The Bible


Daniel 12

English: American Standard Version         

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1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3 And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on the brink of the river on this side, and the other on the brink of the river on that side.

6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things?

9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but they that are wise shall understand.

11 And from the time that the continual [burnt-offering] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days.

12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

13 But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Exposition of the Prophecy of the End Times from Daniel      

By Rev. Dr. Andrew T. Dibb

Photo by Caleb Kerr

Chapter twelve picks up the thread of events outlined in chapters ten and eleven, but it marks a major change in the sequence of the chapters. The two preceding chapters deal with the onset of temptation after repentance—and describe in great detail the course of that temptation, until, finally, the king of the North is destroyed. This destruction marks a victory over temptation.

As in all victories, however, there are certain "mopping up" operations to be done, which are described in the first three verses of this chapter. It is important to notice that the opening verses are a continuation of the angel speaking to Daniel. This reminds us that this final temptation took place after repentance.

The victory in temptation brings with it a judgement over previous states. We have already been introduced to the concept of spiritual judgement in chapter seven, when Daniel saw a vision of the Ancient of Days seated on a fiery throne. That chapter describes a judgement on our external behaviours (remember the vision took place in the reign of Belshazzar). It was largely on the basis of that personal evaluation of our lives that the next series of events took place. Once we see our selves as prone to evil, we see where it comes from and the effect it has, we can be led into an even greater judgement This judgement is described in the repentance sequence in chapter nine, for true repentance is a judgement of our states of life with a commitment to rejecting and overcoming it.

Judgement always involves a struggle, especially when two sides or aspects of our personalities are involved. The events of that struggle are described in the temptations of chapters ten and eleven. When, however, the conscience gains the upper band, we come into the final states of our spiritual development, the separating out of residual evil, and falsity from the increasingly strong states of goodness from the Lord.

The means of the judgement in this chapter is Michael, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people. We first met Michael in the tenth chapter, when the angel speaking to Daniel notes that Michael has been sent to help him Michael is always mentioned in terms of protection, as in this chapter he "stands watch over the sons of your people" and in Revelation he protects the Woman clothed with the sun.

In the verse Michael is referred to as "the great Prince," a fitting title, for a prince, the son of a king, is a chief in the land, a leader.

Spiritual defence is combat against evil and falsity, and, as the state now described is one of victory over temptation, we can assume that Michael was at our side throughout the process, only when we are in a state of temptation, we are not always conscious of or aware of, the truths with us. Temptation dims our perception of the truth, for in temptation we feel an equal pull towards and away from truth. Often we do not recognise truth for what it is, which makes it possible for us to decline into states of evil.

When we come out of temptation, however, we see truth quite clearly. Thus Michael shall "stand up" as if he hadn't been there before. This represents a new clarity, for with our propensity to selfishness beaten we can see truth in its glory. "Standing" represents the truths which directed us through our various temptations becoming the central and unquestioned centre of our minds. Note that Michael will "stand watch over the sons of your people," and here again the emphasis is on truth. As we have noted before "sons" denote the truth in our minds.

The principle being developed in this final chapter then, is that while the conscience may take a battering during the process of our temptations, should we emerge victorious, that conscience becomes the major force in our post-temptation. state. Michael standing up to watch over the sons of our people describe this development, for the fighting and protecting truth, having guided us in the valley of the shadow of death, now guides us into the light of wisdom.

The sight of truth leads into new states. As we examine our lives in its light we will still find many things opposite to, and interfering with our new perception of truth and its corresponding desire to do good things, both spiritually and naturally. The result is "trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time".

The "trouble" is different. Before victory our spiritual troubles were temptations, or conflicts between good and evil. We were torn in two. The clarity of victory doesn't bring this kind of trouble however, for once a temptation has been overcome, the evil or falsity prompting it looses its power over us What remains is to separate out the residual things

Most of these take the form of habitual feelings, thoughts and actions, which, because they have been practised for so long, remain with us even thought they are no longer connected with their underlying source. The effect of victory is to take notice of these and to reject them from our lives.

Notice the angel's words to Daniel: "And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book." The promise it that in the final separating out of evil thoughts and feelings in the wake of victory, the states related to Daniel, or the conscience, shall be gathered together and preserved.

