Sunday, January 24, 2016

Some Commentaries on Daniel 12:1 (Michael the Archangel)

I'm only going to quote parts of the commentaries that deal with the relationship between Michael and Jesus Christ. These works are available online and can be easily consulted:

From the Benson Commentary: "The word Michael signifies, Who is like God? which name, with the title here given him, The great prince which standeth for the children of thy people, manifestly points out the Messiah, and cannot properly be understood of a created angel."

Gill's Exposition of the Bible: "And at that time shall Michael stand up,.... The Archangel, who has all the angels of heaven under him, and at his command, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ; who is as God, as the name signifies, truly and really God, and equal in nature, power, and glory, to his divine Father: 'he shall stand up'; which is not to be understood of his incarnation, or manifestation in the flesh, for this refers to times long after that; yet neither of his personal appearance in the clouds of heaven, and standing upon the earth in the latter day; but of his spiritual presence among his people, and protection of them, and continuance with them: this respects the spiritual reigns of Christ, the Lamb's standing upon Mount Zion, and the 144,000 with him, Revelation 14:1, and this will be at that time, when the eastern antichrist, the Turk, will be destroyed;"

John Trapp's Commentary: "Shall Michael stand up,] i.e., The Lord Christ (that Prince of angels, and protector of his people), not a created angel, much less Michael Servetus, that blasphemous heretic, burned at Geneva, who was not afraid to say, as Calvin reporteth it, se esse Michaelem illum, Ecclesae custodem, that he was that Michael, the Church's guardian. David George, also another black-mouthed heretic, said that he was the one David foretold by the prophets, [Jeremiah 30:9 Ezekiel 34:23 Hosea 3:5] and that he was confident that the whole world would in time submit to him."

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary: "Here is a most lovely account of Jesus, and of his office-character, as Mediator. I do not hesitate to believe, that the Michael here spoken of is Christ. In confirmation, turn to those scriptures. Revelation 12:7-11. How Christ then stood up for all eternity: how in time, and how forever; all his offices typify. Proverbs 8:22-23; Psalms 40:6-8; Hebrews 7:24-25; 2 Thessalonians 1:10. In every point of view, it must be a time of trouble. When Christ comes to make up his jewels, he comes also to take vengeance of them that know not God, nor obey the gospel of Jesus. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10-11. But what a sweet close is this verse, of the safety of Jesus own! Isaiah 4:3; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12-15."

Geneva Notes: The angel here notes two things: first that the Church will be in great affliction and trouble at Christ's coming, and next that God will send his angel to deliver it, whom he here calls Michael, meaning Christ, who is proclaimed by the preaching of the Gospel."


Duncan said...

I am still searching for confirmation on this but Pettinato claimed that the Ebla archive contains the name Mi-ka-Ya. Who is like YAH.

Duncan said...


Do you think that Gen 23:5,6 MT have any bearing on the title used for Michael in Daniel?

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan, the Ebla archive is interesting, but doesn't have much scholarly utility now. As for the Genesis connection with Daniel, I would say it's possible, but not likely. The underlying Hebrew is different in Genesis and the historical and linguistic connection between the two accounts needs to be established.

Edgar Foster said...

But I could be mistaken.

Duncan said...

The Ebla issue is extremely frustrating as the tablets that were claimed to have biblical connections have been swallowed by the sheer weight of tablets to study & they say that they cannot publish the said tablets as they do not know where they are! It was said from the outset that these Tablets should have been published, so if the connections were spurious that they could be eliminated. It's very dubious way of conducting archaeology.

As for the Genesis/Daniel, do they need a linguistic connection? We are looking at a large divide in age and also Hebrew to Aramaic. The Historical aspect is Genesis, itself. It could possibly have some relationship to Isaiah 9:6. I see that the LXX of Genesis does not carry a translation of same but I cannot think of any reason to shift from the LXX version to the MT version - only the other way around.

Edgar Foster said...

Regarding Ebla: No argument from me.

On Genesis and Daniel: all I'm saying is that we need to have some reason for arguing that one text has influenced the other. For instance, we have good reason to believe that Ezekiel's prophecy significantly influenced Revelation despite the age and language gap. Furthermore, Daniel 12 was written in Hebrew rather than Aramaic.

By historical connection, I mean that we should be able to trace the linguistic genealogy, if one exists, from Genesis 23:5-6 to Daniel 12:1. If we're doing history, exegesis or word studies, it's standard procedure to demonstrate connections by means of stringent evidence. So I reiterate that Genesis 23:5-6 might have shaped Dan. 12:1, but we need proof to make a persuasive case for this suggestion.

Duncan said...

Daniel 12 being a Hebrew original is highly debatable:-

But if it was originally written in Hebrew, I see no problem with this as I would translate 23:6 as "god's chieftain" - but chieftains (by function) in the era of the Persians would be called either satraps of princes dependent on how they were assigned the privilege. I think Daniel 11:8 would perhaps point to how the terms are use in this period. Exodus 18:11 may also be relevant.

Duncan said...

There is some evidence of Abrahamic thought on later works:-

Note how the verses from chronicles are reworked.

Edgar Foster said...


