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Daniel 7:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The thrones were cast down - דמיו might be translated erected, so the Vulgate, positi sunt, and so all the versions; but that ours is a proper translation, is sufficiently evident from Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:16, Daniel 3:20; Daniel 6:17, etc.; where the original word can be used in no other sense than that of throwing or casting down. There is a reference here to preparations made for a general assize, or to the convocation of the sanhedrin, where the father of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side in the form of a semicircle, and the people stood before them.

The Ancient of days - God Almighty; and this is the only place in the sacred writings where God the Father is represented in a human form.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I beheld - “I continued looking on these strange sights, and contemplating these transformations.” This implies that some time elapsed before all these things had occurred. He looked on until he saw a solemn judgment passed on this fourth beast particularly, as if God had come forth in his majesty and glory to pronounce that judgment, and to bring the power and arrogance of the beast to an end.

Till the thrones were cast down - The Chaldee word (כרסון kâresâvân ) means, properly, thrones - seats on which monarchs sit. So far as the word is concerned, it would apply either to a throne occupied by an earthly monarch, or to the throne of God. The use of the plural here would seem to imply, at least, that the reference is not to the throne of God, but to some other throne. Maurer and Lengerke suppose that the allusion is to the thrones on which the celestial beings sat in the solemn judgment that was to be pronounced - the throne of God, and the thrones or seats of the attending inhabitants of heaven, coming with him to the solemn judgment. Lengerke refers for illustration to 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Job 1:6, and Revelation 5:11-12. But the word itself might be properly applied to the thrones of earthly monarchs as well as to the throne of God. The phrase “were cast down” (רמיו remı̂yv ), in our translation, would seem to suppose that there was some throwing down, or overturning of thrones, at this period, and that the solemn judgment would follow this, or be consequent on this.

The Chaldee word (רמא remâh ) means, as explained by Gesenius, to cast, to throw Daniel 3:21, Daniel 3:24; Daniel 6:16-17; to set, to place, e. g., thrones; to impose tribute Ezra 7:24. The passage is rendered by the Latin Vulgate, throni positi sunt - “thrones were placed;” by the Greek, ἐτέθησαν etethēsan - “were placed.” So Luther, stuhle gesetzt; and so Lengerke, stuhle aufgestellt- the thrones were placed, or set up. The proper meaning, therefore, of the phrase would seem to be - not, as in our translation, that the “thrones would be cast down” - as if there was to be an overturning of thrones on the earth to mark this particular period of history - but that there was, in the vision, a setting up, or a placing of thrones for the purpose of administering judgment, etc., on the beast. The use of the plural is, doubtless, in accordance with the language elsewhere employed, to denote the fact that the great Judge would be surrounded with others who would be, as it were, associated in administering justice - either angels or redeemed spirits.

Nothing is more common in the Scripture than to represent others as thus associated with God in pronouncing judgment on men. Compare Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 4:4. The era, or period, therefore, marked here, would be when a solemn Divine judgment was to be passed on the “beast,” or when some events were to take place, as if such a judgment were pronounced. The events pertaining to the fourth beast were to be the last in the series preparatory to the reign of the saints, or the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah, and therefore it is introduced in this manner, as if a solemn judgment scene were to occur.

And the Ancient of days did sit - Was seated for the purposes of judgment. The phrase “Ancient of days” - יומין עתיק ‛attı̂yq yômı̂yn - is one that denotes an elderly or old person; meaning, he who is most ancient as to days, and is equivalent to the French L‘Eternel, or English, The Eternal. It occurs only in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:22, and is a representation of one venerable in years, sitting down for the purposes of judgment. The appellation does not of itself denote eternity, but it is employed, probably, with reference to the fact that God is eternal. God is often represented under some such appellation, as he that is “from everlasting to everlasting” Psalm 90:2, “the first and the last” Isaiah 44:6, etc. There can be no doubt that the reference here is to God as a Judge, or as about to pronounce judgment, though there is no necessity for supposing that it will be in a visible and literal form, anymore than there is for supposing that all that is here represented by symbols will literally take place.

