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Modern objections to the Book of Daniel were started by German scholars who were prejudiced against the supernatural. Daniel foretells events that have occurred in history. Therefore, argue these scholars, the alleged predictions must have been written after the events.
But the supernatural is not impossible, nor is it improbable if sufficient reason for it exists. It is not impossible, for instance, that an event so marvelous as the coming of the Divine into humanity in the person of Jesus Christ should be predicted. So far from being impossible, it seems to common sense exceedingly probable; and furthermore, it seems not unreasonable that a prophet predicting a great and far distant event, like that indicated above, should give some evidence to his contemporaries or immediate successors that he was a true prophet. Jeremiah foretold the seventy years captivity. Could his hearers be warranted in believing that? Certainly. For he also foretold that all those lands would be subjected to the king of Babylon. A few years showed this latter prophecy to be true, and reasonable men believed the prediction about the seventy years.
But the attacks of the German scholars would have been innocuous had it not been for their copyists. The German scholars—even theological professors—are not necessarily Christians. Religion is with them an interesting psychological phenomenon. Their performances are not taken too seriously by their compeers. But outside of their learned circles a considerable number of writers and professors in schools, anxious to be in the forefront, have taken the German theories for proven facts, and by saying “all scholars are agreed,” etc., have spread an opinion that the Book of Daniel is a pious fraud.
There is another class of impugners of Daniel—good men, who do not deny the ability of God to interpose in human affairs and foretell to His servants what shall be hereafter. These men, accepting as true what they hear asserted as the judgment of “all scholars” and regretfully supposing that Daniel is a fiction, have endeavored to save something from the wreck of a book which has been the stay of suffering saints through the ages, by expatiating on its moral and religious teaching. It is probable that these apologists—victims themselves of a delusion which they did not create but which they have hastily and foolishly accepted—have done more harm than the mistaken scholars or the hasty copyists, for they have fostered the notion that a frand may be used for holy ends, and that a forger is a proper teacher of religious truth, and that the Son of God approved a lie.
The scholars find that in chapter 8 of Daniel, under the figure of a very little horn, Antiochus Epiphanes is predicted as doing much hurt to the Jews. The vision is of the ram and he-goat which represent Persia and Greece, so specified by name. A notable horn of the he-goat, Alexander the Great, was broken, and in its place came four horns, the four kingdoms into which the Greek empire was divided. From one of these four sprang the little horn. That this refers primarily to Antiochus Epiphanes there is no doubt. He died about 163 B. C. The theory of the rationalistic critics is that some “pious and learned Jew” wrote the Book of Daniel at that time to encourage the Maccabees in their revolt against this bad king; that the book pretends to have been written in Babylon, 370 years before, in order to make it pass current as a revelation from God. This theory has been supported by numerous arguments, mostly conjectural, all worthless and, in a recent publication, a few designedly delusive.
The imaginary Jew is termed “pious” because lofty religious ideas mark the book, and “learned” because he exhibits so intimate an acquaintance with the conditions and environments of the Babylonian court four centuries before his date. But as no man, however, learned, can write an extended history out of his own imagination without some inaccuracies, the critics have searched diligently for mistakes. The chief of these supposed mistakes will be considered below.
We meet a difficulty at the threshold of the critics’ hypothesis. Dan. 9:26 predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; a calamity so frightful to the Jewish mind that the Septuagint shrank from translating the Hebrew. What sort of encouragement was this? The hypothesis limps at the threshold.
Having Antiochus Epiphanes in chapter 8 the rationalistic critics try to force him into chapter 7. They find a little horn in chapter 7 and struggle to identify him with the “very little horn” of chapter 8. There is no resemblance between them. The words translated “little horn” are different in the different chapters. The little horn of chapter 7 springs up as an eleventh horn among ten kings. He is diverse from other kings. He continues till the Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven and the kingdom which shall never be destroyed is set up. Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn of chapter 8, comes out of one of the four horns into which Alexander’s kingdom resolved itself. He was not diverse from other kings but was like scores of other bad monarchs, and he did not continue till the Son of Man.
These divergences render the attempted identification absurd, but an examination of the two sets of prophecies in their entirety shows this clearly. Chapters 2 and 7 are a prophecy of the world’s history to the end. Chapters 8 and 11 refer to a crisis in Jewish history, a crisis now long past.
Chapter 2, the Image with its head of gold, breast of silver, belly of brass, legs of iron, feet and toes of mingled iron and clay, tells of four world-kingdoms, to be succeeded by a number of sovereignties, some strong, some weak, which would continue till the God of heaven should set up a kingdom never to be destroyed. Chapter 7, the Four Beasts, is parallel to the Image. The same four world-empires are described; the fourth beast, strong and terrible, to be succeeded by ten kings, who should continue till the coming of the Son of Man, who should set up an everlasting kingdom.
These four world-empires were Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. There have been no other world-empires since. Efforts have been made to unite the divided sovereignties of Europe by royal intermarriages and by conquest, but the iron and clay would not cleave together. The rapidity of the Greek conquest is symbolized by the swift leopard with four wings; its division by four heads. The Roman empire is diverse from the others—it was a republic and its iron strength is dissipated among the nations which followed it and which exist today, still iron and clay.
These prophecies which are illustrated in every particular by history to the present moment stand in the way of the unbelieving theory. The Roman empire, the greatest of all, must be eliminated to get rid of prediction, and any shift promising that end has been welcomed. One set of critics makes the kingdom of the Seleticidae, which was one of the parts of the Greek empire, the fourth world-kingdom, but it never was a world-kingdom. It was part of the Greek empire—one of the four heads upon the leopard. Another set creates an imaginary Median empire between Babylon and Persia. There was no such empire. The Medo-Persian empire was one. Cyrus, the Persian, conquered Babylon. All history says so and the excavations prove it.
Among the nations which were to take the place of the fallen Roman empire, another power was to rise—a“little horn,” shrewd and arrogant. It was to wear out the saints of the Most High, to be diverse from the other ten sovereignties, to have the other sovereignties given into its hand, and to keep its dominion till the coming of the Son of Man.
Whatever this dread power is, or is to be, it was to follow the fall of the Roman empire and to rise among the nations which, ever since, in some form or other have existed where Rome once held sway. Whether that power, differing from civil governments and holding dominance over them, exists now and has existed for more than a thousand years, or is to be developed in the future, it was to arise in the Christian era. The words are so descriptive, that no reader would ever have doubted were it not that the prophecy involves prediction.
The attempt of the “very little horn” of chapter 8, Antiochus Epiphanes, to extirpate true religion from the earth, failed. Yet it was well-nigh successful. The majority of the nation was brought to abandon Jehovah and to serve Diana. The high priest in Jerusalem sent the treasurers of the temple to Antioch as an offering to Hercules. Jews out-bade each other in their subservience to Antiochus. His cruelties were great but his blandishments were more effective for his purpose; “by peace he destroyed many”. Idolatrous sacrifices were offered throughout Judea. Judaism was all but dead, and with its death, the worship of the one God would have found no place in all the earth.
This prophecy encouraged the few faithful ones to resist the Greek and their own faithless fellow countrymen. God foresaw and forewarned. The warning was unheeded by the mass of the Jews. Sadduceeism then did not believe in the supernatural and it has repeated its disbelief. Fortunately, there was a believing remnant and true religion was saved from extinction.
The Seventy Weeks. (Dan. 9:24–27.) “Weeks” in this prophecy are not weeks of days but “sevens,” probably years, but whether astronomical years of 3651/4 days or prophetic years of 360 days does not appear. Our Lord’s saying when referring to the prophecy of Daniel (Matt. 24:15), “Let him that readeth understand,” seems to indicate a peculiarity about the period foretold.
From the issuance of a commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem unto Messiah there would be sixty-nine sevens, i.e., 483 years. Messiah would be cut off and have nothing, and the people of a prince would destroy Jerusalem and the temple.
It came to pass in the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. Messiah appeared; He was cut off; He had nothing, no place to lay His head, nothing except a cross. And before the generation which crucified Him passed away, the soldiers of the Roman emperor destroyed the city and sanctuary, slew all the priests and ended Jewish church and nation.
Unto Messiah the Prince, there were to be 483 years from an edict to rebuild Jerusalem. That edict was issued in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. Somewhere between 454 B. C. and 444 B. C. is the date, with the preponderance of opinion in favor of the later date. Four hundred and eighty-three years brings us to 29–39 A. D. Or, if prophetic years are meant, the terminus ad quem is 22–32 A. D. Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from 26 A. D. to 36 A. D.
All this is plain enough, and if the words of Daniel had been written after the death of our Saviour and the fall of Jerusalem, no one could fail to see that Jesus Christ is indicated. But if written in the exile this would be supernatural prediction, and hence the struggles of the critics to evade somehow the implications of the passage. To find some prominent person who was “cut-off” prior to 163 B. C. was the first desideratum. The high priest Onias, who was murdered through the intrigues of rival candidates for his office, was the most suitable person. He was in no respect the Messiah, but having been anointed he might be made to serve. He died 171 B. C. The next step was to find an edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, 483 years before 171 B. C. That date was 654 B. C., during the reign of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah. No edict could be looked for there. But by deducting 49 years, the date was brought to 605 B. C., and as in that year Jeremiah had foretold (Jer. 25:9) the destruction of Jerusalem, perhaps this would do.
