Book Of Daniel

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The Book of Daniel, written in Hebrew and Aramaic, is a book in both the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Christian Old Testament. The book is set during the Babylonian Captivity, a period when Jews were deported and exiled to Babylon. The book revolves around the figure of Daniel, an Israelite who becomes an advisor to Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon from 605 BC - 562 BC.

The book has two distinct parts: a series of narratives and four apocalyptic visions. Three of the narratives involve Daniel, who has the gift of prophecy, interpreting the meaning of dreams and divine omens. Two other narratives feature Israelites who have been condemned for their piety being miraculously saved from execution. In the second part of the book, the author reveals and partially interprets a set of visions which are described in the first person.

The dating and authorship of Daniel has been a matter of great debate. The traditional view holds that the work was written by a prophet named Daniel who lived during the sixth century BC. The Book of Daniel is ranked by the Jews in that division of their Bible called the Hagiographa (Hebrew Khethubim). (See Bible.) It consists of two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first six chapters, is chiefly historical; and the second part, consisting of the remaining six chapters, is chiefly prophetical.

The historical part of the book treats of the period of the Captivity. Daniel is “the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar] away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia'” (2 Chronicles 36:20).

The prophetical part consists of three visions and one lengthened prophetical communication.

The genuineness of this book has been much disputed, but the arguments in its favour fully establish its claims.

(1) We have the testimony of Christ (Matthew 24:15; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 26:64) and his apostles (1 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) for its authority; and

(2) the important testimony of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 28:3).

(3) The character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony with the times and circumstances in which the author lived.

(4) The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, just such as might be expected. Certain portions (Daniel 2:4; 7) are written in the Chaldee language; and the portions written in Hebrew are in a style and form having a close affinity with the later books of the Old Testament, especially with that of Ezra. The writer is familiar both with the Hebrew and the Chaldee, passing from the one to the other just as his subject required. This is in strict accordance with the position of the author and of the people for whom his book was written. That Daniel is the writer of this book is also testified to in the book itself (Daniel 7:1, Daniel 7:28; Daniel 8:2; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:1, Daniel 10:2; Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:5). See Belshazzar.


Narratives in Daniel

The first part, the first six chapters, comprises a series of lightly connected court tales, connected instructive narratives, or miracle tales. The first story is in Hebrew; then Aramaic is used from ch. 2:4, beginning with the speech of the "Chaldeans" through chapter seven. Hebrew is then used from chapter eight through chapter twelve. Three sections are preserved only in the Septuagint, and are considered apocryphal by Protestant Christians and Jews, and deuterocanonical by Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

  1. Daniel refuses to eat meat at court
  2. Nebuchadnezzar dreams of an idol of four metals with feet of mixed iron and clay, which Daniel interprets as four successive empires (compare Fifth Monarchy)
  3. The story of the fiery furnace, in which Ananias (Hananiah/Shadrach), Azariah (Abednego), and Mishael (Meshach) refuse to bow to a golden idol and are thrown into a furnace; God preserves them from the flames
  4. Nebuchadnezzar tells of his dreams of a tall tree, and his losing and regaining his mind
  5. Belshazzar's Feast, where Daniel interprets the writing mene mene tekel upharsin
  6. Daniel in the lions' den
  7. Susanna (Book of Daniel)|Susanna and the elders (apocryphal to Jewish and Protestant canons)
  8. Bel and the Dragon (apocryphal to Jewish and Protestant canons)

Protestant and Jewish editions omit the sections that do not exist in the Masoretic Text: in addition to the two chapters containing accounts of Daniel and Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon, a lengthy passage inserted into the middle of Daniel 3; this addition contains the prayer of Azariah while the three youths were in the fiery furnace, a brief account of the angel who met them in the furnace, and the hymn of praise they sang when they realized they were delivered. The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children are retained in the Septuagint and in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic canons; the "Song of the Three Holy Youths" is part of the Matins service in Orthodoxy, and of Lauds on Sundays and feast days in Catholicism.

The narratives are set in the period of the Babylonian captivity, first at the court of Nebuchadnezzar and later at the court of his successors Belshazzar and a 'King Darius' of unclear identity (see 'Historical Accuracy' and 'Date' below). Daniel is praised in Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, as "the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (i.e., Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia' (2 Chronicles 36:20)."

Daniel appears as an interpreter of dreams and visions in these narratives, though not as a prophet.

Apocalyptic visions in Daniel

The second part, the remaining six chapters, are visionary, an early example of apocalyptic literature, in which the author, now speaking in the first person, reveals a vision entrusted to him alone. The historical setting of the first chapters does not appear, except in briefest form, consisting of regnal dates. This section too consists of text from two languages, part (to 7:28) written in Aramaic, the rest (chapters 8-12) in Hebrew. The apocalyptic part of Daniel consists of three visions and one lengthened prophetic communication, mainly having to do with the destiny of Israel:

  1. The vision in the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon (7:1) concerning four great beasts (7:3) representing four future kings (7:17) or kingdoms (7:23), the fourth of which devours the whole earth, treading it down and crushing it (7:23); this fourth kingdom produces ten kings, and then a special, eleventh person arises out of the fourth kingdom that subdues three of the ten kings (7:24), speaks against the Most High and the saints of the Most High, and intends to change the times and the law (7:25); after a time and times and half a time (three and a half years), this person is judged and his dominion is taken away (7:26); then, the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven are given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27)
  2. The vision in the third year of Belshazzar concerning a ram and a male goat (8:1-27); Daniel interprets the goat as the "kingdom of Yawan" that is, the Hellenistic kingdom (8:21)
  3. The vision in first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus (9:1) concerning seventy weeks, or seventy "sevens", apportioned for the history of the Israelites and of Jerusalem (9:24)
  4. A lengthy vision in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia (10:1 - 12:13)

The prophetic and eschatological visions of Daniel, with those of Ezekiel and Isaiah, are the scriptural inspiration for much of the apocalyptic ideology and symbolism of the Qumran community's Dead Sea Scrolls and the early literature of Christianity. "Daniel's clear association with the Maccabean Uprising in Palestine was undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Rabbis, following the uprisings against Rome, downgraded it from its position among the 'Prophets'" (Eisenman 1997, p 19f).

