Daniel 10:1-21

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During the “third year” (“first year” [LXX]) of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia or over two years after the conquest of Babylon, Daniel received a divine revelation. As a young man among the exiles from the land of Judah, Daniel had been given the name Belteshazzar. (1:7) The name “Belteshazzar” means “guard the life of the king” and appears to have been an invocation directed to Bel, a designation that came to be applied to Marduk, the principal deity of Babylon. According to the Hebrew text, the “word” or “matter” that was revealed to Daniel was “truth,” true, or trustworthy. The Hebrew text then continues with the words, “and a great host” or “and a great warfare” or “conflict.” Based on the context, the reference could be to the conflict between the angel who appeared to Daniel and the spirit “prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (10:13; compare with 10:20.) The Greek version of Theodotion renders the Hebrew word for “host,” “warfare,” or “conflict” as dýnamis, which word may be translated “host,” “might,” or “power.” According to the wording of the Greek version, Daniel, “in the vision” (or by what was divinely revealed to him), was given “great might [dýnamis] and understanding.” In the Septuagint, “the vision and the ordinance” are referred to as “true” or trustworthy. (10:1)

With reference to Daniel, the Hebrew text ends the verse with the words, “And he understood the word [or matter] and [had] understanding of the vision.” Apparently Daniel comprehended everything that had been divinely revealed to him. The Septuagint refers to the “strong multitude” as understanding the “ordinance” and to Daniel as understanding it “in” or by means of the vision that he had seen. (10:1)

At the time he received the vision, Daniel had already completed a period of mourning for “three weeks of days” or three whole weeks. The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not here mention the three weeks but represents Daniel as saying that, “in those days,” he was in mourning. According to verse 12, Daniel appears to have devoted himself to prayer as one who recognized his great need for God’s favor, aid, and guidance. His mourning must have been accompanied by humble expressions that acknowledged his sin and that of his people Israel. (10:2; compare 9:20.)

Daniel’s mourning included the customary outward expressions of grief. He ate no delicacies (literally, “bread of delights”; “bread of desires” [LXX, Theodotion], probably meaning delightful or highly desirable food). Neither meat nor wine entered his mouth. During the period of three weeks, he did not anoint himself with oil (or apply perfumed olive oil to the exposed areas of his skin to protect them from the rays of the sun). (10:3)

For Daniel the twenty-fourth of the first month or Nisan 24 probably marked the end of his three-week period of mourning. This was about 10 days after the Passover (Nisan 14) and about three days after the end of the festival of unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:4-8) He was then on the “bank of the great river” — the Hiddekel or Tigris (LXX). (10:4)

As he “raised” his “eyes” or looked up, he saw what appeared to him to be a “man” clothed with a linen garment. A girdle fashioned from “gold of Uphaz” was tied around this one’s loins. “Uphaz” has not been identified with any known site, and the mere appearance of a gold item would not make the place of its origin identifiable. Possibly “gold of Uphaz” denotes gold of fine quality. The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) says that there was a “light from his middle.” One suggestion is that the rendering “light” (phos) came into existence through a transliteration of the Hebrew “phaz” in the designation “Uphaz.” (10:5)

In appearance, the color of the body of the impressive personage, the angel, probably resembled that of a golden gem stone. There is uncertainty about the precious or semiprecious stone the Hebrew word tarshísh designates. In the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion, tarshísh is transliterated tharsis. The brilliant face of the angel appeared like lightning, and his eyes resembled flaming torches. “His arms and his legs” gleamed like burnished copper or bronze. When he spoke, his words had the loud sound of a crowd of people. (10:6)

According to the Hebrew text and the Greek version of Theodotion, only Daniel saw the “appearance” or vision (“great vision” [LXX]), and the men who were with him did not. The men, however, must have sensed something, for they were seized with “great trembling” and then ran away to hide. In the Greek version of Theodotion, the reference to hiding is not included. It says regarding the men, “and they fled in fear.” The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) represents the men as also seeing the vision, coming to have a strong fear, and then running away “in haste.” (10:7; see the Notes section.)