The promise of deliverance is crucial to the development of the theme of victory. If we did not believe that our temptations would eventually subside we would never manage the spiritual energy to fight against them. Life would seem both pointless and hopeless. The whole book of Daniel, however, points to ultimate deliverance, and the idea follows like a thread through both the historical and prophetic sections. Remember how Daniel was taken captive from Jerusalem? His deliverance came when he found favour first with the master of the eunuchs and then with Nebuchadnezzar. In the second chapter he is delivered from death by being able to interpret the kings dream. In the third chapter his friends are saved in the fiery furnace. Again he is rescued in the lion's den, and so on. In the prophetic sections the theme continues in the alternating states of temptation and peace. Each state of peace is a deliverance.

Delivery from evil is liberation from damnation (Arcana Coelestia 8018). When our selfish side runs amok in our lives, as Nebuchadnezzar and the others run wild, we are in spiritual danger. Selfishness pulls us into hell like a current pulling a ship out to sea. Unless a person finds the means to resist that pull, we will find ourselves in the depths of spiritual destruction. The Lord delivers us from this fate by giving us a conscience—the Daniel in our minds.

In history the Lord saved the human race when He came into the world and made it possible for Divine truths, the Logos, to come down to a level at which it could interact with human evil. The Lord interacted with evil spirits, He endured temptation, and even allowed Himself to be crucified. This makes it possible for His truth to continue to penetrate down to our level. We are capable of learning that truth and of having it form the basis not only of our thoughts, but also of our motivations, and our actions. Thus we can be delivered. Deliverance is the ultimate act of mercy on the part of the Lord.

Not all our states can be delivered, however. Our selfishness, greed, arrogance and pride that were taken on in the throes of temptation cannot be purified and lifted up to heaven. They must be jettisoned completely as an impediment to our spiritual life. On the things we do in accordance with the Lord, which up to this point are the things of repentance and reformation, can be lifted up. Thus the angel said to Daniel, “and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.”

Our 'book of life' is the record, in our memories, of all we have done during our lives in this world—and salvation is the Lord's remembering or noticing of these deeds (Arcana Coelestia 8620). If our deeds were those of unrepentance, a wallowing in states of selfishness, then our book of life would reflect this, and the Lord, on seeing us would be reminded of our selfishness. However, if, as is the case in this chapter, our life has been one of a progressive development of the conscience, accompanied by a sight of our motivating evils and a constant battle against them, then our book of life will reflect a growing spirit.

The result will be the gradual perfection of life. One should not think that once we have been victorious in temptation our lives level off to spiritual stagnation. Angels are continually being perfected to eternity—only from their developed state they do not undergo temptations as we do. For them it is a much easier matter to reject the imperfections within themselves and embrace the higher, ....wore spiritual things planted in their spirits by the Lord Himself.

So Daniel is told that after deliverance, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

The meaning of this verse is fairly clear in the light of what has been said before. "Those who sleep in the dust of the earth" describe our various states, our thoughts and feelings, our habitual ways of looking at things which are "asleep" because they are buried in our unawareness. "To be asleep" generally means to be in states of obscurity, as we have seen many times before.

The "dust of the earth" is reminiscent of the creation story in Genesis, where God formed a mail from "the dust of the ground, and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). Thus we are carried back to the imagery of the perfect being, formed by God to live in the Garden of Eden.

However, before we attain that state, we still have to be perfected in this spiritual development Note everything in us can be lifted up, and so some of our states awaken "to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt."

The same is true with our ideas. In another image carrying us back to the earlier parts of Genesis, Daniel gives symbols of the firmament and the stars. Both of these were created by God in the Genesis account, and both represent the perfection of the regenerating mind. However, once again there is a purification process, for "those who are wise shall shine," and those "who turn to righteousness like stars forever and ever."

The states after temptation, therefore, are states of increasing spiritual development and peace. The book of Daniel does not develop these ideas in any further detail, but from other places in the Word we are shown how this peace takes form in our minds. Once selfishness is subdued, rooted out with all its terrible effects from our lives, we are open to the wonder of heaven. An inkling of that state is given to us in the Heavenly Doctrines: “Such people feel pleasure in worshipping God for God's sake and in performing services for the neighbour for his sake, and so in doing good for good's sake and in speaking truth for truth's sake. They are unwilling to acquire merit by any charitable act or point of faith, they flee from and loathe evils, enmity for example, or hatred, revenge, or adultery, and even thinking about such things with the intention of doing them (The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 167).

