Saving mankind from themselves
How Jesus Christ viewed the Book of Daniel (Aug 01)
Matthew 26:59-65 (The Living Bible)
The chief priests and, in fact, the entire Jewish Supreme Court assembled there and looked for witnesses who would lie about Jesus, in order to build a case against him that would result in a death sentence. But even though they found many who agreed to be false witnesses, these always contradicted each other. Finally two men were found who declared, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'" Then the High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Well, what about it? Did you say that, or didn't you?" But Jesus remained silent. Then the High Priest said to him, "I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God." "Yes," Jesus said, "I am. And in the future you will see me, the Messiah, sitting at the right hand of God and returning on the clouds of heaven." Then the High Priest tore at his own clothing, shouting, "Blasphemy! What need have we for other witnesses? You have all heard him say it! What is your verdict?" They shouted, "Death!-- Death!-- Death!"
The above incident shows how profoundly the Book of Daniel influenced not only Jesus Christ, but also the Judean religious leaders of his day. It also illustrates how widely divergent various interpretations of the Book of Daniel can be. In Hebrew, the name Daniel means "judgment of God", "God is my Judge" or "God will Judge." Daniel was from the tribe of Judah, perhaps from the royal family, and was among the first group of Judeans deported to Babylon (around 606 B. C.). He may have been as young as 10 at the time or perhaps as old as 16. The Babylonians called him Belteshazzar which means a prince favored by the Babylonian god Bel.
Many traditional biblical commentators and religious leaders tend to portray the Book of Daniel as being written by Daniel himself. But, as we will see, there are numerous reasons to conclude otherwise. In fact, the author of Chapter 4 specifically claims to be King Nebuchadnezzar himself. So in addition to the numerous issues raised by the Book of Daniel, we will also consider who the various authors of the Book of Daniel most likely were.
One indication that the book is a compilation of texts written by various authors is the fact that the first chapter and the first three verses of the second chapter are written in Hebrew. Then to end of chapter 7 it is written Chaldean (Aramaic), and the rest (through Chapter 12) is written in Hebrew.
In the Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel contains two additional chapters that are widely regarded as being apocryphal. The first describes how Daniel saved a young woman (Susanna) from two false accusers. The second describes how Daniel exposed the deceptions of some pagan priests and then survived for seven days in a lions' den. In each of these stories, Daniel's adversaries were put to death, but as we will see, the rest of the stories about Daniel show that he would characteristically seek to avoid such an outcome.
As in our earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets]. I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself second-heaven (pretty much literal) level of interpretation and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself third-heaven (allegorical) level of interpretation. Also, unless otherwise noted, I will be using the New King James (NKJ) translation of the Bible.
When I refer to "God's two most fundamental commandments" or "God's guiding principles of truth and love", I am referring to the following central theme of Jesus' teachings (applied without restrictions):
Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJ)
Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
When I use terms like "satanically", "satanically inspired, or "Satan's", I referring to doctrines and practices that violate either one or both of God's two most fundamental commandments and therefore do NOT come from God. Jesus viewed such doctrines as being mere "precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9)
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the present-day relevance of these teachings, the way I am viewing these teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed them (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments).
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar [present day Iraq] to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
[2-hvn. So Daniel was one of the "good figs" that Jeremiah referred to in Jeremiah 24. There seems to be some disagreement among biblical commentators as to whether Ezekiel was part of that group or part of a later group to be deported to Babylon. It's important to note that initially, it wasn't the Babylonians intent to destroy Judea (or its capital, Jerusalem). They merely wanted to make it a tribute supplying "vassal state", which was a typical practice of empires in those days. King David had done the same to the Moabites, Ammonites, and others in the territories that he conquered. Indeed, until the Judean's decided to rebel against Babylonian rule, it appears from Biblical accounts that the Babylonians treated the Judeans far better than King David treated the occupants of many of the territories that he controlled.]
And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king." So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [and beans] to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
[2-hvn. Even vegetarians can "put on weight" if they eat enough bread, beans, and vegetables. Evidently, the Judeans were looking rather gaunt after their long walk from Judea to Babylon. Daniel and his friends demonstrated that they didn't need meat and wine to get themselves back into shape. The fact that they didn't drink wine may also have contributed to their superior academic achievements. The comment that Daniel had "understanding in all visions and dreams" shows that he was already accustomed to viewing things in allegorical terms (as well as literally). No doubt, by the time he finished those three years of training, Daniel was quite familiar with the allegorical symbolic schemes of the Babylonians as well as those of the Hebrews (i.e. those established by the authors of Genesis).]
[3-hvn. Allegorically, the "delicacies" from the king's table can be viewed as representing "food sacrificed to idols" or concepts influenced by the worship of idols rather than God. My August 2000 www.onesalt.com article "Satan's still out there" describes some contemporary examples of such psuedo-religious conceptual "food", so-called "holy" concepts that have been seriously distorted or "sacrificed" to serve the satanic idol of "national sovereignty" rather than God.]
Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
[2-hvn. As you can see, Chapter 1 of Daniel appears to have been written by an eye-witness (or perhaps an editor) rather than Daniel himself. It appears most likely that the original source material for this chapter was written by the aforementioned Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah.]
Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, "I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream."
[2-hvn. Notice the chronological inconsistency here. The event that follows clearly occurred after Daniel had been deported to Babylon and completed his three years of Babylonian training, so how could it have occurred during the "second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign"? Perhaps the word "second" was a manual "typo" that occurred while the document was being copied. Or perhaps this portion of Chapter 2 was written at a later time by an editor who simply overlooked that logical inconsistency as he was compiling various texts into what became the Book of Daniel. Up to this point, the text of Daniel is written in Hebrew. From this point to the end of Chapter 7, the Book of Daniel is written primarily in Chaldean, after which the language switches back to Hebrew.]
Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation." The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation." They answered again and said, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation." The king answered and said, "I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation." The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, "There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, "Why is the decree from the king so urgent?" Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.
[2-hvn. King Nebuchadnezzar obviously despised most of his court astrologers and magicians, probably because of their lack of honesty and perception and their dubious claims to have "supernatural powers." He was, however, quite favorably impressed with Daniel. Notice that when Daniel asked to be given some time to ponder the question, the king backed off from his demand that he be given the answer immediately. Apparently, the king was genuinely curious to hear what Daniel would "come up with" regarding his dream.]
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king's demand."
[3-hvn. By the time of this incident, Daniel probably had a pretty good understanding of how the king tended to think and view things and about the types of issues that the king was dealing with at that time. It's also possible that the king might have "leaked" some of the details of his dream to one or more of his personal servants who may have been friends of Daniel. This kind of background information could have contributed to the "night vision" (dream) that Daniel had. So it's quite possible that this event may not have been as "supernatural" as it is commonly thought to have been. Notice that the author of this story points out "up front" that the king's dream was about "the removing and raising up of kings" and "changes in the times and seasons." Such issues were no doubt a common concern of kings in those days, because their own lives and the lives of their families hinged on the outcome of such issues. So it was a fairly "safe bet" for Daniel to conclude that the kings dream would concern such issues.]
Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: "Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation." Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, "I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation." The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, "Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?" Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, "The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart."
[2-hvn. Since Daniel went to the king directly the first time, it seems a bit strange that he would have to go through Arioch to get to the king this time. Arioch's words also imply that this second visit with the king was Daniel's first visit with the king. So either Arioch wasn't aware that Daniel had visited the king to ask for some more time to ponder the question (which would be highly unlikely) or else this chapter itself may be a compilation of two or more occasionally conflicting source texts. Notice that Daniel takes some time to "butter up" the king a little before "sticking his neck out" by presenting his conclusions. Notice also that he gives credit to God for the revelations he has received. In effect, Daniel was staking God's reputation as well as his own on his conclusions and interpretations regarding that dream. This shows that Daniel was either quite confident that he had it right, or else he was boldly betting that if the king found his conclusions and interpretations to be interesting enough, he would decide to make them his own (thereby humiliating those court soothsayers, which was something the king obviously wanted do.]