After the others fled, Daniel alone remained and saw that “great appearance” (“great vision” [LXX]). What he saw overwhelmed him, draining him of his energy and depriving him of the dignity associated with physical strength and well-being (literally, “my dignity was changed in me to ruin”). The Septuagint rendering is, a “spirit turned against me for ruin.” It may be that this phrase is not meant to be linked to what Daniel saw (“I saw a spirit”). The thought could be that, although drained of his strength, he still “saw,” but his own spirit had turned against him, making him weak and unable to regain his strength (literally, “I did not prevail”). Another possible meaning is that the appearance of the “spirit” or angel was so overwhelming that Daniel felt so completely drained of his strength that it was as though the “spirit” had brought about his ruin and he could not recover on his own. (10:8)

Daniel heard the words the angel spoke and apparently understood what was being said. It may be that Daniel again was overwhelmed and, therefore, fell asleep (“was stunned” [Theodotion]), with his face touching the ground. The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not mention sleep but indicates that Daniel fell on his face to the ground while he was hearing the sound of the angel’s talking. (10:9; see the Notes section.)

A “hand” touched Daniel, causing him to tremble “on [his] knees and the palms of [his] hands.” The Greek text of Theodotion says that the hand which touched him “roused” him to his knees. After the words, “and roused me to the knees,” the Septuagint adds, “on the soles of my feet.” According to the Greek text, the “hand” roused Daniel to the point where he was on his knees. The Hebrew text that includes a word for “tremble” has been variously translated. “Suddenly, at the touch of a hand, I was set, all trembling, on my hands and knees.” (REB) “Then a hand touched me and set me on my hands and knees. I was so afraid that I was shaking.” (NCV) “Then a hand touched me and I shook with fear on my hands and knees.” (NLB) “I felt a hand touching me, setting my knees and my hands trembling.” (NJB) (10:10)

The angel addressed Daniel as a “man of desires,” possibly meaning that he was valued by God as a man with desirable qualities. Translators have variously rendered the Hebrew words as a “man greatly beloved” (REB), “a man specially chosen” (NJB), “you who are highly esteemed” (NIV), and “your God thinks highly of you” (CEV) According to the Septuagint, Daniel was “one shown mercy.” The angel indicated to Daniel that he wanted him to understand the “words” (“ordinances” [LXX]) he was speaking to him, told him to stand up there where he was, and informed him that he had been sent to him. When the angel spoke this “word” (“ordinance” or “decree” [LXX]), which included the imperative for him to stand, Daniel did stand up and trembled. (10:11)

Reassuringly, the angel said to Daniel, “Fear not; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before the face of your God, your words have been heard.” His giving his “heart” could mean that Daniel either focused his mind on wanting to understand or was impelled by his inner self to acquire understanding. According to Rahlfs’ printed Greek text, Daniel gave his “face” to understand, directing his full attention to this end, but the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) contains the partially preserved word that may be translated “thought” or “mind.” His humbling himself occurred during his time of mourning, which included fasting and praying for understanding. As on an earlier occasion, he probably also acknowledged his own sin and that of his people. (9:20) In response to Daniel’s prayerful “words” (“word” [LXX]) to which God gave his favorable hearing, the angel had come. (10:12; see the Notes section.)

The angel would have arrived at the time Daniel began his time of mourning that was accompanied by supplication, but the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” resisted him for 21 days (the three weeks that Daniel had spent in mourning). This “prince” would have been a “spirit prince.” As one who resisted a divinely commissioned angel, he would have been a demon. So that the angel could carry out his commission, Michael, one of the chief angelic princes came to his aid. (10:13)

A literal reading of the concluding phrase in verse 13 of the Hebrew text is, “And I remained there with the kings of Persia.” Contextually, however, this does not seem to fit, for the angel came to Daniel. The Septuagint (P967) says that the angel left one of the foremost princes or chiefs (“one of the holy angels”) with the “commander of the king of Persia.” More in keeping with the context, translators have variously rendered the Hebrew text. “I left him [Michael] there with the prince of the kings of Persia.” (NAB) “I have left him [Michael] confronting the kings of Persia.” (NJB) “Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” (NIV) “Then, seeing that I had held out there, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me against the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (REB) (10:13)

