How Many Thrones did the prophet Daniel See?

The prophet Daniel was given a vision of the future, which culminates in the heavenly enthronement of the Lord Jesus Christ. In his vision the prophet saw thrones being set in place in heaven:

“As I looked, THRONES were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his THRONE was fiery flames; ITS wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court SAT in judgment (dina yatib), and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10 English Standard Version

On the basis of such a translation many assume that Daniel saw myriads of the thrones, which the heavenly host all sat upon alongside Jehovah.

In this post I am going to show that such is not the case since Daniel didn’t see myriads of thrones. Rather, the prophet saw only two thrones, one for God the Father and other for the Lord Jesus Christ.

The interpretation that myriads of thrones were set in place stems from a rather narrow (if not shallow) understanding of the Aramaic words. Dina yatib doesn’t necessarily mean that the members of the court sat down on thrones, but rather points to the fact that the heavenly council had now been convened to render judgment. This is because, even though it can refer to being seated, the Aramaic verb yatib can also convey the notion of setting something in place, to set down, to settle, to dwell etc.

The idea here is that Jehovah had convened his heavenly court to set judgment against the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision, not that the heavenly host sat on thrones alongside of God. This understanding is reflected in the following translations:

A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. ” Authorized King James Version (AV)

A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. American Standard Version

A river of fire was flowing, coming out from his presence. Thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. Christian Standard Bible

A stream of fire flowed from his presence; thousands and thousands ministered to him, millions and millions stood before him. Then the court was convened, and the books were opened. Complete Jewish Bible

and flames were dashing out from all around him. Countless thousands were standing there to serve him. The time of judgment began, and the books were opened. Contemporary English Version

A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. Darby

A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened. Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition

A river of fire flowed out from in front of the Ancient King. Millions of people were serving him. Hundreds of millions of people stood in front of him. Court was ready to begin, and the books were opened. Easy-to-Read Version

A fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand thousands stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books opened. 1599 Geneva Bible

A river of fire flowed. It came from him. Thousands and thousands served him. Ten thousand times ten thousand were stationed in front of him. The court convened, and the books were opened. GOD’S WORD Translation

and a stream of fire was pouring out from it. There were many thousands of people there to serve him, and millions of people stood before him. The court began its session, and the books were opened. Good News Translation

A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His presence. Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. Holman Christian Standard Bible

A river of fire was flowing from in front of him. Many thousands of angels were serving him. Millions of angels stood before him. Court was ready to begin. And the books were opened. International Children’s Bible

a river of fire flowed from before him. Millions of angels ministered to him, and hundreds of millions of people stood before him, waiting to be judged. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened. Living Bible

As I was watching all this, “Thrones were set in place and The Old One sat down. His robes were white as snow, his hair was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, its wheels blazing. A river of fire poured out of the throne. Thousands upon thousands served him, tens of thousands attended him. The courtroom was called to order, and the books were opened. The Message

A fiery stream issued and came out from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The judgment was set, and the books were opened. Modern English Version

A river of fire flowed. It came from him. Thousands and thousands served him. Ten thousand times ten thousand were stationed in front of him. The court convened, and the books were opened. Names of God Bible

[a]As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took his throne. His clothing was white as snow, the hair on his head like pure wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A river of fire surged forth, flowing from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads stood before him. The court was convened, and the books were opened.

Footnotes:

7:9–10 A vision of the heavenly throne of God (the Ancient of Days), who sits in judgment over the nations. Some of the details of the vision, depicting the divine majesty and omnipotence, are to be found in Ezekiel 1. Others are paralleled in 1 Enoch, a contemporary Jewish apocalypse. New American Bible Revised Edition

A river of fire was flowing from in front of him. Many thousands of angels were serving him, and millions of angels stood before him. Court was ready to begin, and the books were opened. New Century Version

A river of fire was streaming forth and proceeding from his presence. Many thousands were ministering to him; many tens of thousands stood ready to serve him.27 The court convened 28 and the books were opened.

28 tn Aram “judgment sat.” New English Translation https://netbible.org/bible/Daniel+7

and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from his presence. Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened. New Living Translation

A fiery stream issued and came out from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. World English Bible

Other versions take the noun dina as a reference, not to the court itself, but to God as the Judge who takes his seat to announce his verdict against the fourth beast to his heavenly council:

A stream of fire came forth from before Him; a thousand thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times ten thousand rose up and stood before Him; the Judge was seated [the court was in session] and the books were opened. Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

A river of fire issued and came forth from before him; thousands of thousands served him, and ten thousands of ten thousands stood before him; the Judge sat down, and the books were opened. Jubilee Bible 2000

A stream of fire issued forth and flowed from his presence; thousands upon thousands served him and ten thousand upon ten thousand stood before him. The judge sat, and the books were opened. Lexham English Bible

A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him. Many thousands were serving Him, and many millions were standing before Him. The Judge was seated, and The Books were opened. New Life Version

A flood of fire is proceeding and coming forth from before Him, a thousand thousands do serve Him, and a myriad of myriads before Him do rise up, the Judge is seated, and the books have been opened. Young’s Literal Translation

It seems that the reason why these versions translated the noun as Judge, instead of court or judgment, is because they may have assumed that, since the word is singular it must therefore be referring to God himself.

The foregoing highlights the fact that there is absolutely nothing in the context to suggest that the thrones that Daniel saw were set up for God and the heavenly host to sit upon as the court convened to pass judgment upon the last beast.

On the contrary, the chapter itself plainly shows that these thrones were set up for the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him DOMINION, and glory, AND A KINGDOM, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: HIS DOMINION is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and HIS KINGDOM that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 AV

Having dominion and possessing a kingdom presupposes a throne from which the Son of Man rules as the eternal King over all the nations.

