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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Bible CommentaryThe Expositor's Bible Commentary

- Daniel

by Editor - William Robertson Nicoll



"Trothe is the hiest thinge a man may kepe."-CHAUCER

WE propose in the following pages to examine the Book of the Prophet Daniel by the same general methods which have been adopted in other volumes of the Expositor’s Bible. It may well happen that the conclusions adopted as regards its origin and its place in the Sacred Volume will not command the assent of all our readers. On the other hand, we may feel a reasonable confidence that, even if some are unable to accept the views at which we have arrived, and which we have here endeavoured to present with fairness, they will still read them with interest, as opinions which have been calmly and conscientiously formed, and to which the writer has been led by strong conviction.

All Christians will acknowledge the sacred and imperious duty of sacrificing every other consideration to the unbiased acceptance of that which we regard as truth. Further than this our readers will find much to elucidate the Book of Daniel chapter by chapter, apart from any questions which affect its authorship or age.

But I should like to say on the threshold that, though I am compelled to regard the Book of Daniel as a work which, in its present form, first saw the light in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, and though I believe that its six magnificent opening chapters were never meant to be regarded in any other light than that of moral and religious Haggadoth, yet no words of mine can exaggerate the value which I attach to this part of our Canonical Scriptures. The Book, as we shall see, has exercised a powerful influence over Christian conduct and Christian thought. Its right to a place in the Canon is undisputed and indisputable, and there is scarcely a single book of the Old Testament which can be made more richly "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, completely furnished unto every good work." Such religious lessons are eminently suitable for the aims of the Expositor’s Bible. They are not in the slightest degree impaired by those results of archaeological discovery and "criticism" which are now almost universally accepted by the scholars of the Continent, and by many of our chief English critics. Finally unfavourable to the authenticity, they are yet in no way derogatory to the preciousness of this Old Testament Apocalypse.

The first question which we must consider is, "What is known about the Prophet Daniel?"

I. If we accept as historical the particulars narrated of him in this Book, it is clear that few Jews have ever risen to so splendid an eminence. Under four powerful kings and conquerors, of three different nationalities and dynasties, he held a position of high authority among the haughtiest aristocracies of the ancient world. At a very early age he was not only a satrap, but the Prince and Prime Minister over all the satraps in Babylonia and Persia; not only a Magian, but the Head Magian, and Chief Governor over all the wise men of Babylon. Not even Joseph, as the chief ruler over all the house of Pharaoh, had anything like the extensive sway exercised by the Daniel of this Book. He was placed by Nebuchadrezzar "over the whole province of Babylon"; {Daniel 2:48} under Darius he was President of the Board of Three to "whom all the satraps" sent their accounts; {Daniel 5:29; Daniel 6:2} and he was continued in office and prosperity under Cyrus the Persian.

II. It is natural, then, that we should turn to the monuments and inscriptions of the Babylonian, Persian, and Median Empires to see if any mention can be found of so prominent a ruler. But hitherto neither has his name been discovered, nor the faintest trace of his existence.

III. If we next search other non-Biblical sources of information, we find much respecting him in the Apocrypha-"The Song of the Three Children," "The Story of Susanna," and "Bel and the Dragon." But these additions to the Canonical Books are avowedly valueless for any historic purpose. They are romances, in which the vehicle of fiction is used, in a manner which at all times was popular in Jewish literature, to teach lessons of faith and conduct by the example of eminent sages or saints. The few other fictitious fragments preserved by Fabricius have not the smallest importance. Josephus, beyond mentioning that Daniel and his three companions were of the family of King Zedekiah, adds nothing appreciable to our information. He narrates the story of the Book, and in doing so adopts a somewhat apologetic tone, as though he specially declined to vouch for its historic exactness. For he says:

"Let no one blame me for writing down everything of this nature, as I find it in our ancient books: for as to that matter, I have plainly assured those that think me defective in any such point, or complain of my management, and have told them, in the beginning of this history, that I intended to do no more than to translate the Hebrew books into the Greek language, and promised them to explain these facts, without adding anything to them of my own, or taking anything away from them."

IV. In the Talmud, again, we find nothing historical. Daniel is always mentioned as a champion against idolatry, and his wisdom is so highly esteemed, that, "if all the wise men of the heathen," we are told, "were on one side, and Daniel on the other, Daniel would still prevail." He is spoken of as an example of God’s protection of the innocent, and his three daily prayers are taken as our rule of life. To him are applied the verses of Lamentations 3:55-57 "I called upon Thy name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit. Thou drewest near in the day that I called: Thou saidst, Fear not. O Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; Thou hast redeemed my life." We are assured that he was of Davidic descent; obtained permission for the return of the exiles; survived till the rebuilding of the Temple; lived to a great age, and finally died in Palestine. Rav even went so far as to say, "If there be any like the Messiah among the living, it is our Rabbi the Holy: if among the dead, it is Daniel." In the "Avoth" of Rabbi Nathan it is stated that Daniel exercised himself in benevolence by endowing brides, following funerals, and giving alms. One of the Apocryphal legends respecting him has been widely spread. It tells us that, when he was a second time cast into the den of lions under Cyrus, and was fasting from lack of food, the Prophet Habakkuk was taken by a hair of his head and carried by the angel of the Lord to Babylon, to give to Daniel the dinner which he had prepared for his reapers. It is with reference to this Haggada that in the catacombs Daniel is represented in the lions’ den standing naked between two lions-an emblem of the soul between sin and death-and that a youth with a pot of food is by his side.

There is a Persian apocalypse of Daniel translated by Merx ("Archiv," 1:387), and there are a few worthless Mohammedan legends about him which are given in DHerbelot’s "Bibliotheque Orientale." They only serve to show how widely extended was the reputation which became the nucleus of strange and miraculous stories. As in the case of Pythagoras and Empedocles, they indicate the deep reverence which the ideal of his character inspired. They are as the fantastic clouds which gather about the loftiest mountain peaks. In later days he seems to have been comparatively forgotten.

These references would not, however, suffice to prove Daniel’s historical existence. They might merely result from the literal acceptance of the story narrated in the Book. From the name "Daniel," which is by no means a common one, and means "Judge of God," nothing can be learnt. It is only found in three other instances.

Turning to the Old Testament itself, we have reason for surprise both in its allusions and its silences. One only of the sacred writers refers to Daniel, and that is Ezekiel. In one passage {Ezekiel 28:3} the Prince of Tyrus is apostrophised in the words, "Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee." In the other the word of the Lord declares to the guilty city, that "though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness"; "they shall deliver neither son nor daughter."

The last words may be regarded as a general allusion, and therefore we may pass over the circumstance that Daniel-who was undoubtedly a eunuch in the palace of Babylon, and who is often pointed to as a fulfilment of the stern prophecy of Isaiah to Hezekiah.-could {Isaiah 39:7} never have had either son or daughter.

But in other respects the allusion is surprising.

