In the first year of Darius the Mede - This is a continuation of the preceding discourse. Bp. Newton, who is ever judicious and instructing, remarks: It is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former; and thus revelation "is a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." The four great empires shown to Nebuchadnezzar, under the symbol of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel under the forms of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events that were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here more clearly revealed in this last vision by an angel; so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment on the former. It comprehends many signal events. The types, figures, and symbols of the things are not exhibited in this, as in most other visions, and then expounded by the angel; but the angel relates the whole: and, not by way of vision, but by narration, informs Daniel of that which is noted in the Scripture of truth, Daniel 10:21.
Also I - I the angel. He alludes here to what he had done on a former occasion to promote the interests of the Hebrew people, and to secure those arrangements which were necessary for their welfare - particularly in the favorable disposition of Darius the Mede toward them.
In the first year of Darius the Mede - See the notes at Daniel 5:31. He does not here state the things contemplated or done by Darius in which he had confirmed or strengthened him, but there can be no reasonable doubt that it was the purpose which he had conceived to restore the Jews to their own land, and to give them permission to rebuild their city and temple. Compare Daniel 9:1. It was in that year that Daniel offered his solemn prayer, as recorded in Daniel 9:2), the captivity would terminate; and in that year that an influence from above led the mind of the Persian king to contemplate the restoration of the captive people. Cyrus was, indeed, the one through whom the edict for their return was promulgated; but as he reigned under his uncle Cyaxares or Darius, and as Cyaxares was the source of authority, it is evident that his mind must have been influenced to grant this favor, and it is to this that the angel here refers.
I stood to confirm and to strengthen him - Compare the notes at Daniel 10:13. It would seem that the mind of Darius was not wholly decided; that there were adverse influences bearing on it: that there were probably counselors of his realm who advised against the proposed measures, and the angel here says that he stood by him, and confirmed him in his purpose, and secured the execution of his benevolent plan. Who can prove that an angel may not exert an influence on the heart of kings? And what class of men is there who, when they intend to do good and right, are more likely to have their purposes changed by evil counselors than kings; and who are there that more need a heavenly influence to confirm their design to do right?
We now enter upon a prophecy of future events, clothed not in figures and symbols, as in the visions of chapters 2, 7, and 8, but given mostly in plain language. Many of the signal events of the world’s history, from the days of Daniel to the end of the world, are here brought to view. This prophecy, says Bishop Newton, may not improperly be said to be a comment and explanation of the vision of chapter 8; a statement showing how clearly he perceived the connection between that vision and the remainder of the book.DAR 222.2
The angel, after stating that he stood, in the first year of Darius, to confirm and strengthen him, turns his attention to the future. Three kings shall yet stand up in Persia. To stand up means to reign; three kings were to reign in Persia, referring, doubtless, to the immediate successors of Cyrus. These were, (1) Cambyses, son of Cyrus; (2) Smerdis, an impostor; (3) Darius Hystaspes.DAR 222.3
The fourth shall be far richer than they all. The fourth king from Cyrus was Xerxes, more famous for his riches than his generalship, and conspicuous in history for the magnificent campaign he organized against Grecia, and his utter failure in that enterprise. He was to stir up all against the realm of Grecia. Never before had there been such a levy of men for warlike purposes; never has there been since. His army, according to Herodotus, who lived in that age, consisted of five million two hundred and eighty-three thousand two hundred and twenty men (5,283,220). And not content with stirring up the East alone, he enlisted the Carthaginians of the West in his service, who took the field with an additional army of three hundred thousand men, raising his entire force to the almost fabulous number of over five million and a half. As Xerxes looked over that vast concourse, he is said to have wept at the thought that in a hundred years from that time not one of all those men would be left alive.DAR 222.4
“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy great mercies. PK 556.1
“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.” Verses 4-9, 16-19. PK 556.2
Heaven was bending low to hear the earnest supplication of the prophet. Even before he had finished his plea for pardon and restoration, the mighty Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar. And then the angel outlined before him in detail the period of the seventy weeks, which was to begin at the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Verse 25. PK 556.3Read in context »