There were two objections to this hypothesis; one, that a prophecy of desolation and ruin to a city and sanctuary then in existence was not a commandment to restore and rebuild, and the other objection was that this also was a supernatural prediction, and as such, offensive to the critical mind. Accordingly, recourse was had to the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1–4) made in 536 B. C. But the decree of Cyrus authorized, not the building of Jerusalem, but the building of the temple. It is argued that forts and other defenses, including a city wall must have been intended by Cyrus, and this would be rebuilding Jerusalem; but the terms of the edict are given and no such defenses are mentioned. Nor is it likely that a wise man like Cyrus would have intended or permitted a fortified city to be built in a remote corner of his empire close to his enemy, Egypt, with which enemy the Jews had frequently coquetted in previous years. At all events, the city was not restored until the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, as appears from Neh. 2:3, 8, 13, etc., where Nehemiah laments the defenseless condition of Jerusalem. Permission to build could safely be given then, for Egypt had been conquered and the loyalty of the Jews to Persia had been tested. Moreover, the date of Cyrus’ decree does not meet the conditions. From 536 B. C. to 171 B. C. is 365 years and not 483. A “learned and pious Jew” would not have made such a blunder in arithmetic in foisting a forgery upon his countrymen.
There were four decrees concerning Jerusalem issued by the Persian court. The first under Cyrus, alluded to above, the second under Darius Hystaspis. (Ezra 6.) The third in the seventh year of Artaxerxes. (Ezra 7:12–26.) All of these concern the temple. The fourth in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes was the only one to restore and rebuild a walled town.
The Book of Daniel was translated into Greek about 123 B. C., forty years after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. This prophecy of the Seventy Weeks troubled the Jewish translators. It foretold disaster to Jerusalem. City and sanctuary would be destroyed. They had been destroyed 464 years before by Nebuchadnezzar. Would they be destroyed again? The translators were unwilling to believe that such a calamity would occur again. Could they not make out that the words referred to the troubles under Antiochus? It was true that he had destroyed neither city nor temple, but he had polluted the temple. Perhaps that was equivalent to destruction. At all events they did not dare to say that another destruction of Jerusalem lay in the future.
But there stood the words. From the going forth of commandment to restore Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince would be seven weeks and three score and two weeks, 483 years. They could do nothing with those words. They left them out, and mangled the rest of the passage to give obscurely the impression that the disasters there foretold were a thing of the past.
This mistranslation of a Divine oracle to make it say what they wished it to say was a high-handed proceeding, but it did not prevent its fulfillment. At the time appointed Messiah came and was crucified and Jerusalem fell. The critics’ efforts to force some meaning, other than a prediction of Christ, into this prophecy is thus seen to be not without precedent.
But the rationalistic interpretations of the forementioned great prophecies are so unnatural, so evidently forced in order to sustain a preconceived theory, that they would have deceived none except those predisposed to be deceived. Accordingly, attempts have been made to discredit the Book of Daniel; to show that it could not have been written in Babylon; to expose historical inaccuracies and so forth. The scholars discovered some supposed inaccuracies, and, the fashion having been set, the imitation scholars eagerly sought for more and with the help of imagination have compiled a considerable number. They are in every case instances of the inaccuracy of the critics.
(1). First, may be mentioned, as the only one ever having had any weight, the fact that no historian mentions Belshazzar. It was therefore assumed that “the learned and pious Jew”, whom the critics imagined, had invented the name. Since 1854 this “inaccuracy” has disappeared from the rationalistic dictionaries and other productions. The excavations have answered that.
(2). Disappointed at the discovery of the truth, the critics now find fault with the title “king” which Daniel gives to Belshazzar and assert that no tablets have been found dated in his reign. It is not probable that any such tablets will be found, for his father outlived him and even though Belshazzar were co-king, his father’s name would be in the dates. The tablets, however, show that Belshazzar was the commander of the troops, that he was the man of action—his father being a studious recluse—that he was the darling of the people and that the actual administration was in his hands. He was the heir to the throne and even if not formally invested, was the virtual king in the eyes of the people.
(3). It is objected next that Belshazzar was not the son of Nebuchadnezzar as the queen mother says in Dan. 5:11. If he were the grandson through his mother the same language would be used, and the undisturbed reign of Nabonidus in turbulent Babylon is accounted for in this way.
(4). The quibble that the monuments do not say that Belshazzar was slain at the taking of Babylon is unworthy of the scholar who makes it. It is admitted that Belshazzar was a prominent figure before the city was captured, that “the son of the king died” and that he then “disappeared from history”. He was heir to the kingdom. He was a soldier. His dynasty was overthrown. He disappeared from history. Common sense can make its inference.
(5). It is hard, however, for the impugners of Daniel to let the Belshazzar argument go. To have him appear prominently in the inscriptions, after criticism had decided that he never existed, is awkward. Accordingly, we have a long dissertation (“Sayce’s Higher Crit. and Monuments,” 497–531) showing that the claim of Cyrus to have captured Babylon without fighting is inconsistent with the accounts of the secular historians, which dwell upon the long siege, the desperate fighting, the turning of the river, the surprise at night, etc. Very well, the two accounts are inconsistent. But what has this to do with Daniel? His account is as follows:
“In that night was Belshazzar the Chaldean king slain, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom” (Dan. 5:31). Not a word about a siege, etc. An account entirely consistent with the inscription of Cyrus. And yet the critic has the audacity to say that “the monumental evidence has here pronounced against the historical accuracy of the Scripture narrative”! (“H. C. & M.”, 531). This is not criticism; it is misrepresentation.
(6). Daniel mentions the “Chaldeans” as a guild of wise men. This has been made a ground of attack. “In the time of the exile”, they tell us, “the Chaldeans were an imperial nation. Four centuries afterward the term signified a guild; therefore, Daniel was written four centuries afterward”. It is strange that none of the critics consulted Herodotus, the historian nearest to Daniel in time. He visited Babylon in the same century with Daniel and uses the word in the same sense as Daniel and in no other. (Herod. 1:181, 185.)
(7). The Book of Daniel spells Nebuchadnezzar with an “n” in the penultimate instead of an “r”; therefore, the critics argue, it must have been written 370 years later. But Ezra spells it with an “n”. So do 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and so does Jeremiah seven times out of sixteen. Jeremiah preceded Daniel and if either Kings or Chronicles was written in Babylon we have the same spelling in the same country and about the same time.
(8). As to the Greek words in Daniel, relied on by Driver to prove a late date: when we discover that these are the names of musical instruments and that the Babylonians knew the Greeks in commerce and in war and realize that musical instruments carry their native names with them, this argument vanishes like the rest.
(9). But, it is urged, Daniel gives the beginning of the captivity (1:1) in the third year of Jehoiakim, 606 B. C., whereas Jerusalem was not destroyed till 587 B. C., therefore, etc.
Daniel dates the captivity from the time that he and the other youths were carried away. A glance at the history will suggest when that was. Pharaoh Necho came out of Egypt against Babylon in 609 B. C. He met and defeated Josiah at Megiddo. He then marched on northward. In three months he marched back to Egypt, having accomplished nothing against Babylon. The interval, 609 to 605 B. C., was the opportunity for Nebuchadnezzar. He secured as allies or as subjects the various tribes in Palestine, as appears from Berosus. Among the rest “Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1) became his servant three years”. During that time he took as guests or as hostages the noble youths. At the end of the three years, in 605, Necho re-appeared on his way to fatal Carchemish. Jehoiakim renounced Nebuchadnezzar, and sided with Necho. A merciful Providence counted the seventy years captivity from the very first deportation and Daniel tells us when that was. The captivity ended in 536 B. C.
(10). The Aramaic. One critic said Aramaic was not spoken in Babylon. Others, not so self-confident, said the Aramaic in Babylon was different from Daniel’s Aramaic. None of them knew what Aramaic was spoken in Babylon. There was Ezra’s Aramaic. It was like Daniel’s and Ezra was a native of Babylon. To save their argument they then post-dated Ezra too.
In 1906 and 1908, there were unearthed papyrus rolls in Aramaic written in the fifth century, B. C. It is impossible to suggest redactors and other imaginary persons in this case, and so the Aramaic argument goes the way of all the rest. Before these recent finds the Aramaic weapon had begun to lose its potency. The clay tablets, thousands of which have been found in Babylonia, are legal documents and are written in Babylonian. Upon the backs of some of them were Aramaic filing marks stating in brief the contents. These filings were for ready reference and evidently in the common language of the people, the same language which the frightened Chaldeans used when the angry monarch threatened them. (Dan. 2:4.)
There are some other alleged inaccuracies more frivolous than the above. Lack of space forbids their consideration here.
Two new objections to the genuineness of Daniel appear in a dictionary of the Bible, edited by three American clergymen. The article on Daniel states that “the BABA BATHRA* ascribes the writing not to Daniel but along with that of some other books to the men of the Great Synagogue”. this statement is correct in words, but by concealment conveys a false impression. The trick lies in the phrase, “some other books”. What are those other books? They are Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos—all the minor prophets—and Esther. The statement itself is nonsensical, like many other things in the Talmud, but whatever its meaning, it places Daniel on the same footing as Ezekiel and the rest.
The other objection is as follows: “Chapter 11 [of Daniel] with its four world-kingdoms is wonderfully cleared when viewed from this standpoint [i.e. as a Maccabean production]. The third of these kingdoms is explicitly named as the Persian. (11:2.) The fourth to follow is evidently the Greek”.
Every phrase in this is false. The chapter says nothing about four world-kingdoms. Nor does 11:2 say explicitly, or any other way, that the Persian was the third; nor that the Greek was the fourth.
No explanation or modification of these astonishing statements is offered. How could the writer expect to escape detection? True, the Baba Bathra is inaccessible to most people, but Daniel 11 is in everybody’s hands.
Daniel was a wise and well-known man in the time of Ezekiel, else all point in the irony of Ezek. 28:3 is lost. He was also eminent for goodness and must have been esteemed an especial recipient of God’s favor and to have had intercourse with the Most High like Noah and Job. Ezek. 14:15, 20: “When the land sinneth, though Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they shall deliver but their own souls”. A striking collocation: Noah the second father of the race, Job the Gentile and Daniel the Jew.
