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Book of Daniel
DANIEL, BOOK OF. Although it stands as the last of the major prophets in the English Bible, this book appears in the Hebrew OT (which consists of “the law, prophets, and writings”) as one of the “writings.” For though Christ spoke of Daniel’s function as prophetic (
The first half of the book (
The prophecy of the seventy “sevens” in
Chapters 10-12, after elaborating on the succession of Persian and Greek rulers through Antiochus, then move on to “the time of the end,” foretelling Antichrist’s tribulation (
The authorship of the
Modern criticism, however, overwhelmingly denies the authenticity of Daniel as a product of the sixth century b.c. Indeed, as early as a.d. 275 the neo-Platonic philosopher Porphyry categorically repudiated the possibility of Daniel’s miraculous predictions. Antisupernaturalism must bring the “prophecy” down to a time after the events described (especially after Antiochus’s sacrilege of 168 b.c.); or, if the latest possible date has been reached, it must then reinterpret the predictions to apply to other, already-accomplished events. Consequently, since Daniel was extensively quoted (and misunderstood) as early as 140 b.c. ( 3:381-400), rationalists have no alternative but to apply the supposed coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the seventy weeks to Maccabean times, rather than Christ’s, even though this requires “surmising a chronological miscalculation on the part of the writer” (ICC, p. 393).
Daniel has been questioned on literary grounds as well because it contains several terms of Persian or Greek origin. However, the Greek words are limited to the names of musical instruments, such as “harp” (
Lastly, the theology of Daniel, with its apocalyptic eschatology, biblicism, and developed angelology, are said to prohibit exilic origin. Yet Isaiah had composed an apocalypse, describing the Resurrection in terms similar to Daniel’s, as early as 711 b.c. (
Bibliography: H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, 1949; E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, 1949; J. F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 1971; J. G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC), 1978.——JBP
DANIEL, BOOK OF Dăn’ yĕl (דָּֽנִיֵּ֜אל), LXX Δανιήλ, G1248. This book was placed in the Ketuḇim or third section of the Heb. Canon, but in Eng. VSS it occurs as the fourth major composition in the prophetic writings, following the order of the Alexandrian canon.
The period of time covered by the historical and visionary sections of the book is slightly in excess of the full period of Heb. exile in Babylonia. Daniel was apparently taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon along with other Judean hostages in 605 b.c., following a Babylonian attempt to subjugate Judah. This would indicate that he was descended from a noble family, since normally only prominent persons were taken captive in this manner. According to the book, the attributive author was trained for service in the royal court, and it was not long before he gained an outstanding reputation as a seer and wise man. With divine help he was able to recall and interpret visions which other men had had, and subsequently he experienced several visions himself by which he was able to predict the future triumph of the Messianic kingdom. The book covers the activities of Daniel under successive rulers including Belshazzar and . His last recorded vision occurred on the banks of the river Tigris in the third year of Cyrus, i.e., 536 b.c. Thus the historical period involved corresponds to slightly more than the full extent of the Heb. exile, after the decree of Cyrus had been promulgated in 538 b.c. The background of both the historical and visionary sections is clearly Babylonian, and there is no question as to whether the author was ever in any other place than Babylonia during his mature years. Babylonian traditions and imagery are clearly in evidence, and the book reflects precisely the same historical background as that found in Ezekiel. Quite possibly the covers a greater length of time than that of his contemporary Ezekiel, since the latter has no specific references to the Pers. regime as master of the contemporary political scene.
Authorship and special problems.
The question of the authorship of Daniel is closely linked with considerations of date, particularly since modern critical scholarship has been virtually unanimous in its rejection of the book as a 6th cent. b.c. document written by Daniel. If the book was composed by an unknown author during the Maccabean period with the aim of encouraging faithful Jews in their resistance to the Hellenizing policies of Epiphanes (cf.
The critical view of authorship and date can be said to have begun with Porphyry, a 3rd cent. a.d. neo-Platonic philosopher, who took special issue with the leading tenets of Christianity. His comments on Daniel have only survived in quotation form, but show that his objections to the traditional view were based on the a priori supposition that there could be no predictive element as such in prophecy. Hence the predictions in Daniel relating to post-Babylonian kings and wars were not really prophecies so much as historical accounts, and therefore of a late date. In assigning the work to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Porphyry held that the author of Daniel had lied so as to revive the hopes of contemporary Jews in the midst of their hardships. As a result the Book of Daniel contained a number of historical errors because of its distance in time from the original events.
