Daniel, Prophecies of
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Chadwick, Jeffrey R.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the book of Daniel as the writings of Daniel, who was deported from Jerusalem to Babylon (c. 606 B.C.), and accepts the work as scripture. It sees in the work significant prophecies about the latter days, including the apostasy from and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to Wilford Woodruff, the angel Moroni quoted to the Prophet Joseph Smith from Daniel chapter two which features a prophecy of the latter-day restoration of the gospel in Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning "what shall be in the latter days" (Dan. 2:28; Whittaker, p. 159). Daniel identified the "head of gold" in the dream as a symbol of Nebuchadnezzar's empire, and latter-day prophets have specified that the stone "cut out without hands" (Dan. 2:34) represents the latter-day kingdom of God (D&C 65:2; HC 1:xxxiv-xl). The remaining symbols have been interpreted as follows: The "breast and arms of silver" represent the Persian realm that superseded Babylon. The "belly and thighs of brass" prefigure the succeeding Hellenistic states. The two "legs of iron" point to the Roman Empire, foreshadowing the division between Rome and Constantinople. The feet of the image, "part of iron and part of clay," symbolize the European kingdoms that grew out of the dissolving Roman Empire, beginning in the fifth century. Those kingdoms merged the culture of Rome with that of northern and eastern European tribes; hence, the symbolic mixing of iron and clay.
In the days of those kingdoms, Daniel predicted, "the God of heaven [will] set up a kingdom, which shall stand for ever" (2:44). This final kingdom, represented by the stone "cut out without hands," is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, restored to the earth in 1830, when European monarchs still ruled. That the Church would spread throughout the world is seen when "the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth" (2:34-35; Kimball, p. 8).
Daniel's vision in chapter seven is also interpreted in the context of the last days. The "four great beasts" (Dan. 7:3) seem to represent successive empires of Babylon, Persia, Macedonia, and Rome; and the "ten horns" (7:7) of the fourth beast appear to symbolize again the kingdoms that succeeded the Roman Empire. Latter-day prophets identify the "Ancient of Days" (7:22) as Adam, who will preside at a gathering to be held at Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri before Jesus' second coming (D&C 116). At that assembly, Jesus, "the Son of Man," will appear. Acting for priesthood leaders in all dispensations, Adam will return to the risen Jesus the priesthood keys which represent everlasting dominion.
The prophecy of the "seventy weeks" in chapter nine interests Latter-day Saints because it suggests that the New Testament church would fall into apostasy. The sixty-nine weeks (Dan. 9:24-26) may be symbolic of the period between the Jews' return to Jerusalem (537 B.C.) and the coming of Jesus the messiah, who would atone ("be cut off") for his people. Verse 27 reports that the Lord would "confirm the covenant with many for one week." This seventieth week may typify the decades that Christ's true church endured, led then by living apostles and prophets, ending shortly after A.D. 100, following the ministry of John the Apostle. The prophecy also notes that Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed "in the midst of the week" (A.D. 70), mentioning the abomination of desolation and the cessation of temple sacrifice (cf. Mark 13:14).
Kimball, Spencer W. "A Stone Cut Without Hands." Ensign 6 (May 1976):4-9.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah, chap. 11, 47. Salt Lake City, 1982.
Sperry, Sidney B. The Voice of Israel's Prophets. Salt Lake City, 1952.
Whittaker, David J. "The Book of Daniel in Early Mormon Thought." In By Study and Also by Faith, ed. J. Lundquist and S. Ricks, Vol. 1, pp. 155-201. Salt Lake City, 1990.
JEFFREY R. CHADWICK