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Friday, October 8, 2021

Daniel 12:4 To and Fro, Knowledge Will Increase

And thou, O Daniel, hide the things, and seal the book till the time of the end, many do go to and fro, and knowledge is multiplied.'
   -Daniel 12:4

There are generally two accepted understandings of this verse in the last chapter of Daniel's prophecy. 

  1. Mankind's general collection of knowledge, advanced by technology and research.
  2. Understanding of Prophecy and scripture in general by Believers

I want to be clear and state that I am not discounting either. Both are reasonable interpretations and should be considered. But here I would like to propose a third possibility wherein "knowledge" is given in the negative.

For starters, we'll consider he context of the chapter:

At the time of the end...
-Dan 11:40

At that time...
-Dan 12:1

This is the time of Jacob's Trouble (Jer 30:7, Israel) and we have a summation in Dan 12:1b-2a.

And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake...

Here is how this section in introduced in Dan 12:1a

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people...

Michael stands for the people of Israel (Daniel's people). He wars with Israel’s enemies. Israel shall face great lies and deceptions in the tribulation. Individual Jews will have o make choices. The resurrection ("shall awake") spoken of in the passage is similar to the dry bones coming together and the reunion of Judah and Israel seen in Ezekiel 37. I believe all these things are centered on "the land." At the end of this prophecy, Daniel is told to seal up the book (which, I believe, is the book which can only be opened by the Son of God as we see in the Revelation, chapter 5).  

run to and fro” is derived from the Hebrew word "shut." I'm not pretending to be a Hebrew scholar, but that could be rendered "sut" depending on how we read the markings in the Masoretic text. "Shut" means "to rove about quickly." It is used by Amos in Amos 8:12. The idea there is that men shall frantically seek revelation and not find it. That definition could still work in Dan 12.

"Shat" is also used by Ezekiel 3x (Ezekiel 16:57 ; Ezekiel 28:24 , Ezekiel 28:26 ) and it means "to despise".

they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them...

The NAS Exhaustive Concordance states:

Word Origin [shat]:
the same as shut

If the word is "sut," we get a clearer understanding of the meaning. It would mean, directly, to revolt or apostatize. e.g. Hos 5:2, (Strong's: a departure from that which is right).

Swete’s edition of the LXX [Septuagint] reads here: heos an apomanosin, which means: “till many shall have gone raving mad.”

In regard to "knowledge" (Hebrew: da‛ath), I would point to a couple of things.
The Tree of the Knowledge [da‛ath] of Good and Evil. It is my contention (again in pencil) that familiarity with good and evil is not in itself bad, however, for those not equipped it is terrible. It leads to corruption. In the context of those in Israel revolting and going mad, aimlessly looking for God's justification of their deeds via their apostate religious activities, they dwell in the knowledge of good and evil and become even more corrupt. 
One version of The Septuagint reads "adikias," or "wickedness." It is also suggested by Dr. Ginsburg (Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible), that the word that should be used is "hara’oth," meaning "wickedness." Full disclosure, I did not find that in Ginsburg's work (I'm not that smart), I found it in a commentary on Daniel. Regardless, the reference to Ginsburg is accurate.


So, putting that all together, we can get:

 Many shall apostatize, and wickedness shall be increased.

(As rendered by The Berean Expositor) 

If we look at the flow of the chapter, it could be seen this way:

v4  Shut up the words, and seal the book
a.  Many shall apostatize
b.  Wickedness shall be increased
c.  v5-7. three and half years
d.  v8 What shall be the end?

v9  The words are closed and sealed.
a.  Many shall be purified.
b.  The wicked shall do wickedly.
c.  v11-12 Two periods beyond the three and half years
d.  v13 "you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days"

I would conclude that while we may see the start of this period, it is primarily a prophecy to Israel as she enters her last days of the expectation of the Kingdom (Acts 1:3-7, etc.). The unveiling of the specifics are seen the Revelation (future).