Monday, June 5th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Whedon's Commentary on the Bible Whedon's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Daniel 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ whe/ daniel-7.html. 1874-1909.
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Daniel 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
- Henry's Complete
- Clarke Commentary
- Bridgeway Bible Commentary
- Coffman's Commentaries
- Carroll's Biblical Interpretation
- Barnes' Notes
- Bullinger's Companion Notes
- Calvin's Commentary
- Bell's Commentary
- College Press
- Smith's Commentary
- Dummelow on the Bible
- Constable's Expository Notes
- Ellicott's Commentary
- Expositor's Dictionary
- Hole's Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Gaebelein's Annotated
- Morgan's Exposition
- Gill's Exposition
- Everett's Study Notes
- Geneva Study Bible
- Haydock's Catholic Commentary
- Commentary Critical
- Commentary Critical Unabridged
- Gray's Concise Commentary
- Sutcliffe's Commentary
- Trapp's Commentary
- Kretzmann's Commentary
- Lange's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Henry's Concise
- Poole's Annotations
- Pett's Commentary
- Peake's Commentary
- Preacher's Homiletical
- Poor Man's Commentary
- Benson's Commentary
- Sermon Bible Commentary
- The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- The Pulpit Commentaries
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Wesley's Notes
- Whedon's Commentary
- Keil & Delitzsch
- Smith's Writings
- Ironside's Notes
- Layman's Bible Commentary
- Restoration Commentary
- Utley Commentary
- Zerr's N.T. Commentary
The World-kingdoms and the Kingdom of God Meet Each Other, and the “Son of Man” Appears in Victory.
This is the central section of this mighty book and the beginning of the consolatory visions. This is not a history but an apocalypse. (See Introduction, II, 3.)
1. In the first year of Belshazzar For Belshazzar see Introduction, III, 3, (4). If these portions of the Daniel apocalypse represent actual events, then Daniel 7:8 must chronologically precede chap. 5. Contemporaneous records make it impossible to believe that Belshazzar ever reigned over Babylon as its supreme ruler which fact is also suggested by verse 29 but he may have been made co-ruler with his father, Nabonidus, as many crowned princes were before and after this date. Although this is not stated in any cuneiform documents which have so far been found, it is certain that for a number of years before his father’s death he seems to have been the real ruler of the kingdom. [See Introduction, III, 3, (4).] Daniel is here stated to have written down the “visions of his head” (compare Daniel 2:28) and to have told the sum and substance of them to others, although the book as a whole, or the interpretation of it, was to be sealed and hidden (Daniel 12:0; Daniel 4:0).
2, 3. The four winds of the heaven [for the numerical symbolism see Introduction to Ezekiel, VIII] strove (literally, burst forth) upon the waters of the Mediterranean (Ezekiel 47:10) the great international ocean of the ancients, and therefore symbolic of all the imperial powers “of the earth” (Daniel 7:17, and compare Isaiah 17:0; Psalms 65:7) and out of this boiling tempest the prophet sees in vision each savage empire thrown up upon the shore (Daniel 7:4) in the form of a hideous wild beast (compare Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 29:3; Isaiah 51:19; Ezekiel 17:3; Ezekiel 29:3; Revelation 13:1); each beast as diverse from the others as the kingdom which it represented was different. What a sublime stage and scenery for this sublimest “epic of history”!
4. All expositors refer this to the Babylonian empire, which is here represented by the king of beasts as previously by the chief of metals (Daniel 2:38). It has long been supposed that the lion was equipped with eagle’s wings to symbolize the swiftness with which he could swoop upon his prey; but it is more likely that the figure was taken from the innumerable representations in Assyria of winged lions with human faces as the symbol of imperial strength and divine authority. This royal symbol was well understood by the prophets (Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 49:22; Jeremiah 50:17; Jeremiah 50:44). Herder suggestively remarks (1, 57), “If Daniel sees a vision in which animal forms denote kingdoms, symbolic shapes of that kind must have been no strangers to his waking world; for we dream only of forms which we see when awake and in our dreams give them new and various combinations.”
