Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Daniel: Introduction
(Edition 1.0 20200926-20200926)
This is an introduction to the Biblical Commentary on Daniel issued at the time of the captivity.
Commentary on Daniel: Introduction
Author and Time of Writing
The book of the prophet Daniel (hebr. = my God is judge) owes its name to the main character. Daniel writes of himself in the third person throughout the first part of the book. From chapter 7:28 onwards, in the second part, he writes of himself in the first person. In chapter 7:1 Daniel tells us how he wrote down the dream that was revealed to him. In chap. 12:4 he is asked to shut up the words and seal the book. This text relates to the entire prophecies of the Twelve Chapters given to him.
It deals with the world empires which were to rule the world's history from after Jerusalem's destruction up to Christ's appearing before the millennium. This period is called the "times of the Gentiles" in the NT (Luke 21:24). Yahovah could no longer publicly accept His earthly people Israel or Judah respectively. He punished it through the captivity in Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He had left His habitation the temple (Ezekiel 10:4; Ezekiel 10:18; Ezekiel 11:23). The Most High God, the Elyon, possessor of the heavens and earth (Genesis 14:19), dwelt in the heavens.
Bullinger notes that: “in the book of Daniel God is called ‘the God of heaven’ four times (chap. 2:18.104.22.168), ‘King of heaven’ once (chap. 4:37) and once ‘Lord of heaven’ (chap. 5:23). During this time of His indirect government God puts the authority over the earth into the hands of heathen nations until His Blessed One, the Lord Jesus, shall take over the government as glorified Son of Man.”
Daniel gives a prophetic overview on the times of the Gentiles. The work has six stories and four dream visions. It is the first apocalyptic work which details the events concerning Israel and Judah to the time of the end and the arrival of the Messiah who arrives with the loyal Host as described in chapter 12 which covers an extended period of both First and Second Resurrections.
Many of the sceptics try to downplay the absolute importance of the prophecy because they do not understand its historical and prophetic outcome over the Seven Times or 2520 years of the Babylonian systems and the Time of the Gentiles that stretched from the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE to the commencement of the Last Eighty years of the time of Jacob’s Trouble from 1916 in WWI to the end of the time of the Gentiles in 1996 (cf. The Fall of Egypt: The Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms (No. 036) and The Fall of Egypt Part II: The Wars of the End (No. 036_2)). The last thirty years of the Beast Power covers the period from 1997 to 2027 which will see the nations reduced to subjugation under the Beast and then the Messiah (cf. The Last Thirty Years: the Final Struggle (No. 219)). The prophecies are of great historical importance and are simply not understood by those not of the elect or the prophets of God and the understanding was locked up until these last days.
Daniel belonged to those Jews who had been led away captive to Babylon at the first siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 605 BC following the Battle of Carchemish (cf. Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon (No. 250B)) (compare Daniel 1:1-2 with 2Kings 24:1 and 2Chronicles 36:6-7). Bullinger states that “by this Isaiah's prophecy to King Hezekiah was fulfilled which was spoken of around 100 years before Daniel's time. This prophecy said that the descendants of Judah's king would become servants of the king of Babylon (compare Daniel 1:3 with Isa. 39:5-7). Daniel was one of those nobles and descendants of the Jewish royalty who were destined to serve at the Babylonian court after profound training. He was probably not more than 15 to 20 years old at his imprisonment.
Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were exemplary in their heathen surroundings by their believing determination. The first six chapters of the book describe their - and especially Daniel's - faithfulness in the most varied circumstances of life.”
Under Nebuchadnezzar Daniel served as regent over the whole province of Babylon and was chief of the governors over all the wise of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). After Nebuchadnezzar's death we hear of Daniel again during the time of Belshazzar only. Belshazzar was Nabonidas’ son and reigned during his father's absence as vice-king. At that time Daniel was an old man already.
After the conquest of Babylon through Darius the Mede (Bullinger thinks he was probably Gubaru or Gobryas in the year 539/538 BC). Daniel was appointed as one of the three presidents set over 120 satraps of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 6:2-3).
The last indication of a date is the 3rd year of king Cyrus of Persia in Daniel 10:1 which was the year 536/35 BC. Bullinger agrees that Daniel must have been around 85 to 90 years of age when he wrote down his last visions.
Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel who went into the Babylonian captivity in 597 BC (around eight years later than Daniel). Ezekiel mentions Daniel three times in his book (Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 28:3). His work on the Fall of Egypt was to further develop Daniel’s work (cf. Fall of Egypt above).
