14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars…
As John continues to describe his vision we are reminded of a similar description of angel-like encounter that we read about in another (partially) apocalyptic Jewish work – The Book of Daniel. There we read in Dan.10:4-6:
“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.”
Both encounters testify, though somewhat differently, that both men (in Daniel and in Revelation) wore white linen robe with a golden girdle, both had eyes like flaming torches, feet of burnished bronze, face that shone like a sun and voice that sounded like a sound of rushing waters. This is a remarkable similarity indeed.
However, other than this remarkable similarity, there are also other striking differences. The Son of man in Revelation is seen with the hair that is white like wool and snow (vs.14) and in the middle of the description two more important visual descriptions are added – he held in his hand seven stars and from his mouth proceeded the two-edged sword.
The whiteness of the hair evokes another text curiously also located in the Book of Daniel. The Almighty God of Israel is described as the Ancient of Days, who does not only wear white robe, but also has head of white hair. We read of that magnificent encounter in Daniel 7:9-10:
“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames; its wheels were a burning fire. “A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.”
So an interesting feature that appears in the Book of Revelation can be noted the description of angel-like heavenly being (Son of Man) is in some important detail (white robe and hair) is mixed with the description of the Ancient of Days. We cannot yet speak of full merger of the characters, but certain expressed resemblance is nevertheless becomes evident.
The Book of Enoch contains much of the language similar to Revelation. In Enoch God is called Head of Days (instead of Ancient of Days in Daniel) and also the Lord of the Spirits. In this passage God is described to have white hair like wool. In 1 Enoch 46:1-3 we read:
“And there I saw One who had a head of days, and His head was white like wool, and with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man, And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels. And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days? And he answered and said unto me: This is the Son of Man who hath righteousness, with whom dwells righteousness, and who reveals all the treasures of that which is hidden, because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him, and whose lot hath the pre-eminence before the Lord of Spirits in uprightness forever.”
As in many apocalyptic passages the Son of Man figure is in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits. In this passage (which John probably knows) he is not the one with white hair. Perhaps this is John’s way of intentionally blending the Father and the Son.
The angel-like heavenly being in the Book of Revelation is also seen by John holding seven stars in his right hand. While it is important to try and identify as much as possible that symbolism behind the seven stars, it is more important to see that the fact that he is holding them all in his right hand speaks of his great authority and power. When we get to vs. 20 we discuss in more details the interpretive options for the phrase “stars are the angels of the seven assemblies”, but for now the important point is that these seven starts, no matter what they represent, are under full and unquestionable control of the heavenly being that speaks to John.
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שלים Dr. Eliyahu ! for your devoutional lesson.
In the word of the “the Ancient of Days was seated” …and so on,(Dan.7:9). And “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” says the Lord, “Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty (Rev.1:8)is the same One the Messiah who is coming the end of age for Judgment. “And I saw Thrones,and they sat on them, ad judgment was committed to them.And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Yeshua and for the word of GOD, who had not worshiped the beast of his image, and had not received his mark on their forheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Messiah for a 1,000 years(Rev.20:4)
Shalom Dr Eli. How awesome the description of Almighty God. Indeed, we serve ONE GOD. I find it interesting that they both give a description of His hair and eyes of flame yet in Exodus 33:21-23 we find that Moses could not look upon God. As His glory passed Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock. He lovingly covered Moses with His ‘hand’ because His ‘face could not be seen.’
I have looked at these verses in awe of our God. In a VISION Daniel and John could see some details of His eyes. However, when He passes by ‘physically’ (i.e: not in a vision); the glory is too much for man to bear. We can only imagine the Glory we will see face to face in eternity. Blessings.
The image is befitting a just diety, one who has consistently ruled the ages. He has all authority, but is still wlling to guide us, as the loving father that he is. He is on the throne of Grace, and we know that he is perfection.
Amazing isn’t it? Glad this post inspired you to comment.
Thank you very much dr.Eli for an interesting study! –
About the Lord’s white hair “Perhaps this is John’s way of intentionally blending the Father and the Son.”:
Could you also say that his status had chanced from that in Daniel?
Thank you for a descriptive explanation of the word , it enlightens us of the beauty and the glory of God.
You are most welcome.
Was Daniel the first to see the vision? so that the other two would have read Daniel and were telling it in their notes. Just a thought but very interesting subject.
Thank you for the study.
Hard to tell, but it does nor change our reading of John. We know he utilizes Jewish apocalyptic literature to convey ideas in his letter.
Thank you Dr. E for referring to the Book of Enoch. I have no formal education, but I’ve always wondered why that book is so taboo in study circles!! For some reason it didn’t make the cut to the standard 66, but it’s one that the prophets refer to with the same authority as all the others!!
In my experiences in deep meditation, that is exactly the image you see.
The white-haired angelic being is a representation of our higher self, the God part of us. That is the real part of us that survives death and reunites with God.
“Head of Days”, or “Ancient of Days”
I don’t know if you make a distinction between the two as authorative or not. Interpretive comparisons are of interest to me and I realize texts like the Targums and Apochrapha can shed light on Cannonized texts.
Head of Days seems to imply to me a greater title than Ancient of Days.
Will you elaborate on the distinctions? What I perceive is head as in first, in authority over, or all days contained in. Where as Ancient seems much smaller than that.
Roger, hi. I think the Head of Days and Ancient of Days is equivalent titles. (sorry my elaboration was very short) 🙂
Shalom! Thank you Dr. Eli for this well thought out study, it is truly a blessing. The passage referenced in Revelations appears to discuss the Son of Man in his glorified state. I think that a possible reasoning for the descriptive similarity to angels is that the angels are too in a glorified state as well. Although man lost his glorified state through the fall of man through Adam, we, as believers, will regain a state that is glorified once again. We do not know what we will be, but we will be like him and our glorified state will be more glorious than before. (1 John 3:2) We will go from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
agree. Though as you note yourself it is a possible reasoning.