“Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. ‘But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days’ ” (Dan. 12:12, 13, NKJV).
The history of interpretation of Daniel 12:13 in early Adventism is not only fascinating, but it also has crucial implications for biblical hermeneutics as well as Adventist mission. Interpretations held before the Great Disappointment1 differed somewhat from those held after. We will survey these interpretations and then draw some conclusions.
Before the Disappointment
William Miller, Baptist preacher and leader of the Millerite movement, stated that a physical resurrection of Daniel himself is in view2 in Daniel 12:12, 13 and that the general resurrection should happen at the end of the 1,335 days. Miller expected the fulfillment of the blessing promised to those reaching the 1,335-day prophecy in 1843. He understood that the second coming of Christ was to take place at the end of the 1,335 days, which ended the 2,300 days as well.3
In a letter, Miller stated: “Do you not see that, at the end of 1335 days, Daniel will stand in his lot? And do you not see, sir, that his standing in his lot means the resurrection?”4
The Second Advent Manual, published in 1843, presents a clear interpretation of Daniel 12:13, which is said to refer to the resurrection of Daniel himself: “ ‘But go thou thy way till the end be, (the end of these wonders,) for thou shall rest (the condition of the righteous dead from their decease till the resurrection, Rev. vi. 11; xiv. 13,) and stand in thy lot’ (or, more literally, stand up for, i. e., be raised from the dead, to receive thy part in the inheritance) ‘at the end of the days.’ ”5
Consequently, it becomes apparent that the Millerites proclaimed that Daniel 12:13 refers to the physical resurrection of Daniel.
After the Disappointment
Having connected these two events—the fulfillment of the 1,335-day blessing pronounced in Daniel 12:12 and the resurrection of Daniel himself in Daniel 12:13—early Adventists now had to explain this interpretation, obviously wrong, in the light of the Great Disappointment.
Some continued to insist that the 1,335-day blessing had not been fulfilled in 1843 and that its fulfillment was still imminent, even suggesting new dates.
James White did not connect the 1,335 days with the resurrection of Daniel, writing: “The view that the 1335 days extend to the resurrection we do not endorse.”6 However, it does not mean that James White separated the events of Daniel 12:13 from events presented in verse 12.
He also wrote: “The day and hour of Christ’s second coming are not revealed in the Scriptures. Neither is the year in which this glorious event is to take place pointed out. No one of the prophetic periods reaches to the second coming of Christ. The sanctuary is to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days, and Daniel is to stand in his lot at the end of the 1335 days. But that these events occur before the second appearing of Christ, is susceptible of the clearest proof. Both these prophetic periods terminated in 1844.”7
James White still saw Daniel 12:13 being fulfilled at the end of the 1,335 days. However, he did not interpret Daniel 12:13 as a reference to the resurrection of Daniel but, rather, to the vindication of Daniel in judgment. He said: “In the great day of atonement for the blotting out of the sins of all of every age, the cases of patriarchs and prophets, and sleeping saints of all past ages will come up in judgment, the books will be opened, and they will be judged according to the things written in the books. It is thus, at the end of the 1335 days, [Dan. xii. 13,] that DANIEL STANDS IN HIS LOT.”8
Although sharing with James White the understanding that Daniel’s “standing in his lot” refers to his vindication in judgment, Uriah Smith differentiates Daniel’s “standing in his lot” from the 1,335 days of Daniel 12:12. Speaking of the time prophecies of Daniel 12, Smith states: “But how can it be that they have ended, it may be asked, since at the end of these days Daniel stands in his lot, which is by some supposed to refer to his resurrection from the dead? This question is founded on a misapprehension in two respects: First, that the days at the end of which Daniel stands in his lot are the 1335 days; and, secondly, the standing of Daniel in his lot is his resurrection, which also cannot be sustained. The only thing promised at the end of the 1335 days is a blessing unto those who wait and come to that time; that is, those who are then living.”9
“Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time for us to assimilate with the world.”
