Daniel, a book in the Old Testament of the Bible, is listed with the Major Prophets by Christians and with the Writings (Ketuvim) by the Jews. It comprises six stories of the trials of Daniel and his companions while they served at the court of Babylon, as well as four visions of the end of the world. The book takes its name, not from the author, who is actually unknown, but from its hero, a 6th century Jew. Internal evidence indicates that the book was written during the Maccabean wars (167 - 164 BC).
Daniel is a form of Apocalyptic Literature rather than prophecy; it is cast in symbolic imagery about the end of time and is attributed to an earlier authority. The book was intended to encourage Jews in the face of religious persecution by the Hellenistic kingdom of the Seleucids and their Jewish sympathizers. Daniel contains the only certain Old Testament reference to bodily Resurrection, presents a form of the Son of Man tradition influential in the Gospel traditions about Jesus Christ, and was a primary source for the visions of the New Testament Book of Revelation.
|BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects|
Chapters 2:4b-7:28 were composed in Aramaic. The rest was in Hebrew.
Daniel, God is my judge, or judge of God.
There he was obliged to enter into the service of the king of Babylon, and in accordance with the custom of the age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., "prince of Bel," or "Bel protect the king!" His residence in Babylon was very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified with a mass of shapeless mounds called the Kasr, on the right bank of the river. His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Dan. 1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. He was distinguished during this period for his piety and his stict observance of the Mosaic law (1:8-16), and gained the confidence and esteem of those who were over him. His habit of attention gained during his education in Jerusalem enabled him soon to master the wisdom and learning of the Chaldeans, and even to excel his compeers. At the close of his three years of discipline and training in the royal schools, Daniel was distinguished for his proficiency in the "wisdom" of his day, and was brought out into public life.
He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (1:17; 2:14), and rose to the rank of governor of the province of Babylon, and became "chief of the governors" (Chald. Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon. He made known and also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream; and many years afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm and consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious feast, he was called in at the instance of the queen-mother (perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret the mysterious handwriting on the wall. He was rewarded with a purple robe and elevation to the rank of "third ruler." The place of "second ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated with his father, Nabonidus, on the throne (5:16).
Daniel interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain." After the taking of Babylon, Cyrus, who was now master of all Asia from India to the Dardanelles, placed Darius (q.v.), a Median prince, on the throne, during the two years of whose reign Daniel held the office of first of the "three presidents" of the empire, and was thus practically at the head of affairs, no doubt interesting himself in the prospects of the captive Jews (Dan. 9), whom he had at last the happiness of seeing restored to their own land, although he did not return with them, but remained still in Babylon. His fidelity to God exposed him to persecution, and he was cast into a den of lions, but was miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (6:26).
He "prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian," whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of the decree which put an end to the Captivity (B.C. 536). He had a series of prophetic visions vouchsafed to him which opened up the prospect of a glorious future for the people of God, and must have imparted peace and gladness to his spirit in his old age as he waited on at his post till the "end of the days." The time and circumstances of his death are not recorded. He probably died at Susa, about eighty-five years of age. Ezekiel, with whom he was contemporary, mentions him as a pattern of righteousness (14:14, 20) and wisdom (28:3).)
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
The Book of Daniel is ranked by the Jews in that division of their Bible called the Hagiographa (Heb. Khethubim). (See Bible.) It consists of two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first six chapters, is chiefly historical; and the second part, consisting of the remaining six chapters, is chiefly prophetical. The historical part of the book treats of the period of the Captivity. Daniel is "the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar] away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia'" (2 Chr. 36:20).
The prophetical part consists of three visions and one lengthened prophetical communication. The genuineness of this book has been much disputed, but the arguments in its favour fully establish its claims. (1.) We have the testimony of Christ (Matt. 24:15; 25:31; 26:64) and his apostles (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Thess. 2:3) for its authority; and (2) the important testimony of Ezekiel (14:14, 20; 28:3). (3.) The character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony with the times and circumstances in which the author lived. (4.) The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, just such as might be expected. Certain portions (Dan. 2:4; 7) are written in the Chaldee language; and the portions written in Hebrew are in a style and form having a close affinity with the later books of the Old Testament, especially with that of Ezra. The writer is familiar both with the Hebrew and the Chaldee, passing from the one to the other just as his subject required. This is in strict accordance with the position of the author and of the people for whom his book was written. That Daniel is the writer of this book is also testified to in the book itself (7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1, 2; 12:4, 5).
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
"It is remarkable that the heraldic insignia of the Gentile nations are all beasts or birds of prey." The "sea," in Scripture, stands for the peoples of the earth (Isa. 17:5, Rev. 17:15). The "great sea" Daniel saw was the Mediterranean, the center of the prophetic earth. That is, where not otherwise indicated, the nations with which prophecy has to do chiefly, are those that border on that sea, or whose political affiliation are closely related to them.
The four wings denote the swiftness with which it carried its victories in every direction, and the four heads its ultimate partition into as many parts of the death of its great head, Alexander. The dreadful and terrible beast, too dreadful and terrible for a name (v. 7) corresponds to the legs of iron, and is equivalent to the Roman empire. Its ten horns, like the ten toes in the other case, speak of the ten kingdoms into which it shall be divided at the end of this age; while the little horn (v. 8) "who subdues three of the ten kings so completely that the identity of their kingdoms is lost," is the important additional feature of this vision over that of Nebuchadnezzar. We will again refer to this.
Questions 1. To whom is this vision revealed, and at what period in his life? 2. How does it correspond with Nebuchadnezzar's dream? 3. How does it differ in its point of view? 4. What does the "sea" symbolize in the Bible? 5. What particular sea is now in mind, and what gives it its great importance prophetically? 6. Which was the stronger part of the second empire? 7. What is the interpretation of verse 12? 8. What is the meaning of "a time, and times, and the dividing of time?"
"The prince of the host" (v. 11) is doubtless the Lord Himself, from whom the daily sacrifice was taken away, and whose sanctuary was polluted. Indeed, when Antiochus conquered Jerusalem he caused a sow to be sacrificed on the altar, and its broth sprinkled over the entire temple. He changed the feast of tabernacles into the feast of Bacchus, and greatly corrupted the Jewish youth who were spared from the sword, one hundred thousand of whom were massacred.
The time during which this continued is revealed by a conversation between two angels which Daniel in vision hears (vv. 13, 14). The 2,300 days is sometimes identified by going back from the time of Judas Maccabees' victory, or rather the date when he cleansed the sanctuary from its abomination, about December 25, 165 B. C., to 171 B. C., the date of the interference of Antiochus. This Antiochus is a forerunner, or an approximate fulfilment of that "little horn" spoken of in the preceding vision, and again in the closing part of the present one.
What language in verse 23 shows that he appears at the end of the age? How are his spirit and character described in the same verse? How does the next verse suggest superhuman agency in his case? And his animus towards Israel? Express the deceitfulness indicated in verse 25, in your own words. What language in this verse shows his opposition to the Messiah personally? How is his destruction expressed? (Compare 2 Thess. 2:8.) It may be objected that this being can not be the same as the "little horn" of the preceding vision, because that is seen to come up out of the ten horns; in other words, out of the Roman Empire or the last form of Gentile dominion on the earth, while this comes up out of the four, or the Grecian Empire, which is next to the last.
But a simple answer is that he may come up out of that part of the Roman Empire which was originally the Grecian; in other words, that his rise may be expected in that quarter of the world and from such antecedents. Nevertheless some think the "little horn" of this chapter, who shall arise at the end, is a different person from the one in chapter 7. They hold that he of chapter 7 will be the head of the revived Roman Empire, but that he of chapter 8 is another king of the north, who is to be the foe of Israel, and at the same time the enemy of the head of the revived Roman Empire. This may be true, and we would not dogmatize in a matter of such uncertainty, but we think the view suggested here of the identify of the two is the simpler and more practical one to hold awaiting light.
Questions 1. How far is the scope of this vision identical with the preceding? 2. Name the geographic divisions of the Grecian Empire and their respective rulers. 3. Historically, who is meant by the "little horn"? 4. Give as much as you can of the history of Antiochus Epiphanes. 5. Of whom is he a type or forerunner? 6. What is meant by "the time of the end"? 7. What objection might be raised as to the identity of the "little horn" in chapter 7 with that of chapter 8? 8. How might it be met?
This is evident from the nature of the six things mentioned: 1. To finish the transgression. 2. To make an end of sins. 3. To make reconciliation for iniquity. 4. To bring in everlasting righteousness. 5. To seal up the vision and prophecy. 6. To anoint the Most Holy.