Bullinger also notes in his commentary that “Daniel knew Jeremiah's writings whose service had begun already some years before the Babylonians started to attack Jerusalem. While studying the book of Jeremiah Daniel came to the conclusion that the announced 70-years-captivity would come to a soon end (Daniel 9:2).”
The Lord Jesus in his Olivet discourse spoke of the profanation of the temple through the Antichrist explicitly mentions Daniel the prophet (Matthew 24:15; compare with Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11). The Lord refers to Daniel 7:13 in Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64 as well.
While Daniel is not mentioned especially in Hebrews 11 among the heroes of faith of the OT the words of verse 33 "who stopped the mouths of lions" surely refers to Daniel who was spared in the lion's den (Daniel 6).
The book of Daniel has been the object of unbelieving criticism for ages. Bullinger also notes that the first attacks go back to the “heathen New Platonist, Porphyrius of Tyre (3rd century AC). Porphyrius designates the book of Daniel as the work of a Jew of the 2nd century BC. The modern critics hold similar opinions. In fact many uneducated critics try to tie the Bible origins to the Second Century in spite of the Elephantine and other translated texts.” Bullinger is also of the view that “the reasons mentioned against Daniel's authorship are pretended historical inaccuracies, linguistic details and the ‘theology’ of Daniel. The main reason for criticism however is no doubt the fact that Daniel prophesied historical events with absolute precision (as did Isaiah). For Daniel has in detail described the Syro-Egyptian fights of the time of the Maccabees among other events (Daniel 11:1-35). This is simply impossible - say the critics. They say a book with such details must have been written only after these events.”
Bullinger was also mistakenly taken in by the false translation of Daniel 9:25 in the Receptus/KJV as referring to the Messiah which it does not. It refers to two anointed ones who are Nehemiah, after seven weeks of years and James, the brother of Christ, after another 62 weeks of years in the 69th week at 63/4 CE before the destruction of the Temple as prophesied in 70 CE (cf. The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013)).
Those of the faith usually agree that Daniel wrote on the still future (the last of which are now unfolding) events of the time of the end before the second coming of Christ. In accordance with his promise through Amos the prophet: "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Purpose of Writing
In the Hebrew Bible the book of Daniel does not belong to the prophets but to the "writings" (hebr. ketubim), which is the third and last part of the OT. There the book is placed between Esther and Ezra.
A large part of the book is written in Aramaic (chapters 2:4 - 7:28). Aramaic was the official language of the Babylonians and Persians.
Daniel’s work related to the end of the age and prophesied the rebuilding of the Temple and its ultimate destruction as prophesied in Chapter 9 and the dispersion to chapter 11. For that reason it was placed just before Ezra and after Esther.
The Book spans Twelve chapters and covers the world false religious system under the Empires of the Babylonians.
Chapter 1 deals with the captivity and the rise of Nebuchadnezzar.
Chapter 2 provides the outline of the empires that cover the sequence of:
Chapter 3 deals with the erection of and establishment of idols and false worship that was to come from this system. This was to be established so that the chosen of God would be tested and proven under the false systems and the capacity of God to deliver His Chosen was demonstrated through the fiery furnace and also with the lion’s den. He showed that His Host was sent to accompany them in the trials they would follow.
Chapter 4 deals with the establishment of the elect in the eyes of the rulers in the system and that they were forced to acknowledge the power of the One True God. In this chapter we see the prophecy of the Seven times in the cutting down of the tree and the binding of the stump. The Seven times is of a dual prophecy of seven years of Nebuchadnezzar or Seven times which is 2520 years (see below re chapter 4). At the end of the period of the empires reason is restored to mankind and the millennial system of the Seventh Thousand year period is established and the Temple rebuilt (cf. The Golden Jubilee (No. 300)) and after that we will reign for evermore (cf. The City of God (No. 180)).
Chapter 5 skips on to deal with Belshazzar the son of the last Neo-Babylonian ruler who was viceroy in his absence on extended religious devotions. The state banquet used the utensils taken to Babylon in chapter 1:2 from the Temple of God (see also Ezra 1:7-11) and involved God’s punishment in the sacrileges conducted. This was to serve as warning to the religious systems set up from Babylon and which passed on into the various successive empires. By these aspects they were to be judged and condemned and their empires taken from them and given to those more worthy. In the end none are counted worthy and Messiah is sent to take over the world religions and establish them under the Laws of God as we see at the end.
