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Book of Daniel

DANIEL, BOOK OF, a book of the third division of the Hebrew Bible, the Hagiographa, named for a man Daniel whose fortunes and predictions are the subject of the book.


When the Book of Daniel is examined for content and literary character, it falls naturally into two roughly equal parts which may be designated Daniel A and Daniel B. Daniel A (chs. 1–6) comprises six stories, told in the third person, about the trials and triumphs of Daniel and his three companions; while Daniel B (chs. 7–12) consists of four accounts, cast in the first person, of as many apocalyptic revelations received by Daniel.

Summary of Daniel A (Dan. chs. 1–6)


Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, took back with him from Judah several boys of good family, handsome looks, and promising intellect, and charged his grand vizier with the task, to be completed in three years, of rearing and educating them "in booklore and in the Chaldean tongue" (1:4) in order to qualify them for the king's service. Four of these boys, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego by the vizier – were so pious and so ingenious as to make an arrangement with the lower official to whom the vizier had assigned them whereby they exchanged with him the excellent rations they received from the king for raw vegetables. Finding, after a ten-day trial, that the four lads looked even healthier than the others, the official continued the arrangement indefinitely. At the end of their period of training, the king found them superior not only to their fellow students but to all the magicians and enchanters of his realm.


Daniel came to the king's notice even before the three years were over. The king had had a dream which greatly perturbed him. He burned with eagerness to know what it meant, but reasoned that he could be sure that an interpretation was correct only if the interpreter was able to narrate the dream itself without being told it. Since none of his masters of occult lore was able to do this, the king ordered his captain of the guard to execute all the savants of Babylon. The officer proceeded to do so, and since Daniel and his companions came under the definition of savants, they were also to be put to death. On asking the captain of the guard for the reason and receiving his answer, Daniel persuaded him to discontinue the slaughter for a few hours and promised that at the end of that time he would come up with the answer to the king's questions. Then he and his companions prayed, and the solution was revealed to Daniel in a dream. Brought before the king, Daniel narrated the king's dream and interpreted it to mean that Nebuchadnezzar's domination of the whole world would be followed by the successive world ascendancies of three other monarchies, after which God would set up a fifth monarchy that would destroy the four previous monarchies and would endure forever. On hearing this, Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with admiration for Daniel and his God that he appointed Daniel both supreme administrator of the whole province of Babylon and supreme prefect over all the savants of Babylon; but at Daniel's request the supreme administrative office was divided among his three companions, while he retained only the advisory one (2:49).

CHAPTER 3:1–30.

As high-ranking administrators, the three companions were affected by the decree which Nebuchadnezzar issued to all the top functionaries (3:2–3) to bow down to the image which he set up, but they ignored it. Certain Chaldeans thereupon denounced them to the king. They were doubtless functionaries, subordinate – and naturally jealous – colleagues of the Jewish administrators-in-chief. Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego thrown into a blazing furnace; but not even their clothes were singed, and again he expressed his admiration for the God of the Jews and even further exalted the three Jewish top officials.

CHAPTERS 3:31–5:30.

As for Daniel the sage, he interpreted a second dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the one that portended the king's seven years' lycanthropy, and a portent of a different nature – the famous writing on the wall – concerning Nebuchadnezzar's successor Belshazzar, who had not been aware of Daniel's extraordinary gifts until informed by the queen mother. Belshazzar thereupon bestowed upon Daniel, not an academic or advisory office, but the exalted administrative one of triumvir.


Daniel remained a triumvir (though with a different title) under Belshazzar's successor Darius the Mede, and so distinguished himself in this capacity that the king placed him in sole charge of the empire. Then it was Daniel's turn to become the butt of professional jealousy. His rivals, taking advantage of Daniel's uncompromising piety, maneuvered the king into a position in which he was compelled, to his dismay, to order Daniel thrown into a lion pit. (The plotters persuaded the king to promulgate a decree forbidding anyone to address a petition to any being but the king for 30 days: a Jewish misunderstanding of the Babylonian superstition that food offerings – and hence the accompanying prayers – offered to one's personal god in the month of Tevet were unlucky. Surely a Jew's conscience need not deter him, in such circumstances, from abstaining for 30 days from all prayer, let alone ostentatious prayer; but the plotters knew that Daniel would

