Corresponds with Sabbath School Study Guide: Dec 11-17
This chapter is dated to the third year of King Cyrus or 536 BC. The first exiles have already returned to Palestine because of the decree of Cyrus. Ezra 1:1-3 says:
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you–may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.'”
One can imagine the excitement among the exiles when this proclamation was made. As for Daniel, he was more than eighty years old, and by this time he must have left Babylon and lived in the city of Susa. His advanced age must have prevented him from joining those who had returned to Palestine.
In Judah, the work on the rebuilding of the temple began with great joy:
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. (Ezra 3:10, 11)
This excitement, however, did not last long. Soon the returning remnant was faced with some serious difficulties. In the first place there was strong opposition to the work of rebuilding the temple. Ezra 4:4, 5 says:
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
In Persia, the crown prince called Cambyses was promoted to the position of coregent by his father Cyrus. He was neither favorable nor generous toward the provinces and may have even been religiously hostile toward people like the Jews. Again, when faced with difficulties in life, Daniel fasted and prayed asking for help from heaven.
Chapter 10 of Daniel is closely linked with the previous chapter, and the two form the central part of the second half of the book. In both chapters Daniel is introduced to the work of a special heavenly being in behalf of his people. The plan of this chapter may be presented as follows:
Relevant Biblical Passages
- Daniel 10:2, 3, 12, 13. Daniel is again praying and he is on a special diet. Why did he periodically avoid eating choice food such as meat diet, drinking grape juice or wine, and even the use of lotion? Unlike the situation recorded in 9:23 where Gabriel says “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you” (verse 23), in this case Daniel is praying and waiting for three weeks. Later in the chapter, he is told that the answer from heaven was delayed due to a conflict between God’s messenger and the forces that oppose God’s plans. Who was “the prince of the Persian kingdom?” Do you think that the forces of evil can be so strong as to “delay” the fulfillments of God’s plans?When the Jews returned home they were not willing to let the people from the surrounding nations take part in the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Do you favor this narrow and rigid exclusivist attitude? Was this type of behavior in line with the OT prophecies that predicted a time when all nations will worship God in Jerusalem, or with the revelation given to Daniel that the Anointed ruler “will confirm a covenant with many”(9:27)?
- Daniel 10:4-10. Daniel receives a vision while standing on the bank of the river Tigris. This detail reminds of the introduction to the vision in chapter eight. Is there any significance in his mentioning of the exact location where the vision was given? Can the way in which the person in the vision was dressed help us identify who he was? How does this vision compare to the visions of God elsewhere in the Bible? What kind of impact did the vision have on Daniel and on his companions? The study of the theme of “a hand” in Daniel’s book is a fascinating topic. Compare the function of “a hand” in verse ten with the hand that wrote Belshazzar’s verdict on the wall of the palace in Babylon! (Daniel 5).
- Daniel 10:18-11:1. Three times in this chapter Daniel is too weak to stand and he is touched and strengthened by the heavenly messenger. In this passage we hear again of the prince of Persia, and the prince of Greece is also introduced. What is the Book of Truth? Who was Michael and what was his role in the history of Daniel’s people? What is the meaning of the name Mi-cha-El? In our Bible Darius the Mede is mentioned in 11:1. It is interesting that in the Septuagint Cyrus the Persian’s name is found in this verse instead of Darius’.
Lessons for Life
In this chapter we are reminded again that Daniel was a person of prayer. What can we learn from his way of praying in this chapter that we had not seen before? How was his long waiting rewarded at the end of three weeks?
From Daniel’s book we learn of a God whose primary goal was to save not just his remnant but the gentiles, too. The same may be said of Daniel. Did the people who returned to Palestine, have this same attitude? Imagine that Daniel was in the group that came back to Jerusalem. How would he have related to the peoples around Judah who offered to help in the rebuilding of the temple and the holy city?
When we witness conflicts in our daily lives, do we tend to explain them at the level of this earth only, or do we relate them to the struggles in spiritual realms in heaven? Are we aware of the fact that without divine intervention we are helpless in our struggle against evil?