Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Ancient of Days

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is a phrase used in Daniel 7:1 to describe the everlasting God. Ancient of days literally means “one advanced in (of) days” and may possibly mean “one who forwards time or rules over it.”

Several biblical passages are related in terms and ideas with Daniel 7:1 ( Genesis 24:1; Job 36:26; Psalm 50:1-6; Psalm 55:19; 1 Kings 22:19-20; Isaiah 26:1-27:1; Isaiah 44:6; Ezekiel 1:1; Joel 3:2 ). It is impossible to determine the origin or original meaning of this term. However, in ancient Ugaritic literature, the god El is designated as “the father of years.”

Coupled with the figures of speech in the context of Daniel 7:1 , Ancient of days suggests age, antiquity, dignity, endurance, judgment, and wisdom. It clearly describes Yahweh, the God of Israel.

Disliking the anthropomorphic picture of God in Daniel 7:1 , Jephet, an 11th century Qaraite Jew, identified the Ancient of days as an angel like other angels in the Book of Daniel. In fact, Ibn Ezra singled out the archangel Michael as the Ancient of days. But these interpretations do not take into account the fluidity with which the Hebrew mind shifts figures from one context to another. Only Yahweh, the God of Israel, could fulfill the figures which are combined within this passage.

J. J. Owens

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Ancient of Days'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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