(KJV) Daniel 10:1-5

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. 4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:

Is Daniel here mourning about what he is about to be shown or what he had already been shown in the previous chapters?

2 Answers 2


According to Adam Clarke's commentary, the third year of Cyrus was the same as the first year of Darius the Mede from chap. 9.

Excerpt on vs. 2:

"I - was mourning three full weeks - The weeks are most probably dated from the time of the termination of the last vision. Calmet proves this by several reasons." Source: here

It was the shock of learning of the end of the Jewish polity and the end of the hope of any restoration of Israel to its earlier glory under Solomon that caused Daniel's grief. Daniel had been asking about the 70 years of the prophesy for the return to Jerusalem and release from the Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9:2).

He had wanted to know the end of the desolation / waste of Jerusalem, and God sent Gabriel to answer that specific question. Daniel had thought he asking about the return to Jerusalem from Babylon. But, the end that was the true question, the end of the desolation was not what he expected to hear.

To be told that his people (the Jews) and his holy city (Jerusalem) would be destroyed, that the end of the desolation was the complete destruction of the very city of God to which Daniel was seeking to return made him sick at heart.

Daniel was mourning what he had learned in the previous vision in chap. 9. In chap. 10 Gabriel tells him that he was busy dealing with the king of Persia (Cyrus), and had to wait until Michael could help before he could return and explain more to Daniel. Gabriel gave strength to Daniel to hear the rest of the prophesy.

Gabriel then rehearses in chap. 11 the secular history that would unfold from the fourth king of Persia (Xerxes) through the remaining three kingdoms of the visions from chap. 2 and 7: Mede-Persia, Greece, and the Romans. That history rehearsed the wars of these troublesome times all the way through about 400 years and the rule of the king of Judea at the time of the Messiah's appearance. That king was Herod. See the history outlined here.

Daniel was still reeling from this vision, as in Chap. 12 he asked Gabriel when would be the end of these things (Dan. 12:6). Daniel was still wondering when will the desolation of Jerusalem end. He still did not quite understand that it wasn't going to be rebuilt, and asked the question a second time in verse 8.

It never occurred to Daniel that Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, and that his question of the end of the desolation of Jerusalem was not the return from Babylon. Learning that his people would eventually be scattered and his city destroyed was completely unexpected and overwhelming.

  • What do you mean by "the end of the Jews"?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 11, 2017 at 14:00
  • The end of their national polity, the end of the temple system, the end of the priesthood, and the scattering of their people throughout all the world. God ended their national existence in AD 70. Even though men conspired to recreate a state of Israel through terrorist take over tactics in 1948 does not make them God's chosen people, nor does it make the state of Israel the "promised land". See God's Definitions Part I & Part II - The House of Isreal; & The House of God at my blog - https:shreddingtheveil.org.
    – Gina
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:54
  • May I trouble you to amend your answer to replace the words "the end of the Jews" to something the better reflects your view of the end of their polity? As written it has very disturbing connotations. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 11, 2017 at 19:40
  • OK. Done. But you might be interested to know that about 95% of the population of the world today can claim DNA evidence of lineage to Abraham. Since the diaspora of the Jews to all nations most of us have the blood ties they so highly tout.
    – Gina
    Oct 11, 2017 at 20:30
  • Jewishness is matrilineal; reckoned only through the mother. (Tribal affiliation is reckoned through the father). I'm a little disturbed by your choice of phrasing "blood lines they so highly tout". Do I detect some contempt for the Jews?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 11, 2017 at 20:35

The OP offers us two choices: either Daniel mourned because of what he had already been shown, or what he was about to be shown. It does not make sense that he would mourn for something he had not yet been shown, so of the two choices, the first is better. In any case I suggest three reasons for his mourning.

Because he could not return with the other Exiles

Note the timing of mourning:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.

Cyrus was the king who enabled the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. The first wave of exiles had already returned by the time in question. Daniel could not be among them, apparently because of his advanced age. To return and rebuild the Temple was the great hope of the Jews at that time, promised to them by both Ezekiel and Isaiah. Cyrus had now made this possible, but Daniel, who lived most of his life in exile, could not participate. So his inability to join them was probably one reason for his mourning.

Because he knew his people would suffer

Another reason would indeed be his foreknowledge that his people would suffer. (As mentioned he would not mourn because of what he was about to be shown.) Although the timing of his visions is confusing we can presume that he knew his people would suffer.

He mourned in repentance

However, since a type of fasting was involved, we should also consider that Daniel mourned for his people's sins. The theme of national repentance looms over this entire period, not only in the Book of Daniel but also in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Chapter 9 of Daniel expresses this theme eloquently.

I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and terrible God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from thy commandments and ordinances; 6 we have not listened to thy servants the prophets, who spoke in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (3-6)

The above prayer represents the attitude of all the major prophets and pious Jews of the time. Ultimately, it is the best way of understanding why Daniel mourned.

Addendum "Darius the Mede" is unknown to history outside of the Book of Daniel. A note provided by the US Council of Catholic Bishops says "The Median kingdom did not exist at this time because it had already been conquered by Cyrus the Persian. Apparently the author of Daniel is following an apocalyptic view of history, linked to prophecy (cf. Is 13:17–19; Jer 51:11, 28–30), according to which the Medes formed the second of four world kingdoms preceding the messianic times... The character of Darius the Mede has probably been modeled on that of the Persian king Darius the Great (522–486 B.C.), the second successor of Cyrus."

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