"You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all--you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold--the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."
[3-hvn. Here, according to the author(s) of this chapter, Daniel not only describes the king's dream, he also provides some godly insights regarding how it should be interpreted. Many biblical commentators ascribe the golden head as representing the Babylonian Empire, the silver chest and arms as representing the Mede-Persian Empire (under Cyrus, et al.), the bronze belly and thighs as the Macedonian Empire under (under Alexander the Great, et. al.), the iron legs as the Roman Empire, and the feet of iron and clay the remnants of the Roman Empire (e.g. the "Holy Roman Empire" followed by western Europe and the Americas). Notice that Daniel himself only provided a specific interpretation of what the golden head represented. The details regarding the rest of the image were far more generic, thereby allowing for a variety of future events to potentially fit as interpretations. For the most part, traditional commentators on the Book Daniel have only "hit half of the nail on the head" with the interpretations that they have chosen to use. For this first series of four beasts, they were essentially correct in their identification of the four empires, but missed many of the most important points of that vision.
a. According to Daniel, the golden head represented King Nebuchadnezzar himself, or at least how he viewed himself. King Nebuchadnezzar viewed himself as being "perfect" and "all powerful", but Daniel pointed out that his powers were really given to him by God. And what powers were those? In Dan 5:17-19, Daniel describes those powers more specifically while addressing King Nebuchadnezzar's son, "O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down." In other words, Nebuchadnezzar viewed himself as having the absolute power of life and death over ALL of his subjects (i.e. a level of power that our present national sovereignty system still bestows to "heads of state" like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein). But unlike the relatively simple concept of government (with its "mark" or "crown" of political authority) which God had given to Cain, King Nebuchadnezzar had taken that gift to its "logically perfect" extreme (logically "perfect" from King Nebuchadnezzar's point of view). The reason this dream was so terrifying to King Nebuchadnezzar was that it showed that his "perfect" ideal of "absolute power" would not last. Indeed, that ideal would ultimately be destroyed forever by another one of God's creations (the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus Christ).
b. As we shall see later in this book, the "silver chest and arms" turn out to represent not just the Mede-Persian Empire, but also an empire whose king (Darius) no longer has "absolute power" over his subjects. This king's options were limited to some extent by an early form of the "rule of law" which sometimes became corrupted or ungodly law. Notice also that silver is lighter and gold (it's specific gravity is less). Silver is also less malleable than gold, and subject to tarnishing. It is therefore considered to have less value than gold (especially from King Nebuchadnezzar's point of view).
c. Bronze is likewise lighter than silver, and although it is stronger than silver or gold, it is considered to have less value. Bronze is also subject to corrosion, which means that unlike silver and gold, bronze will eventually "return to dust" unless specific man-made efforts are made to preserve it. Biblical commentators hypothesize that the bronze belly and thighs represent the Macedonian Empire, and in a way they do. But the allegorical message this portion of the image was intended to convey was that unlike earlier empires, this "less than perfect" empire would "rule over all the earth", which indeed was something that Alexander the Great attempted to do. Although the degree of political control that Alexander's forces maintained over the territories that his army conquered was "shoddy" by King Nebuchadnezzar's standards, the Macedonians turned out to be quite successful in "Hellenizing" quite a few of their subjects (i.e. ruling the "earth" of their subjects' perceptions of popular truths). They spread their culture and language so successfully that for centuries after the Macedonian Empire fell, the Greek language continued as the commonly accepted "international language" throughout most of the Roman Empire (which is why the New Testament was originally written in Greek). It's also important to note that unlike gold, silver, and iron, bronze is an alloy or mixture of copper, tin, and other metals. So in addition to representing Alexander's Macedonian Empire, the bronze portion of that statue can be allegorically interpreted as representing a tightly bound coalition or alliance among many units of "absolute" political power (e. g. the United Nations).
d. Iron, though perhaps not lighter than bronze, is considerably stronger and less malleable than bronze, silver, or gold. But iron has an even stronger tendency to corrode (rust). So it is considered to have even less value than bronze (except for making weapons). Biblical commentators hypothesize that the two iron legs represent the Roman Empire with its two capitals in Rome and Constantinople. But the message this portion of the image was intended to convey was that the NEXT LOGICAL STEP would be to not only "rule over all the earth", but to establish an empire that would operate as a total (though federal) government over its subjects. From Nebuchadnezzar's point of view, this empire was vastly inferior (Rome had some of the features of a democracy with a Senate that shared in the wielding of political power). But unlike those earlier empires, the Roman Empire taxed its subjects directly, rather than relying on the efforts of local rulers to collect and pay "tributes" to the Emperor. It was the invention of money that made this method of taxation possible, and for a while this innovation made the Roman Empire stronger (and more politically intrusive into people's personal lives) than those earlier empires. So "iron" can be viewed allegorically as representing the ability of a government to support itself (and its military) by taxing people directly (as do the local, state, and federal governments of the Unite States). This is where the "rod of iron" symbolism referred to in Revelation 2:27, 12:5, and 19:15 came from. Those verses tell us that the second coming of Christ will be accompanied by the establishment of a world-wide government that will have the power to tax the people of the world directly. And yet it is truly amazing to see religious leaders who call themselves "Christian" adamantly opposing all efforts to bring about such an eventuality.
e. The "miry" clay, which doesn't mix well with iron, is lighter than iron, not as strong as iron, and generally considered to be less valuable than iron. Many commentators hypothesize that the feet represent a "ten-nation revival of the Holy Roman Empire" (i.e. the European Common Market nations), but what it actually represents is our present "national sovereignty system" which arose from the ruins of the Roman Empire. Under this system (theoretically), national governments have an exclusive right to tax their own people, and their rulers attempt to maintain peace with other nations by negotiating treaties and relying on a "miry clay" kind of concept known as "international law" (which often crumbles, because there is no international agency that can effectively enforce such so-called "laws"). As before, the "iron" represents the Roman-empire-like taxing abilities and military forces of each of the nations within the national sovereignty system. Notice that (as Daniel's vision predicted) the concept of an international "rule of law" doesn't mix well with the concept of national military forces, as illustrated these days by our Department of Defense's opposition to the establishment of an International Criminal Court. The reason for this is, as Adolph Hitler and Ho Chi Minh demonstrated, any demagogue can define "national" in any way he pleases and then use the satanic popularity of "national sovereignty" to "morally justify" killing millions of people, and our own military leaders don't want to give up their option to use such ideological powers themselves whenever they feel there is a need to use them. No concept created by mankind has ever enabled Satan to "divide and conquer" mankind more effectively than the concept of "national sovereignty." Most of the fighting and killing presently going on in the Middle East is hinging on differing interpretations of what "national sovereignty" really means for various factions over there.
f. Finally, Daniel's vision predicts that a time will come when this entire conceptual image that has evolved into our present national sovereignty system will be utterly destroyed by a stone "cut out without hands", and that this stone would then become a "great mountain" and fill the whole "earth" (of mankind's perceptions of popular truths). Physically, this would be accompanied by the establishment of a true world government. Most biblical commentators agree that this "stone" refers to the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ, but they usually portray it as destroying some evil empire rather than the national sovereignty system itself. Their traditional (and ungodly) love for "national sovereignty" has either prevented them from seeing the truth about these issues or motivated them to ignore such truths when presented to them. The bloody consequences for mankind that have resulted from such irresponsible conduct have been ENOURMOUS!]
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, "Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret." Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
[2-hvn. King Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with Daniel's wisdom and insight, and he kept his promise to reward the interpreter of his dream accordingly. Since this story refers to Daniel in the third person, it also appears to have been written by Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah (perhaps based on Daniel's account of what happened). So! Were the details of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream really revealed to Daniel entirely by God in a "night vision"? Did Daniel "dream the whole thing up himself" in order bluff his way out of a jam? Or was the point that the king was unwilling to describe the dream himself merely a conjecture or "supernatural embellishment" added by the author of this chapter? Do the answers to these questions make any significant difference? I don't believe they do, especially when you consider the awesome magnitude and significance of the third-heaven points made in this story.]
