. Meanwhile there is an assurance given that, as for himself, he would have "rest," and would "stand in his lot at the end of the days." This seems to be a gracious assurance to him that he had nothing to fear from these troubles personally, and that whatever should come, he would have peace, and would occupy the position in future times which was due to him. His lot would be happy and peaceful; his name would be honored; his salvation would be secured. It seems to be implied that, with this pledge, he ought to allow his mind to be calm, and not suffer himself to be distressed because he could not penetrate the future, and foresee all that was to occur; and the truth, therefore, with which the book closes is, that, having security about our own personal salvation - or having no ground of solicitude respecting that - or having that matter made safe - we should calmly commit all events to God, with the firm conviction that in his own time his purposes will be accomplished, and that being then understood, he will be seen to be worthy of confidence and praise.
And at that time - At the period referred to in the preceding chapter. The fair construction of the passage demands this interpretation, and if that refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, then what is here said must also; and we are to look for the direct and immediate fulfillment of this prediction in something that occurred under him, however, it may be supposed to have an ultimate reference to other and more remote events. The phrase "at that time," however, does not limit what is here said to any one part of his life, or to his death, but to the general period referred to in the time of his reign. That reign was but eleven years, and the fulfillment must be found somewhere during that period.
Shall Michael - On the meaning of this word, and the being here referred to, see the notes at Dan 10:13.
Stand up - That is, he shall interpose; he shall come forth to render aid. This does not mean necessarily that he would visibly appear, but that he would in fact interpose. In the time of great distress and trouble, there would be supernatural or angelic aid rendered to the people of God. No man can prove that this would not be so, nor is there any inherent improbability in the supposition that good angels may be employed to render assistance in the time of trouble. Compare the notes at Dan 10:13.
The great prince which standeth for the children of thy people - See the notes as above at Dan 10:13. The meaning is, that he had the affairs of the Hebrew people, or the people of God, especially under his protection, or he was appointed to watch over them. This doctrine is in accordance with the notions that prevailed at that time; and no one can demonstrate that it is not true. There is no authority for applying this to the Messiah, as many have done, for the term Michael is not elsewhere given to him, and all that the language fairly conveys is met by the other supposition. The simple meaning is, that he who was the guardian angel of that nation, or who was appointed to watch over its interests, would at that time of great trouble interpose and render aid.
And there shall be a time of trouble - Under Antiochus Epiphanes. See the notes at Dan. 11:21-45. Compare the books of the Maccabees, passim.
Such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time - This might be construed with reference to the Jewish nation, as meaning that the trouble would be greater than any that had occurred during its history. But it may also be taken, as our translators understand it, in a more general sense, as referring to any or all nations. In either sense it can hardly be considered as the language of hyperbole. The troubles that came upon the land under the persecutions of Antiochus probably surpassed any that the Hebrew nation ever experienced, nor could it be shown that, for the same period of time, they were surpassed among any other people. The Saviour has employed this language as adapted to express the intensity of the trials which would be brought upon the Jews by the Romans Mat 24:21, but he does not say that as used in Daniel it had reference originally to that event. It was language appropriate to express the thought which he wished to convey, and he, therefore, so employed it.
And at that time - When these troubles are at their height.
Thy people shall be delivered - To wit, by the valor and virtues of the Maccabees. See the accounts in the books of the Maccabees. Compare Prideaux, Con. iii. 257, following.
Every one that shall be found written in the book - Whose names are enrolled; that is, enrolled as among the living. The idea is, that a register was made of the names of those who were to be spared, to wit, by God, or by the angel, and that all whose names were so recorded would be preserved. Those not so enrolled would be cut off under the persecutions of Antiochus. The language here does not refer to the book of eternal life or salvation, nor is it implied that they who would thus be preserved would necessarily be saved, but to their preservation from death and persecution, as if their names were recorded in a book, or were enrolled. We frequently meet with similar ideas in the Scriptures. The idea is, of course, poetical, but it expresses with sufficient clearness the thought that there was a Divine purpose in regard to them, and that there was a definite number whom God designed to keep alive, and that these would be delivered from those troubles, while many others would be cut off. Compare the notes at Dan 10:21.
And many of them - The natural and obvious meaning of the word "many" (רבים rabı̂ym) here is, that a large portion of the persons referred to would thus awake, but not all. So we should understand it if applied to other things, as in such expressions as these - "many of the people," "many of the houses in a city," "many of the trees in a forest," "many of the rivers in a country," etc. In the Scriptures, however, it is undeniable that the word is sometimes used to denote the whole considered as constituted of many, as in Rom 5:15-16, Rom 5:19. In these passages no one can well doubt that the word many is used to denote all, considered as composed of the "many" that make up the human race, or the "many" offences that man has committed. So if it were to be used respecting those who were to come forth from the caves and fastnesses where they had been driven by persecution, or those who sleep in their graves, and who will come forth in a general resurrection, it might be used of them considered as the many, and it might be said "the many" or "the multitude" comes forth.
Not a few interpreters, therefore, have understood this in the sense of all, considered as referring to a multitude, or as suggesting the idea of a multitude, or keeping up the idea that there would be great numbers. If this is the proper interpretation, the word "many" was used instead of the word "all" to suggest to the mind the idea that there would be a multitude, or that there would be a great number. Some, as Lengerke, apply it to all the Israelites who "were not written in the book" Dan 12:1, that is, to a resurrection of all the Israelites who had died; some, as Porphyry, a coining forth of the multitudes out of the caves and fastnesses who had been driven there by persecution; and some, as Rosenmuller and Havernick, understand it as meaning all, as in Rom 5:15, Rom 5:19. The sum of all that can be said in regard to the meaning of the word, it seems to me, is, that it is so far ambiguous that it might be applied
(a) to "many" considered as a large portion of a number of persons or things;
(b) or, in an absolute sense, to the whole of any number of persons or things considered as a multitude or great number.
As used here in the visions of the future, it would seem to denote that the eye of the angel was fixed on a great multitude rising from the dust of the earth, without any particular or distinct reference to the question whether all arose. There would be a vast or general resurrection from the dust; so much so that the mind would be interested mainly in the contemplation of the great hosts who would thus come forth. Thus understood, the language might, of itself, apply either to a general arousing of the Hebrew people in the time of the Maccabees, or to a general resurrection of the dead in the last day.
That sleep - This expression is one that denotes either natural sleep, or anything that resembles sleep. In the latter sense it is often used to denote death, and especially the death of the pious - who calmly slumber in their graves in the hope of awaking in the morning of the resurrection. See the notes at Th1 4:14. It cannot be denied that it might be applied to those who, for any cause, were inactive, or whose energies were not aroused - as we often employ the word sleep or slumber - and that it might be tints used of those who seemed to slumber in the midst of the persecutions which raged, and the wrongs that were committed by Antiochus; but it would be most natural to understand it of those who were dead, and this idea would be particularly suggested in the connection in which it stands here.
In the dust of the earth - Hebrew, "In the ground, or earth of dust" - ארמת־עפר 'ademath ‛âphâr. The language denotes the ground or earth considered as composed of dust, and would naturally refer to those who are dead and buried - considered as sleeping there with the hope of awaking in the resurrection.
Shall awake - This is language appropriate to those who are asleep, and to the dead considered as being asleep. It might, indeed, be applied to an arousing from a state of lethargy and inaction, but its most obvious, and its full meaning, would be to apply it to the resurrection of the dead, considered as an awaking to life of those who were slumbering in their graves.