Illustrations from a missal, south Armenia, 1331, showing Daniel sleeping. Jerusalem, Library of the Armenian Patriarchate, Ms. 95, fol. 142r. Illustrations from a missal, south Armenia, 1331, showing Daniel sleeping. Jerusalem, Library of the Armenian Patriarchate, Ms. 95, fol. 142r.

under no circumstances dispense with praying on his knees three times daily at open windows – not in a New York penthouse but less than ten feet above the ground.) After expressing to Daniel the hope that the God he served so faithfully will save him, the king departs for a supperless evening and a sleepless night in his palace. At the crack of dawn, he hurries back to the edge of the pit and calls in a broken voice, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, has the God whom you constantly worship been able to save you from the lions?" And what is his joy to hear Daniel's voice and be reassured! He promptly orders Daniel pulled up and his accusers cast down, and these the beasts give short shrift. Darius issues a decree that Daniel's God must be treated with awe and reverence throughout his realm, and Daniel continues to serve with distinction as vizier to Darius the Mede and to Cyrus the Persian.

Summary of Daniel B (Dan. chs. 7–12)


The story of Daniel here reverts to the Chaldean period, the first year of King Belshazzar. The experience of Daniel related in this chapter has nothing to do with his character and career as a savant who interprets dreams and portents for kings or as a minister of state who is the victim of his rivals' intrigues. Instead, Daniel's role is that of an apocalyptist. Here, Daniel himself has a disturbing dream, and while the fact is stated in 7:1 in the third person, it is also stated there that Daniel himself wrote an account of the dream, and 7:2ff. (apart from the introductory phrase at the beginning of verse 2) is simply the text of Daniel's first person narrative. (The next two revelations, chapters 8 and 9, are narrated by Daniel in the first person without a third person introduction.) Daniel's dream in 7:1, like those of Nebuchadnezzar in chapters 2 and 4, is symbolic, but Daniel is as much at a loss to interpret the symbols as Nebuchadnezzar was to interpret those in his dreams; in the dream itself, however, Daniel asks an angel to enlighten him, and the angel obliges. In doing so, the angel sketches a succession of four transient monarchies and a fifth enduring one, similar to that which the sage Daniel sketched in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter 2. In chapter 7, however, there is the additional feature of judgment and retribution: the beast which represents the first kingdom is annihilated ("taken from the earth") at the end of its period of ascendancy (verse 4, apart from the last two clauses, which are out of place – see below); the fourth, which is of a particularly oppressive character (7, 23) is annihilated at the conclusion of a solemn judgment by the divine tribunal (9–11); but the middle two are suffered to live on even after their loss of dominion (12). It is also made clear here that the fifth, world-wide, and everlasting, empire will be ruled by a people of "saints of the Most High," i.e., the Jews.


Daniel relates that in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar he had a vision (rather than a dream). Again the features are symbolic, and their symbolism is explained to Daniel by an angel. Again the explanation involves a succession of monarchies, and this time they are identified by name: symbolized by a ram with two tall horns that sprout successively, the later one taller than the first, are the two Iranian monarchies, the Median and the Persian respectively. Symbolized by a he-goat with first one great horn which is broken and then four great horns that sprout in its stead, are respectively the united Greek world-kingdom (i.e., that of Alexander the Great) and its successor kingdoms; and symbolized by a smaller horn which branches off from one of the four successor horns is a particular king of one of the successor kingdoms (i.e., the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes). This branch horn is represented as performing certain antics culminating in the banishing of the tamid ("the constant," i.e., the daily burnt offerings) from the "stand" (i.e., altar) of "the Commander of the Host [of Heaven]" (i.e., God) and the setting up of an "offense" on that stand (11–12).