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."
[2-hvn. Evidently, King Nebuchadnezzar was impressed by the loyalties and donations that local pagan religious leaders were able to generate by inspiring people to worship idols, so he decided to establish a unifying idol-worshipping "religion" for all of Babylon and to use his secular "tools of Cain" to force people to participate in this idol-worshipping religion. Some view this all-gold statue as representing an attempt by King Nebuchadnezzar to refute the vision of a multi-metal statue described in Chapter 2 (i.e. an attempt to proclaim that his kingdom and its ideals would last forever). Let's see what happens.]
So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up."
[2-hvn. Those Chaldeans were apparently jealous of the powers that had been granted to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. They might have been the ones who suggested creating that unifying gold idol-worshipping religion in the first place (because they knew the Judean's would be reluctant to participate in such idol worship). Later in the Book of Daniel, we'll see a similar scheme occur under the rule of Darius. Notice that King Nebuchadnezzar was using that golden image in much the same way (and for essentially the same purpose) as many "heads of state" have used their national flags (i.e. to align their subject's loyalty to an idol or idolatrous concept which the leaders can then manipulate themselves in any way they wish). Remember the popular phrase of the 1960s, "My country! Right or Wrong!" That's what national flags do; its how they work to help justify whatever...]
Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
[2-hvn. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego made it clear what their position was with regards to idol worshipping. It's amazing that most Americans don't seem to recognize that national flag worshipping is a similar form or idolatry.]
Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
[2-hvn. It's interesting to note that like the apparent miracle performed by Elijah where fire not only "fell and burned up the sacrifice" but also "licked up the water in the trench" (1 Kings 18:38), the author(s) of this story go to the trouble of mentioning certain details which indicate that what appeared to most people to have been a miracle may in fact have been a carefully staged "magical illusion." The technology for building mirrors had been around at least since the days of Job 37:18 (and many biblical scholars consider Job to be one of the oldest books in the Bible). We also saw at the end of Chapter 2 that Daniel had been made chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon." In Daniel 4:9, we see that those wise men included Babylon's "magicians", and that Daniel (a.k.a. Belteshazzar) was referred to as "Chief of the Magicians." So it is quite possible that Daniel (who was in a position to know well in advance what would happen to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) decided to use mirrors to create an illusion that the fire was burning with "seven times the heat" of the original fire. Rather than standing in the fire itself, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego may have merely been standing among some mirrors that were reflecting the real fire. The fourth person that Nebuchadnezzar saw when ran up and sneaked a look might well have been Daniel showing the others where to stand. The fact that the fire was inside an enclosure would have made it that much easier to conceal the fact that mirrors had been added inside as well. This would explain why "the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them."
Notice also that although chapter is part of the Book of Daniel, there is no specific mention of Daniel in this story. It appears to me, at least, that the original author(s) of this chapter added those points, because they KNEW it was an illusion, and although they didn't mention him by name, they KNEW that Daniel was a key (though hidden) player in that story! If Daniel himself was the author of this chapter, he might have wanted the more perceptive readers of this story to recognize that it was in fact a staged illusion. As to what actually happened to the guards that appeared to have been "killed" by the heat, they may have been persuaded to collaborate with Daniel to create this illusion. Notice that when Nebuchadnezzar approached the mouth of the furnace, he wasn't burned at all, even though the fire was supposedly so hot that it "killed" those guards. Does anyone doubt that a present-day magician like David Copperfield could create such an illusion and make it quite believable? Anyhow, the point I wish to make here is that one doesn't have to "believe in the supernatural" in order to believe this story as it is told in Chapter 3. Indeed, the fact that these details were added to the story leads me to believe more firmly that this illusory event actually DID happen as described. If this story had been totally "fabricated" by other authors at a later time, it seems unlikely that such details would have been included in this story.]
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.
[2-hvn. So, perhaps by using some trickery (like Jacob "pulling the wool" before Isaac's eyes), Daniel not only saved the life of his friends, he may also have saved the Jews and Jewish religion itself.]
Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.
[2-hvn. Chapter 4 is especially interesting, because it appears (or purports) to be written by King Nebuchadnezzar himself. If it was, then perhaps someday one or more copies of this royal proclamation (as a "stand-alone" document) may be discovered or unearthed. So far at least, that hasn't happened. On the surface, it appears that the compilers of the Book of Daniel actually had a copy of such a document and simply inserted it in the Chapter 4 position in the book.]
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.
[2-hvn. This reaffirms the points made in Chapters 1 and 2 that King Nebuchadnezzar had a far greater respect for Daniel's views than he had for the views of the rest of his court advisors. This was probably because he knew that Daniel wasn't afraid to tell him the truth about what was going on around him (and that he wouldn't deliberately try to hurt anyone).]
These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong; its height reached to the heavens, and it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. Its leaves were lovely, its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, the birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, and coming down from heaven. He cried aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him. This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.' This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you." Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you."
[3-hvn. Notice that the allegorical symbolic scheme used here is essentially the same as that used in Isaiah 18, Jeremiah 11, Ezekiel 17, Ezekiel 19, and Ezekiel 31. So it's not surprising that Daniel could easily recognize the use of this allegorical scheme in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. If anything, it seems rather amazing that no one else among Nebuchadnezzar's magicians, astrologers, court Chaldeans, and soothsayers were able to recognize this allegorical scheme as well. The "band of iron and bronze" may symbolize a prediction hat he would be restrained in iron/bronze shackles for his own protection during his period of insanity. Or it may allegorically mean that the empires represented in the iron and bronze portions of the statue described in Chapter 2 would constrain, but ultimately hold together what remained of King Nebuchadnezzar's "absolute power" ideal.]
Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies! The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home--it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him'; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."
[3-hvn. Here we have a superb illustration of a third-heaven-level (allegorical) interpretation explicitly explained in the Bible itself! What's even more amazing is the fact that this story (which illustrates how many of the other stories throughout the Old Testament are SUPPOSED to be interpreted) is portrayed here as coming out of the mouth of King Nebuchadnezzar (quoting Daniel)! One might say this is an illustration of the idiom, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." Or perhaps, this was another effort by the authors listed in Ezra 10:15 to sneak their allegorical lessons past the noses of Ezra and Nehemiah. Notice that point near the end of the above discourse about showing mercy to the poor. Jesus no doubt recognized this story as an example of how God's Spirit can manifest itself (at times) out of the mouth of a tyrant while Satan's spirit can likewise manifest itself (at times) out of the mouth of close friends like Peter (Matthew 16:23).]
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.
[2-hvn. Notice how the text shifts from first person to third person at this point. This seems a bit odd for what is purported to be a proclamation written by King Nebuchadnezzar himself.]
The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses." That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.
[3-hvn. Allegorically, the "dew of heaven" represents the receiving of nurturing lessons from God. Most biblical commentators surmise (based on the growth of his hair and fingernails) that the phrase "seven times" in this chapter represents seven years, but the text itself doesn't really say whether those "times" are months, years, or what. They could also represent seven stages in a growing understanding of God and His ways. In the initial chapters of Revelation, the letters to the seven churches in Asia reflect such a logical progression.]
[2-hvn. Now, notice how the text shifts back to first person.]
And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; he does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.
[2-hvn. If King Nebuchadnezzar truly said or wrote these things, this certainly represents a profound change from his former way of thinking. We can choose to believe that Nebuchadnezzar actually wrote this chapter or we can choose to believe that it was for the most part fabricated by the compilers of the Book of Daniel in order teach a lesson. Most biblical commentators seem to take the first of these views, but there are some biblical scholars who share the second view (in light of some the reasons mentioned in this article). As far as I've been able to determine, no independent corroborating evidence has been discovered yet to support the existence of a "stand-alone" version of this proclamation or of its claims that King Nebuchadnezzar experienced anything like seven-year "mental breakdown." As for myself, I tend to support the second point of view and surmise that the real authors of this chapter were those listed in Ezra 10:15. Nevertheless, I believe that the lessons this chapter was designed to convey are valid (and godly), and that they helped Jesus to initially recognize how the allegorical (third-heaven) lessons contained throughout the ancient Hebrew Scriptures were meant to be interpreted. (Matthew 16:23, John 19:11).]