In Daniel are the first references to a "kingdom of God", and the most overt reference to the resurrection of the dead in the Tanakh.

Identity of "Darius the Mede"

There are three main interpretations of the identity of Darius the Mede. The first, proposed by H.H. Rowley in Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel, concludes that Darius is just another name for Cyrus the Great, who captured Babylon on October 15th, 539 BC Another view, promoted by John Whitcomb (though first proposed by Babelon in 1883) in his 1959 book, Darius the Mede says that Darius is another name for the historical figure of Gubaru (sometimes spelled as Ugbaru). This view is popular with more conservative scholars. The third view sees Darius as another name for Astyages, the last Mede king who was ultimately deposed by Cyrus.

"Darius the Mede" as Cyrus the Great: Unlike Gubaru or Astyages, Cyrus the Great of Persia was the king who took over the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus was also married to a Mede, and himself had Mede blood. An analysis of variant early texts, particularly the Septuagint, reveals that the names "Darius" (DRYWS in Hebrew) and "Cyrus" (KRWS) are reversed in 11:1, and may have been miscopied elsewhere.

The appellation "Mede" (Heb. MADAI) may have been used as an ethnic term to apply to Persians as well, who were of the same race.

"Darius the Mede" as Gubaru/Ugbaru: Gubaru is the historical general known to have actually led the army that captured Babylon (see Pierre Briant below), according to Nabonidus. It is possible that Cyrus would have rewarded Gubaru with a regional governorship for capturing the capital of the Babylonian Empire and virtually ending the war. Furthermore, the Bible claims that Darius ruled during the reign of Cyrus and was "made king" over the Chaldeans.

"Darius the Mede" as Astyages: The opening line of "Bel and the Dragon" references Astyages, who was indeed the last king of the Medes before Cyrus; but a nearly identical verse is added in the Greek after the end of Dan. 6, only reading "Darius" in place of "Astyages". Astyages is the only one of the three known to be both a Mede and a king.

On the difficulty of ascertaining the correct view, Rowley admits: "The references to Darius the Mede in the book of Daniel have long been recognized as providing the most serious historical problems in the book." Rowley refers to the personage whom Daniel describes as taking control of Babylon after Belshazzar is deposed. Daniel describes this personage as Darius the Mede, who rules over Babylon in chapters 6 and 9. Daniel reports that Darius was 'about 62 years old' when he was 'made king over Babylon'

Secular historians have criticized this account for three reasons. First, no secular history speaks of any 'Darius the Mede,' and second, the Persians at that point in history had control over the Medes. Third, the contemporary history given from cuneiform documents of the period, such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Babylonian Chronicle, leaves no room for any Mede occupation of Babylon before the Persians under Cyrus conquered it.

Christian historians counter by claiming that the kingdom of 'Darius' is mentioned as only containing the 'Chaldeans' - the area around the city of Babylon. This would then make Darius a vassal king under the reign of Cyrus; something not uncommon for the Persians. Further, Astyages the Mede had been Cyrus' grandfather, and even though the Persians had absorbed the Mede empire, many Medes were still in positions of power, such as satraps, governors, and generals, in the Persian empire.


Akk. bêl-šar-usur. For many years Belshazzar was an enigma for historians. The book of Daniel states that he was “king” (Ar. מֶלֶך) the night that Babylon fell (chap. 5) and says that his “father” (Ar. אַב) was Nebuchadnezzar (5:2, 11, 13, 18). Prior to 1854, archeologists and historians knew nothing of Belshazzar outside the book of Daniel. Indeed, while both Xenophon (Cyropaedia, 7.5.28-30) and Herodotus (The Histories, 1.191) recount the fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Great, neither gives the name of the king of Babylon. Further, both Berossus’ and Ptolemy’s king lists have Nabonidus (Akk. Nabû-nā'id) as the last king of Babylon with no mention of Belshazzar.

From that time new evidence from Babylon has verified the existence of Belshazzar as well as his co-regency during the absence of his father, Nabonidus, in Temâ. For example, In the Nabonidus Cylinder, Nabonidus petitions the god Sin as follows: “And as for Belshazzar my firstborn son, my own child, let the fear of your great divinity be in his heart, and may he commit no sin; may he enjoy happiness in life". In addition, The Verse Account of Nabonidus (British Museum tablet 38299) states, “[Nabonidus] entrusted the army (?) to his oldest son, his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his command. He let everything go, entrusted the kingship to him, and, himself, he started out for a long journey. The military forces of Akkad marching with him, he turned to Temâ deep in the west” (Col. II, lines 18 - 29. 18). In line with the statement that Nabonidus "entrusted the kingship" to Belshazzar in his absence, there is evidence that Belshazzar's name was used with his father's in oath formulas, that he was able to pass edicts, lease farmlands, and receive the "royal privilege" to eat the food offered to the gods.

The available information concerning Belshazzar's co-regency goes silent after Nabonidus' fourteenth year. According to the Nabonidus Chronicle, Nabonidus was back from Temâ by his seventeenth year and celebrated the New Year’s Festival (Akk. Akitu). Whether Belshazzar continued his co-regency with his father after his return or not cannot be demonstrated from the available documents. Some have claimed that the non-observance of the Akitu during Nabonidus' absence demonstrates that Belshazzar should not be called "king" since it shows that he could not officiate over the festival. However, The Verse Account of Nabonidus says, "Nabonidus said: 'I shall build a temple for him (the Moon god Sin)...till I have achieved this, till I have obtained what is my desire, I shall omit all festivals, I shall order even the New Year's festival to cease!'" Thus, the halting of the Akitu seems to have been done by the king's command rather an inability on the part of Belshazzar. Some have also stated that he should not be called "king" as he is never designated as such in the available documents. While it is true that none of the documents explicitly call Belshazzar "king," the preceding paragraph shows that the documents do show Belshazzar acting in the capacity of king. Further, the Aramaic term מלך (mlk, king) could be used to translate titles of lesser high ranking officials as can be seen in the case of a 9th century BC Akkadian/Aramaic bilinguagal inscription found at Tell Fekheriyeh in 1979 which reads "king" for the Akkadian "governor".

