Daniel 1 (day 851) 30 April 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Daniel has to rank as the strangest book in the Old Testament. The first six chapters contain seven stories of the Jewish experience as exiles in Babylon, casting these stories around a small cast among whom the young man Daniel is the primary character. The final six chapters comprise an apocalyptic view of the distant future
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-2: There really is no way to explain the dating used in Daniel. The third year of Jehoiakim’s reign would have been 606 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar’s reign didn’t begin until 605 B.C. and the first exile did not take place until 597 B.C.
3-7: Nevertheless, at some point in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign we find four young Israelites being selected to represent all the Israelites then in Babylon. They are to undergo three years of training in the ways of the Babylonian court so that they can serve the king. Their names are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They are given Babylonian names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Curiously, Daniel will remain Daniel throughout the story except for a few references to him by his Babylonian name, while his three companions will forever be known by their Babylonian names while their Israelite names are virtually forgotten.
8-21: Part of their grooming is to acquaint them to the diet of Babylon. Daniel, however, challenges the palace master that he and his companions will be much better off if they simply eat their vegetables. No doubt their mothers had drilled this into them from the time they were little boys. The palace master agrees to the contest, and at the end of the allotted time Daniel et al have outshine the other young men and are admitted into the royal service of the king, a position we are told Daniel was able to keep until Cyrus took the throne in 540 B.C., or what would amount to 66 years according to the dates given in the text.
Daniel 2 (day 852) 1 May 2012
1: The second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign would have been around 604 B.C., which makes the story here difficult to correlate with chapter 1. If Daniel and his friends endured 3 years of training they would still have been in training at this point.
2-16: Nebuchadnezzar, who just doesn’t come off very well at all in this book, has a disturbing dream that he wishes to have analyzed, but in a quirky mood he also demands that it be interpreted without him having to tell the dream! His Jungian psychiatrists demur, saying no one in the world could possibly succeed at such an impossible task. Of course, they haven’t met Daniel, yet. The king sends executioners to round them all up, including, we are horrified to learn, Daniel and his companions (verse 13). Daniel suggests that he can interpret the dream if the king will give him a little time, and because Daniel is such an extraordinary man among men the king says, “Okay.”
17-24: Daniel goes home to pray, asking his three friends to join him in petitioning the Almighty and, voila! The dream and its interpretation comes to him. He immediately informs the chief executioner that he has the answer.
25-31: The executioner brings him posthaste to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel denies that he has any power to ascertain the dream or what it means (at which point Nebuchadnezzar might easily have lopped off his head, but doesn’t because the story would come to an abrupt end at that point), but quickly adds that “there is a God” who reveals mysteries and has shown the king what will happen in the future.
31-35: First, the dream: Daniel tells him he saw a giant statue with a golden head, arms and chest of silver, torso of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. The feet were struck by a stone and the whole thing collapsed like, well, like a heavy metal statue balanced on clay feet. By the way, the stone that struck the feet was cut “not by human hands.” Whose hands, then? Surely you’ve figured that out. All the elements of the statue were then dispersed to the four winds, but the stone grew until it filled the earth.
36-45: Now for the interpretation: From top to bottom the statue represents successive kingdoms that rule the world. Currently in that position is Babylon, so Nebuchadnezzar is himself the statue’s golden head. He will be succeeded by other emperors, each weaker than the ones before, until finally there will be an empire divided that will not hold together. In its place “the God of heaven,” the one who gave Nebuchadnezzar his power (verse 37), will establish a permanent kingdom. There have been many attempts to identify each of the 5 kingdoms, but no scheme will fit neatly into the historical period in question, and such attempts are probably misguided. The point is simply that God will put up with these human attempts at empire only so long before stepping in to claim his place as the sovereign ruler of the world.
46-49: Nebuchadnezzar is so overcome with Daniel’s wisdom that he falls on his face and worships Daniel. Daniel makes no move to prevent him. The king sets him over the whole province, and Daniel intercedes on behalf of his three friends to have them appointed to powerful administrative positions.
If in this you recognize the story of Joseph in Egypt you have joined millions of others who have noticed the same connection.
