THE BOOK OF DANIEL

Apocalyptic visions in Daniel :

The four visions of chapters seven to twelve are an early example of apocalyptic literature and, in contrast to the earlier chapters, are introduced in the first person. One feature of this section is Daniel's reliance on heavenly figures to interpret and explain his visions. The historical setting of the first chapters does not appear, except in the form of regnal dates. Chapter seven is written in Aramaic while chapters eight to twelve are in Hebrew. The "apocalyptic" sections of Daniel consist of three visions and one lengthened prophetic communication focusing on the destiny of Israel :

1. Vision of the great beasts

The vision in the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon (7:1) concerning four great beasts (7:3) representing four future kings (7:17) or kingdoms (7:23), the fourth of which devours the whole earth, treading it down and crushing it (7:23); this fourth kingdom is represented by a beast with ten horns representing ten kings, followed by a further wicked king who subdues three of the ten (7:24), speaks against the Most High and the saints of the Most High, and intends to change the times and the law (7:25); after 'a time and times and half a time', this person is judged and his dominion is taken away (7:26); finally, the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven are given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27)

2. Vision of sanctuary elements

The vision in the third year of Belshazzar concerning a ram and a male goat (8:1-27) which, we are informed, represent Media, Persia (the ram's two horns), and Greece (the goat). The goat with a mighty horn becomes very powerful until the horn breaks off to be replaced by four "lesser' horns. The vision focuses on a wicked king who arises to challenge the "army of the Lord" by removing the daily temple sacrifice and desecrating the sanctuary for a period of "twenty three hundred evening/mornings". Rams, goats and horns were used in the service of the sanctuary.

3. The prophecy of seventy weeks

The vision in first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus (9:1) concerning seventy weeks, or seventy "sevens", apportioned for the history of the Israelites and of Jerusalem (9:24) This consists of a meditation on the prediction in Jeremiah that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years, a lengthy prayer by Daniel in which he pleads for God to restore Jerusalem and its temple, and an angelic explanation which focuses on a longer time period - "seventy sevens" - and a future restoration and destruction of city and temple by a coming ruler.

4. The vision of the kings

A lengthy vision (10:1 - 12:13) in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, regarding conflicts between the "King of the North" and the "King of the South" (= Egypt, 11:8). Starting with references to Persia and Greece it, again, culminates in the description of an arrogant king who desecrates the temple, sets up a "desolating abomination", removes the daily sacrifice, and persecutes those who remain true to the "holy covenant". Yet the saints receive God's kingdom.

The prophetic and eschatological visions of Daniel, with those of Ezekiel and Isaiah, are the scriptural inspiration for much of the apocalyptic ideology and symbolism of the Qumran community's Dead Sea scrolls and the early literature of Christianity. "Daniel's clear association with the Maccabean Uprising and those against Rome are a possible factor in the eventual downgrading of it, to include a redefinition of the role of prophet, keeping in mind that at roughly this time the Hebrew canon was being evaluated and adopted. (Eisenman 1997, p 19f).

In Daniel are the first references to a "kingdom of God", and the most overt reference to the resurrection of the dead in the Tanakh.

Also Read :

The Prophecies of Ronald Weinland
The Apocalypse of Peter
The Book of Daniel
Other Apocalyptic literature
Apocalypticism
Textual variants in the Book of Revelation
Apocalypse
Apocalypse of John
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Horae Apocalypticae
The Beast in the Bible
Number of the Beast
Second Coming
Seven seals
The Two Witnesses of Apocalypse
Woman of the Apocalypse
Whore of Babylon
The Baba Vanga Prophecies
The End-Time Timeline
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