The angel had come to make it possible for Daniel to understand what would befall his people at the “end of the days.” What the “vision” that was shown to him revealed would take place in the distant future (literally, a “vision yet for days”). (10:14)

It appears that Daniel was overwhelmed by the words the angel spoke to him. He bowed his head, turning his face to look at the ground. He was left unable to say anything (“I was silent” [LXX]; “I was stunned” [Theodotion]). (10:15)

One having the “likeness of the sons of man” (one resembling an earthling or a human) touched Daniel’s lips for the apparent purpose of enabling him to speak. According to the Septuagint, it was the “likeness of a hand of a man.” The wording of the Hebrew text and the rendering in the Greek version of Theodotion could be understood to mean that another angel had arrived on the scene, but it appears more likely that the reference is to the same angel that had been speaking to Daniel. After his lips had been touched, Daniel opened his mouth and spoke, telling the angel who stood before him, “My lord, from the appearance [vision (LXX)], pains have seized [literally, overturned] me, and I retain no strength.” The effect on Daniel was comparable to having experienced labor pains and being drained of all his energy. According to the Greek version of Theodotion, he was in a state of turmoil within himself. (10:16)

Daniel is quoted as using the respectful form of address when speaking to the angel, calling him “my lord” and referring to himself as a “servant of my lord.” Drained of all his strength, Daniel raised the question as to how he could possibly speak to his “lord.” To indicate just how weak he had become, he added, “No breath remained in me.” (10:17)

Again one having the appearance of a man touched Daniel and strengthened him. With his strength having been restored, he would have been in a position to be attentive to the divine revelation the angel was about to make known to him. (10:18)

Reassuringly, the angel told Daniel not to be afraid and addressed him as a “man of desires” or, according to the Septuagint, a “man shown mercy.” (See verse 11 for additional comments.) The angel’s wish for Daniel to have “peace,” to be tranquil and undisturbed, was most appropriate in view of the weak and troubled state in which the vision had left him. This is followed by the imperative, “Be strong and be strong.” The repetition intensifies the directive for Daniel to be strong or courageous. In the Septuagint, the imperative is, “Be manly and be strong,” which served to encourage Daniel to be courageous like a man and to have the strength associated with men. When the angel thus spoke to him, Daniel was strengthened and said to the angel, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (10:19)

Although asking Daniel whether he knew why he had come to him, the angel did not immediately provide an answer. He told Daniel about a change that would affect the earth. Upon leaving Daniel, the angel would become involved in a conflict with the “prince of Persia.” Apparently after that encounter, the “prince of Greece” would be coming. The battling in the invisible realm suggests that, by divine permission, demons exercise influence over the various powers of the world, but YHWH overrules their aims when these interfere with his purpose respecting his people. (10:20)

It appears that God’s purpose is clearly revealed as if recorded “in the book [or writing] of truth.” It is thus shown to be contained in a trustworthy source and is certain of being carried out. As far as the angel who had come to Daniel was concerned, the only one who strongly supported him in these things (possibly meaning the things that the vision disclosed) was Michael, the “prince” or ruler of Daniel’s people (Michael the angel [LXX]). According to the Septuagint, the only one who helped the angel concerning “these things” (the chief things, probably the ones made known by means of the vision) was Michael. The Hebrew text could also be understood to mean that Michael would be the only one supporting the angel “against these” or in the conflict with the “prince of Persia” and the “prince of Greece.” Numerous translations convey this meaning in their renderings. “There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.” (NRSV) “No one supports me against all these except Michael, your prince.” (NAB) “I have no ally on my side for support and help, except Michael your prince.” (REB) (10:21)


In verse 7, Rahlfs’ printed Greek text says that the men with Daniel did not see the vision.

According to the reading of verse 9 in Rahlfs’ printed Greek, Daniel did not hear the sound of the one speaking to him.

The partially preserved Hebrew text of verse 12 in a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDanc) says that the angel had come for Daniel’s sake (“for your sake,” not “because of your words”).