Introduction to the Book of Daniel
Section I. The Life of Daniel
Of Daniel little more is known, or can now be ascertained, than is recorded in this book. There are two other persons of this name mentioned in the Bible - a son of David 1 Chronicles 3:1; and a Levite of the race of Ithamar Ezra 8:2; Nehemiah 10:6. The latter has been sometimes confounded with the prophet, as he is in the apocryphal addenda to the Septuagint.
Daniel, supposed commonly to be the same person as the author of this book, is twice mentioned by Ezekiel, once as deserving to be ranked with Noah and Job, and once as eminent for wisdom. “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God” Ezekiel 14:14. “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee” Ezekiel 28:3. Whether this is the Daniel who is the author of this book, however or whether this was some ancient patriarch whose name had been handed down by tradition, and whose name was assumed” by the author of this book in later times, has been a question among recent critics, and will properly come up for examination under the next section in this Introduction.
Assuming now that the book is genuine, and that it was written by him whose name it bears, all that is known of Daniel is substantially as follows:
He was descended from one of the highest families in Judah, if not one of royal blood (notes at Daniel 1:3; Josephus‘ Ant. b. x. chapter x. Section 1). His birthplace was probably Jerusalem (compare Daniel 9:24), though it is not absolutely certain that this passage would demonstrate it.
Of his first years nothing is recorded. At an early age we find him in Babylon, among the captive Hebrews whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away at the first deportation of the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. He is mentioned in connection with three other youths, apparently of the same rank, Hananiah, Mishacl, and Azariah, who, with him, were selected for the purpose of being instructed in the language and literature of the Chaldeans, with a view to their being employed in the service of the court Daniel 1:3-4. His age at that time it is impossible to determine with accuracy, but it is not; improbable that it was somewhere about twelve or fifteen years. In Daniel 1:4, he and his three friends are called “children” (ילדם yelâdı̂ym ). “This word properly denotes the period from the age of childhood up to manhood, and might be translated boys, lads, or youth” - (Prof. Stuart on Daniel, p. 373).
Ignatius (Ep. ad Magn.) says that Daniel was twelve years of age when he went into exile; Chrysostom says that he was eighteen (Opp, vi., p. 423); Epiphanius says, ἔτι νήπιος ὤν eti nēpios ōn Jerome calls him admodum puer. These are, of course, mere conjectures, or traditions, but they are probably not far from the truth. Such was the age at which persons would be most likely to be selected for the training here referred to. The design of this selection and training is not mentioned, but in the circumstances of the case it is perhaps not difficult to conjecture it. The Hebrews were a captive people. It was natural to suppose that they would be restless, and perhaps insubordinate, in their condition, and it was a matter of policy to do all that could be done to conciliate them. Nothing would better tend to this than to select some of their own number who were of their most distinguished families; to place them at court; to provide for them from the royal bounty; to give them the advantages of the best education that the capital afforded; to make an arrangement that contemplated their future employment in the service of the state, and to furnish them every opportunity of promotion. Besides, in the dialog of the government with the captive Hebrews, of which, from the nature of the case, there would be frequent occasion, it would be an advantage to have native-born Hebrews in the confidence of the government, who could be employed to conduct that contact.
In this situation, and with this view, Daniel received that thorough education which Oriental etiquette makes indispensable in a courtier (compare Plato, Alcib. Section 37), and was more especially instructed in the science of the Chaldeans, and in speaking and writing their language. He had before evidently been carefully trained in the Hebrew learning, and in the knowledge of the institutions of his country, and was thoroughly imbued with the principles of the religion of his fathers. An opportunity soon occurred of putting his principles to the test. Trained in strict religious principles, and in the sternest rules of temperance in cating and drinking, and fearing the effect of the luxurious living provided for him and his companions by the royal bounty, he resolved, with them, to avoid at once the danger of conforming to the habits of idolaters; of “polluting” himself by customs forbidden by his religion, and of jeoparding his own health and life by intemperate indulgence. He aimed, also, to secure the utmost vigour of body, and the utmost clearness of mind, by a course of strict and conscientious temperance. He obtained permission, therefore, to abstain from the food provided for him, and to make an experiment of the most temperate mode of living Daniel 1:8-14. “His prudent proceedings, wise bearing, and absolute refusal to comply with such customs, were crowned with the divine blessing, and had the most splendid results.”
After the lapse of three years spent in this course of discipline, Daniel passed the examination which was necessary to admit him to the royal favor, and was received into connection with the government, to be employed in the purposes which had been contemplated in this preparatory training Daniel 1:18-20. One of his first acts was an interpretation of a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, which none of the Chaldeans had been able to interpret, the result of which was that he was raised at once to that important office, the governorship of the province of Babylon, and the head inspectorship of the sacerdotal caste Daniel 4:19-27.
Under the immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar - Evil-Merodaeh - Daniel appears to have been forgotten, and his talents and his former services seem to have passed away from the recollection of those in power. His situation at court appears to have been confined to an inferior office Daniel 8:27, and it would seem also that this led him occasionally, if not regularly, away from Babylon to some of the provinces to attend to business there. (Compare the notes at Daniel 8:2). This was not strange. On the death of a monarch, it was not unusual to discharge the officers who had been employed in the government, as, at the present time, on the death of a king, or a change of dynasty, the members of the cabinet are changed; or as the same thing happens in our own country when a change occurs in the chief magistracy of the nation. Sir John Chardin, in his Manuscript Notes on Persia, says that, in his time, on the death of a Shah or king, all the soothsayers and physicians attached to the court were at once dismissed from office; the former because they did not predict his death, and the latter because they did not prevent it.