Some - One portion of them. The relative number is not designated, but it is implied that there would be two classes. They would not all rise to the same destiny, or the same lot.
To everlasting life - So that they would live forever. This stands in contrast with their" sleeping in the dust of the earth," or their being dead, and it implies that that state would not occur in regard to them again. Once they slept in the dust of the earth; now they would live for ever, or would die no more. Whether in this world or in another is not here said, and there is nothing in the passage which would enable one to determine this. The single idea is that of living forever, or never dying again. This is language which must have been derived from the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and of the future state, and which must imply the belief of that doctrine in whatever sense it may be used here. It is such as in subsequent times was employed by the sacred writers to denote the future state, and the rewards of the righteous. The most common term employed in the New Testament, perhaps, to describe true religion, is life, and the usual phrase to denote the condition of the righteous after the resurrection is eternal or everlasting life. Compare Mat 25:46. This language, then, would most naturally be referred to that state, and covers all the subsequent revelations respecting the condition of the blessed.
And some to shame - Another portion in such a way that they shall have only shame or dishonor. The Hebrew word means reproach, scorn, contumely; and it may be applied to the reproach which one casts on another, Job 16:10; Psa 39:8 (9); Psa 79:12; or to the reproach which rests on anyone, Jos 5:9; Isa 54:4. Here the word means the reproach or dishonor which would rest on them for their sins, their misconduct, their evil deeds. The word itself would apply to any persons who were subjected to disgrace for their former misconduct. If it be understood here as having a reference to those who would be aroused from their apathy, and summoned from their retreats in the times of the Maccabees, the meaning is, that they would be called forth to public shame on account of their apostasy, and their conformity to pagan customs; if it be interpreted as applying to the resurrection of the dead, it means that the wicked would rise to reproach and shame before the universe for their folly and vileness. As a matter of fact, one of the bitterest ingredients in the doom of the wicked will be the shame and confusion with which they will be overwhelmed in the great day on account of the sins and follies of their course in this world.
And everlasting contempt - The word "everlasting" in this place is the same which in the former part of the verse is applied to the other portion that would awake, and like that properly denotes eternal; as in Mat 25:46, the word translated "everlasting" (punishment) is the same which is rendered "eternal" (life), and means what is to endure forever. So the Greek here, where the same word occurs, as in Mat 25:46 - "some to everlasting life," εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον eis zōēn aiōnion, "and some to everlasting contempt," εἰς αἰσχύνην αἰώνιον eis aischunēn aiōnion - is one which would denote a strict and proper eternity. The word "contempt" (דראון derâ'ôn) means, properly, a repulse; and then aversion, abhorrence. The meaning here is aversion or abhorrence - the feeling with which we turn away from what is loathsome, disgusting, or hateful. Then it denotes the state of mind with which we contemplate the vile and the abandoned; and in this respect expresses the emotion with which the wicked will be viewed on the final trial. The word everlasting completes the image, meaning that this feeling of loathing and abhorrence would continue forever. In a subordinate sense this language might be used to denote the feelings with which cowards, ingrates, and apostates are regarded on earth; but it cannot be doubted that it will receive its most perfect fulfillment in the future world - in that aversion with which the lost will be viewed by all holy beings in the world to come.
And they that be wise - This is the language which, in the Scriptures, is employed to denote the pious, or those who serve God and keep his commandments. See the book of Proverbs, passim. True religion is wisdom, and sin is folly, and they who live for God and for heaven are the truly wise. The meaning is, that they have chosen the path which true wisdom suggests as that in which man should walk, while all the ways of sin are ways of folly. The language used here is expressive of a general truth, applicable in itself to all the righteous at all times, and nothing can be inferred from the term employed as to what was designed by the angel.
Shall shine as the brightness of the firmament - As the sky above us. The image is that of the sky at night, thick set with bright and beautiful stars. No comparison could be more striking. The meaning would seem to be, that each one of the righteous will be like a bright and beautiful star, and that, in their numbers, and order, and harmony, they would resemble the heavenly constellations at night. Nothing can be more sublime than to look on the heavens in a clear night, and to think of the number and the order of the stars above us as an emblem of the righteous in the heavenly world. The word rendered firmament means, properly, expanse, or what is spread out, and it is applied to the sky as it appears to be spread out above us.
And they that turn many to righteousness - Referring to those who would be instrumental in converting men to the worship of the true God, and to the ways of religion. This is very general language, and might be applied to any persons who have been the means of bringing sinners to the knowledge of the truth. It would apply in an eminent degree to ministers of the gospel who were successful in their work, and to missionaries among the pagan. From the mere language, however, nothing certain can be argued as to the original reference as used by the angel, and it seems to have been his intention to employ language so general that it might be applied to all, of all ages and countries, who would be instrumental in turning men to God.
As the stars - As the stars that are distinguished by their size and luster in the firmament. In the former part of the verse, when speaking of those who were "wise," the design seems to be to compare them to the sky as it appears, set over with innumerable stars, and in their numbers and groupings constituting great beauty; in this member of the sentence the design seems to be to compare these who are eminent in converting men, to the particular beautiful and bright stars that strike us as we look on the heavens - those more distinguished in size and splendor, and that seem to lead on the others. The meaning is, that amidst the hosts of the saved they will be conspicuous, or they will be honored in proportion to their toils, their sacrifices, and their success.
Forever and ever - To all eternity. This refers to those who shall turn many to righteousness; and the meaning is, that they shall continue thus to be distinguished and honored to all eternity.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words - To wit, by sealing them up, or by closing the book, and writing no more in it. The meaning is, that all has been communicated which it was intended to communicate. The angel had no more to say, and the volume might be sealed up.
And seal the book - This would seem to have been not an unusual custom in closing a prophecy, either by affixing a seal to it that should be designed to confirm it as the prophet's work - as we seal a deed, a will, or a contract; or to secure the volume, as we seal a letter. Compare the notes at Dan 8:26; Isa 8:16.
Even to the time of the end - That is, the period when all these things shall be accomplished. Then
(a) the truth of the prediction now carefully sealed up will be seen and acknowledged;
(b) and then, also, it may be expected that there will be clearer knowledge on all these subjects, for the facts will throw increased light on the meaning and the bearing of the predictions.
Many shall run to and fro - Shall pass up and down in the world, or shall go from place to place. The reference is clearly to those who should thus go to impart knowledge; to give information; to call the attention of men to great and important matters. The language is applicable to any methods of imparting important knowledge, and it refers to a time when this would be the characteristic of the age. There is nothing else to which it can be so well applied as to the labors of Christian missionaries, and ministers of the gospel, and others who, in the cause of Christian truth, go about to rouse the attention of men to the great subjects of religion; and the natural application of the language is to refer it to the times when the gospel would be preached to the world at large.
And knowledge shall be increased - To wit, by this method. The angel seems to mean that in this way there would be an advance in knowledge on all the subjects of religion, and particularly on the points to which he had referred. This would be one of the characteristics of these times, and this would be the means by which it would be accomplished. Our own age has furnished a good illustration of the meaning of this language, and it will be still more fully and strikingly illustrated as the time approaches when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole world.
Having thus gone through with an exposition of these, the closing words of the vision Dan 12:1-4, it seems proper that we should endeavor to ascertain the meaning of the angel in what is here said, and the bearing of this more particularly on what he had said before. With this view, therefore, several remarks may be made here.