1. It was very unusual among the Jews to elevate their contemporaries to such a height of exaltation, and it is indeed startling that Ezekiel should thus place his youthful contemporary on such a pinnacle as to unite his name to those of Noah the antediluvian patriarch and the mysterious man of Uz.

2. We might, with Theodoret, Jerome, and Kimchi, account for the mention of Daniel’s name at all in this connection by the peculiar circumstances of his life; but there is little probability in the suggestions of bewildered commentators as to the reason why his name should be placed between those of Noah and Job. It is difficult, with Havernick, to recognise any climax in the order; nor can it be regarded as quite satisfactory to say, with Delitzsch, that the collocation is due to the fact that "as Noah was a righteous man of the old world, and Job of the ideal world, Daniel represented immediately the contemporaneous world." If Job was a purely ideal instance of exemplary goodness, why may not Daniel have been the same?

To some critics the allusion has appeared so strange that they have referred it to an imaginary Daniel who had lived at the Court of Nineveh during the Assyrian exile; or to some mythic hero who belonged to ancient days-perhaps, like Melchizedek, a contemporary of the ruin of the cities of the Plain. Ewald tries to urge something for the former conjecture; yet neither for it nor for the latter is there any tittle of real evidence. This, however, would not be decisive against the hypothesis, since in 1 Kings 4:31 we have references to men of pre-eminent wisdom respecting whom no breath of tradition has come down to us.

3. But if we accept the Book of Daniel as literal history, the allusion of Ezekiel becomes still more difficult to explain; for Daniel must have been not only a contemporary of the prophet of the Exile, but a very youthful one. We are told-a difficulty to which we shall subsequently allude-that Daniel was taken captive in the third year of Jehoiakim, {Daniel 1:1} about the year B.C. 606. Ignatius says that he was twelve years old when he foiled the elders; and the narrative shows that he could not have been much older when taken captive. If Ezekiel’s prophecy was uttered B.C. 584, Daniel at that time could only have been twenty-two; if it was uttered as late as B.C. 572, {See Ezekiel 29:17} Daniel would still have been only thirty-four, and therefore little more than a youth in Jewish eyes. It is undoubtedly surprising that among Orientals, who regard age as the chief passport to wisdom, a living youth should be thus canonised between the Patriarch of the Deluge and the Prince of Uz.

4. Admitting that this pinnacle of eminence may have been due to the peculiar splendour of Daniel’s career, it becomes the less easy to account for the total silence respecting him in the other books of the Old Testament-in the Prophets who were contemporaneous with the Exile and its close, like Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; and in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which give us the details of the Return. No post-exilic prophets seem to know anything of the Book of Daniel. {See Zechariah 2:6-10 Ezekiel 37:9, etc.} Their expectations of Israel’s future are very different from his. {See Haggai 2:6-9; Haggai 2:20-23 Zechariah 2:5; Zechariah 3:8 Malachi 3:1} The silence of Ezra is specially astonishing. It has often been conjectured that it was Daniel who showed to Cyrus the prophecies of Isaiah. Certainly it is stated that he held the very highest position in the Court of the Persian King; yet neither does Ezra mention his existence, nor does Nehemiah-himself a high functionary in the Court of Artaxerxes-refer to his illustrious predecessor. Daniel outlived the first return of the exiles under Zerubbabel, and he did not avail himself of this opportunity to revisit the land and desolate sanctuary of his fathers which he loved so well. {Daniel 10:1-18; Daniel 6:10} We might have assumed that patriotism so burning as his would not have preferred to stay at Babylon, or at Shushan, when the priests and princes of his people were returning to the Holy City. Others of great age faced the perils of the Restoration; and if he stayed behind to be of greater use to his countrymen, we cannot account for the fact that he is not distantly alluded to in the record which tells how "the chief of the fathers, with all those whose spirit God had raised, rose up to go to build the House of the Lord which is in Jerusalem." {Ezra 1:5} That the difficulty was felt is shown by the Mohammedan legend that Daniel did return with Ezra, and that he received the office of Governor of Syria, from which country he went back to Susa, where his tomb is still yearly visited by crowds of adoring pilgrims.

5. If we turn to the New Testament, the name of Daniel only occurs in the reference to "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet." The Book of Revelation does not name him, but is profoundly influenced by the Book of Daniel both in its form and in the symbols which it adopts.

6. In the Apocrypha Daniel is passed over in complete silence among the lists of Hebrew heroes enumerated by Jesus the son of Sirach. We are even told that "neither was there a man born like unto Joseph, a leader of his brethren, a stay of the people" (Sirach 49:15). This is the more singular because not only are the achievements of Daniel under four heathen potentates greater than those of Joseph under one Pharaoh, but also several of the stories of Daniel at once remind us of the story of Joseph, and even appear to have been written with silent reference to the youthful Hebrew and his fortunes as an Egyptian slave who was elevated to be governor of the land of his exile.



UNABLE to learn anything further respecting the professed author of the Book of Daniel, we now turn to the Book itself. In this section I shall merely give a general sketch of its main, external phenomena, and shall chiefly pass in review those characteristics which, though they have been used as arguments respecting the age in which it originated, are not absolutely irreconcilable with the supposition of any date between the termination of the Exile (B.C. 536) and the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 164).

I. First we notice the fact that there is an interchange of the first and third person. In chapters 1-6 Daniel is mainly spoken of in the third person; in chapters 7-12, he speaks mainly in the first.

Kranichfeld tries to account for this by the supposition that in chapters 1-6 we practically have extracts from Daniel’s diaries, whereas in the remainder of the Book he describes his own visions. The point cannot be much insisted upon, but the mention of his own high praises e.g., in such passages as {Daniel 6:4} is perhaps hardly what we should have expected.

II. Next we observe that the Book of Daniel, like the Book of Ezra, {See Ezra 4:7; Ezra 6:18; Ezra 7:12-26} is written partly in the sacred Hebrew, partly in the vernacular Aramaic, which is often, but erroneously, called Chaldee.

The first section {Daniel 1:1-21; Daniel 2:1-4} is in Hebrew. The language changes to Aramaic after the words, "Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac "; {Daniel 2:4} and this is continued to Daniel 7:28. The eighth chapter begins with the words, "In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel"; and here the Hebrew is resumed, and is continued till the end of the Book.

The question at once arises why the two languages were used in the same Book.

It is easy to understand that, during the course of the seventy years’ Exile, many of the Jews became practically bilingual, and would be able to write with equal facility in one language or in the other.

This circumstance, then, has no bearing on the date of the Book. Down to the Maccabean age some books continued to be written in Hebrew. These books must have found readers. Hence the knowledge of Hebrew cannot have died away so completely as has been supposed. The notion that after the return from the Exile Hebrew was at once superseded by Aramaic is untenable. Hebrew long continued to be the language normally spoken at Jerusalem, {Nehemiah 13:24} and the Jews did not bring back Aramaic with them to Palestine, but found it there.

