Book of Daniel

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The four visions of chapters seven to twelve consist of four visions focusing on a fearsome future king who attacks the "saints", and the city and temple of Jerusalem; in contrast to the earlier chapters, they 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. This section of Daniel contains the first references to the "kingdom of God" in Jewish scripture, and the first overt reference to the resurrection of the dead.

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 beast has ten horns representing ten kings. They are followed by a further wicked king, or "little horn", who subdues three of the ten (7:24), speaks against the Most High, wages war against the saints, and attempts to change the set times and laws (7:25); after 'a time and times and half a time', this king is judged and stripped of his kingdom by an "Ancient of Days" and his heavenly court (7:26); next, "one like a son of man" approaches the Ancient of Days and is invested with worldwide dominion; moreover, his everlasting reign over all kings and kingdoms is shared with "the people of the Most High" (7:27)

Vision of the ram and goat

The vision in the third year of Belshazzar concerning a ram and a male goat (8:1-27) which, we are informed, represent Medea, 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".

Prophecy of the 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.

Vision of the kings of north and south

Daniel has 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". The northern kingdom is likely that of the Seleucids, which climaxed in Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" persecuting Jews in Judea and placing an idol in the Temple in Jerusalem.

The visions of Daniel, with those of 1 Enoch, Isaiah, Jubilees, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, are the 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).

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