This view has been reflected in one way or another ever since in rationalistic attacks upon Daniel. The shallowness of its basic philosophical pre-supposition is readily apparent from even a casual perusal of OT prophetic lit., where the speakers not only dealt with contemporary events but also pronounced upon happenings in the future, some of which had no particular relationship to the circumstances of their own time. The reason for this, stated simply, is that the Heb. prophets would have had little sympathy for the modern antithesis between forthtelling and foretelling, if only because of the fact that, for them, the future was inherent in the present in a special revelational manner. Rather more serious attention should be paid to the suggestion of Porphyry that the author of Daniel committed specific historical errors. This allegation is curious, since modern critics have regarded him as an extremely talented Jew, and who therefore could be expected to write authoritatively. Furthermore, no intelligent 2nd cent. b.c. Jew could possibly have committed the kind of mistakes alleged if he had ever read the , which covered the history of the early Pers. period. Nor would the Jews of the Maccabean age have recognized the book as canonical had it actually contained the kind of errors proposed, since they had access to the writings of such ancient historians as Herodotus, Ctesias, Berossus and Menander, who preserved correct chronological and historical traditions. By contrast however, 2nd cent. b.c. Palestinians rejected such works as 1 Maccabees as being unworthy of inclusion in the Heb. canon, which by this time had become closed by common consent.
Characteristic of the sort of historical error popularly supposed to be present in Daniel is the assertion that the reference in
Another supposed historical error on the part of the author has been seen in his use of the term “Chaldean” in an ethnic sense and in a restricted context to indicate a group of “wise men,” a usage which does not occur elsewhere in the OT and which pointed allegedly to a late date of composition. This difficulty can be dismissed immediately when it is realized that the 5th cent. b.c. historian Herodotus spoke consistently of the Chaldeans in his Persian Wars, acknowledged their priestly office, and stated that some of their cultic procedures went back at least to the time of Cyrus. Furthermore, Assyrian annals employed the term “Chaldean” (kaldu) in an ethnic sense and under Nabopolassar of Babylon (626-605 b.c.), a native Chaldean, the designation became extremely reputable, reflecting OT usage.
From the fourth Qumran cave came a papyrus scrap containing the “prayer of Nabonidus,” and this discovery has prompted the suggestion that the disease described in
Those scholars who have studied this material have supposed that the author of the papyrus had preserved an “older” tradition, regarding Nabonidus rather than Nebuchadnezzar II as the victim of illness. The substitution of the latter in the Daniel account was thought to have occurred long after the original story had been brought to Pal. where recollections of Nabonidus soon faded. There are obvious difficulties in such a position, however. Precisely why the author of Daniel should have used the “prayer of Nabonidus” as the basis for the fourth ch. of his book, and then altered the names, the locale, and even the nature of the disease itself, is extremely difficult to explain. Furthermore, there was already a strong historical tradition associating Nabonidus with Teima and because of the brutality with which Nabonidus established himself at the site it is highly unlikely that either he or the events themselves would be forgotten, particularly among the Arab tribes of the area. Again, while Nabonidus was undoubtedly strong-willed and self-assertive as well as being a man of culture and antiquarian tastes, there is no tradition extant which at any time described him as a madman, cruel though he may have been occasionally. Furthermore, the “prayer of Nabonidus” contains pathological elements which are certainly unknown to modern medicine, whereas the account in Daniel describes a well-attested and readily-recognizable psychotic condition.
It seems clear that two very different traditions are involved. The Qumran scrap seems to preserve an account of some ailment, whether of a staphylococcal nature or not, which afflicted Nabonidus during his years at Teima, and because of certain unrealistic elements it can only be assigned to the realm of legend and folklore. By contrast, the account in Daniel is of an attestable clinical nature, and forms part of a larger tradition which associated madness with Nebuchadnezzar II. Compositions such as Susanna and Bel and The Dragon show that the Book of Daniel attracted a good deal of legendary material and it may well be that the Qumran fragment is another hitherto undiscovered element of this apocryphal corpus. However, in the view of the present writer, the “prayer of Nabonidus” more prob. constitutes a near contemporary of the apocryphal composition entitled b.c. and closely related to it in both form and content. There is clearly no connection between the “prayer of Nabonidus” and the fourth ch. of Daniel, and it is therefore extremely difficult to see how the Qumran fragment can underlie the Daniel tradition in any sense. The fact that the “prayer of Nabonidus” was first discovered at Qumran might well indicate that it originated during the Maccabean period, and it may possibly have been composed by the Qumran secretaries themselves. There is no single element in it which requires a date of composition significantly earlier than the Maccabean period, and it could possibly have been written as late as 100 b.c., written in the cent. between 250 and 150
Those who have taken the Daniel narrative as historical have made numerous attempts to identify Darius the Mede with persons mentioned in Babylonian cuneiform texts. Since he was a contemporary of Cyrus he clearly cannot be identified with Darius I, son of Hystaspes, who ruled over Babylonia and Persia from 521 to 486 b.c. Darius the Mede has also been identified with Cyrus the Great, who on his defeat of Astyages, king of Media, in 549 b.c. was accorded the title “king of the Medes” by Nabonidus of Babylon. Cyrus is known to have been in his early sixties when he conquered Babylon, and according to contemporary inscrs. he appointed many of his subordinates to positions of high office in the provincial government. Such a view would require that the phrase “and the reign of Cyrus” (
Probably the best approach to the problem is to follow J. C. Whitcomb and identify Darius the Mede with Gubaru the governor of Babylon and the “Regions beyond the River” under Cyrus. The Nabonidus Chronicle mentioned two persons connected with the fall of Babylon, namely Ugbaru and Gubaru, and faulty tr. of the Chronicle since 1882 has tended to confuse their identities. It was on the basis of this misunderstanding that scholars such as H. H. Rowley assumed that they were actually one person, the Gobryas of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, who died after the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c. The tr. of the Chronicle by Sidney Smith in 1924, however, distinguished between Ugbaru and Gubaru, and it is now apparent that the former, who was governor of Gutium and an ally of Cyrus, took a prominent part in the capture of Babylon and then died shortly afterward, presumably of wounds sustained in the battle. Whereupon the other victorious leader Gubaru, who with Ugbaru was apparently responsible for diverting the river Euphrates so that his soldiers could capture the city by infiltrating along the dried-up river bed, was appointed by Cyrus as the governor of Babylon. He appears to have held this position for fourteen years, and was mentioned in a number of cuneiform texts. One of the Nabonidus tablets discovered at Haran referred to the “king of the Medes” in the tenth year of the reign of Nabonidus (546 b.c.), and while this text does not throw any light on the identity of Darius the Mede it does at least show that the title was in existence after Cyrus had conquered Media, perhaps as the designation of a provincial governor. Certainly the evidence presented by the Nabonidus Chronicle would not permit Darius the Mede to be regarded as a “conflation of confused traditions” as Rowley maintained, but instead offers definite possibilities of the identification of Darius with an historical personage, namely Gubaru. Subsequent cuneiform discoveries may well clarify the situation completely.