No known extrabiblical text indicates a blood relation between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Historians have objected to this aspect of the record in Daniel. There were several rulers over Babylon between the death of Nebuchadnezzar and the rulership of Nabonidus/Belshazzar.

Madness of Nebuchadnezzar

In the Dead Sea Scrolls a fragment known as The Prayer of Nabonidus (4QPrNab) discusses a disease suffered by Nabonidus, and it is thought that the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar discussed by Daniel is actually evidence that an oral tradition of one strange disease was actually transmogrified through retelling into a tale mistakenly recorded by Daniel.

Date of Nebuchadnezzar's first siege of Jerusalem

The Book of Daniel begins by stating:

In the third year of the reign of Jehoi'akim king of Judah came Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoi'akim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. (King James Version)

This appears to be a description of the first siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC, which occurred in the twelfth year of Jehoiakim and into the reign of his son Jehoiachin. (see 2 Kings 24 and 2 Chronicles 36). The third year of Jehoiakim (606 BC), saw Nebuchadrezzar not yet King of Babylon, and the Egyptians still dominant in the region. Advocates of an early date of Daniel generally explain this by positing an additional, otherwise unmentioned, siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC, shortly after the Battle of Carchemish.


Traditionally, the book of Daniel was believed to have been written by its namesake during and shortly after the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC. While most conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish scholars still assert this as a realistic date, the consensus of liberal scholars is that archaeology and textual analysis argue for a considerably later date.

Conservative Bible scholars accept the Bible's claim that prophets can see into the future and then describe what they saw in spoken or written language. Liberal sceptics, who descend from the school of German Higher Criticism, reject the Bible's notion that prophets can see visions of the future, that in fact Daniel had no such vision. Many of the metaphors used in Daniel's visions are quite vivid, pointing to specific individuals and kingdoms. The specificity of these visions is the dividing line between the two camps. Liberal scholars must then, to get around the issue of Daniel's specificity, date the writing of the book of Daniel much later (see below) and attribute it to an unknown author who posed Daniel as the author of the book bearing his name.

Liberal scholarship on the dating of the Book of Daniel largely falls into two camps, one dating the book in its entirety to a single author during the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple (168-165 BC) under the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 175-164 BC), the other seeing it as a collection of stories dating from different times throughout the Hellenistic period (with some of the material possibly going back to the latest Persian period), with the visions in chapters 7-12 having been added during the desecration of Antiochus. John Collins finds it impossible for the "court tales" portion of Daniel to have been written in second Century BC due to textual analysis. In his 1992 Anchor Bible Dictionary entry for the Book of Daniel, he states "it is clear that the court-tales in chapters 1-6 were 'not written in Maccabean times'. It is not even possible to isolate a single verse which betrays an editorial insertion from that period."


Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Most interpreters find that references in the Book of Daniel reflect the persecutions of Israel by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BC), and consequently date its composition to that period. In particular, the vision in Chapter 11, which focuses on a series of wars between the "King of the North" and the "King of the South," is generally interpreted as a discussion of Near Eastern history from the time of Alexander the Great down the era of Antiochus IV, with the "Kings of the North" being the Seleucid kings and the "Kings of the South" being the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt. This conclusion was first drawn by the philosopher Porphyry of Tyros, a third century pagan Neoplatonist whose fifteen-volume work Against the Christians is only known to us through Jerome's reply. Jerome accepted much (but not all) of Porphyry's interpretation of the vision, but held to the traditional view of Daniel's date and held that the similarities to actual history were due to Daniel's being a true prophet, rather than to a late date for the book. Porphyry, then, was the only known critic to doubt Daniel's early date until the seventeenth century. Some sceptics hold that the book was written to influence Jews living under Antiochus' persecution. They believe that the events described in the visions match well the events during the Maccabean era while the book errs on major points of Babylonian history.

Four Kingdoms

Some biblical scholars assume that the four kingdoms beginning with Nebuchadnezzar, mentioned in the "statue vision" of chapter 2, are identical to the four "end-time" kingdoms of the vision in chapter 7, and usually consider them to represent

  • (1) Babylonia,
  • (2) Media,
  • (3) Persia, and
  • (4) Greece (Collins).

Some conservative Christians identify them as

  • (1) Babylonia,
  • (2) "Medo-Persia,"
  • (3) Greece, and
  • (4) Rome (e.g. Young);

others (e.g. Stuart, Lagrange) have advocated the following schema:

  • (1) the Neo-Babylonian,
  • (2) the Medo-Persian,
  • (3) the Greek empire of Alexander, and
  • (4) the rival Diadochi, viz. Egypt and Syria.


The final major area of debate regarding the dating of Daniel regards the language used. The two reference points used for dating the Aramaic are the Samaria correspondence (4th century BC) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2nd century BC-1st century AD). According to John Collins in his 1993 commentary, Daniel, Hermennia Commentary, the Aramaic in Daniel is almost universally held by scholars to be of a later form than that used in the Samaria correspondence, but is regarded by many as slightly earlier than the form used in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Loan words

There are three Greek words used within the text which have long been considered evidence for a late dating of Daniel. All three Greek words are used for musical instruments. The existence of the Greek word 'symphonia' was cited by Rowlings as having its earliest use in second century BC, but modern scholarship now knows its use much earlier, both in the sense of a specific instrument and as a term referring to a group of instruments playing in unison. Pythagoras used the term to denote an instrument in sixth century BC, while its use to refer to a group performing together is found in the sixth century BC 'Hymni Homerica, ad Mercurium 51'

There are also nineteen Persian loan-words in the book, most of them having to do with governmental positions.

Use of the word 'Chaldeans'

The book of Daniel uses the term "Chaldean" to refer both to a Babylonian ethnic group and to astrologers in general. According to Montgomery and Hammer, Daniel's use of the word 'Chaldean' to refer to astrologers in general is an anachronism, as during the Neo-Babylonian and early Persian periods when Daniel is said to have lived it referred only to an ethnicity. Compare the later Chaldean Oracles.