But it is not clear why the linguistic divisions in the Book were adopted. Auberlen says that, after the introduction, the section Daniel 2:4 - Daniel 7:28 was written in Chaldee, because it describes the development of the power of the world from a world-historic point of view; and that the remainder of the Book was written in Hebrew, because it deals with the development of the world-powers in their relation to Israel the people of God. There is very little to be said in favour of a structure so little obvious and so highly artificial. A simpler solution of the difficulty would be that which accounts for the use of Chaldee by saying that it was adopted in those parts which involved the introduction of Aramaic documents. This, however, would not account for its use in chapter 7, which is a chapter of visions in which Hebrew might have been naturally expected as the vehicle of prophecy. Strack and Meinhold think that the Aramaic and Hebrew parts are of different origin. Konig supposes that the Aramaic sections were meant to indicate special reference to the Syrians and Antiochus. Some critics have thought it possible that the Aramaic sections were once written in Hebrew. That the text of Daniel has not been very carefully kept becomes clear from the liberties to which it was subjected by the Septuagint translators. If the Hebrew of Jeremiah 10:11 (a verse which only exists in Aramaic) has been lost, it is not inconceivable that the same may have happened to the Hebrew of a section of Daniel.

The Talmud throws no light on the question. It only says that-

i. "The men of the Great Synagogue wrote"-by which is perhaps meant that they "edited"-"the Book of Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Ezra"; and that

ii. "The Chaldee passages in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Daniel defile the hands."

The first of these two passages is merely an assertion that the preservation, the arrangement, and the admission into the Canon of the books mentioned was due to the body of scribes and priests-a very shadowy and unhistorical body-known as the Great Synagogue.

The second passage sounds startling, but is nothing more than an authoritative declaration that the Chaldee sections of Daniel and Ezra are still parts of Holy Scripture, though not written in the sacred language.

It is a standing rule of the Talmudists that "All Holy Scripture defiles the hands"-even the long-disputed Books of Ecclesiastes and Canticles. Lest any should misdoubt the sacredness of the Chaldee sections, they are expressly included in the rule. It seems to have originated thus: The eatables of the heave offerings were kept in close proximity to the scroll of the Law, for both were considered equally sacred. If a mouse or rat happened to nibble either, the offerings and the books became defiled, and therefore defiled the hands that touched them. To guard against this hypothetical defilement it was decided that all handling of the Scriptures should be followed by ceremonial ablutions. To say that the Chaldee chapters "defile the hands" is the Rabbinic way of declaring their Canonicity.

Perhaps nothing certain can be inferred from the philological examination either of the Hebrew or of the Chaldee portions of the Book; but they seem to indicate a date earlier than the age of Alexander (B.C. 333). On this part of the subject there has been a great deal of rash and incompetent assertion. It involves delicate problems on which an independent and a valuable opinion can only be offered by the merest handful of living scholars, and respecting which even these scholars sometimes disagree. In deciding upon such points ordinary students can only weigh the authority and the arguments of specialists who have devoted a minute and lifelong study to the grammar and history of the Semitic languages.

I know no higher contemporary authorities on the date of Hebrew writings than the late veteran scholar F. Delitzsch and Professor Driver.

1. Nothing was more beautiful and remarkable in Professor Delitzsch than the open-minded candour which compelled him to the last to advance with advancing thought; to admit all fresh elements of evidence; to continue his education as a Biblical inquirer to the latest days of his life; and without hesitation to correct, modify, or even reverse his previous conclusions in accordance with the results of deeper study and fresh discoveries. He wrote the article on Daniel in Herzog’s "Real-Encyclopadie," and in the first edition of that work maintained its genuineness; but in the later editions (3:470) his views approximate more and more to those of the Higher Criticism. Of the Hebrew of Daniel he says that "it attaches itself here and there to Ezekiel, and also to Habakkuk; in general character it resembles the Hebrew of the Chronicler who wrote shortly before the beginning of the Greek period (B.C. 332), and as compared either with the ancient Hebrew of the ‘Mishnah’ is full of singularities and harshnesses of style."

So far, then, it is clear that, if the Hebrew mainly resembles that of B.C. 332, it is hardly likely that it should have been written before B.C. 536.

Professor Driver says, "The Hebrew of Daniel in all distinctive features resembles, not the Hebrew of Ezekiel, or even of Haggai and Zechariah, but that of the age subsequent to Nehemiah"-whose age forms the great turning-point in Hebrew style.

He proceeds to give a list of linguistic peculiarities in support of this view, and other specimens of sentences constructed, not in the style of classical Hebrew, but in "the later uncouth style" of the Book of Chronicles. He points out in a note that it is no explanation of these peculiarities to argue that, during his long exile, Daniel may have partially forgotten the language of his youth; "for this would not account for the resemblance of the new and decadent idioms to those which appeared in Palestine independently two hundred and fifty years afterwards." Behrmann, in the latest commentary on Daniel, mentions, in proof of the late character of the Hebrew:

(1) the introduction of Persian words which could not have been used in Babylonia before the conquest of Cyrus (as in Daniel 1:3; Daniel 1:5; Daniel 11:45, etc.);

(2) many Aramaic or Aramaising words, expressions and grammatical forms (as in Daniel 1:5; Daniel 1:10; Daniel 1:12; Daniel 1:16; Daniel 8:18; Daniel 8:22; Daniel 10:17-21, etc.);

(3) neglect of strict accuracy in the use of the Hebrew tenses (as in Daniel 8:14; Daniel 9:3 f., 11:4 f.: etc.);

(4) the borrowing of archaic expressions from ancient sources (as in Daniel 8:26; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 11:10; Daniel 11:40, etc.);

(5) the use of technical terms and periphrases common in Jewish apocalypses. {Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:13; Daniel 11:35; Daniel 11:40, etc.}

1. These views of the character of the Hebrew agree with those of previous scholars. Bertholdt and Kirms declare that its character differs toto genere from what might have been expected had the Book been genuine. Gesenius says that the language is even more corrupt than that of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi. Professor Driver says the Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian empire had been well established; the Greek words demand , the Hebrew supports , and the Aramaic permits a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great. De Wette and Ewald have pointed out the lack of the old passionate spontaniety of early prophecy; the absence of the numerous and profound paronomasiae, or plays on words, which characterised the burning oratory of the prophets; and the peculiarities of the style-which is sometimes obscure and careless, sometimes pompous, iterative, and artificial.

2. It is noteworthy that in this Book the name of the great Babylonian conqueror, with whom, in the narrative part, Daniel is thrown into such close connection, is invariably written in the absolutely erroneous form which his name assumed in later centuries-Nebuchadnezzar. A contemporary, familiar with the Babylonian language, could not have been ignorant of the fact that the only correct form of the name is Nebuchadrezzar- i.e. , Nebu-kudurri-utsur , "Nebo protect the throne."

