This and the two following chapters form the concluding section of the book of Daniel. The vision occurred two years after the departure of the exiles from Babylon, and at a time when those who were rebuilding the city were beginning to experience the “troublous” times spoken of in Daniel 9:25. This section is partly supplemental to Daniel 8, 9, and introduces details with regard to the fourth Empire, certain features of Daniel 7 being developed. The date of the vision is the third year of Cyrus, the prophet continuing to be known by the name which he had received more than seventy years previously.
And he understood.—Comp. Daniel 8:27. It appears from Daniel 12:8 that the whole was not understood by him. Certainly the duration of the tribulation was not clearly revealed to the prophet, though he received enigmatic declarations respecting it (Daniel 12:10, &c.).
I . . . was mourning.—It is needless to suppose that Daniel’s fast was in consequence of some breaches of the passover ritual, of which his people had been guilty. The Jews were involved in troubles, and had committed sins of faithlessness which justified the prophet in turning to God with fasting and praying. At Jerusalem there were the factious oppositions offered to the newly returned colonists, of which we read in the book of Ezra. They experienced the want of spiritual guides (Ezra 2:63) in one very important matter; nor need we doubt that the circumstances mentioned in Ezra 4:1-6 had occasioned many complications. But there was in Israel the sin of faithessness to God’s promises, which grieved the aged seer’s heart. The number of those who had obeyed the prophet’s command, “Go ye forth from Babylon” (Isaiah 48:20), was comparatively insignificant, and those who should have been foremost in leading their fellow-countrymen—namely, the Levites—had preferred the life in Babylon to the trials and hardships of rebuilding their own city (Ezra 2:40; comp. Ezra 8:15).
Uphaz.—A place only mentioned in this passage and Jeremiah 10:9. The locality of it is unknown. The additions of the LXX. should be noted.
His feet.—More correctly, the place where his feet were, or the lower extremities of his limbs. We are not told in what position the man was when Daniel first saw him. Later on (Daniel 12:6) he is described as being upon or above the waters. In this position he symbolises God as supreme over the nations who are represented by the Tigris.
Withstood me.—The phrase is identical with “stood over against him” (Joshua 5:13). The verse implies that the spiritual powers attached to Persia were influencing Cyrus in a manner that was prejudicial to the interests of God’s people. It must be borne in mind that the vision occurred at the time of the Samaritan intrigues with the Persian Court in opposition to Zerubbabel.
Michael.—Mentioned only in the Book of Daniel and Jude 1:9, Revelation 12:7. The title “chief princes,” rightly explained in the margin, shows that the charge of Israel had been entrusted by God to the highest of the heavenly powers; but the name “first prince” points out that, great though he is, he is inconsiderable when compared with God.
I remained there.—Literally, I prevailed there, as Genesis 49:4. The person is explaining to Daniel how it had happened that he had received no visible answer to a prayer that had been offered with success three weeks previously. There had been a conflict between the powers of light and darkness, in which the former had gained the victory, which had been decisive. By the kings of Persia are meant all the successors of Cyrus. It may be remarked that from this time onward the Persian kings were, upon the whole, favourable to the interests of Israel.
And there is none . . .—A still further ground of encouragement. Michael, who stood up as Israel’s champion under the Persian troubles, will prove himself strong against the evil powers which lead Javan.