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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Daniel, Book of
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
The Book of Daniel is 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 ad) In the Hebrew Bible, however, it is placed in the third division of the Canon, called the
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; Dan 2 through 6 describe some marvelous events in the history of Daniel and his three companions in their relations with the rulers of Babylon; and chapters 7 through 12 narrate some visions of Daniel concerning the great world-empires, especially in relation to the kingdom of God.
According to the languages in which the book is written, it may be divided into the Aramaic portion, extending from Daniel 2:4 to the end of chapter 7, and a Hebrew portion embracing the rest of the book.
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
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 sémitiques , première 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 Dan 7, where the narrative passes over from the 3rd to the 1st person. Köhler follows Newton, claiming, however, that the visions were written by the Daniel of the exile, but that the first 6 chapters were composed by a later writer who also redacted the whole work. Von Orelli holds that certain prophecies of Daniel were enlarged and interpolated by a Jew living in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, in order to show his contemporaries the bearing of the predictions of the book upon those times of oppression. Zöckler and Lange hold to the unity of the book in general; but the former thought that Dan 11:5-45 is an interpolation; and the latter, that 10:1 through 11:44 and Daniel 12:5-13 have been inserted in the original work. Meinhold holds that the Aramaic portions existed as early as the times of Alexander the Great - a view to which Strack also inclines. Eichhorn held that the book consisted of ten different original sections, which are bound together merely by the circumstance that they are all concerned with Daniel and his three friends. Finally, De Lagarde, believing that the fourth kingdom was the Roman, held that Dan 7 was written about 69 ad. (For the best discussion of the controversies about the unity of Daniel, see Eichhorn, Einleitung , sections 612-19, and Buhl in See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche , IV, 449-51.)
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 Old Testament, 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 Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles 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 Acts of the Apostles, prove that 1 Macc or Luke's Acts 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 New Testament, 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
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: (1) chronological, (2) geographical, and (3) various.
(1) Chronological Objections
The first chronological objection is derived from Daniel 1:1 , where it is said that Nebuchadnezzar made an expedition against Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah seems to imply that the expedition was made in the 4th year of that king. As Daniel was writing primarily for the Jews of Babylon, he would naturally use the system of dating that was employed there; and this system differed in its method of denoting the 1st year of a reign from that used by the Egyptians and by the Jews of Jerusalem for whom Jeremiah wrote.
The second objection is derived from the fact that Daniel is said (Daniel 1:21 ) to have lived unto the 1st year of Cyrus the king, whereas in Daniel 10:1 he is said to have seen a vision in the 3rd year of Cyrus, king of Persia. These statements are easily reconciled by supposing that in the former case it is the 1st year of Cyrus as king of Babylon, and in the second, the 3rd year of Cyrus as king of Persia.
The third chronological objection is based on Daniel 6:28 , where it is said that Daniel prospered in the kingdom of Darius and in the kingdom of Cyrus the Persian. This statement is harmonized with the facts revealed by the monuments and with the statements of the book itself by supposing that Darius reigned synchronously with Cyrus, but as sub-king under him.
The fourth objection is based on Daniel 8:1 , where Daniel is said to have seen a vision in the third year of Belshazzar the king. If we suppose that Belshazzar was king of the Chaldeans while his father was king of Babylon, just as Cambyses was king of Babylon while his father, Cyrus, was king of the lands, or as Nabonidus
(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 Daniel 7:2 as subject to Babylon, whereas it is supposed by some to have been at that time subject to Media. Here we can safely rest upon the opinion of Winckler, that at the division of the Assyrian dominions among the allied Medes and Babylonians, Elam became subject to Babylon rather than to Media. If, however, this opinion could be shown not to be true, we must remember that Daniel is said to have been at Shushan in a vision.
The second geographical objection is based on the supposition that Nebuchadnezzar would not have gone against Jerusalem, leaving an Egyptian garrison at Carchemish in his rear, Thus endangering his line of communication and a possible retreat to Babylon. This objection has no weight, now that the position of Carchemish has been shown to be, not at Ciressium, as formerly conjectured, but at Jirabis, 150 miles farther up the Euphrates. Carchemish would have cut off a retreat to Nineveh, but was far removed from the direct line of communication with Babylon.
The third geographical objection is derived from the statement that Darius placed 120 satraps in, or over, all his kingdom. The objection rests upon a false conception of the meaning of satrap and of the extent of a satrapy, there being no reason why a sub-king under Darius may not have had as many satraps under him as Sargon of Assyria had governors and deputies under him; and the latter king mentions 117 peoples and countries over which he appointed his deputies to rule in his place.
(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 Kings Darius the Mede and 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 Song 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 preëminent 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.
As to the doctrine of the resurrection, it is generally admitted that Daniel adds some new and distinct features to that which is taught in the other canonical books of the Old Testament. But it will be noted that he does not dwell upon this doctrine, since he mentions it only in Daniel 12:2 . The materials for his doctrine are to be found in Isaiah 26:14 , Isaiah 26:21 and Isaiah 66:24; Ezekiel 37:1-14 , and in Job 14:12; Job 19:25; Hosea 6:2; 1 Ki 17; 2 Ki 4, and 2 Kings 8:1-5 , as well as in the use of the words for sleep and awakening from sleep, or from the dust, for everlasting life or everlasting contempt in Isaiah 26:19; Psalm 76:6; Psalm 13:3; Psalm 127:2; Deuteronomy 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; Job 7:21 , and Jeremiah 20:11; Jeremiah 23:40 . The essential ideas and phraseology of Daniel's teachings are found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The first two parts of the books of Enoch and 2 Maccabees make much of the resurrection; but on the other hand, Ecclesiastes seems to believe not even in the immortality of the soul, and Wisdom and 1 Maccabees do not mention a resurrection of the body.
That the post-exilic prophets do not mention a resurrection does not prove that they knew nothing about Daniel any more than it proves that they knew nothing about Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
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, Zöckler, 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 Sir Robert Anderson, 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 Song of the three Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. These additions have all been rejected from the Canon by the Protestant churches because they are not contained in the Hebrew Canon. In the Church of England they are "read for example of life and instruction of manners." The Song of three Children was "ordered in the rubric of the first Prayer Book of Edward
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 Schürer, History of the Jewish People .
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Daniel, Book of'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/d/daniel-book-of.html. 1915.