After praying for the restoration of Israel, the angel Gabriel appeared and began to explain the “vision” to Daniel – Daniel 9:3-23.
After contemplating the prophecy from Jeremiah, Daniel began to pray and repent for the sins of Israel. He did not seek revelation into the meaning of Jeremiah’s prophecy, for he understood its prediction perfectly well (“I understood by the writings the number of the years”). Instead, he confessed the sins of the nation, just as Jeremiah had instructed.
According to Jeremiah’s prophecy, the restoration of Judah would occur when the people of Israel sought Yahweh “with all your heart” – (Jeremiah 29:10-14).
The prayer of Daniel consists of two parts: the confession of sin (verses 4-14), and the supplication for mercy and restoration (verses 15-19).
- (Daniel 9:3-8) – “So I set my face to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and supplication, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes; Yea, I prayed to Yahweh my God and made confession and said, ‘I beseech you, O Lord, the great and awesome God, keeping the covenant and the loving kindness to them who love Him and to them who keep His commandments. We have sinned and committed iniquity, and been guilty of lawlessness and rebellious, even departing from your commandments and regulations; and have not hearkened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, rulers, and fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us the shame of faces, as at this day, to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, the near and the far off, throughout all the lands whither you have driven them in their treachery wherewith they had been treacherous against you.
His confession expressed sorrow over Israel’s rebellion. Daniel acknowledged the covenant faithfulness of Yahweh, His mercy and righteousness (“O Lord…keeping the covenant and the loving kindness to them who love him”). But Israel failed to heed the prophets.
No Jew of any social or political rank was exempt from the judgment; the entire nation had rebelled against God. Righteousness belonged to Him alone, but the “shame of faces to all Israel, the near and the far off” – (Daniel 9:9-14).
The Babylonian Captivity was the result of national sins spanning many generations, beginning with the generation that originally left Egypt – (“All Israel have transgressed your law”). The captivity was the “curse that had been written in the Law of Moses poured out upon us,” an allusion to the warning by Moses:
- (Leviticus 26:14-39) – “But if you will not hearken unto me and will not do all these commandments… I will give your cities to desolation…When I scatter you among the nations and make bare after you a sword. then shall your land become an astonishment and your cities become desolation. Then shall the land be paid her Sabbaths, all the days she lies desolate, while you are in the land of your foes, then shall the land keep Sabbath and pay off her Sabbaths” – (See also 2 Chronicles 36:20-21).
The Captivity was the nation’s just punishment in accord with the “law of Moses.” However, even after His repeated warnings and punishments, Israel failed to “entreat the face of Yahweh our God by turning away from our iniquities and discerning your truth.” Daniel’s confession was the appropriate response to Israel’s present plight.
- (Daniel 9:17-19) – “Now, therefore, hearken to the prayer of your servant and to his supplications, and let your face shine upon your Sanctuary that is desolate for the sake of your servants, O Lord. Incline, O my God, your ear and hearken, open your eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city on which has been called your name; for not on the ground of our own righteousness are we causing our supplications to lay before you, but on the ground of your abounding mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and perform! Do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”
Daniel supplicated God for the restoration of Israel. His previous deliverance of the nation from Egypt was in accord with His covenant promises to Abraham. The prophet appealed to the proven faithfulness of Yahweh to turn away His anger from “your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain.” In this context, “holy mountain” refers to Mount Zion, where the Temple was located.
Moreover, he pleaded for God to hear his prayer concerning the sanctuary in Jerusalem that remained “desolate,” and likewise, the “desolations” of the nation. Both words are derived from the Hebrew term shamem, a verb used in verse 27 for the “abomination that desolates.” At the time of his prayer, the Temple lay in ruins and the city remained “desolated” – (Daniel 8:13, 9:26-27, 11:31, 12:11).
Daniel based his plea for restoration on the covenant faithfulness of Yahweh. In response, the angel Gabriel appeared:
- (Daniel 9:20-23) – “And while yet I was speaking and praying and confessing my own sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and causing my supplication to lay before Yahweh my God concerning the holy mountain of my God; while yet I was speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, wearied with weariness, touched me about the time of the evening offering. Yea, he came and spoke with me and said, O Daniel, now have I come to teach you understanding. At the beginning of your supplications came a word that I, therefore have arrived to tell, because you are a man delighted in; mark then the word and understand the vision.”
Gabriel arrived while Daniel was still praying, the same figure he saw previously – “in the vision at the beginning.” That visitation and several verbal links connect the present visitation to the preceding vision of the “little horn” and the defilement of the Sanctuary, the “transgression that desolates.” And this connection is critical for understanding the revelation of the “seventy weeks” – (Daniel 8:8-18).
“Wearied with weariness.” The description refers to Daniel. At the end of his last vision, he found himself “faint and ill.” His weariness is another link to the preceding vision. Gabriel arrived so Daniel would “understand the vision” recorded in the previous chapter. The verbal and conceptual parallels are deliberate. The vision of the “ram and the goat” is connected to that of the “seventy weeks” – (Daniel 8:15-18, 8:27).
Gabriel referred to “the vision.” But no vision is described in chapter 9. The explanation of the “seventy weeks” was given so Daniel might “understand” the vision he received already, the one recorded in the previous chapter. The prophecy of the “seventy weeks” builds on the preceding vision about the time of the “latter part of the indignation” – (Daniel 8:14-19).
The visions of Daniel have common themes and terms, including the “abomination that desolates,” the cessation of the daily sacrifice, and the defilement of the sanctuary. The “seventy weeks” prophecy was not given in isolation from the rest of the book, and the prayer and Gabriel’s visitation have set the stage for its explanation.