The first three of the above refer to a time still future, for Israel's transgression is not yet finished, nor her sins ended, nor her iniquity covered. The time, therefore, is that spoken of by all the prophets, and especially named in Zechariah 13:1 and Romans 11:26-27. This is the time, moreover, when "everlasting righteousness" shall be brought in, otherwise the blessings of the millennial age. The vision and prophecy will be sealed then, in the sense that their final accomplishment in the history of God's earthly people shall have taken place. The most holy place will be anointed then in that new temple to be erected, as we saw in Ezekiel.
The Division of the Sevens "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks," verse 25. This is the first of three divisions in this period of 490 years, and covers forty-nine years, seven weeks of years being equal to that number. This division begins to be counted "from the going forth of the commandment to build Jerusalem," which, it is commonly thought, means the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, who gave that authority to Nehemiah, in the month Nisan (see Neh. 2). It is proved historically that this was 445 B. C.
During this period of forty-nine years the street and wall were built again "even in troublous times." (See S.P. Tregelles on Daniel.) But to this period of seven weeks, or forty-nine years, is added another of three-score and two weeks, or 434 years, a total of 483 years, "unto the Messiah the Prince," i.e., until "Messiah be cut off," verse 26. Observe that this period extends not merely to the birth but to the death of Christ, when He is "cut off, but not for Himself." It is now admitted that our Lord was crucified April A. D. 32, and those competent in such calculations show that this was precisely 483 years of 360 days each, allowing for leap years, changes in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and matters of that sort.
That the Messiah was cut off, "but not for Himself," has been translated, "and there shall be nothing for Him," which probably means that He did not then receive the Messianic Kingdom. [Anstey maintains that the point of departure for the 70 weeks is the first year of Cyrus. However the outcome is not different so far as the fulfilment of the prophecy is concerned, as the calculation in the other case is based, in his judgment, on an error of 82 years in the Ptolemaic chronology.] "And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary," refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans under Titus, A.D.70.
They, i.e., the Romans, are "the people of the prince that shall come," but this "prince" himself is identical, not with the Messiah, but with the little horn of Daniel 7, the terrible despot who will be at the head of the restored empire at the end of this age. The End Period We now come to the last of the seventy sevens, or the closing seven years of this age. In other words, there is a long ellipsis between the close of the sixty-ninth and the beginning of the seventieth week, indeed, the whole of the Christian age, of which more will be said later.
The events of the seventieth week begin with the words "and the end thereof shall be with a flood," which should be, as in the Revised Version, "his" end, not "the" end, for the allusion is still to the "prince that shall come," i.e., the Antichrist. The word "flood" also might be rendered "overflowing," which, to quote Tregelles, is doubtless the same overflowing as in Isaiah 10:22 and as that of the final crisis of Israel's history at the end of the age. The interval until this time will be characterized by war and desolation (compare Matt. 24:3-8). "And he," i.e., "the prince that shall come," "shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." The "many" refers to the people of Israel then to be in their own land, but still in an unconverted state as far as the acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah is concerned.
It will be to the mutual interest of the "little horn," i. e., the Antichrist, and Israel to enter into this covenant for seven years. There will be a faithful remnant, however, who will not bow the knee to him, the covenant will be made with "many" but not all (compare Isa. 28:15-18). He will break this covenant after three and one-half years and "cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease," no longer permitting them to worship God in their newly-erected temple. Now begins their great tribulation, "a time and times and the division of time" named in chapter 8:25 (compare Rev. 13:5, 11-17). The latter part of this verse has been translated thus: "And upon the wing (or pinnacle) of abominations (shall be) that which causeth desolation, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolator."
The "abominations" are doubtless idols that shall be set up by this wicked prince to be worshipped in the temple, when the true God has been set aside. Then the "consummation" comes and with it the judgment and desolation of the "desolator."
Questions 1. With whose history are we dealing in this lesson? 2. What great feature marks the prayers of God's people in the Bible? 3. What are some of the suggestions growing out of Gabriel's visit? 4. What period of time is covered by the "seventy weeks"? 5. To what place and people does this period apply? 6. Name the six important things which will be accomplished in that people at its close. 7. When does this period begin and end? 8. Divide it into its three parts. 9. What event is identified with the first part? 10. With what event does part two close? 11. Explain the allusion to "the prince that shall come." 12. What age intervenes between the last two parts? 13. Tell what you know about the "covenant" of verse 27.
But precisely the same period elapsed between the call of Abram and the crucifixion of Christ. The call of Abram, therefore, is the center date between creation and the cross, a supposition harmonizing perfectly with the importance of that event in the history of redemption.
When God Does Not Count Time Prophetically speaking, God does not count time with reference to Israel while she is in captivity, or dispersion, or dominated by any other nation. In evidence of this, note that in 1 Kings 6:1 mention is made of the fourth year of Solomon as being 480 years after the Exodus. But we know from Numbers 14:33 that they were forty years in the wilderness; then, according to the Book of Joshua, they were thirty-seven years in conquering Canaan and up until the period of the Judges; Acts 13:20 shows that they were 450 years under the Judges; then they were forty years under Saul (Acts 13:21), and forty years under David (2 Sam. 5:4, 5). These periods foot up 607 years, to which should be added the four years of Solomon referred to, making a total of 611 years.
How shall we explain this discrepancy, of which infidels and others have made so much? The answer has been stated above, that God does not count time prophetically while Israel is in captivity. For example, seven captivities are mentioned in the Book of Judges, one of eight years (3:8); eighteen years (3:14); twenty years (4:3); seven years (6:1); eighteen years (10:8); forty years (13:1), and twenty years (1 Sam. 7:2), making a total of precisely 131 years.
The above is a sufficient illustration of the principle. We close this lesson with a rough diagram of the 490 years covered by Daniel 9:24-27, which may aid in fastening that important prediction in the memory: Seventy-sevens, 490 years From the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the end of this age. Seven weeks, or forty-nine years. The street and wall of Jerusalem built. Sixty-two weeks, or 434 years. At the close of this period the Messiah is cut off and has nothing. A. D. 32. The Uncounted Period. 1. Jerusalem destroyed, A. D. 70. 2. Jews dispersed. 3. Jerusalem trodden down. 4. The church called out. 5. Apostasy of Christendom. 6. Jews in part return to Jerusalem in unbelief. 7. Coming of Christ for the Church. One week, seven years.
This seems probable, because what follows traverses so much of the ground of chapter 8. Verses 5-9 bear so strong a resemblance to the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:12-17 as to suggest that it also is a Christophany, or manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity. But this does not carry with it that it is He who touches and speaks to the prophet in the verses succeeding. Mysteries of Satan's Kingdom Verses 10-14 are full of mystery, yet note first, the appreciation of Daniel in the heavenly courts (11); and then the testimony to the potency of prayer (12). But who is "the prince of the Kingdom of Persia" (13)?
Doubtless a spirit of eminence in the kingdom of darkness, to whose control Satan has committed the earthly affairs of Persia (compare Eph. 4:12). This interpretation seems confirmed by the reference to Michael, elsewhere known as the archangel, and who in the kingdom of light is the special guardian of Israel (10:21, 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7). What mighty power must Satan possess as judged by this verse, but what a relief to know that there is One stronger than he! Note in the conclusion of this section that the revelation now to be given chiefly concerns what we identify as the end period, the last seven years (14).
Two of these kingdoms of the four now come into prominence, Egypt and Syria (5, 6), as those most closely related to Israel in their subsequent history. The "king's daughter" (6) was Bernice, offspring of Ptolemy II., who married Antiochus Theous of Syria, but was subsequently poisoned by him. Her brother is referred to in verse 7-9, Ptolemy Energetes of Egypt. Verse 9 is a mistranslation, and refers to the king of the north (R. V.), whose sons (10) were nevertheless overcome by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy Philopater (11), who became weakened at length through licentious living (12).
We have now reached the period of about 200 B. C., when Syria, after many vicissitudes, turns the tide of battle in her favor under the leadership of one known as Antiochus the Great. He entered the Holy Land in the course of his campaign (13-16), treating it considerately, however, as the Jews had been his allies. The last part of verse 16 is an incorrect rendering and should be compared with the Revised Version. Later he made another effort to get possession of Egypt, the working out of his plan including a treaty engagement, and the espousal of his daughter, Cleopatra, to the Egyptian king, but the scheme did not succeed (17). Why the Cleopatra in this case is called "the daughter of the women" is not clear, but some suppose it to be because she was but a child and under the tutelage of both her mother and grandmother.