Even the most casual consideration of this passage shows us how different this state is from the selfish states represented by Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, how far removed it is from the viciousness of the beast arising from the sea, or the pomposity of the he-goat's little horn. Repentance and temptation breaks the power of these things over our minds, and the Lord, in His infinite mercy, forgives us our trespasses and graces us with peace.

So the book of Daniel draws to its conclusion. When the angel had finished describing these things to Daniel.. he gives him a final warning: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall cease.”

These words mark the end of the angel's speech to Daniel. They raise the obvious question of why Daniel should "shut up the words and seal the book". While the Writings do not give any indication of what these words may mean, they could be interpreted.

To shut up, the words and seal the book indicates hiding the promise somewhat from view (Apocalypse Revealed 257), not permanently but "until the time of the end." Time, as we have seen before, indicates a state. At the time that Daniel saw this vision the temptations were not yet finished. Remember that the vision took place in the first year of Darius the Mede (chapter 11). Darius describes the external spiritual state, the state in which temptations take place.

Chapters eleven and twelve, therefore, are a promise of states that will come, both states of temptation and victory. But the victory is not there yet. We need to know that if we have trust and faith in the Lord, and if we are tenacious in our spiritual life, we will be victorious—not from our power, but from the Lord's. Yet that knowledge in temptation is intellectual only. If we knew for certain the outcome of our temptations the temptation would be meaningless. If we knew that we would lose in temptation, then there would be no point in trying, and, if we knew we would win, again there would be no point in trying. So the outcome has to be kept from us. The promise of victory and its peace is there, but true peace can only be revealed to us when we are ready for it.

This does, not mean that we should repose in a state of ignorance. The thrust of Daniel is to chart the rise of temptations, the origins of our evils and how, through temptations we overcome them. The angel points out to Daniel that "many shall run to and fro", indicating once again the alternations in our spiritual states. We have to pass through one state after another, yet, each time we face a temptation and overcome it, we move closer to the final states of peace the angel promises in this chapter.

So he concludes, "knowledge shall increase". Knowledge is vital to our spiritual growth. We need to know what evil is, where it comes from, and how to overcome it.. Equally importantly, We need to learn to recognise the states of peace and tranquillity the Lord gives us in the midst of our temptations. Only then can we learn to rise above our selfishness and truly shine in the brightness of the Lord's firmament.

As the angel's words to Daniel drew to a close, so we are taken back to Daniel himself. Suddenly, so to speak, we are back where we were before the vision started. To refresh our memories, we need to turn back to the beginning of chapter 11, "in the first year of Darius the Mede." Taken historically this vision must have taken place soon after Belshazzar was "weighed in the balances and found wanting". If we cast our minds back to chapters five and six, we are reminded both of Beishazzar's blasphemy and Darius' foolishness. Those states serve as a good point to tie in the final stages of our regeneration, for while the reign of Darius marks a new spiritual beginning and a clean break from Belshazzar, our spiritual work is not yet done.

People regenerate when they leave selfish or evil states behind them and embrace new states of goodness As is very clear across the drama of Daniel, this only takes place through the process of repentance and reformation Yet we need to have a vision that such change can in fact happen. We can abandon our Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar states and come to the point at which the king of the North, along with his lackeys, can be banished from our minds.

Daniel's vision shows us this ideal, and, hopefully, raises hope in our lives. We can repent, we can over come and, as the Lord promises in the book of Revelation: “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God... He that overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death...” (Revelation 2:7, 11. For further promises, consult Revelation 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21.)

Coming back to Daniel brings us back to our own lives somewhat with a jolt. Watching the picture of the fierce battle between the kings of the north and south unfold almost makes it look as though our spiritual, progression happens on autopilot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Temptations are fought and won, or lost, because of the input from us. If we hope to win, then our conscience must take the lead. This doesn't negate the need for an ideal, for our conscience cannot lead us in a vacuum, it has to know where to lead us. But still it must lead.