(1) it seems clear that there was in some respects, and for some purpose, a primary reference to Antiochus, and to the fact that in his times there would be a great rousing up of the friends of God and of religion, as if from their graves.
(a) The connection demands it. If the close of the last chapter refers to Antiochus, then it cannot be denied that this does also, for it is introduced in immediate connection with that, and as referring to that time: "And at that time."
(b) The facts referred to would require the same interpretation. Thus it is said that it would be a time of trouble, such as there had never been since the nation existed - a state of things which clearly refers to the calamities which would be brought upon them by the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes.
(c) This interpretation seems to be in accordance with the purpose of the angel to give the assurance that these troubles would come to an end, and that in the time of the greatest calamity, when everything seemed tending to ruin, God would interpose, and would secure the people, and would cause his own worship to be restored. Porphyry then, it appears to me, was so far right as to apply this to the times of Antiochus, and to the events that occurred under the Maccabees. "Then," says he, "those who, as it were, sleep in the dust of the earth, and are pressed down with the weight of evils, and, as it were, hid in sepulchres of misery, shall rise from the dust of the earth to unexpected victory, and shall raise their heads from the ground the observers of the law rising to everlasting life, and the violators of it to eternal shame." He also refers to the history, in which it is said that, in the times of the persecutions, many of the Jews fled to the desert, and hid themselves in caves and caverns, and that after the victories of the Maccabees they came forth, and that this was metaphorically (μεταφορικῶς metaphorikōs) called a resurrection of the dead. - Jerome, in loc. According to this interpretation, the meaning would be, that there would be a general uprising of the people; a general arousing of them from their lethargy, or summoning them from their retreats and hiding-places, as if the dead, good and bad, should arise from their dust.
(2) This language, however, is derived from the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the dead. It implies the belief of that doctrine. It is such language as would be used only where that doctrine was known and believed. It would convey no proper idea unless it were known and believed. The passage, then, may be adduced as full proof that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust, was understood and believed in the time of Daniel. No one can reasonably doubt this. Such language is met used in countries where the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is not believed, and where used, as it is in Christian lands, is full proof, even when employed for illustration, that the doctrine of the resurrection is a common article of belief. Compare the notes at Isa 26:19. This language is not found in the Greek and Latin classic writers; nor in pagan writings in modern times; nor is it found in the earlier Hebrew Scriptures; nor is it used by infidels even for illustration; and the proof, therefore, is clear that as employed in the time of Daniel the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead was known and believed. If so, it marks an important fact in the progress of theological opinion and knowledge in his times. How it came to be known is not intimated here, nor explained elsewhere, but of the fact no one can have any reasonable doubt. Even now, so clear and accurate is the language, that if we wish to express the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, we cannot do it better than by employing the language of the angel in addressing Daniel. (See Editor's Preface to volume on Job.)
(3) The full meaning of the language is not met by the events that occurred in the times of the Maccabees. As figurative, or, as Porphyry says, metaphorical, it might be used to describe those events. But what then occurred would not come up to the proper and complete meaning of the prediction. That is, if nothing more was intended, we should feel that the event fell far short of the full import of the language; of the ideas which it was fitted to convey; and of the hopes which it was adapted to inspire. If that was all, then this lofty language would not have been used. There was nothing in the facts that adequately corresponded with it. In the obvious and literal sense, there was nothing which could be called a resurrection to "everlasting life;" nothing that could be called an awaking to "everlasting shame and contempt." There was nothing which would justify literally the language "they shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever." The language naturally has a higher signification than this, and even when employed for illustration, that higher signification should be recognized and would be suggested to the mind.
(4) The passage looks onward to a higher and more important event than any that occurred in the times of the Maccabees - to the general resurrection of the dead, of the just and the unjust, and to the final glory of the righteous. The order of thought in the mind of the angel would seem to have been this: he designed primarily to furnish to Daniel an assurance that deliverance would come ill the time of the severe troubles which were to overwhelm the nation, and that the nation would ultimately be safe. In doing this his mind almost unconsciously glanced forward to a final deliverance from death and the grave, and he expressed the thought which he designed to convey in the well-known and familiar language used to describe the resurrection. Commencing the description in this manner, by the laws of prophetic suggestion (compare the Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7.), the mind finally rested on the ultimate event, and what began with the deliverance in the times of the Maccabees, ended in the full contemplation of the resurrection of the dead, and the scenes beyond the last judgment.
(5) If it be asked what would be the pertinency or the propriety of this language, if this be the correct interpretation, or what would be its bearing on the design of the angel, it may be replied:
(a) that the assurance was in this way conveyed that these troubles under Antiochus would cease - an assurance as definite and distinct as though all that was said had been confined to that;
(b) that a much more important, and more cheering general truth was thus brought to view, that ultimately the people of God would emerge from all trouble, and would stand before God in glory - a truth of great value then, and at all times;
(c) that this truth was of so universal a nature that it might be applied in all times of trouble - that when the church was assailed; when the people of God were persecuted; when they were driven away from their temples of worship, and when the rites of religion were suspended; when the zeal of many should grow cold, and the pious should be disheartened, they might look on to brighter times. There was to be an end of all these troubles. There was to be a winding up of these affairs. All the dead were to be raised from their graves, the good and the bad, and thus the righteous would triumph, and would shine like the brightness of the firmament, and the wicked would be overwhelmed with shame and contempt.
(6) from all this it follows that this passage may be used to prove the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and the doctrine of eternal retribution. Not, indeed, the primary thing in the use of the language as applied by the angel, it is, nevertheless, based on the truth and the belief of these doctrines, and the mind of the angel ultimately rested on these great truths as adapted to awe the wicked, and to give consolation to the people of God in times of trouble. Thus Daniel was directed to some of the most glorious truths that would be established and inculcated by the coming of the Messiah, and long before he appeared had a glimpse of the great doctrine which he came to teach respecting the ultimate destiny of man.
Then I Daniel looked - My attention was attracted in a new direction. Hitherto, it would seem, it had been fixed on the angel, and on what he was saying. The angel now informed him that he had closed his communication, and Daniel was now attracted by a new heavenly vision.
And, behold, there stood other two - Two other angels. The connection requires us to understand this of angels, though they are not expressly called so.
The one on this side of the bank of the river - Margin, as in Hebrew, "lip." The word is used to denote the bank of the river from its resemblance to a lip. The river referred to here is the Hiddekel or Tigris, the notes at Dan 10:4. These angels stood on each side of the river, though it does not appear that there was any special significancy in that fact. It perhaps contributed merely to the majesty and solemnity of the vision. The names of these angels are not mentioned, and their appearing is merely an indication of the interest which they take in the affairs of men, and in the Divine purposes and doings. They came heine as if they had been deeply interested listeners to what the angel had been saying, and for the purpose of making inquiry as to the final result of all these wonderful events. The angel which had been addressing Daniel stood over the river, Dan 12:6.
And one said - One of these angels. It would seem that, though before unseen by Daniel, they had been present, and had listened with deep interest to the communication respecting the future which the angel had made to him. Feeling a deep concern in the issue of these wonderful events - thus evincing the interest which we are taught to believe the heavenly beings take in human affairs (see the notes at Pe1 1:12) - one of them now addressed him who had been endowed with so much ability to disclose the future, as to the termination of these events. Such an inquiry was natural, and accords with what we should suppose an angel would make on an occasion like this.
To the man clothed in linen - The angel. See the notes at Dan 10:5.