Verses 18 and 19 speak of a contest with the Romans into which he unsuccessfully entered, and of his subsequent death. Antiochus Epiphanes The brief reign of Seleucus Philopater B. C. 187-176 is depicted in verse 20, and then we come upon Antiochus Epiphanes, whose story continues through verse 35. "Vile" is "contemptible" in the Revised Version. This man was a younger son of Antiochus the Great, to whom the kingdom did not by right belong, but who stole the hearts of the people as Absalom did from David. He is the "little horn" of chapter 8, and as we have seen, forerunner of the greater "little horn" of the end period.
Of his atrocities against Israel and the holy city and temple we read in the books of the Maccabees. "The ships of Chittim" (30) are a Roman fleet whose power put an end to his victories in Egypt. Returning north, angry in his defeat, he committed those base things against Judea of which mention has been made and which are foretold again in verses 30-35. Apostate Jews sympathized with and aided him, as their successors will do in the case of his successor at the end period; but there were faithful ones under the lead of the Maccabees who valiantly resisted him (32). It was a period of testing for Israel, out of whose fires they came forth much purified.
Questions 1. When was this prophecy revealed to Daniel? 2. How was he prepared for it? 3. What illustration of "the law of recurrence" is seen in this lesson? 4. Who presumably is the "man" referred to in verse 5? 5. Who is meant by "the prince of Persia"? 6. What relation does Michael bear to Israel? 7. Name the four kings of Persia referred to in verse 2. 8. What does this lesson reveal about Antiochus Epiphanes?
Some identify him with the "little horn" of chapter 7 and the "little horn" of chapter 8, whom Antiochus Epiphanes typifies. This, indeed, may be true, i.e., the restored head of the Roman Empire in that day, and the Antichrist, may be one and the same individual, but there are others who think that they may be two, of this we cannot now be certain.
Questions 1. What period of time is represented by the division between verses 35 and 36? 2. How might the "king" of verse 36 be identified? 3. How is he described? 4. Have you read Revelation 13? 5. Have you read Matthew 24? 6. Do you recall the subject of Ezekiel 37? 7. Where is found the verse "He that winneth souls is wise?" 8. Quote from memory the last verse of Daniel.
In the Hebrew Bible, and in most recent Protestant versions, the Book of Daniel is limited to its proto-canonical portions. In the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and many other ancient and modern translations of the Bible, it comprises both its proto- and its deutero-canonical parts, both of which have an equal right to be considered as inspired, and to be included in a treatment of the Book of Daniel. As in the Vulgate nearly all the deutero-canonical portions of that prophetical writing form a kind of appendix to its proto-canonical contents in the Hebrew text. This article will deal first with the Book of Daniel as it is found in the Hebrew Bible, and next, with its deutero-canonical portions.
The Book of Daniel, as it now stands in the ordinary Hebrew Bibles, is generally divided into two main parts. The first includes a series of narratives which are told in the third person (chaps. i-vi), and the second, a series of visions which are described in the first person (chaps. vii-xii). The opening chapter of the first series may be considered as a preface to the whole work. It introduces to the reader the Hebrew heroes of the book, Daniel and his three fellow-captives, Ananias, Misael, and Azarias, and records the manner in which these noble youths obtained a high rank in Nebuchadnezzer's service, although they had refused to be defiled by eating of the royal food. The second chapter relates a disquieting dream of the king which Daniel alone was able accurately to set forth and interpret. Nebuchadnezzer's dream was that of a great statue made up of various materials and broken in pieces by a small stone which became a mountain and filled the whole earth. Daniel's interpretation was to the effect that the several parts of the statue with their various materials symbolized as many monarchies with their respective power, while the stone which destroyed them and grew into a great mountain prefigured a universal and everlasting kingdom which would break in pieces all the other kingdoms, and which, of course, is no other than that of the Messiah.
The next section (iii, 1-30, Vulgate, iii, 1-23, 91-97) narrates how Daniel's three companions, having refused to worship a colossal statue set up by Nebuchadnezzer, were cast into a highly-heated furnace in which they were preserved unharmed, whereupon the king issued a decree in favour of their God and promoted them to places of dignity. The following section (iii, 31-iv, Vulgate, iii, 98-iv) contains Nebuchadnezzer's letter to all peoples and nations, recounting his dream of a mighty tree cut down at God's bidding, and its interpretation by Daniel, together with its fulfilment in the form of a seven years' madness which befell the king, and the recovery from which was the occasion of his thankful letter. The fifth chapter (Heb. Bible, v-vi, 1) describes Balthasar's profane banquet, the mysterious handwriting on the wall, Daniel's interpretation of that writing, and the overthrow, on that same night, of Balthasar's kingdom. In the sixth chapter Daniel is represented as the object of the special favour of Darius the Mede, and also of the persistent jealousy of the other officers of the Crown, who finally succeed in having him thrown into the lions' den, because of his faithfulness in praying to God three times a day; upon Daniel's miraculous preservation, Darius decrees that all in his kingdom should "dread and fear the God of Daniel".
The second main part of the book in the Hebrew Bible (vii-xii) is taken up with four visions which Daniel describes in the first person. The first of these visions (ch. vii) is referred to the first year of Balthasar's reign, and offers a close parallel to the dream set forth and explained in the second chapter of the book. The nightly vision was of four several beasts coming out of the sea, and symbolical of the Gentile powers judged in due time by "the Ancient of days", and finally replaced by the universal and everlasting Messianic kingdom. Like the first, the second vision (ch. viii) is ascribed to the reign of Balthasar, and represents worldly powers under the figure of animals. Daniel sees a ram with two horns (the Medes and the Persians) pushing victoriously towards the west, north and south, until it is struck by a he-goat (the Greeks) with a great horn (Alexander) between its eyes. This great horn is soon broken in its turn, and gives place to four others (the Greek kingdoms of Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Thrace), from one of which grows out a "little horn", namely Antiochus Epiphanes. This prince is not, indeed, named by the Angel Gabriel, who explains the vision to Daniel, but is clearly designated by the description of the doings of the "little horn" against the host of heaven and its prince (God), desecrating "the sanctuary", interrupting the daily sacrifice for about three years and a half, and finally "broken without hand".
The next chapter contains the prophecy of the seventy weeks, which is referred to the first year of Darius, the son of Assuerus. As Daniel was supplicating God for the fulfilment of His promises of mercy in Jeremiah, xxix, 10 sq., or xxv, 11, he was favoured with the vision of the Angel Gabriel. The heavenly messenger explained to him how the seventy years of desolation foretold by Jeremiah should be understood. They are seventy weeks of years, falling into three periods of seven, sixty-two, and one weeks of years, respectively. The first period one of seven weeks, or forty-nine years, will extend from the going forth of "the word" for the rebuilding of Jerusalem to "an anointed one, a prince". During the second, of sixty-two weeks or four hundred and thirty-four years, the Holy City will be built, though "in straitness of times". At the end of this period "an anointed one" will be cut off, and the people of a prince who shall come will "destroy" the city and the sanctuary, he will make a firm covenant with many for one week (or seven years), and during a half of this week he will cause sacrifice and oblation to cease and the abomination of desolation to be set up, until he meets with his fate. The last vision, ascribed to the third year of Cyrus, is recorded in chapters x-xii. Its opening part (x-xi, 1) gives a description of the vision with a reference to Media, Persia, and Greece. The second part (xi) announces many events connected with four Persian kings, with Alexander and his successors and more particularly with the deeds of a king of the North, i.e. Antiochus Epiphanes, against Egypt, the Jews, the Temple, etc., until he should come to an end. The conclusion of the vision (xii) declares how Michael (the guardian angel of Israel) will deliver the people. Mention is made of a resurrection of the dead, followed by rewards and punishments. For 1290 days, or about three and one half years, the daily sacrifice will cease and the abomination of desolation will be set up. Blessed is he who continues steadfast till 1335 days.