It is to be remembered also, that Daniel was raised to power by the will of Nebuchadnezzar alone, and that the offices which he held were, in part, in consequence of the service which he had rendered that prince; and it is not strange, therefore, that on a change of the government, he, with perhaps the other favorites of the former sovereign, should be suffered to retire. We find consequently no mention made of Daniel during the reign of Evil-Merodach, or in the short reign of his successor; we lose sight of him until the reign of Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, and then he is mentioned only in connection with the closing scene of his life Daniel 6:1-3. The reasons of this appointment are not stated, but they were doubtless found in such circumstances as the following: that it was desirable for Darius to employ some one who was familiar with the affairs of the Babylonian empire; that Daniel probably had knowledge on that subject equal or superior to any other one that could be found; that, he had long been employed at court, and was familiar with the laws, usages, and customs that prevailed there; that he knew better than anyone else, perhaps, what would secure the tranquility of that portion of the empire; that, being himself a foreigner, it might be supposed better to employ him than it would be a native Chaldean, for it might be presumed that he would be less inimical to a foreign dominion.
Under these circumstances he was again raised to a high rank among the officers of the government; but his elevation was not beheld without malice and envy. Those who might have expected this office for themselves, or who were dissatisfied that a foreigner should be thus exalted, resolved, if possible, to bring him into such a situation as would ruin him Daniel 6:4. To do this, they determined to take advantage of a principle in the government of the Medes and Persians, that a law having once received the royal sanction could not be changed; and by securing the passing of such a law as they knew Daniel would not obey, they hoped to humble and ruin him. They, therefore, under plausible pretences, secured the passing of a law that no one in the realm should be allowed for a certain time to offer any petition to any God or man, except the king, on penalty of being thrown into a den of lions. Daniel, as they anticipated, was the first to disregard this law, by continuing his regular habit of worshipping God, praying, as he had been accustomed, three times a-day, with his window open. The consequence was, that the king, there being no way to prevent the execution of the law, allowed it to be executed. Daniel was cast into the den of lions, but was miraculously preserved; and this new proof of his integrity, and of the divine favor, was the means of his being raised to more exalted honor Daniel 12:1-13 of what would occur in the last days of the world‘s history.
Beyond this, nothing certain is known of Daniel. The accounts respecting him are vague, confused, and strange. How long he lived, and when and where he died, are points on which no certain information can now be obtained. Josephus gives no account of his latter days, or of his death, though he says respecting him, “he was so happy as to have strange revelations made to him, and those as to one of the greatest of the prophets, insomuch that while he was alive he had the esteem and applause both of kings and of the multitude; and now he is dead, he retains a remembrance that will never fail.” (Ant. b. x. chapter xi). It is commonly believed that he died in Chaldea, having been detained there by his employments in the Persian empire. Epiphanius says that he died in Babylon, and this has been the commonly received opinion of historians. This opinion, however, has not been universal. Some suppose that he died at Shushan or Susa. Josephus (Ant. b. x. chapter xi.) says that, “on account of the opinion which men had that he was beloved of God, he built a tower at Ecbatana in Media, which was a most elegant building and wonderfully made,” and that it was still remaining in his day.
Benjamin of Tudela says that Iris monument was shown at Chuzestan, which is the ancient Susa. As Benjamin of Tudela professes to record what he saw and heard, and as his Itinerary is a book which has been more frequently transcribed and translated than almost any other book, except the Travels of Maundeville, it may be of some interest to copy what he has said of the tomb of Daniel. It is a record of the traditions of the East - the country where Daniel lived and died, and it is not improbably founded in essential truth. At any rate, it will show what has been the current tradition in the East respecting Daniel, and is all that can now be known respecting the place of his death and burial. Benjamin of Tudela was a Jewish rabbi of Spain, who traveled through Europe, Asia, and Africa, from Spain to China, between 1160 and 1173 a.d. His Itinerary was first printed in 1543, It was a work in wide circulation in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, and has been translated from the original Hebrew into Latin, English, French, Dutch, and Jewish German, and hi these languages has passed through not less than twenty-two editions.
I quote from the London and Berlin edition of 1840. “Four miles from hence begins Khuzestan, Elam of Scripture, a large province which, however, is but partially inhabited, a portion of it lying in ruins. Among the latter are the remains of Shushan, the metropolis and palace of king Achashverosh, which still contains very large and hand. some buildings of ancient date. Its seven thousand Jewish inhabitants possess fourteen synagogues, in front of one of which is the tomb of Daniel, who rests in peace. The river Ulai divides the parts of the city, which are connected with a bridge; that portion of it which is inhabited by the Jews contains the markets; to it all trade is confined, and there dwell all the rich; on the other side of the river they are poor, because they are deprived of the above-named advantages, and have even no gardens nor orchards. These circumstances gave rise to jealousy, which was fostered by the belief that all honor and riches originated from the possession of the remains of the prophet Daniel, who rests in peace, and who was buried on their side.