Daniel is better attested than any other book of the Old Testament. Ezekiel mentions the man. Zechariah appears to have read the book. The bungling attempt of the Septuagint to alter a prediction of disaster to one of promise; our Saviour’s recognition of Daniel as a prophet; these are attestations. Compare Ezekiel; there is not a word in the Bible to show that he ever existed, but as he does not plainly predict the Saviour no voice is raised or pen wagged against him.
By Joseph D. Wilson
Must Daniel Be Dated in the Sixth Century?
Despite the numerous objections which have been advanced by scholars who regard this as a prophecy written after the event, there is no good reason for denying the sixth-century Daniel the composition of the entire work. This represents a collection of his memoirs made at the end of a long and eventful career which included government service from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in the 590s to the reign of Cyrus the Great in the 530s. The appearance of Persian technical terms indicates a final recension of these memoirs at a time when Persian terminology had already infiltrated into the vocabulary of Aramaic. The most likely date for the final edition of the book, therefore, would be about 530 b.c., nine years after the Persian conquest of Babylon.
Daniel: Theory of a Maccabean Pseudepigraph
The great majority of critics regard this book as entirely spurious and composed centuries after the death of the sixth-century Daniel. They understand it to be a work of historical fiction composed about 167 b.c. and intended to encourage the resistance movement against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes. There are a good many scholars, however, who are not completely satisfied with the Maccabean date for the earlier chapters in Daniel. Many, like Eichhorn (in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries), Meinhold, Bertholdt, and (in the twentieth century) Sellin, Hoelscher, and Noth have held that chapters 2–6 (some would include chap. 7) originated in the third century b.c. This multiple-source theory of Daniel will be examined later in this chapter. The arguments for dating the composition of this book in the Greek period may be divided into four general headings: the historical, the literary or linguistic, the theological, and the exegetical.
Historical Arguments for the Late Date of Daniel
- The Jewish canon places Daniel among the Kethubhim or Hagiographa, rather than among the prophets. This is interpreted to mean that the book must have been written later than all the canonical prophets, even the post-exilic Malachi and “Trito-Isaiah.” But it should be noted that some of the documents in the Kethubhim (the third division of the Hebrew Bible) were of great antiquity, such as the book of Job, the Davidic psalms, and the writings of Solomon. Position in the Kethubhim, therefore, is no proof of a late date of composition. Furthermore the statement in Josephus (Contra Apionem. 1.8) quoted previously in chapter 5 indicates strongly that in the first century a.d., Daniel was included among the prophets in the second division of the Old Testament canon; hence it could not have been assigned to the Kethubim until a later period. The Masoretes may have been influenced in this reassignment by the consideration that Daniel was not appointed or ordained as a prophet, but remained a civil servant under the prevailing government throughout his entire career. Second, a large percentage of his writings does not bear the character of prophecy, but rather of history (chaps. 1–6), such as does not appear in any of the books of the canonical prophets. Little of that which Daniel wrote is couched in the form of a message from God to His people relayed through the mouth of His spokesman. Rather, the predominating element consists of prophetic visions granted personally to the author and interpreted to him by angels. (Here a comparison may be drawn with Zechariah, which likewise features a series of visions. But in Zechariah far more emphasis is laid upon God’s communicating His message to Israel through a prophetic mouthpiece.) It was probably because of the mixed character of this book, partaking partly of historical narratives and partly of prophetic vision, that the later Jewish scribes relegated it to the third or miscellaneous category in the canon.
- It has been pointed out that Jesus ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) makes no mention of Daniel even though he refers to all the other prophets (in 170 b.c.). But it should be noted that other important authors like Ezra received no mention earlier. (Nor for that matter did he make mention of such key figures in Hebrew history as Job, or any of the Judges except Samuel, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Mordecai. How can such omissions furnish any solid ground for the idea that these leaders were unknown to Jesus ben Sirach? See ZPEB ii 19A.) Critics have also pointed to ben Sirach’s statement that there never was a man who was like unto Joseph; and yet, it is alleged, Daniel’s career greatly resembled that of Joseph. Note, however, that in none of the particulars specified did Daniel resemble Joseph: “Neither was there a man born like unto Joseph, a governor of his brethren, a stay of the people, whose bones were regarded of the Lord” (Ecclus 49:15).
- It has been alleged that such historical inaccuracies occur in Daniel as to render it likely that the author lived much later than the events he describes. For example, in Daniel 1:1, it is stated that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Palestine in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jer. 46:2 says that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar was the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Since the Chaldean conqueror became king upon his father’s death in the year that he invaded Judah, there is a discrepancy of one year between Daniel and Jeremiah. More recent investigation, however, has shown that the Jews reckoned their regnal year from the first month preceding the year of accession (reckoning the year as commencing in the month of Tishri, or the seventh month of the religious calendar). This would mean that 605 b.c. would have been the fourth year of Jehoiakim who came to the throne in 608. The Babylonians, however, reckoned the first regnal year from the next succeeding New Year’s Day, that is, from the first of Nisan (the first month of the Hebrew religious calendar).Therefore, the year 605 would be only Jehoiakim’s third year according to the Chaldean reckoning. Thus in D. J. Wiseman’s Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings (1956), it is stated that Nebuchadnezzar’s first regnal year began in April 604, even though he had been crowned in September 605.
- Critics point to the fact that one class of wise men or soothsayers in the book of Daniel is referred to as the “Chaldeans” (Kasdɩ̂m). They allege that this ethnic term for Nebuchadnezzar’s race could not have become specialized to indicate a class of soothsayers until a much later time. In Nebuchadnezzar’s own time it surely would have carried only a racial connotation. This indicates that the author of Daniel must have written at a time long after the Neo-Babylonian empire had collapsed and had become an almost forgotten memory. This theory, however, fails to fit the data of the text, for the author of this work was certainly aware that Kasdɩ̂m was the ethnic term for the race of Nebuchadnezzar. Thus in Dan. 5:30 Belshazzar is referred to as “the king of the Chaldeans”; in this case the term certainly could not refer to any class of wise men. Even in 3:8 the accusation against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego brought by certain “Chaldean men” seems to refer to high government officials who appear to be “Chaldean by race” (so Brown, Driver, and Briggs, p. 1098), which classifies these officials as Chaldean by race, which means “Chaldean” was used in two senses in this book. Chaldean did not only mean “soothsayer/priest,” but also can indicate a specific race of people. Therefore, the theory of late origin fails to explain the facts as we have them. We must look to other explanations for this twofold use of Kasdɩ̂m. Herodotus (vol. 1, sec. 181–83) refers to the Chaldeans in such a way as to imply that they were speedily put into all the politically strategic offices of Babylonia as soon as they had gained control of the capital. If this was the case, then “Chaldean” may have early come into use as a term for the priests of Bel-Marduk.
Another suggestion has been offered by R. D. Wilson (Studies in the Book of Daniel, series one) to the effect that the Akkadian Kasdu or Kaldu, referring to a type of priest, was derived from an old Sumerian title Gal-du (meaning “master builder”), a term alluding to the building of astronomical charts which were used as an aid to astrological prediction. Wilson cites such a use of Gal-du in a tablet from the fourteenth year of Shamash-shumukin of Babylon (668–648 b.c.). It should be noted that a good many Sumerian titles have been found which contain the element Gal (“great one, chief, master”). On a single page in Jacobsen’s Copenhagen Texts (p. 3) we find these titles: Gal-LU KUR, Gal-UKU, Gal-DAN-QAR, and Gal-SUKKAL. The resemblance between this Gal-du or Kaldu and the ethnic term Kaldu as a by-form of Kasdu would be purely accidental. Such an explanation clears up the divergent usages of this term by the author of Daniel. In 3:8, the accusation against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is brought by certain “Chaldean men,” who are probably high government officials.
- The appearance of King Belshazzar in chapter 5 was interpreted by earlier critics to be unhistorical, inasmuch as Nabonidus was known to be the last king of the Chaldean empire. Later discoveries of cuneiform tablets referring to Belshazzar as “the son of the king” serve to discredit that criticism almost completely (one tablet from the twelfth year of Nabonidus calls for oaths in the names of both Nabonidus and Belshazzar [mar šarri]). Nevertheless it is still objected that Belshazzar is referred to in chapter 5 as a son of Nebuchadnezzar, whereas his father was actually Nabonidus (Nabunaʾid) who reigned until the fall of Babylon in 539. It is alleged that only a later author would have supposed that he was Nebuchadnezzar’s son. This argument, however, overlooks the fact that by ancient usage the term son often referred to a successor in the same office whether or not there was a blood relationship. Thus in the Egyptian story, “King Cheops and the Magicians” (preserved in the Papyrus Westcar from the Hyksos Period), Prince Khephren says to King Khufu (Cheops), “I relate to thy Majesty a wonder that came to pass in the time of thy father, King Neb-ka.” Actually Neb-ka belonged to the Third Dynasty, a full century before the time of Khufu in the Fourth Dynasty. In Assyria a similar practice was reflected in the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which refers to King Jehu (the exterminator of the whole dynasty of Omri) as “the son of Omri.” Moreover, it is a distinct possibility that in this case there was an actual genetic relationship between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. If Nabonidus married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar in order to legitimize his usurpation of the throne back in 556 b.c., it would follow that his son by her would be the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. The word for “father” (ʾab or ʾabbāʾ) could also mean grandfather (see Gen. 28:13; 32:10; in 1 Kings 15:13 it means “great grandfather”).
