—Biblical Data:

In Hebrew (1) ; (2) . (1) The form without the (see Masorah Magna to Ezek. xiv. 14) occurs in Ezek. xiv. 14, 20; xxviii. 3; also in a Palmyrene inscription (see De Vogué, "Syrie Centrale," No. 93). The pronunciation "Dani'el" (God is my Judge) is more probable than "Dan'el" (God is a Judge), because in consonance with the general structure of Hebrew names. It istherefore probably correct to vocalize the consonants in the three places thus: . (2) The hiatus between the vowels "i" and "e" gave rise to the prouunciation "Daniyel" (, Dan. i. 6), with the insertion of a consonantal'; compare "Eli'atah" ("Eliathah," I Chron. xxv. 4) with "Eliyata" (verse 27; compare König, "Historisch-Kritisches Lehrgebäude der Hebräischen Sprache," ii. 481 et seq.). The name should be interpreted, in accordance with Gen. xxx. 6, as "God is the Defender of my right."

The Name in the Old Testament.

The following persons called "Daniel" are mentioned in the O. T.: 1. A son of David by Abigail (I Chron. iii. 1); the parallel passage (II Sam. iii. 3) has "Chileab"; but this reading is perhaps a corruption due to the fact that the last three letters of are identical with the first three letters of the following word, , and the form in I Chron. iii. 1 is probably correct. The forms of his name found in the Septuagint—Δαλουια; and Δαμυιηλ—support this view, in that they show the first letter of the name to be ר (Δ). G. Kerber (in his "Die Religionsgeschichtliche Bedeutung der Hebr. Eigennamen," 1897, p. 36) combines the name "Kile'ab" with "Kaleb," the name of the well-known companion of Joshua, and with "keleb" = dog. This, however, is a mere hypothesis, and can not serve as an argument for the name "Kile'ab."

2. A man of extraordinary righteousness (Ezek. xiv. 14, 20) and wisdom (xxviii. 3), who appears to have been almost as well known as Noah and Job, with whom he is mentioned in both of the passages cited.

3. A priest of the sons of Ithamar (Ezra viii. 2). The parallel passage in the Greek Book of Ezra (viii. 29) has the forms Γαμαηλ, Γαμηλος, and Γαμαλιηλ, which are evidently miswritings for Δαυιηλ. This priest returned with Ezra from Babylonia to Jerusalem in 458 B.C., and was one of those who sealed Israel's covenant with God (Neh. x. 6).

Descent of Daniel.

4. The most important bearer of the name is the hero of the canonical Book of Daniel and of the additions found in the Septuagint. This Daniel was among the prisoners carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon after the capture of Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim; he was also one of the young men instructed, by order of Nebuchadnezzar, in the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans (Dan. i. 3-4). No mention is made, however, of Daniel's birthplace or family. It is not known whether he belonged to the family of the King of Israel or to that of an Israelitish magnate. Josephus ("Ant." x. 10, § 1) evidently inferred from Sanh. i. 3 that Daniel was a relation of King Zedekiah (ἧσαυ τῶυ ἐκ τοῦ Σεδεκίου γέυους τέσσαρες ), while Pseudo-Epiphanius, on the strength of the same passage, makes Daniel the scion of a noble Israelitish family (compare Prince, "Critical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," p. 25).

Daniel's Career.

The Chaldeans gave Daniel a new name derived from their own language; namely, "Belṭeshaẓẓar," the Hebraized form of "Balatshu-uẓur" (lit. "His Life Protect"). When requested to eat the food of the heathen, he asked that he and his Hebrew friends might be given their own food, in keeping with the Law of their fathers. Daniel soon had an opportunity to reap the reward of his piety; for, inspired by God, he interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and the king in return made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief over all the wise men of Babylon (Dan.ii. 48). Daniel distinguished himself a second time by interpreting another dream of Nebuchadnezzar (ib. iv.), and by deciphering the mysterious words "Mene, Mene, Teḳel, Ufarsin" (ib. v. 25).

Daniel retained his high position under Darius until his fellow dignitaries induced the king to issue a decree forbidding any one to ask anything of God, or of any man except the king, for a period of thirty days. When Daniel, nevertheless, continued to pray three times a day at an open window looking toward Jerusalem, he was cast into the lion's den, but was rescued by his God and honored anew by the king. He retained his influence until the third year of Cyrus' reign over Babylon (that is, up to 536 B.C.), and prophesied the future of God's kingdom (ib. i. 21, vi. 28, x. 1).