3. But the erroneous form Nebuchadnezzar is not the only one which entirely militates against the notion of a contemporary writer. There seem to be other mistakes about Babylonian matters into which a person in Daniel’s position could not have fallen. Thus the name Belteshazzar seems to be connected in the writer’s mind with Bel, the favourite deity of Nebuchadrezzar; but it can only mean Balatu-utsur , "his life protect," which looks like a mutilation. Abed-nego is an astonishingly corrupt form of Abed-nabu , "the servant of Nebo." Hammelzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Ashpenaz, are declared by Assyriologists to be "out of keeping with Babylonian science." In Daniel 2:48 signin means a civil ruler; -does not imply Archimagus, as the context seems to require, but, according to Lenormant, a high civil officer.

1. The Aramaic of Daniel closely resembles that of Ezra. Noldeke calls it a Palestinian or Western Aramaic dialect, later than that of the Book of Ezra. It is of earlier type than that of the Targums of Jonathan and Onkelos; but that fact has very little bearing on the date of the Book,

2. because the differences are slight, and the resemblances manifold, and the Targums did not appear till after the Christian Era, nor assume their present shape perhaps before the fourth century. Further, "recently discovered inscriptions have shown that many of the forms in which the Aramaic of Daniel differs from that of the Targums were actually in use in neighbouring countries down to the first century A.D."

3. Two further philological considerations bear on the age of the Book.

i. One of these is the existence of no less than fifteen Persian words (according to Noldeke and others), especially in the Aramaic part. These words, which would not be surprising after the complete establishment of the Persian empire, are surprising in passages which describe Babylonian institutions before the conquest of Cyrus. Various attempts have been made to account for this phenomenon. Professor Fuller attempts to show, but with little success, that some of them may be Semitic. Others argue that they are amply accounted for by the Persian trade which, as may be seen from the "Records of the Past," existed between Persia and Babylonia as early as the days of Belshazzar. To this it is replied that some of the words are not of a kind which one nation would at once borrow from another, and that "no Persian words have hitherto been found in Assyrian or Babylonian inscriptions prior to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, except the name of the god Mithra."

ii. But the linguistic evidence unfavourable to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel is far stronger than this, in the startling fact that it contains at least three Greek words. After giving the fullest consideration to all that has been urged in refutation of the conclusion, this circumstance has always been to me a strong confirmation of the view that the Book of Daniel in its present form is not older than the days of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Those three Greek words occur in the list of musical instruments mentioned in Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:7; Daniel 3:10; Daniel 3:15. They are kitharos , "harp"; psanterin , "psaltery"; sumponyah , A.V "dulcimer," but perhaps "bagpipes."

Be it remembered that these musical instruments are described as having been used at the great idol-festival of Nebuchadrezzar (B.C. 550). Now, this is the date at which Pisistratus was tyrant at Athens, in the days of Pythagoras and Polycrates, before Athens became a fixed democracy. It is just conceivable that in those days the Babylonians might have borrowed from Greece the word kitharis. It is, indeed, supremely unlikely , because the harp had been known in the East from the earliest days; and it is at least as probable that Greece, which at this time was only beginning to sit as a learner at the feet of the immemorial East, borrowed the idea of the instrument from Asia. Let it, however, be admitted that such words as yayin , "wine," lappid , "a torch," and a few others, may indicate some early intercourse between Greece and the East, and that some commercial relations of a rudimentary kind were existent even in prehistoric days.

But what are we to say of the two other words? Both are derivatives. Psalterion does not occur in Greek before Aristotle (d. 322); nor sumphonia before Plato (d. 347). In relation to music, and probably as the name of a musical instrument, sumphonia is first used by Polybius (26:10, 5, 31:4, 8), and in express connection with the festivities of the very king with whom the apocalyptic section of Daniel is mainly occupied-Antiochus Epiphanes. The attempts of Professor Fuller and others to derive these words from Semitic roots are a desperate resource, and cannot win the assent of a single trained philologist. "These words," says Professor Driver, "could not have been used in the Book of Daniel, unless it had been written after the dissemination of Greek influence in Asia through the conquest of Alexander the Great."


The Unity of the Book of Daniel is now generally admitted. No one thought of questioning it in days before the dawn of criticism, but in 1772 Eichhorn and Corrodi doubted the genuineness of the Book. J.D. Michaelis endeavoured to prove that it was "a collection of fugitive pieces," consisting of six historic pictures, followed by four prophetic visions. Bertholdt, followed the erroneous tendency of criticism which found a foremost exponent in Ewald, and imagined the possibility of detecting the work of many different hands. He divided the Book into fragments by nine different authors.

Zockler, in Lange’s "Bibelwerk," persuaded himself that the old "orthodox" views of Hengstenberg and Auberlen were right; but he could only do this by sacrificing the authenticity of part of the Book, and assuming more than one redaction. Thus he supposes that Daniel 11:5-39 are an interpolation by a writer in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. Similarly, Lenormant admits interpolations in the first half of the Book. But to concede this is practically to give up the Book of Daniel as it now stands.

The unity of the Book of Daniel is still admitted or assumed by most critics. It has only been recently questioned in two directions.

Meinhold thinks that the Aramaic and historic sections are older than the rest of the Book, and were written about B.C. 300 to convert the Gentiles to monotheism. He argues that the apocalyptic section was written later, and was subsequently incorporated with the Book. A somewhat similar view is held by Zockler, and some have thought that Daniel could never have written of himself in such highly favourable terms as, e.g ., in Daniel 6:4-10. The first chapter, which is essential as an introduction to the Book, and the seventh, which is apocalyptic, and is yet in Aramaic, create objections to the acceptance of this theory. Further, it is impossible not to observe a certain unity of style and parallelism of treatment between the two parts. Thus, if the prophetic section is mainly devoted to Antiochus Epiphanes, the historic section seems to have an allusive bearing on his impious madness. In Daniel 2:10-11; Daniel 6:8, we have descriptions of daring Pagan edicts, which might be intended to furnish a contrast with the attempts of Antiochus to suppress the worship of God. The feast of Belshazzar may well be a "reference to the Syrian despot’s revelries at Daphne." Again, in Daniel 2:43 -where the mixture of iron and clay is explained by "they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men"-it seems far from improbable that there is a reference to the unhappy intermarriages of Ptolemies and Seleucidae. Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus), married Antiochus II (Theos), and this is alluded to in this vision of Daniel 11:6. Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus III (the Great), married Ptolemy V (Epiphanes), which is alluded to in Daniel 11:17. The style seems to be stamped throughout with the characteristics of an individual mind, and the most cursory glance suffices to show that the historic and prophetic parts are united by many points of connection and resemblance. Meinhold is quite successful in the attempt to prove a sharp contrast of views between the sections. The interchange of persons-the third person being mainly used in the first seven chapters, and the first person in the last five-may be partly due to the final editor; but in any case it may easily be paralleled, and is found in other writers, is in Isaiah {Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 20:2} and the Book of Enoch (12).