The fact that Gr. names were used for certain musical instruments in Daniel, tr. as “harp,” “sakbut,” and “psaltery,” was formerly much in vogue as an argument for a Maccabean date for the writing of the book. However, this view no longer constitutes a serious problem, since archeological discoveries have revealed something of the extent to which Gr. culture had infiltrated the Near E long before the Pers. period. It is now known that, despite their ostensible Gr. nature, the instruments in question are of undoubted Mesopotamian origin. Thus the “harp” was one of the numerous Asiatic forerunners of the Gr. kithara; the “sakbut” was most prob. similar to, or derived from, the sabitu or Akkad. seven-stringed lyre, while the “psaltery” was the old Pers. santir or dulcimer which was frequently portrayed on 1st millennium b.c. reliefs in Assyria.
In the light of the foregoing evidence it would appear that it is both unnecessary and undesirable for the authorship of the Book of Daniel to be assigned to any other place and time than the Babylonia of the 6th cent. b.c. This being the case, there can be little objection to the view that the book was written by Daniel, whether with or without scribal assistance, during or immediately after the period of time which the work purports to cover.
Because questions of authorship and historicity are closely connected with the dating of the book the historical, archeological and linguistic evidence adduced in the previous section strongly confirms the traditional date assigned to Daniel. While the problems associated with Darius the Mede are not yet completely resolved, the situation is by no means as fictitious historically as Rowley and others have maintained. All the evidence to date indicates that Darius the Mede must once again be regarded as an historical personage and it is not too much to hope that future cuneiform discoveries will vindicate his historicity and reveal his identity.
Much of the most damaging evidence to the liberal assessment of the date of Daniel has been provided by the Qumran discoveries. It is now clear that the sect originated in the 2nd cent. b.c. and that all its Biblical MSS were copies, not originals. The nature of Jewish compositions aspiring to canonicity was that they were allowed to circulate for a period of time so that their general consonance with the law and the other canonical writings could become established. Once this had taken place the works were accorded a degree of popular canonicity as distinct from a conciliar pronouncement. Under normal circumstances a moderate interval of time was required for this process, though some prophecies were doubtless recognized early for what they were by those who heard them. Nevertheless, the written form generally only gained acceptance as the Word after some time had elapsed, but once this had happened it was transmitted with scrupulous care. Daniel was represented at Qumran by several MSS in good condition as well as by numerous fragments, thus showing the popularity of the work. Since all of these are copies, the autograph must clearly be earlier than the Maccabean period. Two fragments of Daniel recovered from 1Q proved to be related palaeographically to the large Isaiah scroll, and another was akin to the script of the Habakkuk pesher (see Dead Sea Scrolls). If this relationship is as genuine as palaeographers think, the liberal dating of Daniel will need radical upward adjustment, since the Book of Isaiah was certainly written several centuries before the earliest date to which the large Isaiah scroll (1QIsa) can be assigned on any grounds. A Maccabean dating for Daniel has now to be abandoned, if only because there could not possibly be a sufficient interval of time between the composition of Daniel and its appearance in the form of copies in the library of a Maccabean religious sect.
While at the time of writing the Daniel MSS from Qumran have yet to be published and evaluated it is clearly fatuous even in the light of current knowledge for scholars to abandon the Maccabean dating of certain Psalms which have long been regarded as demonstrably late, and yet adhere to it rigidly with regard to the Book of Daniel. For the sake of consistency alone, if the “late” Psalms are to be assigned now to the Pers. period, precisely the same should be done for the Book of Daniel. That scholarly prejudice is largely involved is seen in the fact that critics can argue from the reference to Jaddua (Jos. Antiq. XI, 7, 2) to an earlier rather than a later date for the list of high priests (
From the foregoing evidence it can be stated that a Maccabean date for Daniel is now absolutely precluded by the discoveries at Qumran. Whatever the critical objections to the traditional date, they will have to be modified radically in the light of this situation. Since the choice of date is between a Maccabean and a 6th cent. b.c. one, the demonstrated inadequacy of the former leaves the latter as the only acceptable alternative.
