The dates of Cyrus’ third year extend from 536 into 535
B.C. Too aged for the difficult travel back to the land of his
birth and the hardships of rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem,
the prophet remained behind. Since the Tigris flows between
the two cities, Daniel would have remained either at Babylon
or at Susa, the capital of Persia.
Daniel called Cyrus by the Hebrew title of (melek,
king) and he lets his readers know that he is still called
Belteshazzar by the Persians. Daniel (“God is Judge”)
would have been an unpopular name among the Babylonians,
Medes and Persians. Even to this day people only want to
hear about the love and grace of God, not about His wrath
and judgment. Appropriately, the book of Daniel embodies
both aspects of God’s righteousness—love and wrath.
The prophet employed the terms “revelation,” “message”
and “vision” to what follows. He emphasized the veracity
of the message and said it concerned (saka gadowl, “a
great warfare,” or “a great conflict”).
It appears that the revelation came first, followed by
three weeks of fasting by Daniel, and then the
understanding of its message was given in a vision.
Daniel’s fast was a result of mourning or lamenting;
the revelation had been dreadful and grievous. The prophet
himself illustrates what Jesus promises, “Blessed are
those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew
5:4). Comfort means to strengthen, which is the underlying
theme of this chapter. Fasting is not done to solicit
the favor of God; fasting arises from sincere expressions
of being poor in spirit. This fast indicates that Daniel
was praying, seeking understanding and wisdom from heaven.
Daniel’s fast was not a complete one. It involved a
limited diet, possibly like the one in 605 B.C. Prior to
the fast, Daniel had been enjoying meat, wine and lotions,
indications of luxurious living, without compromising
God’s dietary laws. Endowed with wisdom from above, Daniel
certainly lived 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and Romans 14
within the boundaries of the Mosaic Law.