Which was upon the waters of the river - Margin, from above. So the Hebrew. The meaning is, the man seemed to stand over the river. Compare Dan 8:16. Lengerke supposes that by this was intimated the fact that the Divine control was over the waters as well as over the land - in other words, over the whole earth.
How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? - Nothing had been said on this point that could determine it. The angel had detailed a succession of remarkable events which must, from the nature of the case, extend far into future years; he had repeatedly spoken of an end, and had declared that that series of events would terminate, and had thus given the assurance to Daniel that these troubles would be succeeded by brighter and happier times, but he had said nothing by which it could be determined when this would be. It was natural to start this inquiry, and as well for the sake of Daniel as himself, the angel here puts the question when this would be.
And I heard the man ... - That is, he replied to the question at once, and in a most solemn manner, as if he were communicating a great and momentous truth respecting the future.
When he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven - Toward heaven; as if appealing to heaven for the sincerity and truth of what he was about to utter. The act of swearing or taking an oath was often accompanied with the lifting up of the hand to heaven, usually the right hand (compare Gen 14:22; Exo 6:8; Deu 32:40; Eze 20:5; Rev 10:5); but here the angel stretched both hands toward heaven, as if he were about to make the affirmation in the most solemn manner conceivable.
And sware by him that liveth for ever - By the eternal God. That is, he appealed to him: he made the solemn asseveration in his presence; he called him to witness to the truth of what he said. The occasion; the manner; the posture of the angel; the appeal to the Eternal One - all give great sublimity to this transaction, and all imply that the answer was to be one of great consequence in regard to future times.
That it shall be for a time, times, and an half - Margin, or, a part. The word חצי chătsı̂y means, properly, half, the half part, that which is divided (חצץ châtsats) - to divide), s. c., in the middle. The word "times" means two times, for it is dual in its form, and the expression means three times, or periods, and a half. See the meaning of the language fully considered and explained in the notes at Dan 7:24-28. (See Editor's Essay on Year-day Principle, prefixed to the vol. on Revelation.)
And when he shall have accomplished - When he shall have finished his purpose in the matter; when he shall have done all that he could do.
To scatter the power - All that constituted the power - their armies, means of defense, etc. The word rendered "power" (יד yâd) means, properly, hand, but it is sometimes used to denote a part of a thing - as a portion that we take up by the hand - a handful; that is, a part of a thing taken up at once in dividing - Gesenius, Lexicon See Jer 6:3; Kg2 11:7; Gen 47:24. In accordance with this, Gesenius, Lengerke, and De Wette suppose that the reference here is to the scattering of a portion or part of the Hebrew people in other lands, and to the hope that they would be restored again to their own country; and that the meaning of the angel is, that when these dispersions were ended, all this would have been accomplished. The word has also the sense of power, might, strength (Gesenius, Lexicon), the hand being regarded as the seat of strength, Isa 28:2; Job 27:11; Psa 76:5 (6).
Thus employed, it may denote whatever constituted their strength; and then the idea in the passage before us is, that all this would be scattered. When that should have been done; when that dispersion should have been ended; when these scattered forces and people should have been again restored, then all this that was predicted would be accomplished, and these troubles cease. This would be in the period designated by the "time, and times, and an half." If it refers to Antiochus, it means that the scattered forces and people of the Hebrews would be rallied under the Maccabees, and that on their return victory would crown their efforts, and the land would be again at peace. If it has a higher and an ultimate signification, it would seem to imply that when the scattered Hebrew people should be gathered into the Christian church - when their dispersions and their wanderings should come to an end by their returning to the Messiah, and, under him, to the true God, then the series of predictions will have received their complete fulfillment - for then religion will triumph in the world, and the kingdom of God be set up over all the nations, agreeably to Rom 11:15-25. In reference, then, to the meaning of the passage as used by the angel here, the following remarks may be made:
(1) It had an applicability to the times of Antiochus, and to the duration of the calamities that would come upon the Hebrew people under his reign. If there had been nothing further intended than this, the mere language employed would have found a literal fulfillment in these events, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the primary reference of the angel was to them. See this point fully considered and illustrated in the notes at Dan 7:24-28.
(2) Yet there are circumstances which lead us to suppose that, at the same time, and by the laws of prophetic suggestion (see Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7.), more important events were also referred to, and were designed to be connected with this statement. Those circumstances are
(a) the manner in which the angel introduces the subject - by a solemn appeal, with out-stretched arms, to heaven. This would look as if he regarded the answer as of momentous importance, and as if he were contemplating vast movements in the future.
(b) The fact that the language here had a settled meaning - referring, as used, elsewhere, to future events deeply affecting the welfare of the world. The language is so couched, indeed, that it would express the fact in regard to the duration of the troubles under Antiochus; but it was also of such a nature that in its higher signification it would describe the duration of more momentous transactions, and would designate a period when the true religion would begin its universal reign; when the evils of a vast Anti-christian power would come to an end, and when the kingdom of the saints would be set up in the world. See the notes at Dan 7:24-28.
(3) The full meaning of the language would then seem to be, that the angel designed to include all in the future to which those words, as intended by the Divine Spirit, would be applicable. The period designated by the phrase, "a time, and times, and an half," was most momentous. In that time the troubles introduced by Antiochus would end, and a state of peace and prosperity would succeed; and in that time, also, far greater troubles and woes - those connected with a most fearful apostasy from the true religion, and the setting up of a kingdom of oppression and wrong over the people of God, of which the oppressions and wrongs under Antiochus would be but an emblem, would also come to an end, and there would be a state of peace - a reign of righteousness - a prevalence of religion - and a far-diffused happiness in the world, at which the joy at the dedication of the temple, and the triumphs over Antiochus, would be but a symbol. The ultimate reference, therefore, I suppose, is to the downfall of that great Anti-christian power, the Papacy, and the spread and triumphs of the true religion subsequent to that, and consequent on that in the world. These were events that justified the solemn asseveration of the angel, and that made it proper for him, in referring to them, to stretch out both his hands in this sublime manner to heaven.
And I heard, but I understood not - He understood not the full significance of the language employed - "a time, and times, and an half." This would make it probable that there was something more intended than merely three years and a half as the period of the continuation of these troubles. Daniel saw, apparently from the manner of the angel, as well as from the terms which he used, that there was something mystical and unusual in those terms, and he says, therefore, that he could not understand their full import.
Then said I, O my Lord - A term of civil address. The language is such as would be used by an inferior when respectfully addressing one of superior rank. It is not a term that is peculiarly appropriate to God, or that implies a Divine nature, but is here given to the angel as an appellation of respect, or as denoting one of superior rank.
What shall be the end of these things? - Indicating great anxiety to know what was to be the termination of these wonders. The "end" had been often referred to in the communication of the angel, and now he had used an enigmatical expression as referring to it, and Daniel asks, with great emphasis, when the end was to be.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel - That is, make no further inquiries. All has been disclosed that is to be. At the close of his communication Dan 12:4, he had told Daniel to shut up, and seal the book, for his revelations were ended. He here repeats substantially the same thing, and he assures him that no more could be imparted on the subject.
For the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end - He had finished his communication, and had directed Daniel to close up the record which he made of it, and to affix a seal to the volume, Dan 12:4. He regarded the whole, therefore, as closed and sealed, until the "end" should come. The events themselves would unfold the meaning of the prediction more fully, and would confirm its truth by their exact correspondence with it. Yet, though the revelation was closed, and all that the angel had designed to say had been said, he does, in the subsequent verses, throw out some suggestions as to the time, or as to some important events which were to mark the termination of the wonders referred to. They are bare hints, however, the meaning of which was to be reserved until the time when the predictions would be accomplished, and they are not of such a nature that they can be supposed to have furnished any additional light to Daniel, or to have done anything to relieve the perplexity of his mind in the case.
