“wear down.” This is an Aramaic word, bela (#01080 בְּלַא), and it is a hapax legomenon in biblical Aramaic, meaning it only occurs here in the Old Testament. However, the cognate word in Hebrew means “to wear out [like a garment],” or “wear away,” and thus by extension, “harass” or “oppress.” The English versions translate it somewhat differently: “wear out” (ESV); “wear down” (NAB), “exhaust” (CJB); “oppress” (HCSB); “harass” (NET), and the point is well made that the Great Tribulation will be a very difficult time for believers. This is further information as to how the Antichrist will “prevail” against believers (Dan. 7:21).
Daniel 7:25 is saying that the Antichrist will put constant pressure on the believers—a constant persecution—and no doubt some will get worn down and give in to his pressure. Jesus knew this and warned his followers about the troubles they would have to endure in the Great Tribulation, including some being tortured and put to death (Matt. 24:9, 13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:12-19; cp. Rev. 2:10; 13:7, 10; 14:12-13). By forewarning his disciples of the coming tribulation, Jesus prepared them to endure the tribulation.
“the holy ones.” God’s holy people. See commentary on Daniel 7:18. The text simply says “they,” but it refers to God’s holy people being handed over to the dominion of the antichrist for the last half of the Great Tribulation; that is, for three and a half years, which is “a time, times and half a time.” During that time there will be terrible persecution against the believers, and many will be tempted to renounce their trust in God and Jesus (cp. Rev. 13:7, 10; 14:12-13). No wonder Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Those believers who maintain their trust in the Lord during that terrible time and are martyred for it will be greatly rewarded. [For more on the Great Tribulation, see commentary on Dan. 12:1].
“will be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.” This is time period is 31/2 years. It is the last half of the Great Tribulation, the time of trouble spoken of in Daniel 12:1. The period of great tribulation spoken of in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21 will be seven years, starting with the covenant made between the Antichrist and Israel, and ending with the Battle of Armageddon, when Jesus defeats the Antichrist (called “the beast” in Rev. 19:19-20). We learn about the seven years from Daniel 9:25-27, which speaks of a “week,” which in that context is a week of years, or seven years.
The last half of the “week,” the 7 years, the Antichrist himself is exercising great power on earth. The length of this 3½ year period is recorded in different ways: it is recorded as “a time, times, and half a time,” that is, “a year, [two] years, and half a year” (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 12:14); it is also recorded as “42 months” (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), and also as 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6). All these time periods equal 3 ½ years.
This 3 ½ year period will be especially hard for believers, because there will be a terrible persecution against them, as Daniel 7:21 and 7:25 say (cp. Matt. 24:9; Rev. 14:13).
[For more on the 7-year Great Tribulation, see commentaries on Daniel 12:1 and 12:11].