Daniel 10 – Daniel’s Vision of a Great Angelic Being

Daniel 10 is a prologue to the apocalyptic history beginning in 11:2. Like Daniel 9, the chapter begins with Daniel concerned about the end of the captivity. From Daniel’s perspective the seventy years appear to be over. All the Jewish exiles should able to return to Jerusalem, but only few are taking advantage Cyrus’s decree. Daniel therefor turns to the Lord in prayer for his people, asking God when the final vindication of Israel will finally begin.

Angel of FireThis vision is dated to the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia, likely 537 B.C. This third year could refer to Cyrus as king over all the Persian Empire or only to when he conquered the Babylonians. If the latter is the case, then this final vision of Daniel is in his seventieth year of service. The year 537 B.C. is after the first of the Jews began to return to Jerusalem, perhaps the reason for Daniel’s fasting and prayer. Daniel may have sought the Lord on behalf of those who were working in Jerusalem.

Daniel says he was fasting and mourning (10:2-3). This could be a “bread and water” fast since the text says he ate no choice food or wine nor did he use lotions. Oils and lotions were a luxury and a sign of joy and happiness (Ps 45:7). They would have been inappropriate during a fast.

What was the purpose of his fasting? Some suggest Daniel was upset the work in Jerusalem was going slowly. Others suggest he was still perplexed over the previous vision and was seeking the Lord for a clarification of the visions in Daniel 8 and 9. This fast begins before Passover and continues ten days beyond. During this period the Jews typically reflect on the Exodus, perhaps Daniel is looking forward to a new Exodus, from Babylon back to Jerusalem.

But fasting is associated with visions in the apocalyptic literature. Reflecting of the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah and Baruch fast for seven days (2 Baruch 9:2). In 4 Ezra the prophet fasts before visions in response to the command of the angel Uriel (4 Ezra 5:20). In the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra 1:5, Michael the archangel commands Ezra to “lay aside bread for seventy weeks,” and he claims to fast “twice sixty weeks.” After 120-week fast, Ezra has a series of visionary experiences. In the New Testament Peter has a vision after a short fast (Acts 10:10). Daniel’s fast may be significant because one of the many things Antiochus does is forbid the Jewish fast day (1 Macc 1:39).

In his vision, Daniel sees a “man” dressed in linen, a common outfit for an angel in Scripture (Ezek 9:2 and 10). White linen is considered to be ritually pure, a priestly garment (Lev. 16:4). This would be a bleached white garment, or brilliantly white. This form of a man wears a sash of gold, a common symbol of wealth in the Ancient Near East. His body is like chrysolite and his face is like lightning, literally, has the appearance of lightning, and his eyes are like flaming torches, again, bright light, glowing, radiant, emphasis on the burning (Ezek 1:4). The man’s arms and legs are like polished bronze (Ezek 1:7).  His voice was like the sound of a multitude.  A huge noisy crowd, overwhelming, incomprehensible.

There are similar angelic beings in apocalyptic literature. For example, in the Apocalypse of Abraham 11:1-3:

And I stood up and saw him who had taken my right hand and set me on my feet. The appearance of his body was like sapphire, and the aspect of his face was like chrysolite, and the hair of his head like snow. And a kidaris [royal tiara worn by Persian kings] was on his head, its look that of a rainbow, and the clothing of his garments (was) purple; and a golden staff (was) in his right hand.

Similar features appear in the description of angelic beings in 3 Enoch 35:2. [For more on angels in 3 Enoch, see this post.]

Every angel is as the Great Sea in height, and the appearance of their faces is like lightning; their eyes are like torches of fire; their arms and feet look like burnished bronze, and the roar of their voices when they speak is as the sound of a multitude.

In the Apocalypse of Zephaniah the prophet encounters an angel he believes is the Lord himself. The angel identifies himself as Eremiel, an angel in charge of the abyss and Hades where “all of the souls are imprisoned from the end of the Flood.”

I saw a great angel standing before me with his face shining like the rays of the sun in its glory since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory. And he was girded as if a golden girdle were upon his breast. His feet were like bronze which is melted in a fire

Who is this angelic being in Daniel 10? Because of the glory associated with the appearance of the man it is assumed at the very least Daniel saw an angel of some kind similar to these later apocalyptic texts. A common suggestion this is the same angel Daniel met in chapter 9, Gabriel. But some have suggested this is a theophany similar to Ezekiel seeing God’s glory in his inaugural vision. There are many parallel between these two visions. There is also a remarkable similarity between this passage and the description of Christ in Revelation 1. Many Christian commentators, especially the early church, identified this being as the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

However, if this being is the same who speaks in in 10:10-14, then it has been hindered by the “prince of Persia” and needed the assistance of Michael. This being was sent by God with the answer to Daniel’s prayer, making it unlikely to be God himself. One solution is that the vision in 10:1-9 is different than the angelic being who speaks in 10:10.

