Daniel 10

The Word Made Fresh

1In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia a word was given to Daniel (who was also named Belteshazzar). It was about a great war to come. He understood it because he had received understanding in the vision.

2“At the time I had been mourning for three weeks. 3I had eaten no meat or wine, and had not bathed myself. 4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, I was standing on the bank of the Tigris River 5when I looked up and saw a man wearing linen clothes. He had a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6His body looked as if it were made of beryl. His face was like lightning and his eyes like flaming torches. His arms and legs gleamed like polished bronze and his voice was like the roar of a great crowd. 7I was the only one who saw it – the people with me didn’t see it, but they began to tremble greatly, and they ran away and hid themselves. 8So, I was the only one left to see this vision. I suddenly became weak, and my skin went white. I had no strength at all. 9Then I heard what the man was saying, and I fell face down on the ground in a trance.

10“Then a hand touched me and raised me to my knees. 11The man said to me, ‘Daniel, you are greatly beloved. Listen carefully to what I’m going to tell you. Stand on your feet now because I have been sent to tell you this.’ While he was speaking I stood up, trembling. 12He said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the day you decided to search for understanding and humble yourself before God, your words have been heard and that is why I have come to you. 13But the prince of Persia held me back for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to my aid and I left him there with the prince of Persia. 14Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people at the end of days. This is an additional vision for that time.’”

15While he was speaking I bowed my face toward the ground, speechless. 16Then someone who looked like a man touched my lips and I opened my mouth to speak and said to the one who stood in front of me, “My lord, this vision that has come to me has left me without any strength. 17How can I even speak with you, my lord, for I am weak and have no breath left to speak.”

18Again, the one who looked like a man touched me and strengthened me. 19He said, “Don’t be afraid, for you are greatly beloved, and you are safe. Be strong! Have courage!” I was encouraged and strengthened when he spoke to me. I said, “Speak, lord. You have given me strength.”

20He said, “Do you know why I’ve come to you? I must go now and fight against the prince of Persia. When I have defeated him the prince of Greece will come. 21But I am here to tell you what is written in the book of truth. There is no one with me to fight against these princes except your prince, Michael.”


1: We were told earlier (6:28) that Daniel lived during the reigns of both Cyrus and Darius, but until now Cyrus has not been mentioned and will not be mentioned again. Since Daniel’s chronology apparently has Cyrus succeeding Darius instead of the other way around, it really is impossible to tell if we are to imagine this vision preceding or postdating the earlier one.

2-9: What follows could easily fit into Ezekiel’s descriptions of trances (Ezekiel 9:2-3, 10:6-7). Daniel, standing by a river, “sees” a magnificent being of glowing metallic visage whose voice is like “the roar of a great crowd.” No one else sees the vision, only Daniel, and when the being speaks Daniel collapses face down.

10-14: Notice that Daniel has become the “greatly beloved” in his old age (see 9:23 as well, and 10:19). The figure who is speaking to him is not identified. It cannot be the archangel Michael, for he is referred to in verse 13. It cannot be God, for “Michael, one of the chief princes” would not have been needed to come and help God against the king of Persia. Many scholars think it is Gabriel, but why Gabriel would assume such a fantastic appearance unlike his earlier appearances is a puzzle. “The prince of the kingdom of Persia” is not identified either, but could be any of the Persian kings who ruled over Israel for a time after Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of Jerusalem.

15-17: Daniel nearly collapses again, and complains to his visitant. He keeps being touched by “one,” implying there are other angelic beings around him.

18-21: Gabriel (?) assures Daniel he is safe. He is going to return to help Michael fight against the prince of Persia and then the prince of Greece (Alexander the Great). There is a heavenly battle going on, fought out in the arena of human affairs and human history. Michael and Gabriel represent the hosts of God; Persia and Greece represent the hosts of Chaos.


God is continually reshaping human history to guide us toward our ultimate purpose. We are often baffled at what is going on in the world around us, and indeed much of it is a result of human sinfulness. But God is behind it all, sometimes letting our sinfulness guide us to a place where we have no choice but to return to faith in God or be lost forever.