The wings thereof were plucked This probably indicates a diminution in the swiftness and aggressiveness of the Babylonian invasions before the end of the empire. Although it may possibly contain an obscure reference to the account given in Daniel 4:28-36, where Nebuchadnezzar became outwardly beastly (as his whole empire had previously been), yet the cases are so dissimilar as to make even a vague reference doubtful. Most recent expositors believe that the expression and a man’s heart was given to it refers to the “humanizing of the kingdom;” although Behrmann and Thomson think, with greater probability, that it has reference to the weakening of the kingdom, since a lion’s heart has always been a symbol of strength. (Compare 2 Samuel 17:10.) Certainly this figure of a plucked beast lifted up and made to stand upon his [hind] feet, as a man, does not impress us as an attempt to convey the idea that this empire at this time was “the best of all” (Prince), having “superior intelligence” (Bevan) to all the empires which had preceded it; rather it vividly expresses the denuding of the empire of its natural and divinely granted powers and of its “lion heart,” and, in consequence of this, its defeat by the second beast, who immediately appears on the stage of action as the heir of its greatness. The battle between the lion and the bear and the latter’s victory is taken for granted.
5. For the proof that the second beast was the Medo-Persian empire see note Daniel 2:39; Daniel 8:20. The mention here of its two sides, one of which was more active than the other, emphasizes again the duality of this empire; not its torpidity, as Terry and others maintain. (See also Daniel 8:3.) Prince though believing that Daniel, through lack of historic knowledge, mentions a Median empire separate from the Persian empire after Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that ancient history establishes the closest connection between the Medes and Persians, the Greeks frequently applying the common term “Medes” indifferently to either nation (p. 116), and concludes: “It cannot of course be denied that the Medes enjoyed a special prominence in the empire. Indeed the place which they occupied in the inscriptions, next to the Persians, and the fact that Medes are found in the most important and responsible positions, seem to point to such a conclusion. Part of their powerful influence may have been due to the sacerdotal caste of the Magi, who were probably originally of Median origin. The very fact that the name Mede survived so long as almost a synonym for Persian certainly seems to show that the individuality of the older people was extremely prominent throughout a long period of the Persian history.… Throughout the entire Book of Daniel wherever both nations are mentioned the Medes have the first place, while in the Book of Esther Persia is put before Media except in Daniel 10:2, where an allusion is made to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia perhaps an old record” (pp. 117, 121, 122). The Persians might therefore be represented by the active, and the Medes by the passive side of this beast, although its standing “on one side” may merely mean that its aggressiveness extended in one direction only (Cowles). The three ribs in the lion’s mouth show that it has been killing and devouring already. Many expositors name these ribs, which it is still crunching, as Babylonia, Egypt, and Syria; Babylonia, Assyria, and Syria; or Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt. Three, however, was used as a round number for “several,” both in Judea and Babylonia, and this phrase probably only means that when the successor of the Babylonian empire first appeared it was already hungry for conquest and glutted with spoil.
Dr. Terry strongly maintains that the whole picture here is that of a torpid beast who holds a few ribs in his mouth and cannot be urged to further killing; but if this were the meaning there would surely be some indication given that this beast did not obey the command to “arise and devour much flesh.” Even Bevan sees that the picture, as given here, is that of a “ravenous beast… whose chief characteristic is destruction.” Thomson thinks the bear exactly represents King Cyrus, who, like the bear, came originally from the mountains, and who conquered various countries before he attacked Babylonia. The idea of the old Jewish commentators that these “three ribs” meant that the empire governed by Cyrus covered three quarters of the globe is no less contrary to all the analogies of symbolism than that of Kuenen, who thinks that its lifting itself up on one side shows that it was “threatening to fall,” while the three ribs indicate that the empire was divided into three parts, or ruled by three princes.