Many shall be purified - In future times. That is, as the connection would seem to require, there will be a system introduced by which many will become purified, and made holy. Daniel might hope and expect that under the arrangements which God would make, many of the human race would be cleansed from sin. To what he would apply this we cannot determine, but it is a great truth of immense importance in regard to the human family, that, before the "end," or the consummation, "many" will be made holy.
And made white - White is the emblem of innocence or purity, and hence, the term is so often applied to the righteous. "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," "they shall walk before me in white," etc. Hence, the angels are represented as appearing in white raiment. The meaning here is, that many on the earth would be made holy before the end would come. The mind of Daniel was thus directed onward to one of the most glorious truths pertaining to future times - that multitudes of the human race would be redeemed, and would be prepared for a holy heaven.
And tried - Tried as in a furnace; that is, they will be subjected to persecutions, and to various other forms of suffering, that will test the strength of their faith, and the nature of their religion. This language, also, is of a general character, and would in itself apply to the times of Antiochus, but it is also fitted to describe what would occur in other ages. Perhaps the meaning is, that it would be a prominent thing in the future, in introducing the triumphs of religion; and in preparing the people of God for heaven, that they would be subjected to various forms of trial. There have been facts enough of this kind in the history of the church to justify this description, and to show that it would be a marked feature in spreading religion on the earth, that its friends would be persecuted. "But the wicked shall do wickedly." They will continue to do wickedly. Notwithstanding all the judgments that will come upon men; notwithstanding all that will be done to purify the people of God, and, notwithstanding the fact that "many" will be of a different character - will be "purified and made white, and tried," yet it will be a truth still, that there will be wicked men upon the earth, and that they will act out their nature.
This remark seems to have been thrown in by the angel to prevent the impression which Daniel might possibly get from what was said, not only that the true religion would generally prevail, but that wickedness would wholly cease in the earth. Such a time, perhaps, we are not authorized to look for; while we may hope and believe that there will be a period when the worship of God will pervade the world, and will supersede all other forms of worship, yet we have no reason to expect that every individual of the human family at any one time will be converted, and that none of the remains of the apostasy will be seen on the earth. There will be wicked men still, and they will act out their nature, despite all that is done to save them, and despite the fact that religion will have the ascendency in the hearts and lives of the great mass of mankind. For an illustration of this, see the notes at Rev 9:20-21; notes at Rev 20:7.
And none of the wicked shall understand - This, also, is a general declaration. It means, that none of the wicked would understand the import of these prophecies, or the true nature of religion. Their depravity of heart would prevent it; their purpose to lead a wicked life would so cloud their understandings, and pervert their moral judgments, that they would have no correct appreciation of the government of God, and the nature of the Divine plans and dispensations. Compare the notes at Co1 2:14. The fact here asserted has been always true, and always will be, that sin prevents a clear perception of Divine truth, and that wicked men have no appropriate views of the plans and purposes of God. To comprehend religion aright a man needs a pure heart; and no one under the influence of depraved feelings, and corrupt propensities and appetites, can expect to have a just appreciation of what is good. Doubtless it will be found to be true in the days of millennial glory, when the true religion shall spread over the world, and when the earth shall be filled with light, that there will be wicked men who will have no correct understanding of the nature of religion, and whose minds will be blind to all the evidences of the truth of revelation which shall be diffused around them. No man, unless he is converted, has any proper conception of the beauty of religion.
But the wise shall understand - They who serve God and love him, and who, therefore, come under the denomination of the truly wise. See the notes at Dan 12:3. The meaning is, that religion - the love of God and a pure heart - will qualify them to perceive the import of Divine truth; to appreciate what is revealed, and to obtain a just view of passing events - or to "understand the signs of the times." Humble and sincere piety - a heart and mind made pure and clear by the influence of Divine truth - is the best preparation for understanding the works and ways of God. Compare the notes at Co1 2:9-12, Co1 2:14-15.
And from the time - Though the angel had said Dan 12:4, Dan 12:9 that his communication was closed, and that he imparted all that he was commissioned to communicate to Daniel, yet, as it would seem, in reply to the earnest request of Daniel, he volunteers an additional statement, in regard to certain important periods that were to occur in the future. The language, however, is very obscure; and it would appear, from Dan 12:13, that the angel scarcely expected that Daniel would understand it. The statement relates to certain periods that would succeed the time when the daily sacrifice would be taken away. Two such periods are mentioned as marking important epochs in the future.
That the daily sacrifice shall be taken away - This is the point of reckoning - the terminus a quo. The "taking away of the daily sacrifice" refers, undoubtedly, to some act, or some state of things, by which it would be made to cease; by which the daily offerings at Jerusalem would be either temporarily suspended or totally abolished. See the notes at Dan 8:11; Dan 9:27; Dan 11:31. The language here is applicable to either of two events: to the act of Antiochus, causing the daily sacrifice to cease in Jerusalem Dan 8:11; Dan 11:31, or to the final closing of those sacrifices by the death of the Messiah as the great offering to whom they referred, and the destruction of the temple and the altar by the Romans, Dan 9:27. The view taken in the interpretation of this passage will depend on the question to which of these there is allusion here by the angel, or whether there is an allusion to both. The language evidently is applicable to both, and might be employed with reference to either.
And the abomination that maketh desolate set up - See these words explained in the notes at Dan 8:13; Dan 9:27; Dan 11:31. The same remark may be made here which was made respecting the previous expression - that the language is applicable to two quite distinct events, and events which were separated by a long interval of time: to the act of Antiochus in setting up an image of Jupiter in the temple, and to a similar act on the part of the Romans when the temple was finally destroyed. The view which is taken of the time referred to here will depend on the question which of these is to be regarded as the stand-point or the terminus a quo, or whether the language is designedly so used that an important epoch was to occur in both cases within a specified period after these events. On these points there has been great diversity of opinion.
There shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days - If this is to be taken literally, it would be three years and two hundred and ten days, reckoning the year at 360 days, and is thirty days more than the three years and a half referred to in Dan 12:7. Prof. Stuart, who supposes that the time is to be taken literally, and that the passage refers exclusively to Antiochus Epiphanes, explains the application of the language in the following manner: "Antiochus took away the daily sacrifice as is here declared. This was in the latter part of May, 168 b.c. Profane history does not indeed give us the day, but it designates the year and the season. As we have already seen (compare the extract copied from Prof. Stuart on Dan 7:24-28), about three and a half years elapsed, after the temple worship was entirely broken up, before Judas Maccabeus expurgated the temple and restored its rites. The terminus ad quem is not mentioned in the verse now before us; but still it is plainly implied. The end of the 1290 days must, of course, be marked by some signal event, just as the commencement of them is so marked. And as the suppression of the temple rites constitutes the definitive mark of the commencement, so it would seem plain that the restoration of the same rites must mark the conclusion of the period which is designated.