The apocalypse, dated in the first year of Darius the Mede, is neither a symbolic dream nor a symbolic vision. The angel Gabriel visits Daniel and communicates a "word" to him (9:21–24). As it happens, the designation angelus interpres would not be a misnomer if applied to Gabriel in this case, for if he does not interpret symbols, he does interpret Scripture. The occasion of his coming is Daniel's prayer for enlightenment on the meaning of Jeremiah's prediction (Jer. 25:11–12; 29:10) that "the ruins of Jerusalem" (Dan. 9:2) would endure 70 years. The interpretation is as follows: a period of 70 weeks of years was decreed for the expiation of the national guilt. At the end of the seventh week, an "anointed prince" (probably a high priest) will function again; at the end of another 62 weeks, an "anointed one" will be cut off. The remaining week will be one of religious persecution, and for the duration of its second half, sacrifice and oblation will be abolished and "an abomination of desolation" (called "offense" in 8:12) will occupy their "stand" (reading kannam for kenaf in 9:27).


As in chapter 7, Daniel is introduced briefly in the third person and then proceeds in the first person. The date of this apocalypse is given as the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, and like chapter 9 it consists entirely of a "word" (10:1 – three times) communicated to Daniel by an angel. It is vouchsafed him in response to prayer, but to judge by the content of the "word," the prayer was not for an exposition of scripture but simply for information on what was going to happen from the present (i.e., the third year of Cyrus) to the redemption of Israel, though occasionally, to be sure, the phrasing indicates that some old prophetic verse is being expounded. The angel then informs Daniel (11:2bff.) that Cyrus will be followed by three more Persian kings, but that after that the ascendancy will pass on to the Greeks. There will first be one mighty Greek king (obviously Alexander the Great), but his empire will split into a separate kingdom for each of the four points of the compass. First the king of the southern succession state (Ptolemy I) will be the most powerful, but then one of his officers, the king of the north (Seleucus I), will become stronger than he. There follows (verses 6–30) a remarkably accurate account of the wars and marriages between the dynasty of the north (the Seleucids) and that of the south (the Lagids) down to the Seleucid Antiochus IV and the joint Lagid kings Ptolemy VI and VII, with the Roman intervention which compelled Antiochus to withdraw from Egypt in the year 168 B.C.E., clearly hinted at at the beginning of verse 30. Then, Antiochus' measures against Judaism from the years 168 to 166 or 165 are described from verse 31 through verse 39 inclusive. The rest of the book is concerned with what is expected to happen after that.


Traditional View

Both the rabbis of the Talmudic Age and the Christian Church Fathers accepted the book's own statements that the four apocalypses of Daniel B were written by a man named Daniel in the last years of the Babylonian Age and in the first ones of the Persian Age, i.e., approximately in the decade 545–535 B.C.E., and they did not question the historicity of any part of Daniel A.

