Daniel 7:9-14 is an apocalyptic throne room scene. The description of a great throne room is common in prophetic and apocalyptic literature. Isaiah has his inaugural vision of the Lord, “high and exalted, seated on his throne,” surrounded by angelic creatures (Isaiah 6:1-5). Ezekiel’s first vision describes the glory of God as a glowing otherworldly man seated on a throne of lapis lazuli accompanied by strange “living creatures” (Ezek 1:25-28).
1 Enoch has several throne room scenes similar to Daniel 7:9-14.
1 Enoch 14:18-25 18 And I observed and saw inside it a lofty throne—its appearance was like crystal and its wheels like the shining sun; and (I heard?) the voice of the cherubim; 19 and from beneath the throne were issuing streams of flaming fire. It was difficult to look at it. 20 And the Great Glory was sitting upon it—as for his gown, which was shining more brightly than the sun, it was whiter than any snow. 21 None of the angels was able to come in and see the face of the Excellent and the Glorious One; and no one of the flesh can see him—22 the flaming fire was round about him, and a great fire stood before him. No one could come near unto him from among those that surrounded the tens of millions (that stood) before him. 23 He needed no council, but the most holy ones who are near to him neither go far away at night nor move away from him. 24 Until then I was prostrate on my face covered and trembling. And the Lord called me with his own mouth and said to me, “Come near to me, Enoch, and to my holy Word.” 25 And he lifted me up and brought me near to the gate, but I (continued) to look down with my face.
1 Enoch 40:1-2 And after that, I saw a hundred thousand times a hundred thousand, ten million times ten million, an innumerable and uncountable (multitude) who stand before the glory of the Lord of the Spirits. 2 I saw them standing—on the four wings of the Lord of the Spirits—and saw four other faces among those who do not slumber, and I came to know their names, which the angel who came with me revealed to me; and he (also) showed me all the hidden things.
1 Enoch 60:1-3 In the year five hundred, in the seventh month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the life of Enoch; in the same parable (I saw) that the heaven of heavens was quaking and trembling with a mighty tremulous agitation, and the forces of the Most High and the angels, ten thousand times a million and ten million times ten million, were agitated with great agitation. 2 And the Antecedent of Time was sitting on the throne of his glory surrounded by the angels and the righteous ones. 3 (Then) a great trembling and fear seized me and my loins and kidneys lost control. So I fell upon my face.
Like Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7, Enoch sees a flaming throne and a being with bright clothing light lightning. The name of the one on the throne in Daniel “Ancient of Days” is similar to the “Antecedent of Time” (sometimes translated as “the head of days.” There is a huge multitude of angelic witnesses in both Daniel and 1 Enoch, 1 Enoch also refers to four “living creatures.” Even the reaction of the visionary is similar. Isaiah cries out “woe is me” because he has seen the living God, Daniel is deeply trouble at the end of this vision (7:28) and in his final vision he is completely devastated by a vision of a man/angel/God, he falls into a deep sleep with his face to the ground (10:7-9).
In Daniel 7:9-10, the judge on the throne is the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days is usually interpreted as title for God even though there no other uses of the phrase in the Hebrew Bible. Identifying the on one the throne is complicated by the description of this ancient being giving his authority to the (young) son of man. The older figure sits on one throne while delegating judgment to the “son of man” on a second throne. Phillip Munoa has a list of interpretations (Four Powers in Heaven: The Interpretation of Daniel 7 in the Testament of Abraham. JSPSup 28. Sheffield: Sheffield University Press, 1998).
- The medieval Jewish scholar Jephet took the “ancient of days” to be an angel, Ibn Ezra specified the Ancient of Days to be Michael the archangel.
- Rabbi Hayyim Galipapa (1310-1380) identified the Ancient of Days with Matthias Maccabees, the “old man” of the Maccabean revolt, imply the “son of man” was Judas Maccabees.
- In the sixth century Jewish text, Gedullat Mosheh, the writer identifies God as the ancient of days, but the con of man is an angel, Metatron.
- In the Testament of Abraham, the Ancient one is Adam, the son of Man is Abel (as the protomartyr).
If Daniel is consistent with earlier apocalyptic throne room scenes then the one on the throne is God. It is his kingdom which will subdue the kingdoms of men. People of all nations will worship the son of man (7:14) and the kingdom of the Most High will be everlasting (7:26).