A request was made by the poor for permission to remove the sepulchre to the other side, but it was rejected; upon which a war arose, and was carried on between the two parties for a length of time. This strife lasted ‹until their souls became loath‘ Numbers 21:4-5; Judges 16:16, and they came to a mutual agreement, by which it was stipulated that the coffin which contained Daniel‘s bones should be deposited alternately every year on either side. Both parties faithfully adhered to this arrangement, which was, however, interrupted by the interference of Sanjar Shah Ben Shah, who governs all Persia, and holds supreme power over forty-five of its kings.
“When this great emperor Sanjar, king of Persia, came to Shushan, and saw that the coffin of Daniel was removed from side to side, he crossed the bridge with a very numerous retinue, and accompanied by Jews and Mahometans, inquired into the nature of these proceedings. Upon being told what we have related above, he declared that it was derogatory to the honor of Daniel, and recommended that the distance between the two banks should be exactly measured; that Daniel‘s coffin should be deposited in another coffin, made of glass, and that it should be suspended from the very middle of the bridge, fastened by chains of iron. A place of public worship was erected on the very spot, open to every one who desired to say his prayers, whether he be Jew or Gentile, and the coffin of Daniel is suspended from the bridge unto this very day.” - (Vol. i. pp. 117-120).
This story, trifling as it is in some of its details, may be admitted as evidence of a tradition in the East that Daniel died and was buried at Shushan. This tradition, moreover, is very ancient. In a note on this passage (vol. ii. p. 152), A. Asher, the publisher of the Itinerary of Benjamin, says: “Aasim of Cufah, a venerable historian, who preceded lbn Hankel by two hundred years (for he died 735), mentions the discovery of Daniel‘s coffin at Sus. Ibn Haukel, who traveled in the tenth century, speaks of it, and ascribes to the possession of the bones of Daniel the virtue of dispelling all sorts of distress, particularly that of famine from want of rain.” It has been a matter of much controversy whether the place now known as Chouck, Chouz, or Sous is the ancient Shushan (lat. 31° 55‘, long. 83° 40‘), or the place now called Shuster (lat. 31° 30‘, long. 84° 30‘). The former opinion is maintained by Rennel, Ouseley, Barbie du Bocage, Kinneir, and Hoek; the latter by d‘Herbelot, d‘Anville, Vincent, Mannert, and Hammer. Major Rawlinson, who has furnished the most recent account of this place, maintains that “Shushan the palace” is the present Susan on the Kulan or Eulaeus, the Ulai of Scripture. (See vol. ix. of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society).
Section II. Genuineness and Authenticity of the Book of Daniel
Consideration of Objections.
Until a comparatively recent period, with some slight exceptions, the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Daniel have been regarded as settled, and its canonical authority was as little doubted as that of any other portion of the Bible. The ancient Hebrews never called its genuineness or authenticity in question (Lengerke, Das Buch Daniel, Königsberg, 1835, p. 6; Hengstenberg, Die Authentie des Daniel, Berlin, 1831, p. 1). It is true that in the Talmud (Tract. Baba Bathra, Fol. 15, Ed. Venet.) it is said that “the men of the Great Synagogue wrote - כתוב the קדנג K. D. N. G. - that is, portions (eleven chapters) of the book of Ezekiel, the prophet Daniel, and the book of Esther;” but this, as Lengerke has remarked (p. v.), does not mean that they had introduced this book into the canon, as Bertholdt supposes, but that, partly by tradition, and partly by inspiration, they revised it anew. But whatever may be the truth in regard to this, it does not prove that the ancient Jews did not consider it canonical. It is true that much has been said about the fact that the Jews did not class this book among the prophets, but placed it in the Hagiographa or Kethubim, כתוּבים kethûbı̂ym It has been inferred from this, that they believed that it was composed a considerable time after the other prophetic books, and that they did not deem it worthy of a place among their prophetic books in general. But, even if this were so, it would not prove that they did not regard it as a genuine production of Daniel; and the fact that it was not placed among the prophetic books may be accounted for without the supposition that they did not regard it as genuine. The usual statement on that subject is, that they placed the book there because they say that Daniel lived the life of a courtier in Babylon, rather than the life of a prophet; and the Jews further assert that, though he received Divine communications, they were only by dreams and visions of the night, which they regard as the most imperfect kind of revelations. - (Horne, Intro. 4:188). The place which Daniel should occupy in the Sacred Writings probably became a matter of discussion among the Hebrews only after the coming of the Saviour, when Christians urged so zealously his plain prophecies (Daniel 9:24-27) in proof of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus.