Daniel 3 (day 853) 2 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-7: I find certain aspects of this very serious tale to be quite comedic, which heightens the sense of ridicule the Daniel stories make of Babylonian authorities. Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, a description which sounds more like a stele, or engraved stone, than a statue. It is made of gold. Not just anybody is invited to the unveiling; Nebuchadnezzar sent only for the satraps, the prefects, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates and all the officials. And who came? Why the satraps, the prefects, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates and all the officials, of course. (Don’t you want to laugh when you read this?) They assemble on the (unidentified) plain of Dura. The herald announces that whenever any of them hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum and the entire musical ensemble, they are to fall down and worship the golden statue. Almost at once the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum and the entire musical ensemble sounds, and the gathered officials fall down.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 8-12: But some citizens come to the king to tell him that even though he issued a decree that everyone had to fall down at the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum and the entire musical ensemble (cue laugh track), there are certain Jews — and just in case you don’t know who we’re talking about, your highness, their names are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who refuse to do so.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 13-15: Nebuchadnezzar summons the three young Jews and tells them that when they hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum and the entire musical ensemble, and fall down, all is well. If they don’t fall down, they will be thrown into a huge blazing hot furnace big enough to walk around in.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Then Nebuchadnezzar issues the challenge: “Who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?” That was his big mistake.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Now I want you to go back and count. There are seven kinds of officials summoned: the satraps, the prefects, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, and the magistrates. There are seven kinds of musical sounds: horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and musical ensemble. Three groups are commanded to fall down when they hear the Sound of Music: peoples, nations and languages. Three persons refuse to do so: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The number seven signifies the perfection of time: in seven days God created the heavens and the earth. The number three signifies the perfection of God. Clearly the story is being told to make it clear that the deities worshiped by the Babylonians are inferior to the one God worshiped by the Jews.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 16-18: And so, the three Jews tell the king that even if their God doesn’t rescue them they still won’t bow down to his gods. Their response stands as one of the most powerful statements of faith in the Bible.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 19-23: So, the king is so enraged at the three that he has the furnace heated up seven times hotter than usual. It is so hot that the guards who toss them into it are killed.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24-30: Now, by golly, the king sees four men in the furnace. He calls to the three to come out and present themselves. They do, and four groups of officials – the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the counselors — gather ’round. Three groups — the treasurers (who handle the king’s gold, as in golden statue), and the judges and magistrates (who enforce the kings’ laws) are missing! The story ends with Nebuchadnezzar decreeing that any people, nation or language (three groups) that utters blasphemy against the God of the three Jewish men “shall be torn limb from limb and their houses laid in ruins.” This is exactly the punishment he used as a threat to the magicians who couldn’t tell him his dream back in chapter 2 (see 2:5).
Daniel 4 (day 854) 3 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-18: The next story begins as a letter written by Nebuchadnezzar himself. He describes another strange and powerful dream that had come to him, a dream none of his advisors were able to interpret. He dreamed of a great tree that was visible to the ends of the earth. Then a heavenly being of some kind came down and announced that the tree was to be cut down and chopped up. The stump that was left would be left in the ground, however. At verse 15b the stump becomes a man who is to go insane for seven “times”. Wow. Those people could really dream.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 19-27: Nebuchadnezzar’s account of the incident ends abruptly and a third party takes up the tale. Daniel is not in a hurry to divulge the interpretation of the dream, but finally he does. The tree is the king — you already probably guessed that much. The king is going to lose his mind for awhile, says Daniel, for as long as it takes him to develop some humility and accept the sovereignty of God. Daniel advises him to atone for his sins with “mercy to the oppressed” (hmmm … I wonder what oppressed people he might be thinking of).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 28-33: A year passes, and one day Nebuchadnezzar is swelling with pride and – zap! — out into the wilderness he goes, eating grass and sleeping under the stars. He was out there long enough for his hair and nails to become embarrassing.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 34-37: We suddenly return to Nebuchadnezzar’s own personal narrative: His sanity returns and he praises the Most High God of Israel. Pop! He’s back in Babylon on the throne with a nice haircut and manicure and counselors at his beck and call and a thriving empire around him. But something has changed: Nebuchadnezzar is now a worshiper of the God of the Jews! Imagine how these stories must have been received by an oppressed people.
