Page images

xi. This vision occurred in the third year of the reign of Cyrus, and on an occasion when Daniel had been fasting three full weeks. The prediction was imparted to him by an angel that appeared to him by the river Hiddekel, or Tigris, and contains a detailed account of what would occur for a long period in the conflicts which would exist between the sovereigns of Syria and Egypt. In these wars the Hebrew people were to be deeply interested, for their country lay between the two contending kingdoms; their land would be taken and re-taken in those conflicts; not a few of the great battles that would be fought in these conflicts would be fought on their territory; and deep and permanent disasters would occur to them in consequence of the manner in which the Hebrew people would regard and treat one or both of the contending parties. This prophetic history is conducted onward, with great particularity, to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, the most formidable enemy that the Hebrew people would have to encounter in the future, and then, (ch. xii.,) the vision terminates with a few unconnected hints of what would occur in future periods, to the end of the world.

It was from this portion of the book, particularly, that Porphyry argued that the whole work must have been written after the events had occurred, and that, therefore, it must be a forgery of a later age than the time of the exile in Babylon.

(4.) A particular and minute prophecy respecting the time when the Messiah would appear, ch. ix. This was imparted to Daniel when, anxious about the close of the long captivity of his countrymen, and supposing that the predicted time of the return to the land of their fathers drew on, he gave himself to an earnest and careful study of the books of Jeremiah. At the close of the solemn prayer which he offered on that occasion, (ch. ix. 4—19,) the angel Gabriel appeared to him, (ch. ix. 20, 21,) to assure him that his prayer was heard, and to make an important communication to him respecting future times, ch. ix. 22, 23. He then proceeded to inform him how long a period was determined in respect to the holy city, before the great work should be accomplished of making an end of sin, and of making reconciliation for iniquity, and of bringing in everlasting righteousness; when, that great work having been accomplished, the oblations at the temple would cease, and the overspreading of abomination would occur, and desolation would come upon the temple and city, ch. ix. 24—27. This celebrated prophecy of the “seventy weeks” is among the most important, and, in some respects, among the most difficult parts

phe events later anger and appear, close of tredicte

ane close of the 19,) the attent his prayihim respo

come upeading the oblatse; whelor inicd of maki holycom

of the sacred volume. If the common interpretation is correct, it is the most definite prediction of the time when the Messiah would appear, to be found in the Old Testament.

(5.) Particular prophecies respecting events that would occur after the coming of the Messiah. These relate to two points :

A. Prophecies relating to the church, ch. vii. 7—27.
(a.) The rise of ten kingdoms out of the great fourth

monarchy which would succeed the Babylonian, the
Medo-Persian, and the Macedonian–to wit, the Ro-

man power, ch. vii. 24. (6.) The rise of another power after them, springing out

of them, and subduing three of those powers—to wit,

the Papal power, ch. vii. 24. (c.) The characteristics of that new power—as arrogant

and persecuting, and claiming supreme legislation over

the world, ch. vii. 25. (d.) The duration of this power, ch. vii. 25. (e.) The manner in which it would be terminated, ch.

vii. 26. (f.) The permanent establishment of the kingdom of

the saints on the earth, ch. vii. 27. B. Prophecies relating to the final judgment, and the end

of all things, ch. xii. This portion (ch. xii.) is made up of hints and fragments, broken thoughts and suggestions, which there was no occasion to fill up. What is said is not communicated in a direct form as a revelation of new truths, but is rather based on certain truths as already known, and employed here for the illustration of others. It is assumed that there will be a resurrection of the dead and a judgment, and the writer employs the language based on this assumption to illustrate the point immediately before him, ch. xii. 2, 3, 4, 9, 13. There is also a very obscure reference to the times when certain great events were to occur in the future (ch. xii. 11, 12;) but there is nothing, in this respect, that can enable us certainly to determine when these events will take place.

In reference to these prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel, a few illustrative remarks may now be made :

(1.) They relate to most momentous events in the history of the world. If the views taken of these portions of the book are correct, then the eye of the prophet rested on those events in the future which would enter most deeply into the character

of coming ages, and which would do more than any other to determine the final condition of the world.

(2.) The prophecies in Daniel are more minute than any others in the Bible. This is particularly the case in respect to the four great kingdoms which would arise; to the conquests of Alexander the Great; to the kingdoms which would spring out of the one great empire that would be founded by him ; to the wars that would exist between two of those sovereignties; to the time when the Messiah would appear; to the manner in which he would be cut off; to the final destruction of the holy city; and to the rise, character, and destiny of the Papacy. Of these great events there are no other so minute connected descriptions anywhere else in the Old Testament; and even, on many of these points, the more full disclosures of the New Testament receive important light from the prophecies of Daniel.