The first open and avowed adversary to the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Daniel was Porphyry, a learned adversary of the Christian faith in the third century. He wrote fifteen books against Christianity, all of which are lost, except some fragments preserved by Eusebius, Jerome, and others. His objections against Daniel were made in his twelfth book, and all that we have of these objections has been preserved by Jerome in his commentary on the book of Daniel. A full account of Porphyry, and of his objections against the Christians and the sacred books of the Old and New Testament, so far as can now be known, may be seen in Lardner, Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, vol. vii. pp. 390-470, of his works, Ed. London, 1899. In regard to the book of Daniel, he maintained, according to Jerome (Pr. and Explan. in Daniel), “that the book was not written by him whose name it bears, but by another who lived in Judea in the time of Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes; and that the book of Daniel does not foretell things to come, but relates what had already happened. In a word, whatever it contains to the time of Antiochus is true history; if there is anything relating to after-times it is falsehood; forasmuch as the writer could not see things future, but at the most only could make some conjectures about them. To him several of our authors have given answers of great labour and diligence - in particular. Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, in three volumes, the 18th, the 19th, and the 20th; Apollinarius, also, in one large book, that is, the 26th; and before them, in part, Methodius. ‹As it is not my design,‘ says Jerome, ‹to confute the objections of the adversary, which would require a long discourse; but only to explain the prophet to our own people, that is, to Christians, I shall just observe that none of the prophets have spoken so clearly of Christ as Daniel, for he not only foretells his coming, as do others likewise, but he also teaches the time when he will come, and mentions in order the princes of the intermediate space, and the number of the years, and the signs of his appearance. And because Porphyry saw all these things to have been fulfilled, and could not deny that they had actually come to pass, he was compelled to say as he did; and because of some similitude of circumstances, he asserted that the things foretold as to be fulfilled in Antichrist at the end of the world happened in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes: - which kind of opposition is a testimony of truth; for such is the plain interpretation of the words, that to incredulous men the prophet seems not to foretell things to come, but to relate things already past; and though, as before said, it is not my intention to confute all his objections, I shall, as occasion offers, take notice of some of his weak arguments. And it may be proper for us, among other things, to observe now, that Porphyry argued that the book of Daniel was not genuine, because it was written in Greek, and, therefore, was not the work of any Jew, but the forgery of some Greek writer. This he argued from some Greek words which are in the fable of Susanna, to which both Eusebius and Apollinarius returned the same answer, that the fabulous stories of Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, are not in the Hebrew, but are said to have been composed by a person of the tribe of Levi; whereas the sacred Scriptures assure us that Daniel and the three children, his companions, were of the tribe of Judah. And they said they were not accountable for what was not received by the Jews, nor was a part of the sacred Scriptures.‘” A few of the objections which Porphyry makes to the credibility of certain parts of Daniel, Jerome has quoted in his commentary on the particular passages referred to. These have been collected by Dr. Lardner, and may Be seen in his works, vol. vii. pp. 402-415. It is not necessary to transcribe them here, as they will come up for consideration in the notes on the particular chapters.
Dr. Lardner (vol. vii. p. 401) remarks respecting Porphyry, “that Porphyry‘s work against the Christians was much laboured, and that in this argument he displayed all his learning, which was very considerable. Hence we can perceive the difficulty of undertaking an answer to him, for which very few were fully qualified; in which none of the apologists for Christianity seem to have answered expectations.” We cannot now form a correct opinion of the argument of Porphyry, for we have only the few fragments of his work which Jerome and others have seen proper to preserve. We are in danger, therefore, of doing injustice to what may have been the real force of his argument, for it may have been stronger than would be indicated by those fragments that remain. It is impossible to recover his main objections; and all that can now be said is, that, as far as is known, he did not make any converts to his opinions. and that his objections produced no change in the faith of the Christian world.
No further attack on the genuineness and authenticity of Daniel seems to have been made, and no further doubt entertained, until the time of Spinoza. Spinoza was by birth a Jew; was born at Amsterdam in 1632; became professedly converted to Christianity in consequence of supposing that his life was in danger among the Jews, But was probably indifferent to all religions. He gave himself up to philosophical inquiries, and is commonly understood to have been a pantheist. He maintained (Tractat. Theol. Politicus, c. 10, t. i. p. 308, Ed. Paulus), that the last five chapters of Daniel were written by Daniel himself, But that the seven previous chapters were collected about the time of the Maccabees from the chronological writings of the Chaldeans, and that the whole was arranged by some unknown hand. Edward Wells, who lived in the first part of the eighteenth century, maintained that the work was composed by some one soon after the death of Daniel. Antony Collins, one of the British Deists, maintained also that it was not written by Daniel. In more recent times, the genuineness of the book has been doubted or denied, in whole or in part, by Corrodi, Gesenius, Lüderwald, Dereser, Scholl, Lengerke, Eichhorn, De Wette, Griesenger, Bertholdt, Bleek, Ewald, Hitzig, and Kirms; it has been defended by the English writers generally, and among the Germans by Staudlin, Beekhaus, Jahn, Hävernick Hengstenberg, and others. The general ground taken by those who have denied its genuineness and authenticity is, that the book was written, at or about the time of the Maccabees, By some Jew, who, in order to give greater authority and importance to his work, wrote under the assumed name of Daniel, and laid the scene in Babylon in the time of the captivity.
The various arguments urged against the genuineness of the book may be seen in Bertholdt, Eichhorn, Lengerke, Kirms (Commentatio Historico Critica, Jenae, 1825), and De Wette. The best defence of its authenticity, probably, is the work of Hengstenberg (Die Authentie des Daniel, Berlin, 1831). The examination of the objections alleged against the particular chapters, and particular portions of chapters, it will be most convenient to examine in the introductions to the respective chapters. I propose, in this general Introduction, merely to examine the objections of a general character which have been made to the work. These have been concisely arranged and stated by De Wette (Lehrbuch der Historisch-kritischen, Einleitung, Berlin, 1845, pp. 382-389), and in the examination of the objections I shall consider them in the order in which he has stated them.
The view which De Wette entertains of the book is stated in the following manner: - “That in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the spirit of prophecy among the Jews had been a long time extinct, a Jewish friend of his country endeavoured to encourage and strengthen his contemporary sufferers, and those who were contending for their liberty, through these apocalyptic prophecies respecting the future ascendancy of the theocratic principle, which, in order to give the work greater reputation and authority, he ascribed to an ancient Seer of the name of Daniel, of whom probably something had been handed down by tradition. Designedly he suffered the promises to extend to a great length of time, in order to make them appear the more certain. After the manner of the ancient prophets also, he inwove much that was historical, and especially such as would be fitted to excite and arouse the martyr spirit of his own people.” - (Lehrbuch, p. 390).