E. G. H. E. K.—In Rabbinical Literature:

According to rabbinical tradition Daniel was of royal descent; and his fate, together with that of his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, was foretold by the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah in these words, "and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" (Isa. xxxix. 7; compare Sanh. 93b; Pirḳe R. El. lii.; Origen, commentary to Matt. xv. 5; Jerome, commentary to Isaiah, l.c.). According to this view, Daniel and his friends were eunuchs, and were consequently able to prove the groundlessness of charges of immorality brought against them, which had almost caused their death at the hands of the king. Even in his youth, when he convicted the false witnesses against the pious and beautiful Susanna, Daniel gave proof of that wisdom (see Susanna, The Book of) which afterward made him so famous that it was said of him, "If he were in one scale of the balance and all the wise men of the heathens in the other, he would outweigh them all" (see Yoma 77a). When the king Nebuchadnezzar heard Daniel reproduce the dream which he had, had he could not doubt the truthfulness of his interpretation (Tan., ed. Buber, i. 191). Nebuchadnezzar admired Daniel greatly, although the latter refused the proffered divine honors, thus distinguishing himself favorably from his contemporary Hiram (the "prince of Tyre," in Ezek. xxviii.), who demanded honor as a god (Gen. R. xcvi.).

Nebuchadnezzar's Idol.

Life at court was fraught with many dangers for the pious Daniel. In the first place he denied himself much in the matter of food, since he would not partake of the wine and oil of the heathens ('Ab. Zarah 36a); and more than once he endangered his life by refusing to take part in the idolatry of the king. Daniel was not forced, as were his three friends, to worship the idol which Nebuchadnezzar set up; for the king, who well knew that Daniel would rather be cast into the fiery furnace than commit idolatry, sent him away fromBabylon in order that he might not be forced to condemn his own god—namely, Daniel, whom he worshiped—to death by fire. Furthermore, it was God's intention to cause the three men to be taken out of the furnace during the absence of Daniel, so that their rescue should not be ascribed to the merit of the latter (Sanh. 93a; compare also Cant. R. vii. 8, and Azariah in Rabbinical Literature). Nevertheless, the king endeavored to induce Daniel to worship the idol by trying to make him believe that it was something alive and real; and he ordered that there be placed in its mouth the frontlet ("ẓiẓ") of the high priest, on which was written the name of God; and since this name possessed the miraculous power of enabling inanimate things to speak, the idol could utter the words "I am thy god." Daniel, however, was not to be so easily deceived. Asking permission to kiss the idol on the mouth, he stepped before it and conjured the frontlet in the following words: "Although I am only a man of flesh and blood, yet I stand here as God's messenger. Take care that God's name is not desecrated by you, and thus I command you to follow me." While he was kissing the idol the frontlet passed from the idol's mouth into his. When Nebuchadnezzar, as usual, sent for musicians to give songs of praise to the idol, he noticed that Daniel had silenced it (Cant. R. vii. 9).

On another occasion Daniel was strongly urged by King Cyrus to recognize Bel, whose divinity was evidenced by the fact that he ate up the sacrifices placed daily before him. This was reported by the priests, who entered the temple every night by a subterranean passage, ate the sacrifices, and then announced that the idol had eaten the offerings. Daniel exposed this fraud. He had ashes strewn on the floor of the temple, and on the following day he convinced the king that persons had entered the temple at night, by showing him the footprints in the ashes. At another time a dragon was worshiped by the Babylonians, and their king tried to make Daniel also worship it. Daniel boiled pitch, fat, and hair together and gave lumps of it to the dragon, which thereupon burst.

In the Lion's Den.

Daniel's success at court naturally excited the envy and ill will of the Babylonians, who gathered in a mob and threatened the king and his house if he did not deliver Daniel to them. The king was powerless to resist, and the people took Daniel and threw him into a den with seven famished lions. Daniel remained there unharmed for six days, being fed during that time by the prophet Habakkuk, whom an angel had in an instant transported from Judea to Babylon, holding him by the hair of his head. On the seventh day the king went to the den to bewail Daniel, and was astonished to find him alive. Praising God for the help accorded to His pious servant, the king ordered that Daniel should be drawn out of the den and that his accusers should be cast therein; and they were immediately devoured by the wild beasts (see Bel and the Dragon).