(2) Object and Unity
From these contents it readily appears that the Book of Daniel has not for its object to give a summary historical account of the period of the Babylonian Exile, or of the life of Daniel himself, since both its parts profess to give only a few isolated facts connected with either the Exile or the Prophet's life. From the same contents it can also be readily seen that the object of that sacred writing is not to record in substance prophetical addresses similar to those which make up the works ascribed to distinct prophets in the Old Testament literature. In respect to both matter and form, the contents of the Prophecy of Daniel are of a peculiar kind which has no exact parallel in the Bible, except in the Apocalypse of St. John. In Daniel, as in this last book of the Bible, one is in presence of contents whose general purpose is undoubtedly to comfort God's people under the ordeal of a cruel persecution, chiefly by means of symbolical visions bearing on "the time of the end". This is the obvious purpose of the four visions recorded in the second part of the Book of Daniel (chaps. vii-xii), and also of Nebuchadnezzer's dream as given and explained in the second chapter of the first part of that inspired writing: the persecution therein in view is that of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Jews are to be comforted by the assured prospect both of the fate that awaits their oppressor and of the setting up of God's universal and eternal kingdom. Nor have the narratives in chapters iii-vi a different general purpose: in each and in all of them the generous and constant servants of the true God -- Daniel and his fellow captives -- triumph in the end, while their oppressors, however mighty or numerous, are ultimately punished or made to acknowledge and promote the glory of the God of Israel. This apocalyptic object of the Book of Daniel is admitted by most scholars of the present day, and is in harmony with the place assigned to that sacred writing in the Hebrew Bible, where it appears not among "the Prophets", or second great division of the original text, but among "the Writings", or third main division of that text.
As apocalyptic writings usually bear the impress of compilation, one might naturally be tempted to regard the Book of Daniel -- whose apocalyptic character has just been described -- as a compilatory work. In fact, many scholars of the last century -- some of whom were Catholic -- have set forth positive grounds to prove that the author of the book has actually put together such documents as could make for his general purpose. At the present day, however, the opposite view, which maintains the literary unity of the Prophecy of Daniel, is practically universal. It is felt that the uniform plan of the book, the studied arrangement of its subject-matter, the strong similarity in language of its two main parts, etc. are arguments which tell very powerfully in favour of the latter position.
(3) Authorship and Date of Composition
Once it is admitted that the Book of Daniel is the work of one single author, there naturally arises the important question: Is this sole writer the Prophet Daniel who composed the work during the Exile (586-536 B.C.), or, on the contrary, some author, now unknown, who wrote this inspired book at a later date, which can still be made out? The traditional view, in vigour chiefly among Catholics, is to the effect that the whole work, as found in the Hebrew Bible, should be directly referred to Daniel, whose name it bears. It admits, indeed, that numerous alterations have been introduced into the primitive text of the book in the course of ages. It maintains, nevertheless, that both the narratives (chaps. i-vi) wherein Daniel seems to be described by some one else as acting as recorded, and the symbolic visions (chaps. vii-xiu) wherein he describes himself as favoured with heavenly revelations, were written, not simply by an author who was contemporary with that prophet and lived in Babylon in the sixth century B.C., but by Daniel himself. Such difference in the use of persons is regarded as arising naturally from the respective contents of the two parts of the book: Daniel employed the third person in recording events, for the event is its own witness; and the first person in relating prophetical visions, for such communications from above need the personal attestation of those to whom they are imparted. Over against this time-honoured position which ascribes to Daniel the authorship of the book which bears his name, and admits 570-536 B.C. as its date of composition, stands a comparatively recent theory which has been widely accepted by contemporary scholars. Chiefly on the basis of historical and linguistic grounds, this rival theory refers the origin of the Book of Daniel, in its present form, to a later writer and period. It regards that apocalyptic writing as the work of an unknown author who composed it during the period of the Machabees, and more precisely in the time of Antiochus IV, Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.).
The following are the extrinsic testimonies which conservative scholars usually and confidently set forth as proving that the Book of Daniel must be referred to the well-known Prophet of that name and consequently to a much earlier date than that advocated by their opponents. Christian tradition, both in the East and in the West, has been practically unanimous from Christ's time to the present day in admitting the genuineness of the Book of Daniel. Its testimony is chiefly based on Matthew, xxiv, 15: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand", in which passage Christ treats Daniel's visions as true oracles, and expressly names that Prophet as their writer. In so doing, it is argued, Christ endorsed and confirmed by His authority the view which was then received among the Jews, and which regarded Daniel as the author of the book which bears his name. Jewish tradition, both during and before Christ's time, bears also distinct witness to the genuineness of the Prophecy of Daniel. In his "Antiquities of the Jews" (Bk. XI, ch. viii, 5), the learned Jewish priest and Pharisee, Josephus (about A.D. 40-100), writes: "When the Book of Daniel was shown to Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.), wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended". Before the Christian Era the First Book of the Machabees (written very early in the first century B.C.) shows acquaintance with the Septuagint version of the Prophecy of Daniel (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:54, with Daniel 9:27, 1 Maccabees 2:59, 60 with Daniel 3:6), whence it is inferred
that at that date the Book of Daniel must have been for some considerable time rendered into Greek, and
that its composition must have preceded this translation by some considerable time more, so that its origin under Antiochus Epiphanes is hardly probable.
Again, the Sibylline Oracles (Bk. III, verses 388 sqq.), supposed to have been written about 170 B.C., contain an allusion to Antiochus IV, and to the ten horns of Dan., vii, 7, 24, and therefore point to an earlier date than that which is proposed by the advocates of the recent theory. More particularly still, the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch, made about 285 B.C., exhibits in Deut., xxxii, 8, a doctrine of guardian angels which it has apparently borrowed from the Book of Daniel, and thus tends to prove the existence of that inspired writing long before the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Finally, according to Josephus (Contra Apion, VIII), the Old Testament canon of the Jews of Palestine, which has always included Daniel among "the Writings", was closed by Esdras (middle of the fifth century B.C.), that is to say, at a date so near the composition of the book that its genuineness could then be easily ascertained, and would naturally be the reason for the insertion of the work into the Palestinian Canon.
To strengthen the inference drawn from these external testimonies, conservative scholars appeal to the following direct and indirect intrinsic grounds. Throughout the second part of his book Daniel speaks in the first person and thereby gives himself implicitly as the writer of chapters vii-xii. Even more, in the words: "Then he [Daniel] wrote the dream and told the sum of the matters", we have a statement which ascribes expressly to him the writing of the first vision (chap. vii) and, implicitly, that of the subsequent visions, which are indissolubly bound up with the opening one. Now, if the visions described in the second part of the book were recorded by Daniel himself, the same thing must be admitted in regard to narratives which make up the first part of the book (chaps. i-vi), because of the acknowledged unity of the work. And in this way direct intrinsic evidence is considered as making for the Danielic authorship. The indirect intrinsic grounds point in the same direction, inasmuch as they tend to show that the author of the Book of Daniel was
a resident in Babylon
one who wrote in the period to which the Prophet Daniel belonged, and
one who is best identified with that Prophet himself.
The first of these positions, it is said, is borne out by the close acquaintance which the author evinces in the historical portion of the work (chaps. i-vi) with the manners, customs, history, religion, etc. of the Babylonians the minute details he refers to, the local colouring of his descriptions, his exact references to facts, are such as only a resident in Babylon could be fairly supposed to possess. It is likewise borne out by a comparison of the form of Daniel's prophecies in chapters vii-xii with the general surroundings of one living in Babylon and with the Babylonian monuments in particular; the imagery of Daniel's vision in the seventh chapter, for instance, is nearly the same as that found on monuments in the ruins of Ninive; and in chapters viii, 2 (Heb. text), and x, 4, the river banks are most appropriately given as the scenes of Daniel's visions. While thus very familiar with Babylonia, the author of the Book of Daniel betrays no such special knowledge of Persia and Greece as would be natural to expect if, instead of living in the sixth century B.C., he had been a contemporary of Antiochus Epiphanes.
This absence of distinct knowledge of the times subsequent to the Babylonian period has sometimes been urged to prove the second position: that the writer belonged to that period, and to no other. More often, however, and more strongly, the linguistic features of the Book of Daniel have been brought forth to establish that second position. It has been affirmed, on the one hand, that the Hebrew of Daniel with its numerous Aramaisms, bears a close affinity to that of Ezechiel, and is therefore that of the period of the Exile; and, on the other hand, that the Aramaic portions of Daniel (ii, 4-vii) are in wonderful agreement with those of Esdras, while they are distinguished by many Hebrew idioms from the language of the earliest Aramaic Paraphrases of the Old Testament. In particular, the easy transition from the Hebrew to the Aramaic (ii, 4), and the reverse (viii, 1 sqq.), is explicable, we are told, only on the supposition that the writer and the readers of the book were equally familiar with both; this free handling of both languages suits not the Machabean age but that of Daniel, or of the Exile, in which both tongues were naturally in equal use. The intrinsic grounds making for the last position (that the author of the Book of Daniel is best identified with the Prophet of that name), may be summed up in this simple statement: while no other seer during the Babylonian Exile has been, and indeed can be, named as the probable recorder of the visions described in that inspired writing, Daniel, owing to his position at the court of Babylon, to his initiation into the wisdom of the Chaldees, and to the problem of his calling as God had shown it to him, was eminently fitted at that time for writing the prophecies which had been imparted to him for the comfort of the Jews of his time and of subsequent ages.