Chapter 6 deals with the first change to the Medes and Persians. When this happened it was set up to trap anyone that worshipped other than the system that they had established in order to punish anyone that served the One True God and other than as they dictated. Laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed and thus clemency was prevented in this application. Daniel was caught up in this matter as he prayed three times a day (v. 13). By the visible salvation of Daniel in the Lion’s Den those who sought to kill Daniel and his people were themselves taken and killed as they sought to kill Daniel and as indeed the following empires and their leaders were also killed and dealt with in the subsequent judgment. It was by these trials that the power of the One True God was established. In this way Daniel was also established in the reigns of Darius (the Mede) and Cyrus the Persian.
Chapter 7 starts from 554 BCE in the First Year of Belshazzar son of Nabonidas when he became viceroy. Daniel was given a dream concerning the four beasts, the fourth with ten horns and it made war with the saints and sought to eradicate them; and the son of man was placed before the Ancient of Days. This was the end of the Kingdoms and speaks of the Kingdom of the One True God under the Messiah and the saints which is the end result of the matter (v. 27-28) This text connects the First Section to the Second section and with chapter 12 (cf. Ch. 7 below).
Chapter 8 deals with the next vision of Daniel given in 552 BCE which was the 24th year of God’s Calendar (No. 156).
It is placed at U’lai (v. 2) which is the River Eulaeus (fn. to Oxford An. RSV).
This was the prophecy of the passage of power from Medo-Persia, the Ram, to the he-goat of Greece. It was this prophecy that was shown to Alexander the Great when he went to Jerusalem and he then offered sacrifice to God there through the Temple Priesthood.
The prophecy shows that he was to be killed and then the four horns that came up from him referred to the four generals that succeeded him.
The prophecy then deals with the desecration of the sanctuary that was overthrown from Antiochus Epiphanes, who elevated himself against God (11:36) and was broken (2 Macc. 9:5) and on to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, as foretold in chapter 9, and the doing away with the daily sacrifice until the coming of the Messiah. This relates to the 2300 evenings and mornings or years as foretold in verse 14 (see ch. 8 below).
The prophecy ends showing that the final monarch shall be given power over the world and the saints and he shall be there and move against the Messiah when he comes to establish the millennial Kingdom of God. He and the world systems both governmental and religious are then overthrown.
Chapter 9 is listed in the First Year of Darius the Mede sons of Ahasuerus, which means Xerxes. Some scholars assume this was a mythical king rather than look at the history and simply accept the fact that the timing is back to the first year that the Medes under Darius took over Chaldea with and for Cyrus the Persian who was his nephew. The vision was thus arranged in this order to explain the sequence of the prophecy rather than the order in which they were given.
The chapter deals with the reasons and explains why Judah and Israel were dispersed in all directions. It was because they would not keep the Commandments of God and listen to the servants of God, the prophets, and that remained so then, and until the final sequence of the last of the wars of the end (cf. vv 1-19).
God then gives understanding of the Seventy weeks of years for the rebuilding of the Temple and its destruction in 70 CE. Academics who do not believe in the power and prophecy of God simply cannot deal with the power and sheer accuracy of these prophecies given in the end of the Seventh Century and beginning of the Sixth Century BCE covering over 2500 years as we will see below. The reason is because these false teachers simply refuse to accept that they are being punished for failing to keep the Commandments of God as given to Moses and the prophets through the mouth of the being that became Jesus Christ (Acts 7:30-44; 1 Cor. 10:4).
Chapter 10 then jumps to the third year of Cyrus the Persian. In this year Daniel was given a complete vision of the Last Days from then to the end of the age and the Coming of the Messiah as we see in chapter 12:13. This chapter is the prologue to the vision.
In this chapter we see that the elohim that was the prince of Persia stood against this being and Michael, who was left to deal with him. This being returned and he and Michael dealt with him further.
Chapter 11 then goes on to deal with the sequence of the prophecy up until the last days which is covered in 11:40-45. The sequence in chapter 10 and 11 refer to the kings of the North and South which are the conflicts that follow the period of the Fall of the Temple dealt with in chapter 9
Chapter 12 then goes on to deal with Michael that has charge over the Chosen people. This aspect of the prophecy deals with the final conflict with the Antichrist system and the virtual destruction of the nations. The text deals with the deliverance of the Saints under the Messiah and the resurrections. Revelation chapter 20 explains this text in its divisions (see Ch. 12 below). This text was to be shut up until the last days and explained under Jeremiah 4:15-27.
New Oxford Annotated Bible RSV (Oxford and New York).
Ethelbert W Bullinger; Commentary on Daniel.
Ford, Desmond. How Long, O Lord?: An Introduction to the Book of Daniel. iUniverse. Kindle Edition.