6. Since the second animal could not represent an independent Median empire, because, historically, there was no independent Median empire between Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, and because Daniel himself joins together the Median and Persian law and kingdom as a unity (see note Daniel 2:39) therefore this four-winged, four-headed leopard does not represent the Persian empire, but that of Alexander the Great (Daniel 8:21). Historically, no one doubts that the empire following that of Nebuchadnezzar was the Persian (or Medo-Persian,) whose first and greatest king was Cyrus, and that immediately following this came the empire of Alexander. There is nothing here to indicate that Daniel did not have a correct historic perspective; in which case this third empire must have been that of Alexander. The wings here, as heretofore, symbolize world-wide and rapid conquest under the protection of the gods. The four heads corresponding to the four horns of the rough goat (Daniel 8:22), which Daniel himself declares to be the king or kingdom of Greece would naturally represent the four kingdoms into which the empire was divided at Alexander’s death. (See, further, Daniel 8:21.) The leopard is a peculiarly swift animal, and nothing is more remarkable in the conquest of Alexander than this characteristic; since in the insignificant space of nine years he flew with his arms over the whole of Asia, and even made some parts of Europe subject to him. Some expositors have also seen in Alexander’s personal courage, variability of temper, and extreme smallness of size other peculiarities symbolized by the leopard. Cowles offers an ingenious conjecture that the four heads of the leopard are to intimate that the Grecian empire of Alexander was distinguished more by the power of thought than by brute force. Among the great kingdoms of the ancient world, this was the empire of brains. Though this interpretation seems too ingenious to be true, yet it offers another reason why Alexander’s empire could not be symbolized by the fourth beast (Daniel 7:7).
7. Modern expositors are almost unanimous in explaining this as referring either to the Syriac-Egyptian kingdom, which filled the political horizon around the Mediterranean after the death of Alexander and his immediate successors (see Daniel 2:39; Daniel 8:20), or to these two successive dominions of Alexander and the Syrian kings regarded as a unity. We have already explained why we adhere to the former view and why the older opinion, that this fourth empire was the Roman, can no longer be maintained (Daniel 2:39). These verses, as Prince acknowledges, do not fitly describe the civilizing conquests of Alexander, but, as even Bevan sees, are “singularly inappropriate” when applied to his victories. They do, however, express precisely the Hebrew idea of the Seleucidae; and it is very suggestive that even the scholars who make Alexander the head of this empire, as Nebuchadnezzar was of the Babylonian, do not attempt to interpret these verses as actually referring to Alexander and his immediate successors, but acknowledge that the author of Daniel was really thinking of those Syrian kings who reigned several centuries after Alexander.
Since secular historians without theological bias have seen that the empire founded by Alexander came to an end with the death of Perdiccas (321 B.C.), there is no reason, historically, why the author of Daniel may not be allowed to be consistent with himself when he describes the chief activity of this fourth beast as occurring not in Alexander’s era (fourth century B.C.) but in the era of Seleucus and Antiochus Epiphanes. (See particularly chap. 11.) The argument which is made so much of by opponents of this view, that the Seleucid beast-empire was not “diverse” from all that had preceded it, is easily answered by the simple statement of the acknowledged fact that from the Jewish standpoint it was exceedingly different from all that had preceded. To the Jews no rulers since the Pharaohs had seemed so “exceeding dreadful” (Daniel 7:19); whose iron teeth and brazen nails were so “exceedingly strong” to devour the Hebrew patriots, and its mighty brutish feet to stamp them into the dust. (See Daniel 11:0) To seek this “diversity” from all other kingdoms in some difference in its origin, or its form of government, or its constitution, or in the conquering kings’ unwillingness “to leave the subjugated people in their former barbarism,” is to strangely miss the point. Gentile history was important to the Hebrew prophet only as it touched the Hebrew nation, and the fourth Gentile kingdom was “diverse” from the others because it was more cruel and brutal in its persecution of the “saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). The ten horns do not symbolize that this empire was stronger than any which had preceded it. The horns represent ten kings (Daniel 7:24).