(3.) There is a remarkable resemblance between many of the predictions in Daniel and in the Book of Revelation. No one can peruse the two books without being satisfied that, in many respects, they were designed to refer to the same periods in the history of the world, and to the same events, and especially where time is mentioned. There is, indeed, no express allusion in the Apocalypse to Daniel. There is no direct quotation from the book. There is no certain evidence that the author of the Apocalypse ever saw the Book of Daniel, though no one can doubt that he had. There is nothing in the Apocalypse which might not have been written if the Book of Daniel had not been written, or if it had been entirely unknown to John. Perhaps it may be added, that there is nothing in the Book of Revelation which might not have been as easily explained if the Book of Daniel had not been written. And yet, it is manifest, that in most important respects the authors of the two books refer to the same great events in history; describe the same important changes in human affairs; refer to the same periods of duration; and have in their eye the same termination of things on the earth. No other two books in the Bible have the same relation to each other; nor are there any other two in which a commentary on the one will introduce so many topics which must be considered in the other, or where the explanations in the one will throw so much light on the other.

III. The language and style of the book. (1.) The language of the Book of Daniel is nearly half Chal

probability Theater, or with the casion, in his that he would iting

dee and half Hebrew. In ch. i. ii. 143, it is Hebrew; from ch. ii. 4, to the end of ch. vii. it is Chaldee, and the remainder of the book is Hebrew. The Book of Ezra also contains several chapters of Chaldee, exhibiting the same characteristics as the part of the Book of Daniel written in that language.

As Daniel was early trained in his own country in the knowledge of the Hebrew, and as he was carefully instructed, after being carried to Babylon, in the language and literature of the Chaldees, (see $ 1,) it is certain that he was capable of writing in either language; and it is probable that he would use either, as there might be occasion, in his intercourse with his own countrymen, or with the Chaldeans. There is the highest probability that the captive Hebrews would retain the knowledge of their own language in a great degree of purity, during their long captivity in Babylon, and that this would be the language which Daniel would employ in his intercourse with his own countrymen, while from his own situation at court, and the necessity of his intercourse with the Chaldeans, it may be presumed that the language which he would perhaps most frequently employ would be the Chaldean.

That there were reasons why one portion of this book was written in Chaldee, and another in Hebrew, there can be no doubt, but it is now utterly impossible to ascertain what those reasons were. The use of one language or the other seems to be perfectly arbitrary. The portions written in Hebrew have no more relation to the Jews, and would have no more interest to them, than those written in the Chaldee; and, on the other hand, the portions written in Chaldee have no special relation to the Chaldeans. But while the reasons for this change must for ever remain a secret, there are two obvious suggestions which have often been made in regard to it, and which have already been incidentally adverted to, as bearing on the question of the authorship of the book. (1) The first is, that this fact accords with the account which we have of the education of the author, as being instructed in both these languages-furnishing thus an undesigned proof of the authenticity of the

ing this in book; and (2) the other is, that this would not have occurred if

these that this the work was a forgery of a later age; for (a) it is doubtful whether, in the age of the Maccabees, there were any who could write with equal ease in both languages, or could write both languages with purity; (6) if it could be done, the device would not be one that would be likely to occur to the author, and he would have been likely to betray the design if it had existed;

[ocr errors]

and (c) as the apocryphal additions to Daniel (see $ 5) were written in Greek, the presumption is that if the book had been forged in that age it would have been wholly written in that language. At all events, the facts in the case, in regard to the languages in which the book was written, accord with all that we know of Daniel.

(2.) The book abounds with symbols and visions. In this respect it resembles very closely the writings of Ezekiel and Zechariah. One of these was his cotemporary, and the other lived but little after him, and it may be presumed that this style of writing prevailed much in that age. All these writers, not improbably, “formed their style and their manner of thinking and expression, in a foreign land, where symbol, and imagery, and vision, and dreams, were greatly relished and admired. The ruins of the Oriental cities recently brought to the light of day, as well as those which have ever remained exposed to view, are replete with symbolic forms and images, which once gave a play and a delight to the fancy.” Prof. Stuart on Daniel, p. 393. Perhaps none of the other sacred writers abound so much in symbols and visions as Daniel, except John, in the Book of Revelation; and in these two, as before suggested, the resemblance is remarkable. The interpretation of either of these books involves the necessity of studying the nature of symbolic language; and on the views taken of that language, must depend, in a great degree, the views of the truths disclosed in these books.

(3.) The Book of Daniel, though not written in the style of poetry, yet abounds much with the spirit of poetry—as the Book of Revelation does. Indeed the Apocalypse may be regarded as, on the whole, the most poetic book in the Bible. We miss, indeed, in both these books, the usual forms of Hebrew poetry; we miss the parallelism; but the spirit of poetry pervades both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and the latter, especially if it were a mere human production, would be ranked among the highest creations of genius. Much of Daniel, indeed, is simple prose, alike in structure and form; but much also in his visions deserves to be classed among the works of imagination. Throughout the book there are frequent bursts of feelings of a high order (comp. ch. ii. 19-23); there are many passages that are sublime (comp. chs. ii. 27-45, iv. 19–27, v. 17–28); there is a spirit of unshaken fidelity and boldness, as in the passages just referred to; there is true grandeur in the prophetic portions (comp. chs. vii.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »