God is Judge

Chapter 22

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

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The Great tribulation


The struggle described in Daniel 12 is often understood in the context of the Antiochene crisis. It is confidently assumed that it was written just prior to the Maccabean liberation and that failure of the prediction of the imminent resurrection necessitated recalculation of the “end”. The calculations are all related to the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 12:11) and since this is understood as the desecration committed by Antiochus (cf. Dan. 8:13) it is assumed that judgement, vindication (cf. Dan. 7:13) and the resurrection would soon follow. However, this approach neglects the partial application of Dan.11:40-45 to the Roman Empire and the use of Daniel’s Prophecy by Christ (when warning of the coming destruction of the Second Temple). The use of Daniel by Christ was not simply a “re-interpretation” or “updating” of the prophecy, for Daniel 11:40-45 is in the form of mythic pattern, and that suggests repetitive themes.


All the figures in Daniel 12 approximate three-and-a-half years (1,260/1,290/1,335) but liberal interpreters fail to offer an explanation for the variances. Collins[1] states, “it is not enough, however, to say that this figure (i.e. 1,335) “is an attempt to make more precise the nature of the three-and-a-half year period,” as if the author were doing multiple calculations for their own sake.” Since Herman Gunkel in 1895, it has become commonplace to talk of later additions that were inserted with the intention of justifying the “delay of the end,” when the end did not come at the time originally expected but faith rose above    Continued  ˃


[1] Collins, Hermeneia,400-401

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disappointment.[2] Collins agrees: “When one predicted number of days had elapsed, a glossator revised the prediction with a higher number.”


Gabriele Boccaccini[3] lists the following objections; “The hypothesis, which is not supported by any ancient variants or versions, rests on the presupposition that the figure of 1290 days must be a first attempt to calculate the three and a half years, while it so obviously exceeds any possible calculation by any known ancient calendar, solar or lunar. If the issue was in fact the delay of the end, we must face the paradox of a book that over a span of no more than three or four months was updated not once but twice, the second time certainly less than 45 days after the first updating, and yet left amazingly homogeneous literary tradition in the history of its transmission. For Porteous, the case is plagued with perplexities; “There is, it must be confessed, some difficulty in seeing how urgent corrections, such as these would be, could have been added to a book that had just been issued, even though in a limited number of copies.”[4] The glossator then was such a bungler: contrary to all rules of decency and discretion that would have required a correction by emendation, he did his best to make his disappointment as manifest as possible to his readers. “That both vv.11 and 12 should be permitted to remain in the text is sufficient commentary on this rather unadroit explanation.”[5]


Critical scholarship regards Daniel as a pseudonymous political commentary written in 165 BC, which explains why it is accurate up to    Continued  ˃


[2] Hermann Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit Eine religions-geschichtliche Untersuchung über Gen 1 and Ap Joh 12 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1895),269

[3] Gabriele Boccaccini, Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: an intellectual history, from Ezekiel to Daniel,(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 199

[4] Porteous,Daniel,172

[5] Robert A. ., Signs and Wonders: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, ITC (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984),153

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this point and also why the expected defeat of Antiochus did not occur as predicted.  If that was the case why was the prophecy not entirely discredited?  It was still held in high esteem in the Qumran literature even though critical scholarship considers it erroneous. Referring to the work of David Flusser (1981), Hanan Eshel observes that, “Flusser argued that the author of the War Scroll was aware that the last part of the vision found in Daniel 11 and 12 had not yet taken place. In other words, the author of the War Scroll knew that Dan. 11:40-12:3 was an unfulfilled prophecy. Thus he believed that its fulfilment would occur in the near future” [6]


Lars Hartman finds no evidence of the prophecy being discredited in contemporary literature; “Maybe, with Daniel 12, they [contemporary readers] expected the end to arrive at least within the 1,335 days, maybe not -we do not know. But if they did, what happened after the deadline passed? We do not know. Canon Charles assumed that the readers became so disappointed that the Book of Daniel fell into disrepute for a century or more. But on that point I think we can correct the learned Canon Charles, for there is good evidence that Daniel was in high esteem even some few years after the assumed deadline, the proof being some texts from 1 Enoch and the Qumran library”.[7]