8. This little horn and his horrible deeds will be described in detail later (Daniel 7:24-25; chap. 11). It may be noticed, however, that it is the conduct of the king represented by this little horn which makes this fourth empire the most terrible and most hated of all. (See note Daniel 7:7.) That this king, with the boastful and blasphemous mouth (Daniel 7:25; Daniel 11:36) and “the eyes of a man” (symbolizing keen sagacity, artfulness, and spying vigilance, compare Daniel 8:23), was Antiochus Epiphanes even Zockler and Gutschmidt agree. Lagarde’s conjecture (1891), that it designated Vespasian, hardly needs confutation. Konig ( Einleitung, p. 390) and others have shown how far Vespasian failed to fit the description, even if the date of the book could permit such a reference. Kamphausen well says that Lagarde’s guess is no more scientific than that of the old woman of Freiburg who in 1882 declared that this little saucy horn was no doubt the Prussian empire.
9. Thrones were cast down Literally, thrones were placed. This “Ancient of the Day” (Meinhold) is a new name for Jehovah, expressing the well-recognized idea of his eternity (Psalms 90:2; Psalms 93:2), while the color of his hair and garments symbolizes the purity and holiness of the Judge who lives in light and who is enthroned upon cycles of flame. (Compare, especially notes, Ezekiel 1:10; Psalms 18:9-14.)
10. This vision of Jehovah’s judgment seat is worthy of Ezekiel. (See Ezekiel 1:10). The dreamer cannot count the angelic hosts which stand by the thousand thousands in humble obedience before Him as “the judgment is set” (or, “the assize is begun”). It was no new idea that all the deeds of men were recorded by a heavenly scribe. This appears in the Egyptian records centuries before the era of Moses or Joseph, and was an early belief among the Hebrews (Exodus 12:1; Exodus 32:32; Isaiah 4:3; Malachi 3:16; compare Revelation 20:12). The Old Testament generally emphasizes the fact that there is a “book of life” in which the names and sufferings of the pious are recorded; but in this passage it is the sins of evil empires, and especially the blasphemies of the “little horn” which the open book reveals. Thomson says: “We are not to regard this as the final judgment. Daniel is, rather, admitted into the presence of God in the heavens and sees his judgment being continually prepared against the wicked.”
11. The crimes of the beast (the Syrian empire, Daniel 7:7) having been revealed from the open book, the divine judgment of death by fire is pronounced. The burning of the beast is because of the blasphemies of the little horn. “The punishment among the Babylonians was burning.” Thomson. This symbolism is elaborated by a later and greater apocalyptist (Revelation 19:20).
12. The prophet sees that while all the beasts had been destroyed really by divine fire, the destruction of the fourth beastly kingdom (the Syrian) was much quicker and more complete than the others.
13. The Son of man Rather, “a son of man” (R.V.). There has been much discussion whether this refers to the coming of a personal Messiah or is merely a personification of the “saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27). It is agreed that it must refer either to the Messianic King or to the Messianic kingdom personified. Kuenen argues that the personal application, “although capable of being reconciled with the author’s own words,” yet is not necessitated or “recommended” by them. It was the Israelitish nation which was to be crowned with everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:14). The Israelite appears in the vision in human form, in contrast with the brutish heathen kings previously seen, and the prophecy only means that the human kingdom of God shall supersede the kingdom of the beasts ( Prophecy and Prophets in Israel, pp. 223, 224, 529, 531). This view is substantially adopted even by evangelical and conservative scholars such as Konig and Stanton. Behrmann, however, shows that a personal Messiah was understood here by all expositors down to Aben Ezra, and urges the point that if the little horn is an individual, the one “like a Son of man” must be an individual also. (Compare Briggs, Messianic Prophecy.) Various Jewish rabbis, though the view was not universal, spoke in the same way of the Messiah as a person previous to the coming of Christ. (See Hebraica, 4:179.) Notwithstanding the objections of Lietzmann, Konig, and Wellhausen, the passages in the Book of Enoch which speak of the personal Messiah in Danielic phraseology seem certainly early and certainly Jewish; though later Jewish rabbis (through antipathy to the Christian interpretation) actually sought to make this passage (and Daniel 7:8; Daniel 11:37) a polemic against Christianity! Even the LXX. translated the “branch” (Psalms 80:15, Hebrews) as “Son of man,” and the Targum gives