Place of origin.
On the basis of a 6th cent. b.c. date of composition, the place of origin is clearly Babylonia. Indeed on any dating sequence there can be no real question as to the Babylonian background of the work. There is no single element which is consistent with a Palestinian compositional milieu, and the book consistently breathes the air of the Neo-Babylonian and Pers. periods. The city of Babylon itself seems the most probable place of compilation.
Liberal scholars who have suggested a Maccabean origin for the book have thought that it was intended as a “tract for the times” to encourage oppressed Palestinian Jews as they resisted the program of Hellenizing which Antiochus IV Epiphanes was imposing upon his realm. Since the work has been shown to belong properly to the 6th cent. b.c., the book can have been meant only for the exiles in Babylonia, evidently with the avowed purpose of showing that foreign captivity and a living faith in God were by no means as incompatible as some exiles imagined.
The contents of Daniel arose out of the experiences of the seer in the Babylonian court, and comprise memoirs and visions. The various chs. represent the outstanding occurrences in the life of Daniel, which covers fully the period of the Exile in Babylonia. It is difficult to say whether the book was prompted by any specific occurrence, since it appears to be a straightforward record of notable events in the life of an outstanding servant of God. In the historical section the specific occasion was invariably one of pagan culture or superstition being confronted by the power of the Israelite God. In the visions the events of future times were the dominant concern, and whether these were occasioned by specific happenings in the life of Daniel or not is unknown.
The overall aim of the book is to show the superiority of the Israelite God over the heathen idols of Mesopotamia. Daniel also makes it clear that, although the Babylonians had been the means of punishment for Israel, they also would pass from the historical scene. The visions go even further in predicting the time when the Messiah’s work would begin, showing that in the latter days God would establish a permanent kingdom. Despite the fact that the chosen people would not remain unscathed throughout their existence, their destiny was bound up with that of the Messiah. A living faith in the power of God would be more than a match for whatever difficulties might arise, as exemplified in the life of Daniel himself.
From its inception the work was apparently assigned to the third division of the Heb. canon, the Writings, presumably on the basis that Daniel could not be regarded as a prophet in the sense of Isaiah or Ezekiel, since he was not the mediator of revelation from God to a theocratic community. This conviction evidently underlay the pronouncement of the Talmud (Bab. Bath. 15a) which nevertheless testifies to the esteem in which Daniel was held. In the LXX version the book was placed among the prophetic writings following Ezekiel but preceding the Twelve, a position which was adopted by the English VSS.
The MT is in good condition, and the LXX and other VSS do not suggest the presence of significant textual corruptions. The LXX has survived in one MS only, and indicates that the VS was characterized by expansions. It was displaced in the Early Church by the more literal VS of Theodotion, from which Patristic writers usually quoted. Legendary accretions such as theand Bel and The Dragon formed part of some VSS, including the LXX.
The book can be analyzed as follows:
A. Daniel and his friends come to prominence in Babylon (
B. The vision of the image recalled and interpreted (
C. Image-worship in the plain of Dura and its consequences for Daniel and his friends (
D. A vision of the impending illness of Nebuchadnezzar (
E. The explanation of the cryptic text and the fall of Babylon (
F. Daniel in the den of lions (
G. A vision of four great beasts and their significance (
H. A vision of future kingdoms (
I. Confession, followed by a vision relating to the coming of the Messiah (
J. A divine message is given to Daniel which serves to introduce the prophecies of
K. The wars of Syria and Egypt and the sealing of the prophecy (
Theology and interpretation.
The theological standpoint of Daniel has much in common with that of Ezekiel. God is viewed as a transcendent Being who by nature is superior to all the gods of the heathen. Because God is all-powerful, events work out according to a predetermined divine purpose, and this is consistent with 8th cent. prophetic thought, which maintained that God was in firm control of the trend of events. In the same way Daniel thought of the Messianic kingdom as the conclusion of the age, and as a matter for divine rather than human decision. Although the coming kingdom was contemplated in largely material terms, the concepts of resurrection in
The apocalyptic sections of the book have been widely discussed, partly because of the interpretation to be assigned to the four kingdoms of
R. D. Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel, I (1917); II (1938); J. A. Montgomery, The Book of Daniel, ICC (1927); R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (1929); H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel (1935); F. Rosenthal, Die Aramaistische Forschung (1939); E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (1949); H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (1949); R. D. Culver, Daniel and the(1954); J. C. Whitcomb, Darius the Mede (1959); S. B. Frost, IDB, I, 761-768; D. J. Wiseman, et al., Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (1965); R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the (1969), 1105-1138.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
II. PLACE IN THE CANON III. DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
V. PURPOSE OF THE BOOK
1. The Predictions
2. The Miracles
3. The Text
4. The Language
5. The Historical Statements
Commentaries and Introductions
X. APOCRYPHAL ADDITIONS
Theis rightly so called, whether we consider Daniel as the author of it, or as the principal person mentioned in it.