Unity of Daniel

The scholarship concerning the question of unity in Daniel differs greatly from the scholarship concerning the dating. Whereas some scholars conclude a second century dating of the book in its final form, scholarship varies greatly regarding the unity of Daniel. Some scholars, finding portions of the book dealing with themes they do not believe fit with the time of Antiochus, conclude separate authors for different portions of the book. Included in this group are Barton, L. Berthold, Collins, and H. L. Ginsberg. Some historians who support that the book was a unified whole include J.A. Montgomery, S.R. Driver, R. H. Pfeiffer, and H.H. Rowling in the latter's aptly titled treatise The Unity of the Book of Daniel.

Those who hold to a unified Daniel claim that their opponents fail to find any consensus in their various theories of where divisions exist. Montgomery is particularly harsh to his colleagues, stating that the proliferation of theories without agreement showed a "bankruptcy of criticism." They also charge that composite theories fail to account for the consistent thematic portrayal of Daniel's life throughout the book of Daniel.

Christian uses of Daniel

As mentioned above, the prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Children from the deuterocanonical parts of Daniel are widely used in Orthodox and Catholic prayer.

The various episodes in the first half of the book are used by Christians as moral stories, and are often seen to foreshadow events in the gospels.

The apocalyptic section is primarily important to Christians for the image of the "Son of Man" (Daniel 7:13). According to the gospels, Jesus used this title as his preferred name for himself. The connection with Daniel's vision (as opposed to the usage in the Book of Ezekiel) is made explicit in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Mattthew 27:64; Mark 14:62). Christians see this as a direct claim by Jesus that he is the Messiah.

Influence of Daniel

Due to the specificity of its prophecy and its place in both the Jewish and Christian canons, the book of Daniel has had great influence in Jewish and Christian history.

The Book of Daniel is included in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, in the section known as the Ketuvim (Hagiographa, or the "Writings") . Daniel was considered a prophet at Qumran (4Q174 [4QFlorilegium]) and later by Josephus (Antiquity of the Jews 10.11.7 §266) and the author (the "Pseudo-Philo") of Liber antiquitatum biblicarum (L.A.B. "Book of Biblical antiquities" 4.6, 8), and was grouped among the prophets in the Septuagint, the Jewish Greek Old Testament, and by Christians, who place the book among the prophets. However, Daniel is not currently included by the Jews in the section of the prophets, the Nebiim.

The Jewish exegete Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, sometimes called simply RaMBaM and later called Maimonides, was so concerned that the "untutored populace would be led astray" if they attempted to calculate the timing of the Messiah that it was decreed that "Cursed be those who predict the end times." This verbiage can be both found in his letter IGERET TEIMAN and in his booklet The Statutes and Wars of the Messiah-King.

Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel lamented that the times for the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel "were over long ago" (Sanhedrin 98b, 97a).

Traditional Christians have embraced the prophecies of Daniel, as they believe they clearly illustrate that Jesus Christ of Nazareth must be the Messiah, and also because in Matthew 24 Jesus himself is quoted as describing Daniel's prophecies as applying to future events immediately preceding Judgement Day, and not to Epiphanes who had lived some 175 years earlier. They consider the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks to be particularly compelling due to what they interpret to be prophetic accuracy. Many Orthodox Jews believe that the prophecy refers to the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. Secular scholars however, believe that the prophecy better fits the reign of Antiochus, and that it is an example of vaticinium ex eventu (prophecy after the fact).

Medieval study of angels was also affected by this book, as it is the only Old Testament source for the names of two of the archangels, Gabriel and Michael (Daniel 9:21; Daniel 12:1). The only other angel given a name in the Old Testament is Raphael, mentioned in the deuterocanoncial Book Of Tobit.

Traditional tomb sites of Daniel

A tomb said to be the last resting place of the prophet Daniel is located in the Kirkuk Citadel in the city of Kirkuk in Iraq. There is a mosque built on the tomb, the mosque has arches and pillars and two domes on a decorated base and beside it there are three minarets belonging to the end of the Mongolian reign. The mosque is about 400 square meters, it has four illusions tombs of Daniel, Hannah, Ezra and Michael.

Another tomb in Susa, Iran, also claims to be that of Daniel.

Additions to Daniel

The additions to Daniel comprise three additional chapters appended to the Hebrew/Aramaic text of Daniel from the Greek Septuagint because the original Hebrew versions are no longer extant. They are accepted as canonical and translated as such in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Bibles. These additions are:

  • The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children : assimilated into chapter 3 (The Fiery Furnace episode).
  • Susanna and the Elders : as chapter 13

Protestant versions exclude these additions as apocryphal, retaining only the text available today in the Hebrew/Aramaic Daniel, though the three are placed with other apocryphal books in between the Testaments in Bibles published with the Apocrypha.

I. Name

The Book of Daniel is rightly so called, whether we consider Daniel as the author of it, or as the principal person mentioned in it.

II. Place in the Canon

In the English Bible, Daniel is placed among the Major Prophets, immediately after Ezekiel, Thus following the order of the Septuagint and of the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Bible, 390-405 AD) In the Hebrew Bible, however, it is placed in the third division of the Canon, called the Kethuvim or writings, by the Hebrews, and the hagiographa, or holy writings, by the Seventy. It has been claimed, that Daniel was placed by the Jews in the third part of the Canon, either because they thought the inspiration of its author to be of a lower kind than was that of the other prophets, or because the book was written after the second or prophetical part of the Canon had been closed. It is more probable, that the book was placed in this part of the Hebrew Canon, because Daniel is not called a nābhī' (“prophet”), but was rather a ḥōzeh (“seer”) and a ḥākhām (“wise man”). None but the works of the nebhī'īm were put in the second part of the Jewish Canon, the third being reserved for the heterogeneous works of seers, wise men, and priests, or for those that do not mention the name or work of a prophet, or that are poetical in form. A confusion has arisen, because the Greek word prophet is used to render the two Hebrew words nābhī' and ḥōzeȟ. In the Scriptures, God is said to speak to the former, whereas the latter see visions and dream dreams. Some have attempted to explain the position of Daniel by assuming that he had the prophetic gift without holding the prophetic office. It must be kept in mind that all reasons given to account for the order and place of many of the books in the Canon are purely conjectural, since we have no historical evidence bearing upon the subject earlier than the time of Jesus ben Sirach, who wrote probably about 180 BC.