as a synonym for this term “the King Messiah” (Eb. Nestle). Even if some of these passages in the Book of Enoch, etc., be late, yet the interpretation must have been early, for it certainly would not have been originated by the rabbis after the Christian argument for Christ’s Messiahship had been promulgated. “Son of man” in Aramaic does not necessarily mean simply “man” or “a man,” as has been proved by Professor Dalman ( Die Worte Jesu, 1898). The Gospel writers do not use this term as a synonym for man which proves that Jesus himself in his original speech also made this distinction. It was felt then, as we feel now, that, while we are “children of men,” there could be but one such Son of man (Gess, Die Inspiration, p. 357). It is certain, as Professor Dalman shows, that, although some of the hearers of Christ may have misunderstood the reference, Jesus himself did mean by his use of the term “Son of man” to claim that he was destined to be the ruler of the world, and that in him the vision of Daniel was being fulfilled. Although “Son of man” was not universally considered a Messianic title otherwise Jesus could not have been using this term freely while at the same time wishing to postpone the public announcement of his Messiahship (Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:16) yet when he did plainly declare that he himself was the Son of man of whom Daniel spoke he was at once condemned to death as a pretender to Messianic honors. It was entirely in accordance with the method of our Lord that he should select for himself a title which to the ordinary hearer might only emphasize his humanity the evangelists never report any hearer or disciple using this title in addressing our Lord, which shows that it was not a recognized title of honor but which when explained to his select few in the last days of his life, and later upon the witness stand, would open out with a new deep meaning (Matthew 24:23-30; Matthew 26:64-65). As a man of vision has said, Jesus, by his emphasis and underscoring of this prophetic name, not only dignified our humanity, as he thus completely identified himself with the race, but “he stepped up at once to David’s vacant throne, and gathering up the scattered lights of prophecy he drew them as a rainbow about himself. He is the Son of man among men, but separated by infinite distances from all other sons of men” (R.W. Dale, Expositor, November, 1896). Professor Schmidt, of Cornell University, has just made the suggestion that Michael, the guardian angel of Israel, was meant by this “one like a son of man.” Dr. Terry had formerly suggested that this Son of man was identical with the Messianic Prince of Daniel 9:25-26, who was presented also again in Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1 (on which see notes), under the symbolical name of Michael. It rather seems to the present writer that this “one like unto a son of man” is to be explained by Ezekiel’s reference to “the likeness as the appearance of a man” which he saw on Jehovah’s throne. (See notes on Ezekiel 1:26-28.) While the kings of the beast kingdoms came up from the sea, this King of saints comes like Jehovah in the storm and in the clouds (Ezekiel 1:28; Isaiah 19:1; Psalms 18:9-11). Rabbi Joshua ben Levi explains, “If they be worthy, he [the Messiah] will come with the clouds of heaven; if not, he will come lowly, and riding upon an ass” ( Sanhedrim, fol. 98, Colossians 1:0). Saadia interprets, “He comes in humility, riding upon an ass (Zechariah 9:9), yet with the clouds of heaven, that is, with the angels of the heavenly hosts, which is the great glory which the Creator will give the Messiah.” (See Hebraica, 4:179, etc.)
14. This prophecy could never be fulfilled by any merely Jewish king or Jewish nation. These are the same expressions used of the kingdom of Daniel’s God (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 4:3; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26). He who has the appearance as the likeness of a man (Ezekiel 1:26) is now seen coming in the cloud chariot of Jehovah to take rule over the world. Dr. Terry says: “His receiving dominion and glory and a kingdom is explained in John 5:22; John 5:27, ‘The Father hath given all judgment unto the Son, and he gave him authority to execute judgment because he is the Son of man;’ so too in Matthew 28:18, ‘There has been given to me all authority in heaven and upon earth.’” It is not to be supposed that the Christian era lay open before the author of Daniel and that he saw Jesus when he uttered these words. The prophets often spake more wisely than they knew. That this prophecy refers to Christ’s first coming to set up the New Testament “kingdom of heaven,” and not to his inauguration as King after the universal Resurrection and General Judgment, Professor Cowles has satisfactorily and thoroughly established.