The 'time of the end,' i. e., the period at the close of which the persecutions of Antiochus would cease, is distinctly adverted to in Dan 7:25; Dan 11:30-35; Dan 12:7. The nature of the case, in the verse before us, shows that the same period is tacitly referred to in the words of the speaker. No doubt remains that his march (the march of Antiochus) from Antioch to Egypt, for hostile purposes, was in the spring of the year 168 b.c. He was delayed for some time on this march by ambassadors from Egypt, who met him in Coelo-Syria. Very naturally, therefore, we may conclude that he arrived opposite Jerusalem in the latter part of May, and that there and then he commissioned Apollonius to rifle and profane the temple. The exact time from the period when this was done, down to the time of the expurgation, seems to have been, and is designated as being, 1290 days." - Hints on Prophecy, pp. 94, 95. It is evident, however, that there is here no clear making out of the exact time by any historical records, though it is in itself not improbable. Still the great difficulty is, that in the supposition that the "time, and times, and an half" refers to Antiochus, as denoting the period of his persecutions, thus limiting it to three years and a half - a period which can be made out without material difficulty (compare the notes at Dan 7:24-28) - that another time or period should be mentioned here of thirty days more, concerning which there is no corresponding event in the historical facts, or at least none that can now be demonstrated to have occurred. See the remarks at the close of the next verses.
Blessed is he that waiteth - This indicates a patient expectation of an event that was to occur, and the happy state of him who would reach it. The angel refers to another period different from the "time, and times, and an half," and different also from the twelve hundred and ninety days. He speaks of this as the consummation - as the desirable time; and pronounces him blessed who shall be permitted to see it. The idea here is, that of one looking out for this as a happy period, and that he would be regarded as a happy man who should live in that age.
And cometh to - literally, "touches." That is, whose life would reach to that time; or who would not be cut off before that period.
The thousand three hundred and five and thirty days - The article is not used in the original, and its insertion here seems to make the period more distinct and definite than it is necessarily in the Hebrew. There is much apparent abruptness in all these expressions; and what the angel says in these closing and additional communications has much the appearance of a fragmentary character - of hints, or detached and unexplained thoughts thrown out on which he was not disposed to enlarge, and which, for some reason, he was not inclined to explain. In respect to this period of 1335 days, it seems to stand by itself. Nothing is said of the time when it would occur; no intimation is given of its commencement, as in the former cases - the terminus a quo; and nothing is said of its characteristics further than that he would be blessed who should be permitted to see it - implying that it would be, on some accounts, a happy period.
But go thou thy way until the end be - See Dan 12:4, Dan 12:9. The meaning is, that nothing more would be communicated, and that he must wait for the disclosures of future times. When that should occur which is here called "the end," he would understand this more fully and perfectly. The language implies, also, that he would be present at the development which is here called "the end;" and that then he would comprehend clearly what was meant by these revelations. This is such language as would be used on the supposition that the reference was to far-distant times, and to the scenes of the resurrection and the final judgment, when Daniel would be present. Compare the notes at Dan 12:2-3.
For thou shalt rest - Rest now; and perhaps the meaning is, shalt enjoy a long season of repose before the consummation shall occur. In Dan 12:2, he had spoken of those who "sleep in the dust of the earth;" and the allusion here would seem to be the same as applied to Daniel. The period referred to was far distant. Important events were to intervene. The affairs of the world were to move on for ages before the "end"' should come. There would be scenes of revolution, commotion, and tumult - momentous changes before that consummation would be reached. But during that long interval Daniel would "rest." He would quietly and calmly "sleep in the dust of the earth" - in the grave. He would be agitated by none of these troubles - disturbed by none of these changes, for he would peacefully slumber in the hope of being awaked in the resurrection. This also is such language as would be employed by one who believed in the doctrine of the resurrection, and who meant to say that he with whom he was conversing would repose in the tomb while the affairs of the world would move on in the long period that would intervene between the time when he was then speaking and the "end" or consummation of all things - the final resurrection. I do not see that it is possible to explain the language on any other supposition than this. The word rendered "shalt rest" - תנוּח tânûach - would be well applied to the rest in the grave. So it is used in Job 3:13, "Then had I been at rest;" Job 3:17, "There the weary be at rest."
And stand in thy lot - In thy place. The language is derived from the lot or portion which falls to one - as when a lot is cast, or anything is determined by lot. Compare Jdg 1:3; Isa 57:6; Psa 125:3; Psa 16:5. Gesenius (Lexicon) renders this, "And arise to thy lot in the end of days; i. e., in the Messiah's kingdom." Compare Rev 20:6. The meaning is, that he need have no apprehension for himself as to the future. That was not now indeed disclosed to him; and the subject was left in designed obscurity. He would "rest," perhaps a long time, in the grave. But in the far-distant future he would occupy ills appropriate place; he would rise from his rest; he would appear again on the stage of action; he would have the lot and rank which properly belonged to him. What idea this would convey to the mind of Daniel it is impossible now to determine, for he gives no statement on that point; but it is clear that it is such language as would be appropriately used by one who believed in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and who meant to direct the mind onward to those far-distant and glorious scenes when the dead would all arise, and when each one of the righteous would stand up in his appropriate place or lot.
At the end of the days - After the close of the periods referred to, when the consummation of all things should take place. It is impossible not to regard this as applicable to a resurrection from the dead; and there is every reason to suppose that Daniel would so understand it, for
(a) if it be interpreted as referring to the close of the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, it must be so understood. This prophecy was uttered about 534 years b.c. The death of Antiochus occurred 164 b.c. The interval between the prophecy and that event was, therefore, 370 years. It is impossible to believe that it was meant by the angel that Daniel would continue to live during all that time, so that he should then "stand in his lot," not having died; or that he did continue to live during all that period, and that at the end of it he "stood in his lot," or occupied the post of distinction and honor which is referred to in this language. But if this had been the meaning, it would have implied that he would, at that time, rise from the dead.
(b) If it be referred, as Gesenius explains it, to the times of the Messiah, the same thing would follow - for that time was still more remote; and, if it be supposed that Daniel understood it as relating to those times, it must also be admitted that he believed that there would be a resurrection, and that he would then appear in his proper place.
(c) There is only one other supposition, and that directly involves the idea that the allusion is to the general resurrection, as referred to in Dan 12:3, and that Daniel would have part in that. This is admitted by Lengerke, by Maurer, and even by Bertholdt, to be the meaning, though he applies it to the reign of the Messiah. No other interpretation, therefore, can be affixed to this than that it implies the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and that the mind of Daniel was directed onward to that. With this great and glorious doctrine the book appropriately closes. The hope of such a resurrection was fitted to soothe the mind of Daniel in view of all the troubles which he then experienced, and of all the darkness which rested on the future, for what we most want in the troubles and in the darkness of the present life is the assurance that, after having "rested" in the grave - in the calm sleep of the righteous - we shall "awake" in the morning of the resurrection, and shall "stand in our lot" - or in our appropriate place, as the acknowledged children of God, "at the end of days" - when time shall be no more, and when the consummation of all things shall have arrived.