Daniel 5 (day 855) 4 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-5: Nabonidus is now the king of Babylon. It was he whom Cyrus deposed in 539 B.C. Nabonidus for a time made his palace in the desert oasis settlement of Teima, probably due to conflicts with the predominant priestly caste. While he is away he leaves his son Belshazzar in charge of the city of Babylon. Belshazzar throws a big party while his Dad is out of town, and decides to use the sacred vessels Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar was not his biological father, but was his father in the political sense that he was the father of all who reigned after him. While they drank and partied they praised the gods made of various metals posed here and there.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 6-9: A hand appears and writes on the wall. Belshazzar declares to his wise men that anyone who deciphers the script will be made third in the kingdom — after his father Nabonidus and himself, presumably. In spite of the fact that Belshazzar himself cannot read the writing none of his wise men dare to claim to be able to do so. Honest men, those.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 10-12: Belshazzar, meet Belteshazzar, aka Daniel. The queen mother (Nebuchadnezzar’s widow, some have speculated) knows about this Jewish diviner (the queen always knows) and tells the king to summon him. We are given no clue as to what has happened to Daniel in the intervening years, how he has fallen from the rank of “chief of the enchanters, magicians, Chaldeans and diviners.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 13-16: We keep seeing Joseph and Pharaoh in the story, don’t we? The king tells Daniel that if he can read the writing he’ll be elevated to rank third in the kingdom.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 17-23: Daniel pooh-poohs the trivial gesture, but tells the king he’ll read the writing nonetheless. He proceeds to inform Belshazzar that he has offended the God of heaven by using the temple vessels in a profane manner and praising instead the blind and dumb gods made of silver and gold and bronze and iron and wood and stone.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24-28: Daniel translates the writing on the wall, which says, “Belshazzar, the gig is up.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 29: Belshazzar, unmoved by Daniel’s pronouncement, keeps good his promise of reward and elevates Daniel to rank third in the kingdom. (The next day he’ll be second in the kingdom.)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 30: That very night Belshazzar is killed. No records have so far been recovered that would shed more light on that statement.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 31: Darius the Mede did indeed receive the kingdom, but not for awhile. Cyrus the Great is the one who conquered Babylon. Darius came some 17 years later.
Daniel 6 (day 856) 5 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-5: Now Darius is on the throne; this would make Daniel around 80 years old. Daniel is one of three “presidents” watching over the affairs of the empire, and true to form the other presidents and officials become jealous of him because he’s such a great guy.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 6-9: They persuade the king to issue an edict that everybody must worship him and only him for a whole month, knowing that Daniel won’t.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 10-13: Daniel doesn’t. They catch him in the act of worshiping God instead of Darius and make charges against him. As in the book of Esther, it is imagined that once an edict is signed it cannot be revoked even by the king who signed it.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 14-15: Darius wants to save Daniel but can’t figure out how to do it.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 16-18: Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, but not before the king violates his own edict by praying to Daniel’s God to save him.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 19-24: Next morning Daniel is found alive. The king has Daniel’s accusers thrown into the lion’s den along with their families, and the lions make short work of them.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 25-27: Darius issues another decree telling everybody to worship Daniel’s God, joining Nebuchadnezzar in acknowledging the sovereignty of the LORD.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 28: Cyrus ruled before Darius.
Daniel 7 (day 857) 6 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-8: The remainder of the book of Daniel contains accounts of Daniel’s own visions of the distant future and the end of time. The first vision is described here. He “sees” the 4 winds stirring up the sea and 4 monsters coming up out of the sea: a lion with eagles’ wings; a bear with 3 ribs in its teeth; a leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads; and a sort of mechanical monster with iron teeth and 10 horns. The four winds represent the power of God and the sea represents the Chaos that is always God’s enemy. The monsters are earthly kingdoms, as we shall see. The implication is that earthly kingdoms are on the side of Chaos.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The first monster is a lion, a ravenous beast of prey. Some scholars think the lion represents Nebuchadnezzar, the plucked-off wings a curtailment of his power. He is lifted up on two feet and given a human mind, reminding us of the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s temporary insanity.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The second monster is a bear that is told, “Arise, devour many bodies,” and the bear is doing just that, with three ribs already in its teeth. Many scholars think the voice is God’s, but others say it is the voice of Chaos urging war against God’s creation.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The third monster is a leopard with four wings and four heads. Some scholars think this is a representation of the Persian Empire because the Bible names but four of its kings — Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The fourth monster is the most terrible of all. Scholars have not been able to identify which rulers are represented by the 10 horns. Later Christian commentators tried to relate the 10 horns to rulers in Rome. However, most scholars agree that the little arrogant horn represents Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who sacked Jerusalem in 167 B.C., desecrated the temple and outlawed the worship of God (see 1 Maccabees 6:1-11). The three horns that are discarded may represent the three men whom Antiochus IV disposed of in order to seize the throne for himself.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9-14: Daniel next “sees” an event unfolding in the courts of heaven. The “Ancient of Days,” or “Ancient One,” is God, of course. The fourth beast is put to death, the other three linger, perhaps a reference to the vestiges of earlier empires. Daniel’s “night visions” continue with the arrival of “one like a son of man,” or “one like a human being.” Note that this one is not actually a human being, only “like” one. Most scholars agree this is a reference to the archangel Michael (see 10:21 and 12:1). In Daniel’s vision this personage is to be given dominion over the world.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 15-18: Daniel (in his dream) approaches an attendant (one of the “thousand thousands” in verse 10) and asks for an explanation. The attendant tells him that his vision has to do with the ultimate battle between God and Chaos, Chaos being represented by earthly kings and kingdoms.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 19-22: Daniel asks about the fourth beast and the arrogant little horn that made war with “the holy ones,” meaning the Jews. This horn was prevailing until the arrival of God in verse 9, and then the Jews regained possession of Israel.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 23-28: The attendant’s explanation of the fourth beast and its fate has been covered in the above commentary.