There is fairly conclusive evidence that Belshazzar was elevated to secondary kingship (mar šarri, “son of the king”) during his father’s lifetime (just as Jotham had been during the lifetime of his father, Uzziah, in the kingdom of Judah—a common practice in ancient times in order to secure a peaceful succession). Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that Belshazzar was in charge of the northern frontier of the Babylonian empire while his father Nabonidus maintained his headquarters at Teman in North Arabia. Among the discoveries the site of Ur is an inscription of Nabunaid, dated 530 b.c., containing a prayer for Nabunaid himself followed by a second prayer for his firstborn son, Bel-shar-usur (Belshazzar)—such prayers being customarily offered only for the reigning monarch. Among the discoveries at the site of Ur is an inscription of Nabonidus, dated 543 b.c., containing a prayer for Nabonidus and Belshazzar (mar šarri—“son of the king”) followed by a second prayer for his firstborn son, Bel-šar-uṣur (Belshazzar)—such prayers being customarily offered only for the reigning monarch. Still other cuneiform documents attest that Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen at the temples in Sippar as “an offering of the king.” The fact that by the time of Herodotus (ca. 450 b.c.) the very name of Belshazzar had been forgotten, at least so far as the informants of the Greek historian were concerned, indicates a far closer acquaintance with the events of the late sixth century on the part of the author of Daniel than would have been the case by the second century B.C.
There is an additional detail in this account that makes the theory of late authorship very difficult to maintain, and that is that the writer of chapter 5 quotes Belshazzar as promising to the interpreter of the inscription on the wall promotion to the status of third ruler in the kingdom (5:16). Why could he only promise the third and not the second? Obviously because Belshazzar himself was only the second ruler, inasmuch as Nabonidus his father was still alive.
- It is alleged that the figure of “Darius the Mede” is an evidence of historical confusion. It is supposed that the author must have confused him with Darius the son of Hystaspes, who was the third successor after King Cyrus, and who was really a Persian instead of a Mede. But this interpretation is impossible to defend in the light of the internal evidence of the text itself. No explanation can be found for calling Darius the son of Hystaspes a Mede, when he was known to be the descendant of an ancient Achaemenid royal line. The author asserts that Darius the Mede was sixty-two years old when he assumed the rule in Babylonia, yet it was well known to the ancients that Darius the Great was a relatively young man when he commenced his reign in 522. In Dan. 9:1 it is asserted that Darius the Mede was made king (homlak) over the realm of the Chaldeans. This term indicates that he was invested with the kingship by some higher authority than himself, which well agrees with the supposition that he was installed as viceroy in Babylonia by Cyrus the Great. Similarly, in Dan. 5:31 we are told that Darius “received” (qabbēl) the “kingdom” (malkūtā). Note in this connection the reference by Darius I in the Behistun Inscription to his father Hystaspes as having been made a king. Since chronological reckoning shows that he must have been only a sub-king who ruled under the authority of Cyrus, this established that it was Cyrus’s policy to permit subordinate rulers to reign under him with the title of king.
It has been objected that a mere viceroy would not have addressed a decree to the inhabitants of “all the earth” (Dan. 6:25). If the word earth refers to the whole inhabited Near East, the objection is well taken (since the authority of Darius the Mede would necessarily have been confined to the former dominions of Nebuchadnezzar, which did not include Asia Minor, North Assyria, Media, or Persia). But it should be pointed out that the Aramaic word ʾar˓ā (like its Hebrew cognate ʾereṣ) may signify only “land or country,” rather than having the wider significance. So construed, the term presents no difficulty at all. Yet it should also be pointed out that part of the ancient titulary of the king of Babylon ever since the time of Hammurabi was the phrase šar kiššati or “king of the universe” (“king of all”). In his decree, therefore, Darius the Mede may simply have been following ancient custom in using terminology which implied a theoretical claim to universal dominion.
The question remains, however, who was this Darius the Mede? No ancient historian refers to him by this name. Nevertheless, there is powerful cumulative evidence to show that he is to be identified with a governor named Gubaru, who is referred to both by the cuneiform records and by the Greek historians as playing a key role in the capture of Babylon and its subsequent administration. For some decades it has been customary to identify this Gubaru (“Gobryas,” Greek) with the ruler mentioned by Daniel. Nevertheless, there have been some puzzling discrepancies in the ancient records concerning this personage, and these have encouraged critical scholars like H. H. Rowley to reject the identification between Gubaru and Darius the Mede as altogether untenable.
Rowley’s arguments have been superseded, however, by the able work of J. C. Whitcomb in his Darius the Mede (1959). Whitcomb has gathered together all the ancient inscriptions referring to Ugbaru, Gubaru, and Gaubaruva, to be found in the Nabonidus Chronicle, the Contenau Texts, the Pohl Texts, the Tremayne Texts, and the Behistun Inscription. By careful comparison and the process of elimination, Whitcomb shows that the former assumption that Ugbaru and Gubaru were variant spellings of the same name is quite erroneous and has given rise to bewildering confusion. Ugbaru was an elderly general who had been governor of Gutium; it was he who engineered the capture of Babylon by the stratagem of deflecting the water of the Euphrates into an artificial channel. While it is true that no cuneiform document yet discovered refers to Ugbaru’s role in this, and that the earliest historical record of the stratagem of river-diversion comes from Herodotus in the 540s (Hist i, 107, 191), nevertheless it is inconceivable that this account was a free invention of his own. It would have served the official propaganda line of Cyrus’s government to omit mention of this stratagem in the interests of representing that Babylon surrendered to him voluntarily. But according to the cuneiform records, Ugbaru lived only a few weeks after this glorious achievement, apparently being carried off by an untimely illness. It would appear that after his decease, a man named Gubaru was appointed by Cyrus as governor of Babylon and of Ebir-nari (“beyond the river”). He is so mentioned in tablets dating from the fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years of Cyrus (i.e., 535, 533, 532, and 531 b.c.) and in the second, third, fourth, and fifth years of Cambyses (528, 527, 526, and 525 b.c.). He seems to have perished during the revolts of Pseudo-Smerdis and Darius I, for by March 21, 520 b.c., the new satrap of Babylonia is said to be Ushtani.
Whitcomb goes on to say, “It is our conviction that Gubaru, the governor of Babylon and the region beyond the river, appears in the book of Daniel as Darius the Mede, the monarch who took charge of the Chaldean kingdom immediately following the death of Belshazzar, and who appointed satraps and presidents (including Daniel) to assist him in the governing of this extensive territory with its many peoples. We believe that this identification is the only one which satisfactorily harmonizes the various lines of evidence which we find in the book of Daniel and in the contemporary cuneiform records.”
Whitcomb further cites the statement of W. E Albright in “The Date and Personality of the Chronicler” (JBL, 40:2:11): “It seems to me highly probable that Gobryas did actually assume the royal dignity along with the name “Darius,” perhaps an old Iranian royal title, while Cyrus was absent on a European campaign.… After the cuneiform elucidation of the Belshazzar mystery, showing that the latter was long coregent with his father, the vindication of Darius the Mede for history was to be expected.… We may safely expect the Babylonian Jewish author to be acquainted with the main facts of Neo-Babylonian history.” As Albright suggests, it is quite possible that the name Darius (Darayavahush, in Persian) was a title of honor, just as “Caesar” or “Augustus” became in the Roman empire. In Medieval Persian (Zend) we find the word dara, meaning “king.” Possibly Darayavahush would have meant the “royal one.” (The personal name of Darius I was actually Spantadata, son of Wistaspa [Hystaspes]; Darayawus was his throne-name. Cf. E W. Konig: “Relief und Inschrift des Konigs Dareios I” [Leiden, 1938], p. 1.)
In this connection a word should be said about the remarkable decree referred to in Dan. 6 which forbade worship to be directed toward anyone else except Darius himself during the period of thirty days. Granted that the king later repented of the folly of such a decree when he discovered it was merely part of a plot to eliminate his faithful servant Daniel, it still is necessary to explain why he ever sanctioned the measure in the first place. In view of the intimate connection between religious and political loyalty which governed the attitude of the peoples of that ancient culture, it might well have been considered a statesmanlike maneuver to compel all the diverse inhabitants with their heterogeneous tribal and religious loyalties to acknowledge in a very practical way the supremacy of the new Persian empire which had taken over supreme control of their domains. A temporary suspension of worship (at least in the sense of presenting petitions for blessing and aid) was a measure well calculated to convey to the minds of Darius’s subjects the reality of the change in control from the overlordship of the Chaldeans to that of the Medes and Persians. In the light of ancient psychology, therefore, it is unwarrantable to rule out of possibility such a remarkable decree or to condemn it as fabulous or unhistorical, as many critics have done.
Literary and Linguistic Arguments for the Late Date of Daniel
- Foreign loanwords were found in the Aramaic of Daniel. It has been alleged that the numerous foreign words in the Aramaic portion of Daniel (and to a lesser extent also in the Hebrew portion) conclusively demonstrate an origin much later than the sixth century b.c. There are no less than fifteen words of probable Persian origin (although not all these have actually been discovered in any known Persian documents), and their presence proves quite conclusively that even the chapters dating back to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar could not have been composed in the Chaldean period. This contention may be freely admitted, but conservative scholars do not maintain that the book of Daniel was composed, in its final form at least, until the establishment of the Persian authority over Babylonia. Since the text indicates that Daniel himself lived to serve, for several years at least, under Persian rule, there is no particular reason why he should not have employed in his language those Persian terms (largely referring to government and administration) which had found currency in the Aramaic spoken in Babylon by 530 b.c. While it is true that the Elephantine Papyri contain fewer Persian loan-words than Daniel (H. H. Rowley in 1929 contended that there were only two—actually there are several more), in the “Aramaic Documents of the 5th Century b.c.” published by G. R. Driver (Oxford, 1957) and composed for the most part in Susa or Babylon (op. cit. pp. 10–12), there are no less than twenty-six Persian loanwords.