Scholars who have examined this evidence, closely and without bias, have concluded that rationalistic critics are decidedly wrong in denying totally the historical character of the Book of Daniel. At the same time, many among them still question the absolute cogency of the extrinsic and intrinsic grounds set forth to prove the Danielic authorship. These latter scholars rightly reject as untrue the statement of Josephus, which refers the close of the Old Testament canon to the time of Esdras; and in the well-known bias of the same Jewish historian for magnifying whatever concerns his nation they have a valid reason for doubting his assertion that the prophecies of Daniel were shown to Alexander the Great when this prince passed through Palestine. The alleged reference to Daniel's expressions in the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy they easily explain as a later gloss, and the actual acquaintance of the First Book of the Machabees with the Prophecy of Daniel they naturally regard as compatible with the non-Danielic authorship, and indeed with the composition of the Book of Daniel in the time of Antiochus IV. As regards the last external testimony in favour of the genuineness of that sacred writing, viz. Christ's words concerning Daniel and his prophecy, these same scholars think that, without going against the reverence due to Christ's Person, and the credence due His words, they have a right not to consider the passage appealed to in Matt., xxiv, 15, as absolutely conclusive: Jesus does not say explicitly that Daniel wrote the prophecies that bear his name to infer this from His words is to assume something which may well be questioned, viz. that in referring to the contents of a book of the Bible, He necessarily confirmed the traditional view of His day concerning authorship; in point of fact, many scholars whose belief in Christ's truthfulneess and Divinity is beyond question -- such Catholics, for instance, as Father Souciet, S.J., Bishop Hanneberg, Francois Lenormant, and others -- have thought that Christ's reference to Daniel in Matt., xxiv 15, does not bear out the Danielic authorship as it is claimed by conservative scholars chiefly on the basis of His words.
Having thus shown, to their own satisfaction, the inconclusive character of the external evidence, or mainstay in favour of the traditional view, the opponents of the Danielic authorship endeavour to prove that internal evidence points decisively to the late origin which they ascribe to the Book of Daniel. Briefly stated, the following are their principal arguments:
As it is now found in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Daniel contains historical references which tend to prove that its author is not an eyewitness of the events alluded to, as would be the case if he were the Prophet Daniel. Had this author lived during the Exile, it is argued, he would not have stated that "in the third year of the reign of Joakim, king of Juda, Nebuchadnezzer, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it" (Dan., i, 1), since this conflicts with Jeremiah, xxxvi, 9, 29.
He would not have repeatedly used the word "Chaldeans" as the name of a learned caste, this sense being foreign to the Assyro-Babylonian language, and of an origin later than the Exile; he would not have spoken of Balthasar as "king" (v, 1, 2 3, 5, etc., viii, 1), as the "son of Nebuchadnezzer" (v, 2, 18, etc.), since Balthasar was never king, and neither he nor his father had any blood-relationship to Nebuchadnezzer;
he would have avoided the statement that "Darius the Mede succeeded to the kingdom" of Balthasar (v. 31), since there is no room for such a ruler between Nabonahid, Balthasar's father, and Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon; he could not have spoken of "the Books" (Daniel 9:2-Heb. text), an expression which implies that the prophecies of Jeremiah formed part of a well-known collection of sacred books, which assuredly was not the case in the time of Nebuchadnezzer and Cyrus, etc.
The linguistic features of the book, as it exists in the Hebrew Bible, point also, it is said, to a date later than that of Daniel: its Hebrew is of the distinctly late type which followed Nehemias' time; in both its Hebrew and its Aramaic portions there are Persian words and at least three Greek words, which of course should be referred to a period later than the Babylonian Exile.
Not satisfied with the merely negative inference that the Book of Daniel was not composed during the Captivity, the opponents of the Danielic authorship strive to reach a positive conclusion as to the date of its origin. For this purpose, they examine the contents of that inspired writing, and they think that by viewing both its parts in the light of history, they are led to refer definitely its composition to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. It can be readily seen, we are told, that the interest of the visions which make up the second part of Daniel culminates in the relations subsisting between the Jews and Antiochus. It is this prince who manifestly is the subject of Dan. viii, 9-13, 23-25, and who is very probably "the little horn" spoken of in Dan., vii, 8, 20, 21, 25, while events of his reign are apparently described in Dan., ix, 25-27, and undoubtedly so in xi, 21-45; xii, 6, 7, 10-12. Whoever bears this in mind, it is argued, is led by the analogy of Scripture to admit that the book belongs to the period of Antiochus. The rule is that "even when the prophets of the Old Testament deliver a Divine message for far distant days, they have in view the needs of the people of their own day. They rebuke their sins, they comfort their sorrows, they strengthen their hopes, they banish their fears. But of all this there is no trace in Daniel, if the book was written in the time of Cyrus. Its message is avowedly for the time of the end, for the period of Antiochus and the Machabees". And this inference is confirmed by the fact that the narratives told in the first part, when studied in reference to the events of Antiochus's reign are found to impart lessons especially suited to the Jews of that period. The question of eating meat (Dan., i. 8 sqq.) was at that time a test of faith (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:65 sq.; 2 Maccabees 6:18 sqq.; 7). The lessons of the fiery furnace and the lions' den (Dan., iii vi) were most appropriate in the time of the Machabees when the Jews were ordered on the pain of death to worship foreign deities (cf. I Mach. i, 43-54). The accounts of the humbling of Nebuchadnezzer (Dan., iv) and the fate of Balthasar (Dan., v) were also particularly calculated to comfort the Jews so cruelly oppressed by Antiochus and his officers. Such a view of the date of the Book of Daniel is in harmony with the apocalyptic character of the whole work, and can be confirmed, it is said, by certain facts in the external history of the book, such for instance as its place among "the Writings" in the Palestinian Canon, the absence of all traces of Daniel's influence upon the post-exilic literature before the Machabean period, etc. Despite the fact that some of these arguments against the Danielic authorship have not yet been fully disproved, Catholic scholars generally abide by the traditional view, although they are not bound to it by any decision of the Church.
(4) Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
Several sections of the Book of Daniel contain Messianic predictions, the general import of which has been sufficiently pointed out in setting forth the contents and object of that inspired writing. One of these predictions, however, claims a further notice, owing to the special interest connected with its contents. It is known as the prophecy of the seventy weeks, and is found in an obscure passage (ix, 24-27), of which the following is a literal rendering:
24. Seventy weeks [literally heptads] have been decreed upon thy people and thy holy city, to close transgression and to make an end of sins, and to expiate iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet and to anoint a most holy [literally: holiness of holinesses]. 25. Know then and discern: from the going forth of the word to build again Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince, [there are] seven weeks, and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again [with] broad place and moat, and that in straitness of times. 26. And after the sixty-two weeks an anointed one will be cut off and he will have no . . . [Sept. kai ouk estai]; and the people of a prince who shall come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof [will be] in a flood, and until the end [shall be] war, a sentence of desolations. 27. He will make a firm covenant with many for a week, and for half a week he shall cause sacrifice and oblation to cease, and instead thereof the abomination that makes desolate, and that until the consummation and that which is determined be poured upon the desolator.
The difficulty of rendering this passage of the Hebrew text is only surpassed by that of interpreting its contents. Most commentators admit, indeed, that the seventy weeks are weeks of years, which fall into three periods of 7, 62, and 1 weeks of years, respectively, but they are still at variance with regard to both the exact starting point and the precise terminus of the seventy weeks. Most of them, too, regard the prophecy of the seventy weeks as having a Messianic reference, but even all Catholic interpreters do not agree as to the precise nature of this reference. Some among them, after Hardouin, S.J., Calmet, O.S.B., etc., seeing in the contents of the prophecy a typical reference to Christ, in preference to the literal one which has been, and is still, more prevalent in the Church. Briefly stated, the following are the three principal interpretations which have been given by Dan., ix, 24-27.
The first is the ancient view, which may be called traditional, and which maintains that the prophecy of the seventy weeks refers directly to the appearance of Christ in the flesh, His death, His establishment of the New Covenant, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
The second is that of most recent scholars, chiefly non-Catholic, who refer the whole passage directly to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, with (Christians generally) or without (Rationalists at large) a typical reference to Christ.
