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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 10-12
Part 1: The Janus Chiasmus between Daniel 10 & 11 and Commentary on Daniel 10

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 22 March 2019 *



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Daniel 10-12 Timeline

Fig. 1


Introduction

In this 3-part study, we interpret Daniel 10-12 based on an analysis of the chiastic structure of the passage. In Part 1, we point out the Janus Chiasmus that acts as a bridge or literary hinge between Daniel 10 and Daniel 11. It is necessary to be aware of the chiastic structure of the Janus passage to correctly interpret the text contained in it.

We also have in Part 1 a commentary on Daniel 10, which gives us the start date necessary to compute the important date of the final resurrection.

In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series of 3 papers we will show that Daniel 11-12 is a detailed prophecy in the form of a complex, multi-layered chiasmus.


Discussion

We start with a commentary on Daniel 10:1-20 before parsing and commenting on the Janus.

1. A commentary on Daniel 10:1-20a.

We will use the NIV translation for this section.


1a In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar).

After Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon, he installed Darius the Mede as ruler in the city around 538BC (Dan. 5:30-31, 6:28). (The Persians and Medes, who were the two-horned ram of Dan. 8:3, enjoyed a stable alliance that was strengthened through marriage.) Cyrus himself officially became ruler of Babylon around two years later in 536BC when the elderly Darius the Mede died (Darius appears to be the throne name of Cyaxares II the Mede). So the third year of Cyrus as king of Medo-Persia from Babylon is the year 534BC - the start date of the prophecy in Dan. 11&12.



1b Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

The prophecy in Daniel 11&12 predicts that there will be long periods of great warfare (the word translated "war" can also mean "warfare") and the associated misery. It predicts several major wars that affect the Judahites, such as: the six Syrian wars, Alexander's conquests and the First Jewish-Roman war.



2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

Daniel does not speak of the tribulation that caused him to mourn for three weeks, but he may have been concerned about the opposition the Judahites faced while rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:1-5). ( An edict by Cyrus in his first year, which started in 536BC, had just allowed the Judahites to return to Judea from Babylon in 535BC - Ezra 1:1-4. They had been exiled to Babylon 70 years prior, beginning from the fourth year of Jehoiakim and after the battle of Carchemish in 605BC - Jer. 25:1-12, Jer. 46:2. )



4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,

Daniel reveals the exact date of the vision down to the day - the twenty-fourth day of the first month (Tishri). This detail may prove significant because we use the date of this vision to compute the time of the final resurrection.



5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

In our analysis of the Janus below, we show that this man that Daniel saw by the Tigris river is the archangel Michael. We believe that the physical appearance of an angel reflects his character, for example: the linen represents righteousness (Rev. 19:8), the flaming eyes may indicate wisdom or insight, and his bronze feet may indicate trustworthiness or faithfulness. ( Note that the physical appearance of this angel is similar to that of the angel described in Rev. 1:13-16. )



7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

We believe that angels, when they convey a message from a heavenly source, sometimes speak in the first person as though they themselves were the source. During the revelation of the message, they may also speak for themselves. This leads to some confusion, as it is not clear whether the angel is speaking for himself or for someone else. For example, in the passage about Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-17), we are told that an angel spoke to Moses from the burning bush, but the angel uses the first person pronoun as though he himself were God. Similarly, in the book of Revelation, the angel sometimes speaks as though he were Jesus and sometimes speaks as himself. Jacob wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32:22–32, but is credited with fighting God.

In this case, the archangel Michael, who had come to Daniel to convey a prophecy from another unnamed powerful heavenly being, speaks as though he himself were that being - Michael only speaks as himself in Ch. 11:1.



12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

The heavenly being (that Michael represented) wrestled with the angel who controlled Persia for 21 days. This is the same length of time for which Daniel fasted and prayed in vs 2,3, which implies that the heavenly being responded to Daniel's request as soon as he started praying (vs. 12). Daniel's prayers were presumably a plea to thwart opposition to the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. In reply, the heavenly being wrestled with the angel of Persia so that the angel may influence king Cyrus to deal favourably with the Judahites. This may be the reason Michael, who was responsible for the Israelites (Ch 12:1), went to his aid. We see from these passages that powerful angels are placed in charge of the various regions and nations of the earth (see Psalm 82).

The phrase "Michael, one of the chief princes" can also be translated "Michael, the first of the chief princes", which would make Michael the commander of the angels or "Prince of Princes" (see Dan. 8:25).



14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

The prophecy from the angel in Ch. 11 is primarily about the empires to the north and south of Palestine, and so it predicts the future of the people of Daniel, the Judahites. Daniel was given these prophecies because he was concerned about the future of the Judahites ("set your mind to gain understanding" in vs 12).



15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
20a So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you?

