DANIEL, BOOK OFFor Biblical Data see Daniel.

—Critical View:

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.

  • 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.
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