Critical View


If prediction of events in detail of the far future is theoretically possible, it is, on the other hand, unexampled in the Torah and the Prophets, and events so far in the future would be of no discoverable relevance to the lives of his audience or readers. This is what struck the neoplationist pagan philosopher Porphyry (3rd century C.E.). His pertinent work has been lost, but the Latin Church Father *Jerome (early 5th century C.E.) cites him occasionally in his commentary on Daniel, and at the beginning of his introduction to that commentary he quotes him as follows: "[The Book of Daniel] was composed by someone who lived in Judea in the reign of Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes, and he did not predict coming events but narrated past ones. Consequently, what he relates down to Antiochus embodies true history; but if he added any surmises about the future, he just invented them, for he did not know the future." Strange to say, Porphyry (according to Jerome) did not realize that the campaign described in Daniel 11:40 was an "added surmise," but asserted that Antiochus undertook a third campaign in Egypt, which is contrary to fact. Equally significant is the inaccuracy of the book's knowledge of pre-Hellenistic history. After Cyrus there reigned over the Persian Empire not a mere three kings (11:2) but ten (1 Cambyses, 2 Xerxeses, 3 Dariuses, 3 Artaxerxeses and 1 Arses). There never was a Darius the Mede (6:1; 9:1; 11:1), and Belshazzar (5:1, 2, 30; 7:1) never was king. Though Belshazzar deputized for his father King Nabonidus during the latter's prolonged absence from Babylon, documents continued to be dated there by regnal years of Nabonidus, and Belshazzar was never designated otherwise than as "the king's son." The most charitable view of the inaccuracy in Daniel 1:1, 2 is that "third year" is a mistake for "third month" and "Jehoiakim" for "Jehoiachin" (cf. II Kings 24:8ff.). However, Porphyry erred in ascribing all of the book to a person who lived in Judea in the reign of Antiochus IV (176/5–163 B.C.E.). Daniel B was indeed composed by such a person, or rather by four such persons (see infra). Daniel A, on the other hand, is unquestionably earlier, as was recognized by an impressive array of scholars in the first half of the 20th century (as a brief statement of the case, J.A. Montgomery, pp. 89–90 (see bibl.), is admirable). Since no anti-Epiphanian propaganda is discernible in Daniel chapters two or four, let alone in the story about King Darius in chapter six, it must be concluded that Daniel A chs. 1–6 (all summarized above) antedates Epiphanes' reign. A more precise dating of Daniel A is obtained through certain later additions to chapter two, viz. 2:42–43 and the expression "and the toes" in verse 41. These additions do not only add in the middle of the dream's original interpretation (vv. 36–45) a feature absent from the preceding narration of the dream (vv.31–35), but they correct the original interpretation of the dream in which they occur. For first, the narration in 33b states merely that the feet of the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream were partly of iron and partly of clay. Secondly, according to the original interpretation of this in verse 41, verse 33b is explained to mean that the fourth kingdom will (ultimately) be a divided kingdom, but that something of the character of iron will permeate all its parts, since the two substances are combined in both feet. This is especially clear if we omit "and the toes" (which is missing in the versions anyway): "And as you saw the feet (and toes) partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the miry clay." However, verses 42–43, on the other hand, interpret a feature which is not found in the original narration. They assert that in the dream some of the toes were entirely of iron and some entirely of clay; this signifying that, in contradiction to verse 41, one part of the divided kingdom will be firm (throughout) and the other will be fragile (throughout). The feature on which verse 41 based its view, namely, that in the feet the iron and the earthenware are combined, is – so verses 42–43 assert – to be interpreted otherwise: it signifies that the two dynasties will attempt to fuse "by means of human seed," i.e., by biological union. However, the combination was not to endure, just as iron does not mix with earthenware. Such an avowed correction of an immediately preceding interpretation can only be an interpolation, and it can only have been occasioned by a dramatic upset of the balance of power. As it happens, such an upset of the balance of power, linked to an unsuccessful attempt by two dynasties to interbreed, is known from history. In the year 252 B.C.E. Antiochus II put aside his wife (she was also his sister) Laodice and espoused Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II, and thus was born a son in whose veins coursed the blood of both dynasties. However, Antiochus became reconciled with Laodice. His sudden death was believed to have been caused by poisoning that Laodice ordered, and the subsequent murder of Berenice's child certainly was ordered by her. In the end she disposed of Berenice as well, thereby putting an end to the very attempt at "fusion." In the year 246, however, Berenice's brother Ptolemy III avenged her by invading the Seleucid Empire, reaching Bactria; although he permanently annexed only some islands and other coastal areas, as a result of his blows Asia Minor and the enormous satrapy of Media revolted and were not reconquered by the house of Seleucus for a quarter of a century. The interpolation in chapter two must therefore date from 246 or shortly after. Of course, the main text is earlier than the interpolation. It can be dated with considerable probability at around 304 B.C.E. In this respect, verses 44–45 are particularly significant. "(44) And in the days of those [i.e., the aforementioned four] kingdoms, the God of Heaven will raise up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and whose sovereignty shall never be left to another people. It [i.e., the fifth kingdom] shall pulverize and annihilate all those kingdoms but shall itself endure for evermore (45) inasmuch as you saw a stone rolling from the mountain unpropelled by hands and pulverizing the earthenware, the iron, the copper, the silver, and the gold…. " It is the author of Daniel chapter two who first reasoned, from the fact that all the five substances in the dream endured until the impact of the stone, that none of the first three world-dominating monarchies would be destroyed by its successor but that all three would endure, though no longer dominant, until the fifth one appeared and destroyed both them and the fourth. The interpolation (as interpreted here) along with other indications identifies the fourth kingdom as the Greek; verses 37–38 identify the first as the Babylonian or Chaldean; and in the light of verse 30 and 6:1, 29 (cf. 8:1; 9:1; 10:1; 11:3, 5, 20–21), the two middle ones can only be the Median and the Persian. The question therefore arises, when did a post-imperial Babylonian monarchy, a post-imperial Median monarchy, and a post-imperial Persian monarchy exist side by side with a single but divided Greek imperial monarchy? The answer is that they existed together after Seleucus had returned to his satrapy of Babylon in 312 and had begun to call himself king (at first, only vis-à-vis his Oriental subjects, and in 305 or 304, vis-à-vis Hellenes as well), but only while he was still confined to southern Mesopotamia, and while Ptolemy, Antigonus, and others, though fighting each other, were fighting a civil war within a theoretically united realm, that is, before 301. By the latter date Seleucus, in getting rid of Antigonus in alliance with Ptolemy, had expanded into Syria; Seleucus and Ptolemy had more or less agreed on their common border; and Ptolemy and all the other successors had also donned crowns and proclaimed themselves kings. Within this period while Seleucus was only king of Babylonia, the territories representing the residual Median and Persian monarchies were Atropatene – which Strabo also calls Atropatian Media – and Persis respectively. These persisted as semiautonomous kingdoms, or principalities, not only throughout the Hellenistic period but well into the Roman. Chapter 2 may have been integrated into the collection which we have denominated Daniel A (at which time the initial and final verses were added to it) either before or after the interpolation verses 42–43, so that the collection Daniel A may be dated roughly in "the middle decades of the third century B.C.E."


