10:1. Daniel received this vision in the third year of Cyrus, which was in 536 BC. Daniel this was the same time that the Lord rescued him from the lions’ den (6:1–28). This was right after Cyrus conquered Babylon and issued a proclamation of freedom allowing all Jews who wanted to return to Judea. 50,000 chose to return under the leadership of Zerubbabel. When Daniel received this word, the exiles had already returned and were rebuilding their homes, shops, businesses, farms, and the temple. The vision was about a great conflict in the future, as described in Dan 11:2–12:3. Those who returned faced severe opposition and ceased their rebuilding work. During this time of discouragement, he received this vision of a conflict, which revealed spiritual warfare in the heavenly realm. In the previous visions, Daniel had questions in his mind that were not fully resolved, but he faithfully recorded what he had seen and heard. He says here that he clearly understands the message and its meaning.
10:2-3 Likely, Daniel had been mourning because of the poor conditions of the returned captives, in much the same way that Nehemiah mourned for them in Neh. 1. The Samaritans were opposing reconstruction of the temple and the work had been stopped (Ezr 4:5, 24). Daniel’s mourning period was for three weeks. The Hebrew text contains the words “weeks of days” to distinguish it from the weeks of years in the paragraph immediately preceding this one in 9:24-27. Daniel engaged in a partial fast, rejecting tasty food such as meat or wine, and refraining from anointing himself with oils to intensify his prayers.
10:4-6 The messenger of the Vision Daniel was by the bank of the Tigris, 20 miles from Babylon when he received the message. Daniel who is now 84, had not made the journey to Israel with the other Jewish returnees but remained in government service in Babylon. He describes this emissary as having a body like beryl. Translators and commentators’ debate over what “beryl” is. Some see it as topaz, others transparent gold, others jasper. Whatever it was it had the appearance of some rare and beautiful jewel. His face is described as shining like lightning with eyes like flaming torches, which is like John’s description of Yeshua in Revelation 1:14. His arms and legs appeared as polished bronze and spoke with a voice that sounded like a multitude of people. This description could fit the angels Michael or Gabriel, or the Angel of the Lord which is used to describe the pre-incarnate Messiah. Though there is great debate over who this messenger is, it likely is not Yeshua since the Messiah would not need help from the angel Michael, as this angel did in the confrontation that will unfold in v. 13.
10:7-9. Daniel, alone saw the vision is his companions sensed a powerful and terrifying presence but saw nothing, so they ran and hid. As the vision came to Daniel, he was weakened and fell into a deep sleep (10:9).
10:10-13 The hand that touched him was most likely the angel Gabriel, who interpreted other revelations to Daniel (8:16) and spoke similarly of Daniel’s being beloved in 9:20–23. The angel strengthened and informed Daniel that God had heard him from the first day of the three weeks of prayer and had immediately sent the angel to answer him. The angel had only arrived after twenty-one days because the prince of the kingdom of Persia had withstood him. The Persian prince had to be supernatural to oppose this angel and evil to oppose God’s purposes. Therefore, he was a demonic spirit seeking to influence Persia’s political affairs and oppose God’s purposes. Other biblical passages also teach of unseen spiritual forces influencing principalities and world powers (Ezk 28:11-19; 2Co 10:3-4; Eph 6:12). Spiritual warfare is real (Isa. 14:12-15; Rev. 12:7-12; Matt. 25:41). The angel could not prevail over the demon associated with Persia until the angel Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help him. Michael (whose name means “who is like God?”) is the guardian angel of Israel (cf. Dn 10:21; 12:1; Rv 12:7) and is designated an archangel in the NT (Jude 9).
10:14-19 The angel shared with Daniel why he came to him. To reveal what would happen to Israel in the latter days. Although many of the predictions in Dan 11 pertain to events in the intertestamental period, the time of the Maccabean revolt and the events of Hanukkah, they also shift to events related to the return of Messiah (11:36–12:3). The angel also came to strengthen Daniel who was in anguish because of the vision and without strength. The angel did so by his touch and with words of encouragement (10:19). Then the angel revealed what had been decreed regarding the future of the nations of the world.
10:20-21. As the angel prepared once again to fight against the prince of Persia, he informed Daniel that afterward he would also take up the battle against the prince of Greece, the demonic power seeking to control the Greek Empire and oppose God’s purposes for Greece and Israel. This is an allusion to the prediction that Greece would follow Persia as the next major world power (8:4-8, 20-22).