Running To and Fro
(Daniel 12:4)

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

I think the interpretation of this passage which has been given for decades is not right, as "sealing a book" and "running to and fro" seem quite disconnected in sense. Other versions give quite a different rendering which makes good sense of the whole verse.

Dr. Louis Segond was a Swiss translator who translated the whole Bible from the originals, and he gave for Daniel 12:4:

"Thou, Daniel, hold these words secret, and seal the book until the time of the end. Then many will read it, and knowledge will increase".

This is confirmed by the Version Synodale, which reads:

"As for thee, Daniel, keep these revelations hidden, and seal this book until the time indicated. Many people will study it, and their knowledge of it will be increased".

Dr Adam Clarke, in his commentary, says:

"Many shall run to and fro. - Many shall endeavour to search out; and knowledge shall be increased by these means; though the meaning shall not be fully known till the events take place; then the seal shall be broken, and the sense become plain. This seems to be the meaning of this verse".

If we say, "Close up the words...and seal the book until the time of the end", the obvious question is, What happens then? "Much travelling will take place"? - it does not make sense; but "...until the time of the end, and then many will read it, and in consequence their knowledge shall be increased" makes perfectly good sense. The Septuagint says: "And thou, Daniel, close the words, and seal the book to the time of the end; until many are taught, and knowledge is increased". The unsealing of the book, I suggest, could be the invention of printing which came into full use early in the 1500s.

Kenneth and Ruth Moore