Daniel B is in its entirety a product of the reign of Antiochus IV, but it is not all from a single hand. It is the work of four apocalyptists, who have been designated as Apoc I, Apoc II, Apoc III, and Apoc IV. Apoc I comprises all of chapter 7 minus the verses and clauses which speak of an eleventh horn and an eleventh king (namely 8, 11a [minus בֵּאדַיִן plus חָזֵה הֲוֵית עַד דִּי], 11b, 20 [from וְאָחֳרִי on], 22, 24b–25). This apocalypse represents an updating of the dream and interpretation in chapter 2. For it, the fourth kingdom is not (as in ch. 2) the Greek kingdom (it is too far removed from the time when there was a single Greek kingdom either in fact or in theory), but the Seleucid kingdom. For it says of the fourth kingdom (24a), "And the ten horns – ten kings will arise from that kingdom." The Seleucids regarded themselves as the legitimate successors of Alexander the Great, and Berosus, a subject of Antiochus I, notes that the latter is the third king after Alexander. For him to be the third, one of the joint kings who was recognized by the generals after Alexander's death – his half brother Philip and his posthumous son Alexander – must be disregarded; probably it was Philip, who died some years before Seleucus returned to Babylon, unlike Alexander, who lived to about that date, so that Seleucus could be regarded as his successor. The first ten kings of Asia, were then, according to the Seleucid canon: (1) Alexander I; (2) Alexander II; (3) Seleucus I; (4) Antiochus I; (5) Antiochus II; (6) Seleucus II; (7) Seleucus III; (8) Antiochus III; (9) Seleucus IV; and (10) Antiochus IV. There is now available a Seleucid king list from Babylonia, which apparently counts no king at all from Alexander's death to the accession of Alexander II in 317 (see Pritchard, Texts3, 567). The essential message of Apoc I is therefore this: The days of the wicked Seleucid kingdom are numbered; its present sovereign shall be its last. Yet Apoc I does not enlarge upon the wickedness of this particular king or hint at what his wickedness consisted of. This would hardly be conceivable after the paganization of the Temple and the outlawing of Judaism, which threatened it with early extinction. It would be conceivable, however, at any time from the beginning of Antiochus IV's reign, when he began to sell the high priesthood to the highest bidder and to encourage Hellenization, through the year 169 when he plundered the Temple down to the year 168 when he crushed a Jewish rebellion and abolished the temple state of Jerusalem, and established a pagan polis on the Akra and gave it control of the Temple. In fact its terminus ante quem is the paganization of the Temple and the proscription of Judaism at the very end of the year 167. After the latter developments, on the other hand, the absence of a specific allusion to them would be incomprehensible. That is why the author of the secondary matter (see above) in the chapter – who probably did not know the Seleucid king list – could not imagine that Antiochus IV was included among the ten kings of the original text and so added an eleventh. It is the author of Apoc IV who made all these additions (except perhaps verses 21–22, which may be from a still later hand), which we therefore designate by the siglum I–4. (For further characteristics of Apoc I, see above, the first paragraph under the heading "Daniel B.") Apoc II comprises the original matter in chapter 8, the secondary verses being 13–14, 16, 18–19, 26a, 27b. Verses 18–19 are from the author of Apoc III and are designated by the siglum II–3; the remaining interpolations are by the author of Apoc IV and are designated by the siglum II–4. Apoc II was written after the appalling developments of December 167, which it clearly reflects and the end of whose author it predicts. It adopts the form of a vision instead of a dream because the Hebrew word for "vision" (ḥazon) is the one used in the sense of "prediction" in Habakkuk 2:3, and the author wishes to stress that his ḥazon is, like Habakkuk's, for a future date (8:17). To Habakkuk, this circumstance is offered as a reason for the divine command to write down the ḥazon; in Apoc II it is further stressed that the future date in question is distant, and this, i.e., the fact that the ḥazon has no message for Daniel's contemporaries, is the reason which is given to Daniel (8:26) for the angel's instruction to "conceal" (to be discovered and opened in due course). Apoc III is the original part of chapters 10–12. Within this Apoc IV has transposed the two half verses 10:21b and 10:21a, and added 11:1–2a, 12:5–9, and 11–12 (unless, as is probable, verse 12 is still later). It is Apoc III who is the first to dispense with symbolic dreams or visions and to substitute a simple narration of future history by an angel who draws from memory upon "that which is inscribed in the Book of Truth" (10:21). Apoc III, like Apoc II, utilizes Habakkuk 2:3, but he departs further from its original sense. What he stresses is that more ḥazon (by which he means scheduled events) has yet to elapse until the final redemption (10:14; 11:27), and he has even inserted a remark to that effect in the work of Apoc II (8:19 with 8:18; cf. 10:9). But Apoc III is particularly noteworthy for identifying, on the one hand, the Assyria of Numbers 24:24 and of Isaiah's prophecies with the Seleucid Empire, and the impious Assyrian king of Isaiah with Antiochus IV Epiphanes; and, on the other hand, as follows: (a) the servant of Isaiah 52:13–53:12 with those who, during the Epiphanian persecution, instructed (it is thus that he interprets the yaskil of Isa. 52:13) the not willingly apostate but despairing masses in the meaning of the ancient prophecies, thereby encouraging them to resist, or "justifying" them; (b) "the many" of Isaiah 52 with those despairing masses in Daniel 11:33–34 (the last word is to be deleted as a variant of the similar one in verse 32) and 12:3; and (c) the willing Hellenizers with the wicked of Isaiah 66:24 (Dan. 11:32; 12:2; note the word דֵּרָאוֹן, which is confined to Isa. 66:24 and Dan. 12:2). Because Isaiah represents Assyria as the staff of the Lord's indignation and as destined to oppress Judah until the indignation has spent itself, Apoc III not only employs the same language about Antiochus (cf. notably 11:36b with Isa. 10:23, 25) but infers from Isaiah 26:19ff. that the end of the indignation will be followed by a resurrection of some of the dead (Dan. 12:2) – the earliest formulation of a doctrine of resurrection. Since Apoc III knows nothing of Antiochus' departure for the East in the summer of 165 and expects instead a third expedition against Egypt, the summer of 165 is its terminus ante quem. Apoc IV, finally, is chapter 9. Its contribution (see above Daniel B) is the scheme of weeks of years, with the outlawing of Judaism falling in the middle of the last week. Apoc IV has interpolated this view into each of its three predecessors (7:26ff.; 8:14; 12:7, 11[12]). In the course of his interpolation in Apoc I, the author of Apoc IV betrays the fact that he postdates the expedition, in the summer of 165, to the East, which added Artaxias of Armenia to the two kings of Egypt whom Antiochus had defeated in 169 and 168 (7:24ff.). On the other hand, he does not know of the king's proclamation of amnesty in the winter of 164, still less of the rededication of the Temple in December 164 and of the king's death in the spring of 163; he therefore antedates these.