According to the inspired Christian Scriptures, that divine Son of Man whom Daniel saw was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, before whom all the nations must stand in judgment:

“… Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man SITTING on the right hand of power, and COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” Mark 14:61b-62

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of HIS Father with HIS angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in HIS KINGDOM.” Matthew 16:27-28

“When the Son of man shall come in HIS GLORY, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he SIT upon THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of MY Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:31-34, 40

“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory… Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:27, 36

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, AND WAS DEAD; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:12-18

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one SAT like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that SAT on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that SAT on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” Revelation 14:14-16

What this proves is that Daniel did not see a myriad of thrones, but actually saw only two, one for the Father and the other for his glorious and blessed Son.

Interestingly, we even find Jewish rabbis affirming this very point, namely, Daniel only saw two thrones in his vision:

“One passage says: His throne was fiery flames (Dan. 7:9) and another says: and thrones were placedand One that was ancient of days did sit–there is no contradiction; ONE (throne) for Him and ONE for David: this is the view of R. Akiba. Said R. Yosi the Galilean to him: Akiba, how long will you treat the divine presence as profane! Rather, ONE for justice and ONE for grace. Did he accept (this explanation) from him, or did he not accept it?–come and hear: ONE for justice and ONE for grace; this is the view of R. Akiba.21

These two rabbis were perplexed by the seeming contradiction in the verses. In one place, more than one throne is indicated by the plural form of the noun. In another place “His (God’s) throne was fiery flames” implies only one throne. Does this mean that the ‘son of man’ in the next verse was enthroned next to God? Rabbi Akiba (110-135 C.E.) affirms the possibility, stating that the other throne was for David. Akiba must be identifying the ‘son of man’ with the Davidic messiah. Nor was R. Akiba alone in the rabbinic movement in identifying the figure in heaven as the messiah. There is some evidence that Judaism contained other traditions linking these verses in Daniel with the messiah.” (Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven – Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism [Brill Academic Publishers, Inc., Boston – Leiden, 2002], Part Two. The Early Rabbinic Evidence, Chapter Two. Conflicting Appearances of God, pp. 47-48; capital and underline emphasis ours)

21. b. Hag. 14a Tr. Epstein. Cf. also b. Sanhedrin 38a where other rabbis are said to oppose R. Akiba… (Ibid., p. 47)

And:

“… R. Hiyya b. Abba answers in Aramaic, rather than in Hebrew, that if a heretic says that there are ‘two gods’ based on Dan. 7:9f., one is to remind him that God stated that He is the same at the Sea and at Sina…” (Ibid., p. 42; underline emphasis ours)

Here is the link where the readers can see the citation from Sanhedrin 38a online for themselves http://www.comeandhear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_38.html.

That the interpretation of the rabbis concerning the dual thrones referring to God’s attributes of justice and mercy/grace is purely fanciful can be easily proven from the very context of Daniel 7, where the prophet in vv. 13-14 goes on to refer to another Divine Being who approaches the Ancient of Days, One who reigns forever. Be that as it may, it is still abundantly clear that these rabbis only saw two thrones set in place in Daniel 7, not myriads.

Now unless a person wants to accuse all these scholars, translators and Jewish authorities of not knowing Hebrew and/or Aramaic, or failing to understand the context and language of Daniel’s vision, it should therefore be evident that there is absolutely nothing in the wording of Daniel 7:9-10 that points to the heavenly host sitting on the thrones along with Jehovah. Rather, the evidence expressly shows that the prophet saw only two thrones, one for the Ancient of Days (the Father) and the other for the Son of Man (the Father’s beloved Son), signifying the fact that both the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ reign over all creation as the Most High:

“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27

Unless noted otherwise, all biblical references taken from the Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible.

POSTSCRIPT

Someone may wish to raise the objection that the verb yatib, which appears in v. 10 in respect to the court being summoned, is also used in the preceding verse in respect to Jehovah’s sitting on his throne:

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit (yatib), whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: HIS THRONE was like the fiery flame, and HIS WHEELS as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand STOOD before him: the judgment was set (yatib), and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10

One may therefore legitimately ask why do I then define the same verb in v. 10 differently from the way it is rendered in v. 9? And since the verb in that verse can only mean to sit or take one’s seat, then wouldn’t this prove that the myriads of angels also sat on thrones?

The problem with this objection is that, even though we find the same verb used in a matter of two verses, the contexts are not the same. Verse 9 expressly mentions God’s throne, and even describes the wheels of his throne, leaving absolutely no doubt that the verb must be understood in the sense of God being seated in heaven. However, in the case of the following verse the myriads of angels are expressly said to be standing before God, not sitting.

In fact, there isn’t a single passage in the entire Hebrew Bible where the angelic hosts are pictured sitting on thrones alongside of Jehovah’s. What we see, instead, is Jehovah alone seated in heaven, with the angels standing before God’s throne ready to serve him:

“Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so. Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.” 2 Chronicles 18:18-22 – cf. 1 Kings 22:19-23

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” Psalm 2:4

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.” Psalm 103:19-21

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.” Psalm 103:19-21

In fact, we are expressly told that the heavens belong to Jehovah and that there is none like him who sits enthroned on high:

“Who is like Yahweh our Elohim? He is seated on his high throne.” Psalm 113:5 Names of God Bible (NOG)

“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Psalm 115:16

All of this confirms that we shouldn’t take the verb yatib in Dan. 7:10 to mean the same thing that it does in v. 9, since no inspired OT writer ever describes the heavenly host as seated on thrones along with Jehovah.

 

 

2 thoughts on “How Many Thrones did the prophet Daniel See?

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