The conscience, represented by Daniel in the "first year of the reign of Darius the Mede" stands at the outset of our spiritual life. We know what to expect from beginning to end. Each vision lays down a new path for us, challenging us to see the origin of our false thoughts and evil intentions. Each state of judgment stands before us, calling us to choose one way or another. The alternating times of peace and temptation remind us that not all regeneration will be hard work—there will be times of rest and peace as the spiritual advances we make begin to affect our minds. And we will grow in strength—our temptations may become fiercer, may seem recurring, yet with each step we will be fitter to face and overcome them This whole process, however, requires the active participation of our Daniel And so, the final verses of the book bring us back to him and has last vision.

Having been told to "shut up the words and seal the book", Daniel found himself on watching two angels, one on each side of a riverbank Unlike Michael, these two angels are not identified by name—their distinguishing factors are that they are on either side of a riverbank, and one of them is "clothed in linen."

The significance of this vision lies in three main areas, each part of the final preparation for the conscience to begin the work of leading us into regeneration The first is the fact that there are two angels. In the spiritual world things in duality represent love and wisdom, and this in turn is described by the two side of a person's mind, the will, or ability to love, and the understanding, or the ability to grow wise. These two abilities from the very basis of the human mind and thus the foundation of our spiritual life.

The will and understanding are held in connection with the spiritual world by means, of angels and spirits. Since there are angels and spirits who are primarily in love and those primarily in truth, it follows that each person has two angels, one for the will and one for the understanding with him or her at all times—without them we would lose connection with the spiritual world and die.

Daniel saw this duality of presence in his vision of the two angels alongside the river, and, one could say, joined by the presence of the river between them; for a river, as we have seen before, represents the stream of truth; for a river represents a person's intelligence (Arcana Coelestia 7323). The last river we saw in Daniel was the Tigris mentioned in chapter 10, which because it was an east-flowing river depicted the understanding, or intelligence, of truth leading us towards the Lord. In essence this is the work of conscience, so we could say that Daniel’s vision of two angels, one on each riverbank, is an image of the conscience, binding both the will and understanding together in an ideal striving for regeneration. Certainly regeneration cannot take place without these three components in our minds; our will and understanding must work in harmony with our conscience, and together they lead us.

Yet notice the distinction between the angels. One is "clothed in linen," and this factor becomes the distinguishing feature between the two angels. Daniel had once before seen an angel clothed in linen, also at the river bank of the Tigris. In chapter ten we read: “I looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with the fine gold of Uphaz.”

As we saw in the explanation of that verse, linen "represents the pure and genuine truths from the Word" (Arcana Coelestia 9872, Apocalypse Revealed 691, Apocalypse Explained 951). One can assume, then, that this angel describes the understanding, for that is formed from truths from the Word, acting as a leader or guide to the will. It comes as no surprise that this is the angel consulted by the other, who by default must represent the will. It also is characteristic that the desire of the will formed from the combination of knowledge of truth and victory over evil in temptation to long for a completion of the process of regeneration.

When we are in the process of regeneration it often seems as though we will never finish and often during our lifetime in this world we don't Yet as a new will is formed as a result of the regenerative process, so a keenness develops for completion. Just as the old will, infected with selfishness as it was, wanted freedom to act out its lusts, so the new will wants the freedom to express itself unhindered by selfishness. At times we may sense this inner desire as an impatience to get the states of temptation over and done with.

The result is the question, from the will of "How long shall the fulfilment of these wonders be?" When shall we be finished? When shall we be perfected and recreated into the image and likeness of God, with the beasts destroyed and the king of the North's power at an end?

The answer can only come from truth, for if truth guides and directs our intentions, then in time the truth will overcome the obstacles imposed by selfishness. The longing for spiritual life, therefore, has to be subordinated to the truths we know. Thus the man clothed in linen answers At first Daniel describes him as being on the riverbank, but then he describes him as "being above the waters" in both verses six and seven.

This positioning "above the waters" brings to mind the second day of creation described in Genesis, where the "waters" were separated above and below the firmament. Several times so far, we have noted that "water" is a symbol for truth, and the division of waters above and below the firmament describes how, as a person regenerates, he or she early becomes aware of the distinction between the private, spiritual, inner self, and the public, worldly outerself (Arcana Coelestia 24). There is a parallel between the creation story and the state the person is going through at this point in Daniel. For now, after the revelatory visions given to Daniel, we are able to see, to have a concept of the work that still has to be done in our spiritual lives before we can relax into the peace of heaven. For this reason the "man clothed in linen," our conscience, speaks from the higher, more interior concepts in our minds.