Smith continues, pointing out that, under the blessing of Daniel 12:12, the increase of knowledge and the correct understanding of the prophecies should be assumed. “We see a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy in the great proclamation of the second coming of Christ. Forty-five years before this, the time of the end commenced, the book was unsealed, and light began to increase. About the year 1843, there was a grand culmination of all the light that had been shed on prophetic subjects up to that time. The proclamation went forth in power.”10
Smith interprets Daniel’s “standing in his lot” as when Daniel’s name will come up in the investigative judgment and he will be vindicated. Other writers have followed his lead in interpreting this final promise given to Daniel.11 One of the main arguments against the resurrection promised to Daniel was based on a very narrow study of the Hebrew word translated “lot” in Daniel 12:13.12
Ellen G. White’s contribution
Ellen G. White13 did not get involved in the debate about the physical resurrection of Daniel as presented in the final verse of the book. Instead, using the language of the verse, she applies it to the fact that the prophecies of Daniel have now been more clearly understood.
“Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time for us to assimilate with the world. Daniel is standing in his lot and in his place. The prophecies of Daniel and of John are to be understood; they interpret each other. They give to the world truths which everyone should understand. These prophecies are to be witnesses in the world. By their fulfillment in these last days, they will explain themselves.”14
“The time has come for Daniel to stand in his lot. The time has come for the light given him to go to the world as never before. If those for whom the Lord has done so much will walk in the light, their knowledge of Christ and the prophecies relating to Him will be greatly increased as they near the close of this earth’s history.”15
These rare statements that Ellen G. White made in reference to the wording used in Daniel 12:13 do not imply a full interpretation of the passage of Daniel 12:12, 13. Instead, simply by using the language of Daniel 12:13, she applies it to the time when the understanding of Daniel and Revelation were greatly increased.
Observations and applications
Ellen White never spoke out against Daniel 12:13 as referring to a physical resurrection of Daniel, nor did she speak in favor of the interpretations provided by James White, Smith, or Loughborough. She simply applied the language of Daniel 12:13 to the fact that, in her day, the prophecies of the books of Daniel and Revelation were more clearly understood than previously. In other words, she provides an additional application to the actual fulfillment of the promise given to Daniel.16
The question remains, does the text itself provide any hint of a possible additional application?
Although we do not find any textual justification for the dual fulfillment of the prophetic period mentioned in Daniel 12:12, nevertheless, the wording of Daniel 12:13 seems to point to a possible additional application besides the promise of resurrection given to Daniel himself.
The indicator is found in the last word of the passage.17 For this last word, translated as “days,” Daniel uses two languages. He starts in Hebrew but ends the word in Aramaic.18 Although these two languages have the same root for the word days, the Hebrew beginning of the word cannot be mistaken because of the definite article. In Hebrew, the definite article comes as a prefix to the word, but in Aramaic, the definite article comes as a suffix to the word. In addition, the definite articles in these two languages are unmistakably different.
If Daniel had used only Hebrew, it would point back to the word days used in referring to 1,335 days. If Daniel had used only an Aramaic word, it would just clearly and totally differentiate the word days in Daniel 12:13 from the word days used in Daniel 12:12. However, the fact that Daniel combines two languages in the final word may suggest that, although there is a clear distinction between the two passages, there still is some possible connection between them.
Ellen G. White, without proficiency in ancient languages, nevertheless saw indicators that allowed her to make a noteworthy contribution in addition to the fulfillment of the promise of a physical resurrection for Daniel himself. Ellen G. White referred to the “resurrection” of the message of the book of Daniel. We can believe that the same Holy Spirit who guided Daniel in writing his book, guided Ellen G. White in understanding it.
- For a brief definition, see Eugene Zaitsev, “The Mission of Adventism,” Ministry, December 2012, 17.
- Charles Fitch also supported Miller’s views on Daniel 12:13. For example, in one of his letters written in November 1841 quoting the thirteenth verse, he inserted: “ ‘But go thy way Daniel, for thou shalt rest [i.e., die] and stand in thy lot [i.e., be raised] at the end of the days.’ ” Letter to Rev. J. Litch, on the Second Coming of Christ, 43.