II. Place in the Canon.
In the English Bible, Daniel is placed among the Major Prophets, immediately after Ezk, thus following the order of the Septuagint and of the Latin Vulgate (Jerome’s Bible, 390-405 A. D.) In the Hebrew Bible, however, it is placed in the third division of the Canon, called the Kethuvim or writings, by the Hebrews, and the hagiographa, or holy writings, by the Seventy. It has been claimed, that Daniel was placed by the Jews in the third part of the Canon, either because they thought the inspiration of its author to be of a lower kind than was that of the other prophets, or because the book was written after the second or prophetical part of the Canon had been closed. It is more probable, that the book was placed in this part of the Hebrew Canon, because Daniel is not called a nabhi’ ("prophet"), but was rather a chozeh ("seer") and a chakham ("wise man"). None but the works of the nebhi’im were put in the second part of the Jewish Canon, the third being reserved for the heterogeneous works of seers, wise men, and priests, or for those that do not mention the name or work of a prophet, or that are poetical in form. A confusion has arisen, because the Greek word prophet is used to render the two Hebrew words nabhi’ and chozeh. In the Scriptures, God is said to speak to the former, whereas the latter see visions and dream dreams. Some have attempted to explain the position of Daniel by assuming that he had the prophetic gift without holding the prophetic office. It must be kept in mind that all reasons given to account for the order and place of many of the books in the Canon are purely conjectural, since we have no historical evidence bearing upon the subject earlier than the time of Jesus ben Sirach, who wrote probably about 180 BC.
III. Divisions of the Book.
According to its subject-matter, the book falls naturally into two great divisions, each consisting of six chapters, the first portion containing the historical sections, and the second the apocalyptic, or predictive, portions; though the former is not devoid of predictions, nor the latter of historical statements. More specifically, the first chapter is introductory to the whole book;
According to the languages in which the book is written, it may be divided into the Aramaic portion, extending from
The language of the book is partly Hebrew and partly a dialect of Aramaic, which has been called Chaldee, or Biblical Aramaic This Aramaic is almost exactly the same as that which is found in portions of Ezra. On account of the large number of Babylonian and Persian words characteristic of this Aramaic and of that of the papyri recently found in Egypt, as well as on account of the general similarity of the nominal, verbal and other forms, and of the syntactical construction, the Aramaic of this period might properly be called the Babylonian-Persian Aramaic With the exception of the sign used to denote the sound "dh," and of the use of qoph in a few cases where Daniel has `ayin, the spelling in the papyri is the same in general as that in the Biblical books. Whether the change of spelling was made at a later time in the manuscripts of Daniel, or whether it was a peculiarity of the Babylonian Aramaic as distinguished from the Egyptian or whether it was due to the unifying, scientific genius of Daniel himself, we have no means at present to determine.
In view of the fact that the Elephantine Papyri frequently employ the "d" sign to express the "dh" sound, and that it is always employed in Ezra to express it; in view further of the fact that the "z" sign is found as late as the earliest Nabatean inscription, that of 70 BC (see Euting, 349: 1, 2, 4) to express the "dh" sound, it seems fatuous to insist on the ground of the writing of these two sounds in the Book of Daniel, that it cannot have been written in the Persian period. As to the use of qoph and `ayin for the Aramaic sound which corresponds to the Hebrew tsadhe when equivalent to an Arabic dad, any hasty conclusion is debarred by the fact that the Aramaic papyri of the 5th century BC, the manuscripts of the Samaritan Targum and the Mandaic manuscripts written from 600 to 900 AD all employ the two letters to express the one sound. The writing of ’aleph and he without any proper discrimination occurs in the papyri as well as in Daniel.
The only serious objection to the early date of upon the ground of its spelling is that which is based upon the use of a final "n" in the pronominal suffix of the second and third persons masculine plural instead of the margin of the Aramaic papyri and of the Zakir and Sendschirli inscriptions. It is possible that was influenced in this by the corresponding forms of the Babylonian language. The Syriac and Mandaic dialects of the Aramaic agree with the Babylonian in the formation of the pronominal suffixes of the second and third persons masculine plural, as against the Hebrew, Arabic, Minaean, Sabean and Ethiopic. It is possible that the occurrence of "m" in some west Aramaic documents may have arisen through the influence of the Hebrew and Phoenician, and that pure Aramaic always had "n" just as we find it in Assyrian and Babylonian, and in all east Aramaic documents thus far discovered.
The supposition that the use of "y" in Daniel as a preformative of the third person masculine of the imperfect proves a Palestinian provenience has been shown to be untenable by the discovery that the earliest east Syriac also used "y". (See M. Pognon, Inscriptions semitiques, premiere partie, 17.)
This inscription is dated 73 AD. This proof that in the earlier stages of its history the east Aramaic was in this respect the same as that found in Daniel is confirmed by the fact that the forms of the 3rd person of the imperfect found in the proper names on the Aramaic dockets of the Assyrian inscriptions also have the preformative y. (See Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, II, 47.)