If it should be insisted on that the proper interpretation demands that there will be a literal and visible judgment, such as is here described, it may be replied that the same rigid interpretation would demand that there will be a literal “slaying of the beast, and a giving of his body to the flame” Daniel 7:11, and more generally still, that all that is here referred to by symbols will literally occur. The fact, however, is, that all these events are referred to by symbols - symbols which have an expressive meaning, but which, by their very nature and design, are not to be literally understood. All that is fairly implied here is, that events would occur in regard to this fourth beast as if God should sit in solemn judgment on it, and should condemn it in the manner here referred to. We are, doubtless, in the fulfillment of this - to look for some event that will be of so decisive and marked a character, that it may be regarded as a Divine judgment in the case, or that will show the strongly marked Divine disapprobation - as really as if the judgment-seat were formally set, and God should appear in majesty to give sentence. Sitting was the usual posture among the ancients, as it is among the moderns, in pronouncing judgment. Among the ancients the judge sat on a throne or bench while the parties stood before him (compare Zechariah 4:13), and with the Greeks and Romans so essential was the sitting posture for a judge, that a sentence pronounced in any other posture was not valid. - Lengerke. It was a maxim, Animus sedendo magis sapit; or, as Servius on the AEn. i. 56, remarks, Est enim curantis et solliciti sedere.

Whose garment was white as snow - Whose robe. The reference here is to the long flowing robe that was worn by ancient princes, noblemen, or priests. See the notes at Isaiah 6:1. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:13. White was an emblem of purity and honor, and was not an improper symbol of the purity of the judge, and of the justness of the sentence which he would pronounce. So the elder Pitt, in his celebrated speech against employing Indians in the war with the American people, besought the bishops to “interpose the unsullied purity of their lawn.” Lengerke supposes, as Prof. Stuart does on Revelation 1:13, that the whiteness here referred to was not the mere color of the material of which the robe was made, but, was a celestial splendor or brightness, as if it were lightning or fire - such as is appropriate to the Divine Majesty. Lengerke refers here to Exodus 19:18-24; Daniel 2:22; Matthew 17:2; 1 Timothy 6:16; Isaiah 8:21-25; Revelation 1:13-14; Revelation 4:2-4. But the more correct interpretation is to suppose that this refers to a pure white robe, such as judges might wear, and which would not be an improper symbol of their office.

And the hair of his head like the pure wool - That is, for whiteness - a characteristic of venerable age. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:14. The image here set before us is that of one venerable by years and wisdom.

His throne was like the fiery flame - The seat on which he sat seemed to be fire. That is, it was brilliant and splendid, as if it were a mass of flame.

And his wheels as burning fire - The wheels of his throne - for, as in Ezekiel 1:16; Ezekiel 10:9, the wheels of the throne appeared to be of the color of beryl; that is, they were like precious stones. Here, perhaps, they had only the appearance of a flame - as such wheels would seem to flash flames. So, Milton, in describing the chariot of the Son of God:

“Forth rush‘d with whirlwind sound

The chariot of Paternal Deity,

Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,

Itself instinct with spirit, but convoyed

By four cherubic shapes; four faces each

Had wondrous; as with stars their bodies all,

And wings were set with eyes; with eyes the wheels

Of beryl, and careering fires between.”

- Par. Lost, b. vi.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 119

Verse 9

A sublimer description of a sublimer scene is not to be found in the English language. But not only on account of the grand and lofty imagery introduced should it arrest our attention; the nature of the scene itself is such as to demand most serious consideration. The Judgment is brought to view; and whenever the Judgment is mentioned, it ought to take an irresistible hold upon every mind; for all have an interest in its eternal issues.DAR 119.3