But it may be said in general that the authenticity of the Book is now rarely defended by any competent critic, except at the cost of abandoning certain sections of it as interpolated additions; and as Mr. Bevan somewhat caustically remarks, "the defenders of Daniel have, during the last few years, been employed chiefly in cutting Daniel to pieces."


The general tone of the Book marks an era in the education and progress of the Jews. The lessons of the Exile uplifted them from a too narrow and absorbing particularism to a wider interest in the destinies of humanity. They were led to recognise that God "has made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." {Acts 17:26-27} The standpoint of the Book of Daniel is larger and more cosmopolitan in this respect than that of earlier prophecy. Israel had begun to mingle more closely with other nations, and to be a sharer in their destinies. Politically the Hebrew race no longer formed a small though independent kingdom, but was reduced to the position of an entirely insignificant sub-province in a mighty empire. The Messiah is no longer the Son of David, but the Son of Man; no longer only the King of Israel, but of the world. Mankind-not only the seed of Jacob-fills the field of prophetic vision. Amid widening horizons of thought the Jews turned their eyes upon a great past, rich in events, and crowded with the figures of heroes, saints, and sages. At the same time the world seemed to be growing old, and its ever-deepening wickedness seemed to call for some final judgment. We begin to trace in the Hebrew writings the colossal conceptions, the monstrous imagery, the daring conjectures, the more complex religious ideas, of an exotic fancy.

"The giant forms of Empires on their way To ruin, dim and vast,"

begin to fling their weird and sombre shadows over the page of sacred history and prophetic anticipation.


The style of the Book of Daniel is new, and has very marked characteristics, indicating its late position in the Canon. It is rhetorical rather than poetic. "Totum Danielis librum," says Lowth, "epoetarum censu excludo." How widely does the style differ from the rapt passion and glowing picturesqueness of Isaiah, from the elegiac tenderness of Jeremiah, from the lyrical sweetness of many of the Psalms! How very little does it correspond to the three great requirements of poetry, that it should be, as Milton so finely said, "simple, sensuous, passionate"! A certain artificiality of diction, a sounding oratorical stateliness, enhanced by dignified periphrases and leisurely repetitions, must strike the most casual reader; and this is sometimes carried so far as to make the movement of the narrative heavy and pompous. {See Daniel 3:2-3; Daniel 3:5-7; Daniel 8:1; Daniel 8:10-19; Daniel 11:15; Daniel 11:22; Daniel 11:31, etc.} This peculiarity is not found to the same extent in any other book of the Old Testament Canon, but it recurs in the Jewish writings of a later age. From the apocryphal books, for instance, the poetical element is with trifling exceptions, such as the Song of the Three Children, entirely absent, while the taste for rhetorical ornamentation, set speeches, and dignified elaborateness is found in many of them.

This evanescence of the poetic and impassioned element separates Daniel from the Prophets, and marks the place of the Book among the Hagiographa, where it was placed by the Jews themselves. In all the great Hebrew seers we find something of the ecstatic transport, the fire shut up within the bones and breaking forth from the volcanic heart, the burning lips touched by the hands of the seraphim with a living coal from off the altar. The word for prophet ( nabi, Vates ) implies an inspired singer rather than a soothsayer or seer ( roeh, chozeh ). It is applied to Deborah and Miriam {Exodus 15:20 Judges 4:4} because they poured forth from exultant hearts the paean of victory. Hence arose the close connection between music and poetry. {1 Samuel 10:5 1 Chronicles 25:1-3} Elisha required the presence of a minstrel to soothe the agitation of a heart thrown into tumult by the near presence of a revealing Power. {2 Kings 3:15} Just as the Greek word implies a sort of madness, and recalls the foaming lip and streaming hair of the spirit-dilated messenger, so the Hebrew verb naba meant, not only to proclaim God’s oracles, but to be inspired by His possession as with a Divine frenzy. {Jeremiah 29:26 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:21-24} "Madman" seemed a natural term to apply to the messenger of Elisha. It is easy therefore to see why the Book of Daniel was not placed among the prophetic rolls. This vera passio, this ecstatic elevation of thought and feeling, are wholly wanting in this earliest attempt at a philosophy of history. We trace in it none of that "blasting with excess of light," none of that shuddering sense of being uplifted out of self, which marks the higher and earlier forms of prophetic inspiration. Daniel is addressed through the less exalted medium of visions, and in his visions there is less of "the faculty Divine." The instinct-if instinct it were and not knowledge of the real origin of the Book-which led the "Men of the Great Synagogue" to place this Book among the Ketubhim , not among the prophets was wise and sure.


"In Daniel offnet sich eine ganz neue Welt."-EICHHORN, "Einleit.," 4:472.

The author of the Book of Daniel seems naturally to place himself on a level lower than that of the prophets who had gone before him. He does not count himself among the prophets; on the contrary, he puts them far higher than himself, and refers to them as though they belonged to the dim and distant past. {Daniel 9:2; Daniel 9:6} In his prayer of penitence he confesses, "Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy Name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers"; "Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets." Not once does he use the mighty formula "Thus saith Jehovah"-not once does he assume, in his prophecies, a tone of high personal authority. He shares the view of the Maccabean age that prophecy is dead.

Daniel 9:2 we find yet another decisive indication of the late age of this writing. He tells us that he "understood by books" (more correctly, as in the A.V, "by the books") "the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet." The writer here represents himself as a humble student of previous prophets, and this necessarily marks a position of less freshness and independence. "To the old prophets," says Bishop Westcott, "Daniel stands in some sense as a commentator." No doubt the possession of those living oracles was an immense blessing, a rich inheritance; but it involved a danger. Truths established by writings and traditions, safe-guarded by schools and institutions, are too apt to come to men only as a power from without, and less as "a hidden and dimly burning flame."

By "the books" can hardly be meant anything but some approach to a definite Canon. If so, the Book of Daniel in its present form can only have been written subsequently, to the days of Ezra. "The account which assigns a collection of books to Nehemiah," {RAPC 2 Maccabees 2:13} says Bishop Westcott, "is in itself a confirmation of the general truth of the gradual formation of the Canon during the Persian period. The various classes of books were completed in succession; and this view harmonises with what must have been the natural development of the Jewish faith after the Return. The persecution of Antiochus (B.C. 168) was for the Old Testament what the persecution of Diocletian was for the New-the final crisis which stamped the sacred writings with their peculiar character. The king sought out the Books of the Law {RAPC 1 Maccabees 1:56} and burnt them; and the possession of a ‘Book of the Covenant’ was a capital crime. According to the common tradition, the proscription of the Law led to the public use of the writings of the prophets."