Daniel 8 (day 858) 7 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-4: Daniel’s second apocalyptic vision is recorded a couple of years later. He sees a ram near the capital city of Susa charging around as it pleases.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5-8: The plot thickens. A male goat with a single central horn comes charging over the plain from the west. It bashes the ram, but then somehow its horn is broken and replaced by four horns pointing in four directions.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9-14: A little horn sprouts from one of the four, casting its power toward the south and toward the “beautiful land,” which must be Israel. It challenges the very authority of God. Again Daniel hears voices, but this time they are the voices of “holy ones.” The little horn’s power over the temple will last for about six and a half years.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 15-17: Daniel is perplexed. A man, of sorts, appears before him and summons Gabriel to tell him the meaning of the vision. Gabriel makes it clear that this is a vision of the end of time.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 18-27: Now the interpretation: The ram’s two horns represent Media and Persia. The male goat is the king of Greece, whose horn between its eyes we will come to know as Alexander the Great. Four kingdoms will arise from that one, a reference to the fourfold division of the Alexandrian empire after his death. Out of one of those divisions will arise one who makes war on the “people of the holy ones,” the Jews. This is again Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Daniel is told the vision must be sealed, a rather curious expression, but its meaning is simple enough; the vision is not ready for publication. Daniel is in a swoon for several days, then “goes about the king’s business” — remember that he is a high official (see 6:2).
Daniel 9 (day 859) 8 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1: Darius was the son-in-law of Cambyses II and the grandson-in-law of Cyrus the Great. His father was Hystaspes, a Persian prince. It appears from other historical sources that Ahasuerus (aka Xerxes) was the son of Darius, not his father. This is all in keeping, of course, with Daniel’s curious chronology found throughout the book.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2: Daniel ascertains from reading the book of the prophet Jeremiah that Jerusalem must lie in ruins 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, also 29:10). Jeremiah’s prophesy of 70 years is of course a reference that indicates roughly a lifetime, not a specific number of days. The first exile accompanying King Jehoiachin took place in 597 B.C. The primary exile took place in 587 B.C. However, Cyrus became ruler of Babylon in 539 B.C. and allowed the exiles to begin returning to Jerusalem — less than 60 years after the first exile and less than 50 years after the second. The temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt sometime between 520 and 515 B.C., which coincides with the beginning of the reign of Darius.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3-6: Daniel donned sackcloth and ashes and turned to God in prayer. First, he confesses the sins of Israel.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 7-14: Next he acknowledges that God’s judgment was just because God told them in the beginning it would happen if they were disobedient. See Deuteronomy 9 for the curse Daniel mentions in verse 11.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 15-19: Since the 70 years have passed, more or less, Daniel prays for God in his mercy to restore Jerusalem and his people.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 20-23: Gabriel makes his second appearance in the book (see 8:16), and tells Daniel his prayer is being heard throughout the heavenly realms.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24-27: Had Gabriel stopped there we would be just as well informed, but he continues on to give an unsolvable riddle of the passage of days and the end of time and the rise of the “prince” who is to come. The only part of the puzzle that can be identified with any confidence comes toward the end. The “anointed one” in verse 26 is probably a reference to the murder of the high priest Onias III who was killed because he opposed the Hellenization process forced upon the Jews by the tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes around 165 B.C. “The abomination that desolates” is almost certainly a reference to Antiochus profaning the temple with the installation of pagan statuary in the Holy of Holies.
Daniel 10 (day 860) 9 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1: We were told earlier (6:28) that Daniel prospered 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.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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 multitude.” No one else sees the vision, only Daniel, and when the being speaks he collapses face down.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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.
