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 Aram “saw.”

3tn Aram “and visions of his head.” 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.

4tn Aram “head of words.” The phrase is absent in Theodotion. Cf. NIV “the substance of his dream.”

5tn Aram “answered and said.”

6tn Aram “and behold.”

7tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

8sn The referent of the great sea is unclear. The common view that the expression refers to the Mediterranean Sea is conjectural.

9tn Aram “heart of a man.”

10sn 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.

11tn Aram “and behold.”

12sn The three ribs held securely in the mouth of the bear, perhaps representing Media-Persia, apparently symbolize 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.

13tc The LXX lacks the phrase “between its teeth.”

14tn Aram “and thus they were saying to it.”

15tn Aram “this.” So also in v. 7.

16tn Aram “and behold, another one.”

17tn Or “sides.”

18sn If the third animal is Greece, the most 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.

19tn The Aramaic text has also “and behold.” So also in vv. 8, 13.

20sn 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 conjectural.

21tn The Aramaic word for “teeth” is dual rather than plural, suggesting two rows of teeth.

22tn Aram “were uprooted from before it.”

23tn Aram “great.” So also in vv. 11, 20.

24tn Or “the Ancient One” (NAB, NRSV, NLT), although the traditional expression has been retained in the present translation because it is familiar to many readers. Cf. TEV “One who had been living for ever”; CEV “the Eternal God.”

25tn Traditionally the Aramaic word נְקֵא (nqe’) has been rendered “pure,” but here it more likely means “of a lamb.” Cf. the Syriac neqya’ (“a sheep, ewe”). On this word see further, M. Sokoloff, “’amar neqe’, ‘Lamb’s Wool’ (Dan 7:9),” JBL 95 (1976): 277-79.

26tn Aram “a flaming fire.”

27tn Aram “were standing before him.”

28tn Aram “judgment sat.”

29tc 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.

30tn Aram “and given over to” (so NRSV).

31tn Aram “a prolonging of life was granted to them.”

32tc The LXX has ἐπί (epi, “upon”) here (cf. Matt 24:30; 26:64). Theodotion has μετά (meta, “with”) here (cf. Mark 14:62; Rev 1:7).

33tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

34sn 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.

35tn Aram “they brought him near.”

36tn Some take “serving” here in the sense of “worshiping.”

37tn Aram “is an eternal authority which will not pass away.”

38tn Aram “is one which will not be destroyed.”

39tn 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 (cf. NAB “within its sheath of flesh”). For this phrase the LXX and Vulgate have “in these things.”

40tn Aram “head.”

41tn Aram “what is certain.”

42tn Aram “and made known.”

43tn Aram “matter,” but the matter at hand is of course the vision.

44sn The expression holy ones is either a reference to angels or to human beings devoted to God.

45tn Aram “to make certain.”

46tn The words “I also wanted to know” are added in the translation for stylistic reasons.

47tc The conjunction in the MT before “eyes” is odd. The ancient versions do not seem to presuppose it.

48tn Aram “greater than its companions.”

49tn Aram “prevailing against” (KJV and ASV both similar); NASB “overpowering them”; TEV “conquered them.”

50tc In the LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate 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 ( יְהַב [yhav] rather than the MT יְהִב [yhiv]).

51tn Aram “thus he said.”

52tn Or “subjugate”; KJV, NASB, NIV “subdue”; ASV, NRSV “put down.”

53tn Aram “wear out” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NASB, NLT “wear down.” The word is a hapax legomenon in biblical Aramaic, but in biblical Hebrew it especially refers to wearing out such things as garments. Here it is translated “harass…continually.”

54tn Aram “he will think.”

55tn Aram “times and law.” The present translation is based on the understanding that the expression is a hendiadys.

56sn Although the word 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.”

57tn Aram “judgment will sit” (KJV similar).

58tn If the “holy ones” are angels, then this probably refers to the angels as protectors of God’s people. If the “holy ones” are God’s people, then this is an appositional construction, “the people who are the holy ones.” See 8:24 for the corresponding Hebrew phrase and the note there.

59tn Aram “my brightness was changing on me.”

60tn Aram “in my heart.”