Rosh Chodesh Alef
Thank you to the poll participants. I think we can dive right in now.
I have been pondering the mysteries of the Book of Daniel for about 50 years. Each time I read it, I learn something new.
"As for you, Daniel, obscure the matters and seal the book until the time of the end; let many muse and knowledge increase." (Daniel 12:4)The implication is that when we actually arrive to the End of Days, the riddles will be able to be understood. Very recently, I was re-reading it, along with a book of collected commentaries, hoping to get some additional insight. After several days of going back and forth between several translations and my book of collected commentary, I felt like I was making some progress toward a better understanding when something suddenly clicked in my mind and an amazing possibility occurred to me. It may be the solution to one of the most intriguing codes in the book - "ad idan, idanin uplag idan" - often translated from the Aramaic as "a time, times, and a half [of time]."
I pondered throughout the holidays how, or even whether, to share my thoughts on this subject outside my own family. As I've continued to pore over the sources, as well as seek Hashem's will, I am more and more convinced that I have a viable explanation. In fact, just yesterday, I had an even deeper insight into this possibility which just reinforces that viability. So, I posted the poll to test the waters, so to speak, and now, I have determined to go forward as far as Hashem will allow.
It looks like this subject can be covered in three parts, so pay close attention over these next three days...
As a quick overview, Daniel has been carried away to Babylon at the time of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. He is intent on understanding when the Babylonian exile will end. In answer to his prayers, Daniel receives prophetic visions which span world history, describing each of four major exiles that the Jewish people will endure until the End of Days when Mashiach will come and power will be transferred to Yisrael. The angel Gabriel acts as a guide and interpreter to help Daniel understand what he is seeing - all of which was still future for Daniel, but almost all of which is now past history for us. That being the case, it is easier to identify the who and how of these once-future prophecies historically. And our great commentators like Rashi (1040 - 1105), Ramban (1194 - 1270), Abarbanel (1437 - 1508), etc. did just that.
However, they did not live to see what we have now seen, so it may also be possible to shed some light on further developments as we approach the very End of Days. Seeing as how we are living at the end of the fourth empire - the empire of Rome/Edom - I was concentrating my efforts on a portion of the prophecy that concerns it. Daniel, chapter 7...
...as I looked on in the night vision, there was a fourth beast - fearsome, dreadful, and very powerful, with great iron teeth - that devoured and crushed, and stamped the remains with its feet. It was different from all the other beasts which had gone before it; and it had ten horns. While I was gazing upon these horns, a new little horn sprouted up among them; three of the older horns were uprooted to make way for it. There were eyes in this horn like those of a man, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly....
Then I wished to determine the truth of the fourth beast, which was different from all of them - excessively dreadful;....Some insight from the commentators:
And concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other one that came up and the three that fell before it, and the horn that had eyes and a mouth speaking arrogantly, and its appearance was greater than that of its companions.
I looked on as that horn waged war with the holy ones and overwhelmed them, until the Ancient of Days came and gave revenge to the high holy ones, and the time arrived that the holy ones inherited the kingdom.
[The angel explained] "The fourth beast represents a fourth kingdom that will be on the earth, which will be different from all the kingdoms, and it will devour the whole land and trample it and crush it.
And the ten horns that sprout from that kingdom represent ten kings that will rise, and the last one will rise after them, and he will be different from the first, and he will humble three kings.
"The exile represented by the fourth beast would be equivalent to all three previous ones" [i.e., Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece]. (Rashi from Vayikra Rabba 13:5)
"...the fourth kingdom [or empire], represented here [Daniel 7:7] by a fearsome unspecified beast, different from all the other beasts, is that of the Roman empire with all its metamorphoses. This is the view of almost all the commentators and clearly that of our Sages in the Talmud and numerous midrashim." (Artscroll Tanach Series - Sefer Daniel)Can the "horns" be identified? I believe so, because in our time, as opposed to Daniel's, this has already happened. All we have to do is match it to the historical record. If I am right, it could give us all some much-needed chizuk.
All are welcome to share their thoughts in the comments.
Proceed to Part 2 - The Little Horn.
May any learning from this blog post go to the merit of Rabbi Alon Yehudah Yosef ben Chanah Miriam for a refuah shleimah bimehira. Amen!