By an unfortunate translation in verse 9, a wrong idea is almost sure to be conveyed. The words cast down are from a word which in the original signifies just the opposite, namely, to set up. The word ????? [r'mah] Gesenius defines as follows: “Chald. 1. To cast, to throw, Daniel 3:20, 21, 24; 6:17. 2. To set, to place, e. g., thrones, Daniel 7:9. Comp. Revelation 4:2, ?????? ?????? and ????? No. 2.” The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, by Davidson, also gives to this word the definition “to set, to place,” and refers to Daniel 7:9 as an example of its use in this sense. Why this word was used to express the idea here intended may perhaps be learned from the following note found in the Cottage Bible: “Ver. 9. The thrones were cast down. Wintle, ‘Were placed.' So Boothroyd. But both come to the same meaning. The Asiatics have neither chairs nor stools, but, to receive persons of rank, ‘cast down,' or ‘place,' cushions round the room for seats, which seems to be here alluded to. See Matthew 19:28; Revelation 20:4.” Dr. Clarke says that the word “might be translated erected; so the Vulgate, positi sunt [were placed], and so all the versions.” The Septuagint has ???????? (etethesan), which is defined to mean “to set, put, place; to set up; to erect.” The thrones are not the thrones of earthly kingdoms, which are to be thrown down at the last day, but thrones of judgment, which are to be “placed,” or set up, in the court of God on high just before the end.DAR 119.4

The “Ancient of days,” God the Father, takes the throne of judgment. Mark the description of his person. Those who believe in the impersonality of God are obliged to admit that he is here described as a personal being; but they console themselves by saying that it is the only description of the kind in the Bible. We do not admit this latter assertion; but granting that it were true, is not one description of this kind as fatal to their theory as though it were repeated a score of times? The thousand thousands who minister unto him, and the ten thousand times ten thousand who stand before him, are not sinners arraigned before the judgment-seat, but heavenly beings who wait before him, attendant on his will. An understanding of these verses involves an understanding of the subject of the sanctuary; and to works on this question we refer the reader. The closing up of the ministration of Christ, our great High Priest, in the heavenly sanctuary, is the work of judgment here introduced. It is an investigative judgment. The books are opened, and the cases of all come up for examination before that great tribunal, that it may be determined beforehand who are to receive eternal life when the Lord shall come to confer it upon his people. John, as recorded in Revelation 5, had a view of this same place, and saw the same number of heavenly attendants engaged with Christ in the work of investigative judgment. Looking into the sanctuary (as we learn from Revelation 4 that he was doing), in chapter 5:11 he says, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”DAR 120.1

It will appear from the testimony of chapter 8:14, that this solemn work is even now transpiring in the sanctuary above.DAR 121.1

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
These verses are for the comfort and support of the people of God, in reference to the persecutions that would come upon them. Many New Testament predictions of the judgment to come, have plain allusion to this vision; especially Re 20:11,12. The Messiah is here called the Son of man; he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was found in fashion as a man, but he is the Son of God. The great event foretold in this passage, is Christ's glorious coming, to destroy every antichristian power, and to render his own kingdom universal upon earth. But ere the solemn time arrives, for manifesting the glory of God to all worlds in his dealings with his creatures, we may expect that the doom of each of us will be determined at the hour of our death; and before the end shall come, the Father will openly give to his incarnate Son, our Mediator and Judge, the inheritance of the nations as his willing subjects.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 384

On the morning of October 23, 1879, about two o'clock, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I beheld scenes in the coming judgment. Language fails me in which to give an adequate description of the things which passed before me and of the effect they had upon my mind. 4T 384.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 986

Conduct Befitting the Bride of a King—The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. She should keep herself pure, sanctified, holy. Never should she indulge in any foolishness; for she is the bride of a King. Yet she does not realize her exalted position. If she understood this, she would be all-glorious within (Letter 177, 1901). 7BC 986.1

(Chs. 3:4; 7:14; 16:15.) Clean Garments—The church is the bride of Christ, and her members are to yoke up with their Leader. God warns us not to defile our garments (Letter 123a, 1898). 7BC 986.2

11-16. See EGW on ch. 16:13-16. 7BC 986.3

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 54-5

Then the wicked saw what they had lost; and fire was breathed from God upon them and consumed them. This was the execution of the judgment. The wicked then received according as the saints, in unison with Jesus, had meted out to them during the one thousand years. The same fire from God that consumed the wicked purified the whole earth. The broken, ragged mountains melted with fervent heat, the atmosphere also, and all the stubble was consumed. Then our inheritance opened before us, glorious and beautiful, and we inherited the whole earth made new. We all shouted with a loud voice, “Glory; Alleluia!” EW 54.1

*****

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