The third is that of some Fathers of the Church and some recent theologians who understand the prophecy in an eschatological sense, as a prediction of the development of the Kingdom of God from the end of the Exile to the fulfilment of that kingdom at Christ's second Advent.
(5) Text and Principal Ancient Versions
One of the chief reasons of the obscurity which surrounds the interpretation of Dan., ix, 24-27, is found in the imperfect condition in which the original text of the Book of Daniel has come to us. Not only in the prophecy of the seventy weeks, but also throughout both its Hebrew (Dan., i-ii, 4; viii-xii) and its Aramaic (ii, 4-vii) sections, that text betrays various defects which it is easier to notice and to point out than to correct. Linguistics, the context, and the ancient translations of Daniel are most of the time insufficient guides towards the sure restoration of the primitive reading. The oldest of these translations is the Greek version known as the Septuagint, whose text has come down to us, not in its original form, but in that given to it by Origen (died about A.D. 254) for the composition of his Hexapla. Before this revision by Origen, the text of the Septuagint was regarded as so unreliable, because of its freedom in rendering, and of the alterations which had been introduced into it etc., that, during the second century of our era, it was discarded by the Church, which adopted in its stead the Greek version of Daniel made in that same century by the Jewish proselyte, Theodotion. This version of Theodotion was apparently a skilful revision of the Septuagint by means of the original text, and is the one embodied in the authentic edition of the Septuagint published by Sixtus V in 1587. In Dr. H.B. Swete's edition of the Septuagint, Origen's revision and Theodotion's version are conveniently printed side by side on opposite pages (vol. III, pp. 498 sqq.). The version of the proto-canonical portions of the Book of Daniel in the Latin Vulgate is St. Jerome's rendering from practically the same Hebrew and Aramaic text as is found in the current Hebrew Bibles.
The Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the Book of Daniel thus far dealt with, are the only ones found in the Hebrew Bible and recognized by Protestants as sacred and canonical. But besides those sections, the Vulgate, the Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion) together with other ancient and modern versions, contain three important portions, which are deuterocanonical. These are:
the Prayer of Azarias and the Song of the Three Children, usual}y inserted in the third chapter between the twenty-third and the twenty-fourth verses;
the history of Susanna, found as ch. xiii, at the end of the book;
the history of the destruction of Bel and the dragon, terminating the book as ch. xiv.
The first of these fragments (Dan., iii, 24-90) consists of a prayer in which Azarias, standing in the midst of the furnace, asks that God may deliver him and his companions, Ananias and Misael, and put their enemies to shame (verses 24-45); a brief notice of the fact that the Angel of the Lord saved the Three Children from all harm, whereas the flame consumed the Chaldeans above the furnace (46-50); and a doxology (52-56) leading on to the hymn familiarly known as the "Benedicite" (57-90). The second fragment (ch. xiii) tells the history of Susanna. She was the faithful wife of a wealthy Jew named Joakim, and resident in Babylon. Accused falsely of adultery by two unworthy elders whose criminal advances she had repelled, she was sentenced to death by the tribunal before which she had been arraigned. As Susanna was led forth to execution, Daniel, moved by God, remonstrated with the people upon permitting without sufficient inquiry the condemnation of a daughter of Israel. He examined himself the two pretended witnesses separately, and proved their testimony to be self-contradictory. In fulfilment of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 19:18, 19), the two elders were put to death, "and Daniel became great in the sight of the people from that day, and thenceforward." The last deuterocanonical part of Daniel (ch. xiv) contains the narrative of the destruction of Bel and the dragon. It recounts first the clever manner in which Daniel undeceived the king, Cyrus, who regarded a Babylonian idol, called Bel, as "a living god" that actually ate ample offerings, whereas these were really consumed at night by the pagan priests and their families: in consequence, these impostors were put to death, and Bel and its temple destroyed. It records, in the second place, how Daniel caused to die a great dragon that the Babylonians worshipped, and that the king wished him to adore as "a living god". Enraged at this, the people forced the king to deliver Daniel to them, and cast the Prophet into a lions' den. Daniel remained there unharmed for six days, and fed by the prophet Habakkuk who was miraculously transported from Judea to Babylon. On the seventh day, the king having found Daniel alive in the midst of the lions, praised aloud the God of Daniel and delivered the Prophet's accusers to the fate which Daniel had miraculously escaped.
The Greek is, indeed the oldest form under which these deutero-canonical parts of the Book of Daniel have come down to us; but this is no decisive proof that they were composed in that language. In fact, the greater probability is in favour of a Hebrew original no longer extant. It is plain that the view which regards these three fragments as not originally written in Greek makes it easier to suppose that they were from the beginning integrant parts of the book. Yet, it does not settle the question of their date and authorship. It is readily granted by conservative scholars (Vigouroux, Gilly, etc.) that the last two are probably from a different and later author than the rest of the book. On the other hand, it is maintained by nearly all Catholic writers, that the Prayer of Azarias and the Song of the Three Children cannot be dissociated from the preceding and the following context in Dan., iii, and that therefore they should be referred to the time of Daniel, if not to that Prophet himself. In reality, there are wellnigh insuperable difficulties to such an early date for Dan., iii, 24-90, so that this fragment also, like the other two, should most likely be ascribed to some unknown Jewish author who lived long after the Exile. Lastly, although the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel seem to contain anachronisms, they should not be treated -- as was done by St Jerome -- as mere fables. More sober scholarship will readily admit that they embody oral or written traditions not altogether devoid of historical value. But, whatever may be thought concerning these literary or historical questions, there cannot be the least doubt that in decreeing the sacred and canonical character of these fragments the Council of Trent proclaimed the ancient and morally unanimous belief of the Church of God.
Publication information Written by Francis E. Gigot. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
The hero and traditional author of the book which bears his name. This name (Hebrew dnyal or dnal; Septuagint Daniél), which is also that of two other persons in the Old Testament [cf. I Paral., iii, 1; I Esd., viii, 2, and II Esd. (Nehem.), x, 6], means "God is my judge", and is thus a fitting appellation for the writer of the Book of Daniel, wherein God's judgments are repeatedly pronounced upon the Gentile powers.
Nearly all that is known concerning the Prophet Daniel is derived from the book ascribed to him. He belonged to the tribe of Juda (i, 6), and was of noble, or perhaps of royal, descent (i, 3; cf. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. X, ch. x, § 1). When still a youth, probably about fourteen years of age, he was carried captive to Babylon by Nabuchodonosor in the fourth year of the reign of Joakim (605 B. C.). There, with three other youths of equal rank named Ananias, Misael and Azarias, he was entrusted to the care of Asphenez, the master of the king's eunuchs, and was educated in the language and learning of the "Chaldeans", whereby are meant the professors of divination, magic, and astrology in Babylon (i, 3, 4). From this passage Jewish tradition has inferred that Daniel and his companions were made eunuchs; but this does not necessarily follow; the master of the eunuchs simply trained these Jewish youths, among others, with a view to their entering the king's service (i, 5). Daniel now received the new name of Baltassar (Babyl. Balâtsu-usur, "Bel protect his life"), and, in agreement with Ananias, Misael, and Azarias, who received similarly the new names of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, respectively, asked and obtained permission not to use the special food from the royal table provided for those under training, and to be limited to vegetable diet. At the end of three years Daniel and his three companions appeared before the king, who found that they excelled all the others who had been educated with them, and thereupon promoted them to a place in his court. Henceforth, whenever the prince tested them, they proved superior to "all the diviners, and wise men, that were in all his kingdom" (i, 7-20). Soon afterwards–either in the second or in the twelfth year of Nabuchodonosor's reign–Daniel gave a signal proof of his marvellous wisdom. On the failure of all the other wise men, he repeated and interpreted, to the monarch's satisfaction, the king's dream of a colossal statue which was made up of various materials, and which, on being struck by a stone, was broken into pieces, while the stone grew into a mountain and filled the whole earth. On this account, Daniel in Babylon, as Joseph of old in Egypt, rose into high favour with the prince, who not only bestowed on him numerous gifts, but also made him ruler of "the whole province of Babylon" and chief governor of "all the wise men". At Daniel's request, too, his three friends received important promotions (ii). The next opportunity afforded Daniel to give proof of his wisdom was another dream of Nabuchodonosor which, once more, he alone was able to interpret. The dream was of a mighty tree concerning which the king heard the command given that it should be cut down, and that "seven times" should "pass over" its stump, which had been left standing. This, explained Daniel, portended that in punishment of his pride the monarch would for a while lose his throne, be bereft of his reason, imagining himself an ox, and live in the open fields, but be again restored to his power, finally convinced of the supreme might and goodness of the Most High. With holy freedom, although in vain, the Prophet exhorted the king to forestall such punishment by atoning for his sins by deeds of mercy; and Daniel's prediction was fulfilled to the letter (iv). For a parallel to this, see Abydenus' account (second century B.C.) quoted in Eusebius (Præp. Evang. IX, xl).
