The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

Darius the Mede (Dan 11:1-11:1)

“As for me,

In the first year

Of Darius the Mede,

I stood up

To support him,

To strengthen him.”

Once again, there is a reference to Darius the Mede, also mentioned in chapter 9. As far as we can tell, there was no such person. Somehow, he comes between the Babylonian King Belshazzar and the Persian Cyrus the Great. Perhaps, he was the first Persian general who entered Babylon after its fall in 539 BCE, but there are no indications of that. He appears to be a literary fiction, perhaps based on the later Persian King Darius I, the 3rd ruler after Cyrus, from 522-486 BCE, who acted very favorably towards the returning Jews to Jerusalem. This time it is the angel Gabriel referring to how he helped Darius the Mede in his first year as the ruler, by supporting and strengthening him.

The great calamity (Dan 9:12-9:14)

“He has confirmed

His words,

That he spoke

Against us,

Against our rulers.

He brought upon us

A great calamity.

This was so great

That what has been done

Against Jerusalem

Has never before been done,

Under the whole heaven.

Just as it is written

In the law of Moses,

All this calamity

Has come upon us.

We did not entreat

The favor of Yahweh,

Our God.

We did not turn

From our iniquities.

We did not reflect

On his fidelity.

Thus,

Yahweh kept watch

Over this calamity,

Until he brought it

Upon us.

Indeed,

Yahweh,

Our God,

Is right

In all that he has done.

We have disobeyed

His voice.”

Daniel said that Yahweh only confirmed what he had said against them and their rulers. He brought this calamity to Jerusalem that was so great that there never had been anything like it before. This was all based on what was written in the law of Moses. They had not requested the favor of Yahweh, their God. Finally, God brought this calamity upon them, because Yahweh was right in everything that he has done. They had disobeyed his voice, so that they deserved this calamity in Jerusalem.

During the reign of Darius (Dan 9:1-9:1)

“In the first year

Of Darius,

Son of Ahasuerus,

By birth

A Mede.

He became king

Over the realm

Of the Chaldeans.”

Here is the problem with Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus. As far as we can tell, there was no such person. Somehow, he comes between the Babylonian King Belshazzar and the Persian Cyrus the Great. Perhaps, he was the first Persian general who entered Babylon after its fall in 539 BCE, but there are no indications of that. He appears to be a literary fiction, perhaps based on the later King Darius I, the 3rd ruler after Cyrus, from 522-486 BCE, who acted very favorably towards the returning Jews to Jerusalem.

Darius the Mede takes over (Dan 5:31-5:31)

“Darius,

The Mede,

Received

The kingdom.

He was about

Sixty-two years old.”

There is a lot of conjecture about this Darius, the Mede. The Medes joined with the Babylonians to overthrow the Assyrians. They came under Persian power around 550 BCE. Cyrus of Persia was the real power that conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. This Darius appears to be based on Darius I (522-486 BCE), the third Persian Emperor, not a contemporary of Cyrus or Daniel. Nevertheless, this was the end of the great Babylonian empire. Thus, ends the story of the great dinner party that finished in a disaster for the king, because he had dared to drink wine from the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple.

Daniel sees the king (Dan 4:8-4:9)

“At last Daniel

Came in

Before me.

He was named

Belteshazzar,

After the name

Of my god.

He was endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods.

I told him the dream.

‘O Belteshazzar!

Chief of the magicians!

I know

That you are endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods!

No mystery

Is too difficult

For you.

Hear!

This is the dream

That I saw.

Tell me

Its interpretation.’”

Finally, Daniel came in to see the king. As with his companions, King Nebuchadnezzar had given Daniel a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, based on the name of his Babylonian god, Bel. The king realized that Daniel, like Joseph with the Egyptian Pharaoh, had special spiritual powers. After all, in chapter 2, Daniel knew and interpreted his dream. The king called Daniel the chief of the magicians. He thought that no mystery would be too difficult for Daniel, because of the special divine powers that he had. Thus, the king was not afraid to tell Daniel, or Belteshazzar, his dream or ask for an interpretation.

The judgment of the righteous and the wicked (Ezek 33:18-33:20)

“When the righteous ones

Turn

From their righteousness,

When they commit

Iniquity,

They shall die for it.

When the wicked ones

Turn

From their wickedness,

When they do

What is lawful,

What is right,

They shall live by it.

Yet you say.

‘The way of Yahweh

Is not just.’

O house of Israel!

I will judge

All of you

According to your ways.”

Yahweh said that he was going to make his judgment based on what they do. If the righteous one turned away from his righteousness by committing iniquity, he was going to die for it. On the other hand, if a wicked person turned from his wickedness by doing what was lawful and right, he would live. However, they complained by saying that Yahweh was not just. Yahweh reiterated that he was going to judge all of them according to their own ways and deeds. Actions speak louder than words.

Do not judge on appearances (Sir 11:2-11:4)

“Do not praise individuals

For their good looks!

Do not loathe anyone

Because of appearance alone.

The bee is small

Among flying creatures.

But what it produces

Is the best of sweet things.

Do not boast

About wearing fine clothes!

Do not exalt yourself

When you are honored.

The works of the Lord

Are wonderful.

His works

Are concealed from humankind.”

You should not praise people because of their good looks. On the other hand, you should not hate anyone based on their appearances alone. Take the small bee, for example. This small flying creature produces honey, the sweetest of all things. There was a premium on honey in ancient times. You should not boast about wearing fine clothes. Do not exalt yourself when you are honored. The works of the Lord are wonderful, but he has concealed them from most humans.

The perverse simple fools (Prov 14:14-14:19)

“The perverse get what their ways deserve.

The good get what their deeds deserve.

The simple believes everything.

But the clever consider their steps.

The wise are cautious.

They turn away from evil.

But the fool throws off restraint.

The fool is careless.

One who is quick tempered

Acts foolishly.

The schemer is hated.

The simple are adorned with folly.

But the clever are crowned with knowledge.

The evil bow down before the good.

The wicked are at the gates of the righteous.”

Both the perverse and the good get what they deserve based on their ways and deeds. The simple believe everything, but the clever ones watch their steps. The wise clever ones are cautious. They turn away from evil. The foolish ones throw off restraint and are careless. As usual, it is better to be good and wise than a simple perverse fool. The quick tempered ones act foolishly. The schemers are hated. The simple ones are full of folly, but the clever ones are crowned with knowledge. The evil wicked ones bow down before the gates of the good and righteous ones.

Yahweh judges (Ps 110:5-110:7)

“Yahweh is at your right hand.

He will shatter kings

On the day of his wrath.

He will execute judgment

Among the nations.

He will fill them with corpses.

He will shatter heads

Over the wide earth.

He will drink

From the stream by the path.

Therefore he will lift up his head.”

This short psalm ends with Yahweh giving this king, probably David, the power to judge. Thus the Christian interpretation of the Messiah as king, priest, and judge would be based on this psalm. Here there is a role reversal from the first verse as Yahweh is at the king’s right hand. Now this is a king who shatters other kings on the day of wrath. He too will execute judgment on the other nations as well. He will fill their countries with corpses. He will shatter their heads on the earth. He will drink from the streams along the pathway so that he will lift up his head. Yes, this is a difficult psalm to understand, so that the Davidic Christian messianic interpretation is certainly possible.