Whatever the case, Daniel’s final vision begins with a powerful angelic being. He is overwhelmed by this vision and fell into a deep sleep before the angel reveals “what is inscribed in the book of truth.”

7 thoughts on “Daniel 10 – Daniel’s Vision of a Great Angelic Being

  1. Those are all the same angel whose name has largely been withheld. He is the single, solitary angel sent before Israel who bears the ineffable name (Exodus 23) – He is the servant of Isaiah who Jehovah says led Israel out of Egypt to earn himself an everlasting name…an everlasting name like Michael and Gabriel and all the seven archangels. He is in fact the central character of revelation – the angel who throws the golden censer as the seven – yes THE seven archangels – prepare to sound their trumpets. He is the messenger of Revelation to whom Jesus refers as “mine angel” and who John worships twice – at the END of Revelation as John is witnessing the crowning exaltation of the Angel upon whose thigh the Lord writes his name – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – which is the promise given in Revelation 3:12 for those who overcome the sixth level of progression. He is the Rod of Jesse and the Parakletos – compare Isaiah 11 to John 16.

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  2. Those are all the same angel whose name has largely been withheld. He is the single, solitary angel sent before Israel who bears the ineffable name (Exodus 23) – He is the servant of Isaiah who Jehovah says led Israel out of Egypt to earn himself an everlasting name…an everlasting name like Michael and Gabriel and all the seven archangels. He is in fact the central character of revelation – the angel who throws the golden censer as the seven – yes THE seven archangels – prepare to sound their trumpets. He is the messenger of Revelation to whom Jesus refers as “mine angel” and who John worships twice – at the END of Revelation as John is witnessing the crowning exaltation of the Angel upon whose thigh the Lord writes his name – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – which is the promise given in Revelation 3:12 for those who overcome the sixth level of progression. He is the Rod of Jesse and the Parakletos – compare Isaiah 11 to John 16.

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  3. Daniel’s vision of a great Angelic being.
    The order of this blog post went from why would Daniel be fasting to who is this angelic being that has been seen in multiple other visions from other people in the past.
    When it comes to why Daniel would be fasting, I think it’s as easy as that he is a jew and that is a common practice jews do all the time. Not only that but the purpose of fasting is depriving yourself of what you need, like food or water, and when you want to consume you then fill yourself with God. This helps you keep your focus centered on your dependence on God and not on anything else.
    What is interesting is that even Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in Matthew four. Jesus was then tempted by Satan, but then Jesus dropped a great one-liner ‘Man shall not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4).” by Jesus doing things, he is practicing his dependence on God.
    In this case with Daniel, he was most likely fasting to hear from God just like PLong said in the blog post. It was then after the fasting that Daniel had the vision on the angelic being that many other people have seen before him. The question is who is this angelic being. Some say that it could be Gabriel, but I say, why not Jesus. This could be one of those situations in which Jesus the Son of God appears in the old testament. Just like earlier in Daniel when Jesus shows up in the fiery furnace. I think that it is so cool that there are accounts in which there is a great possibility that Jesus the son appears before he was a man that walked with us.

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  4. Throughout Daniel chapter 10, it is mostly talking about fasting. One of the main questions about fasting is, what is the purpose of fasting? I believe that fasting is one way the Jews try and become closer to God. They do this by putting God first and trusting that God will give them strength throughout that time and not receive it from the food. Some individuals will idolize food. For example, some people will eat when they are depressed or are dealing with something that had happened to them in the past and believing food will comfort them instead of looking to God for strength to help them through this difficult time. At the beginning of this blog post it is said that Daniel started this fasting to “sought the lord” and I do believe that is why people fast. The next question in this blog post was, who is this angelic being in Daniel? I believe that is was Jesus. Some people would say that it could have been someone else such as Gabriel, but I believe otherwise. This angelic being came to Daniel and gave him strength during his fasting, at which then he was stronger and asked for the Lord to speak with him since he has given him strength.

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