III. Divisions of the Book

According to its subject-matter, the book falls naturally into two great divisions, each consisting of six chapters, the first portion containing the historical sections, and the second the apocalyptic, or predictive, portions; though the former is not devoid of predictions, nor the latter of historical statements. More specifically, the first chapter is introductory to the whole book; Dan 2 through 6 describe some marvelous events in the history of Daniel and his three companions in their relations with the rulers of Babylon; and chapters 7 through 12 narrate some visions of Daniel concerning the great world-empires, especially in relation to the kingdom of God.

According to the languages in which the book is written, it may be divided into the Aramaic portion, extending from [[Daniel 2:4 to the end of chapter 7, and a Hebrew portion embracing the rest of the book.

IV. Languages

The language of the book is partly Hebrew and partly a dialect of Aramaic, which has been called Chaldee, or Biblical Aramaic This Aramaic is almost exactly the same as that which is found in portions of Ezra. On account of the large number of Babylonian and Persian words characteristic of this Aramaic and of that of the papyri recently found in Egypt, as well as on account of the general similarity of the nominal, verbal and other forms, and of the syntactical construction, the Aramaic of this period might properly be called the Babylonian-Persian Aramaic With the exception of the sign used to denote the sound “dh,” and of the use of ḳōph in a few cases where Daniel has 'ayin, the spelling in the papyri is the same in general as that in the Biblical books. Whether the change of spelling was made at a later time in the manuscripts of Daniel, or whether it was a peculiarity of the Babylonian Aramaic as distinguished from the Egyptian or whether it was due to the unifying, scientific genius of Daniel himself, we have no means at present to determine. In view of the fact that the Elephantine Papyri frequently employ the “d” sign to express the “dh” sound, and that it is always employed in Ezra to express it; in view further of the fact that the “z” sign is found as late as the earliest Nabatean inscription, that of 70 BC (see Euting, 349: 1, 2, 4) to express the “dh” sound, it seems fatuous to insist on the ground of the writing of these two sounds in the Book of Daniel, that it cannot have been written in the Persian period. As to the use of ḳōph and ‛ayin for the Aramaic sound which corresponds to the Hebrew cadhē when equivalent to an Arabic dad, any hasty conclusion is debarred by the fact that the Aramaic papyri of the 5th century bc, the manuscripts of the Samaritan Targum and the Mandaic manuscripts written from 600 to 900 ad all employ the two letters to express the one sound. The writing of 'āleph and hē without any proper discrimination occurs in the papyri as well as in Daniel. The only serious objection to the early date of upon the ground of its spelling is that which is based upon the use of a final “n” in the pronominal suffix of the second and third persons masculine plural instead of the “m” of the Aramaic papyri and of the Zakir and Sendschirli inscriptions. It is possible that was influenced in this by the corresponding forms of the Babylonian language. The Syriac and Mandaic dialects of the Aramaic agree with the Babylonian in the formation of the pronominal suffixes of the second and third persons masculine plural, as against the Hebrew, Arabic, Minaean, Sabean and Ethiopic. It is possible that the occurrence of “m” in some west Aramaic documents may have arisen through the influence of the Hebrew and Phoenician, and that pure Aramaic always had “n” just as we find it in Assyrian and Babylonian, and in all east Aramaic documents Thus far discovered.

The supposition that the use of “y” in Daniel as a preformative of the third person masculine of the imperfect proves a Palestinian provenience has been shown to be untenable by the discovery that the earliest east Syriac also used “y”. (See M. Pognon, Inscriptions sémitiques, première partie, 17.)

This inscription is dated 73 ad. This proof that in the earlier stages of its history the east Aramaic was in this respect the same as that found in Daniel is confirmed by the fact that the forms of the 3rd person of the imperfect found in the proper names on the Aramaic dockets of the Assyrian inscriptions also have the preformative y. (See Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, II, 47.)

V. Purpose of the Book

The book is not intended to give an account of the life of Daniel. It gives neither his lineage, nor his age, and recounts but a few of the events of his long career. Nor is it meant to give a record of the history of Israel during the exile, nor even of the captivity in Babylon. Its purpose is to show how by His providential guidance, His miraculous interventions, His foreknowledge and almighty power, the God of heaven controls and directs the forces of Nature and the history of nations, the lives of Hebrew captives and of the mightiest of the kings of the earth, for the accomplishment of His Divine and beneficent plans for His servants and people.

VI. Unity

The unity of the book was first denied by Spinoza, who suggested that the first part was taken from the chronological works of the Chaldeans, basing his supposition upon the difference of language between the former and latter parts. Newton followed Spinoza in suggesting two parts, but began his second division with Dan 7, where the narrative passes over from the 3rd to the 1st person. Köhler follows Newton, claiming, however, that the visions were written by the Daniel of the exile, but that the first 6 chapters were composed by a later writer who also redacted the whole work. Von Orelli holds that certain prophecies of Daniel were enlarged and interpolated by a Jew living in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, in order to show his contemporaries the bearing of the predictions of the book upon those times of oppression. Zöckler and Lange hold to the unity of the book in general; but the former thought that Daniel 11:5-45 is an interpolation; and the latter, that 10:1 through 11:44 and [[Daniel 12:5-13 have been inserted in the original work. Meinhold holds that the Aramaic portions existed as early as the times of Alexander the Great - a view to which Strack also inclines. Eichhorn held that the book consisted of ten different original sections, which are bound together merely by the circumstance that they are all concerned with Daniel and his three friends. Finally, De Lagarde, believing that the fourth kingdom was the Roman, held that Daniel 7 was written about 69 ad. (For the best discussion of the controversies about the unity of Daniel, see Eichhorn, Einleitung, sections 612-19, and Buhl in See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche, IV, 449-51.)

VII. Genuineness

With the exception of the neo-Platonist Porphyry, a Greek non-Christian philosopher of the 3rd century AD, the genuineness of the Book of was denied by no one until the rise of the deistic movement in the 17th century. The attacks upon the genuineness of the book have been based upon:

  • (1) The predictions,
  • (2) The miracles,
  • (3) The text,
  • (4) The language,
  • (5) The historical statements.