Belshazzar the king [Nebuchadnezzar's son] made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom."
[2-hvn. Could this have been another one of Daniel's "magical illusions"? Perhaps. Many of the Babylonian Judeans were no doubt aware that the Mede/Persian forces had already reached the gates of Babylon. It would have been difficult for the invaders to conceal from the Judeans in the surrounding communities the fact that they were digging a gigantic trench to divert the flow of water away from the river that ran beneath the gates and through the walled city of Babylon. Some of the Judeans may have even helped them dig that trench! Once those waters were diverted, the invaders simply walked in through the empty riverbed.]
Now all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished. The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, "O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father-- your father the king--made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation." Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you."
[2-hvn. So it's clear that the Nebuchadnezzar's son had no prior relationship with Daniel. This event must have occurred quite a few years after Nebuchadnezzar's death. Daniel, being pretty old by then, was probably considered a "has been" by the current crop of magicians, astrologers, court Chaldeans, and soothsayers.]
"Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. [Sounds like Saddam Hussein.] But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses."
[2-hvn. Since this reaffirms the story in Chapter 4, the same authors may have written this chapter as well.]
"But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
[2-hvn. So Chapter 5 is essentially a reaffirmation of the lessons in Chapter 4.]
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss.
[2-hnv. Darius the Mede (a.k.a. Cyaxares II ) was assigned by Cyrus to be governor of Babylon. His "tour of duty" in that job was only about two years.]
Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God." So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: "King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.
[2-hvn. Perhaps the elevated position that Nebuchadnezzar's son granted to Daniel just prior to his demise helped bring Daniel to the attention of the new ruler, Darius. Anyhow, apparently it didn't take long for Darius to become quite favorably impressed with Daniel and his capabilities. Evidently, like that group of jealous Chaldeans before, Daniel's Mede-Persian peers became jealous and decided to devise a similar plot to get rid of Daniel. Notice that in this case, they made it a crime to worship anyone other than Darius himself. Perhaps this was the origin of the version of "national sovereignty" where the head of state portrays himself as being a god, and it wasn't even King Darius' idea!]
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king's decree: "Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." So they answered and said before the king, "That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day." And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
[2-hvn. As you can see, the concept of portraying a head of state as a "god" was clearly inspired by Satan. Even King Darius, the recipient of all that worship, began to regret it. He also began to regret the Mede-Persian doctrine that a decree (or rule of law) could never be altered once it was issued. This chapter of Daniel may have contributed to Jesus Christ's decision to teach that one should NEVER "swear an oath." When you "swear an (unchangeable) oath", you are in effect subordinating God's guidance to the man-made concepts embodied in the oath that you have just created.]
Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, "Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed." So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you."
[2-hvn. This is interesting. King Darius told Daniel "up front" that he would survive this ordeal. Did Darius know something that wasn't really explained in this story? Perhaps he stayed up all night as mentioned above to ensure that the lions were very well fed before Daniel was thrown into their den!]
Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, and live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you." Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions--them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
[2-hvn. Well, so much for the Mede-Persian doctrine of "unchangeable decrees." It must have taken some time to round up all those who had accused Daniel (and their families). By then, those lions may have become quite hungry. It's clear that Darius did not want Daniel to die and that although he had reason to believe that Daniel might survive, he was far from certain that he really would survive. Of course, you can interpret this as being a "supernatural event" if you wish. It's interesting that even today, many people refer to this story allegorically with statements like, "Boy, they really grilled me with all those questions; I felt like I was in a lions' den."]
Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; his kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
[2-hvn. Again, this chapter appears to have been written by the same author(s) who wrote Chapters 4 and 5. As I see it, the possibility that the stories contained in those three chapters may have been "fabricated" in whole or in part doesn't change the fact that the lessons are valid from God's point of view. Jesus undoubtedly recognized and approved of the lessons that these authors were attempting to convey, and he shaped his own teachings accordingly.]
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon [Nebuchadnezzar's son], Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. Daniel spoke, saying, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: 'Arise, devour much flesh!' After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns."
[3-hvn. Most biblical commentators interpret this series of "beasts" as representing the Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, respectively. Although they may be partially correct in their interpretation of the first two beasts, their interpretations of the remaining two beasts tend to "hold less water". Notice that the author of this portion of the chapter (who was apparently Daniel, although he refers to himself in the third person) goes to the trouble to point out that he wrote down only "the main facts" of this vision. The implication is that we should search for even more meaning "between the lines." It's also important to note that Daniel received this vision within a year after King Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar had taken over. This was before the Mede-Persian alliance conquered Babylon and allowed the Judean captives to return to Judea, but it was still within two or three decades from the time when Zechariah began his prophetic ministry in Judea. Also, religious leaders' claims regarding the "inerrancy of the scriptures" not withstanding, Chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel clearly belong (chronologically) between the present Chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Daniel.
a. Allegorically, the vision of "the four winds of heaven stirring the Great Sea" corresponds with Zechariah's vision of the "four horns" that "scattered Judea, Israel, and Jerusalem" (Zech 1:18-21) and the four evil "spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth" (Zech 6:1-8). In other words, they represent the evil "spirits" of greed, national sovereignty, racism, and indifference to the plight of one's neighbors. Together, these evil spirits have kept the "great sea" of the world's religious teachings (and the multitudes of people who believe in them) in a perpetual state of anger, hatred, and turmoil.
b. The first (lion-like) beast represents King Nebuchadnezzar's ideal of securing "absolute power" over the people of the world. To him, such an achievement was like "pure gold." This was just one of the many forms of "national sovereignty" that have evolved over the past four millennia, but this form differed from earlier forms of "national sovereignty", because it wasn't founded upon tribal or religious distinctions. King Nebuchadnezzar was seriously attempting to create a true "world government" with himself as it's ruler with "absolute power" to deal with human problems in any way he saw fit. As we saw in Chapter 4, the Lord used a seven-time bout of insanity to "humble" King Nebuchadnezzar and his attempts to become "Lord of the Earth." When King Nebuchadnezzar died (i.e. when the first beast's wings were clipped), his son Belshazzar "stoop up" in his place, but lacking the "divine vision" that his father had (he merely had the "heart of a man") he proved unable to hold his father's kingdom together. He was like King Solomon's son Rehobaum who lacked the vision, spirit, wisdom, and military expertise needed to hold the twelve tribes of Israel together.
c. The second (bear-like) beast represents more than just the Mede-Persian alliance that conquered Babylon; it also represents a form of "national sovereignty" where the ruler's "absolute powers" are restricted to some extent by the "rule of law." We saw this in Chapter 6 where King Darius came to regret the fact that he had issued a decree (i.e. established a new law) that he could not revoke and was therefore honor bound to abide by, even if it wasn't producing the results he had expected. From King Nebuchadnezzar's original point of view, a kingdom where the king had to obey laws was at best only silver-like in quality. The point about this beast rising up on one side and having three "ribs" in its teeth apparently refers to the fact that King Cyrus and his Persian army were clearly the stronger side of the Mede-Persian alliance and that Cyrus' army had engaged in extreme brutality in at least three of its victories during its rise to power.