I. The first objection which is urged against the genuineness of the book is derived from what is denominated the fabulous contents - Mährchenhaften Inhalte - of its narrative parts. This objection, in the words of De Wette, is, that “the book is full of improbabilities (Daniel 2:3, Daniel 2:46; Daniel 3:1, Daniel 3:5, Daniel 3:20, Daniel 3:22, Daniel 3:28,31; Daniel 4:31; Daniel 5:11, Daniel 5:18, Daniel 5:29, Daniel 6:8, Daniel 6:26); of wonders (Daniel 2:28, Daniel 3:23; Daniel 5:5, Daniel 6:23, Daniel 6:25); its historical inaccuracies are such as are found in no prophetic book of the Old Testament, and are founded on the same type (comp. Daniel 2:2-11, with Daniel 4:4; Daniel 5:8; Daniel 3:4-12, Daniel 3:26-30, with Daniel 6:8-18, Daniel 6:21-24).. This seeking after wonders and strange things, and the religious fanaticism nourished through these persecutions, which it breathes, place the book in the same condition as the second book of the Maccabees, as a production of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the similarity of the former of the two books betrays the fictitious character. (Dichtung ) of the book.” - (Lehrbuch, pp. 382,383).
In reference to this objection, which turns on the marvellous character of the book, and the improbable historical statements in it, the following remarks may be made: -
(a) These objections are noticed in detail in the introductions to the respective chapters where the historical events here objected to are stated, and the question whether they are fabulous, or are in accordance with true history, is there fully considered. This will make it needless to notice them here particularly. In the introduction to the respective chapters, I have noticed, and have endeavoured to answer, all the objections which I have found of this character in the works of Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Bleek, and Lengerke. This will make it the less necessary to dwell on this point in this general Introduction.
(b) But as to the alleged contradiction between Daniel and the historical accounts which we have of the affairs to which he refers, it may be proper to observe in general - (1.) That, for anything that appears, Daniel may be as accurate an historian as any of the heathen writers of those times. There is, in the nature of the case, no reason why we should put implicit confidence in Berosus, Abydenus, Xenophon, and Herodotus, and distrust Daniel; nor why, if a statement is omitted by them, we should conclude at once that, if mentioned by Daniel, it is false. It is an unhappy circumstance, that there are many persons who suppose that the fact that a thing is mentioned by a profane historian is presumptive evidence of its truth; if mentioned by a sacred writer, it is presumptive evidence of its falsehood. Under the influence of the same feeling, it is inferred, that if an event is mentioned by a sacred writer which is omitted by a profane historian, it is regarded as demonstrative that the work in which it is found is fabulous. It is unnecessary to show that this feeling exists in many minds; and yet nothing can be more unjust - for the mere fact that an author writes on sacred subjects, or is the professed friend of a certain religion, should not be allowed to cast a suspicion on his testimony. That testimony must depend, in regard to its value, on his credibility as a historian, and not on the subject on which he writes. In the nature of things, there is no more reason why a writer on sacred subjects should be unworthy of belief, than one who is recording the ordinary events of history. (2.) Daniel, according to the account which we have of him, had opportunities of ascertaining the truth of the facts which he narrates, which no profane historian had. He spent the greater part of a long life in Babylon, in the very midst of the scenes which he describes; he was intimately acquainted with the affairs of the government; he enjoyed, in a remarkable degree, the confidence of those in authority, and he was himself deeply concerned in most of these transactions, and could have adopted the language of Aeneas - et quorum magna pars fui. (3.) It is to be remembered, also, in regard to these events and times, that we have few fragments of history remaining. We have fragments of the writings of Berosus, a Chaldean, indeed, who wrote in Greece; and of Abydenus, a Greek, who wrote in Chaldea; we have some historical statements in Xenophon, and a few in Herodotus: but the Chaldean history, if ever written, is lost; the public documents are destroyed; the means of an accurate and full knowledge of the Chaldean or Babylonish power in the time when Daniel lived, have disappeared for ever. Under these circumstances, it would not be strange if we should not be able to clear up all the difficulties of a historical nature that may be suggested respecting these fragmentary accounts, or be able to verify the statements which we find in the sacred books by the explicit testimony of contemporary writers.
(c) As a matter of fact, the investigations of history, as far as they can be made, go to confirm the authority of Daniel. Instances of this will occur in the examination of the particular chapters in this book, and all that can now be done is merely to refer to them, particularly to the introductions to ch. 1,4-6. In general, it may be said here, that none of the historical authorities contradict what is stated by Daniel, and that the few fragments which we have go to confirm what he has said, or at least to make it probable.
