1sn The first year of Belshazzar’s reign would have been ca. 553 b.c. Daniel would have been approximately 67 years old at the time of this vision.
2tn The Aramaic is difficult here. Some scholars add a verb thought to be missing (e.g., “the visions of his head [were alarming him]”), but there is no external evidence to support such a decision and the awkwardness of the text at this point may be original.
3tn Aram “head of words.” The phrase is absent in Theodotion.
4tn Aram “answered and said.”
5tn Or “the heavens.” The same Hebrew term, <y]m^v* (v*m^y]<), may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
6sn The referent of the great sea is unclear. The common view that the expression refers to the Mediterranean Sea is conjectural.
7tn Aram “the heart of a man.”
8sn The identity of the first animal, derived from v. 17 and the parallels in chap. 2, is Babylon. The reference to the plucking of its wings is probably a reference to the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity (cf. chap. 4). The latter part of v. 4 then describes the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar. The other animals have traditionally been understood to represent respectively Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, although most of modern scholarship identifies them as Media, Persia, and Greece. For a biblical parallel to the mention of lion, bear, and leopard together, see Hos 13:7-8.
9sn The three ribs held securely in the mouth of the bear, representing Media-Persia, apparently symbolizes military conquest, but the exact identity of the “ribs” is not clear. Possibly it is a reference to the Persian conquest of Lydia, Egypt, and Babylonia.
10tc The LXX lacks the phrase “between its teeth.”
11tn Or, “sides.”
12sn If the third animal is Greece, the likely identification of these four heads is the four-fold division of the empire of Alexander the Great following his death. See note on Dan 8:8.
13sn The fourth animal differs from the others in that it is nondescript. Apparently it was so fearsome that Daniel could find nothing with which to compare it. Attempts to identify this animal as an elephant or other known creature are needlessly speculative.
14tn The Aramaic word for “teeth” is dual rather than plural, suggesting two rows of teeth.
15tn Aram “were uprooted from before it.”
16tn Or “the Ancient One,” although the traditional expression has been retained in the translation because it is quite familiar to many readers.
17tn Traditionally the Aramaic word neqe’ has been rendered “pure,” but here it more likely means “of a lamb.” Cf. the Syriac, neqya’, “a sheep, ewe.”
18tc The LXX and Theodotion lack the words “I was watching” here. It is possible that these words in the MT are a dittography from the first part of the verse.
19tn Aram “a prolonging of life was granted to them.”
20tc The LXX has epi (“upon”) here (cf. Matt 24:30; 26:64). Theodotion has meta (“with”) here (cf. Mark 14:62; Rev 1:7).
21tn Or “the heavens.” The same Hebrew term, <y]m^v* (v*m^y]<), may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
22sn This text is probably the main OT background for Jesus’ use of the term “son of man.” In both Jewish and Christian circles the reference in the Book of Daniel has traditionally been understood to refer to an individual, usually in a messianic sense. Many modern scholars, however, understand the reference to have a corporate identity. In this view, the “son of man” is to be equated with the “holy ones” (vv. 18, 21, 22, 25) or the “people of the holy ones” (v. 27) and understood as a reference to the Jewish people. Others understand Daniel’s reference to be to the angel Michael.
23tn Some take “serving” here in the sense of “worshiping.”
24tn The Aramaic text includes the phrase “in its sheath,” apparently viewing the body as a container or receptacle for the spirit somewhat like a sheath or scabbard is for a knife or a sword. For this phrase the LXX and Vg have “in these things.”
25tn Aram “matter,” but the matter at hand is of course the vision.
26sn The expression holy ones is either a reference to angels or to the saints.
27tc The conjunction in the MT before “eyes” is odd. The ancient versions do not seem to presuppose it.
28tn Aram “than its companions.”
29tc In the LXX, Syriac, and Vg the verb is active, understanding “judgment” to be the object rather than the subject of the verb (i.e., “the Ancient of Days rendered judgment”). This presupposes a different vocalization of the verb (yehab rather than the MT yehib).
30tn Or “subjugate.”
31tn Aram “wear out.” The word is a hapax legomenon in biblical Aramaic, but in biblical Hebrew it especially refers to wearing out such things as garments.
32tn Aram “times and law.” The present translation is based on the understanding that the expression is a hendiadys.
33sn Although the form times is vocalized in the MT as a plural, it probably should be regarded as a dual. The Masoretes may have been influenced here by the fact that in late Aramaic (and Syriac) the dual forms fall out of use. The meaning would thus be three and a half “times.”
34tn Aram “brightness was changing on me.”