The whole method of Daniel differs even from that of the later and inferior prophets of the Exile: Haggai, Malachi, and the second Zechariah. The Book is rather an apocalypse than a prophecy: "the eye and not the ear is the organ to which the chief appeal is made." Though symbolism in the form of visions is not unknown to Ezekiel and Zechariah, yet those prophets are far from being apocalyptic in character. On the other hand, the grotesque and gigantic emblems of Daniel-these animal combinations, these interventions of dazzling angels who float in the air or over the water, these descriptions of historical events under the veil of material types seen in dreams-are a frequent phenomenon in such late apocryphal writings as the Second Book of Esdras, the Book of Enoch, and the pre-Christian Sibylline oracles, in which talking lions and eagles, etc., are frequent. Indeed, this style of symbolism originated among the Jews from their contact with the graven mysteries and colossal images of Babylonian worship. The Babylonian Exile formed an epoch in the intellectual development of Israel fully as important as the sojourn in Egypt. It was a stage in their moral and religious education. It was the psychological preparation requisite for the moulding of the last phase of revelation-that apocalyptic form which succeeds to theophany and prophecy, and embodies the final results of national religious inspiration. That the apocalyptic method of dealing with history in a religious and an imaginative manner naturally arises towards the close of any great cycle of special revelation is illustrated by the flood of apocalypses which overflowed the early literature of the Christian Church. But the Jews clearly saw that, as a rule, an apocalypse is inherently inferior to a prophecy, even when it is made the vehicle of genuine prediction. In estimating the grades of inspiration the Jews placed highest the inward illumination of the Spirit, the Reason, and the Understanding; next to this they placed dreams and visions; and lowest of all they placed the accidental auguries derived from the Bath Qol. An apocalypse may be of priceless value, like the Revelation of St. John; it may, like the Book of Daniel, abound in the noblest and most thrilling lessons; but in intrinsic dignity and worth it is always placed by the instinct and conscience of mankind on a lower grade than such outpourings of Divine teachings as breathe and burn through the pages of a David and an Isaiah.


Lastly, among these salient phenomena of the Book of Daniel we are compelled to notice the absence of the predominantly moral element from its prophetic portion. The author does not write in the tone of a preacher of repentance, or of one whose immediate object is to ameliorate the moral and spiritual condition of his people. His aims were different. The older prophets were the ministers of dispensations between the Law and the Gospel. They were, in the beautiful language of Herder, -

"Die Saitenspiel in Gottes machtigen Handen."

Doctrine, worship, and consolation were their proper sphere. They were "oratores Legis, advocati patriae." In them prediction is wholly subordinate to moral warning and instruction. They denounce, they inspire: they smite to the dust with terrible invective; they uplift once more into glowing hope. The announcement of events yet future is the smallest part of the prophet’s office, and rather its sign than its substance. The highest mission of an Amos or an Isaiah is not to be a prognosticator, but to be a religious teacher. He makes his appeals to the conscience, not to the imagination-to the spirit, not to the sense. He deals with eternal principles, and is almost wholly indifferent to chronological verifications. To awaken the death-like slumber of sin, to fan the dying embers of faithfulness, to smite down the selfish oppressions of wealth and power, to startle the sensual apathy of greed, were the ordinary and the noblest aims of the greater and the minor prophets. It was their task far rather to forth-tell than to fore-tell ; and if they announce, in general outline and uncertain perspective, things which shall be hereafter, it is only in subordination to high ethical purposes, or profound spiritual lessons. So it is also in the Revelation of St. John. But in the "prophetic" part of Daniel it is difficult for the keenest imagination to discern any deep moral, or any special doctrinal significance, in all the details of the obscure wars and petty diplomacy of the kings of the North and South.

In point of fact the Book of Daniel, even as an apocalypse, suffers severely by comparison with that latest canonical Apocalypse of the Beloved Disciple which it largely influenced. It is strange that Luther, who spoke so slightingly of the Revelation of St. John, should have placed the Book of Daniel so high in his estimation. It is indeed a noble book, full of glorious lessons. Yet surely it has but little of the sublime and mysterious beauty, little of the heart-shaking pathos, little of the tender sweetness of consolatory power, which fill the closing book of the New Testament. Its imagery is far less exalted, its hope of immortality far less distinct and unquenchable. Yet the Book of Daniel, while it is one of the earliest, still remains one of the greatest specimens of this form of sacred literature. It inaugurated the new epoch of "apocalyptic" which in later days was usually pseudepigraphic, and sheltered itself under the names of Enoch, Noah, Moses, Ezra, and even the heathen sibyls. These apocalypses are of very unequal value. "Some," as Kuenen says, "stand comparatively high; others are far below mediocrity." But the genus to which they belong has its own peculiar defect. They are works of art: they are not spontaneous; they smell of the lamp. A fruitless and an unpractical peering into the future was encouraged by these writings, and became predominant in some Jewish circles. But the Book of Daniel is incomparably superior in every possible respect to Baruch, or the Book of Enoch, or the Second Book of Esdras; and if we place it for a moment by the side of such books as those contained in the "Codex Pseudepigraphus" of Fabricius, its high worth and Canonical authority are vindicated with extraordinary force. How lofty and enduring are the lessons to be learnt alike from its historic and predictive sections we shall have abundant opportunities of seeing in the following pages. So far from undervaluing its teaching, I have always been strongly drawn to this Book of Scripture. It has never made the least difference in my reverent acceptance of it that I have, for many years, been convinced that it cannot be regarded as literal history or ancient prediction. Reading it as one of the noblest specimens of the Jewish Haggada or moral Ethiopceia, I find it full of instruction in righteousness, and rich in examples of life. That Daniel was a real person, that he lived in the days of the Exile, and that his life was distinguished by the splendour of its faithfulness I hold to be entirely possible. When we regard the stories here related of him as moral legends, possibly based on a groundwork of real tradition, we read the Book with a full sense of its value, and feel the power of the lessons which it was designed to teach, without being perplexed by its apparent improbabilities, or worried by its immense historic and other difficulties.

The Book is in all respects unique, a writing sui generis; for the many limitations to which it led are but imitations. But, as the Jewish writer Dr. Joel truly says, the unveiling of the secret as to the real lateness of its date and origin, so far from causing any loss in its beauty and interest, enhance both in a remarkable degree. It is thus seen to be the work of a brave and gifted anonymous author about B.C. 167, who brought his piety and his patriotism to bear on the troubled fortunes of his people at an epoch in which such piety and patriotism were of priceless value. We have in its later sections no voice of enigmatic prediction, foretelling the minutest complications of a distant secular future, but mainly the review of contemporary events by a wise and an earnest writer, whose faith and hope remained unquenchable in the deepest night of persecution and apostasy. Many passages of the Book are dark, and will remain dark, owing partly perhaps to corruptions and uncertainties of the text, and partly to imitation of a style which had become archaic, as well as to the peculiarities of the apocalyptic form. But the general idea of the Book has now been thoroughly elucidated, and the interpretation of it in the following pages is accepted by the great majority of earnest and faithful’ students of the Scriptures.


