on Daniel 7 :9
The thrones were cast down - דמיו might be translated erected, so the Vulgate, positi sunt, and so all the versions; but that ours is a proper translation, is sufficiently evident from Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:16, Daniel 3:20; Daniel 6:17, etc.; where the original word can be used in no other sense than that of throwing or casting down. There is a reference here to preparations made for a general assize, or to the convocation of the sanhedrin, where the father of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side in the form of a semicircle, and the people stood before them.
The Ancient of days - God Almighty; and this is the only place in the sacred writings where God the Father is represented in a human form.
on Daniel 7 :9
I beheld - "I continued looking on these strange sights, and contemplating these transformations." This implies that some time elapsed before all these things had occurred. He looked on until he saw a solemn judgment passed on this fourth beast particularly, as if God had come forth in his majesty and glory to pronounce that judgment, and to bring the power and arrogance of the beast to an end.
Till the thrones were cast down - The Chaldee word (כרסון kâresâvân) means, properly, thrones - seats on which monarchs sit. So far as the word is concerned, it would apply either to a throne occupied by an earthly monarch, or to the throne of God. The use of the plural here would seem to imply, at least, that the reference is not to the throne of God, but to some other throne. Maurer and Lengerke suppose that the allusion is to the thrones on which the celestial beings sat in the solemn judgment that was to be pronounced - the throne of God, and the thrones or seats of the attending inhabitants of heaven, coming with him to the solemn judgment. Lengerke refers for illustration to 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Job 1:6, and Revelation 5:11-12. But the word itself might be properly applied to the thrones of earthly monarchs as well as to the throne of God. The phrase "were cast down" (רמיו remı̂yv), in our translation, would seem to suppose that there was some throwing down, or overturning of thrones, at this period, and that the solemn judgment would follow this, or be consequent on this.
The Chaldee word (רמא remâh) means, as explained by Gesenius, to cast, to throw Daniel 3:21, Daniel 3:24; Daniel 6:16-17; to set, to place, e. g., thrones; to impose tribute Ezra 7:24. The passage is rendered by the Latin Vulgate, throni positi sunt - "thrones were placed;" by the Greek, ἐτέθησαν etethēsan - "were placed." So Luther, stuhle gesetzt; and so Lengerke, stuhle aufgestellt - the thrones were placed, or set up. The proper meaning, therefore, of the phrase would seem to be - not, as in our translation, that the "thrones would be cast down" - as if there was to be an overturning of thrones on the earth to mark this particular period of history - but that there was, in the vision, a setting up, or a placing of thrones for the purpose of administering judgment, etc., on the beast. The use of the plural is, doubtless, in accordance with the language elsewhere employed, to denote the fact that the great Judge would be surrounded with others who would be, as it were, associated in administering justice - either angels or redeemed spirits.
Nothing is more common in the Scripture than to represent others as thus associated with God in pronouncing judgment on men. Compare Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 4:4. The era, or period, therefore, marked here, would be when a solemn Divine judgment was to be passed on the "beast," or when some events were to take place, as if such a judgment were pronounced. The events pertaining to the fourth beast were to be the last in the series preparatory to the reign of the saints, or the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah, and therefore it is introduced in this manner, as if a solemn judgment scene were to occur.
And the Ancient of days did sit - Was seated for the purposes of judgment. The phrase "Ancient of days" - יומין עתיק ‛attı̂yq yômı̂yn - is one that denotes an elderly or old person; meaning, he who is most ancient as to days, and is equivalent to the French L'Eternel, or English, The Eternal. It occurs only in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:22, and is a representation of one venerable in years, sitting down for the purposes of judgment. The appellation does not of itself denote eternity, but it is employed, probably, with reference to the fact that God is eternal. God is often represented under some such appellation, as he that is "from everlasting to everlasting" Psalm 90:2, "the first and the last" Isaiah 44:6, etc. There can be no doubt that the reference here is to God as a Judge, or as about to pronounce judgment, though there is no necessity for supposing that it will be in a visible and literal form, anymore than there is for supposing that all that is here represented by symbols will literally take place.
If it should be insisted on that the proper interpretation demands that there will be a literal and visible judgment, such as is here described, it may be replied that the same rigid interpretation would demand that there will be a literal "slaying of the beast, and a giving of his body to the flame" Daniel 7:11, and more generally still, that all that is here referred to by symbols will literally occur. The fact, however, is, that all these events are referred to by symbols - symbols which have an expressive meaning, but which, by their very nature and design, are not to be literally understood. All that is fairly implied here is, that events would occur in regard to this fourth beast as if God should sit in solemn judgment on it, and should condemn it in the manner here referred to. We are, doubtless, in the fulfillment of this - to look for some event that will be of so decisive and marked a character, that it may be regarded as a Divine judgment in the case, or that will show the strongly marked Divine disapprobation - as really as if the judgment-seat were formally set, and God should appear in majesty to give sentence. Sitting was the usual posture among the ancients, as it is among the moderns, in pronouncing judgment. Among the ancients the judge sat on a throne or bench while the parties stood before him (compare Zechariah 4:13), and with the Greeks and Romans so essential was the sitting posture for a judge, that a sentence pronounced in any other posture was not valid. - Lengerke. It was a maxim, Animus sedendo magis sapit; or, as Servius on the AEn. i. 56, remarks, Est enim curantis et solliciti sedere.
Whose garment was white as snow - Whose robe. The reference here is to the long flowing robe that was worn by ancient princes, noblemen, or priests. See the notes at Isaiah 6:1. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:13. White was an emblem of purity and honor, and was not an improper symbol of the purity of the judge, and of the justness of the sentence which he would pronounce. So the elder Pitt, in his celebrated speech against employing Indians in the war with the American people, besought the bishops to "interpose the unsullied purity of their lawn." Lengerke supposes, as Prof. Stuart does on Revelation 1:13, that the whiteness here referred to was not the mere color of the material of which the robe was made, but, was a celestial splendor or brightness, as if it were lightning or fire - such as is appropriate to the Divine Majesty. Lengerke refers here to Exodus 19:18-24; Daniel 2:22; Matthew 17:2; 1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Esdras 7:55; Ascension of Isaiah 8:21-25; Revelation 1:13-14; Revelation 4:2-4. But the more correct interpretation is to suppose that this refers to a pure white robe, such as judges might wear, and which would not be an improper symbol of their office.
And the hair of his head like the pure wool - That is, for whiteness - a characteristic of venerable age. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:14. The image here set before us is that of one venerable by years and wisdom.
His throne was like the fiery flame - The seat on which he sat seemed to be fire. That is, it was brilliant and splendid, as if it were a mass of flame.
And his wheels as burning fire - The wheels of his throne - for, as in Ezekiel 1; 10, the throne on which Jehovah sat appeared to be on wheels. In Ezekiel EZechariah 1:16; Ezekiel 10:9, the wheels of the throne appeared to be of the color of beryl; that is, they were like precious stones. Here, perhaps, they had only the appearance of a flame - as such wheels would seem to flash flames. So, Milton, in describing the chariot of the Son of God:
"Forth rush'd with whirlwind sound
The chariot of Paternal Deity,
Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,
Itself instinct with spirit, but convoyed
on Daniel 7 :9
7:9 The thrones - The kingdoms of this world were destroyed by God the king, and judge of all, called the Ancient of days, because of his eternal deity.