First century Interpretation


Hartman makes the case for prophetic flexibility (1997: 113); “The apocalyptic language in the Danielic timetables was open in such a way    Continued  ˃


[6] Hanan Eshel, The Kittim in the War Scroll and in the Pesharim, (:29-45) in, Historical Perspectives: From the Hasmoneans to Bar Kokhba in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 27-31 January, 1999, (Edited by David Goodblatt, Avital Pinnick and Daniel R. Schwartz, Brill, 2001), 34.

[7] Lars Hartman, Text-Centered New Testament Studies: Text-Theoretical Essays on Early Jewish and Early Christian Literature,(J.C.B. Mohr, P. Siebeck,1997),111

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that different people understood it in different ways”.[8] This commentary follows a similar line and proposes multiple interpretations. Even in Qumran literature, in two of the other pesharim the Kittim were identified with the Romans[9], Josephus allows a dual application to Rome and the Maccabees[10] and most importantly Christ applies Daniel to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.  The prophecy is therefore multivalent with a historical application to the Antiochene crisis, a typical application in the first century and an eschatological application that is yet to unfold. The typical application saw the beginning of the end of the “kingdom of men” with the death and resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ the first-fruits heralded the deliverance of the “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth” (Dan. 12:2);


“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matt. 27:52-53).

[8] Hartman suggests three different ways: (a). War Scroll - supra-historic/eschatological: (b). Josephus- non-eschatological/historic: (c). The “wise men” (that Josephus refers to) - theoretical/informative.

[9] G.J. Brooke, The Kittim in the Qumran Pesharim, in Images of Empire, ed., L. Alexander  JSOT Sup 122 (Sheffield Academic Press,1991),135-59.

[10] And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. (Antiq.10.11.7)

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It is significant that Matthew echoes Isaiah 26:19[11] as Daniel 12:2 echoes the same text[12]; “Awake and shout for joy, dwellers in the dust (הקיצו...שכני עפר)”. The Jews expected the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy to culminate sometime in the first century giving rise to messianic fervour. For the NT writers the 490 prophecy was at least partially fulfilled in the Christ event – the stone “cut without hands” struck the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, with the expectation that the Second Advent would follow soon (Behold, I come quickly…Rev. 22:7). Resurrection in Daniel 12 occurs at the end of a period of national tribulation in which Michael the “prince” features. The name Michael (who is like God?) associates the tribulation with the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15), a time of national resurrection from the land of graves (Egypt). The importance of the resurrection event cannot be understated; it is a transformative act of judgement that disrupts the continuum of history and interrupts the deterministic view of history that is otherwise presented by Daniel. Christaan Beker coins the term “transvaluator” for the cross; “The cross negates and judges the worlds of religion and culture: it contradicts wisdom (1 Cor.1:18); it crucifies the law and the world (Gal.2:20; 6:14); it invites public hostility (Phil.3:18); it is foolishness (1 Cor.1:14); a scandal to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Cor.1:23; see Gal.5:11); and truly a manifestation of weakness….By radically overturning the standards of the world – its investment in glory, achievement, wisdom and religiosity – the cross becomes the apocalyptic turning point of history, the transvaluator of values, the beginning of the ontological renewal of creation that will come to completion in God’s new age.”[13] The cross and the resurrection are acts of transformative judgement and as such represent    Continued  ˃


[11] Isaiah 26:19 - Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

[12] Collins links a number of citations from Daniel 12 with precursor texts in Isaiah – these can be found in Chapter 24: Intertextuality in Daniel and Isaiah

[13] J. Christaan Beker, Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 206,209.

