Au In the beginning was the Word

1. -       In some business it is not easy. It is necessary to try to understand from the heart (Dn 10, 12). God speaks in many ways.  In Daniel´s dream his word descends to the unconscious world depth and it overcomes the individual and the collective censorship. We can understand it, if we identify the four bestial empires that, successively, rule the earth in the last five centuries and, upon all, if we perceive God´s kingdom signals that manifest the nations judgement to our generation.

2. -       Daniel´s book appears in a resistance movement frame, in front of the greek domination. Greek empire wants to unify all Middle East peoples imposing a strange cult: The king Antiochus issued a decree to his whole kingdom: all the peoples of his empire had to renounce their particular customs and become one people. All the pagan nations obeyed and respected the king´s decree, and even in Israel many accepted the imposed cult. They offered sacrifices to idols and no longer respected the Sabbath (1 Mac 1, 41-43). They should customs strange to the country (1, 44), the sanctuary and its ministers were no longer to be regarded as sacred (1, 46). The one who disobeys the decree shall die. The king ordered to erect the abominable idol of the invaders (1, 54), a pagan altar on the temple´s altar

3. - Antiochus IV Epiphanies, reigning from 175 to 164 b.C.,  promoted this imperialist and criminal plan. Setting out from his capital, Antiochus, he wants to dominate Egypt, but first he must conquer Palestine. The task seems easy, since he has the complicity of the jewish priests. Nevertheless, a firm resistance arises, decided to confront a test and cruel prosecution period.

4. -       At the beginning, the assidean, devout men organized in fraternities, join the maccabees resistance. But the movement is soon divided. The maccabees pursue the religious and politic liberation by armed means. The assidean pretend, before all, to restore the cult and, adopting a peaceful resistance, they renounce to expect the liberation from men´s hands and place their confidence in God. Their fight is the public demonstration of a more ample combat taking place in history between God and the evil forces

5. -       The High Priest Onias, who had defended the temple´s treasure before Heliodorus (2 Mac 3), is accused of conspiracy against the State and ceased. He retires to a refuge. He denounces the abuses of the high priest and he is assassinated (4,30-38). When the false rumour of Antiochus death spreads, his brother Jason, attacks Jerusalem killing his fellow citizens. When the news of these events reached the king, he became furious and leaving Egypt, he went to take Jerusalem by force. He ordered his soldiers to kill without mercy everyone they encountered and to behead as well as all those who took refuge in their houses. Young and old perished; men, women and children were massacred, and infants and virgins were put to the sword. Within only three days, there were eighty thousand victims  (2 Mac 5, 11-14).

6. -       For several centuries, greek domination has gradually imbibed the Middle East and Palestine too. But there are three years of crisis in the conflict between the greek paganism and the jewish faith, years marked by Judas, known as the Maccabeus, insurrection, from the year 167 to 164 b.C. At last, Judas enters in the city and purifies the temple (2 Mac 10, 1-8).

7. -       In its actual structure, Daniel´s book is divulged in the year 164, a little before Antiochus death. In the hardest moment of the prosecution, it is a message of hope for the believers. It helps them to become conscious of the sense of the fight they maintain. Narrations transmitted between the jews of the Diaspora become present. These narrations present Daniel´s figure, one of the exiled jews in Babylon (Dn 5,13), a man endowed with a prophetic spirit (Dn 4, 5), who has the gift to interpret dreams and visions, revealing, in this manner, history´s sense (Dn 1,6.17; 2,25). This is, precisely, what is needed in the prosecution of the second century. What is happening is a puzzle that overflows. A God´s revelation is needed.

8. -       Daniel is an old times figure (Ez 14, 14.20), to whom God reveals the future. The prophet writes it in a book that he must seal until the moment to be published is reached. In the first part, several narrations and dreams reveal history sense and announce the nations judgement: the statue with baked clay (Dn 2, 1-49), the worship of the golden statue and the youngsters in the furnace (Dn 3, 1-30), the tree reduced to its stamp and the emperor who become a beast (Dn 4, 1-34), Belshazzar banquet (5, 1-30), Daniel thrown into the lion´s den (6, 9-29), Daniel´s dream (7, 1-28). In the second part, several visions present the world´s destiny like a combat between God and the evil forces: the ram and the he-goat (8, 1-27), the seventy weeks years (9, 1-27), the man dressed in linen (10, 1-21), the great tribulation and the abomination of the desolation. (12,1-13). Later addictions are: Azariah´s prayer and the son of the three youngsters (3, 24-90), Daniel´s prayer (9, 1-27), Susanna´s history (13, 1-64) and Bel and the dragon narrations (14, 1-42). Judaism and Protestantism do not recognized the added writings like canonical.

9. –      In Belshazzar´s, king of Babylon, first year, Daniel had a dream, that he immediately wrote down: The four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, and four great beasts, each one different from the other came our of the sea. The first was like a lion with eagles´s wings… The second was a beast like a bear; it was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth… I went on looking and saw another beast like a leopard with four wings on its back… I continued seeing my visions of the night and saw a terrible fourth beast. It was fearful and extraordinarily strong; it had great iron teeth; it ate, tore into pieces and crushed underfoot whatever remained… I looked and saw the following: Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took his seat… Thousands upon thousands served him, and a countless multitude stood before him. Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book… I continued watching the nocturnal vision: One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into his presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served him. In the dream, Daniel approaches some one who gives him the interpretation: These four beasts are four kings who will rise from the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom. (Dn 7, 1-17)

10. -     The beasts crush, tear, dominate, and blaspheme. Human history show, today like yesterday, the capacity of destruction that the power has in its hands. The beast takes hold on a particular type of men: the holy ones of the Most High (7, 18.25). The believers suffer the temptation to resign, but they receive a message of hope: they will judge history (7,9), they will announce the end of the beast (7, 11-12), definitive victory will be theirs (7,13-14.27). The old man and the son of man appear with human face.

11. -     The dream presents a mysterious human figure. It is like a son of man, who comes down on the clouds of the sky and is taken to the presence of the Old Man (7,13). Without excluding the communitarian aspect of the people of the saints, the figure is accomplished in Jesus, head of God´s people. Jesus defines himself like the son of man. The mysterious expression appears in the evangels always in Jesus´ mouth. (Mk 10,33; Jn 9, 35). A hope is announced to a believer people, prosecuted by the bestial powers: like a son of man who comes on the clouds of heaven. Jesus is the son of man; the man crucified by bestial powers and constituted Lord of history, the same that God. In an impressing challenge, Jesus tells Caiaphas: from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Most Powerful God and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mt 26,64). He comes to judge. We can perceive God´s kingdom signals delivered to Jesus. Nations judgement is present.

12. -     Countless are the last one hundred years victims: 8-10 millions in the first world war, with the fall of the german empire and the czarism; 40-52 millions (4-6 million of jews between them) in the second world war, with the fall of the nazism and the japanese empire; victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, spanish war and post war, soviet concentration and repression camps, Vietnam war, argentines disappeared, Rwanda, Bosnia, Twin Towers, Afghanistan, Iraq, palestine-israeli conflict…


* Dialogue: Do we point out four bestial empires that, successively, dominate the earth for the last five centuries?. Do we perceive signals showing to our generation nations judgement?