In reference to the application of this prophecy, the following general remarks may be made:
I. One class of interpreters explain it literally as applicable to Antiochus Epiphanes. Of this class is Prof. Stuart, who supposes that its reference to Antiochus can be shown in the following manner: "The place which this passage occupies shows that the terminus a quo, or period from which the days designated are to be reckoned, is the same as that to which reference is made in the previous verse. This, as we have already seen, is the period when Antiochus, by his military agent Apollonius, took possession of Jerusalem, and put a stop to the temple worship there. The author of the first book of Maccabees, who is allowed by all to deserve credit as an historian, after describing the capture of Jerusalem by the agent of Antiochus (in the year 145 of the Seleucidae - 168 b.c.), and setting before the reader the widespread devastation which ensued, adds, respecting the invaders: 'They shed innocent blood around the sanctuary, and defiled the holy place; and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled away: the sanctuary thereof was made desolate; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, and her honor into disgrace;' 1 Macc. 1:37-39. To the period when this state of things commenced we must look, then, in order to find the date from which the 1335 days are to be reckoned. Supposing now that Apollonius captured Jerusalem in the latter part of May, 168 b.c., the 1335 days would expire about the middle of February, in the year 164 b.c. Did any event take place at this period which would naturally call forth the congratulations of the prophet, as addressed in the text before us to the Jewish people?
"History enables us to answer this question. Late in the year 165 b.c., or at least very early in the year 164 b.c., Antiochus Epiphanes, learning that there were great insurrections and disturbances in Armenia and Persia, hastened thither with a portion of his armies, while the other portion was commissioned against Palestine. He was victorious for a time; but being led by cupidity to seek for the treasures that were laid up in the temple of the Persian Diana at Elymais, he undertook to rifle them. The inhabitants of the place, however, rose en masse and drove him out of the city; after which he fled to Ecbatana. There he heard of the total discomfiture by Judas Maccabeus of his troops in Palestine, which were led on by Micanor and Timotheus. In the rage occasioned by this disappointment, he uttered the most horrid blasphemies against the God of the Jews, and threatened to make Jerusalem the burying-place of the nation. Immediately he directed his course toward Judea; and designing to pass through Babylon, he made all possible haste in his journey. In the meantime he had a fall from his chariot which injured him; and soon after, being seized with a mortal sickness in his bowels (probably the cholera), he died at Tabae, in the mountainous country, near the confines of Babylonia and Persia. Report stated, even in ancient times, that Antiochus was greatly distressed on his death-bed by the sacrilege which he had committed.
"Thus perished the most bitter and bloody enemy which ever rose up against the Jewish nation and their worship. By following the series of events, it is easy to see that his death took place some time in February of the year 164 b.c. Assuming that the commencement or terminus a quo of the 1335 days is the same as that of the 1290 days, it is plain that they terminate at the period when the death of Antiochus is said to have taken place. 'It was long before the commencement of the spring,' says Froelich, 'that Antiochus passed the Euphrates, and made his attack on Elymais: so that no more probable time can be fixed upon for his death than at the expiration of the 1335 days; i. e., some time in February of 164 b.c. No wonder that the angel pronounced those of the pious and believing Jews to be blessed who lived to see such a day of deliverance." - Hints on Prophecy, pp. 95-97.
There are, however, serious and obvious difficulties in regard to this view, and to the supposition that this is all that is intended here - objections and difficulties of so much force that most Christian interpreters have supposed that something further was intended. Among these difficulties and objections are the following:
(a) The air of mystery which is thrown over the whole matter by the angel, as if he were reluctant to make the communication; as if something more was meant than the words expressed; as if he shrank from disclosing all that he knew, or that might be said. If it referred to Antiochus alone, it is difficult to see why so much mystery was made of it, and why he was so unwilling to allude further to the subject - as if it were something that did not pertain to the matter in hand.
(b) The detached and fragmentary character of what is here said. It stands aside from the main communication. It is uttered after all that the angel had intended to reveal had been said. It is brought out at the earnest request of Daniel, and then only in hints, and in enigmatical language, and in such a manner that it would convey no distinct conception to his mind. This would seem to imply that it referred to something else than the main point that had been under consideration.
(c) The difference of time specified here by the angel. This relates to two points:
1. To what would occur after the "closing of the daily sacrifice, and the setting up of the abomination of desolation." The angel now says that what he here refers to would extend to a period of twelve hundred and ninety days. But in the accounts before given, the time specified had uniformly been "a time, and times, and half a time;" that is, three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days - differing from this by thirty days. Why should this thirty days have been added here if it referred to the time when the sanctuary would be cleansed, and the temple worship restored? Professor Stuart (Hints on Prophecy, pp. 93, 94) supposes that it was in order that the exact period might be mentioned. But this is liable to objections. For
(a) the period of three and a half years was sufficiently exact;
(b) there was no danger of mistake on the subject, and no such error had been made as to require correction;
(c) this was not of sufficient importance to justify the manifest anxiety of the angel in the case, or to furnish any answer to the inquiries of Daniel, since so small an item of information would not relieve the mind of Daniel.
The allusion, then, would seem to be something else than what had been referred to by the "three and a half years."
2. But there is a greater difficulty in regard to the other period - the 1335 days, for
(a) that stands wholly detached from what had been said.
(b) The beginning of that period - the terminus a quo - is not specified. It is true that Prof. Stuart (Hints on Prophecy, p. 95) supposes that this must be the same as that mentioned in the previous verse, but this is not apparent in the communication.
It is an isolated statement, and would seem to refer to some momentous and important period in the future which would be characterized as a glorious or "blessed" period in the world's history, or of such a nature that he ought to regard himself as peculiarly happy who should be permitted to live then. Now it is true that with much probability this may be shown, as Prof. Stuart has done in the passage quoted above, to accord well with the time when Antiochus died, as that was an important event, and would be so regarded by those pious Jews who would be permitted to live to that time; but it is true also that the main thing for rejoicing was the conquest of Judas Maccabeus and the cleansing of the sanctuary, and that the death of Antiochus does not seem to meet the fulness of what is said here. If that were all, it is not easily conceivable why the angel should have made so much a mystery of it, or why he should have been so reluctant to impart what he knew. The whole matter, therefore, appears to have a higher importance than the mere death of Antiochus and the delivery of the Jews from his persecutions.
II. Another class, and it may be said Christian interpreters generally, have supposed that there was here a reference to some higher and more important events in the far-distant future. But it is scarcely needful to say, that the opinions entertained have beer almost as numerous as the writers on the prophecies, and that the judgment of the world has not settled down on any one particular method of the application. It would not be profitable to state the opinions which have been advanced; still less to attempt to refute them - most of them being fanciful conjectures. These may be seen detailed in great variety in Poole's Synopsis. It is not commonly pretended that these opinions are based on any exact interpretation of the words, or on any certain mode of determining their correctness, and those who hold them admit that it must be reserved to future years - to their fulfillment to understand the exact meaning of the prophecy.
Thus Prideaux, who supposes that this passage refers to Antiochus, frankly says: "Many things may be said for the probable solving of this difficulty (the fact that the angel here refers to an additional thirty days above the three years and a half, which he says can neither be applied to Antiochus nor to Anti-christ), but I shall offer none of them. Those that shall live to see the extirpatton of Anti-christ, which will be at the end of those years, will best be able to unfold these matters, it being of the nature of these prophecies not thoroughly to be understood until they are thoroughly fulfilled." - Vol. iii. 283, 284. So Bishop Newton, who supposes that the setting up of the abomination of desolation here refers to the Mahometans invading and devastating Christendom, and that the religion of Mahomet will prevail in the East for the space of 1260 years, and then a great revolution - "perhaps the restoration of the Jews, perhaps the destruction of Antichrist" - indicated by the 1290 years, will occur; and that this will be succeeded by another still more glorious event - perhaps "the conversion of the Gentiles, and the beginning of the millennium, or reign of the saints on the earth" - indicated by the 1335 years - says, notwithstanding, "What is the precise time of their beginning, and consequently of their ending, as well as what are the great and signal events which will take place at the end of each period, we can only conjecture; time alone can with certainty discover." - Prophecies, p. 321.