(d) As to the objections of De Wette and others, derived from the miraculous and marvellous character of the book, it may be observed further, that the same objection would lie against most of the books of the Bible, and that it is, therefore, not necessary to notice it particularly in considering the book of Daniel. The Bible is a book full of miracles and marvels; and he who would have any proper understanding of it must regard and treat it as such. It is impossible to understand or explain it without admitting the possibility and the reality of miraculous events; and in a book which claims to be founded miracles, it does not prove that it is not authentic or genuine simply to say that it assumes that miracles are possible. To destroy the credibility of the book, it is necessary to show that all claims of a miraculous character are unfounded, and all miracles impossible and absurd; and this objection would not lie against the book of Daniel peculiarly, but equally against the whole Bible. Two remarks here may be made, however, of a more particular character: (1), that the statements in Daniel are not more marvellous than those which occur in other parts of the Bible, and if they may be believed, those occurring in Daniel may be also; and (2), that it would rather be an argument against the genuineness and authenticity of the book if no miraculous and marvellous statements were found in it. It would be so unlike the other books of the Bible, where miracles abound, that we should feel that there was wanting in its favour the evidence of this nature, which would show that it had the same origin as the other portions of the volume. The particular objections in regard to the statements in Daniel of this nature are considered in the notes on the book.
II. A second objection to the genuineness of the book of Daniel relates to the prophecies which are found in it. This objection is derived from the peculiar character of these prophecies; from the minuteness of the detail; the exact. designation of the order of events; the fact that they seem to be a summary of history written after the events occurred; and that in these respects they are essentially unlike the other prophecies in the Bible. This objection, we have seen, is as old as Porphyry; and this was in fact, with him the principal argument against the authenticity of the book. This objection is summed up and stated by De Wette in the following manner (Section 255b, pp. 385,385): “The ungenuineness (Unächtheit) appears further from the prophetic contents of the same, which is to a remarkable extent different from that of all the remaining prophetic books, (a) through its apocalyptic character, or through this - that the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah is mentioned and determined according to certain definite periods of time, or specified periods, and that the representation of it occurs so much in the form of visions; (b) that the circumstances of the distant future, and the fortune of the kingdoms which were not yet in existence, even down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, are described with so much particularity and accuracy (Daniel 8:14, Daniel 9:25; Daniel 12:11) that the account must have been written after the event; (c) and that, if Daniel was a prophet, he must have lived in the times of Ezekiel and Zechariah, and we must suppose that his prophecies would have borne the general character of the prophecies of those times, but that in fact we find in them the spirit of a later age - the spirit that ultimately developed itself in the Sibylline books, to which these prophecies bear a strong resemblance.”
In reply to this it may be remarked: -
(1.) That all that is said in Daniel is possible: that is, it is possible that prophetic intimations of the future should be given with as much particularity as are found in Daniel. No one can demonstrate, or even affirm, that God could not, if he chose, inspire a prophet to predict in detail the occurrences of the most remote times, and the fall of kingdoms not yet in being. All this knowledge must be with him: and for anything that appears, it would be as easy to inspire a prophet to predict these events as any other. The solo inquiry, therefore, is in regard to a fact; and this is to be settled by an examination of the evidence, that the prophet lived and prophesied before the events predicted occurred.
(2.) The prophecies in Daniel are not, in their structure and character, so unlike those whose genuineness is undisputed as to make it certain, or even probable, that the latter are genuine and those of Daniel not. Dreams and visions were common methods of communicating the Divine will to the prophets - see Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7, (2), (4) - and who will undertake from any infernal evidence to determine between those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel?
(3.) As to the allegation respecting the details in Daniel of future events - the particularity with which he describes them - all is to be admitted that is affirmed on the subject. It is a fact that there is such particularity and minuteness of detail as could be founded only on truth, and that the delineations of Alexander and his conquests, and the statements of the events that would succeed his reign down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (ch. 11), are drawn with as much accuracy of detail as they would be by one writing after the events had occurred. No one can doubt this who attentively examines these remarkable prophecies. Porphyry was undoubtedly right in affirming, that in regard to their minuteness and accuracy, these prophecies appeared to be written after the events; and if it can be shown, therefore, that they were written before the events referred to, the testimony of Porphyry is a strong evidence of the fact that Daniel was inspired; for no one will maintain that man, by any natural sagacity, could describe events before they occur with the exactness of detail and the minute accuracy which is found in this part of Daniel.
But is not what is here said of Daniel as to the accuracy and minuteness of detail true also, in the main, of other prophecies in the Old Testament? Are there not many prophecies that are as accurate, and in some respects as minute, as they would have been if they were written after the events referred to? Is not this true of the predictions respecting the destruction of Tyre and of Babylon, and carrying away of the Jews into captivity? Is not Cyrus expressly mentioned by Isaiah, and is not the work which he would perform in the conquest of Babylon drawn out in exact detail? (See Isaiah 45:1, seq.) So in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:1, Jeremiah 51:1), there is a prophetic account of the destruction of Babylon, as minute in many respects as the predictions of Daniel, and as exact and minute as it would have been if written after the events had occurred, and the author had been making a historical record instead of uttering a prediction. But on this point I must content myself with referring to the argument of Hengstenberg, Authentie des Daniel, pp. 173-195. It may be added, however, that it is on this accuracy of detail in Daniel that we ground one of the strong arguments for his inspiration. It will be admitted on all hands - it cannot be denied - that no one could foresee those events, and describe them with such accuracy of detail, by any natural sagacity; but no one who believes in the fact of inspiration at all, can doubt that it would be as easy for the Divine Spirit to present future events in this accuracy of detail as in a more general manner. At all events, this accuracy and minuteness of detail removes the prophecies from the region of conjecture, and is an answer to the usual objections that they are obscure and ambiguous. No one can pretend this of the writings of Daniel; and if it can be shown that the book was written before the events occurred, the conclusion cannot be avoided that the author was inspired.