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the in-breaking of the eschatological age in the already/not-yet format of an “apocalyptic moment” that awaits full realization at the end. Jesus Christ is the forerunner in this process, he is the vindicated “son of man”, who emerging from the heavenly sanctuary in/on clouds/incense on the Jubilee Day of Atonement and as the true Israel – fulfils the destiny of the nation in having dominion over the “beasts”. Christ is the one par excellence, “who turns many to righteousness”, and who shines… “Like the stars forever and ever” (Dan.12:3)…..“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished”(Gen. 2:1)....He (Jesus) said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit (John 19:30) ...“When the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished” (Dan. 12:7).


The Apocalypse and Daniel


The Apocalypse does not reuse Daniel for literary effect, nor does it recycle Danielic imagery for stylistic reasons. The Apocalypse understands first century events as (at least partially) fulfilling Daniel. The great tribulation and the unsealing[14] of Daniel’s prophecy occurred in the first century with the three-and-one-half year Jewish war and the    Continued  ˃


[14] The first Seal commenced at Passover at the resurrection and the last Seal was completed 42 years later on the day after Passover (Jos.Wars.10.9.1.) with the fall of the last fortress and suicide of the Jewish defenders at Massada. The seals are all related to church history recorded in Acts and to the secular history recorded in Josephus. The conquering Gospel (Rev 6:2; Acts 9:15), Herodian Persecution (Rev 6:4; Acts 12:1-2), Claudian famine (Rev 6:5-6; Acts 11:28), disintegration of the Jewish state (Rev 6:8 cf. Josephus,[Thackeray Loeb edition] who reports assassins, robbers, a false prophet [253-70] and the suppression of rebellions in this period [253,260,263,269f]), Nero persecution (Rev 6:9-11;1 Pet 5:8 ‘slain under the altar’) and the Jewish war concluding with the fall of Jerusalem and last fortress at Massada (Rev 6:12-17)- six Seals, each lasting approximately seven years. See: P. Wyns, “Re-dating Revelation: the case for an early date” in The Christadelphian eJournal of Biblical Interpretation, (eds. A. Perry, P. Wyns, T. Gaston, Annual 2010),214-227

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destruction of the Second Temple. Henceforth, Jesus and his church functioned as the Sanctuary.[15] Because of national unfaithfulness Daniel’s 490 Prophecy was interrupted leaving a final three-and-one-half year period unfulfilled during which the “temple” is measured.....“and those who worship there” (Rev. 11:1).


Daniel 12 Revelation

v. 1 And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation,

7:14 [...]....These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation...

v. 1 [...]....At that time Michael shall stand up......

12:7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon.....

v. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.


11:18 And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints...


v. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

11:3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.


v. 6 [...]....How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?"


6:10 [...]....How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge.......

v. 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever,


10:5-6 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer

v. 7 [...]....when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.


10:7 [...]....but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.


v. 7b [...]....that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.

11:2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.


v. 9 [...]....Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.


5:5 [...]....the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.

v. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.


20:6 [...]....Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.



[15] Klaus Koch observes that, “Neither Mark nor Matthew (nor Q) had the intention of connecting Jesus with world history and empires. Nevertheless, they let Jesus refer primarily to Daniel with respect to the final drama of the time of this world in the so-called Synoptic Apocalypse, Jesus’ last great speech during his lifetime (Mark 13 and parallels). [fn. 42 A. Yarbo Collins, “The Apocalyptic Rhetoric of Mark 13 in Historical Context,” BR 41(1996) 5-36.] Here he declares the destruction of the Temple to be the outstanding sign of the end of days. This prediction corresponds with some apocalyptic texts, where the erection of a totally new holy of the holies (emphasis mine) belonged to the time of fulfilment (Dan 9:24; 1 Enoch 90:28-29)”.  Klaus Koch, “Stages in the Canonization of the Book of Daniel” in The Book of Daniel, Volume 2 Composition and Reception, (eds., John Joseph Collins, Peter W. Flint Brill, 2001, 421-446), 440