As he speaks he matches his words to gestures, lifting up his right and left hands towards heaven. Again the symbolism is familiar, for a hand represents a person's power, and, in this case the dual, matching powers of our relationship to truth. Truth only has power to deliver us from self if we match our affection or delight in the truth with an understanding of it. The right hand depicts our affection for truth, while the left our understanding (Cf. Arcana Coelestia 2701), and these together are lifted up in an acknowledgement that the power of regeneration comes from the Lord alone.

There is, then, the intellectual recognition that we need to undergo the states of temptation, and victory, in order to reach the full freedom of deliverance There can be no short cuts, or half measure, which is described in those mystical words "that it shall be for a time, times and half a time."

Fewer phrases in the Word have been invested with as much mystical meaning as these, and yet few are simpler when understood both in their proper context and according to the inner sense. As we have seen over and again in this study "time" in the Word describes a state. We will not find true peace until we have gone through all the states of regeneration.

The angel describes the progression of states here as "time, times and half a time" We could paraphrase that to say, "a state, multiples states and fractions of states." In other words, no part can be left out. Each detail of the entire book of Daniel shows what these states are, following and developing them in a steady progression from start to finish. We need to deal with those states. We cannot be regenerated if Nebuchadnezzar is running amok in our intentions, or if Belshazzar controls a blasphemous external. Nor will we find peace if, like Darius we are puffed up with our own importance. We need to take hold of the beasts arising from the murky depths of our own minds, and cast them out. We need to let the truth judge us, and stand in awe of what we see not only in ourselves, but in the Lord's absolute mercy in giving us the spiritual wherewithal to overcome it. If we short cut any of these stages, we leave alive in us a flame, no matter how small, that can and will erupt into a larger fire at the slightest chance. We cannot hurry regeneration, we must pass through the states—all of them.

As we pass through the stages of regeneration the Lord reorders our lives. Things that had once been in disorder are rearranged. This happens on every level of our being from our feelings, our thoughts, and our actions. This reordering is described in the angels words that the end would come "when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered".

As these words stand they make if sound as if "the holy people" in us is shattered, which seems to imply that evil wins. However, this is not the case. What is described here is better translated in the Apocalypse Explained (1968: Swedenborg Foundation) where it says "and then they are to make an end of dispersing [the power] of the people of holiness." Temptation becomes when "they"—word omitted in the English—is taken to mean the forces of selfishness. The object of se1fishness, as has been shown from one end to the other in Daniel, is to turn all things to itself. To achieve this there is the continual effort to put conscience to flight, as Daniel on two occasions was put in physical danger, and how the he-goat put the ram to flight. Victory in temptation, however, stops this, putting an end to the "dispersing of the power of the people of holiness," for in victory the holy states with us are consolidated and brought together. Order is created from the disorder of selfishness. When this happens, then regeneration can be said to be finished.

Daniel the prophet heard only the cryptic words of the angel clothed in linen. He could not understand, just as we cannot: fully understand, the extent of the regenerative process in our lives. It is only possible for us to see a tiny fragment of the evils in our lives, for to see them in entirety would completely overwhelm us. It is not surprising then that Daniel was confused. The process can seem to go on and on, and we may get the feeling that our regenerative process will never be completed.

The angel’s response, however, is one of comfort. "The words," he said, "are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" Similar words were expounded earlier in t1 chapter, where we saw that to "close and seal" means to hide from view. Our work in the process of regeneration is to look ahead to the time of final deliverance, but to do so with the recognition that the Lord, working through His Divine Providence, will lead us to that point. There is never a time when we can say "all I've got left to do is such and such, and then I'll be finished." In very real sense the process never stops, for even as angels we are perfected to eternity.

However, we do have to keep in mind that the process of self-judgment and rejection of evil and falsity is ongoing. "Many shall be purified, made white and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly." These words give a wonderful picture of the back and forth pendulous swing of our progress. The truth is that we cannot reject our evil states until they are clear to us, until we can see their origin, the progress of their destructive course in our lives; and then, willingly reject them.