Nothing is expressly said as to what became of Daniel upon the death of Nabuchodonosor (561 B.C.); it is simply intimated in Daniel, v, 11 sqq., that he lost his high office at the court and lived long in retirement. The incident which brought him to public notice again was the scene of revelry in Baltasar's palace, on the eve of Cyrus's conquest of Babylon (538 B.C.). While Baltasar (Heb. Belsh-aççar, corresponding to the Babyl. Balâtsu-usur, "Bel protect the king") and his lords feasted, impiously drinking their wine from precious vessels which had been taken from the Temple at Jerusalem, there appeared the fingers of a man writing on the wall: "Mane, Thecel, Phares". These mysterious words, which none of the king's wise men was able to interpret, were explained by Daniel, who at length had been summoned, and who for his reward became one of the three chief ministers in the kingdom. The prophet, now at least eighty years of age, remained in that exalted position under Darius the Mede, a prince possibly to be identified with Darius Hystaspes (485 B.C.). Darius, moreover, thought of setting him over all the kingdom (vi, 4), when Daniel's fellow-officers, fearing such an elevation, sought to compass his ruin by convicting him of disloyalty to the Crown. They secured from the king a decree forbidding anyone, under penalty of being cast into the lions' den, to ask any petition of either god or man, except the monarch, for thirty days. As they had anticipated, Daniel nevertheless prayed, three times a day, at his open window, towards Jerusalem. This they reported to the king, and they forced him to apply the threatened punishment to the violator of the decree. Upon Daniel's miraculous preservation in the lions' den, Darius published a decree that all in his realm should honour and revere the God of Daniel, proclaiming that He is "the living and eternal God". And so Daniel continued to prosper through the rest of the reign of Darius, and in that of his successor, Cyrus the Persian (vi).
Such, in substance, are the facts which may be gathered for a biography of the Prophet Daniel from the narrative portion of his book (i-vi). Hardly any other facts are contributed to this biography from the second, and more distinctly apocalyptic, portion of the same work (vii-xii). The visions therein described represent him chiefly as a seer favoured with Divine communications respecting the future punishment of the Gentile powers and the ultimate setting up of the Messianic Kingdom. These mysterious revelations are referred to the reigns of Darius, Baltasar, and Cyrus, and as they are explained to him by the Angel Gabriel from an ever clearer disclosure of what is to happen in "the time of the end". In the deuterocanonical appendix to his book (xiii-xiv), Daniel reappears in the same general character as in the first part of his work (i-vi). Chapter xiii sets him forth as an inspired youth whose superior wisdom puts to shame and secures the punishment of the false accusers of the chaste Susanna. The concluding chapter (xiv), which tells the history of the destruction of Bel and the dragon, represents Daniel as a fearless and most successful champion of the true and living God. Outside of the Book of Daniel, Holy Writ has but few references to the prophet of that name. Ezechiel (xiv, 14) speaks of Daniel, together with Noah and Job, as a pattern of righteousness and, in chapter xxviii, 3, as the representative of perfect wisdom.
The writer of the First Book fo the Machabees (ii, 60) refers to his deliverance out of the mouth of the lions, and St. Matthew (xxiv, 15) to "the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet". As might well be expected, Jewish tradition had been busy with completing the meagre account of Daniel's life as supplied by the Sacred Scriptures. Allusion has already been made to the tradition of the Jews, accepted by many Fathers of the Church, which states that he was made a eunuch in Babylon. Other Jewish traditions represent him as refusing divine honours profferred to him by Nabuchodonosor; they explain the reason why he was not forced with his three friends to worship that prince's statue in the plain of Dura (Dan., iii), he had been sent away by the king, who wanted to spare Daniel's life, for he knew full well that the prophet would never agree to commit such an act of idolatry; they give many fanciful details, as for instance concerning what happened to Daniel in the lions' den. Others endeavour to account for what they assume to be a fact, viz. that Yahweh's devout prophet did not return to God's land and city after the decree of restoration issued by Cyrus; while others again affirm that he actually went back to Judea and died there.
Hardly less incredible and conflicting legends concerning Daniel's life and place of burial are met with in Arabic literature, although his name is not mentioned in the Koran. During the Middle Ages there was a widespread and persistent tradition that Daniel was buried at Susa, the modern Shuster, in the Persian province of Khuzistan. In the account of his visit to Susa in A.D. 1165, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela narrates that Daniel's tomb was shown him in the façade of one of the synagogues of that city; and it is shown there to the present day. The Roman martyrology assigns Daniel's feast as a holy prophet to 21 July, and apparently treats Babylon as his burial-place.
Publication information Written by Francis E. Gigot. Transcribed by WGKofron. With thanks to St. Mary's Church, Akron, Ohio The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
VIGOROUX, La Bible et les découvertes modernes (Paris, 1889), IV, Bk. III; DRANE, Daniel, His Life and Times (London, 1888). See also the commentaries and introductions in bibliography of BOOK OF DANIEL.
Date of the Book.
Genesis of the Book of Daniel.
One of the books of the Old Testament. It may be divided into two parts: chapters i.-vi., recounting the events of Daniel's life; chapters vii.-xii., containing his prophecies. "While the first part proves that it is impossible for the world-empire to belong to the heathen forever, the second part shows that Israel is destined to found this world empire through the son of man, who has long since existed in heaven" (J. Böhmer, "Reich Gottes und Menschensohnim Buche Daniel," 1899, p. 60).
In its form the book shows striking differences, for while ii. 4 to vii. 28 is written in Aramaic, the preceding and following portions are written in Hebrew. It is not easy to discover the reason for this peculiarity; it suggests, however, that the "Chaldeans" in this book are the Arameans or Syrians. A similar instance occurs in the Seder 'Olam Zuṭa (ed. Joh. Meyer), where the author gradually lapses into Aramaic in talking of personages of the Babylonian exile, but on p. 117 returns to Hebrew. The author may have meant to introduce the "Chaldeans" in their own language, and then inadvertently continued in the language that was familiar to him (see Driver, "Daniel," in "Cambridge Bible for Schools," p. xxii.). J. Böhmer (l.c. p. 150) maintains that the Aramaic portion was so written because its contents concerned all peoples; Prince and others suggest that the whole book was written originally in Hebrew, and translated into Aramaic; and that a part of the Hebrew book was lost, and replaced by the Aramaic translation.
This opinion, however, does not weigh the fact that the Aramaic begins with the speech of the "Chaldeans." Other scholars think that the whole book was originally written in Aramaic, while the beginning and end were translated into Hebrew so that the book might be incorporated into the canon (Marti, in his Commentary, 1901, p. ix.). But if its inclusion in the canon had depended on its Hebrew form, it would have been necessary to translate the whole into Hebrew. In any case the linguistic diversity in parts of this book is no reason for assuming two sources for it, as Meinhold does in his Commentary (p. 262); for the Aramaic Book of Daniel could not have begun with ii. 4.
Another difference in form is found in the fact that the political history forming the background of the first six chapters is absent in vii.-xii. This difference may be thus explained: The author thought it his first task to recount without a break the historical facts of Daniel's life; his second task being to record the revelations vouchsafed to Daniel which were not connected with the experiences of other people. In the first six chapters Daniel is introduced in the third person, while in the others he appears as the speaker. This is explicable on the ground that the second part of the book is concerned only with the presentation of Daniel's inner experiences to the exclusion of all objective relations. Such transitions are found in other books-compare, for example, Hosea i. and iii.
The change of person therefore does not necessarily affect the unity of the book. (For other opinions on the composite character of the Book of Daniel, see Eduard König, "Einleitung ins Alte Testament," p. 384; Von Gall, "Die Einheitlichkeit des Buches Daniel," 1895; G. A. Barton, "The Composition of the Book of Daniel," in "Jour. Bib. Lit." 1898, pp. 62-86). Barton finds a contradiction between i. 1, 5, 18, and ii. 1; for Nebuchadnezzar is designated as "king" in i. 1, and, according to i. 5, 18, Daniel and his friends were to be prepared three years prior to appearing before the king, while in ii. 1 it is stated that this happened as early as the second year of Nebuchadnezzar. Still it was not an unnatural prolepsis on first mentioning Nebuchadnezzar, who subsequently became king, to give him the title by which he was commonly known at the time of writing. Barton also finds a contradiction between the words "And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus" (i. 21) and "In the third year of Cyrus, kingof Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel" (x. 1).
