Daniel (Biblical book)
The book of Daniel [Hebrew: דניאל] Is ranked by the Jews in that division of their Bible called the Ketuvim, or Writings. 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.
Statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream The statue of this dream had a head of gold, body and arms of silver, thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. Daniel interpreted this to be kingdoms, with the head of gold being Neo-Babylon, and other kingdoms not as rich but stronger after. These kingdoms are often viewed as (starting with the arms of steel) Medo-Persia (2 arms for 2 peoples but still connected by the upper body as 1 nation), Alexander the Great's Grecian empire, pagan Rome (2 legs for 2 empires, western and eastern.) and the feet being Europe after Rome. Four Beasts Daniel saw 4 beasts. They were a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a beast. These prophecies are often viewed as the same as the vision of the statue, with the lion being Neo-Babylon, the bear being Medo-Persia, the leopard being Greece, and the Beast being Rome. Ram and He-Goat These visions are of a Ram, a He-Goat, and a little horn. These are viewed often as Medo-Persia, Greece, and papal Rome.
Dispute on Authorship
Due to the fact that the book contains prophecies that were fulfilled in the 4th century BC, many modernist scholars have asserted that this book was not written by Daniel the 6th century BC, but by a later person. However, both Scriptural and textual arguments support the traditional view.
- Jesus (Matthew 24:15; 25:31; 26:64) and His apostles (1 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) testify that the book was written by "the prophet Daniel", and that it is authoritative.
- The prophet Ezekiel testifies that Daniel was known for his wisdom and righteousness (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3).
- The character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony with the times and circumstances in which the author lived.
- The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, just such as might be expected. Certain portions (Dan. 2:4; 7) are written in the Chaldee (Aramaic) 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 (7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1, 2; 12:4, 5).
Additionally, findings in the Dead Sea Scrolls dating to the 2nd century BC referred to Daniel as a prophet, which supports the traditional view, as it is unlikely that Daniel would have been accepted as a prophet had the book been written several years previously rather than several centuries previously.
- Easton's Bible Dictionary, article on Daniel originally published in 1897.