During the reign of King Cyrus, Daniel receives another message from God about a great conflict in the future.
Daniel’s final and most detailed vision is found in chapters 10-12. In Chapter 2, we saw Daniel interpret a vision given to King Nebuchadnezzar. The first two visions given to Daniel were during the reign of Babylonian King Belshazzar (Daniel 7-8). The third vision took place after Persia conquered Babylon, during the first year of Darius’s rule (Daniel 9). This final vision occurs in the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia. Some scholars believe that Cyrus and Darius are the same man; others conclude that Darius was simply a governor set over the city of Babylon, where Daniel lived out his exile from Israel.
At this time, Daniel is an old man, likely somewhere in his eighties. He identifies himself as both Daniel, his Jewish name, and Belteshazzar, his Babylonian name.This could be because the intended audience for this first person message included Babylonians who would have known him as Belteshazzar. He refers to his experience as both a vision and a message. The vision is of an angelic messenger from God, and the message concerns the future power struggles between earthly kings, as well as Israel’s place in these struggles.
Daniel introduces this message as true and one of great conflict. Daniel informs the reader that he understood the message given to him and that he also had an understanding of the vision. This is a key difference relative to the previous visions.
The writing style changes to a first-person perspective as Daniel explains his vision, and the context in which it occurred. This is a first hand account. He has been mourning for three entire weeks. Daniel gives no reason for his mourning at this point. However, in verse 12 the angel says that the vision and message was dispatched from the first day that Daniel set his heart on understanding, which is likely from the time Daniel began his fast. His mourning seems likely to be connected in some way to what he was seeking to understand. In the course of his sorrow, he has denied himself tasty food, including meat and wine. He is not using ointment at all. He is not affording himself any sort of sensory pleasure or comfort until the three weeks were completed. It appears that Daniel initially set out to make a three weeks fast in order to gain understanding.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision. 2 In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.
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