But it is alleged that the presence of at least three Greek words in Daniel 3 indicates that the work must have been composed after the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great. These three words (in 3:5) are qayterôs (kitharis, Greek), psantērɩ̂n (psaltērion, in Greek), and sūmpōnyah (symphonia, Greek). The last of these three does not occur in extant Greek literature until the time of Plato (ca. 370 b.c.), at least in the sense of a musical instruments.9 From this it has been argued that the word itself must be as late as the fourth century in Greek usage. But since we now possess less than one-tenth of the significant Greek literature of the classical period, we lack suflicient data for timing the precise origin of any particular word or usage in the development of the Greek vocabulary.
It should carefully be observed that these three words are names of musical instruments and that such names have always circulated beyond national boundaries as the instruments themselves have become available to the foreign market. These three were undoubtedly of Greek origin and circulated with their Greek names in Near Eastern markets, just as foreign musical terms have made their way into our own language, like the Italian piano and viola. We know that as early as the reign of Sargon (722–705 b.c.) there were, according to the Assyrian records, Greek captives who were sold into slavery from Cyprus, Ionia, Lydia, and Cilicia. The Greek poet Alcaeus of Lesbos (fl. 600 b.c.) mentions that his brother Antimenidas served in the Babylonian army. It is therefore evident that Greek mercenaries, Greek slaves, and Greek musical instruments were current in the Semitic Near East long before the time of Daniel. It is also significant that in the Neo-Babylonian ration tablets published by E. F. Weidner, Ionian carpenters and shipbuilders are mentioned among the recipients of rations from Nebuchadnezzar’s commissary—along with musicians from Ashkelon and elsewhere (cf. “Jojachin Konig von Juda” in Melanges Syriens, vol. 2, 1939, pp. 923–35).
Two or three other words have been mistakenly assigned by some authors to a Greek origin, but these have now been thoroughly discredited. One of them was kārôz (“herald”) which was supposedly derived from the Greek kēryx (Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon). But in more recent works, like Koehler-Baumgartner’s Hebrew Lexicon, this derivation is explicitly rejected in favor of the old Persian khrausa, meaning “caller.” Kitchen suggests that the word ultimately came from the Hurrian Kirenze or kirezzi, “proclamation.” C. C. Torrey and A. Cowley regarded pathgām as derived from Greek, but Kutscher, in Kedem (2:74) published a leather roll of Arsames from about 410 b.c. in which this term occurs more than once. Needless to say, this renders a Greek derivation impossible. In all probability it was derived from the Old Persian pratigama, which meant originally something which has arrived, hence a “communication” or “order.” Actually, the argument based upon the presence of Greek words turns out to be one of the most compelling evidences of all that Daniel could not have been composed as late as the Greek period. By 170 b.c. a Greek-speaking government had been in control of Palestine for 160 years, and Greek political or administrative terms would surely have found their way into the language of the subject populace. The books of Maccabees testify to the very extensive intrusion of Greek culture and Greek customs into the life of the Jews by the first half of the second century, particularly in the big cities.
Furthermore it should be observed that even in the Septuagint translation of Daniel, which dates presumably from 100 b.c., or sixty-five years after Judas Maccabeus, the rendition of several of the Aramaic technical terms for state officials was mere conjecture. For example, in Dan. 3:2 ˓aḏargāzerayyā, (“counselors”) is rendered hypatous (“grandees”); gedobrayyā’ (“treasurers”) by dioikētēs (“administrators, governors”); and tiptayyē, or detāberayyā, (“magistrates,” or “judges”) by the one general phrase tous ʾepʾexousiōn (“those in authority”). (Theodotion uses still other translations, such as hēgoumenous and tyrannous, for the first two officials just mentioned.) It is impossible to explain how within five or six decades after Daniel was first composed (according to the Maccabean date hypothesis) the meaning of these terms could have been so completely forgotten even by the Jews in Egypt, who remained quite conversant in Aramaic as well as in Greek. (Cf. D. J. Wiseman, Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, p. 43.)
This is especially significant in view of the fact that the Aramaic of Daniel was a linguistic medium which readily absorbed foreign terminology. It includes approximately fifteen words of Persian origin, almost all of which relate to government and politics. It is hard to conceive, therefore, how after Greek had been the language of government for over 160 years, no single Greek term pertaining to politics or administration had ever intruded into Palestinian Aramaic. The same generalization holds good for the Hebrew portions of Daniel as well. It contains such Persian terms as palace (appeden in 11:45, from apadāna), noblemen (partemɩ̂n 1:3, from fratama) and king’s portion (paṯbāg in 1:5, from patibaga). Yet the Hebrew chapters contain not a single word of Greek origin (even though, according to some critics, Daniel’s Hebrew is later than his Aramaic sections).
It was formerly asserted that the Aramaic of Daniel is of the Western dialect and hence could not have been composed in Babylon, as would have been the case if the sixth-century Daniel was its real author. Recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic documents, however, have shown quite conclusively that Daniel was, like Ezra, written in a form of Imperial Aramaic (Reichsaramaisch), an official or literary dialect which had currency in all parts of the Near East. Thus the relationship to the Aramaic of the Elephantine Papyri from southern Egypt is a very close one, inasmuch as they too were written in the Imperial Aramaic. E. Y. Kutscher, in a review of G. D. Driver’s Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century b.c. (1954), comments upon linguistic peculiarities of these letters which were sent from Babylon and Susa in the Eastern Aramaic area. He states: “With regard to Biblical Aramaic, which in word order and other traits is of the Eastern type (i.e., freer and more flexible in word order) and has scarcely any Western characteristics at all, it is plausible to conclude that it originated in the East. A final verdict on this matter, however, must await the publication of all the Aramaic texts from Qumran.” (Noteworthy is the uniform tendency to put the verb late in the clause.)
- Grammatical evidences for early date of Daniel’s Aramaic. One noteworthy characteristic in the Aramaic of Daniel which marks it as of early origin is to be found in the fairly frequent interval-vowel-change passives. That is to say, instead of adhering exclusively to the standard method of expressing the passive (by the prefix hit- or ʾet-), the biblical Aramaic used a hophal formation (e.g., ḥonḥat from neḥat, hussaq from seliq, hūbad from abad and hu˓al from ʾâlal). Note than an occasional hophal appears also in a 420 b.c. Elephantine papyrus (CAP #20, line 7) “they were entrusted.” No such examples of hophal forms have as yet been discovered in any of the Aramaic documents published from the Dead Sea caves (some of which, like the Genesis Apocryphon, date from scarcely a century later than the Maccabean wars). Such forms cannot be dismissed as mere Hebraisms employed by the Jewish author of Daniel, since even the Jewish scribes of the Targums never used such forms; but only the ʾet- type of passive. If Hebrew influence could have produced internal-vowel passives it might reasonably be expected to have shown itself even in the Targums.
Largely because of the close relationship of biblical Aramaic to the Elephantine Papyri (which date from the fifth and fourth centuries b.c.), many scholars have been forced to date chapters 2–7 of the book of Daniel as no later than the third century b.c. Even H. H. Rowley concedes that the evidence is conclusive that biblical Aramaic stands somewhere between the Elephantine Papyri and the Aramaic of the Nabatean and Palmyrene Inscriptions. Sachau states quite plainly that the language of the Papyri is in all essential respects identical with biblical Aramaic.
- C. Torrey and Montgomery came to the conclusion that Dan. 1–6 was written between 245 and 225 b.c., and that a later editor translated chapter 1 into Hebrew around 165 b.c. Eissfeldt (Einleitung, 1934) likewise indicated that the first six chapters came from the third century b.c. and the last six were from the Maccabean period and were intended as a continuation of the older work. Gustav Hoelscher in Die Entstehung des Buches Daniel (1919) followed the view of Ernst Sellin, who stated that an older Aramaic Daniel apocalyptic or biography comprised chapters 1–7 (chap. 1 being later translated into Hebrew, and Maccabean insertions having been made in chaps. 2 and 7), whereas chapters 8–12 were truly Maccabean in date. Hoelscher states that it might have been possible that the author of the collection of legends (chaps. 2–6) took them directly from oral tradition or found them already in older written form. Yet he points out that they show unmistakably the hand of a single author running throughout the text because of a certain uniformity in style and method of treatment. Both Hoelscher and Martin Noth (Zur Komposition des Buches Daniel, 1926) attempted to date the origin of certain elements and motifs by a correlation with current events of Hellenistic history insofar as they were known to them.
The mere fact that chapters 2–7 of Daniel were written in Aramaic and the remainder in Hebrew has been adduced by some writers as a ground for a late dating of the document. Some have argued that Aramaic would hardly have been favored over the traditionally sacred Hebrew until a period so late in Jewish history that Hebrew had become almost unintelligible and forgotten by all except the rabbis themselves. (This position is impossible to maintain, however, if the Hebrew chapters were composed even later than the Aramaic—a clear self-contradiction.) It should be understood, however, that the claim of the sacrosanctity of Hebrew is a mere theory which rests on slender foundations. The Jews apparently took no exception to the Aramaic sections in the book of Ezra, most of which consist of copies of correspondence carried on in Aramaic between the local governments of Palestine and the Persian imperial court from approximately 520 to 460 b.c. If Ezra can be accepted as an authentic document from the middle of the fifth century, when so many of its chapters were largely composed in Aramaic, it is hard to see why the six Aramaic chapters of Daniel must be dated two centuries later than that. It should be carefully observed that in the Babylon of the late sixth century, in which Daniel purportedly lived, the predominant language spoken by the heterogeneous population of this metropolis was Aramaic. It is therefore not surprising that an inhabitant of that city should have resorted to Aramaic in composing a portion of his memoirs.
