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Then I heard the man clothed in linen who was above the waters of the river as he raised up his right hand and his left hand

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to the heavens and swore by the one who lives continuously without end that it would for a time, times, and half a time,

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and when the scattering

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of the strength

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of the people of holiness is exhausted,

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all these things will be accomplished.


Then the man who was surrounded by purity and who was definitely in control of all the abundance and happiness possible in life

put in jeopardy all his powers and abilities and everything he had ever accomplished if he did not proceed to tell the truth,

God being the one to judge the veracity of his statement. Then I heard him swear based on the nature and longevity of God who lives forever and forever, that it would only be for a limited time, and when the attempts to scatter the strength of the people of holiness has been exhausted, all these things will be accomplished.



The raising of each hand is mentioned separately because this is intended as two symbols, not one. First there is the symbol of the right hand in its typical usage. The symbol of the left hand does not fit this context, therefore, even though the left hand is mentioned specifically, it is not presented as its own separate symbol. Bringing in the left hand converts this clause into a symbol of both hands. Thus the right hand is mentioned once but its symbolism is used twice (once alone and once as part of the two hands together), while the left hand is mentioned once but only used as part of the symbolism of both hands.


“a time, times and half a time” is code language for three and a half periods of time which is code language for a period of time cut short, or something that is limited. The idea behind “three and a half” was such a powerful code that several other codes developed to express this code. It could be expressed as the number of days, the number of months, or by this phrase “a time, times and half a time.” God’s people who are suffering persecution can be encouraged because the time or intensity of their suffering will be limited, meaning they will be able to endure it.


This word can mean “to disperse, scatter, break into pieces, shatter into pieces, or cut asunder.” Due to the way I have chosen to translate the other verb in this part of the sentence, the idea of “scatter or disperse” makes the most sense.


“strength” is really the word “hand,” but a hand must have strength in order to accomplish anything. Context must indicate whether it is referring to one’s hand or to one’s strength.


There are three dilemmas regarding how to translate the latter part of this verse. 1) There are two infinitives (each with two definitions that must be considered) used back-to-back – “exhaust/complete” and scatter/shatter”. A number of Bible versions choose to make the first one into an adverb that describes the second, but it is an Infinitive, not an adverb. 2) The second dilemma is whether “strength of” refers to “the holy people” (as most translations render it), or to the one doing the scattering. The most natural reading of the sentence is that it is referring to the strength of the people. 3) The third question is: “What is being completed or exhausted?”

My take on these three issues is that “strength of” refers to the strength of the people, “scatter” fits this context better than “shatter,” and it is the effort to scatter the strength of God’s people that is being exhausted. That means that when Satan has done all he can to disperse God’s people and draw away their strength, and yet he is proven unsuccessful, everything will be brought to completion.


It is hard to imagine how the angel could have made this point more powerfully than he did. Before answering the question, he swore an oath based on his willingness to risk all his capabilities and everything he had accomplished, and on the awareness that God sees everything that will happen to us in the future. Based on these things, the angel answered the question in a way that was perfectly clear (to the people of that day), undeniable, and therefore trustworthy.

The answer was that the suffering of God’s people that was predicted in Daniel’s visions about conquering armies would be tolerable; they will be able to handle it. Their ability to withstand what was coming was sure and certain based on the angel’s oath.

This phrase, “a time, times and half a time,” is not measured in time even though it sounds like it should be, it is a measure of the capacity of God’s people to endure hardships.

In the midst of trials and persecution, one may wonder if he has what it takes to make it to the end without breaking and denying his Lord. This sworn statement was an assurance, a promise that enduring would be possible because God would provide what was needed to endure.