d. The third, leopard-like beast with four wings on its back, is commonly thought to represent Alexander's Macedonian Empire which arose a couple of centuries after Daniel's time. Daniel had no reason to be concerned about the rise of the Macedonian Empire at that time. There is in fact a much more logical explanation for this beast. Its four wings could represent Alexander's four leading generals, but they can also simply indicate that this "beast" would be a worldwide agency supported by high ideals. A form of "dominion" was given to it by its member nations ("leopard spots"). Notice that (unlike Alexander's forces) this "beast" is not portrayed as being cruel or brutal. This leopard-like "beast" can easily represent a form of "government" like the League of Nations or the United Nations, which helps to manage and to some extent enforce treaty agreements among the nations of the world. In some respects, it "rules" over the nations of the world, but its actual powers are quite limited, making it more of a "psuedo world government" than a true world government. Although it wasn't originally intended to serve any evil purposes, it has evolved into an organization that does indeed serve Satan in one significant way. It creates a false illusion that a world-wide "rule of law" is working (without a world-wide law enforcement agency) while allowing its members states to retain nearly all of the "absolute powers" bestowed upon them by the system of near anarchy known as "the national sovereignty system."
e. This fourth "beast", which is portrayed as being the deadliest and most destructive of them all, can easily represent the "national sovereignty system" itself. This system of "institutionalized anarchy" is indeed different from those other "beasts", but nevertheless it has been killing MILLIONS of men, women, and children EACH YEAR now. The third "beast" has been doing its best to reduce the deadly effects of the fourth (national sovereignty) "beast", but the United Nations' abilities to do so have been seriously hampered by the satanically inspired efforts of America's so-called "Christian Right" to keep it on the verge of bankruptcy. The "ten horns" that are "tagging along for a ride" on the fourth beast represent the apostate leaders of world's religious organizations who have been knowingly ignoring God's two most fundamental commandments in order to PRESERVE the bloodiest idol ever created by man (i.e. the concept of "national sovereignty" and its flag-worshipping religion).]
"I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words."
[3-hvn. Many biblical commentators (not just the Seventh Day Adventists) interpret this "little horn" as being the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, which played an instrumental role in eliminating three of the ten governmental partitions of the Roman Empire after the fall of Rome. Note that such commentators are inconsistently interpreting the little "horn" as representing religious leadership and the other "horns" as representing political leadership. Other commentators interpret the "little horn" as being Alexander the Great. It appears to me that all of the "horns" represent religious leaders (or religious denominations), and that the "little horn" represents the flag-worshipping religion of "national sovereignty worship" which has been so heartily embraced by America's so-called "Christian Right." Read on. You'll see what I mean.]
I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; his garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time."
[3-hvn. This certainly appears to be a description of the "Judgment Day scenario", and that "little horn" is clearly a player in this scenario. The "pompous words" being uttered by this "little horn" may be referring to the efforts by America's "Christian Right" to convince people to put their faith in "national sovereignty" and its weapons of war rather than God's guiding principles of truth and love. The slaying of that beast and destruction of its "body" in the burning flame can be interpreted allegorically to represent the world-wide condemnation and utter destruction of the Christian Right's satanically inspired teachings, or it could be interpreted more literally as representing the destruction of nearly everyone on the North American continent in a nuclear World War III. The prophetic warning here is that if we don't destroy the concept of "national sovereignty" the first way, then it will destroy itself the second way (and take most of mankind to the grave with it). Notice that although "the rest of the beasts" had their "dominion" taken away as a result of this event (the Second coming of Christ), they would continue to "live" for a limited amount of time thereafter. That could ONLY be true if the "beasts" referred to in this vision were popular concepts or "spirits" (rather than man-made empires that ceased to exist long ago.]
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."
[3-hvn. This vision, which Jesus referred to during his trial, clearly hasn't happened yet. It allegorically describes the upcoming event known as "the Second coming of Christ." Creation of a democratic form of true world government guided by an independent "Kingdom of God" or "New Jerusalem" (comprised of people who take God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY--without restrictions) would indeed fulfill this prophecy. Throughout the four gospels, Jesus repeatedly refers to himself (and is referred to by others) as the "Son of Man", and nearly all biblical commentators agree that the "Ancient of Days" allegory refers to God Himself. The title "Son of Man" specifically embodies the idea of loving our neighbors as ourselves (without restrictions)--a point which many in America's so-called "Christian Right" have purposely chosen to ignore. Jesus was not merely a "Son of God"; he was also a "Son" of all mankind! Our world's religious leaders have in fact failed God, failed Jesus, and failed ALL of mankind by failing to recognize the significance of Jesus Christ's love-your-neighbor-as yourself teachings (and failing to promote that way of thinking).]
"I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 'Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.'
[3-hvn. When Jesus responded to Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world", he reflected the fact that he (like Daniel) did not view the concept of "king" as being applicable only to national political leaders. Allegorically, those four beastly "kings" were not born; instead they arose out of the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths and are the "grand-daddies of spiritual evil" (i.e. "greed", "national sovereignty", "racism", and "indifference to the plight of one's neighbors). But those "kings" will NOT rule forever.
Notice that this interpreter (later identified as the Archangel Gabriel) said that the four beasts arose out of the "earth", whereas at the beginning of this chapter Daniel described them as arising out of the "sea." Does that mean that Gabriel was lying? Not necessarily. From Daniel's view below, what he saw as "beasts" arising from the "sea" of the world's religious teachings was viewed "from above" (by Gabriel) as arising from nothing more than the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular (man-made) truths. The key difference is that the "sea", "rivers", and "dew" of religious teachings are SUPPOSED to be based on God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves (although that often turns out not to be the case). On the other hand, the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths can be based on ANY criteria whatsoever (whatever criteria mankind can dream up, like financial gain, fame, etc.). However, as we shall see, a much stronger case can be built to show that this portion of Chapter 7 was written at a later time by authoris who evidently overlooked that important allegorical discrepancy between the "sea" and the "earth."]
Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom."
[3-hvn. Can you see it? That "little horn" is the "Scarlet Harlot" in Revelation 17, the flag-worshipping FALSE RELIGION of national sovereignty worship which CLAIMS to be godly but is in fact just the opposite! Most of our world's religious leaders are still serving that "little horn."]
"Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
[3-hvn. That fact that most our world's religious leaders have "sold their souls" to accommodate the religion of national sovereignty worship can easily be observed by anyone who reads current religious magazines or watches religious programming on cable-TV. This "11th horn" portion of Daniel seems to be describing some of the past activities of the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church (persecuting saints of the Most High, etc.), but it can also be applied to the "Judean religious establishment" over the millennia. The fact is, the "Scarlet Harlot" of politically corrupted religion has been around for a very long time, and its consequences have been VERY DEADLY for mankind in general. The significance of "subduing three kings" in order to take over the rest shows that this is a religion that relies on force (i.e. the tools of Cain) rather than God's guiding principles of truth and love.
The expression "a time and times and half a time" is commonly interpreted to represent three and a half years, but the use of the word "time" here is deliberately made to represent "times" of indefinite chronological duration (as used in the comment, "These are the times that try men's souls") A translation like "an age, ages, and half an age" would probably be more accurate, and each of those "ages" can overlap chronologically. We know that one of those "ages" (the Judeans' Levitical "age" of animal sacrifice) actually did come to an end when the Romans sacked Jerusalem. And the "age" of what appeared on the surface to be a unified "catholic" Christian church came to an end nearly a thousand years later when leaders of Roman Catholic Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians satanically decided to "excommunicate" each other. The Protestant Reformation can also be viewed as being the beginning of one of those "ages", and perhaps we have now reached a point where that age has reached a "half-way" point. Throughout all this, the teachings of Satan have remained supreme in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. Religious leaders have been promoting the worship of national flags, Americans in particular have been putting their trust in H-bombs rather than God (despite what they claim on their coins), and wars, famines, and horrendous death rates due to untreated diseases are still plaguing the people of the world. So yes, this portion of Daniel's vision is still holding true.]
But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.'
[3-hvn. This not only describes the end result (a God-guided democratic true world government), it also provides some hints as to what it will take to make it happen (i.e. the utter destruction of the popularity of ALL ungodly religious teachings, including most importantly the worship of "national sovereignty"). The term "his dominion" above refers to Satan's dominion over the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths, and the "court" will be those religious leaders who finally decide to start taking God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY (without placing any restrictions of their definition of "neighbor"). With today's technology, our present religious leaders could do this easily. If they don't, then eventually their successors will. But if that happens, then our present religious leaders will end up being eternally condemned by God and all future generations of mankind. After all, these issues have been determining the difference between life and death (literally) for hundreds of millions of people while God has waited for those religious leaders to start taking His two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY!]
