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Conflict of Nations and Heavenly Powers


In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The word was true, and it concerned a great conflict. He understood the word, having received understanding in the vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. 3I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris), 5I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. 7I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision, though a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled and hid themselves. 8So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. 9Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.

10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11He said to me, “Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia, 14and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.”

15 While he was speaking these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16Then one in human form touched my lips, and I opened my mouth to speak, and said to the one who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision such pains have come upon me that I retain no strength. 17How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking, no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. 19He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I am through with him, the prince of Greece will come. 21But I am to tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth. There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.

The angel appears here to lead the Prophet in vain through a winding course; for he might directly and simply have told him why he had come. It was necessary to recall the Prophet to his senses, as he was at one time scarcely master of his actions. He was not indeed permanently injured in his mind, but the disturbance of feeling through which he had passed had temporarily disarranged the calmness of his thoughts. This event both occurred and is narrated for our advantage. This is the reason why the angel again uses this preface, Dost thee know? as if he wished to gather together the Prophet’s senses which were formerly wandering and dispersed. He urges him to pay great attention. And now, says he, I will return; that is, after I shall have explained to thee what thou wilt afterwards hear, I will return again to contend with the prince of the Persians. Here the angel indicates the reason for the delay of his mission, not because God neglected the groans and prayers of his Prophet, but the fit time had not yet arrived. The angel had formerly stated how the Persian prince had stood before him; meaning, he detained me, and I was obliged to enter into conflict with him, for his cruelty to the people had become far more formidable and insolent. This is the account which he gives of his occupation. But he now adds, I will return to fight with the prince of the Persians; implying, God sent me purposely to unfold to thee future occurrences, but you now know how far I was from being at leisure or shall be hereafter. I now come to be God’s witness and herald of his good will towards thyself and thy people. In reality, I am the defender of thy safety, since I have constantly to fight for thee with the prince of the Persians. He means Cambyses. I follow my former interpretation of an engagement between the angel and the king of Persia, whom wicked men had stimulated to cruelty; for he had revoked the edict of his father. The angel resisted the king’s fury, who was naturally very turbulent, and profane writers have described his character in a similar way.

He now adds, I will go to fight against the prince of the Persians; for עם, gnem, has the force of “against” here and in many other passages. He next adds, And when I shall depart, that is, when I am gone, the prince of Greece shall approach, says he; that is, God shall exercise him in another way. He does not mean this to refer to Cambyses, but to other Persian kings, as we shall state in the proper place. It is quite correct to suppose the king of Macedon to have arrived by God’s permission; but the angel simply means to state the existence of various methods by which God hinders the cruelty of kings whenever they attempt to injure his people. He shall send the prince of the Greeks, says he. God, therefore, thus restrained Cambyses by the angel’s assistance, and then he protected his people from the cruelty exercised by Alexander, king of Macedon. God is always providing for the safety of his people, and always has a variety of methods in operation. The angel desired to teach us this with all simplicity. At length he adds: —

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