Daniel does penance (Dan 9:3-9:3)

“Then I turned

To Yahweh

To seek

An answer,

By prayer,

By supplications,

With fasting,

With sackcloth,

With ashes.”

Daniel, in the first-person singular, turned to Yahweh, and not the God of heaven or the Most High God, as earlier in this book. This was the traditional Hebrew name of Yahweh. Daniel assumed the traditional role of a penitent with prayers and supplications while fasting, and wearing sackcloth with ashes on him.

The eternal kingdom (Dan 2:44-2:45)

“In the days

Of those kings,

The God of heaven

Will set up a kingdom

That shall never be destroyed.

This kingdom

Shall not be left

To another people.

It shall crush

All these kingdoms.

It shall bring them

To an end.

It shall stand forever.

Just as you saw

That a stone was cut

From the mountain,

Not by human hands.

This stone crushed

The iron,

The bronze,

The clay,

The silver,

The gold.

The great God

Has informed

The king

What shall be hereafter.

The dream is certain.

Its interpretation is


Daniel then talked about the fifth and final kingdom, the eternal kingdom, set up by the God of heaven that shall never be destroyed. No other people would inherit this kingdom, since it would crush all the other kingdoms, like the stone in the king’s dream that crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and gold kingdoms. The great God in heaven has informed King Nebuchadnezzar about the future. Thus, Daniel concluded that the dream was certain and his interpretation was also trustworthy.

King Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold (Dan 2:37-2:38)


O king!

The king of kings!

The God of heaven

Has given you

The kingdom,

The power,

The might,

The glory.

He had given

Into your hands

Human beings,

Wherever they live,

The wild animals

Of the field,

The birds of the air.

He has you

As ruler

Over them all.

You are

The head of gold!”

Daniel then explained that the head of gold was none other than the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar himself, the king of kings. The God of heaven had given him his kingdom, power, might and glory. In flattering terms, Daniel pointed out that humans, wild animals, and birds all came under the king’s rule.

The prayer of Raguel (Tob 8:15-8:17)

“So they blessed the God of heaven. Raguel said.

‘Blessed are you, O God,

With every pure and blessing.

Let all your chosen ones bless you.

Let them bless you forever.

Blessed are you

Because you have made me glad.

It has not turned out as I expected.

But you have dealt with us

According to your great mercy.

Blessed are you,

Because you had compassion on two only children.

Be merciful to them, O Master.

Keep them safe.

Bring their lives to fulfillment in happiness and mercy.’”

Raguel blessed the God of heaven, not the God of his ancestors. All of God’s chosen ones should bless God forever. Raguel was happy because things had not turned out as he had expected. Great mercy was given to the 2 only children. Raguel asked for compassion to keep them safe. He wanted their lives full of happiness and mercy, like any father. He was glad that he was wrong. He only hoped for the best for these 2 young people.

Raphael tells Tobias about the solution to his problem (Tob 6:16-6:18)

“However, Raphael said to him.

‘Do you not remember your father’s orders?

When he commanded you to take a wife from your father’s house? Now listen to me, brother!

Say no more about this demon!

Take her!

I know that this very night she will be given to you in marriage. When you enter the bridal chamber,

Take some of the fish’s liver and heart.

Put them on the embers of the incense.

An odor will be given off.

The demon will smell it and flee.

He will never be seen near her any more.

Now when you are about to go to bed with her,

Both of you must stand up and pray,

Imploring the God of heaven

That mercy and safety may be granted to you.

Do not be afraid!

She was set apart for you before the world was made.

You will save her.

She will go with you.

I presume that you will have children by her.

They will be brothers to you.

Now say no more!’

When Tobias heard the words of Raphael, he learned that she was his kinswoman, related through his father’s lineage. He loved her very much. His heart was drawn to her.”

The angel Raphael reminded Tobias that his father had told him to take a wife from his own house. Raphael told him not to worry about the demon. He told Tobias to take the fish liver and fish heart and then burn it on incense. The smell from the smoke would make the demon flee and stay away forever. He implored both of them to stand up and pray before they went to bed. Ask the God of heaven to be merciful to them and keep them safe so that they would have children. Now Tobias was relieved to find out that Sarah was a kinswoman of his father. He would be able to chase away the demon with the fish heart and liver. He began to love her as her was drawn to her, even though he had never met her yet. This is almost like an arranged marriage.

The prayer of Nehemiah (Neh 1:4-1:11)

“When I heard these words I sat down and wept. I mourned for days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said.

‘O Yahweh, God of heaven,

The great and awesome God,

You keep covenant and steadfast love

With those who love you,

With those who keep your commandments.

Let your ear be attentive.

Let your eyes be open.

Hear the prayer of your servant.

I now pray before you, day and night,

For your servants, the people of Israel,

I confess the sins of the people of Israel.

We have sinned against you.

Both I and my family have sinned.

We have offended you deeply.

We have failed to keep the commandments, the statutes

And the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses.

Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses,

‘If you are unfaithful,

I will scatter you among the peoples.

However if you return to me,

Keep my commandments and do them,

Though your outcasts are under the farthest skies,

I will gather them from there.

I will bring them to the place which I have chosen,

To establish my name.’

They are your servants and your people,

You redeemed them by your great power and your strong hand.

O Yahweh,

Let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant.

And your servants who delight in revering your name.

Give success to your servant today.

Grant him mercy in the sight of this man!’”

Like Ezra, he wept when he heard these bad things about Jerusalem. Both Ezra and Nehemiah responded to bad news by crying. He also fasted and prayed for an unspecified number of days. The reference here was to the God of heaven, which is the way the Persians spoke about God. This is a personal and group confession of sinfulness. He asked Yahweh to be attentive with eye and ear to hear his plea. He admitted the sins of himself, his family, and his people. They were unfaithful, but now they wanted to return to the place where Yahweh had established his name. He was willing to follow God’s commandments, ordinances, and statutes that were given through Moses.

The decree for the Province Beyond the River (Ezra 7:21-7:24)

“I, King Artaxerxes decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever the priest Ezra, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred cors of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and unlimited salt. Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with zeal for the house of the God of heaven, or wrath will come upon the realm of the king and his heirs. We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on any of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.”

The king of Persia also says that the Israelites under Ezra can raid the treasury of the Province Beyond the River with its headquarters in Samaria. However, there is a limit to how much silver, wheat, wine, and oil they may have, but salt is unlimited. If they do not let things be done for the house of the God of heavens, wrath may come upon the king and his descendents. He also said that the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and servants were to be tax exempt. They did not have pay any tribute, custom or toll. This Persian king is quite generous and favorable to Ezra and his people.