III. A third objection to the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Daniel is thus stated by De Wette (Section 255, b. 3, p. 385): “Grounds of objection lie further in the repeated mention of himself in so honourable a manner (Daniel 1:17, Daniel 1:19; Daniel 5:11; Daniel 6:4; Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:11, et al.)”
This objection cannot be regarded as having any great degree of force, or as contributing much to set aside the direct evidence of the authority of the book: - for (a) it is possible that all these honours were conferred on him. This is, in itself, no more incredible or remarkable than that Joseph should have reached the honours in Egypt, which are attributed to him in Genesis; and no one can show that if the account had been written by another, it would have been unworthy of belief. (b) If it were a fact that he was thus honoured, it was not improper to state it. If Daniel was the historian of those times, and kept the records of the events of his own life, and actually obtained those honours, there was no impropriety in his making a record of those things. He has done no more than what Caesar did in the mention of himself, his plans, his conquests, his triumphs. In the record of Daniel there is no unseemly parading of his wisdom, or the honours conferred on him; there is no praise for the mere sake of praise; there is no language of panegyric on account of his eminent piety. The account is a mere record of facts as they are said to have occurred - that Daniel was successful in his early studies, and his preparation for the examination through which he and his companions were to pass (ch. 1); that on more than one occasion he succeeded in interpreting a dream or vision which no one of the Chaldeans could do; that in consequence of this he was raised to an exalted rank; that he was enabled to maintain his integrity in the midst of extraordinary temptations; and that he was favoured with the Divine protection when in extraordinary danger. I presume that no one who has read the book of Daniel with an unprejudiced mind ever received an impression that there was any want of modesty in Daniel in these records, or that there was any unseemly or unnecessary parading of his own virtues and honours before the world.
IV. A fourth objection which has been urged against the genuineness of Daniel is derived from the language in which it is written. This objection, as stated by De Wette (Section 935, b. 4, p. 385), is founded on “the corrupt Hebrew and Chaldee, and the intermingling of Greek words in the composition.” The objection is urged more at length in Bertholdt (p. 24, seq.), and by Bleek, Kirms, and others. The objection, as derived from the language of the book, is properly divided into three parts: - (a) that it is written in Hebrew and Chaldee; (b) that in each part of it there is a want of purity of style, indicating a later age than the time of the captivity; and (c) that there is an intermingling of Greek words, such as it cannot be presumed that one who wrote in the time of the exile, and in Babylon, would have employed, and such as were probably introduced into common use only by a later intercourse with the Greeks, and particularly by the Macedonian conquest.
(a) As to the first of these, little stress can be laid on it, and indeed it is rather an argument for the genuineness of the work than against it. It is well known that from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh chapter, the work is written in the Chaldee language, while the remainder is pure Hebrew. The only way in which this fact could be regarded as an objection to the genuineness of the book, would be that it is an indication that it is the production of two different authors. But this would be an objection only on the supposition that the author could write and speak only one language, or that, supposing he was acquainted with two, there were no circumstances which could account for the use of both. But neither of these suppositions applies here. There is every reason to believe that Daniel was acquainted with both the Hebrew and the Chaldee; and there is no improbability in the supposition that he wrote in both with equal ease. And, on the other hand, it may be remarked, that the very circumstance here referred to is a confirmation of the genuineness of the book; for (1.) it accords with all that is known of Daniel. He was a youth when he left his native country, and there is every probability that he familiar with the Hebrew in early life, and that he would never forget it, though it might be true that he would ordinarily use the language of Chaldea. He was still familiar with the Hebrew books, and it is to be presumed that the language used by the Hebrews in exile was their native tongue. In all his intercourse with his own countrymen, therefore, it is every way probable that he would use his native language, and would thus through life retain his knowledge of it. (2.) It is equally clear that he was familiar with the Chaldee language. He was early, in connection with three other Hebrew youths (Daniel 1:3, Daniel 1:4), placed under the best instruction in Babylon, for the express purpose of acquiring, with other branches of learning, a knowledge of the “tongue of the Chaldeans;” and he speedily made such acquisitions as to pass with honour the examination appointed before he was admitted to public employment (Daniel 1:18-20). He was, moreover, employed at court during a considerable part of his long life, and no one, therefore, can doubt that he was entirely familiar with the language used in Babylon, and that he could compose in it with ease. (3.) It is evident that the work must, if it is the production of one author, have been composed by some person who was, in this respect, in the circumstances of Daniel; that is, by one who was familiar with both the languages: and the circumstances bear on their face evidence that the work was written by one in the condition in which Daniel was known to be; that is, one who had been early trained in the Hebrew and who had lived in Chaldea. No native-born Hebrew who had not lived in Chaldea would be likely to be so well acquainted with the two languages that he could use either with equal facility; and it may be presumed that no native-born Chaldean could evince so intimate an acquaintance with the Hebrew. The direct evidence that it is the production of one author will be adduced in another part of this Introduction. (4.) It is by no means probable that one who lived so late as the time of Antiochus Epiphanes could have written the book as it is written; that is, that he would have been so familiar with the two languages, Hebrew and Chaldee, that he could use them with equal ease. It is an uncommon thing for a man to write in two different languages in the same work, and he never does it without some special design - a design for which there would not be likely to be occasion if one were writing in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. It was perfectly natural that Daniel should write in this manner, and perfectly unnatural that any one should do it in a later age, and in different circumstances. If the book had been forged by a Hebrew in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, there is every reason to believe that he would have been careful to write it in as pure Hebrew as possible, for that was the language in which the canonical books were written, and if he had endeavoured to gain credit for the book as one of Divine authority, he would not have intermingled so much of a foreign language. If he were a Chaldean, and could write Hebrew at all, as it is certain that the author of this book could, then, for the reason just given, he would have been careful to write the whole book in as pure Hebrew as possible, and would not have jeoparded credit by so large an infusion of a foreign tongue. (5.) This reasoning is conclusive, unless it be supposed that the author meant to represent it as a composition of some Hebrew in the time of the exile, and that in order to give it the greater verisimilitude he adopted this device - to make it appear as if written by one who was a native Hebrew, but who had become familiar with a foreign language. But this device would be too refined to be likely to occur, and, for the reasons given above, would be difficult of execution if it should occur. Even in such a case, the writer would be much more likely to represent its author as writing in the sacred language of the prophets, in order to procure for himself the credit of employing the language used in all the Divine communications to men. The language in which the book is written, therefore, is just such as it would be on the supposition that it is genuine, and just such as it would not be on the supposition that it is a forgery of a later age.
