Daniel 7:9-14

“I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat. . . . 13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed.”

In this section of Daniel, we read of two distinct persons who are the object of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. In verse 14, the Son of Man was “given dominion, glory and a kingdom,” by God the Father in which “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away.”

The term translation “serve” (“worshiped,” NIV) is from Aramaic word, pelach, which corresponds to the Hebrew word, palach. In a religious context, when the term appears in the Old Testament where the object of the term is God, it carries the idea of religious worship, religious services, or performing religious rituals in honor to the true or to a deity (in contexts of false gods).

Note verse 27, the same term (pelach) applied to the Son of Man in verse 14 is applied to Yahweh, the “Highest One”: “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve [pelach] and obey Him.” The LXX translates pelach as hupotagēsontai, which is the 3rd person future indicative of hupotassō (“serve, submission”).

In verse 14, the LXX translates pelach as latreuō,[1] which, in a religious context, denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; Matt. 4:10; Rom. 1:9, Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14). Although in some editions of the LXX, the term douleuō (“to serve”) is used, in a religious context (which verses 9-14 undeniably are), douleuō denotes religious worship,[2] signifying service or worship reserved for God alone.

Furthermore, to avoid the implications of the Messiah receiving true religious worship, some have argued that the title “Son of Man” refers exclusively to humanity collectively In response, however, it is true that many places in the Old Testament does convey that meaning—but only where the context warrants.

However, in Daniel 7:9-14 this designation cannot be true contextually. The Son of Man in Daniel receives “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” and “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” This description cannot be said of men collectively. More than that, while modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish exegetes (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.).[3] Further, as noted, the testimony of early church Fathers connected the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.[4]

Notes-

[1] Cf. The LXX editions of H. B. Swete and Alfred Rahlfs.

[2] For example, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “When you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” The phrase “were slaves” (or “you served”) is from the verb douleuō. Paul was clear: to douleuō (religious service), anyone other than God in a religious context is idolatry.

[3] Aside from the Babylonian Talmud, Christian apologist Robert Hommel observes quite a number of early Messianic interpretations of Daniel 7:9-14:

A fragment in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q246) quotes this verse and calls the messianic figure “Son of God,” “Son of the Most High,” and “a great god of gods,” which indicates that the Qumran community looked for a divine messiah of some sort, and believed Dan 7:13ff referred to Him. The Midrash Numbers (13:14) says that Dan 7:14 refers to “King Messiah.” I’m unaware of any earlier testimonies of the rabbis” (Robert Hommel Worship and the Son of Man in Daniel 7 [http://forananswer.blogspot.com/2006/11/worship-and-son-of-man-in-daniel-7.html]; Nov. 8th 2006).

[4] Cf. For example, note in Justin Martyr’s rendering of Daniel 7:14: “And all nations of the earth by their families, and all glory, serve [latreuousa] Him” (Dialogue with Trypho, 31). See also Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.11; Tertullian, Against Marcion, 3.7, 4.10; Hippolytus, Christ and AntiChrist, 2.26; etc.).

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