I don't want to sound dogmatic on the point about Hebrew versus Aramaic originals for the whole book or for Dan. 12. The chapter in question (12) could have been writen in Aramaic, but the proposal seems highly speculative and unwarranted (as it stands) to me. What we now have for Dan. 12 is a Hebrew text as opposed to an Aramaic one. However, the main question I'm asking is what's the linguistic connection between Gen. 23:5-6 and Dan. 12:1? I don't see the nexus when I look at the Hebrew, although I realize that similar concepts can be set forth by different words. But is that the case here?

As for the term "great prince" or prince in Dan. 12:1 (and elsewhere in the book), we have fairly good evidence for the historical background of the term and we are able to compare how it's used biblically. I'll also check ut the article about Abrahamic thought.



Duncan said...

Daniel 12 is problematic in many ways. Not one of the 8 DSS scrolls contain it. That many examples and not one fragment. I have even had a look through the plates of the unpublished fragments. We do have 4QFlorilegium but this is dated to the 1st cent bce.
4Q243–244, 245 are all Aramaic and linked to Daniel. So as I said I think there is much room for debate on this one.

Messiah the leader or anointed prince? It,s not just about the text but the translation decisions that are steering this.

Edgar Foster said...

It doesn't bother me that none of the DSS contain Daniel 12 because there are plenty of gaps in that literature. Besides, is there really that much disagreement about how 12:1 is rendered?

Duncan said...

Relatively speaking we have a considerable weight of evidence for Daniel. Q4dane fills in many gaps including a few fragments of chapter 9. There are many gaps in most of the DSS fragment but for other books with a comparable attestation, how many complete chapters are missing ?

It is vexing to me, if not to you.

Ylt - Michael the great head.

Archon on lxx. Chief magistrate.

After 487 BC, the archonships were assigned by lot to any citizen and the Polemarch's military duties were taken over by new class of generals known as stratēgoí.[citation needed] The ten stratēgoí (one per tribe) were elected, and the office of Polemarch was rotated among them on a daily basis.

So it would seem that in ancient Greece this term followed the same function as the Hebrew for chiefs.

Edgar Foster said...

A short comment for now. Even granting what you say, it does not provide sufficient proof that Gen 23:5-6 is connected (linguistically or conceptually) to Dan 12:1. I'm still left asking why we should think one verse influenced the other. Moreover, the DSS only represent a small part of the Hebrew Bible (comparatively speaking). At least, that is the case with the extant works.

Duncan said...

There is another possible connection with psalms 113 particularly verses 5 & 8. The connection now that I have noticed it seems striking.

Duncan said...

Verse 5 *miy* *kha*mokha yahweh *el*oheynu.

Verse 8 lxx again, αρχόντων λαού αυτού.

Edgar Foster said...

I can see how Ps 113:5, 8 might elucidate Dan 12:1. That makes sense when looking at the English translation. Just one caution might be that literary dependence is hard to prove. How can we know that the writer of Daniel used the Psalms or Genesis as a source?

Duncan said...

I do not expect to be able to make a direct connection I am mearly trying to get a handle on a possible trend of tradition. It is the name Michael that has always been problematic for me. Why that particular name when Gabriel is unique (if it is a name rather than a description). This kind of suggestions being so far outside the norm is going to be difficult to accept, if it is valid. I do not know that it is.

As far as the abrahamic tradition goes, I think John chapter 8 gives weight to the general veneration of Abraham over other ancestors.

I will keep chipping away at it, maybe to no avail. Time will tell.

Duncan said...

There are a few other possible connection, psalms 89 6,7,19.

Edgar Foster said...

I guess Michael doesn't bother me, because of the name given to the Lord and Savior ("Jesus"). The person was/is unique, even if his name was not since many other persons bore the name. But then, associated with the man Jesus are other "names" that speak to his unique office (Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, etc).

Agreed, Abraham was honored as the Father of all; however, determining a textual geneaology is difficult.

Duncan said...

Matthew 1:21 is the backstory. Jehovah is salvation being the hebraic name. Very apt for Jesus and Joshua. For many this name was label name as Josephus seems to indicate but it usage for the anointed is more specific. But this angel Michael does not have a back story and the name is just used, unless there is a more subtle back story in the text's.

Duncan said...

The name Immanuel really should be translated as per all the biblical names. Transliteration is not helping the understanding. With us is the mighty one (God). Reminds me of Romans 8:31.

I think Isaiah 8:8 lxx is better example of translation.

Edgar Foster said...

I simply mentioned Immanuel to illustrate how Jesus may have been a common name, but the GNT then provides other "names" for Christ, which really are titles instead of proper names. So "Jesus" is still a unique person although his personal name is not. Furthermore, he's Jesus the Anointed One (not like the other men who bear the same name).

Translation philosophies also differ. I don't see how we can maintain that one way of translating is superior to another way (functional versus dynamic). The chosen approach depends on the translator's objective and target audience. "De gustibus non est disputandum."

Duncan said...

But transliteration is not translation. No getting around it.

Edgar Foster said...