V. Purpose of the Book.
The book is not intended to give an account of the life of Daniel. It gives neither his lineage, nor his age, and recounts but a few of the events of his long career. Nor is it meant to give a record of the history of Israel during the exile, nor even of the captivity in Babylon. Its purpose is to show how by His providential guidance, His miraculous interventions, His foreknowledge and almighty power, the God of heaven controls and directs the forces of Nature and the history of nations, the lives of Hebrew captives and of the mightiest of the kings of the earth, for the accomplishment of His Divine and beneficent plans for His servants and people.
The unity of the book was first denied by Spinoza, who suggested that the first part was taken from the chronological works of the Chaldeans, basing his supposition upon the difference of language between the former and latter parts. Newton followed Spinoza in suggesting two parts, but began his second division with
With the exception of the neo-Platonist Porphyry, a Greek non-Christian philosopher of the 3rd century AD, the genuineness of the Book of was denied by no one until the rise of the deistic movement in the 17th century. The attacks upon the genuineness of the book have been based upon:
(1) the predictions,
(2) the miracles,
(3) the text,
(4) the language,
(5) the historical statements.
1. The Predictions:
The assailants of the genuineness of Daniel on the ground of the predictions found therein, may be divided into two classes--those who deny prediction in general, and those who claim that the apocalyptic character of the predictions of Daniel is a sufficient proof of their lack of genuineness. The first of these two classes includes properly those only who deny not merely Christianity, but theism; and the answering of them may safely be left to those who defend the doctrines of theism, and particularly of revelation. The second class of assailants is, however, of a different character, since it consists of those who are sincere believers in Christianity and predictive prophecy.
They claim, however, that certain characteristics of definiteness and detail, distinguishing the predictive portions of the Book of Daniel from other predictions of the, bring the genuineness of Daniel into question. The kind of prediction found here, ordinarily called apocalyptic, is said to have arisen first in the 2nd century BC, when parts of the and of the were written; and a main characteristic of an apocalypse is said to be that it records past events as if they were still future, throwing the speaker back into some distant past time, for the purpose of producing on the reader the impression that the book contains real predictions, thus gaining credence for the statements of the writer and giving consolation to those who are thus led to believe in the providential foresight of God for those who trust in Him.
Since those who believe that God has spoken unto man by His Son and through the prophets will not be able to set limits to the extent and definiteness of the revelations which He may have seen fit to make through them, nor to prescribe the method, style, time and character of the revelations, this attack on the genuineness of Daniel may safely be left to the defenders of the possibility and the fact of a revelation. One who believes in these may logically believe in the genuineness of Daniel, as far as this objection goes. That there are spurious apocalypses no more proves that all are spurious than that there are spurious gospels or epistles proves that there are no genuine ones.
The spurious epistles of Philaris do not prove that Cicero’s Letters are not genuine; nor do the false statements of 2 Macc, nor the many spurious Ac of the Apostles, prove that 1 Macc or Luke’s Ac of the Apostles is not genuine. Nor does the fact that the oldest portions of the spurious apocalypses which have been preserved to our time are thought to have been written in the 2nd century BC, prove that no apocalypses, either genuine or spurious, were written before that time. There must have been a beginning, a first apocalypse, at some time, if ever. Besides, if we admit that the earliest parts of the Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles were written about the middle of the 2nd century BC, whereas the Book of Esdras was written about 300 AD, 450 years later, we can see no good literary reason wh Daniel may not have antedated Enoch by 350 years. The period between 500 BC and 150 BC is so almost entirely devoid of all known Hebrew literary productions as to render it exceedingly precarious for anyone to express an opinion as to what works may have characterized that long space of time.
2. The Miracles:
Secondly, as to the objections made against the Book of Daniel on the ground of the number or character of the miracles recorded, we shall only say that they affect the whole Christian system, which is full of the miraculous from beginning to end. If we begin to reject the books of the Bible because miraculous events are recorded in them, where indeed shall we stop?
3. The Text:
Thirdly, a more serious objection, as far as Daniel itself is concerned, is the claim of Eichhorn that the original text of the Aramaic portion has been so thoroughly tampered with and changed, that we can no longer get at the genuine original composition. We ourselves can see no objection to the belief that these Aramaic portions were written first of all in Hebrew, or even, if you will, in Babylonian; nor to the supposition that some Greek translators modified the meaning in their version either intentionally, or through a misunderstanding of the original. We claim, however, that the composite Aramaic of Daniel agrees in almost every particular of orthography, etymology and syntax, with the Aramaic of the North Semitic inscriptions of the 9th, 8th and 7th centuries BC and of the Egyptian papyri of the 5th century BC, and that the vocabulary of Daniel has an admixture of Hebrew, Babylonian and Persian words similar to that of the papyri of the 5th century BC; whereas, it differs in composition from the Aramaic of the Nabateans, which is devoid of Persian, Hebrew, and Babylonian words, and is full of Arabisms, and also from that of the Palmyrenes, which is full of Greek words, while having but one or two Persian words, and no Hebrew or Babylonian. As to different recensions, we meet with a similar difficulty in Jeremiah without anyone’s impugning on that account the genuineness of the work as a whole. As to interpolations of verses or sections, they are found in the Samaritan recension of the Hebrew text and in the Samaritan and other Targums, as also in certain places in the text of the, Josephus and many other ancient literary works, without causing us to disbelieve in the genuineness of the rest of their works, or of the works as a whole.
