Setting Date Overview Commentary
1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood
the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;
5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
15 And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.
17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.
18 Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,
19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
In the first year of his Babylonian reign, Cyrus, the king of Persia, issued a decree authorizing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of God (Ezra 1:1). If our calculations are correct, that decree, foretold by Isaiah nearly two centuries earlier (Isaiah 44:28), was issued in the year 537/536 B.C.
Ezra 2:64, 65 tells us that "the whole congregation together" which returned to Jerusalem by that decree was 42,360, besides their servants and their maids, of whom there were 7,337.
In the first autumn after their arrival in Jerusalem (536 B.C.), the returned Jews kept the feast of tabernacles (Ezra 3:4), and from that month forward they "offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord" (verses 5, 6). The work of rebuilding the temple began the following spring, 535 B.C., in the second month (Ezra 3:8).
Verse 1 tells us that this event occurred in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia. This was not the third year of his reign as king of Persia, for he had held that position for many years. Rather, this refers to the third year in which Cyrus, king of Persia, also ruled as king of Babylon. That title he assumed at the death of Darius the Mede in the fall of 538 B.C. Allowing for an accession period, Cyrus' first year began in the spring of 537. His third year would therefore begin in the spring of 535 B.C.
This chapter is unique in the book of Daniel in that it tells us the exact calendar date in which the vision came to the prophet, the 24th day of the first month. This places it ten days after the passover in the spring of the year 535, just before the work began of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.
Chronology Chart of Daniel 9 and 10
Chapters 10-12 are a unit. Chapter 10 introduces the vision, chapter 11 presents the main body of the vision, and chapter 12 concludes the vision.
Chapter 10 begins with Daniel fasting for three weeks. At the end of that period Daniel is by the side of a river and a glorious Being appears to him. The chapter describes the prophet's physical experience in receiving the vision. An angel assures the prophet that his prayers have been heard. He also exposes a fascinating matter developing behind the scenes in the Persian Empire. As the chapter closes, the angel is prepared to present the final major outline prophecy of the book of Daniel.
Verse 2 Text
"In those days I Daniel was mourning"
It seems that Daniel was still concerned about the future of God's people, and sought a greater understanding of the matters revealed to him in his previous visions.
"Three full weeks"
Verse 3 says, "three whole weeks." This wording suggests that these were three actual calendar weeks of Sunday through Saturday, not simply a 21-day period.
Verse 3 Text
"No pleasant bread"
This was evidently not a total fast. But Daniel, who as a matter of practice had always abstained from unhealthful food (See chapter one), here limited himself to only the very simplest of foods for this period of time.
Verse 4 Text
"In the four and twentieth day of the first month"
If our assumption regarding verse 2 is correct, Daniel's three full weeks extended from Sunday the 3rd until Saturday the 24th of the first month.
If anyone has a way of checking dates through astronomical records, I could use your help here. I would like confirmation that the third day of the first lunar month of the Persian calendar year corresponding with the spring of 535 B.C. was indeed a Sunday. If you have any data on this please contact me.
"Hiddekel." Genesis 2:14 tells us that this river "goeth toward the east of Assyria." This is generally understood to be the Tigris River.
Verse 5 Text
"A certain man"
This is the same heavenly Being that appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos. See the comparison. This was none other than Jesus, the Son of God.
There are at least seven similarities between the vision of Daniel in chapters 10-12 and that given to John in the Revelation:
Verse 7 Text
The impact of the vision.
Only Daniel was able to behold the scene. The men who were with him fled in terror.
This chapter gives us one of the best descriptions of what can happen to a prophet while in vision:
Verse 10 Text
"An hand touched me"
This was undoubtedly that of Gabriel, who had appeared to Daniel in chapters 8 and 9.
Verse 11 Text
"And he said unto me"
Most of the vision from this point on consists of the angel speaking to Daniel.
Verse 12 Text
"From the first day"
Daniel had begun to "chasten" himself before God exactly three weeks earlier. Immediately, Gabriel had been dispatched to answer Daniel's prayer, but resistance from "the prince of the kingdom of Persia" held him up for 21 days (verse 13).
Verse 13 Text
"The prince of the kingdom of Persia"
There appears in this verse to be a contest between two opposing supernatural forces. The "prince of the kingdom of Persia" was probably either Satan, called "the prince of this world" (John 12:31), or another evil angel whom Satan had assigned to head up his Persian campaign.
The only way to properly identify Michael is to take everything the Bible says about him. No one but the divine Son of God fits the Biblical description. No created being could ever fill that position.
It was the arrival of Michael which ended the stalemate and defeated Satan's forces. The presence of Jesus always drives away the enemy.
We are not exactly sure what concerned Daniel enough that he fasted for three weeks. But he certainly was persistent and did not give up praying until he was assured that his prayer was answered. Often we are troubled about things, and it may appear that our prayers are not being answered. Daniel could have felt that way during those three long weeks. But from the very first day, unseen to Daniel, Gabriel had been working to solve the problem, and Daniel continued his fasting and prayer, trusting that God would triumph. As long as we continue praying, Satan cannot gain the victory.
Verse 14 Text
"Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people"
Verse 12 provides a clue as to Daniel's concern. There Gabriel said to Daniel, "Thou didst set thine heart to understand." In verse 14 he adds, "Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people." The issue evidently pertained to the welfare of God's people. And the matter was such that God's purpose for His people could have been hindered by "the prince of the kingdom of Persia." International issues were affected by the prayer of a servant of God! Whatever those issues were, the favorable outcome brought great relief to God's people.
The fact that just a few days later the work began in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, suggests that that project was at stake in this struggle between the unseen forces in the Persian capital. Though we may not realize it, invisible conflicts between good and evil forces take place for the control of each one of us. The battle is as real as in any earthly conflict. We do not see the evil angels in their attempts to sway our minds, nor do we see the angels of God fighting them back and seeking to draw us to God. But the outcome is determined by which side we choose to listen to and follow. Evidently King Cyrus, whose position placed him at the center of this struggle, submitted to the tender voice of God's Spirit, and thus Daniel's prayer was answered.
"In the latter days"
Just as Daniel's concern for the cause of God in chapter 9 occasioned the giving of a prophecy extending far into the future, so his similar concern in chapter 10 resulted in a detailed prophetic overview of the forces affecting God's people down to the end of time.
Verse 15 Text
"I set my face toward the ground"
So intense was the glory of the heavenly messenger that Daniel could endure the brightness no longer.
Verse 16 Text
"One like the similitude of the sons of men"
The angel then came to Daniel in the appearance of a man, and for the first time the prophet was able to speak.
Verse 20 Text
"Now will I return to fight"
Gabriel here indicated that there were challenges yet to meet during the period of Persia, and after that, during the reign of Greece. The word "fight" was no overstatement, as the next chapter will reveal the course of events during those centuries to be that of one war after another, each having its bearing upon God's overruling purpose for His people.
Verse 21 Text
"But I will shew thee"
Gabriel will not leave Daniel until he has given him a view of the future which surpassed in detail any of his previous revelations.
"There is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince"
This may refer to the combined efforts of Gabriel and Christ in the struggle against the hosts of Satan for the control of earthly empires, or it may indicate that the insights the angel was about to reveal were known only by Christ Himself.