No disagreement about translation and transliteration. However, and you knew it was coming, it's common to transliterate in the process of translating, which is just differences of translation philosophy to me. Moreover, in the case of Immanuel, the Apostle Matthew elucidates the meaning of the name by translating for the reader: ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ' ἡμῶν ὁ θεός. So the modern translator does not have to translate Immanuel, but can simply transliterate in the process of translating--at least, in this and similar cases.

Duncan said...

But there is some glossing over of possabilities. Coming back to Isaiah 8:8 we have a translation that may or may not be a name. DSS shows as a name but the MT shows as two words.

Articles like this make a point as to why transliteration might be used.

But if you know what the original words are and can translate them then you should translate them otherwise artificial word devisions are created. Jesus, Joshua. Mary, Miriam. Messenger, Angel. It is a dumbing down of the text. Trying to make black and white from that which is grey. The "translation" of unknown words is where we should see the opposite. Transliteration is preferable. If you have a word in the Hebrew that is not understood then it should remain that way in the target language as the reader will assumed there is no problem or ambuguity, that no further investigation is required. Like the range of inventive "translations" of 1 kings 18:27 just as an example.

Differences in translation philosophy are fine if you also understand the source language but there are many verses in the Hebrew text where comparing versions is fairly pointless as the newer translations pull renderings from the earlier ones when the have no solution, borrowing from wyclif of Geneva or kjv1611.

Edgar Foster said...

The NET note for Isaiah 8:8 shows the importance of appealing to context in order to solve the difficulties with the text. I also like Goldingay's commentary on Isaiah--I think he's written more than one. There seems to be good evidence for understanding a name at 8:8 although like all matters, we can't be 100% certain.

You're also talking about proper names, which are different from common nouns (e.g., YHWH or Jacob, etc). And Matthew saw fit to transliterate the name but then provide a translation for the nomen he transliterated. We see the Apostle John doing the same thing in his Gospel. Hence, I don't see why we have to take an either/or approach to the matter.

You say confusion is created if we don't translate, but ambiguity is the name of the game, period. We get the angel/messenger confusion not from transliteration, primarily, but from semantics or from not taking the context into consideration.

But nothing is going to be fully clear. We're always striving for clarity in translation and interpretation of biblical texts.

The modern reader has numerous biblical helps: commentaries, journals, monographs, clases in Hebrew/Greek, and study bibles with multitudinous notes.

Those who do not avail themselves of the many resources we have today will usually have to trust the translator or some scholar. At any rate, it's possible to acquire a biblical understanding that leads to salvation (per scrtipture).

Edgar Foster said...

However, the main point I was making had nothing to do with translation or transliteration. I was originally addressing your question about the name Michael.



Duncan said...

Sorry for my sidetrack and rant. Now back to the hypothesis.

Exodus 15:11, 14.

Who is like, defeating peoples/nation.

Psalms 89:6,7.

Isaiah 44:7.

Might be Worth comparing MT & Lxx on these two.

Duncan said...

This is an interesting detail regarding Gabriel .

champion, chief, excel, giant, man, mighty man, one, strong man,
Or (shortened) gibbor {ghib-bore'}; intensive from the same as geber; powerful; by implication, warrior, tyrant -- champion, chief, X excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man.

Compare to Isaiah 9:6 - El gibbor to gebber El.

The two supposed usages of the construct state.

Edgar Foster said...

Quite a bit of research has been undertaken on the Song of the Sea. Some works encourage us to read it against the 10 plagues backdrop. See Ex. 12:12. Lange also writes that Ex 15:11 contains a germ of the name Michael.

Duncan said...

The speculation is that this is tied to the song of Moses at revelation 15:3.

Those to whom the song is directed against is my focus or at least the geography.

During the period of the Diadochi, Palestine changed hands between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids five times.

The Persian Greek dispute goes back further in time and had significant effect on Palestine.

Duncan said...

It cannot be a germ of the name since the name already exist but it starts to carry a connotation that there is no evidence for prior.

Edgar Foster said...

Lange particularly has Exod 15:11 in mind for the "germ" idea, but I believe that the name "Michael" only first appears in Torah at Numbers 13:13. Lange is suggesting that the name only is encountered seminally in Exodus. What evidence do we have that the name existed when the Exodus occurred or at any time around that period?

I agree that the Persian and Greek dispute precedes the Diadochi wars. Herodotus is a good source for the history of that conflict.

Duncan said...

I know that this is in effect an argument from silence at the moment. Ebla between ca. 2500 BC and the destruction of the city ca. 2250 BC may yield "who is like El" & "who is like yah".

We also have other record that are very difficult to date involving "who is like" a given deity.

In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, Ra takes on the form of a cat named simply "Mau" (cat) in order to kill the serpent Apep. The text reads;

"I am the cat (Mau), who fought hard by the Persea tree in Annu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-tcher (a form of Osiris) were destroyed", The male cat is Ra himself and he is called "Mau" because of the words of the god Sa, who said about him, "who is like (mau) unto him?" and thus his name became "Mau" (cat). "

So much of this is tentative at the moment but there are a few examples that are a little more solid:-

Duncan said...

Some comments on Ebalite:-

How tall was goliath ?:-