15, 16. Daniel being unable to understand the vision asks one of Jehovah’s attendants (Daniel 7:10) to explain it to him. Marti, by a slight change of text, reads, “on account of that” instead of in the midst of my body (Daniel 7:15).
17, 18. The four beasts symbolize four kings (or, rather, kingdoms, Daniel 7:23), at the end of whose brutal rule the kingdom of the saints, ruled over by “one like unto a son of man,” shall take the sovereignty. “As Michael, ‘the great prince,’ is not identical with the people of God (Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1), but is rather their representative and defender, so here it seems most satisfactory to understand the Son of man (Daniel 7:13) as the personal representative and Prince of the people of the saints (Daniel 7:27).” Terry. So the saints of Christ shall reign with him in glory (Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 2:26-27, etc.).
19-22. See the interpretation of this vision, Daniel 7:23-25; also notes Daniel 7:7-8. Given to the saints (Daniel 7:22) Or, done unto the saints.
23. For the proof that this fourth kingdom was not Rome or Greece, but the Syriac-Egyptian kingdom which immediately followed that of Alexander the Great, see notes Daniel 7:7 and Daniel 2:39-40.
24. The fourth kingdom is here represented as a beast whose “ten horns” are ten kings. There has been great diversity of opinion as to the particular kings meant. As the number is a round symbolical number it does not matter if the kings preceding Antiochus Epiphanes (the “little horn”) actually numbered a few less or a few more than ten. Professor Cowles, however, has pointed out that Daniel himself in chap. 11 (which is explanatory of the visions of chaps. 7 and 8) has referred particularly to just ten prominent kings ruling between the death of Alexander and the rise of the little horn five of these being Ptolemies, namely, Lagus, Philadelphus, Euergetes, Philopator, Philometer (Daniel 11:5-27); five of them being Syrian kings: Seleucus Nicator, Antiochus Theos, Seleucus Callinicus, Antiochus the Great, and Seleucus Philopator (Daniel 11:5-20). Meinhold, on the other hand, believes Demetrius, Heliodorus, and Ptolemy Philometer to represent the three horns overthrown by Antiochus Epiphanes, the other seven horns symbolizing Seleucus I, II, III, IV, and Antiochus I, II, III. The question is unimportant, as there is practical unanimity of opinion among modern scholars that the little horn here (like that of Daniel 8:9-12) is Antiochus Epiphanes. The argument that Antiochus Epiphanes could not be the eleventh horn because he was not the eleventh, but the eighth successive king on the Syrian throne (Godet, Studies, 1882; Kohler, Lehrbuch, pp. 539, 540), is not strong when we consider the symbolism of number (see Introduction to Ezekiel, VIII), and the fact that it is not stated whether these horns were successive or in part contemporaneous.* Certainly the “antichrist” of a later era had Antiochan characteristics, just as Gog and Magog had Scythian characteristics (Ezekiel 38, 39; Revelation 20:8), but this does not exclude the reference to an earlier or later historic character. The older scholars, who thought Daniel’s fourth kingdom was Roman, interpreted these ten kings as ten kingdoms, but differed very materially in their guesses as to which kingdoms were meant. It seems to us conclusive that the fourth empire was not Roman. (See notes Daniel 2:39-40.) All agree that Antiochus was the “vile person” who is spoken of as rising up after the ten successors of Alexander mentioned Daniel 11:3-21. The analogy of prophecy is in favor of the same reference to him here.
[*Three of the kings (horns) are not said to have been destroyed before Antiochus took the throne, but to have been afterward “subdued” by him. “Now the facts are that Antiochus usurped the throne upon the assassination of his elder brother, Seleucus Philopator; he superseded the rightful heir, Demetrius who was at that time a hostage in Rome and he humbled by sore defeat his nephew, Ptolemy Philometer, who had as good a right to the throne of Asia as himself (compare 1Ma 11:13 ).… Some reckon Heliodorus among the three who fell before Antiochus, for Appian testifies that he had seized the government by force. This view is open to no valid objection, for we should no more insist on a rigid interpretation of the number three than of the number ten.” Terry.]