As to the question of why half the book was written in Aramaic and half in Hebrew, the reason for the choice is fairly obvious. Those portions of Daniel’s prophecy which deal generally with Gentile affairs (the four kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the humiliation of that king in the episode of the fiery furnace and by his seven years of insanity, and also the experiences of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede) were put into a linguistic medium which all the public could appreciate whether Jew or Gentile. But those portions which were of particularly Jewish interest (chaps. 1, 8–12) were put into Hebrew in order that they might be understood by the Jews alone. This was peculiarly appropriate because of the command in chapter 12 to keep these later predictions more or less secret and seal them up until the time of fulfillment (12:9).
So far as the Hebrew of Daniel is concerned, we have already seen that it contains a significant number of Persian governmental terms, indicating its origin during the period of Persian domination. There is no trace whatsoever of Greek influence on the language. It is interesting to observe that the Hebrew text of Ecclesiasticus, dating from about 200–180 b.c., shortly before the Maccabean period, furnishes us with a fair sample of the type of Hebrew which would have been current at the time Daniel was written—according to the late-date theorists. Since Ecclesiasticus is a document of the wisdom literature, it is to be expected that it would bear no great stylistic resemblances to the later chapters of Daniel. Nevertheless, it is quite striking that Ecclesiasticus exhibits later linguistic characteristics than Daniel, being somewhat rabbinical in tendency. Israel Levi in his Introduction to the Hebrew Text of Ecclesiasticus (1904) lists the following: (a) new verbal forms borrowed mainly from Aramaic, (b) excessive use of the hiphil and hithpael conjugations, and (c) peculiarities of various sorts heralding the approach of Mishnaic Hebrew.
So far as the Qumran material is concerned, none of the sectarian documents composed in Hebrew (The Manual of Discipline, The War of the Children of Light Against the Children of Darkness, The Thanksgiving Psalms) in that collection show any distinctive characteristics in common with the Hebrew chapters of Daniel. Cf. J. H. Skilton, ed., The Law and the Prophets (Nutley, NJ.: Presbyterian & Reformed), chap. 41: “The Hebrew of Daniel Compared with the Qumran Sectarian Documents,” by G. L. Archer, pp. 470–81. Nor is there the slightest resemblance between the Aramaic of the Genesis Apocryphon and the Aramaic chapters of Daniel.
Dated in the first century b.c., this copy of the Genesis Apocryphon presents us with at least five legible columns of Aramaic composed within a century of the alleged date of Daniel, according to the Maccabean date hypothesis. As such it surely should have exhibited many striking points of resemblance to the Aramaic of Dan. 2–7, in grammar, style, and vocabulary. This is especially true since the editors of this manuscript, N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, suggest that the original was composed as early as the third century b.c. Kutscher describes (“The Language of the Genesis-Apocryphon” in Scripta Hierosolymita (Jerusalem, 1958], p. 3) the language of the Apocryphon as neither Imperial Aramaic in general nor biblical Aramaic in particular. It should be noted that in contrast to the Eastern dialectical traits of Daniel, the Apocryphon shows distinctly Western traits, such as the prior position of the verb in its clause, the use of kaman instead of kemah for “how much, how great?” and of tammān instead of tammah for “there.” Note also the appearance of a mif˓ōl instead of a mif˓al for the peal infinitive; for instance, misbōq (“to leave”), instead of the biblical misbaq, a form which hitherto had been classed as peculiar to the Palestinian Targumic or Midrashic dialect. If Daniel then was composed in Eastern Aramaic, it could not possibly have been written in second-century Palestine, as the Maccabean theory demands.
At this point mention should be made of one phonetic characteristic of Daniel’s Aramaic to which appeal has been made by H. H. Rowley, J. A. Montgomery, and others, as an evidence for a later date of composition. In the earlier Aramaic inscriptions, as well as in the Elephantine Papyri of the fifth century, a certain phoneme appears as z, which in biblical Aramaic almost always appears as d. It is urged that if Daniel had been written as early as the fifth century b.c. (to say nothing of the sixth century) the older spelling with z should have been retained.
In answer to this, it ought to be pointed out that up to the present time no Aramaic documents from any region have been discovered from the sixth century b.c., much less from the eastern or Babylonian section of the Aramaic-speaking world. Until such documents are discovered, it is premature to say whether the shift from z to d had taken place by that period. It certainly ought to be recognized that this shift had consistently taken place in the Aramaic chapters of Ezra (at least so far as the text has come down to us), which presumably reflected the pronunciation of Aramaic in Persia, from which Ezra came. It would therefore appear that the shift from z to d took place earlier in the East than it did in the West (since the Elephantine Papyri show this shift only in four or five examples: ʾ-, h-d for ʾh-z [“take”], d-y 1-k-y for z-y 1-k-y [“yours”] in A. Cowley’s Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century b.c. (London: Oxford, 1923), (hereafter CAP), 13:7, 11, 16; d-k-ʾ for z-k-ʾ [“clean”] CAP 14:6, 9; d-k-y for z-k-y [“that”] CAP 21:6; 27:12; d-n-h for z-n-h [“this”] CAP 16:9). See also CAP 30 m-d-b-h-ʾ (“altar”) and d-b-ḥ-n (“sacrificing”) instead of m-z-b-ḥ and z-b-ḥ-n. It is by no means necessary to suppose all the consonantal shifts took place simultaneously in Aramaic throughout the whole area of the Near East where this language was current. (For example, in the history of Medieval German it may be verified from documentary evidence that the High German consonantal shifts took place earlier in some regions of Germany than they did in others.)
Moreover, many grammatical traits mark the Apocryphon as centuries later than the Aramaic of Daniel, Ezra, or the Elephantine Papyri, such as -haʾ for the feminine third person possessive pronoun, instead of –āh; dēn for “this” instead of denah; the ending -iyat for third feminine singular perfect of lamed-aleph verbs instead of –āt—and many other examples. As for the vocabulary, a considerable number of words occur in the Apocryphon which have hitherto not been discovered in Aramaic documents prior to the Targum and Talmud. (A full account of these distinctives in grammar and vocabulary will be found in the author’s article [chap. 11] in New Perspectives on the Old Testament, ed. B. Payne [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1969]). Neither in morphology, nor syntax, nor style of expression can any evidence be found in Daniel for a date of composition approaching the period of these sectarian documents. According to the Maccabean Date Theory, the entire corpus of Daniel had to have been composed in Judea in the second century b.c., only a few decades before these documents from Qumran. In the light of this newly discovered linguistic evidence, therefore, it would seem impossible.
Theological Arguments Advanced to
Show the Late Date of Daniel
ADHERENTS OF THE MACCABEAN THEORY customarily lay great emphasis upon the supposed development or evolution of religious thought of the Israelite nation. They point to motifs and emphases in Daniel which they believe to be akin to those characterizing the apocryphal literature of the Inter-testamental Period (such works as the Book of Enoch and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, or even such books of the Apocrypha as Tobit and Susanna). These emphases include the prominence of angels, the stress upon the last judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the establishment of the final kingdom of God upon earth with the Messiah as the supreme ruler of the world. It is conceded that there are occasional references to angels and judgment, the kingship of God, and the Messiah in some earlier books of the Old Testament, but it is felt that these teachings have achieved a far more developed form in Daniel than in Ezekiel or Zechariah. The angelology in particular is thought to resemble that of the Book of Enoch (first century b.c.).
This, however, is a very difficult statement to substantiate. Any reader may easily verify the fact that Zechariah also mentions the Messiah and angels on several occasions in his prophecies, which date from 519 to approximately 470 b.c. (2:3; 3:1; 6:12; 9:9; 13:1; 14:5). Furthermore, angels play a very similar role in Zechariah to that in Daniel, namely, that of interpreting the significance of visions which were presented to the prophet. The affinity is close enough to warrant the deduction that either Zechariah had influenced Daniel or Daniel had influenced Zechariah. There are two significant references to the Messiah in Malachi as well (Mal. 3:1 and 4:2) and to the last judgment also in chapter 3. On the other hand, works which are admittedly of the second century b.c., such as 1 Maccabees and the Greek additions to Daniel, Baruch, and Judith, show none of these four elements (angelology, resurrection, last judgment, and Messiah) which are asserted to be so characteristic of this period that they betray the second-century origin of Daniel. Even the Jewish apocryphal literature from the first century a.d. contains only two works (out of a possible sixteen) having all four characteristics, namely, the Vision of Isaiah and the Ascension of Isaiah.
Perhaps it would be well at this point to review the occurrence of these four elements in the earlier books of the Old Testament. Concerning the ranks of angels, Genesis mentions cherubim, Joshua refers to a prince of the angels. Their function was said to be the delivery of messages to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and various prophets such as Isaiah, Zechariah, and Ezekiel. Thus as early as the Torah we find the angels revealing the will of God, furnishing protection for God’s people, and destroying the forces of the enemy. So far as the resurrection is concerned, there is the famous affirmation of Job in Job 19:25–26 (although another interpretation of this passage is possible); Isaiah’s affirmation in 26:19 (“Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise,” ASV); Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, and possibly the resuscitation of the dead by Elijah and Elisha. On the other hand, of the large number of postcanonical works, only the Book of the Twelve Patriarchs refers to a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked as is found in Dan. 12:2. The doctrine of the last judgment is mentioned in Isaiah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and in many of the psalms. In many instances this judgment pertains to the nations of the world as well as to Israel. References to the book of life or a book of remembrance go back as far as Ex. 32:32–33 and Isa. 4:3 (cf. Isa. 65:6; Ps. 69:28; and Mal. 3:16). The concept of the Messiah appears as early as Gen. 3:15 and 49:10 (cf. Num. 24:17; Deut. 18:15; Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1; Jer. 23:5–6; 33:11–17; Ezek. 34:23–31; Mic. 5:2).