The genre to which Daniel B belongs is clearly apocalyptic. This type of literature arose in the Hellenistic period. The oldest parallel was pointed out by Eduard Meyer. It is a Demotic papyrus containing interpretations of obscure oracles. The author of these interpretations attributes them to the reign of the Pharaoh Tachos (360–359), to this king and to earlier ones who rebelled against the Persians. But he also alludes, in his interpretations, to persons and events from Tachos to his own time, which is the end of the third century B.C.E., and promises that the Greeks will be driven out of Egypt by a prince who will reign at Heracleopolis – a prediction which did not come true. The genre of Daniel A, on the other hand, is the courtier tale. There is in the Bible the story of the courtier Joseph, who was both an inspired interpreter of dreams and an admirable administrator: Daniel is the former in chapters 2 and 4 and the closely related interpreter of portents in chapter 5, and he is the latter in chapter 6. His three companions are also government officials in chapter 3. With the wise heathen courtier *Ahikar and the Jewish courtier *Mordecai, these Jewish ones have in common the trait of being plotted against by rivals who, however, are hoist with their own petard. Chapter 2 contains, so to speak, an apocalypse within a courtier tale, and the former is interesting for its utilization of borrowed motifs. The motif of four empires followed by a fifth is of Iranian origin. In the Iranian version, first the Assyrian kings ruled the world, then the Median, then the Persian, then the Greek (i.e., the Seleucid kings), but this fourth monarchy was destined to be supplanted by a fifth. No doubt the Iranians expected the fifth to be again a Persian kingdom, but the tradition reached Rome before 171 B.C.E. in a form which interprets Rome as the fifth empire. Daniel 2 merely says that the fifth kingdom will be set up by God, but no doubt it expects the Jewish people to occupy a position of honor in it. In addition, Daniel 2 substitutes Babylon or Chaldea for Assyria, which results in bad history, since the Median empire did not follow the Chaldean but coexisted with it, and, in fact, came to an end a decade before the other. The series gold, copper, silver, iron originally (as early as Hesiod, 8th century B.C.E.) symbolized the four ages of a progressively deteriorating world. The four monarchies which these metals symbolize in chapter 2, on the other hand, do not constitute a consistently descending series – the second is inferior to the first, but after that it is a rising series. Other probable and possible borrowed motifs are pointed out in recent commentaries.


