Daily Archives: October 28, 2017

October 28, 2017: Verse of the day

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33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time. [1]


33–35 The final passage of the section alludes to the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV in the aftermath of his failed second Egyptian campaign (vv. 33–35). As Baldwin, 195, iterates, these verses highlight the polarization between those who are seduced by “flattery” (v. 32a) and those “who know their God” (v. 32b), since “persecution eliminates the waverers.” The expression “those who are wise” (v. 33a) refers to those Jews who remain faithful to Yahweh’s covenant despite the atrocities committed against them by their Seleucid oppressors (i.e., those with “spiritual discernment,” according to Miller, 302). These “wise” (Heb. maśkîlîm) Jews will also teach or instruct (Heb. byn) many others during the time of the Seleucid persecution (v. 33a).

Goldingay, 303, describes the wise or discerning Jews as the “conservative leaders who possess the wisdom which consists in awed submission to Yahweh, that understanding which has reflected deeply on his ways in history, and that insight which perceives how his cause will ultimately triumph.” Presumably, this comprised the instruction the wise shared with others, along with their modeling of obedience to the stipulations of the Mosaic law. The fact that some “will fall” (v. 33b) indicates the Jews faithful to Yahweh’s covenant risk capture, torture, and even martyrdom, whether death by the sword or by burning (v. 33c; cf. Heb 11:34–35).

The revealing angel goes on to indicate that those who fall “will receive a little help” (v. 34a). Seow, 181, comments that two responses to the persecution of Antiochus were available to the Jews: a more passive resistance, as reflected in the example of the “wise”; and an active resistance, exemplified among the “zealous” or “devout Jews” (Heb. asîdîm) described in 1 Maccabees 2:42. The enigmatic allusion “help” may refer to the Maccabean freedom fighters, who rose up actively to resist the forced Hellenism of Seleucid rule by means of guerilla warfare (e.g., Baldwin, 196–97; cf. 1 Macc 3). The rest of the verse (“many will join them in hypocrisy,” NASB; v. 34b) may allude to the harsh actions the Maccabees took against those Jews who complied with the edict of Antiochus, thus leading “some to join them out of fear rather than out of principle” (Lucas, 287; cf. 1 Macc 2:44–47; 3:5–8).

The Antiochene persecution leading to the capture, imprisonment, and even martyrdom of some of the “wise” Jews has the effect of refining and purifying them—making them “spotless” (v. 35a). Their suffering is not viewed as divine judgment in punishment for sin, but rather as “a means of testing and purifying their commitment” (Lucas, 287). Hartman and Di Lella, 300–301, understand the suffering in a communal sense as the purification of the Israelite nation and the vindication of the worship of Yahweh. It seems more likely that Collins (Daniel, 386) is correct to view the test of suffering in more individualistic terms as “purification [that] bespeaks an interest in individual salvation as distinct from (though not opposed to) the deliverance of the nation.”

No doubt the Antiochene persecution also had the effect of further purging the faithful Jews by winnowing out the insincere (so Goldingay, 303). Yet “the death of the martyrs is not vicarious. They are the ones who are purified,” and they have their primary effect on the community by their instruction (Collins, Daniel, 386). For the third time in this section (v. 35c; cf. vv. 24–27), the revealing angel indicates that the period of suffering the Jews must endure as a result of the persecution of Antiochus is an interim one. There is an “appointed time” for its end (v. 35c)—yet another reminder of God’s sovereign control of human history and Israel’s destiny (see comment on v. 27d).[2]


11:33–35 the wise among the people shall make many understand. This likely refers to those who truly fear God and who will encourage others to fight and even die rather than perform abominations before God. This refers primarily to the Maccabean Revolt. In that process many (tens of thousands) would die. In this time of persecution, the nation will receive a little help, which probably refers to the small forces that initially rebelled against the Syrians in Modein, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Jerusalem, led by Mattathias and later his third son Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc. 2–4). The rest of Dan. 11:34 probably has in view the many who would join themselves to the Maccabean rebellion out of necessity to save their lives, though it may more specifically refer to the Hasidim who joined with the Maccabeans and killed those who were sympathetic to the Seleucids (cf. 1 Macc. 2:42–48). Some of the wise shall stumble likely describes true believers who would die in this persecution; through this persecution they would be refined, purified, and made white. Similarly, church history has shown that the Christian church has flourished under times of intense persecution, which may be what Dan. 11:35b is referring to (until the time of the end). But at least it refers to the end of Antiochus IV’s persecution, which ended with his death in 164 b.c. while he was on a campaign in Persia.

11:35 The refining process looks forward to God’s refining of the church (Rom. 5:3–5; Heb. 12:3–11; 1 Pet. 1:6–7).[3]


11:33 give understanding to the many. Those who believe and know the truth will instruct others in the Scriptures, while also suffering continued persecution.[4]


11:33 those who have insight Refers to wise men who taught the apocalyptic wisdom of Daniel and lived righteously in the midst of turmoil. The language is borrowed from Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” motif (see 12:3; Isa 52:13; 53:11).

by sword and by flame Many were killed during Antiochus’ reign because of their refusal to comply with his policies; see 1 Maccabees 1:62–63.[5]


11:33–35. The Jews who refused to submit to Antiochus’ false religious system were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The word fall (vv. 33–34), literally “stumble” (kāšal), refers to severe suffering on the part of many and death for others. This has in view the rise of the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, a priest, was the father of five sons. (One of them, Judas, became well known for refurbishing and restoring the temple in late 164 b.c. He was called Judas Maccabeus, “the Hammerer.”) In 166, Mattathias refused to submit to this false religious system. He and his sons fled from Jerusalem to the mountains and began the Maccabean revolt. At first only a few Jews joined them. But as their movement became popular, many joined them, some out of sincere motives and some from false motives. The suffering that the faithful endured served to refine and purify them. This time of persecution was of short duration. It had previously been revealed to Daniel that the temple would be desecrated for 1,150 days (8:14; see comments on 8:23–25). Here Daniel was assured that this persecution would run its course and then be lifted, for its end will still come at the appointed time.[6]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Da 11:33–35). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 197–198). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1616). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Da 11:33). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Da 11:33). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Pentecost, J. D. (1985). Daniel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1370). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.