These expressions indicate the common feeling of those who understand these statements as referring to future events; and the reasonings of those who have attempted to make a more specific application have been such as to demonstrate the wisdom of this modesty, and to make us wish that it had been imitated by all. At all events, such speculations on this subject have been so wild and unfounded; so at variance with all just rules of interpretation; so much the fruit of mere fancy, and so incapable of solid support by reasoning, as to admonish us that no more conjectures should be added to the number.
III. The sum of all that it seems to me can be said on the matter is this:
(1) That it is probable, for the reasons above stated, that the angel referred to other events than the persecutions and the death of Antiochus, for if that was all, the additional information which he gave by the specification of the period of 1260 days, and 1290 days, and 1335 days, was quite too meagre to be worthy of a formal and solemn revelation from God. In other words, if this was all, there was no correspondence between the importance of the events and the solemn manner in which the terms of the communication were made. There was no such importance in these three periods as to make these separate disclosures necessary. If this were all, the statements were such indeed as might be made by a weak man attaching importance to trifles, but not such as would be made by an inspired angel professing to communicate great and momentous truths.
(2) Either by design, or because the language which he would employ to designate higher events happened to be such as would note those periods also, the angel employed terms which, in the main, would be applicable to what would occur under the persecutions of Antiochus, while, at the same time, his eye was on more important and momentous events in the far-distant future. Thus the three years and a half would apply with sufficient accuracy to the time between the taking away of the daily sacrifice, and the expurgation of the temple by Judas Maccabeus, and then, also, it so happens that the thirteen hundred and thirty-five days would designate with sufficient accuracy the death of Antiochus, but there is nothing in the history to which the period of twelve hundred and ninety days could with particular propriety be applied, and there is no reason in the history why reference should have been made to that.
(3) The angel had his eye on three great and important epochs lying apparently far in the future, and constituting important periods in the history of the church and the world. These were, respectively, composed of 1260, 1290, and 1335 prophetic days, that is, years. Whether they had the same beginning or point of reckoning - termini a quo - and whether they would, as far as they would respectively extend, cover the same space of time, he does not intimate with any certainty, and, of course, if this is the correct view it would be impossible now to determine, and the development is to be left to the times specified. One of them, the 1260 years, or the three years and a half, we can fix, we think, by applying it to the Papacy. See the notes at Dan 7:24-28. But in determining even this, it was necessary to wait until the time and course of events should disclose its meaning; and in reference to the other two periods, doubtless still future, it may be necessary now to wait until events, still to occur, shall disclose what was intended by the angel. The first has been made clear by history: there can be no doubt that the others in the same manner will be made equally clear. That this is the true interpretation, and that this is the view which the angel desired to convey to the mind of Daniel, seems to be clear from such expressions as these occurring in the prophecy: "Seal the book to the time of the end," Dan 12:4; "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased," Dan 12:4; "the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end," Dan 12:9; "many shall be made white," Dan 12:1-13 : 10; "the wise shall understand," Dan 12:10; "go thou thy way until the end be," Dan 12:13. This language seems to imply that these things could not then be understood, but that when the events to which they refer should take place they would be plain to all.
(4) Two of those events or periods - the 1290 days and the 1335 days - seem to lie still in the future, and the full understanding of the prediction is to be reserved for developments yet to be made in the history of the world. Whether it be by the conversion of the Jews and the Gentiles, respectively, as Bishop Newton supposes, it would be vain to conjecture, and time must determine. That such periods - marked and important periods - are to occur in the future, or in some era now commenced but not yet completed, I am constrained to believe; and that it will be possible, in time to come, to determine what they are, seems to me to be as undoubted. But where there is nothing certain to be the basis of calculation, it is idle to add other conjectures to those already made, and it is wiser to leave the matter, as much of the predictions respecting the future must of necessity be left to time and to events to make them clear.
Let me add, in the conclusion of the exposition of this remarkable book: -
(a) That the mind of Daniel is left at the close of all the Divine communications to him looking into the far-distant future, Dan 12:13. His attention is directed onward. Fragments of great truths had been thrown out, with little apparent connection, by the angel; hints of momentous import had been suggested respecting great doctrines to be made clearer in future ages. A time was to occur, perhaps in the far-distant future, when the dead were to be raised; when all that slept in the dust of the earth should awake; when the righteous should shin e as the brightness of the firmament, and when he himself should "stand in his lot" - sharing the joys of the blessed, and occupying the position which would be appropriate to him. With this cheering prospect the communications of the angel to him are closed. Nothing could be better fitted to comfort his heart in a land of exile: nothing better fitted to elevate his thoughts.
(b) In the same manner it is proper that we should look onward. All the revelations of God terminate in this manner; all are designed and adapted to direct the mind to far-distant and most glorious scenes in the future. We have all that Daniel had; and we have what Daniel had not - the clear revelation of the gospel. In that gospel are stated in a still more clear manner those glorious truths respecting the future which are fitted to cheer us in time of trouble, to elevate our minds amidst the low scenes of earth, and to comfort and sustain us on the bed of death. With much more distinctness than Daniel saw them, we are permitted to contemplate the truths respecting the resurrection of the dead, the scenes of the final judgment, and the future happiness of the righteous. We have now knowledge of the resurrection of the Redeemer, and, through him, the assurance that all his people will be raised up to honor and glory; and though, in reference to the resurrection of the dead, and the future glory of the righteous, there is much that is still obscure, yet there is all that is necessary to inspire us with hope, and to stimulate us to endcavour to obtain the crown of life.
(c) It is not improper, therefore, to close the exposition of this book with the expression of a wish that what was promised to Daniel may occur to us who read his words - that "we may stand in our lot at the end of days;" that when all the scenes of earth shall have passed away in regard to us, and the end of the world itself shall have come, it may be our happy portion to occupy a place among the redeemed and to stand accepted before God. To ourselves, if we are truly righteous through our Redeemer, we may apply the promise made to Daniel; and for his readers the author can express no higher wish than that this lot may be theirs. If the exposition of this book shall be so blessed as to confirm any in the belief of the great truths of revelation, and lead their minds to a more confirmed hope in regard to these future glorious scenes; if by dwelling on the firm piety, the consummate wisdom, and the steady confidence in God evinced by this remarkable man, their souls shall be more established in the pursuit of the same piety, wisdom, and confidence in God; and if it shall lead the minds of any to contemplate with a more steady and enlightened faith the scenes which are yet to occur on our earth, when the saints shall reign, or in heaven, when all the children of God shall be gathered there from all lands, the great object of these studies will have been accomplished, and the labor which has been bestowed upon it will not have been in vain.
To these high and holy purposes I now consecrate these reflections on the book of Daniel, with an earnest prayer that He, from whom all blessings come, may be pleased so to accept this exposition of one of the portions of his revealed truth, as to make it the means of promoting the interests of truth and piety in the world; with a grateful sense of his goodness in allowing me to complete it, and with thankfulness that I have been permitted for so many hours, in the preparation of this work, to contemplate the lofty integrity, the profound wisdom, the stern and unyielding virtue, and the humble piety of this distinguished saint and eminent statesman of ancient time. He is under a good influence, and he is likely to have his own piety quickened, and his own purposes of unflinching integrity and faithfulness, and of humble devotion to God strengthened, who studies the writings and the character of the prophet Daniel.