But i. 21 does not mean that Daniel lived "even unto the first year of Cyrus," but that Daniel survived even the fall of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom and that of his successor. The other contradictions mentioned by Barton are discussed by Eduard König in "Theologisches Litteraturblatt," 1898, cols. 539 et seq. His conclusion that nine different and complete episodes follow the first chapter is therefore untenable. The book, however, may have included originally only i.-vii., an assumption that would explain the following three circumstances: the dropping of the Aramaic; the formula "Hitherto is the end of the matter" (vii. 28); and the juxtaposition of two materially identical narratives as found in vii. and viii. As events unfolded themselves, amplifications of the prophecy in the form of pamphlets, pointing even more clearly to the day of liberation, may have been added.
Date of the Book.
The date of the writing of the book may be inferred from the following considerations: It was not written by one of the exiles, for many portions of the text could not have been composed by a contemporary of the second king of the Babylonian empire and his immediate successors. This is proved even by the form of that king's name as given in the book. His Assyrian name was "Nabu-kudurriuẓur" (Friedrich Delitzsch, "Assyrische Lesestücke," 1900, p. 192), which the Hebrewsat first pronounced "Nebu-kadr-eẓẓar" (Jer. xxi. 2 et seq. [26 times]; Ezek. xxvi. 7, xxix. 18 et seq., xxx. 10). The middle "r" was then dissimilated from the final "r," giving "Nebu-kadn-eẓẓar," a form which is found in Jeremiah only in xxvii. 6-xxix. 3, but which is the usual form in all later writings (II Kings xxiv. 1 et seq.; II Chron. xxxvi. 6 et seq.; Ezra i. 7; Esth. ii. 6; Dan. i. 18 et seq.; Soferim xiv. 7; Seder 'Olam R. xxiv. et seq.; and Septuagint, Ναβουχοδονόσορ).
Nor would a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors have written the stories of the Book of Daniel in the form in which they exist, since they contain many details that can not be harmonized with the data furnished in other historical sources. The first verse, for instance, contradicts other passages of the O. T. in saying that King Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, and besieged it. For the verb means here, as elsewhere, "come," "arrive," and can not be equivalent to "break up"; this is also proved by the context of i. 1. But Jeremiah announced the coming of the Chaldeans only in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, a year that is expressly designated, in Jer. xxv. 1, xlvi. 2, as the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar. The date, "in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim" (Dan. i. 1), is probably derived from II Kings xxiv. 1 et seq., where it is said that Jehoiakim, after having been subject to Nebuchadnezzar three years, turned and rebelled, and was attacked by predatory bands of the Chaldeans and their vassals.
As no date is given for the beginning of this period of three years, it might be supposed that it began with the accession of Jehoiakim. The supposition being made, it could be said that the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar would naturally be their leader. But these statements in Dan. i. 1 are erroneously drawn from II Kings xxiv. 1 et seq., and contradict those found in Jer. xxv. 1, 9, and xlvi. 2. Such discrepancies are not unparalleled in the O. T. (compare Eduard König, "Einleitung ins Alte Testament," pp. 172 et seq.). Nor can Nebuchadnezzar's madness (Dan. iv. 12 et seq.) during seven years be taken literally. Belshazzar's father, Nebuchadnezzar, is mentioned again (v. 11, 13, 18, 22) in a way which compels the inference that he really was such. This may be explained on the ground that during the long period of oral tradition the unimportant kings of Babylon might easily have been forgotten, and the last king, who was vanquished by Cyrus, would have been taken as the successor of the well-known Nebuchadnezzar.
The same thing occurred in Bar. i. 11, and Sennacherib is mentioned as the son of Enemessar (i.e. Shalmaneser) in Tobit i. 15, Sargon (Isa. xx. 1) being passed over. It is also well known that the period 516-331, of which only a few events are recorded, was contracted to thirty-four years in computing the time elapsed since the Creation (Seder 'Olam R. xxx.). The Book of Daniel was not written immediately after the Exile. The post-exilic prophets did not know it, for the four horns to which Israel's enemies are compared in Zech. i. 21, have a local meaning, representing the four points of the compass, and do not refer to the successive kingdoms, as in Dan. ii. 29 et seq. The same is the case with the four chariots in Zech. vi. 1 et seq. These passages are not exactly parallel with the predictions in Daniel, but it is also stated in Hag. ii. 6-9 et seq., that within "a little while" the Messianic time will come. And even Ben Sira says expressly (Ecclus. [Sirach] xlix. 15) that he has never found a man who resembled Joseph, a statement he could not have made had he known the extant Book of Daniel, since Daniel is there drawn as a man who, like Joseph, rose to be prime minister by virtue of his ability to interpret dreams.
The Book of Daniel was written during the persecutions of Israel by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. This assertion is supported by the following data: The kingdom which is symbolized by the he goat (viii. 5 et seq.) is expressly named as the "kingdom of Yawan"-that is, the Grecian kingdom (viii. 21) the great horn being its first king, Alexander the Great (definitely stated in Seder "Olam R. xxx.), and the little horn Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164). This kingdom was to persecute the host of the saints "unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings" (viii. 14, R. V.); that is, "half-days," or 1,150 days; and Epiphanes did, in fact, profane the sanctuary in Jerusalem for about that length of time, from Kislew 15, 168, to Kislew 25,165 (I Macc. i. 57, iv. 52). The little horn described in Dan. viii. 9-12, 23-25 has the same general characteristics as the little horn in vii. 8, 20; hence the same ruler is designated in both passages.
The well-known passage ix. 23-27 also points to the same period. The first and imperative rule in interpreting it is to begin the period of the seventy times seven units (A. V. "seventy weeks") with the first period of seven (ix. 25), and to let the second period, the "sixty-two times seven units," follow this; forif this second period (the sixty-two weeks) be reckoned as beginning again from the very beginning, the third period, the "one week," must be carried back in the same way. The context demands, furthermore, that the origin of the prediction concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem be sought in Jer. xxv. 11-13 and the parallel passage, ib. xxix. 10. The "anointed," the "prince," mentioned after the first seven times seven units, must be Cyrus, who is called the anointed of the Lord in Isa. xlv. 1 also. He concluded the first seven weeks of years by issuing the decree of liberation, and the time that elapsed between the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem (586) and the year 538 was just about forty-nine years. The duration of the sixty-two times seven units (434 years) does not correspond with the time 538-171 (367 years); but the chronological knowledge of that age was not very exact. The Seder 'Olam Zuṭa (ed. Meyer, p. 104) computed the Persian rule to have lasted fifty-two years.
This is all the more evident as the last period of seven units must include the seven years 171-165 (see "Rev. Et. Juives," xix. 202 et seq.). This week of years began with the murder of an anointed one (compare Lev. iv. 3 et seq. on the anointing of the priest)-namely, the legitimate high priest Onias III.-and it was in the second half of this week of years that the Temple of the Lord was desecrated by an abomination-the silver altar erected by Antiochus Epiphanes in place of the Lord's altar for burnt offering (see I Macc. i. 54).
Genesis of the Book of Daniel.
Stories undoubtedly existed of a person by the name of Daniel, who was known to Ezekiel as a wise man. Tradition then ascribed to this wise man all the traits which Israel could attribute to its heroes. He was exalted as the pattern of piety and faithfulness; and it may also have been said that he interpreted dreams, read cryptograms, and foreshadowed the beginning of the Messianic kingdom. In any case his name may have played the same rôle in literature as that of Solomon or that of Enoch; and as one author ascribed his book, "Koheleth," to Solomon, so another author may have made Daniel responsible for his. As to the origin of his prophecies, it would probably be unjust to say that they were inventions. They may have been suggested by the author's enthusiastic study of the past history of God's people. He utilized the past to unlock the future. This is evident from ix. 2, where the author says that he had paid attention to the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the seventy years, which prophecy became the basis for a new prophecy. This shows that the author was merely a disciple of the Prophets, one who reproduced the prophecies of his masters. His book, indeed, is not included in the section Nebiim.
Emil G. Hirsch, Eduard König
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
J. D. Prince, Critical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 1899; Driver, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: Daniel, 1900; Behrmann, Handkommentar zum Buche Daniel, 1894; Marti, Kurzer Handkommentar zum Buche Daniel, 1901.E. G. H. E. K.
This page - -
- - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -
Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail
The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet ../indexaz.html