No one can have studied the Book of Daniel without seeing that, alike in the character of its miracles and the minuteness of its supposed predictions, it makes a more stupendous and a less substantiated claim upon our credence than any other book of the Bible, and a claim wholly different in character. It has over and over again been asserted by the uncharitableness of a merely traditional orthodoxy that inability to accept the historic verity and genuineness of the Book arises from secret faithlessness, and antagonism to the admission of the supernatural. No competent scholar will think it needful to refute such calumnies. It suffices us to know before God that we are actuated simply by the love of truth, by the abhorrence of anything which in us would be a pusillanimous spirit of falsity. We have too deep a belief in the God of the Amen, the God of eternal and essential verity, to offer to Him "the unclean sacrifice of a lie." An error is not sublimated into a truth even when that lie has acquired a quasi-consecration, from its supposed desirability for purposes of orthodox controversy, or from its innocent acceptance by generations of Jewish and Christian Churchmen through long ages of uncritical ignorance. Scholars, if they be Christians at all, can have no possible a priori objection to belief in the supernatural. If they believe, for instance, in the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they believe in the most mysterious and unsurpassable of all miracles, and beside that miracle all minor questions of God’s power or willingness to manifest His immediate intervention in the affairs of men sink at once into absolute insignificance.

But our belief in the Incarnation, and in the miracles of Christ, rests on evidence which, after repeated examination, is to us overwhelming. Apart from all questions of personal verification, or the Inward Witness of the Spirit, we can show that this evidence is supported, not only by existing records, but by myriads of external and independent testimonies. The very same Spirit which makes men believe where the demonstration is decisive, compels them to refuse belief to the literal verity of unique miracles and unique predictions which come before them without any convincing evidence. The narratives and visions of this Book present difficulties on every page. They were in all probability never intended for anything but what they are-Haggadoth, which, like the parables of Christ, convey their own lessons without depending on the necessity for accordance with historic fact.

Had it been any part of the Divine will that we should accept these stories as pure history, and these visions as predictions of events which were not to take place till centuries afterwards, we should have been provided with some aids to such belief. On the contrary, in whatever light we examine the Book of Daniel, the evidence in its favour is weak, dubious, hypothetical, and a priori; while the evidence against it acquires increased intensity with every fresh aspect in which it is examined. The Book which would make the most extraordinary demands upon our credulity, if it were meant for history, is the very Book of which the genuineness and authenticity are decisively discredited by every fresh discovery and by each new examination. There is scarcely one learned European scholar by whom they are maintained, except with such concessions to the Higher Criticism as practically involve the abandonment of all that is essential in the traditional theory.

And we have come to a time when it will not avail to take refuge in such transferences of the discussions in alteram materiam, and such purely vulgar appeals ad invidiam, as are involved in saying, "Then the Book must be a forgery," and "an imposture," and "a gross lie." To assert that "to give up the Book of Daniel is to betray the cause of Christianity" is a coarse and dangerous misuse of the weapons of controversy. Such talk may still have been excusable even in the days of Dr. Pusey (with whom it was habitual); it is no longer excusable now. Now it can only prove the uncharitableness of the apologist, and the impotence of a defeated cause. Yet even this abandonment of the sphere of honourable argument is only one degree more painful than the tortuous subterfuges and wild assertions to which such apologists as Hengstenberg, Keil, and their followers were long compelled to have recourse. Anything can be proved about anything if we call to our aid indefinite suppositions of errors of transcription, interpolations, transpositions, extraordinary silences, still more extraordinary methods of presenting events, and (in general) the unconsciously disingenuous resourcefulness of traditional harmonics. To maintain that the Book of Daniel, as it now stands, was written by Daniel in the days of the Exile is to cherish a belief which can only, at the utmost, be extremely uncertain, and which must be maintained in defiance of masses of opposing evidence. There can be little intrinsic value in a determination to believe historical and literary assumptions which can no longer be maintained except by preferring the flimsiest hypotheses to the most certain facts.

My own conviction has long been that in these Haggadoth, in which Jewish literature delighted in the pre-Christian era, and which continued to be written even till the Middle Ages, there was not the least pretence or desire to deceive at all. I believe them to have been put forth as moral legends-as avowed fiction nobly used for the purposes of religious teaching and encouragement. In ages of ignorance, in which no such thing as literary criticism existed, a popular Haggada might soon come to be regarded as historical, just as the Homeric plays were among the Greeks, or just as Defoe’s story of the plague of London was taken for literal history by many readers even in the seventeenth century.

Ingenious attempts have been made to show that the author of this Book evinces an intimate familiarity with the circumstances of the Babylonian religion, society, and history. In many cases this is the reverse of the fact. The instances adduced in favour of any knowledge, except of the most general description, are entirely delusive. It is frivolous to maintain, with Lenormant, that an exceptional acquaintance with Babylonian custom was required to describe Nebuchadrezzar as consulting diviners for the interpretation of a dream! To say nothing of the fact that a similar custom has prevailed in all nations and all ages from the days of Samuel to those of Lobengula, the writer had the prototype of Pharaoh before him, and has evidently been influenced by the story of Joseph. {Genesis 41:1-57} Again, so far from showing surprising acquaintance with the organisation of the caste of Babylonian diviners, the writer has made a mistake in their very name, as well as in the statement that a faithful Jew, like Daniel, was made the chief of their college! Nor, again, was there anything so unusual in the presence of women at feasts-also recognised in the Haggada of Esther - as to render this a sign of extraordinary information. Once more, is it not futile to adduce the allusion to punishment by burning alive as a proof of insight into Babylonian peculiarities? This punishment had already been mentioned by Jeremiah in the case of Nebuchadrezzar. "Then shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab" (two false prophets), "whom the King of Babylon roasted in the fire." Moreover, it occurs in the Jewish traditions which described a miraculous escape of exactly the same character in the legend of Abraham. He, too, had been supernaturally rescued from the burning fiery furnace of Nimrod, to which he had been consigned because he refused to worship idols in Ur of the Chaldees.

When the instances mainly relied upon prove to be so evidentially valueless, it would be waste of time to follow Professor Fuller through the less important and more imaginary proofs of accuracy which his industry has amassed. Meanwhile the feeblest reasoner will see that while a writer may easily be accurate in general facts, and even in details, respecting an age long previous to that in which he wrote, the existence of violent errors as to matters with which a contemporary must have been familiar at once refutes all pretence of historic authenticity in a book professing to have been written by an author in the days and country which he describes.

Now such mistakes there seem to be, and not a few of them, in the pages of the Book of Daniel. One or two of them can perhaps be explained away by processes which would amply suffice to show that "yes" means "no," or that "black" is a description of "white"; but each repetition of such processes leaves us more and more incredulous. If errors be treated as corruptions of the text, or as later interpolations, such arbitrary methods of treating the Book are practically an admission that, as it stands, it cannot be regarded as historical.

I. We are, for instance, met by what seems to be a remarkable error in the very first verse of the Book, which tells us that "In the third year of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar"-as in later days he was incorrectly called-"King of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it."