The awesome sight of the angel repeatedly renders Daniel terrified, weak and speechless, and so the angel reassures him before continuing. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John is similarly affected by the sight of this angel (Rev. 1:17).



2. The structure of the Janus chiasmus

We will use the KJV translation for this sectiom.

A Janus Chiasmus, named after the two-faced Roman god with faces pointed in opposite directions, is a chiasmus that connects two passages and has related elements of both passages in its corresponding subunits.

We parse the chiasmus in Daniel 10:20b - 11:3 into subunits, treating the phrase "In the first year of Darius the Mede" as the chiastic pivot, to arrive at the 3-unit chiastic structure below:



A1   10:20b I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
  B1   10:21a But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth:
    C1   10:21b, 11:1a and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.11:1a Also I
      X   11:1b In the first year of Darius the Mede,
    C2   11:1c even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
  B2   11:2a And now will I shew thee the truth.
A2   11:2b - 11:3 Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. 3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.


3. A commentary on the Janus in Daniel 10:20 - 11:3.

This is not a cryptochiasmus and so a rearrangement is not necessary, but we do so below for clarity and convenience.


Subunits A1 A2

A1   10:20b I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.

A2   11:2b - 11:3 Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. 3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

The heavenly being (that Michael represented) must immediately return to battle the "prince" or angel of Persia (note that Ch 11:2b in subunit A2 mentions the corresponding human kings of Persia). Since he did not have the time to give Daniel the lengthy prophecy of Ch. 11,12, he decides to do so at later date; he had primarily come at the time to establish the correct start date for the prophecy and to assure Daniel that his prayers for the Judahites were being addressed.

The "prince of Grecia" in subunit A1 refers to the angel that controls Greece. This angel will aid in Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia (Ch. 11:3 in subunit A2).

So the "princes" that the heavenly being deals with in subunit A1 are the angels that control the human kings in subunit A2.



Subunits B1 B2

B1   10:21a But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth:

B2   11:2a And now will I shew thee the truth.

In subunit B1, the heavenly being promises to return to give Daniel the prophecy after battling the prince of Persia. In subunit B2, he returns and says that he will now give Daniel the prophecy. So subunit B2 is a simple confirmation of subunit B1. The "scripture of truth" may reference a record of God's plans (Psalm 139:16).



Subunits C1 C2

C1   10:21b, 11:1a and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. 11:1a And I

C2   11:1c even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.

We have established that there is a pattern in this Janus whereby the second subunit is a sort of confirmation of the first. By extension, we can treat subunit C2 as a confirmation of C1. So, in subunit C1, archangel Michael, speaking for the other heavenly being, says, "Michael supports me". In subunit C2, Michael, speaking for himself, confirms what is said in subunit C1, saying, "I stood to confirm and strengthen him". We contend that this serves as evidence for our position that Michael is the angel that conveyed this prophecy to Daniel. ( Note also that the word "prince" is again used in vs. 10:21 for the angel that is responsible for a nation - Michael, in this case. )



Pivot point X

X   11:1b In the first year of Darius the Mede,

The Pivot point X of the chiasmus is the first line of the prophecy in Ch. 11&12, and like most first lines in Daniel, this one helps date the prophecy. The "Darius the Mede" of this verse must have been a Median satrap in Babylon under Cyrus some time after Cyrus' third year (this is not the Darius of Dan. 5:31).



4. The reason for the Janus?

The long prophecy in Ch. 11&12 was given on another day some time after the vision of Ch 10 because the heavenly being had to immediately rush back to wrestle with the angel of Persia. The reason for linking the two prophecies with a Janus may be to preserve the start date of the vision to exactly 3500 years from the date of the end times resurrection. But the primary reason for this Janus, like that of all cryptochiasmi, is to veil the true meaning of this key prophetic passage.


Conclusion

This study helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding these verses between Ch. 10-11. We were able to see and parse this chiasmus because, over the centuries, scribes and translators chose to faithfully reproduce the structure and every word of the text even when its meaning was not clear.

In deciphering this chiasmus, we realize that Michael is the angel that brought Daniel this prophecy, and this information can be used to better understand other Biblical passages like the book of Revelation. The other 'princes' mentioned - the angels of Persia and Grecia - will also be part of the 10-headed beast at the time of the Antichrist (Rev 17:8-11, 13:2).

We believe that the total time of mankind on earth is around 7 millennia, and so the time at which this important prophecy was given to the great prophet Daniel, 3 1/2 millennia from the end (see Part 3), falls at the midpoint of human history.






Part 1 Part 2 Part 3





* Updated 7/8/2020 with the correct interpretation of the 1290 days, and parsing changes. Updated 31/10/2020 with a more precise final days date and event.








Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Cryptochiasmus