This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart."
[2-hvn. As you can see, Daniel himself was deeply troubled by these visions, because they basically foretold that "things would get worse before they get better." Keep in mind that at this point in time, Balshazzar was still ruling Babylon, and the Judeans were still living as "captives" (although judging from the amount of wealth they brought with them when they returned to Judea, those Judeans evidently lived pretty well as "captives" in Babylon).]
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me--to me, Daniel--after the one that appeared to me the first time. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no beast could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.
[3-hvn. As explained by the angel Gabriel further on in this chapter, the lamb with two horns represents the Mede-Persian alliance (Cyrus' Persians being the higher horn). Evidently, by the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, it became clear to Daniel that the Babylonian Empire would soon be conquered by the Mede-Persian Empire.]
And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.
[3-hvn. Later on in this chapter, the angel Gabriel explains that this "male goat" with a single horn represents the Macedonian Empire (a.k.a. Greece) led by Alexander the Great. When Alexander died, the Macedonian Empire was divided up among his four highest-ranking generals. The nature of these predictions regarding events that occurred nearly two centuries after Daniel's time are so specific that quite few biblical scholars and commentators have concluded that this portion of the Book of Daniel was probably added after those events occurred, probably by some of the Jewish scholars in Alexandria who first collected and "canonized" the texts that have become known as the Old Testament.
There is, however, another possible third-heaven interpretation for this vision. Notice the point that the one-horned goat came "across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground", and its horn was "between his eyes." Normally, the "whole earth" point is interpreted to represent the fact that Alexander conquered "all of the known world" in less than 12 years, the "without touching the ground" point is interpreted to represent the awesome speed with which Alexander's army conquered new territories (as if his army was "flying"), and the "horn between the eyes" part is interpreted as representing Alexander himself. But according to the allegorical scheme established by the authors of Genesis, those symbols can also be interpreted to represent the fact that Alexander had just one religious objective (to conquer all of the known world) which he perused relentlessly without regard for the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths, and this made him so popular with the rest of Macedonia that they kept their "eyes" on him. Of course, since Alexander was more concerned with acts of conquest than true empire building, it is not surprising that his empire immediately began to fall apart after he died. Nevertheless, the Macedonians did succeed in "Hellenizing" much of "the known world", even after the Romans replaced the Macedonians as the political rulers over that part of the world.]
And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
[3-hvn. Although the angel Gabriel doesn't specifically say so, many biblical commentators interpret this portrayal of the "little horn" as representing the Roman Empire which in 70 AD did indeed cause the Hebrew tradition of daily animal sacrifices to be "taken away" when it "cast down" Herod's temple and leveled most of the rest of Jerusalem. And several Roman emperors did indeed portray themselves as being a "god" and demanded to be worshipped accordingly (which many early Christians refused to do). But how does the history of the Roman Empire fit the point that "it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them"? One common interpretation is that once the Roman Catholic Church became the official religion of Rome, it did indeed "cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them" by persecuting various Christian groups that disagreed with them on issues of doctrine. The leadership of the Roman Catholic Church decided to ignore God's two most fundamental commandments and use Rome's "tools of Cain" to force people to accept their man-made doctrines, and contrary to their expectations, that practice turned out to be a disunifying ideological blunder that significantly hastened the fall of the Roman Empire. Such are the ways of Satan! The Roman Catholic practice of burning religious texts that contradicted their official (man-made) religious doctrines fits the description that it "cast truth down to the ground" and prospered. Religious leaders typically do things like that when they have very little faith in their own religion or in the truthfulness of their doctrines.
But was all that really describing the "end times?" It did describe an "end time" for the form of Judaism that relied on animal sacrifices for making a living. By that time, the use of coins had widely replaced the use of animal sacrifices for supporting religious organizations, so the time had pretty well arrived for that transition to occur anyway. Anyone one who honestly reviews mankind's history over the past two millennia can see that religiously and ideologically, it has been Satan, not God who has been "ruling the world" since then. But Satan's grip over mankind has been getting progressively weaker as mankind has learned (often as a result of horrific experiences) that there really IS a need to take God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY!]
Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?" And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed."
[3-hvn. So according to this vision, for 2,300 days the "giving of both the sanctuary and the host" would be "trampled under foot." The implication is that they would be trampled under Satan's foot. Biblical scholars and commentators who like to play the "chronological numbers game" often equate a prophetical "day" to a year. So if you buy that argument, this text would indicate that the real "end times" will occur around the 2,370 AD. But Jesus taught that only "the Father" (God) knows the day and hour when "the end" will occur (Mark 13:32).]
Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end."
[3-hvn. Notice that the angel Gabriel refers to Daniel as "son of man", a title that Jesus assumed as well. The "one having the appearance of man" is often interpreted as representing Jesus Christ.]
Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be. The ram which you saw, having the two horns--they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
[3-hvn. Here the author specifically identifies the "kingdom of Greece" as being the third beast. This has lead many biblical scholars to conclude (or at least suspect) that the portions of the Book of Daniel attributed to Gabriel were actually written at least two centuries after Daniel's time, because in Daniel's time Greece was hardly even a "player on the world stage." In fact, that verse (Dan 8:21) is the first time Greece is even mentioned in the Old Testament; the only time Greece is mentioned outside of the Book of Daniel anywhere else in the Old Testament is in Zechariah 9:13 which was probably written a generation after Daniel's time.]
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, which understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means. And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future."
[3-hvn. At first, this king with "fierce features" appears to represent the Roman Empire, but let's examine this more closely. The power of this king will be mighty, but not by its own power. This makes it more likely that this "king" actually represents the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, which was given political powers (a.k.a. "tools of Cain") by the government of Rome to back up whatever it chose to do. The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church did in fact use such powers to destroy quite a few "holy people" (whom they satanically viewed as being "heretics"). Of course, Daniel couldn't foresee the rise of the Roman Catholic Church in particular, but what he could easily foresee was the eventual rise of a "body" of religious organizations who would falsely CLAIM to represent God while relying on (and using) the "tools of Cain" rather than God's two most fundamental commandments. Evidently, based on his own analysis of the history of Israel and Judah, and perhaps based as well on his analysis of the histories of other nations that the Babylonians were ruling at that time, Daniel came to the conclusion that when religious organizations are empowered with the "tools of Cain", they tend to become VERY DESTRUCTIVE. Secular history has shown this to be true. Consider what is happening today in Afghanistan, for example. Notice that Daniel's vision also predicts that this "body" of religious organizations will eventually be "broken without human means." It will ultimately be replaced by an institution that truly represents God's two most fundamental commandments (truth and love originate from God, not man).]
And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.
[3-hvn. Evidently, Daniel himself didn't fully understand the meaning of this vision, but his instincts proved to be correct.]
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans--in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
[2-hvn. So Darius came from the Mede side of the Mede-Persian alliance. In our review of the Book of Esther, we learned he was that put in charge of administering territories that included Judea. Notice how the author of this chapter fully agrees with Jeremiah's scathing criticisms of the teachings and conduct of the religious and political leaders of Judea during the period leading up to the desctruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.]
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly! O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
[2-hvn. Here, as in the story of Esther, the author implies that the Judeans living in Babylon were seriously disliked by all those around them. More likely than not, this was a predictable consequence of Judeans' own racist attitudes towards their non-Judean neighbors (attitudes based on, or at least strongly reinforced by, their racist prohibition against "intermarriage"). Such attitudes and "precepts of men" led to the destruction of Jerusalem and King Solomon's Temple when Daniel was young, nearly brought about the extermination of all Judean's under Persian rule in Esther's day, led to the bloody sacking of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes a couple of centuries later, and ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem and King Herod's Temple in 70 AD. Yet many of today's descendants of those Judeans still haven't learned this lesson regarding the price of racism!]
Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."
