Touched By an AngelBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Cyrus was the king after Darius the Mede (during whose reign the previous chapter occurred). In the third year of the reign of Cyrus, Daniel had a vision of the far future. Daniel was given a lot of information so that he would understand the vision (though he would only reveal a portion of what he saw). At the time of his vision, Daniel was mourning the fact that Cyrus revoked his permission to rebuild the Temple. He ate no fine bread and he abstained entirely from meat, wine and anointing himself.
It was the 24th day of the first month and Daniel was on the bank of the river Chidakel, when he looked up and saw a man in linen, girded with gold. (This is presumably the angel Gabriel again.) The man’s body was like fine crystal, his face was like lightning and his eyes were like fire. The man’s limbs were like polished copper and his voice sounded like that of a crowd. Only Daniel saw the visitor; he was with other people who could not perceive the angel. They did, however, sense that something was going on, so they hid. (Who were these people that were spiritually receptive enough to sense that something was amiss? Rashi cites the Talmud in Megilla 3a that the others were the prophets Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi.) The sight he saw robbed Daniel of his strength and, as the angel spoke, Daniel fell into a deep sleep on the ground. A hand shifted his position to be on his hands and knees.
The angel called Daniel “greatly loved” and he charged Daniel with paying careful attention to his message. He told Daniel not to be afraid because ever since he dedicated himself to G-d and decided to fast (even though he had not yet started to do so), his prayers were heard. G-d sent the angel because of Daniel’s prayers. However, the “guardian angel” of Persia has his own job to do and he opposed this angel until Michael, one of the most prominent members of the Heavenly host, came to his aid. “And now,” the angel said, “I will explain what will happen to your people at the end of days.”
As the angel spoke, Daniel fell to the ground and was rendered speechless. Then, the angel (looking more human so as to be less intimidating) touched Daniel on the lips, so he could speak. Daniel explained that his strength had left him and that he felt unworthy to converse with the angel. The angel, still looking human, touched Daniel again, returning his strength and encouraging him. When he felt stronger, Daniel was ready to talk.
“Do you know why I’m here?” the angel asked. “I must return to my conflict with the ‘guardian angel’ of Persia. I will advocate for the Jews against Persia, but then I must leave as the angel of Greece arrives.” (By this, the angel meant that he would have no influence against the Greek domination of Israel that would follow Persian rule.) “I can tell you, however, that which is written. I have no help in my battles on your behalf, except your nation’s ‘guardian angel,’ Michael.”
This vision continues in the next chapter.