Even though the process may take forever, it will draw to a close. In verse 11, the angel puts a time limit on our decline into evil (assuming we exercise our conscience to reject the evil and come out of it), saying, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand, two hundred and ninety days.”

The description of the daily sacrifice being taken away is in Chapter eight The process begins with the little horn growing out of the male goat. It represents the false thoughts we have as a direct result of evil—in other words, the effect of selfishness, greed, arrogance and pride in our minds. This kind of falsity is devastating, for is not the kind of false thought that makes evil activity possible, but the thoughts which come because we are actually in evil. As Daniel watched, this little horn spread, indicating the poisonous influence of this kind of evil in our minds. Ultimately it took away the ability to worship the Lord in humility. The daily sacrifice on our part is that humble worship of the Lord, and when we cease to practice it, our spiritual life is in jeopardy. We can come back from the brink of that disaster, but only through the battles of temptation.

The "abomination of desolation" is the state in which there is no love nor charity left in a person because it has been overcome by evil (Arcana Coelestia 2454). This happens because the person is in a state in which “the Lord is no longer acknowledged; consequently when there is no love and no faith in Him; also when there is no longer any charity toward the neighbor; and consequently when there is not any faith of good and truth” (Arcana Coelestia 3652).

The decline into evil, then, is one thousand two hundred and ninety days. This decline makes it possible for us to see the evil in ourselves, to recognise its spiritually destructive power, and to reject it.

Every number in the Word has a special significance, which can be seen by analysing the individual parts of the number.

One thousand - A thousand indicates "innumerable things because it is made up of "tens" and "ten" represents "many things" or even "all" (Arcana Coelestia 2575). It is interesting that a fixed number can mean, uncountable things. In this case, the thousand represents the many, man states of evil which grow out of our falsities and evil and which lead to spiritual destruction.
Two hundred - As we have seen before, two involves the concept of joining things together, and hundred, like thousand, is an image of "many things". It also has the image of conflict, for when two things are joined together there is always some aspect of conflict in the conjunction.
Ninety - Ninety, however, is a different family of numbers, for it is made up of a multiple of three, and three represents fullness or completeness—carrying with it the concept of the end of one state and the beginning of a new state.

This time frame, then, of one thousand, two hundred and ninety days, is less dramatic in the internal sense than in the hands of some biblical prophecy interpreter trying to determine the end of the world. It signifies the fullness and completion of a state. Once we reach the point in our path of spiritual decline, our states have to run their course. The joining together and its conflict is implied in the "two hundred" is the joining of false thoughts with evil actions, so that our minds become an epitome of evil, while the "three" in "ninety" describes that that state must eventually come to an end.

Left unchecked our spiritual lives will dwindle down into the "abomination of desolation" where goodness, charity, altruistic love and inner peace will be totally absent. We cannot serve God and mammon.

Yet there is always hope. and the angel’s closing words give that hope for the future: "Blessed is he who waits." The English in this verse somehow implies a passive waiting, much as we would wait a bus stop. However, as the book of Daniel shows us, our spiritual development is anything but passive and in the doctrines we are told that a person “greatly errs who believes that he or she is incapable of doing anything for his or her own salvation because the light to see truths and the affection of doing them, as well as the freedom to think and will them, are from the Lord, and nothing of these from the person. ... If one lets one's hands hang down and waits for influx he receives nothing, and can have no reciprocal conjunction with the Lord, thus he is not in the covenant” (Apocalypse Explained 701:3).

The idea of "waiting" contains far more than modern English allows for. In the original language "to wait" included the aspect of longing for something (Brown-Driver-Briggs #2442). In Latin the word used to translate this concept is "expect". These two amplifications of the idea open up considerably the field of interpretation. It is inconceivable that the angel speaking to Daniel had any expectation that he should simply "wait" and hope for blessedness.

Yet to long for and expect the happiness of blessing is a different matter all together. This really is the essential glue that holds the entire process together. If we had no hope, no expectation that the difficult states of self analysis and temptation were not going to achieve anything, then there would be no point at all to the entire exercise. It is only if we expect that things will get better, that we will be liberated from selfishness, that it is possible to make sense out of human life in this world.