(b) As to the statement that the language is corrupt Hebrew and Chaldee - in der Verderbten sowohl Hebräischen als Chaldäishen Sprache (De Wette) - it may be remarked that this position has never been satisfactorily made out, nor has it been shown that it is not such as might be employed, or would be employed, by one who resided in Babylon in the time of the exile. That the language would not be the purest kind of Hebrew, or the purest Chaldee, might be possible, in the circumstances of the case; but it could be shown that it was not such as might be employed there, in case there are words and forms of speech which did not come into use until a later period of the world. This has not been shown. It is true that there are Persian words; But this is not unnatural in the circumstances of the case - bordering as Chaldea did on Persia, and during a part of the time referred to in the book, being actually subject to Persia. It is true that there are Greek words; but under the next specification I shall endeavor to show that this does not militate against the supposition that the book may have been written in Babylon in the time of the exile. It is true that there are words and forms of speech which were not in use in the earlier periods of Hebrew literature, but which became common in the later periods of their literature; but this does not prove that they may not have been in use as early as the exile. A specimen of the words referred to - indeed all on which the argument is founded - may be seen in De Wette, p. 385, note (e ). They are few in number, and in respect to none of these can it be proved that they were not in existence in the time Daniel. They are of Persian, of Syriac, or of Chaldee origin, and are such words as would be likely to come into use in the circumstances of the case. In regard to this objection it may be added, that it has been abandoned by some of the objectors to the genuineness of the book of Daniel themselves. Bleek is candid enough to give it up entirely. He says: “We have, in general, too few remains of the different centuries after the exile to draw any conclusions as to the gradual depreciation of the language, and to determine with any certainty to what particular period any writer belongs.” - (Zeitschr. p. 213). “Daniel,” says Prof. Stuart, “in the judgment of Gesenius (Geschich. Heb. Sprach. p. 35), has decidedly a purer diction than Ezekiel; in which opinion,” says he, “as far as I am able to judge, after much time spent upon the book, and examining minutely every word and. phrase in it many times over, I should entirely coincide.” - (Com. p. 465).
(c) A more material objection is derived from the use of Greek words in the composition of the book. That there are such words is undeniable, though they are by no means numerous. Bertholdt (pp. 24,25) has enumerated ten such words; De Wette has referred to four (p. 386). The words enumerated by Bertholdt are פרתמים - προτιμοι ; פתגם - φθεγμα ; כרוזא - κηρυξ ; כרז - κηρυσσειν ; קיתרס - κιθαρις ; סבכא - σαμβυκη ; סומפניא - συμφωνια ; פסנטר - ψαλτηριον ; פטיש - πετασος ; נכזכה - νομισμα .
In regard to this objection, it may be remarked, in general, that it does not assert that the structure of the book of Daniel is fashioned after the Greek manner, or that the Greek style pervades it; it asserts only that a few Greek words have been incorporated into the book. The question then is, whether even all these words are of Greek origin; and whether, if they are, or if only a part of them are, their use in the book can be accounted for on the supposition that it was written in the time of the captivity, or rather, whether their occurrence in the book is a proof that the book could not have been written at that time.
The first point is the question, whether these words are of undoubted Greek origin; and this question will require us to examine them in detail.
(1.) The first word specified is פרתמים parethemı̂ymrendered princes (Daniel 1:3), which it is alleged is the same as the Greek προτιμοι protimoi The word used by Daniel occurs only in two other places in the Old Testament (Esther 1:3, Esther 6:9), where it is rendered nobles, and most noble; and it is obvious to remark, that the fact that, it is found in Esther might be urged in proof that the book of Daniel was written at the time in which it is commonly believed to have been, since the antiquity and genuineness of the book of Esther is not called in question. But apart from this, there is no evidence that the word is of Greek origin. Gesenius, who may be considered as impartial authority on the subject, says, “it is of Persian origin, 1-9. Pehlvi, pardom, the first, see Anquetil du perron Zendavesta, ii. p. 465. Comp. Sanser. prathama the first. In the Zend dialect the form is peoerim. Comp. Sanser. pura prius, antea, purâna, antiquus. From the former comes the Greek prw
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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