[2-hvn. As you can see, Daniel was clearly concerned about rebuilding Jerusalem, and in light of the support he got from King Darius described in the lion's den story, it seems likely that Daniel played a key role in convincing Darius to issue that decree which that initial group of Judeans had with them when they returned to Judea.]
Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:
[2-hvn. Perhaps this is why Gabriel and other angels are often portrayed as having wings. Artists naturally assumed that if Gabriel and the angels could fly, then they must have wings. Notice that these additional clues were provided specifically because Daniel was asking for the Lord's help. As Jesus taught in Matthew 7:7,"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."]
Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come [Rome] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."
[3-hvn. Wow! Gabriel said all that to help Daniel understand a vision regarding the "time of the end"? Notice that throughout the book of Daniel, all of numerical clues that imply that God is acting in accordance with a numerical timetable of some kind come from the mouth of this "Gabriel", not from Daniel himself. Various denominations of Christianity (Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.) have devoted enormous amounts of time attempting to manipulate the numbers in Daniel to not only fit what has happened in past but also to predict future events that would happen on specific dates according to their calculations. As far as I know, with the possible exception of two self-fulfilling prophesies (the return of the Jews to Judea after the fall of Babylon and the creation of the nation state of Israel), ALL of their specific date bible-prophecy predictions failed to materialize when those dates came and went. And yet, in spite of their past failures, they keep creating revised editions of the "chronological numbers game"!
When you think about it, since God would prefer that we follow His two most fundamental commandments NOW, rather than waiting around for some "supernatural event" to happen on a specific date in the future, the failures of those numerically based predictions to come true should be no surprise. If anything, such predictions function as a satanically inspired tactic to divert peoples' attention AWAY from following God's two most fundamental commandments. Anyone who reads the writings of Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, etc. can see that they employ that tactic extensively throughout their teachings.]
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."
[2-hvn. The Living Bible provides a much better translation of
But for twenty-one days the mighty Evil Spirit who overrules the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the top officers of the heavenly army, came to help me, so that I was able to break through these spirit rulers of Persia. Now I am here to tell you what will happen to your people, the Jews, at the end times-- for the fulfillment of this prophecy is many years away."]
When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, "My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me." Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, "O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!" So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince..."
[2-hvn. Why would Gabriel be needed to fight against the prince of Persia, especially since Daniel was one of Persia's top administrators at that time? Again, The Living Bible translation seems to make more sense:
He replied, "Do you know why I have come? I am here to tell you what is written in the 'Book of the Future.' Then, when I leave, I will go again to fight my way back, past the prince of Persia; and after him, the prince of Greece. Only Michael, the angel who guards your people Israel, will be there to help me."
This appears to be an allegorical hint by those Alexandrian authors that this portion of the Book of Daniel "came from the future" (i.e. was written centuries later). The Living Bible translation portrays Gabriel as being like a spiritual visitor from the future (or perhaps the Spirit of God's two most fundamental commandments) who must fight his way back into the future again after paying Daniel a visit to help answer his questions. "Michael" (a co-author of this portion of the Book of Daniel?) is portrayed as being a high-ranking Archangel who fights beside Gabriel and who serves as a "guardian angel" for the Judeans. Or perhaps "Michael" represents the Spirit of God's two most fundamental commandments when they were being used like a "two-edged sword" to slay ungodly religious and ideological teachings. If you haven't done so already, you should read my other articles on www.onesalt.com to see how effectively that spiritual "two-edged sword" can be used to destroy the credibility of ungodly teachings of any kind.]
Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.) And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.
[3-hvn. This pretty accurately summarizes the life and times of Alexander the Great and does indeed appear to have been written after those events had occurred. Within 15 years after Alexander died, all of his descendants had managed to get each other killed while fighting over who should take his place. Alexander's kingdom ended up being divided among his four highest-ranking generals, and eventually all of those sub-kingdoms were absorbed into the Roman Empire.]
Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion. And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.
[3-hvn. This pretty well summarizes the history of the Egyptian sub-kingdom of the former Macedonian Empire. Ptolemy Lagus assumed command of this sub-kingdom, and one of his descendants (Ptolemy Philadelphus) offered his daughter (Berenice) to the King of Syria (a.k.a. "king of the North") in an attempt to bring an end to a war that was being waged between them. But the deal ultimately led to palace intrigues in Syria where most of the key players ended up killing each other off.
Matters such as these would have been of great concern to the Jewish scholars in Alexandria who had been commissioned by Alexander to assemble (and edit? embellish?) the texts that became regarded as the "canonized" texts of the Old Testament. Daniel would have taken a much broader view of such events. So it appears VERY UNLIKELY that Daniel actually wrote the portions of the Book of Daniel that specifically address Greece and Egypt.]
But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North.
[3-hvn. Berenice's brother Ptolemy Euergetes raised a formidable army to avenge his sister's death and ended up taking a considerable amount of territory away from the Syrian sub-kingdom of the former Macedonian Empire.]
Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife. And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail. For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment."
[3-hvn. Obviously, this war between Egypt and Syria went back and forth for many years and caused considerable bloodshed for each side.]
"Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall. So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.
[3-hvn. For a while, it appeared that the latest "king of the North" (Antiochus) had gotten the upper hand and was about to take over all of Egypt, largely because the Egyptians had become "divided among themselves."]
He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him. After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed; he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
[3-hvn. For some reason (perhaps to raise more funds to support his planned invasion of Egypt), Antiochus built a fleet of ships and began to plunder various ports and islands on the Mediterranean Sea (Rhodes, Samos, etc.). In the meantime, he offered his daughter (Cleopatra) in marriage to the King of Egypt in hopes that she would be able to do to Egypt what Berenice had done to Syria years earlier. But both plans failed, because Antiochus' fleet got so soundly defeated by one of its intended victims that Antiochus was forced to pay tribute to the victor, and Cleopatra turned out to be more loyal to her new Egyptian husband than to her Syrian father. Finally, during his attempt to plunder a pagan temple to help pay the tribute that was demanded from him, Antiochus and his attendants were slain by the local populace.]
There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.
[3-hvn. Antiochus's son (Seleucus) sent his treasurer (Heliodorus) to seize money deposited in the Temple in Jerusalem. Upon his return, Heliodorus killed Seleucus and attempted to take his place.]
And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
[3-hvn. This was Antiochus Epiphanes, another one of Antiochus' sons, who succeeded in replacing his father by flattering the rich and powerful and negotiating a number of "back room deals" that succeeded in paying off the tribute debt. One of those "back room deals" involved replacing Jerusalem's high priest Onias with Jason in exchange for a large sum of money.]
He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he [the king of the South] shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him. Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. Both these kings' hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.
[3-hvn. Through a combination of military victories over Egyptian forces, flattery, and bribes of local Egyptian administrators, Antiochus Epiphanes was able to seize control of nearly all of Egypt (except for Alexandria). The two kings even met at a dinner table occasionally so see if they could out-maneuver each other with lies and deceptions, but neither one succeeded in that regard.]
While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.
[3-hvn. While Antiochus Epiphanes was on his way back to Syria laden with Egyptian plunder, he received a report that the citizens of Jerusalem had rejoiced when they heard a rumor that he had died. He became so enraged, that he mustered some additional forces, headed for Jerusalem, slaughtered about 40 thousand of its inhabitants, sold many more into slavery, created a broth of pig's blood and pig's flesh and splattered it on the Temple and its alter, relieved the Temple (including the holy of holies) of its golden treasures, and installed his own man to govern Judea. It's unclear whether that report about the Judean's rejoicing over his rumored death was true or not. But given the (well documented) racist attitudes commonly displayed by the Judeans towards their neighbors, it is not difficult to understand why such a report would easily be considered believable. This was just one of the many examples of bloody consequences that the Judeans have suffered throughout the ages because they allowed Ezra to re-establish Judean tribal racism as a key feature in their religion.]