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It seems that the witnessing mission of Rev. 11:3 is regarded as “turning many to righteousness” (Dan.12:3), at the end, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 12:4). This indicates a period of prophetic revelation and is the opposite situation of Amos 8:12; “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.” During this period prophetic utterance is accessible. The Seer has Hab.2:3 in mind; “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. The term “appointed time” (mow`ed) often carries the meaning of “set feast” and is a term that is found throughout Daniel (8:19; 10:1; 11:27, 29, 35). The association of “the end” with the Jewish Festal calendar is important in the light of the discovery that 1,260/1,290/1,335 link with Feasts celebrating deliverance, atonement, dedication and reversal of fortunes. The Apocalypse understands the appearance of the mighty angel of Rev.10 with uplifted hand and the sign of mercy (rainbow) above his head as the realization of Dan.12:7, 8 – this is the appeal of Habakkuk 3:2; “O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy”. For Daniel the “midst” of the years of wrath was the “middle of the week” (Dan. 9:27) when the Sanctuary was desolated and offering ceased (this occurred in AD 70). This event confirmed the New Covenant as Christ became the only means of access to God. However, God will remember mercy “in the midst of the years”, hence the rainbow angel. First century Christians expected immediate action and anticipated the second half of the “week “in their lifetime.  This did not occur because of national unfaithfulness and corruption of the church. Instead a “breach of promise” was instigated until the “appointed time” when all things will be brought to fruition: “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know  my breach of promise” (Num.14:34). The same warning based on the same incident was given to first century Jewish-Christians in the epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 4:3-8). The warning was not heeded - the Jewish nation was swept away –the Jewish-Christian church was swept away- the kingdom on earth did not materialise and Christianity became in    Continued  ˃

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essence a “Gentile religion”. Thus first century eschatological expectations of Christians and Jews were frustrated - the prophetic clock stopped ticking.  All the prophecies could (should) have been realized in the first century but they were not. The witnessing mission to Israel at the “end” will correct this anomaly and “many will be turned to righteousness”.


The enigmatic times of Daniel 12


It has been demonstrated in chapter 14 that the Jewish festal calendar forms the basis of time periods in Daniel. The Feasts function as symbolic markers that employ the destruction of the first temple as their departure point and culminate in a Feast (Hanukkah/Atonement/Passover/Purim) and are not Maccabean “updates” of the end. All the feast days (even proto-Hanukkah) were known in the Persian era and it is therefore unnecessary to force them into a Maccabean interpretation. There can be no doubt the Maccabees found it politically expedient to use the proto- Hanukkah feast for the re-dedication of the temple, thus lending legitimacy to their revolt, but this does not imply that all the “times” in Daniel were inspired by the Antiochene crisis. The fact that the “times” are all from the Persian period and are linked to the festal calendar encourages the reader to understand the times of Daniel in a supra-historical, allegorical sense. 




The prophecy in Daniel 12 is multivalent and in some sense supra-historical with applications to three different “end time” scenarios – it is an oversimplification to limit the interpretation to the Antiochene crisis.  Although that crisis is an initial transparency through which the Jews read the prophecies it is apparent that Daniel was not partisan to the Maccabean cause – “Without any doubt,” writes Gerhard von Rad, “the writer of Daniel sides with those who endure persecution rather than those who take up arms against it, and in so doing he is only being true to his own basic conviction that what must be will be. He is far removed from the Maccabees and their policy of active resistance; their large following is actually suspect in his eyes”.[16]  The prophecies    Continued  ˃


[16] Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, (New York: Harper & Row, 1965),2:315

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vouchedsafe to Daniel make it clear that God’s hand could not be forced – either by attempting an early end to the exile under Cyrus, or by establishing through armed resistance an independent Hasmonean kingdom, nor by collaborating with the Romans in order to retain a measure of independence, nor, for that matter, establishing a Zionist state. Yahweh will build his own temple and establish his own kingdom on earth when the time comes to perform his ‘good word’.[17] This calls for the patience and endurance of the saints of all ages who rest assured in the knowledge that “God rules in the kingdoms of men”.

[17] Zechariah 4:6 - So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts”.