Unmentioned in Daniel, but closely related to "waiting" is the idea of confidence in the Lord. We need to be confident that the power to resist and reject the evil side of ourselves comes from the Lord, and equally we need to be confident that should we exercise that power in our lives, the Lord will bring us into a state of tranquillity and peace.

The angel's words, then, are words of hope. He points out to Daniel that it is possible for our evil natures to carry us into hell, for the "daily sacrifice" can be carried away, and we can reach the "abomination of desolation". The force that resists that is our expectation of the Lord, our confidence that He will give us the power, in fact that we already have the power to overcome our evils, if only we could use it freely and courageously in our daily lives.

Should we do that, we will come into a completely different state, for as the angel said, “Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.”

Once again our final state is described in a series of numbers, although this is a different number, just as hell is a different state from heaven.

The analysis of this number is very similar to the one in the previous verse, sharing in common thousands and hundreds. However, the two figures are different in other respects, the former having two hundred and ninety days, the latter three hundred and thirty five days.

Three hundred - As we have seen many times before, the number three represents the completion of one state and the beginning of another. Hundred, being multiples of ten, also contains the idea of completeness or fullness.

Thirty - Thirty has much the same meaning as the number three hundred, both being multiples of three and ten.

Five - The number five generally carries the idea of a "few" (e.g. Arcana Coelestia 1686, 2267, 2575). However, the number five can represent the states of goodness and truth the Lord instils in a person during the regenerative process (Arcana Coelestia 6156). However; five can also be seen as half of ten, and, as we are told, "half or twice any number when used in the Word holds the same meaning as the number itself" (Arcana Coelestia 5291).

When we take these aspects of the number one thousand, three hundred and thirty five in to account, the picture emerges of the state of completion of the regenerative process. In this state the goodness and perspectives that one has striven for throughout the events described in the book of Daniel, have been accomplished—the process is finished and the person free to live a life of continued development possible only after the selfishness has been banished.

It is interesting to note that the role of the number "three" in this penultimate verse, for there are three hundred and thirty five years. It ties in with the beginning of the book, for in the first verse it says: "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judea." Thus one sees the cycle of life, the original state, the lust for falsities and the aversion to truth, represented by Jehoiakim, initiate a cycle of selfish violence in our lives. This in turn can only be overcome by the conscience, which leads and directs us through the paths of temptation until eventually we are liberated.

Regeneration is a long process, and it cannot be hurried. However, we do need to know that the battles we face in our daily lives, the often excruciating inner conflicts between selfishness and conscience, serve a purpose: they lead us to the states of heaven This makes the book of Daniel a little like a road map, guiding us through the course of life for we need to know where we are going in order to retain the commitment to that spiritual journey.

When we look inwards to see the rampant Nebuchadnezzar states of selfishness, or the profane Belshazzar states of behavior, when we see our slide into evil and the power that it has over our lives, then we need to be reassured that we can repent. We have the ability to fight against these things from the power given to us by the angels surrounding us, Gabriel and Michael, and all they represent are real forces in our lives. We can overcome and be set free.

But it takes time, dedication and patience. The angels final words to Daniel must have been words of immeasurable comfort to an old man, torn from his native land and placed at the heart of the greatest empire in the world at that time. Similarly they are words of promise to each of us as we battle to overcome the evils of selfishness, as we are caught in the vortex of temptation. They are words of the promise of peace and hope for the future: “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall find rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Apocalypse Revealed 500

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 183

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 1664, 2531, 2838, 5376, 7051, 7988, 8018, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 51, 171, 256, 478, 548, 562, 704, ...

The Lord 4

Sacred Scripture 61

Heaven and Hell 171, 346, 518

True Christian Religion 606, 652, 788

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 72, 199, 222, 608, 610, 700, 717, ...