- Miller pointed out: “When, therefore, I found the 2300 prophetic days which were to mark the length of the vision from the Persian to the end of the fourth kingdom, the seven times continuance of the dispersion of God’s people, and the 1335 prophetic days to the standing of Daniel in his lot, all evidently extending to the advent, with other prophetical periods, I could but regard them as ‘the times before appointed,’ which God had revealed ‘unto his servants the prophets.’ ” This statement makes it clear that the 1,335 period and Daniel’s standing are connected to the Advent. William Miller, William Miller’s Apology and Defense, August 1, 10.
- William Miller, Miller’s Reply to Stuart’s “Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy,” 1842, 48.
- Apollos Hale, The Second Advent Manual (Boston, MA: Joshua V. Himes, 1843), 61.3.
- James White, editor’s footnote appended to “William Miller: His Treatment of Opponents—Specimens of His Preaching,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7, no. 18 (January 31, 1856): 137.
- James White, The Second Coming of Christ (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1871), 62.
- James White, “The Judgment,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 9, no. 13 (January 29, 1857); 100.
- Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Assn., 1897), 343.
- Smith, 343.
- For example, see J. N. Loughborough, “The Hour of His Judgment Come,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 5, no. 4 (February 14, 1854): 30.
- “I know of no period that can be so reckoned as to come this side of 1844; so that the time Daniel was to stand in his lot at the end of the days was 1844. The word which is rendered lot, does not signify his redeemed state, but chance. Daniel should stand his chance. Why? Because his sins had been confessed, and on the day of atonement those sins which have been confessed are opened before-hand to judgment.” Loughborough, 30. For arguments in favor of the physical resurrection, see Artur A. Stele, “Resurrection in Daniel 12 and Its Contribution to the Theology of the Book of Daniel” (PhD diss., Andrews University, 1996), 150–191.
- It is of interest to note that Ellen G. White clearly believed that the 1335-days prophecy has been fulfilled. In her letter to the church in Brother Hastings’s house, she states: “We told him [Brother Hewit] of some of his errors in the past, that the 1,335 days were ended and numerous errors of his.” (November , 1850, Letter 128, 1850). She also made several statements underlining that there will not be any message that will be based on time: “Time had not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test.” Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1945), 75. “There will never again be a message for the people of God that will be based on time.” Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958), 188. For more information and bibliography on a better understanding of these quotes from Ellen G. White, see Alberto R. Timm, “The 1,290 and 1,335 Days of Daniel 12,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Biblical Research Institute, accessed July 8, 2021, https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/the-1290-and-1335-days-of-daniel-12/.
- Ellen G. White, The Relief of the Schools (1900), 11.
- Ellen G. White, Manuscript 176, 1899.
- The final fulfillment was seen in the resurrection. This thought was noticeably presented in a sermon preached by L. R. Conradi while Ellen G. White was still alive. See L. R. Conradi, “God’s Opening Providences,” General Conference Bulletin, June 4, 1913, 267.
- See, Artur Stele, “The Last Word of the Book of Daniel: A Grammatical Mistake or a Conscious Choice,” in Ministry: International Journal for Pastors, February 2021, 6–9.
- Some scholars see here just an Aramaism without any significance for interpretation. For example, see Paul Joüon and T. Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1993), 271. However, the very fact that Daniel uses the word days in both languages in his book many times, but only one time in the entire book at the very end adds to the otherwise Hebrew beginning of the word an Aramaic ending suggests an intent. Besides, one must keep in mind that just a verse before, Daniel uses the Hebrew word for days with a Hebrew and not an Aramaic ending. If it would be a simple Aramaism, we would expect it in both places. It is of interest to note that the use of the Hebrew word for days with a definite article and with an Aramaic plural ending is only attested one time in the entire Old Testament: it is here in Daniel 12:13.