4. The Language:
Fourthly, the objections to the genuineness of Daniel based on the presence in it of three Greek names of musical instruments and of a number of Persian words do not seem nearly as weighty today as they did a hundred years ago. The Greek inscriptions at Abu Simbal in Upper Egypt dating from the time of Psamtek II in the early part of the 6th century BC, the discovery of the Minoan inscriptions and ruins in Crete, the revelations of the wide commercial relations of the Phoenicians in the early part of the 1st millennium BC, the lately published inscriptions of Sennacherib about his campaigns in Cilicia against the Greek seafarers to which Alexander Poly-histor and Abydenus had referred, telling about his having carried many Greeks captive to Nineveh about 700 BC, the confirmation of the wealth and expensive ceremonies of Nebuchadnezzar made by his own building and other inscriptions, all assure us of the possibility of the use of Greek musical instruments at Babylon in the 6th century BC. This, taken along with the well-known fact that names of articles of commerce and especially of musical instruments go with the thing, leave no room to doubt that a writer of the 6th century BC may have known and used borrowed Greek terms. The Arameans being the great commercial middlemen between Egypt and Greece on the one hand and Babylon and the Orient on the other, and being in addition a subject people, would naturally adopt many foreign words into their vocabulary.
As to the presence of the so-called Persian words in Daniel, it must be remembered that many words which were formerly considered to be such have been found to be Babylonian. As to the others, perhaps all of them may be Median rather than Persian; and if so, the children of Israel who were carried captive to the cities of the Medes in the middle of the 8th century BC, and the, Arameans, many of whom were subject to the Medes, at least from the time of the fall of Nineveh about 607 BC, may well have adopted many words into their vocabulary from the language of their rulers. Daniel was not writing merely for the Jews who had been carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, but for all Israelites throughout the world. Hence, he would properly use a language which his scattered readers would understand rather than the purer idiom of Judea. Most of his foreign terms are names of officials, legal terms, and articles of clothing, for which there were no suitable terms existing in the earlier Hebrew or Aramaic There was nothing for a writer to do but to invent new terms, or to transfer the current foreign words into his native language. The latter was the preferable method and the one which he adopted.
5. The Historical Statements:
Fifthly, objections to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel are made on the ground of the historical misstatements which are said to be found in it. These may be classed as:
(2) geographical, and
(1) Chronological Objections.
The first chronological objection is derived from
The second objection is derived from the fact that Daniel is said (
The third chronological objection is based on
The fourth objection is based on
(2) Geographical Objections.
As to the geographical objections, three only need be considered as important. The first is, that Shushan seems to be spoken of in
(3) Other Objections.
Various other objections to the genuineness of Daniel have been made, the principal being those derived from the supposed non-existence of Kingsand Belshazzar the Chaldean, from the use of the word Chaldean to denote the wise men of Babylon, and from the silence of other historical sources as to many of the events recorded in Daniel. The discussion of the existence of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede will be found under BELSHAZZAR and DARIUS. As to the argument from silence in general, it may be said that it reduces itself in fact to the absence of all reference to Daniel on the monuments, in the Book of Ecclus, and in the post-exilic literature. As to the latter books it proves too much; for Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, as well as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, refer to so few of the older canonical books and earlier historical persons and events, that it is not fair to expect them to refer to Daniel--at least, to use their not referring to him or his book as an argument against the existence of either before the time when they were written.
As to Ecclesiasticus, we might have expected him to mention Daniel or the So of Three Children; but who knows what reasons Ben Sira may have had for not placing them in his list of Hebrew heroes? Perhaps, since he held the views which later characterized the Sadducees, he may have passed Daniel by because of his views on the resurrection and on angels. Perhaps he failed to mention any of the four companions because none of their deeds had been wrought in Palestine; or because their deeds exalted too highly the heathen monarchies to which the Jews were subject. Or, more likely, the book may have been unknown to him, since very few copies at best of the whole Old Testament can have existed in his time, and the Book of Daniel may not have gained general currency in Palestine before it was made so preeminent by the fulfillment of its predictions in the Maccabean times.
It is not satisfactory to say that Ben Sira did not mention Daniel and his companions, because the stories concerning them had not yet been imbedded in a canonical book, inasmuch as he does place Simon, the high priest, among the greatest of Israel’s great men, although he is not mentioned in any canonical book. In conclusion, it may be said, that while it is impossible for us to determine why Ben Sira does not mention Daniel and his three companions among his worthies, if their deeds were known to him, it is even more impossible to understand how these stories concerning them cannot merely have arisen but have been accepted as true, between 180 BC, when Ecclesiasticus is thought to have been written, and 169 BC, when, according to 1 Maccabees, Matthias, the first of the Asmoneans, exhorted his brethren to follow the example of the fortitude of Ananias and his friends. As to the absence of all mention of Daniel on the contemporary historical documents of Babylon and Persia, such mention is not to be expected, inasmuch as those documents give the names of none who occupied positions such as, or similar to, those which Daniel is said to have filled.