In like manner was Daniel delivered from lions in the reign of Darius. By the advice of Daniel this ruler had placed the affairs of the government in the hands of a board composed of three officials, with Daniel at their head. He was, therefore, the second after the king. His high position excited the envy of the other officials, who, in an underhand way, succeeded in inducing the king to sign a decree forbidding any one, on pain of death, to pray to any god or man, except to the king (Yosippon, ed. Cracow, 1589, iii. 7a-7d). Although Daniel was not forced to sin in any way, he was prepared to sacrifice his life rather than omit his prayers; hence it was easy for his enemies to convict him of having violated the royal order. While he was at prayer his enemies entered his room, and watched to see whether the accusations against him could be substantiated, as the king did not believe them. Daniel did not omit his "Minḥah" prayer. Notwithstanding his friendship for Daniel, the king listened to the accusations of the nobles, and condemned him to be cast into the den of lions. The mouth of the den was closed with a huge stone, which had rolled of itself from Palestine to Babylon for that purpose. Upon this stone sat an angel in the shape of a lion, so that Daniel's enemies might not harass him (Midr. Teh. xxiv., lxvi.); and the beasts in the den received Daniel as faithful dogs might receive their returning master, wagging their tails and licking him (Yosippon, iii. 8b; Aphraates, "Homilies," ed. Wright, iv. 67). Early the next morning the king hastened to the den in order to learn Daniel's fate, and called him by name; but he received no answer, as Daniel was just then reading the "Shema'" (Midr. Teh. lxvi.), after having spent the night in song of praise to God, to which the lions had silently listened (Yosippon, l.c.). Daniel's enemies insisted that the lions were tame because they were not hungry, whereupon the king commanded that the accusers themselves spend a night with the beasts. As a result the enemies of Daniel, numbering 122, with their wives and children, making a total of 366 persons, were torn by 1,469 lions (Midr. Teh. l.c.; in Yosippon [l.c. 8c] this experience is attributed to Habakkuk. The legend of the dragon is in any case probably only a later differentiation of the Biblical story in Dan. vi.).

These miracles kept Daniel in favor with the king, who thereupon issued orders that the Jews should return to Palestine and rebuild the Temple. Daniel's great age induced him to ask for his dismissal from the king's service; but his request was not granted until he had found a worthy successor in Zerubbabel, whom he recommended to the king for all the offices that he himself had filled. Daniel was then graciously dismissed with valuable presents from the king, and went to Shushan, where he lived piously until his death (Yosippon, l.c. 9d-10a; but compare Cant. R., l.c., according to which Daniel returned to Palestine at the command of Cyrus). Although Daniel was no prophet, God held him worthy to receive the revelation of the destiny of Israel, even to the Day of Judgment, thus distinguishing him from his friends, the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who had no visions (Dan. x. 7). Daniel, however, forgot the "end" () revealed to him, after an angel had shown him everything (Gen. R. xcviii. 2).

E. C. L. G.—In Arabic Literature:

The Moslems consider Daniel as a prophet, though he is not mentioned in the Koran. It was he who preached in Babylonian 'Iraḳ—that is to say, Chaldea—exhorting the people to return to God. He lived during the reigns of the Persian king Lahorasp and of Cyrus, and taught these two princes the unity of God and the true religion. Tabari says ("Chronique," French translation of Zotenberg, i. 44) that thousands of people who had died in a certain town from an epidemic were resuscitated a thousand years later by the prayer of Daniel, a legend probably borrowed from Ezek. xxxvii. 1-10.

When Daniel had become a noted prophet, Cyrus made him the chief of all his kingdom in order that he might teach his people the true religion. The prophet asked the king to let him go back to Palestine and build the Temple. Cyrus consented to the reconstruction of the sanctuary, but refused to let him go, saying, "If I had a thousand prophets like thee, I should have them all stay with me." There is another tradition, to the effect that Daniel was king of the Israelites after their return from captivity.

According to Muḥammad ibn Jarir (quoted by Tabari, l.c. p. 751), it was Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lion's den. A pit was dug purposely for him; and he and five companions were cast before a famished animal. Shortly afterward the king, on approaching the pit, saw there seven persons instead of six. The seventh was an angel, who struck Nebuchadnezzar a blow in the face, and by that changed him into a wild beast.

The Arabs attribute to Daniel the invention of geomancy ("'ilm al-raml") and the authorship of the "Usul al-Ta'bir" (The Principles of Interpreting Dreams).

Mas'udi says there were two Daniels: Daniel the Elder, who lived in the period between Noah and Abraham, and was the father of the above-mentioned sciences; and Daniel the Younger, who, according to a tradition, was the maternal uncle of Cyrus, whose mother was a Jewess. The Arabs attribute to him the book "Kitab al-Jafar" (Divination) and many predictions relative to the Persian kings.

  • Tabari, Chronigue (French transl. by Zotenberg), i. 44, 496, 503, 571, ii. 283;
  • Mas'udi, Les Prairies d'Or (ed. B. de Meynard), ii. 128;
  • D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, s.v.
E. G. H. M. Sel.