25. Antiochus Epiphanes is said (xi, 36) to “speak marvelous things against the God of gods,” and Jewish history is full of his brutal impieties and persecutions which wore out the saints (1 Macc. i and ii; 2 Macc. i and v; Josephus, Wars, I, 1:1; Antiquites, XII, 5:3; Apion, 2:1). The “times and law” (Hebrews) which he sought to change were those connected with the religious feasts and other sacred rites which must be offered in “due season” (compare Leviticus 23:4; Numbers 28:2; Numbers 28:4; Numbers 28:8; Numbers 28:11; Numbers 28:16-18; Numbers 28:26), and especially the Holy Sabbath. Antiochus sought to make Greeks of the Jews ( Tacitus, Daniel 5:8), decreeing that all his subjects should be one people in religious customs, and specifically prohibiting circumcision and the observance of the Sabbath, on penalty of death, so “that they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances” ( 1Ma 1:41 ; 1Ma 1:49 ; Polyb., 38:18). The whole temple was defiled (see notes Daniel 11:31) and the Jews were forced, under severest penalties, to give up their own worship and to take part in the orgies of the Grecian festivals ( 2Ma 6:7 ). The “time, times, and half a time” probably refers to the three and a half years during which Antiochus succeeded in interfering with the sacrificial offerings in the temple, yet it may have also been used as a symbol of persecution and evil, being the fracture of a perfect seven. (Compare Revelation 12:14, and Introduction to Ezekiel, VIII.) This symbolic meaning was probably understood not only by the Jews but by the Babylonians; for in the old Babylonian myth the horned dragon Tiamat, the enemy of the gods, who hurled one third of the stars of heaven into ruin by one whisk of her tail, was also given a period of rule somewhat resembling this (Gunkel, Shopfung und Chaos, pp. 266-278, 360, 390). See also notes Daniel 4:16-23; Daniel 5:25-28; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:7.
26. See notes Daniel 7:10. This does not refer to the General Judgment, but to the punishment of Antiochus by divinely directed agents after the close of the period represented by the “time, times, and half a time.” “The ministering agents of the Most High are continually interposing in history, removing kings and setting up kings (Daniel 2:0;21), and this they will continue to do unto the end, that is, until the divine purpose is consummated. Just when this end will be and how it will be reached are matters on which no specific revelations are here given.” Terry.
27. The saints receive “the kingdom” because their leader has received it. The description here of the kingdom of the Most High is word for word a description of the kingdom of the “one like a son of man.” (See note Daniel 7:14.) Behrmann is probably right in saying that the Jews themselves did not discriminate between the ruler and the nation as we do, yet, as he shows, it would be as inconsistent to say because of this verse that the Son of man is identical with the Jewish nation as to compare Daniel 2:44, with Daniel 2:34, and say that the stone designated the Jewish people. Daniel 7:14 speaks of a God-sent King, and this verse shows what the people gained through him. Of course the full meaning of this prophecy could not have been understood when it was written. It is a mistake to think that the best fulfillment of prophecy always lay in the mind of the prophet. He might speak of trouble near at hand, and a national deliverance soon to come; but in God’s providence the complete realization of what he saw and hoped could only come through the spiritual and Messianic kingdom and its spiritual prince. As in so many other Bible passages (compare Ezekiel 34:27-31; Ezekiel 37:26; Ezekiel 39:25-29), the immediate hope broadens into the vision of a world-wide victory for God and his people.
28. Hitherto [or, so far, Bevan]
is the end of the matter The vision ended at this point, though this does not indicate at all that this was the original end of Daniel’s prophecy. (Compare Konig, Einleitung, N. 384.) Daniel was much “troubled” to understand the vision, and secreting it in his heart (compare Luke 2:19), pondered over its meaning until his countenance lost its brightness (Aramaic).