Doubtless it is possible to make out some kind of progression in the development of these doctrines during the history of God’s revelation to Israel, but it is a mistake to suppose that Daniel contains anything radically new in any of the four areas under dispute. Moreover, these precise doctrines were most appropriate for Israel’s comfort and encouragement during the time of captivity and on the threshold of their return to the promised land.
Exegetical Arguments for the Late Date of Daniel
Champions of the Maccabean Date Theory allege that it was impossible for a sixth-century author to have composed such detailed predictions concerning coming events in the history of Israel as are contained in the prophetic chapters of the book of Daniel. They also allege that it is a suspicious circumstance that such accurate predictions only extend to the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 b.c.) but nothing beyond this time. The obvious conclusion to draw, therefore, is that the entire work was composed by one who lived in the reign of Antiochus IV and who composed this literary fiction in order to encourage the Jewish patriots of his own generation to join with the Maccabees in throwing off the Syrian yoke. Thus, all of the fulfilled predictions can be explained as vaticinia ex eventu.
This explanation of the data in Daniel, which is as old as the neo-Platonic polemicist Porphyry (who died in a.d. 303), depends for its validity on the soundness of the premise that there are no accurate predictions fulfilled subsequently to 165 b.c. This proposition, however, cannot successfully be maintained in the light of the internal evidence of the text and its correlation with the known facts of ancient history. Yet it should be recognized that considerable attention in Daniel is devoted to the coming events of the reign of Antiochus, for the very good reason that this period was to present the greatest threat in all of subsequent history (apart, of course, from the plot of Haman in the time of Esther) to the survival of the faith and nation of Israel. Assuming that these predictions were given by divine inspiration and that God had a concern for the preservation of His covenant people, it was to be expected that revelations in Daniel would make it clear to coming generations that He had not only foreseen but had well provided for the threat of extinction which was to be posed by Antiochus Epiphanes.
This prophetic emphasis was all the more warranted in view of the fact that Antiochus and his persecution were to serve as types of the final Antichrist and the great tribulation which is yet to come in the end time (according to Christ’s Olivet discourse, recorded in Matt. 24 and Mark 13). This is made evident from the startling way in which the figure of the Greek emperor Antiochus suddenly blends into the figure of the latter day Antichrist in Dan. 11, beginning with verse 40. (Note that the Little Horn is said in 11:45 to meet his death in Palestine, whereas Antiochus IV actually died in Tabae, Persia.) It is interesting to note that even S. R. Driver admits that these last mentioned verses do not correspond with what is known of the final stages of Antiochus’ career; actually he met his end at Tabae in Persia after a vain attempt to plunder the rich temple of Elymais in Elam.
It is fair to say that the weakest spot in the whole structure of the Maccabean theory is to be found in the identification of the fourth empire predicted in chapter 2. In order to maintain their position, the late-date theorists have to interpret this fourth empire as referring to the kingdom of the Macedonians or Greeks founded by Alexander the Great around 330 b.c. This means that the third empire must be identified with the Persian realm established by Cyrus the Great, and the second empire has to be the short-lived Median power, briefly maintained by the legendary Darius the Mede. According to this interpretation, then, the head of gold in chapter 2 represents the Chaldean empire, the breast of silver the Median empire, the belly and the thighs of brass the Persian empire, and the legs of iron the Greek empire. Although this identification of the four empires is widely held by scholars today, it is scarcely tenable in the light of internal evidence. That is to say, the text of Daniel itself gives the strongest indications that the author considered the Medes and Persians as components of the one and same empire, and that despite his designation of King Darius as “the Mede,” he never entertained the notion that there was at any time a separate and distinct Median empire previous to the Persian Empire.
In the first place, the symbolism of Dan. 7 precludes the possibility of identifying the second empire as Media and the third empire as Persia. In this chapter, the first kingdom is represented by a lion. (All scholars agree that this represents the Chaldean or Babylonian realm.) The second kingdom appears as a bear devouring three ribs. This would well correspond to the three major conquests of the Medo-Persian empire: Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt (under Cyrus the Great and Cambyses). The third empire is represented as a leopard with four wings and four heads. There is no record that the Persian empire was divided into four parts, but it is well known that the empire of Alexander the Great separated into four parts subsequent to his death, namely, Macedon-Greece, Thrace-Asia Minor, the Seleucid empire (including Syria, Babylonia, and Persia), and Egypt. The natural inference, therefore, would be that the leopard represented the Greek empire. The fourth kingdom is presented as a fearsome ten-horned beast, incomparably more powerful than the others and able to devour the whole earth. The ten horns strongly suggest the ten toes of the image described in chapter 2, and it should be noted that these toes are described in chapter 2 as having a close connection with the two legs of iron. The two legs can easily be identified with the Roman empire, which in the time of Diocletian divided into the Eastern and the Western Roman empires. But there is no way in which they can be reconciled with the history of the Greek empire which followed upon Alexander’s death.
In Dan. 8 we have further symbolism to aid us in this identification of empires two and three. There a two-horned ram (one horn of which is higher than the other, just as Persia overshadowed Media in Cyrus’s empire) is finally overthrown by a hegoat, who at first shows but one horn (easily identified with Alexander the Great) but subsequently sprouts four horns (i.e., Macedon, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt), out of which there finally develops a little horn, that is, Antiochus Epiphanes.
From the standpoint of the symbolism of chapters 2, 7, and 8, therefore, the identification of the four empires with Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome presents a perfect correspondence, whereas the identifications involved in the Maccabean Date Theory present the most formidable discrepancies.
History of Kingdoms
Diadochi (i.e. “Successors”):
Antipater, reigned as regent 321–319 b.c.
Cassander, his son, ruled 319–317 b.c. and secured Macedonia and Greece. He assumed the title of king in 305 after he had murdered Alexander IV in 310.
Lycimachus received custody of Thrace in 323 b.c., and Asia Minor in 301, assuming the title of king in 305 b.c.
Ptolemy took over Egypt in 323 b.c.; after 301 b.c. he also took over Phoenicia and re-conquered Cyprus in 294 b.c. He also assumed the title of king in 305, expelling Demetrius Poliorcetes from Macedonia in 288, and died in 281 b.c.
Seleucus I independent king of Babylon in 311 b.c., conquered all the way to the Indus River in 302 b.c.—died in 281.
Perdiccas served earlier as regent of the empire from 323 to 321 b.c.
Antigonus I assumed postion of regent in 320, fought Eumenes, killing him in 316 b.c. and then claimed all Asia under his control. He died in 301 at the Battle of Ipsus.
Demetrius Poliorcetes defeated Ptolemy at Cyprus in 306 b.c. (although Ptolemy later conquered it). Demetrius narrowly escaped from his own defeat at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 b.c.
To sum up, then, it should be understood that prior to the development of these four realms an effort was made to keep the Alexandrian empire together. First Perdiccas was chosen as regent, but he passed away in 321 b.c. After him came Antigonus I who defeated King Eumenes of Pergamum, slaying him in 316 b.c., and subsequently claimed all of Asia under his control. Eventually, however, Antigonus and his son, Demetrius Poliorcetes, were defeated by the armies of Antipater, Lycimachus, and Seleucus at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 b.c. Then, along with Ptolemy, the way was clear for each of them to claim the title of king and maintain a seperate realm.
In this connection it ought to be noted that the strongest argument for identifying Daniel’s fourth empire with that of Alexander and his Greek successors is derived from the appearance of the little horn in chapters 7 and 8. That is to say, in chapter 7 the little horn admittedly develops from the fourth empire, that is, from the fearsome ten-horned beast who overthrows the four-winged leopard. But in chapter 8, the little horn develops from the head of the he-goat, who plainly represents the Greek empire. As we have already mentioned, this goat commenced its career with one horn (Alexander the Great), but then produced four others in its place. There can be no question that the little horn in chapter 8 points to a ruler of the Greek empire, that is, Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. 8:9). The critics therefore assume that since the same term is used, the little horn in chapter 7 must refer to the same individual. This, however, can hardly be the case, since the four-winged leopard of chapter 7 (i.e., 7:24) clearly corresponds to the four-horned goat of chapter 8; that is, both represent the Greek empire which divided into four after Alexander’s death. The only reasonable deduction to draw is that there are two little horns involved in the symbolic visions of Daniel. One of them emerges from the third empire, and the other is to emerge from the fourth. It would seem that the relationship is that of type (Antiochus IV of the third kingdom) and antitype (the Antichrist who is to arise from the latter-day form of the fourth empire). This is the only explanation which satisfies all the data and which throws light upon 11:4–45, where the figure of the historic Antiochus suddenly blends into the figure of an Antichrist who is yet to come in the end time.
Two other considerations should be adduced to show that the author regarded the Medes and Persians as constituting the one and same empire. In Dan. 6, Darius is said to be bound by “the law of the Medes and Persians,” so that he could not revoke the decree consigning Daniel to the lions’ den. If the author regarded Darius as ruler of an independent Median empire earlier in time than the Persian, it is impossible to explain why he would have been bound by the laws of the Persians. Second, we have the evidence of the handwriting on the wall as interpreted by Daniel in 5:28. There Daniel is represented as interpreting the inscription to Belshazzar, the last king of the first empire, that is, the kingdom of the Chaldeans. He says in interpreting the third word, peres, “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” This is obviously a word play in which the term parsɩ̂n, or rather its singular peres, is derived from the verb peras, meaning “to divide or separate.” But it is also explained as pointing to pārās, or “Persian.” This can only mean that according to the author, the Chaldean empire was removed from Belshazzar as the last representative of the first empire and given to the Medes and Persians who constituted the second empire. This cannot mean that the rule was first given to the Medes and only later to be transmitted to the Persians, because the significant word which appeared in the handwriting on the wall was quite specifically the word “Persia.” The sequence, therefore, is clear: the empire passed from the Chaldeans to the Persians. There can be no legitimate doubt that the author regarded the Persians as masters of the second empire. This being the case, we must conclude that the fourth empire indeed represented Rome.