Questions of the interpretation of particular passages may be looked for in the commentaries and special works. As to the general question of the kind of prophecy found in the Book of Daniel, it has already been discussed above under the caption of "Genuineness." As to the interpretation of the world monarchies which precede the monarchy of the Messiah Prince, it may be said, however, that the latest discoveries, ruling out as they do a separate Median empire that included Babylon, support the view that the four monarchies are the Babylonian, the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman. According to this view, Darius the Mede was only a sub-king under Cyrus the Persian. Other interpretations have been made by selecting the four empires from those of Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Persia, Medo-Persia, Alexander, the Seleucids, the Romans, and the Mohammedans. The first and the last of these have generally been excluded from serious consideration. The main dispute is as to whether the 4th empire was that of the Seleucids, or that of the Romans, the former view being held commonly by those who hold to the composition of in the 2nd century BC, and the latter by those who hold to the traditional view that it was written in the 6th century BC.
It is universally admitted that the teachings of Daniel with regard to angels and the resurrection are more explicit than those found elsewhere in the Old Testament. As to angels, Daniel attributes to them names, ranks, and functions not mentioned by others. It has become common in certain quarters to assert that these peculiarities of Daniel are due to Persian influences. The Babylonian monuments, however, have revealed the fact that the Babylonians believed in both good and evil spirits with names, ranks, and different functions. These spirits correspond in several respects to the Hebrew angels, and may well have afforded Daniel the background for his visions. Yet, in all such matters, it must be remembered that Daniel purports to give us a vision, or revelation; and a revelation cannot be bound by the ordinary laws of time and human influence.
There are resemblances, it is true, between the teachings of Daniel with regard to the resurrection and those of the Avesta. But so are there between his doctrines and the ideas of the Egyptians, which had existed for millenniums before his time. Besides there is no proof of any derivation of doctrines from the Persians by the writers of the canonical books of the Jews; and, as we have seen above, both the ideas and verbiage of Daniel are to be found in the generally accepted early Hebrew literature. And finally, this attempt to find a natural origin for all Biblical ideas leaves out of sight the fact that the Scriptures contain revelations from God, which transcend the ordinary course of human development. To a Christian, therefore, there can be no reason for believing that the doctrines of Daniel may not have been promulgated in the 6th century BC.
Commentaries and Introductions:
The best commentaries on Daniel from a conservative point of view are those by Calvin, Moses Stuart, Keil, Zockler, Strong in Lange’s Bibelwerk, Fuller in the Speaker’s Commentary, Thomson in the Pulpit Commentary, and Wright, Daniel and His Critics. The best defenses of Daniel’s authenticity and genuineness are Hengstenberg, Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, Tregelles, Defense of the Authenticity, Auberlen, The Prophecies of Daniel, Fuller, Essay on the Authenticity of Daniel, Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (still the best of all), C. H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Critics, Kennedy, The Book of Daniel from the Christian Standpoint, Joseph Wilson, Daniel, and, Daniel in the Critics’ Den. One should consult also Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, and Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament. For English readers, the radical school is best represented by Driver in his Literature of the Old Testament and in his Daniel; by Bevan, The Book of Daniel; by Prince, Commentary on Daniel, and by Cornill in his Introduction to the Old Testament.
X. Apocryphal Additions.
In the Greek translations of Daniel three or four pieces are added which are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic text as it has come down to us. These are The Prayer of Azarias, The So of the Three Children, Susanna, and
Susanna presents to us the story of a virtuous woman who resisted the seductive attempts of two judges of the elders of the people, whose machinations were exposed through the wisdom of Daniel who convicted them of false witness by the evidence of their own mouth, so that they were put to death according to the law of Moses; and from that day forth Daniel was held in great reputation in the sight of the people. Bel and the Dragon contains three stories. The first relates how Daniel destroyed the image of Bel which Nebuchadnezzar worshipped, by showing by means of ashes strewn on the floor of the temple that the offerings to Bel were devoured by the priests who came secretly into the temple by night. The second tells how Daniel killed the Dragon by throwing lumps of mingled pitch, fat and hair into his mouth, so causing the Dragon to burst asunder. The third gives a detailed account of the lions’ den, stating that there were seven lions and that Daniel lived in the den six days, being sustained by broken bread and pottage which a prophet named Habakkuk brought to him through the air, an angel of the Lord having taken him by the arm and borne him by the hair of his head and through the vehemency of his spirit set him in Babylon over the den, into which he dropped the food for Daniel’s use.
For commentaries on the additions to the Book of Daniel, see the works on Daniel cited above, and also The Apocrypha by Churton and others; the volume on the Apocrypha in Lange’s Commentary by Bissell; "The Apocrypha" by Wace in the Speaker’s Commentary, and Schurer, History of the Jewish People.
R. Dick Wilson