1. The Predictions

The assailants of the genuineness of Daniel on the ground of the predictions found therein, may be divided into two classes - those who deny prediction in general, and those who claim that the apocalyptic character of the predictions of Daniel is a sufficient proof of their lack of genuineness. The first of these two classes includes properly those only who deny not merely Christianity, but theism; and the answering of them may safely be left to those who defend the doctrines of theism, and particularly of revelation. The second class of assailants is, however, of a different character, since it consists of those who are sincere believers in Christianity and predictive prophecy. They claim, however, that certain characteristics of definiteness and detail, distinguishing the predictive portions of the Book of Daniel from other predictions of the Old Testament, bring the genuineness of Daniel into question.

The kind of prediction found here, ordinarily called apocalyptic, is said to have arisen first in the 2nd century bc, when parts of the Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles were written; and a main characteristic of an apocalypse is said to be that it records past events as if they were still future, throwing the speaker back into some distant past time, for the purpose of producing on the reader the impression that the book contains real predictions, Thus gaining credence for the statements of the writer and giving consolation to those who are Thus led to believe in the providential foresight of God for those who trust in Him.

Since those who believe that God has spoken unto man by His Son and through the prophets will not be able to set limits to the extent and definiteness of the revelations which He may have seen fit to make through them, nor to prescribe the method, style, time and character of the revelations, this attack on the genuineness of Daniel may safely be left to the defenders of the possibility and the fact of a revelation. One who believes in these may logically believe in the genuineness of Daniel, as far as this objection goes. That there are spurious apocalypses no more proves that all are spurious than that there are spurious gospels or epistles proves that there are no genuine ones. The spurious epistles of Philaris do not prove that Cicero's Letters are not genuine; nor do the false statements of 2 Maccabees, nor the many spurious Acts of the Apostles, prove that 1 Maccabees or Luke's Acts of the Apostles is not genuine. Nor does the fact that the oldest portions of the spurious apocalypses which have been preserved to our time are thought to have been written in the 2nd century bc, prove that no apocalypses, either genuine or spurious, were written before that time. There must have been a beginning, a first apocalypse, at some time, if ever. Besides, if we admit that the earliest parts of the Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles were written about the middle of the 2nd century bc, whereas the Book of Esdras was written about 300 ad, 450 years later, we can see no good literary reason wh Daniel may not have antedated Enoch by 350 years. The period between 500 bc and 150 bc is so almost entirely devoid of all known Hebrew literary productions as to render it exceedingly precarious for anyone to express an opinion as to what works may have characterized that long space of time.

2. The Miracles

Secondly, as to the objections made against the Book of Daniel on the ground of the number or character of the miracles recorded, we shall only say that they affect the whole Christian system, which is full of the miraculous from beginning to end. If we begin to reject the books of the Bible because miraculous events are recorded in them, where indeed shall we stop?

3. The Text

Thirdly, a more serious objection, as far as Daniel itself is concerned, is the claim of Eichhorn that the original text of the Aramaic portion has been so thoroughly tampered with and changed, that we can no longer get at the genuine original composition. We ourselves can see no objection to the belief that these Aramaic portions were written first of all in Hebrew, or even, if you will, in Babylonian; nor to the supposition that some Greek translators modified the meaning in their version either intentionally, or through a misunderstanding of the original. We claim, however, that the composite Aramaic of Daniel agrees in almost every particular of orthography, etymology and syntax, with the Aramaic of the North Semitic inscriptions of the 9th, 8th and 7th centuries BC and of the Egyptian papyri of the 5th century bc, and that the vocabulary of Daniel has an admixture of Hebrew, Babylonian and Persian words similar to that of the papyri of the 5th century BC; whereas, it differs in composition from the Aramaic of the Nabateans, which is devoid of Persian, Hebrew, and Babylonian words, and is full of Arabisms, and also from that of the Palmyrenes, which is full of Greek words, while having but one or two Persian words, and no Hebrew or Babylonian.

As to different recensions, we meet with a similar difficulty in Jeremiah without anyone's impugning on that account the genuineness of the work as a whole. As to interpolations of verses or sections, they are found in the Samaritan recension of the Hebrew text and in the Samaritan and other Targums, as also in certain places in the text of the New Testament, Josephus and many other ancient literary works, without causing us to disbelieve in the genuineness of the rest of their works, or of the works as a whole.

4. The Language

Fourthly, the objections to the genuineness of Daniel based on the presence in it of three Greek names of musical instruments and of a number of Persian words do not seem nearly as weighty today as they did a hundred years ago. The Greek inscriptions at Abu Simbal in Upper Egypt dating from the time of Psamtek II in the early part of the 6th century BC, the discovery of the Minoan inscriptions and ruins in Crete, the revelations of the wide commercial relations of the Phoenicians in the early part of the 1st millennium bc, the lately published inscriptions of Sennacherib about his campaigns in Cilicia against the Greek seafarers to which Alexander Poly-histor and Abydenus had referred, telling about his having carried many Greeks captive to Nineveh about 700 BC, the confirmation of the wealth and expensive ceremonies of Nebuchadnezzar made by his own building and other inscriptions, all assure us of the possibility of the use of Greek musical instruments at Babylon in the 6th century bc. This, taken along with the well-known fact that names of articles of commerce and especially of musical instruments go with the thing, leave no room to doubt that a writer of the 6th century bc may have known and used borrowed Greek terms. The Arameans being the great commercial middlemen between Egypt and Greece on the one hand and Babylon and the Orient on the other, and being in addition a subject people, would naturally adopt many foreign words into their vocabulary.

As to the presence of the so-called Persian words in Daniel, it must be remembered that many words which were formerly considered to be such have been found to be Babylonian. As to the others, perhaps all of them may be Median rather than Persian; and if so, the children of Israel who were carried captive to the cities of the Medes in the middle of the 8th century BC, and the, Arameans, many of whom were subject to the Medes, at least from the time of the fall of Nineveh about 607 BC, may well have adopted many words into their vocabulary from the language of their rulers. Daniel was not writing merely for the Jews who had been carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, but for all Israelites throughout the world. Hence, he would properly use a language which his scattered readers would understand rather than the purer idiom of Judea. Most of his foreign terms are names of officials, legal terms, and articles of clothing, for which there were no suitable terms existing in the earlier Hebrew or Aramaic There was nothing for a writer to do but to invent new terms, or to transfer the current foreign words into his native language. The latter was the preferable method and the one which he adopted.

