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10. Daniel's Vision of a Man

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. 2In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. 4And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 5Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

10And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. 11And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. 15And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. 16And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. 17For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. 18Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, 19And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. 20Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. 21But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

As to the word Uphaz, some think it to be a pearl or precious stone, and they take the word כתם, kethem, which precedes it, for pure gold. Others take uphaz adjectivally, for pure gold. I do not suppose it to be an epithet, but I rather subscribe to the view of those who understand it as the proper name of a place, because this view is in accordance with the phraseology of the tenth chapter of Jeremiah. There is another opinion which is unsuitable. Uphaz is said to be derived from the noun Phaz, and is called “pure,” the letter Aleph being redundant. The above mentioned passage of Jeremiah is sufficient to prove my assertion, that it signifies a certain region; and so some have translated it by ophir. The word תרשש, tharsis, is thought to mean chrysolite: some think it denotes the color of the sea, and then, by a figure of speech, take it generally for any sea. It is also said to mean sky-colored.

Daniel now begins to relate the manner in which the vision was offered to him. He says, when he stood on the bank of the river a man appeared to him, different from the common order of men. He calls him a man, but shews him to be endued, or adorned with attributes which inspire full confidence in his celestial glory. We have elsewhere stated, how angels are called men, whenever God wished them to put on this outward form. The name of men is therefore used metaphorically whenever they assumed that form by God’s command, and now Daniel speaks after the accustomed manner. Meanwhile, some absurdly imagine angels to have been really men, since they assumed this appearance, and were clothed in a human body. We ought not to believe them to be really men, because they appeared under a human form. Christ, indeed, was really man, in consequence of his springing from the seed of Abraham, David, and Adam. But as regards angels, God clothes them for a single day or a short period in bodies, for a distinct purpose and a special use. Wherefore, I assert the gross error of those who suppose angels to become men, as often as they are corporeally visible in a human form. Still they may be called men, because Scripture accommodates itself to our senses, as we know sufficiently well. Daniel therefore says, he saw a man, and afterwards distinguishes him from the human race, and shews fixed and conspicuous marks inscribed upon him, which discover him to be an angel sent down from heaven, and not a mere earthly mortal. Some philosophize with subtlety on the word raised, as if Daniel so raised his eyes upwards as to be unconscious of all earthly objects; but this does not appear to me sufficiently certain. The Prophet wishes to impress the certainty of the vision; not only was his mind composed and collected, but he applied all his senses to the one object before him — the attainment of some consolation from God. The Prophet, therefore, denotes the earnestness of his desire, for when he looked round he found himself subject to many cares and anxieties. Again, with reference to the marks by which Daniel might infer the object of his vision to be neither earthly nor mortal, he first says, he was clothed in linen This kind of garment was common enough among the people of the East. Those regions are remarkably warm, and their inhabitants need not protect themselves against the cold, as we are necessarily compelled to do. They seldom wear woolen clothing. But on special occasions when they wish to use more splendid attire, they put on linen tunics, as we learn not only from many passages of Scripture, but also from profane writers. Hence I take this passage as if Daniel had said, the man appeared to him in splendid apparel. For בדים, bedim, is supposed not to mean common linen, but a more exquisite kind of fabric. This is one point.

He next says, He was girt with pure gold; that is, with a golden belt. The Orientals were formerly accustomed to gird themselves with belts or girdles, as their garments were long and reached almost down to the feet. Hence it became necessary for those who wished to move expeditiously to gird themselves with belts. When the angel appeared with raiment of this kind, the difference between himself and other men was displayed to the Prophet. Some refer the linen garment to the priesthood of Christ, and treat the girdle as an emblem of rigor. But these are mere refinements, and seem to me destitute of all reality. I therefore am content with the simple opinion on which I have touched, namely, this form of clothing distinguished the angel from ordinary mortals. But this will appear clearer from the following verse. For Daniel says, His body was sky-colored, or like the precious stone called beryl, of a golden hue Without doubt, the Prophet beheld something different from a human form, for the purpose of his clearly ascertaining the vision not to be a man, but an angel in the form of man. I leave the allegory here, although it proceeds throughout the whole verse. I am aware of the plausible nature of allegories, but when we reverently weigh the teachings of the Holy Spirit, those speculations which at first sight pleased us exceedingly, vanish from our view. I am not captivated by these enticements myself, and I wish all my hearers to be persuaded of this, — nothing can be better than a sober treatment of Scripture. We ought never to fetch from a distance subtle explanations, for the true sense will, as I have previously expressed it, flow naturally from a passage when it is weighed with maturer deliberation. He says, His face was like the appearance of lightning This, again, assured the Prophet of his being an more than earthly mortal. His eyes would lead to the same conclusion; they were like lamps of fire; then his arms and feet were like polished or burnished brass; lastly, the voice of his words was the voice of a tumult, or noise, or multitude. The sum of the whole is this, — the angel, though clad in human form, possessed certain conspicuous marks by which God separated him from the common crowd of men. Thus Daniel clearly perceived the divine mission of the angel, and God wished to establish the confidence and certainty of those prophecies which will afterwards follow in the eleventh chapter. Let us proceed:


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