At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
[3-hvn. Most translations show that those were Roman ships that "came from Cyprus." The increasingly powerful Romans had allied themselves with the Egyptians in Alexandria (a key Naval port), and they told Antiochus Epiphanes in no uncertain terms to "go back home." He did, but he decided to vent his anger over this humiliating setback by sending some of his forces back to Jerusalem to kill some more Judeans. They ended up killing thousands of them, burning down most of the city of Jerusalem, and damaging the Temple so badly that it was no longer useable. Then he decreed that the Judean's religion was "against the law" and arranged to have the Temple in Jerusalem rededicated to the pagan god Jupiter.
So on the surface, it appears that the "abomination of desolation" which Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:15 was that rededication of the Temple to Jupiter.
"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
But WHAT was it that REALLY caused all that desolation back then? Jesus Christ clearly told his fellow Judeans that it was going to happen again and that when they saw the "abomination of desolation" standing in God's place, they should flee from Judea without hesitation and hide in the mountains. By why did those armies invade (each time) in the first place? Because those Judeans were putting their faith in Judean racism and "Judean national sovereignty" rather than God's two most fundamental commandments! In other words, the "abomination that causes desolation" was the fact that the Judeans were worshipping "Judean national sovereignty" rather than God. There's a lesson to be learned here, not only by the present nation state of Israel, but also by America's isolationist "Christian Right" religious organizations.
When Jesus Christ referred to the abomination that causes desolution "as spoken of by the prophet Daniel", was he really affirming his belief that Daniel had actually written that portion of the Book of Daniel? Apparently so, although he may have simply been expressing his point in terms that his listeners could more readily understand.]
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
[3-hvn. Here Gabriel adds some editorializing about how the faithful are often slain along with the unfaithful, and how the faithful are sometimes deceived into following the unfaithful. The time for getting all these issues sorted out had not yet come.]
Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.
[3-hvn. Here the author still appears to be talking about Antiochus Epiphanes. When he decreed that the Temple in Jerusalem be dedicated to Jupiter, he was in effect acting "against the strongest fortress with a foreign god" (a Roman god rather than a Syrian god). Many biblical commentators have pointed out how the early Papacy of the Roman Catholic "fit that bill" as well. Today, those who are placing their faith the H-bomb rather than God are in effect honoring "a god of fortresses."]
At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him."
[3-hvn. At this point, the traditional biblical commentators encounter a problem with their Antiochus Epiphanes interpretation of this story, because there is no really credible historical evidence showing that Antiochus Epiphanes launched another attack on Egypt near the end of his reign. That led many of those commentators to concluded that the above is either a recap of the invasions described earlier or that that this portion of Daniel must be referring to an Arabian-Saracen alliance as the "king of the South" and the Scythian Turks as the "king of the North." Centuries later, the exploits of those two powers appeared to conform pretty well with the story described above. A more likely explanation however, is that the authors of this portion of Daniel where themselves "playing the chronological numbers game." That is, they had devised some numerical schemes that pretty well fit history (as they saw it) up to that point in time, which was evidently a few years before Antiochus Epiphanes died. So they incorporated their numerical scheme into the portions of the Book of Daniel that they wrote, included a thinly disguised rendition of recent history to further support that numerical scheme, and then used that scheme to predict what would happen in the next few years with regards to Antiochus Epiphanes. But as almost always turns out to be the case with these "numbers game" predictions, their numerically based predictions failed to come true. And that forced subsequent "chronological numbers game" players to look for other historical or future candidates to plug into the "king of the North" and "king of the South" positions in the above texts. So, evidently, this portion of the Book of Daniel was written a few years before Antiochus Epiphanes died.]
"At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
[3-hvn. It appears that most or perhaps all of the Gabriel portions of the Book of Daniel were added by those Jewish scholars in Alexandria. Notice that once again, Gabriel explains that in Daniel's day the time had not yet arrived for God's two most fundamental commandments to replace the deceptive teachings of Satan. Jesus Christ made essentially the same point in his parable about the tares and the wheat:
Matt 13:24-30 (NKJ)
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
This explains why Jesus knew that he would have to come again (in Spirit, at least) at some later time. The fact is, in our present world our religious leaders no longer have any valid excuse for not taking God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY, and yet most of them are treating this observation as "unwelcome news"! They should pay greater heed to the point made above about "shame and everlasting contempt."]
Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?" Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
[3-hvn. Notice that the man clothed in linen says that it will be finished when the power of the "holy" PEOPLE has been completely shattered. That is a key point. Only God is holy. People who claim that they themselves are "holy" are usually people who are pedaling supernaturalism for personal profit. Only those who follow and teach God's two most fundamental commandments are truly representing God. Until the world's religious leaders purge out of their teachings those doctrines that do NOT conform with God's two most fundamental commandments, people throughout the world will continue to suffer from wars, famines, untreated diseases, and an inability to effectively recognize why such things are happening to them. Clearly, the present teachings of our present religious leaders have failed to bring and end to such problems.]
Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."
[3-hvn. Once again the point is made that in Daniel's day, mankind's civilization had not yet progressed to a point where it would be possible to bring such problems to an end. As far as the "abomination of desolation" is concerned, here the man in white boldly states that it would be set up during the fourth year after the daily sacrifice was taken away. Well, we know that the Judean practice of animal sacrifices was temporarily suspended by Antiochus Epiphanes, and that it finally came to an end in 70 AD when the Roman Army sacked Jerusalem and leveled King Herod's Temple. So if one accepts the hypothesis that chronological numerical predictions like the one above might actually have come true, then what actually happened in or around 74 AD that would warrant such a prediction? Does anyone have a reasonable answer to this question?]
1. There is substantial evidence indicating the Book of Daniel is in fact an edited compilation of the writings of at least five distinctly different authors or groups of authors including one or more of Daniel's friends in the Babylonian court, Daniel himself, King Nebuchadnezzar (perhaps), the allegorical lesson makers listed in Ezra 10:15, and one or more of the Jewish scholars in Alexandria who had been tasked by Alexander to compile the texts that became "canonized" as the Old Testament. As shown in this article, one doesn't need a PhD in theology to recognize this.
2. Furthermore, it appears that it was the Alexandrian contributor(s) to the Book of Daniel who invented the historically unreliable "chronological numbers game" whereby numerical formulas are devised that appear to chronologically fit selected events in the past and then those formulas are used to predict (numerically derived) dates when future events will occur. In those few instances where such predictions have appeared to come true, it was because they became self-fullfilling prophesies that inspired groups of people to alter the course of human events in order to make such predictions appear to come true (e.g. the return of the Jews to Judea after Babylon fell, and the creation of the nation-state of Israel).
3. Although the author of the Book of Revelation framed Jesus Christ's apocalyptic teachings in the context of a chronological numbers game interpretation of history (apparently in an ingenious attempt to show how Jesus' teachings conformed with the chronological numbers game efforts of the Alexandrian author(s) of the Book of Daniel), the four gospels and Book of Acts show that although Jesus sometimes used numbers in an allegorical manner, he never made any attempt to play the chronological numbers game to predict future events. In fact, he specifically taught the contrary (i.e. "only the Father knows" when such events will occur, Mark 13:32). This was because Jesus understood that Daniel's visions were describing a LOGICAL PROGRESSION of events, not a chronological time table. Jesus also taught that the "end" to that progression will occur when the "gospel of the kingdom" (a spiritual kingdom based on God's two most fundamental commandments) gets "preached to all the world as a witness to all nations."
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Obviously, that hasn't happened yet.
4. As illustrated in the verses describing Jesus' trial at the beginning of this article, the Book of Daniel had a profound impact on the life, ministry, and key decisions of Jesus Christ. Regardless of who actually wrote various portions of the Book of Daniel, the stories, imagery, and allegorical lessons contained in Daniel have deeply inspired religious leaders for over two millennia, and together with the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ, they have shown mankind today how to keep from totally annihilating themselves in a nuclear World War III. In a nutshell, all we need to do is to love our neighbors as ourselves WITHOUT restrictions and to TELL THE TRUTH accordingly.
Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet either.
(one grain of salt)
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002