on Daniel 12 :2
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth - This prophecy has been referred to the future restoration of the Jews. It will be also true of the state of mankind at the general judgment.
on Daniel 12 :2
And many of them - The natural and obvious meaning of the word "many" (רבים rabı̂ym) here is, that a large portion of the persons referred to would thus awake, but not all. So we should understand it if applied to other things, as in such expressions as these - "many of the people," "many of the houses in a city," "many of the trees in a forest," "many of the rivers in a country," etc. In the Scriptures, however, it is undeniable that the word is sometimes used to denote the whole considered as constituted of many, as in Romans 5:15-16, Romans 5:19. In these passages no one can well doubt that the word many is used to denote all, considered as composed of the "many" that make up the human race, or the "many" offences that man has committed. So if it were to be used respecting those who were to come forth from the caves and fastnesses where they had been driven by persecution, or those who sleep in their graves, and who will come forth in a general resurrection, it might be used of them considered as the many, and it might be said "the many" or "the multitude" comes forth.
Not a few interpreters, therefore, have understood this in the sense of all, considered as referring to a multitude, or as suggesting the idea of a multitude, or keeping up the idea that there would be great numbers. If this is the proper interpretation, the word "many" was used instead of the word "all" to suggest to the mind the idea that there would be a multitude, or that there would be a great number. Some, as Lengerke, apply it to all the Israelites who "were not written in the book" Daniel 12:1, that is, to a resurrection of all the Israelites who had died; some, as Porphyry, a coining forth of the multitudes out of the caves and fastnesses who had been driven there by persecution; and some, as Rosenmuller and Havernick, understand it as meaning all, as in Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19. The sum of all that can be said in regard to the meaning of the word, it seems to me, is, that it is so far ambiguous that it might be applied
(a) to "many" considered as a large portion of a number of persons or things;
(b) or, in an absolute sense, to the whole of any number of persons or things considered as a multitude or great number.
As used here in the visions of the future, it would seem to denote that the eye of the angel was fixed on a great multitude rising from the dust of the earth, without any particular or distinct reference to the question whether all arose. There would be a vast or general resurrection from the dust; so much so that the mind would be interested mainly in the contemplation of the great hosts who would thus come forth. Thus understood, the language might, of itself, apply either to a general arousing of the Hebrew people in the time of the Maccabees, or to a general resurrection of the dead in the last day.
That sleep - This expression is one that denotes either natural sleep, or anything that resembles sleep. In the latter sense it is often used to denote death, and especially the death of the pious - who calmly slumber in their graves in the hope of awaking in the morning of the resurrection. See the notes at 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It cannot be denied that it might be applied to those who, for any cause, were inactive, or whose energies were not aroused - as we often employ the word sleep or slumber - and that it might be tints used of those who seemed to slumber in the midst of the persecutions which raged, and the wrongs that were committed by Antiochus; but it would be most natural to understand it of those who were dead, and this idea would be particularly suggested in the connection in which it stands here.
In the dust of the earth - Hebrew, "In the ground, or earth of dust" - ארמת־עפר 'ademath ‛âphâr. The language denotes the ground or earth considered as composed of dust, and would naturally refer to those who are dead and buried - considered as sleeping there with the hope of awaking in the resurrection.
Shall awake - This is language appropriate to those who are asleep, and to the dead considered as being asleep. It might, indeed, be applied to an arousing from a state of lethargy and inaction, but its most obvious, and its full meaning, would be to apply it to the resurrection of the dead, considered as an awaking to life of those who were slumbering in their graves.
Some - One portion of them. The relative number is not designated, but it is implied that there would be two classes. They would not all rise to the same destiny, or the same lot.
To everlasting life - So that they would live forever. This stands in contrast with their" sleeping in the dust of the earth," or their being dead, and it implies that that state would not occur in regard to them again. Once they slept in the dust of the earth; now they would live for ever, or would die no more. Whether in this world or in another is not here said, and there is nothing in the passage which would enable one to determine this. The single idea is that of living forever, or never dying again. This is language which must have been derived from the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and of the future state, and which must imply the belief of that doctrine in whatever sense it may be used here. It is such as in subsequent times was employed by the sacred writers to denote the future state, and the rewards of the righteous. The most common term employed in the New Testament, perhaps, to describe true religion, is life, and the usual phrase to denote the condition of the righteous after the resurrection is eternal or everlasting life. Compare Matthew 25:46. This language, then, would most naturally be referred to that state, and covers all the subsequent revelations respecting the condition of the blessed.
And some to shame - Another portion in such a way that they shall have only shame or dishonor. The Hebrew word means reproach, scorn, contumely; and it may be applied to the reproach which one casts on another, Job 16:10; Psalm 39:8 (9); Psalm 79:12; or to the reproach which rests on anyone, Joshua 5:9; Isaiah 54:4. Here the word means the reproach or dishonor which would rest on them for their sins, their misconduct, their evil deeds. The word itself would apply to any persons who were subjected to disgrace for their former misconduct. If it be understood here as having a reference to those who would be aroused from their apathy, and summoned from their retreats in the times of the Maccabees, the meaning is, that they would be called forth to public shame on account of their apostasy, and their conformity to pagan customs; if it be interpreted as applying to the resurrection of the dead, it means that the wicked would rise to reproach and shame before the universe for their folly and vileness. As a matter of fact, one of the bitterest ingredients in the doom of the wicked will be the shame and confusion with which they will be overwhelmed in the great day on account of the sins and follies of their course in this world.
And everlasting contempt - The word "everlasting" in this place is the same which in the former part of the verse is applied to the other portion that would awake, and like that properly denotes eternal; as in Matthew 25:46, the word translated "everlasting" (punishment) is the same which is rendered "eternal" (life), and means what is to endure forever. So the Greek here, where the same word occurs, as in Matthew 25:46 - "some to everlasting life," εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον eis zōēn aiōnion, "and some to everlasting contempt," εἰς αἰσχύνην αἰώνιον eis aischunēn aiōnion - is one which would denote a strict and proper eternity. The word "contempt" (דראון derâ'ôn) means, properly, a repulse; and then aversion, abhorrence. The meaning here is aversion or abhorrence - the feeling with which we turn away from what is loathsome, disgusting, or hateful. Then it denotes the state of mind with which we contemplate the vile and the abandoned; and in this respect expresses the emotion with which the wicked will be viewed on the final trial. The word everlasting completes the image, meaning that this feeling of loathing and abhorrence would continue forever. In a subordinate sense this language might be used to denote the feelings with which cowards, ingrates, and apostates are regarded on earth; but it cannot be doubted that it will receive its most perfect fulfillment in the future world - in that aversion with which the lost will be viewed by all holy beings in the world to come.
on Daniel 12 :2