5. The Historical Statements

Fifthly, objections to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel are made on the ground of the historical misstatements which are said to be found in it. These may be classed as:

  • (1) chronological,
  • (2) geographical, and
  • (3) various.

(1) Chronological Objections

The first chronological objection is derived from Daniel 1:1, where it is said that Nebuchadnezzar made an expedition against Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah seems to imply that the expedition was made in the 4th year of that king. As Daniel was writing primarily for the Jews of Babylon, he would naturally use the system of dating that was employed there; and this system differed in its method of denoting the 1st year of a reign from that used by the Egyptians and by the Jews of Jerusalem for whom Jeremiah wrote.

The second objection is derived from the fact that Daniel is said (Daniel 1:21) to have lived unto the 1st year of Cyrus the king, whereas in Daniel 10:1 he is said to have seen a vision in the 3rd year of Cyrus, king of Persia. These statements are easily reconciled by supposing that in the former case it is the 1st year of Cyrus as king of Babylon, and in the second, the 3rd year of Cyrus as king of Persia.

The third chronological objection is based on Daniel 6:28, where it is said that Daniel prospered in the kingdom of Darius and in the kingdom of Cyrus the Persian. This statement is harmonized with the facts revealed by the monuments and with the statements of the book itself by supposing that Darius reigned synchronously with Cyrus, but as sub-king under him.

The fourth objection is based on Daniel 8:1, where Daniel is said to have seen a vision in the third year of Belshazzar the king. If we suppose that Belshazzar was king of the Chaldeans while his father was king of Babylon, just as Cambyses was king of Babylon while his father, Cyrus, was king of the lands, or as Nabonidus II seems to have been king of Harran while his father, Nabonidus I, was king of Babylon, this statement will harmonize with the other statements made with regard to Belshazzar.

(2) Geographical Objections

As to the geographical objections, three only need be considered as important. The first is, that Shushan seems to be spoken of in Daniel 7:2 as subject to Babylon, whereas it is supposed by some to have been at that time subject to Media. Here we can safely rest upon the opinion of Winckler, that at the division of the Assyrian dominions among the allied Medes and Babylonians, Elam became subject to Babylon rather than to Media. If, however, this opinion could be shown not to be true, we must remember that Daniel is said to have been at Shushan in a vision.

The second geographical objection is based on the supposition that Nebuchadnezzar would not have gone against Jerusalem, leaving an Egyptian garrison at Carchemish in his rear, Thus endangering his line of communication and a possible retreat to Babylon. This objection has no weight, now that the position of Carchemish has been shown to be, not at Ciressium, as formerly conjectured, but at Jirabis, 150 miles farther up the Euphrates. Carchemish would have cut off a retreat to Nineveh, but was far removed from the direct line of communication with Babylon.

The third geographical objection is derived from the statement that Darius placed 120 satraps in, or over, all his kingdom. The objection rests upon a false conception of the meaning of satrap and of the extent of a satrapy, there being no reason why a sub-king under Darius may not have had as many satraps under him as Sargon of Assyria had governors and deputies under him; and the latter king mentions 117 peoples and countries over which he appointed his deputies to rule in his place.

(3) Other Objections

Various other objections to the genuineness of Daniel have been made, the principal being those derived from the supposed non-existence of Kings Darius the Mede and Belshazzar the Chaldean, from the use of the word Chaldean to denote the wise men of Babylon, and from the silence of other historical sources as to many of the events recorded in Daniel. The discussion of the existence of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede will be found under Belshazzar and Darius. As to the argument from silence in general, it may be said that it reduces itself in fact to the absence of all reference to Daniel on the monuments, in the Book of Ecclus, and in the post-exilic literature. As to the latter books it proves too much; for Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, as well as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, refer to so few of the older canonical books and earlier historical persons and events, that it is not fair to expect them to refer to Daniel - at least, to use their not referring to him or his book as an argument against the existence of either before the time when they were written. As to Ecclesiasticus, we might have expected him to mention Daniel or the Song of three Children; but who knows what reasons Ben Sira may have had for not placing them in his list of Hebrew heroes? Perhaps, since he held the views which later characterized the Sadducees, he may have passed Daniel by because of his views on the resurrection and on angels. Perhaps he failed to mention any of the four companions because none of their deeds had been wrought in Palestine; or because their deeds exalted too highly the heathen monarchies to which the Jews were subject. Or, more likely, the book may have been unknown to him, since very few copies at best of the whole Old Testament can have existed in his time, and the Book of Daniel may not have gained general currency in Palestine before it was made so preëminent by the fulfillment of its predictions in the Maccabean times.

It is not satisfactory to say that Ben Sira did not mention Daniel and his companions, because the stories concerning them had not yet been imbedded in a canonical book, inasmuch as he does place Simon, the high priest, among the greatest of Israel's great men, although he is not mentioned in any canonical book. In conclusion, it may be said, that while it is impossible for us to determine why Ben Sira does not mention Daniel and his three companions among his worthies, if their deeds were known to him, it is even more impossible to understand how these stories concerning them cannot merely have arisen but have been accepted as true, between 180 bc, when Ecclesiasticus is thought to have been written, and 169 BC, when, according to 1 Maccabees, Matthias, the first of the Asmoneans, exhorted his brethren to follow the example of the fortitude of Ananias and his friends.

As to the absence of all mention of Daniel on the contemporary historical documents of Babylon and Persia, such mention is not to be expected, inasmuch as those documents give the names of none who occupied positions such as, or similar to, those which Daniel is said to have filled.