If, then, the fourth empire of chapter 2, as corroborated by the other symbolic representations of chapter 7, clearly pointed forward to the establishment of the Roman empire, it can only follow that we are dealing here with genuine predictive prophecy and not a mere vaticinium ex eventu. According to the Maccabean Date Theory, Daniel was composed between 168 and 165 b.c., whereas the Roman empire did not commence (for the Jews at least) until 63 b.c., when Pompey the Great took over that part of the Near East which included Palestine. To be sure, Hannibal had already been defeated by Scipio at Zama in 202 b.c., and Antiochus III had been crushed at Magnesia in 190, but the Romans had still not advanced beyond the limits of Europe by 165, except to establish a vassal kingdom in Asia Minor and a protectorate over Egypt. But certainly, as things stood in 165 b.c., no human being could have predicted with any assurance that the Hellenic monarchies of the Near East would be engulfed by the new power which had arisen in the West. No man then living could have foreseen that this Italian republic would have exerted a sway more ruthless and widespread than any empire that had ever preceded it. This one circumstance alone, then, that Daniel predicts the Roman empire, is sufficient to overthrow the entire Maccabean Date Hypothesis (which of course was an attempt to explain away the supernatural element of prediction and fulfillment). As we shall presently see, there are other remarkable predictions in this book which mark it as of divine inspiration and not a mere historical novel written in the time of Maccabees.
It should also be pointed out that the Maccabean Date Theory fails to explain how the book of Daniel ever came to be accepted by the later Jews as Holy Scripture. In Deut. 18:22 the principle was laid down: “If the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken.” That is to say, any person claiming to be a genuine prophet of the Lord, whose predictions of coming events do not come to pass, is to be utterly rejected. There can be no doubt that the description given in Dan. 11:40–45 relative to the latter end of the little horn does not at all correspond to the manner in which Antiochus Epiphanes met his death; there is a definite break in the prophetic revelation beginning at 11:40. This break is indicated by the words, “and at the time of the end.” Those who espouse the Liberal theory can only allege that the Maccabean author of Daniel was unsuccessful in his effort to predict the manner of Antiochus’s downfall. He did his best, but it simply did not come out that way. Yet if this was actually the case, it is impossible to conceive how the Jews could have continued to regard this writing as canonical or authoritative, since it contained false prophecy. If, however, the work was composed by the historic Daniel, it is easy to see how this work would have been preserved as the genuine Word of God. The fact that so many events in subsequent history were accurately predicted back in the sixth century by the historic Daniel would serve as an authentication of its trustworthiness as a divine revelation.
Additional Proofs of Daniel’s Authorship
First of all, we have the clear testimony of the Lord Jesus Himself in the Olivet discourse. In Matt. 24:15, He refers to “the abomination of desolation, spoken of through [dia] Daniel the prophet.” The phrase “abomination of desolation” occurs three times in Daniel (9:27; 11:31; 12:11). If these words of Christ are reliably reported, we can only conclude that He believed the historic Daniel to be the personal author of the prophecies containing this phrase. No other interpretation is possible in the light of the preposition dia, which refers to personal agency. It is significant that Jesus regarded this “abomination” as something to be brought to pass in a future age rather than being simply the idol of Zeus set up by Antiochus in the temple, as the Maccabean theorists insist.
Second, the author of Daniel shows such an accurate knowledge of sixth-century events as would not have been open to a second-century writer; for example, in 8:2, the city of Shushan is described as being in the province of Elam back in the time of the Chaldeans. But from the Greek and Roman historians we learn that in the Persian period Shushan, or Susa, was assigned to a new province which was named after it, Susiana, and the formerly more extensive province of Elam was restricted to the territory west of the Eulaeus River. It is reasonable to conclude that only a very early author would have known that Susa was once considered part of the province of Elam.
Third, we have in chapter 9 a series of remarkable predictions which defy any other interpretation but that they point to the coming of Christ and His crucifixion ca. a.d. 30, followed by the destruction of the city of Jerusalem within the ensuing decades. In Dan. 9:25–26, it is stated that sixty-nine heptads of years (i.e., 483 years) will ensue between a “decree” to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and the cutting off of Messiah the Prince. In 9:25–26, we read: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.… And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
There are two ways of computing these sixty-nine heptads (or 483 years). First, by starting from the decree of Artaxerxes issued to Nehemiah in 445 b.c. (cf. Neh. 2:4, 8) and reckoning the 483 years as lunar years of 360 days each, which would be equivalent to 471 solar years and would result in the date a.d. 26 for the appearance of the Messiah and His “cutting off” (or crucifixion). Or, more reasonably, the starting point may be identified with the decree of Artaxerxes in his seventh year, issued for the benefit of Ezra in 457 b.c. This apparently included authority for Ezra to restore and build the city of Jerusalem (as we may deduce from Ezra 7:6–7, and also 9:9, which states, “God … hath extended lovingkindness unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof, and to give us a wall in Judea and in Jerusalem,” ASV). Even though Ezra did not actually succeed in accomplishing the rebuilding of the walls until Nehemiah arrived eleven or twelve years later, it is logical to understand 457 b.c. as the terminus a quo for the decree predicted in Dan. 9:25; 483 solar years from 457 b.c. would come out to a.d. 26 as the time of Christ’s ministry (or a.d. 27, since a year is gained when passing from 1 b.c. to a.d. 1). Note that the wording of verse 26, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,” does not compel us to understand the 483 as pinpointing the time of the actual crucifixion; it is simply that after the appearance of the Messiah, He was going to be cut off. It should be noted that in Neh. 1:3–4 Nehemiah was shocked and disheartened by the news that the walls and gates of Jerusalem had recently been destroyed (presumably by the same hostile neighboring nations as later tried to frustrate Nehemiah himself—(Neh. 2:19–20, 4:1–3; 7–23). This strongly suggests that Ezra himself had earlier attempted to rebuild but had been overcome by these malicious raiders. (It is out of the question to understand that in 446 … Nehemiah could have been shocked with the news that the walls of Jerusalem had just been destroyed in 587, 140 years ago!)
Theory of Diverse Sources for the Origin of Daniel
Mention has already been made of the concessions by Hoelscher and Torrey that the Aramaic portions of the book of Dan. originated from the third century b.c., although they feel that the chapters in Hebrew were quite definitely composed by an unknown Maccabean novelist. Since the allowance of such earlier components would seem to undermine the supporting structure for the Maccabean date as a whole, it is appropriate to summarize the suggestions made by proponents of this earlier source theory and to append a few pertinent comments.
In 1909 C. C. Torrey published his view that the first half of Daniel was composed about the middle of the third century b.c., whereas the second half originated with a Maccabean author who translated chapter 1 into Hebrew and then composed chapter 7 in Aramaic in order to make it dovetail more closely with chapters 2–6. Montgomery in the ICC accepted this suggestion with this exception: he regarded chapter 7 as a composition distinct from the other two sections. Otto Eissfeldt in his Einleitung (1934) espoused the same view: that the first six chapters were from the third century, and the last six were from the Maccabean period and composed as a continuation of the older work.
Gustav Hoelscher in Die Entstehung des Buches Daniel (1919) had strongly supported the pre-Maccabean origin of chapters 1–7, demonstrating very convincingly that Nebuchadnezzar as portrayed in chapters 2–4 represented a far more enlightened and tolerant attitude toward the Jewish religion (generally speaking) than did the Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes, and therefore could not have served as a type of the latter. Martin Noth in Zur Komposition des Buches Daniel (1926) went so far as to date the original portions of chapters 2 and 7 from the time of Alexander the Great; then, during the third century, the legends of chapters 1–6 were collected and the vision of the four kingdoms was included in a remolded form.
- L. Ginsburg in his “Studies in Daniel” (cf. pp. 5ff., 27ff.) in 1948 undertook to isolate six different authors who contributed to the corpus of Daniel: chapters 1–6 were composed between 292 and 261 b.c.; chapter 2 was then subjected to reworking and insertions between 246 and 220 b.c.; chapter 7 came from the Maccabean period generally; chapter 8 was composed between 166 and 165; chapters 10–12 came from a different author from the same period; and chapter 9 came from a slightly later period than 165. H. H. Rowley in The Unity of Daniel (1952) conceded the earlier existence in oral form of some of the materials composing chapters 1–6, but nevertheless undertook to defend quite vigorously the essential unity of the composition of Daniel in its present literary form—that is, in the time of the Maccabees.
It should be noticed that the assignment of considerable sections of Daniel to a century or more before the time of the Maccabean revolt serves to endanger the whole hypothesis of a second-century origin as propounded by advocates of the late-date theory. Thus, if the portrait of Nebuchadnezzar greatly contrasts with the character and attitude of Antiochus Epiphanes, his relevance to the Maccabean situation becomes rather obscure. The same is true with the rest of the historical episodes in which the heathen government seems to treat the Jews with toleration and respect. Moreover, it should be observed that the whole concept of vaticinium ex eventu is fatally compromised if Dan. 1–7 was in fact composed before the fulfilment of the political developments so explicitly foretold in those seven chapters.
By Gleason Archer Jr.
See Also THE BOOK OF DANIEL ON TRIAL by Edward D. Andrews
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