The Meaning of Daniel 12:2 Explained

Daniel 12:2

KJV: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

YLT: And the multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during, and some to reproaches -- to abhorrence age-during.

Darby: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, to everlasting contempt.

ASV: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

What does Daniel 12:2 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Why did the angel say "many" will awake and not "all?" Apparently he did so to stress the fact that those Jews who die because of Antichrist"s persecutions will experience resurrection at the end of this period (i.e, the Tribulation; cf. Revelation 20:4-6). [1] He referred to the hope of those Jews in particular. Furthermore, this wording clarifies that not all will arise then. Some will experience resurrection at other times in history (e.g, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Revelation 20:4-6). [2]
The angel meant a physical resurrection, rather than just a renewal of the soul (cf. Isaiah 26:19; Hosea 13:14). This seems clear since he specified that they will arise from "the dust of the ground." Some writers have taken this description as figurative for the national revival of Israel in that day, evidently to avoid confusing this resurrection with the one that will occur at the Rapture. [3] Young took "the dust of the ground" as figurative for the grave. [1] I agree with Young on this point.
"The OT"s standard way of envisaging dying and coming back to life is by speaking of lying down and sleeping, then of waking and getting up. The former is an extreme form of the latter, which thus provides the metaphor for it ( 2 Kings 4:31; 2 Kings 13:21; Isaiah 26:19; Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57; Job 14:12). Further, dying means lying down with one"s ancestors in the family tomb, with its nonmaterial equivalent, Sheol; so coming back to life would mean leaving such a "land of earth" (cf. also Psalm 49; Psalm 73). The image presupposes a restoring to life of the whole person with its spiritual and material aspects." [5]
"The Bible never speaks of sleep in reference to the soul, for sleep is not an activity of the soul. Rather, the Bible always speaks of sleep as an activity of the body (see Matthew 9:18-25; Mark 5:35-42)." [6]
Some of these Jews will enter into everlasting life, namely, those of them that will be believers. Others will experience disgrace and everlasting contempt, because they do not believe on Christ (cf. Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29). Evidently, those martyred during the Tribulation and resurrected at this time, will reign with Christ during His millenial kingdom, which will begin with His return to earth at the end of the Tribulation ( Revelation 20:4).
While this verse teaches that there will be a resurrection of the wicked, it does not say that this will occur at the end of the Tribulation. It only says that others will awake to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Revelation 20:12-14 make clear that the resurrection of the wicked will occur at the end of the Millennium, not at the end of the Tribulation. In the context of Daniel 12:2, the emphasis is on the hope of the Jews who will die in the Tribulation. The destiny of the wicked is brought in simply to clarify that they too will be raised, not to specify when.
This is the first mention in the Old Testament of a twofold resurrection. For this reason, and because this verse identifies the time of the physical resurrection of saved Jews (who lived outside the church age, cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16), this is an extremely important verse.
"Those who argue simply on the basis of the concept of "lifetime" or "age" for only an age-long punishment in hell rather than one of endless duration must reckon with the many passages in the OT that apply "olam [7] to the endless life and sovereignty of God himself. In other words, if hell is not eternal, neither is God; for the same Hebrew and Greek words are used for both in the Bible (cf. Revelation 4:10; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8). The corresponding Greek word aion exactly parallels the Hebrew "olam in connotation and semantic development." [8]
This is the first occurrence of the expression "eternal life" in the Old Testament. [1]

Context Summary

Daniel 12:1-13 - Resurrection And Judgment
Michael was the guardian spirit of the Jewish people. When the time of trouble has reached its climax, whether in national or individual life, help is near.
The hope of resurrection, of the life beyond the darkness of their times, animated the hearts of the Chosen People. In the same way the Apostle Paul refers to it, 1 Corinthians 15:58. The national resurrection of Israel is without doubt included but the resurrection at the last, when that of the just shall precede that of the unjust by the millennium, is clearly the topic of these wonderful words. Daniel's prophecies were to be sealed, because their entire fulfillment was not to take place for many days. Three and a half probably stands for three and a half prophetic years, which, on the year-day system, gives 1260 days or years, and is therefore equivalent to the forty-two months of Revelation 11:2; Revelation 13:5. This is the time of the world-power, half the perfect number seven. The supremacy of the Gentile kingdoms is 2,500 years, of which the latter half has nearly expired, and the Chosen People will not much longer be scattered. It is an interesting fact that, calculated on the lunar measure, these concluding dates have-according to the calculations of the late Dr. Grattan Guinness-just expired. Let us go our way, watch and pray, and at last stand in our lot. [source]

Chapter Summary: Daniel 12

1  Michael shall deliver Israel from their troubles
5  Daniel is informed of the times

What do the individual words in Daniel 12:2 mean?

And many of those who sleep of the earth in the dust shall awake these to life everlasting and these to shame [and] contempt everlasting -
וְרַבִּ֕ים מִיְּשֵׁנֵ֥י אַדְמַת־ עָפָ֖ר יָקִ֑יצוּ אֵ֚לֶּה לְחַיֵּ֣י עוֹלָ֔ם וְאֵ֥לֶּה לַחֲרָפ֖וֹת לְדִרְא֥וֹן עוֹלָֽם ס

וְרַבִּ֕ים  And  many 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adjective, masculine plural
Root: רַב 
Sense: much, many, great.
מִיְּשֵׁנֵ֥י  of  those  who  sleep 
Parse: Preposition-m, Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: יָשֵׁן  
Sense: sleeping.
אַדְמַת־  of  the  earth 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: אֲדָמָה 
Sense: ground, land.
עָפָ֖ר  in  the  dust 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: עָפָר  
Sense: dry earth, dust, powder, ashes, earth, ground, mortar, rubbish.
יָקִ֑יצוּ  shall  awake 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: קוּץ 
Sense: to awake, wake up.
אֵ֚לֶּה  these 
Parse: Pronoun, common plural
Root: אֵהֶל 
Sense: these.
לְחַיֵּ֣י  to  life 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: חַי 
Sense: living, alive.
עוֹלָ֔ם  everlasting 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: עֹולָם  
Sense: long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world.
וְאֵ֥לֶּה  and  these 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Pronoun, common plural
Root: אֵהֶל 
Sense: these.
לַחֲרָפ֖וֹת  to  shame 
Parse: Preposition-l, Article, Noun, feminine plural
Root: חֶרְפָּה  
Sense: reproach, scorn.
לְדִרְא֥וֹן  [and]  contempt 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: דֵּרָאֹון  
Sense: aversion, abhorrence.
עוֹלָֽם  everlasting 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: עֹולָם  
Sense: long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world.
ס  - 
Parse: Punctuation