VIII. Interpretation

Questions of the interpretation of particular passages may be looked for in the commentaries and special works. As to the general question of the kind of prophecy found in the Book of Daniel, it has already been discussed above under the caption of “Genuineness.” As to the interpretation of the world monarchies which precede the monarchy of the Messiah Prince, it may be said, however, that the latest discoveries, ruling out as they do a separate Median empire that included Babylon, support the view that the four monarchies are the Babylonian, the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman. According to this view, Darius the Mede was only a sub-king under Cyrus the Persian. Other interpretations have been made by selecting the four empires from those of Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Persia, Medo-Persia, Alexander, the Seleucids, the Romans, and the Mohammedans. The first and the last of these have generally been excluded from serious consideration. The main dispute is as to whether the 4th empire was that of the Seleucids, or that of the Romans, the former view being held commonly by those who hold to the composition of in the 2nd century BC, and the latter by those who hold to the traditional view that it was written in the 6th century bc.

IX. Doctrines

It is universally admitted that the teachings of Daniel with regard to angels and the resurrection are more explicit than those found elsewhere in the Old Testament. As to angels, Daniel attributes to them names, ranks, and functions not mentioned by others. It has become common in certain quarters to assert that these peculiarities of Daniel are due to Persian influences. The Babylonian monuments, however, have revealed the fact that the Babylonians believed in both good and evil spirits with names, ranks, and different functions. These spirits correspond in several respects to the Hebrew angels, and may well have afforded Daniel the background for his visions. Yet, in all such matters, it must be remembered that Daniel purports to give us a vision, or revelation; and a revelation cannot be bound by the ordinary laws of time and human influence.

As to the doctrine of the resurrection, it is generally admitted that Daniel adds some new and distinct features to that which is taught in the other canonical books of the Old Testament. But it will be noted that he does not dwell upon this doctrine, since he mentions it only in Daniel 12:2. The materials for his doctrine are to be found in Isaiah 26:14, Isaiah 26:21 and Isaiah 66:24; Ezekiel 37:1-14, and in Job 14:12; Job 19:25; Hosea 6:2; 1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4, and 2 Kings 8:1-5, as well as in the use of the words for sleep and awakening from sleep, or from the dust, for everlasting life or everlasting contempt in Isaiah 26:19; Psalm 76:6; Psalm 13:3; Psalm 127:2; Deuteronomy 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; Job 7:21, and Jeremiah 20:11; Jeremiah 23:40. The essential ideas and phraseology of Daniel's teachings are found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The first two parts of the books of Enoch and 2 Maccabees make much of the resurrection; but on the other hand, Ecclesiastes seems to believe not even in the immortality of the soul, and Wisdom and 1 Maccabees do not mention a resurrection of the body.

That the post-exilic prophets do not mention a resurrection does not prove that they knew nothing about Daniel any more than it proves that they knew nothing about Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

There are resemblances, it is true, between the teachings of Daniel with regard to the resurrection and those of the Avesta. But so are there between his doctrines and the ideas of the Egyptians, which had existed for millenniums before his time. Besides there is no proof of any derivation of doctrines from the Persians by the writers of the canonical books of the Jews; and, as we have seen above, both the ideas and verbiage of Daniel are to be found in the generally accepted early Hebrew literature. And finally, this attempt to find a natural origin for all Biblical ideas leaves out of sight the fact that the Scriptures contain revelations from God, which transcend the ordinary course of human development. To a Christian, therefore, there can be no reason for believing that the doctrines of Daniel may not have been promulgated in the 6th century BC.

Commentaries and Introductions

The best commentaries on Daniel from a conservative point of view are those by Calvin, Moses Stuart, Keil, Zöckler, Strong in Lange's Bibelwerk, Fuller in the Speaker's Commentary, Thomson in the Pulpit Commentary, and Wright, Daniel and His Critics. The best defenses of Daniel's authenticity and genuineness are Hengstenberg, Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, Tregelles, Defense of the Authenticity, Auberlen, The Prophecies of Daniel, Fuller, Essay on the Authenticity of Daniel, Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (still the best of all), C. H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Critics, Kennedy, The Book of Daniel from the Christian Standpoint, Joseph Wilson, Daniel, and Sir Robert Anderson, Daniel in the Critics' Den. One should consult also Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, and Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament. For English readers, the radical school is best represented by Driver in his Literature of the Old Testament and in his Daniel; by Bevan, The Book of Daniel; by Prince, Commentary on Daniel, and by Cornill in his Introduction to the Old Testament.

X. Apocryphal Additions

In the Greek translations of Daniel three or four pieces are added which are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic text as it has come down to us. These are The Prayer of Azarias, The Song of the three Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. These additions have all been rejected from the Canon by the Protestant churches because they are not contained in the Hebrew Canon. In the Church of England they are “read for example of life and instruction of manners.” The Song of three Children was “ordered in the rubric of the first Prayer Book of Edward VI (AD 1549) to be used in Lent as a responsory to the Old Testament Lesson at the Morning Prayer.” It contains the Prayer of Azarias from the midst of the fiery furnace, and the song of praise by the three children for their deliverance; the latter being couched largely in phrases borrowed from Psalms 148:1-14. Susanna presents to us the story of a virtuous woman who resisted the seductive attempts of two judges of the elders of the people, whose machinations were exposed through the wisdom of Daniel who convicted them of false witness by the evidence of their own mouth, so that they were put to death according to the law of Moses; and from that day forth Daniel was held in great reputation in the sight of the people. Bel and the Dragon contains three stories. The first relates how Daniel destroyed the image of Bel which Nebuchadnezzar worshipped, by showing by means of ashes strewn on the floor of the temple that the offerings to Bel were devoured by the priests who came secretly into the temple by night. The second tells how Daniel killed the Dragon by throwing lumps of mingled pitch, fat and hair into his mouth, so causing the Dragon to burst asunder. The third gives a detailed account of the lions' den, stating that there were seven lions and that Daniel lived in the den six days, being sustained by broken bread and pottage which a prophet named Habakkuk brought to him through the air, an angel of the Lord having taken him by the arm and borne him by the hair of his head and through the vehemency of his spirit set him in Babylon over the den, into which he dropped the food for Daniel's use.


For commentaries on the additions to the Book of Daniel, see the works on Daniel cited above, and also The Apocrypha by Churton and others; the volume on the Apocrypha in Lange's Commentary by Bissell; “The Apocrypha” by Wace in the Speaker's Commentary, and Schürer, History of the Jewish People.

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