In the book as it is now known, 1:1–2:4a and chapters 8–12 are Hebrew, the rest *Aramaic. Originally, it was entirely Aramaic. The popular story book Daniel A was composed in Aramaic because by the third century B.C.E. it was the language of the majority of Jews; and Daniel B, being a continuation of Daniel A, was written in the same language. That the Hebrew portions have a strong Aramaic tinge would not suffice by itself to prove that it was translated from Aramaic, but the occurrence of passages which can only be understood as translations of misread Aramaic does constitute such proof. A simple example is 12:8: "I heard but I did not understand, so I said: 'My Lord, what is the אַחֲרִית of all these things?'" The Hebrew word means "end," but "end" is pointless here. What Daniel wanted was the explanation of what he had heard. A glance at 5:12 suggests that behind אַחֲרִית is an Aramaic אַחֲוָיַת, "the explanation of," which had become corrupted to אַחֲרִית, or which the translator misread as אַחֲרִית (for further examples, see Ginsberg, in JBL, 68 (1949), 402–7).


O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, an Introduction (1965), 512–3 (comprehensive listing of literature); idem, in: ZAW, 72 (1960), 134–48; idem, Kleine Schriften, 3 (1966), 513–25; J.A. Montgomery, The Book of Daniel (ICC, 1927); H.H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel (1935, 19592); Meyer, Ursp, 2 (1922), 184–99; E. Bickermann, Der Gott der Makkabaeer (1937); idem, Four Strange Books of the Bible (1967), 51–138; Swain, in: Classical Philology, 35 (1940), 1–21; H.L. Ginsberg, Studies in Daniel (1948); idem, in: VT, 3 (1953), 400–4; 4 (1954), 246–75; EM, 2 (1965), 686–97, 949–52; A.R. Emanuel Silva, A Critical Analysis of the Historicity of the Book of Daniel (1968). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Hartman and A. Di Lella, The Book of Daniel (AB; 1978); J. Collins, in: ABD II, 329–37; A.S. van der Woude (ed.), The Book of Daniel in the Light of New Findings (1993).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.