Daniel 11 (day 861) 10 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1: The figure in Daniel’s vision (whom we have tentatively identified as the archangel Gabriel) says that he had supported the archangel Michael against Darius in the first year of Darius’ reign.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2-4: It is not possible to correlate Daniel’s history with other sources. Darius was a Mede, not a Persian. The Persian Empire that came after him had many more than four rulers. Xerxes is the most likely candidate to fit the description given here as the fourth ruler, for he did make war against the Greeks, unsuccessfully. And the warrior king described in verses 3 and 4 has to be Alexander the Great. However, Xerxes was assassinated in 465 B.C. and Alexander wasn’t even born until 356 B.C. Of course, the wording of verses 2 and 3 does not require that the “warrior king” came immediately after the “fourth” Persian king.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5-6: Alexander’s untimely death created a vacuum of leadership in his far-flung empire and the result was that the empire was divided into four parts, each ruled by one of Alexander’s generals. The two most prominent of the four were taken by Seleucus and Ptolemy. The Seleucid Empire eventually included most of Egypt and Palestine as well as what was left of Babylon, so he is the “king of the south. The “realm greater than his realm” was the Ptolemaic Empire which included the former kingdoms of both Persia and Babylon. These two did not get along, so a marriage was arranged between a Seleucid prince, Antiochus II, and a daughter of Ptolemy, Berenice. In order to marry her, however, Antiochus had to divorce his first wife, Laodice, with whom he had two sons. Laodice poisoned him and killed Berenice and the children she had borne to Antiochus.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 7-9: Berenice’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes, the “branch from her roots,” sacked the Seleucid capital and carried of the gold and silver religious statues. And so it went.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 10-13: This was definitely not a cold war between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. First one side held the upper hand, then the other.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 14-39: For the purpose of this supplementary aid to reading the Bible a chapter at a time there is no reason to pursue all the details. As a bare-bones outline, suffice it to say that several generals and kings named Ptolemy or Antiochus fought and took and lost territory here and there. The “well-fortified city” (15) is Sidon. Antiochus III is the one who came to rule Jerusalem, “the beautiful land” (16), aided by “the lawless among your own people.” The “woman in marriage” (17) is the first Cleopatra. Antiochus III was eventually defeated by the Romans at Thermopylae and had to raid temples and forts in his own lands to pay the required tribute (19). Rome sent a tax collector (“an official” — verse 20), and through the ensuing intrigues Antiochus IV arose (21). The remainder of the chapter tells the story of Antiochus IV, his arrogance, his military successes, his desecration of the temple in Jerusalem and his disposal of the high priest (“the prince of the covenant” in verse 22). He will be unsuccessful in an attempt to subdue Egypt (25-30), and will return to Jerusalem and to “those who forsake the covenant” — his Jewish supporters – and wreak death and destruction on “the people who are loyal to their God” (30-32). He will become a god in his own eyes and require that his subjects treat him as such.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â To this point the account follows pretty faithfully what can be known about the history of the region from the time of the exile to the time of the terrible rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 40-45: These verses tell of an imagined end to the story. The events outlined here are shrouded in mystery and do not follow what historical accounts have recorded, except, of course, that Antiochus IV Epiphanes will eventually go the way of all flesh.
Daniel 12 (day 862) 11 May 2012
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1: The archangel Michael will return and a time of “great anguish” will ensue. But the Jewish people will be delivered. “Written in the book” is probably a reference to genealogical records kept rather meticulously through the centuries, mostly by the priesthood.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2: Some have said this is the most important verse in the Old Testament because of its clear statement of belief in the resurrection of the dead, more clearly stated here than anywhere else in the Old Testament.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3: Not only is there a resurrection in the future, but a judgment as well, an idea Jesus presents even more clearly in his depiction of the separation of the “sheep” and the “goats” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4: These things are not to take place quickly, however.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5: Daniel is again near a river, and he sees two unidentified figures on either side.
6: And a third figure as well, who is likely intended to represent Michael or Gabriel, standing upstream and clothed in linen, a symbol of holiness. One of the other two asks this linen-clad figure how long all these things will take.
7: “A time, two times, and a half time” is the length of time Antiochus IV is given to rule Jerusalem (see 7:25). The vision will come to pass only after this period of suffering is ended.
8: Daniel, for his part, wants to know more, and asks the linen-clad figure what the end result of all this will be.
9: But his question is not answered. He is simply told to go his way, what will be, will be.
10: As it all unfolds there will be some who understand, but the wicked will never understand.
11: Obviously, we’re not to have the answers. When Antiochus IV abolishes the worship of God and institutes pagan worship in the temple, 1290 days will pass, but then what? We are not told.
12: What the 1335 days leads to is not revealed either.
13: What should we make of this? Simply that we are not supposed to know. Go home, Daniel, be at peace until the day of your rest. You will receive your reward when you are resurrected at the end of days.
So shall we all who believe.