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 5

An Invitation to the New Church 10

Spiritual Experiences 303

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 15, 38

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  PDF Resources

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Worship Talk | Ages over 18

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #7988

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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7988. 'That all the hosts of Jehovah went out of the land of Egypt' means that those with whom truth and good were present but who had been held back until then were released. This is clear from the meaning of 'going out of the land of Egypt' as being released and delivered from molestations, 'going out' self-evidently meaning being released, while 'the land of Egypt' means molestations, see 7278; and from the meaning of 'the hosts of Jehovah' as the truths and forms of good that the spiritual Church possesses, and so those with whom truth and good are present, dealt with in 3448, 7236. The fact that truths and forms of good are meant by 'the hosts of Jehovah' is clear in Daniel,

There came out one small-sized horn of the he-goat, and it grew exceedingly towards the south, and towards the east, and towards the glorious [land]. And it grew even towards the hosts of heaven, and cast down to the earth some of the host, and of the stars, and trampled on them. It drew itself up even towards the prince of the host. And the host was set over the continual [burnt offering] on account of the transgression, because it cast down truth to the earth. At that point I heard a holy one speaking, How long is both the sanctuary and the host being trodden down? He said to me, Up to the evening and morning, two thousand three hundred times; then the sanctuary will be made correct. Daniel 8:9-14.

Here it is plainly evident that 'the hosts' means truths and forms of good, for it says that [the hem] cast down to the earth some of the host and of the stars, and after this that it cast down truth to the earth, and that the host was to be trodden down up to the evening and morning, which is the Lord's Coming.

[2] Since truths and forms of good make up 'the hosts of Jehovah', angels are therefore called His 'hosts' in the first Book of Kings,

Micah the prophet said, I saw Jehovah sitting on His throne, and the entire host of heaven standing beside Him. 1 Kings 22:19.

And in David,

Bless Jehovah, His angels, powerful with strength; bless Jehovah, all His hosts, His ministers. Psalms 103:20-21.

Angels are called 'hosts' by virtue of the truths and forms of good present with them. Not only angels used to be referred to as the hosts of Jehovah but also the lights in the sky - the sun, moon, and stars. And they were referred to as such because 'the sun' was a sign of the good of love, 'the moon' a sign of the good of faith, and 'the stars' a sign of cognitions of goodness and truth. Reference to those lights as 'hosts' is evident in the Book of Genesis,

The heavens and the earth were finished, and all their hosts. Genesis 1:1.

Here 'hosts' is used to mean all the lights in the sky; but in the internal sense, in which the subject at that point is the new creation of a person, 'hosts' is used to mean truths and forms of good.

(References: Genesis 2:1; Psalms 148:2-3)

[3] Likewise in David,

Praise Jehovah, all His angels, praise Him, all His hosts; praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all stars of light. Psalms 148:1, 3.

'Sun' means the good of love, and 'moon' the good of faith, see 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495, 4060, 4696, 5377, 7083; and 'stars' means cognitions of good and truth, 1808, 2120, 2495, 2849, 4697.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1529-1530; Psalms 148:2-3)

[4] One reason why 'sun, moon, and stars' means forms of good and truths is that in heaven the Lord is a Sun to those who are celestial and a Moon to those who are spiritual, 1521, 1529-1531, 3636, 3643, 4300, 4721 (end), 5097, 7078, 7083, 7171, 7173; and another reason is that angelic dwelling-places shine like stars, in keeping with the following in Daniel,

Then those who have intelligence will shine like the brightness of the expanse, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and into eternity. Daniel 12:9.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4321; Daniel 12:3)

[5] Since angels, by virtue of truths and forms of good, are spoken of as 'the hosts of Jehovah', and also the sun, moon, and stars are called such, and since all truth and good come from the Lord, the Word refers to the Lord as Jehovah Zebaoth, that is, Jehovah of Hosts, 3448. And another reason why it refers to Him in this way is that He fights on a person's behalf against the hells.

From all this one may now see what 'the hosts of Jehovah' is used to mean in the internal sense. The children of Jacob who went out of Egypt were not such, though they represented them. This is evident from their life in Egypt, where they were unacquainted with Jehovah, even with His name before it was made known to Moses from the bramble bush, Exodus 3:13-16; and also they were calf-worshippers no less than the Egyptians were, as may be deduced from Exodus 32. And their life in the wilderness too shows that their character was such that they could not be led into the land of Canaan. Thus they were anything but the hosts of Jehovah.

(References: Exodus 12:41, 32:1)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 8019, 8138, 9987, 10217, 10225

The White Horse 1

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 72, 155, 391

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.