Daniel 10

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 19, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Daniel’s Terrifying Vision of a Man


That chapter opens with a word revealed to Daniel “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia”. Daniel received this vision in 536 BC. Assuming Daniel was about fifteen when taken captive, he was approximately eighty-four years old at the time. The vision was about a great conflict in the future, recounted in Dan. 11:2–12:3. The last three chapters of Daniel are about the same vision.

Dan. 10:2-9 is of Daniel’s mourning and vision of a man. Daniel was standing on the bank of the Tigris river, some twenty miles from Babylon. At the advanced age of eighty-four, Daniel had not made the difficult and demanding journey to Israel with the other Jewish returnees, but he remained instead in government service in Babylon. Daniel lifted up his eyes and saw a man “clothed in linen” with “eyes like flaming torches” and “arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze” (Dan. 10:5-6). Despite his similarity to Christ’s appearance as described in Rev. 1:12–16, the angel in the form of a man dressed in linen cannot have been the preincarnate Messiah because Christ would not need help from the angel Michael. The other men with Daniel did not see the man but still trembled, sensing a powerful and terrifying presence (cp. Acts 9:7). At the sound of the man’s words, Daniel fell on his face “in deep sleep” similar to Dan. 8:18.

In Dan. 10:10-14, the man touched Daniel and set him on his hands and knees (Dan. 10:10). The man spoke to Daniel and told him to stand upright as he was greatly loved (Dan. 10:11). Daniel stood up trembling and the man told him that his words had been heard “from the first day” he set his heart to understand and humbled himself (Dan. 10:12). Daniel’s humble heart was set in contrast to the other rulers. The man spoke of “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” who resisted him for 21 days. The Persian prince had to be supernatural to oppose this angel, and he had to be evil to oppose God’s purposes. He seems most likely to be a demonic spirit seeking to influence the political affairs of Persia and oppose God’s purposes. Other Scriptures also teach that there are unseen spiritual forces influencing principalities and world powers (Ezek. 28:11–19; 2 Cor. 10:3–4; Eph. 6:12). The unnamed angel was able to prevail over the demon associated with Persia only because the angel Michael … came to help him.

In the remaining verses (Dan. 10:15-21), Daniel responds by turning his face to the ground and being mute. He spoke to the man that he had no strength and was unable to talk because of the “vision pains” (Dan. 10:16). The man touched him, saying that he was “greatly loved” and to “be strong” and “of good courage” (Dan. 10:19). Daniel was strengthened and the man told him that he will return to “fight against the prince of Persia” and that when he goes out, the “prince of Greece will come.” (Dan. 10:20). The prince of Greece is an allusion to the prediction that Greece would follow Persia as the next major world power (Dan. 8:4–8, Dan. 8:20–22). The angel’s final purpose was to reveal what is recorded in the book of truth (lit “the writings of truth”), a reference not to a particular earthly book but to God’s heavenly decrees about the future of all nations. No one would contend with the man by his side except the prince, Michael (Dan. 10:21). This is the first reference to Michael’s princeship. He occurs frequently in extrabiblical literature of the Hellenistic period and in the biblical corpus (Dan. 10:13; Dan. 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7).


Daniel saw another vision of a man clothed in linen and his strength left him. The man spoke to Daniel and he fell into a deep sleep. A hand touched Daniel and the man told him that he was “greatly loved” and to understand the works he spoke. Daniel continues in his weakened state and the man touched his lips, empowering him to speak and later touched him again to strengthen him. The man told Daniel of his intention to fight against the prince of Persia and that the prince of Greece will come.

Throughout the chapter, there is a pattern of human meekness, fragility and being strengthened by divine touch. At various points, we read that Daniel is touched to be set on his knees, to begin speaking or to be strengthened. The angelic figure shows compassion for Daniel and his heart toward understanding and humility. It is a demonstration of how God’s strength awaits those who confess their own powerlessness and great need for Him. It is in Christ alone that we find the strength to endure all things. Nothing of ourselves will carry us through. As with those in exile centuries ago, let us also be mindful today that “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Is. 40:29)

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