It is easy to trace whence the error sprang. Its source lies in a book which is the latest in the whole Canon, and in many details difficult to reconcile with the Book of Kings-a book of which the Hebrew resembles that of Daniel-the Book of Chronicles. In 2 Chronicles 36:6 we are told that Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jehoiakim, and "bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon"; and also-to which the author of Daniel directly refers-that he carried off some of the vessels of the House of God, to put them in the treasure-house of his god. In this passage it is not said, that this occurred "in the third year of Jehoiakim," who reigned eleven years; but in 2 Kings 24:1 we are told that "in his days Nebuchadnezzar came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years." The passage in Daniel looks like a confused reminiscence of the "three years" with "the third year of Jehoiakim." The elder and better authority (the Book of Kings) is silent about any deportation having taken place in the reign of Jehoiakim, and so is the contemporary Prophet Jeremiah. But in any case it seems impossible that it should have taken place so early as the third year of Jehoiakim, for at that time he was a simple vassal of the King of Egypt. If this deportation took place in the reign of Jehoiakim, it would certainly be singular that Jeremiah, in enumerating three others, in the seventh, eighteenth, and twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar, should make no allusion to it. But it is hard to see how it could have taken place before Egypt had been defeated in the Battle of Carchemish, and that was not till B.C. 597, the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Not only does Jeremiah make no mention of so remarkable a deportation as this, which as the earliest would have caused the deepest anguish, but, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, {Jeremiah 36:1} he writes a roll to threaten evils which are still future, and in the fifth year proclaims a fast in the hope that the imminent peril may even yet be averted. {Jeremiah 36:6-10} It is only after the violent obstinacy of the king that the destructive advance of Nebuchadrezzar is finally prophesied {Jeremiah 36:29} as something which has not yet occurred.

II. Nor are the names in this first chapter free from difficulty. Daniel is called Belteshazzar, and the remark of the King of Babylon-whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god-certainly suggests that the first syllable is (as the Massorets assume) connected with the god Bel. But the name has nothing to do with Bel. No contemporary could have fallen into such an error; still less a king who spoke Babylonian. Shadrach may be "Shudur-aku," "command of Aku," the moon-god; but Meshach is inexplicable; and Abed-nego is a strange corruption for the obvious and common Abed-nebo, "servant of Nebo." Such a corruption could hardly have arisen till Nebo was practically forgotten. And what is the meaning of "the Melzar "? {Daniel 1:3} The A.V takes it to be a proper name; the R.V renders it "the steward." But the title is unique and obscure. Nor can anything be made of the name of Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs, whom, in one manuscript, the LXX call Abiesdri.

III. Similar difficulties and uncertainties meet us at every step: Thus, in the second chapter, {Daniel 2:1} the dream of Nebuchadrezzar is fixed in the second year of his reign. This does not seem to be in accord with Daniel 1:3; Daniel 1:18, which says that Daniel and his three companions were kept under the care of the prince of the eunuchs for three years. Nothing, of course, is easier than to invent harmonistic hypotheses, such as that of Rashi, that "the second year of the reign of Nebuchadrezzar" has the wholly different meaning of "the second year after the destruction of the Temple"; or as that of Hengstenberg, followed by many modern apologists, that Nebuchadrezzar had previously been associated in the kingdom with Nabopolassar, and that this was the second year of his independent reign.

Or, again, we may, with Ewald, read "the twelfth year." But by these methods we are not taking the Book as it stands, but are supposing it to be a network of textual corruptions and conjectural combinations.

IV. In Daniel 2:2 the king summons four classes of hierophants to disclose his dream and its interpretation. They are the magicians ("Chartummira"), the enchanters ("Ashshaphim"), the sorcerers ("Mechashsh’phim"), and the Chaldeans ("Kasdim"). The "Chartummim" occur in Genesis 41:8 (which seems to be in the writer’s mind); and the "Mechashsh’phim" occur in Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:18; but the mention of Kasdim, "Chaldeans," is, so far as we know, an immense anachronism. In much later ages the name was used, as it was among the Roman writers, for wandering astrologers and quacks. But this degenerate sense of the word was, so far as we can judge, wholly unknown to the age of Daniel. It never once occurs in this sense on any of the monuments. Unknown to the Assyrian-Babylonian language, and only acquired long after the end of the Babylonian Empire, such a usage of the word is, as Schrader says, "an indication of the post-exilic composition of the Book." In the days of Daniel "Chaldeans" had no meaning resembling that of "magicians" or "astrologers." In every other writer of the Old Testament, and in all contemporary records, "Kasdim" simply means the Chaldean nation and never a learned caste. {Isaiah 23:13 Jeremiah 25:12 Ezekiel 12:13 Habakkuk 1:6} This single circumstance has decisive weight in proving the late age of the Book of Daniel.

V. Again, we find in Daniel 2:14, "Arioch, the chief of the executioners." Schrader precariously derives the name from "Eri-aku," "servant of the moon-god"; but, however that may be, we already find the name as that of a king Ellasar in Genesis 14:1, and we find it again for a king of the Elymaeans in #/RAPC Judith 1:6. In Daniel 2:16 Daniel "went in and desired of the king" a little respite; but in Daniel 2:25 Arioch tells the king, as though it were a sudden discovery of his own, "I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation." This was a surprising form of introduction, after we have been told that the king himself had, by personal examination, found that Daniel and his young companions were "ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." It seems, however, as if each of these chapters were intended to be recited as a separate Haggada.

VI. In Daniel 2:46, after the interpretation of the dream, "the King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him." This is another of the immense surprises of the Book. It is exactly the kind of incident in which the haughty theocratic sentiment of the Jews found delight, and we find a similar spirit in the many Talmudic inventions in which Roman emperors, or other potentates, are represented as paying extravagant adulation to Rabbinic sages. There is (as we shall see) a similar story narrated by Josephus of Alexander the Great prostrating himself before the high priest Jaddua, but it has long been relegated to the realm of fable as an outcome of Jewish self-esteem. It is probably meant as a concrete illustration of the glowing promises of Isaiah, that "kings and queens shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet"; {Isaiah 49:23} and "the sons of them that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet." {Isaiah 60:14}

VII. We further ask in astonishment whether Daniel could have accepted without indignant protest the offering of "an oblation and sweet odours." To say that they were only offered to God in the person of Daniel is the idle pretence of all idolatry. They are expressly said to be offered "to Daniel." A Herod could accept blasphemous adulations; {Acts 12:22-23} but a Paul and a Barnabas deprecate such devotions with intense disapproval. {Acts 14:11-12; Acts 28:6}

VIII. In Daniel 2:48 Nebuchadrezzar appoints Daniel, as a reward for his wisdom, to rule over the whole province of Babylon, and to be Rabsignin, "chief ruler," and to be over all the wise men ("Khakamim") of Babylon. Lenormant treats this statementas an interpolation, because he regards it as "evidently impossible." We know that in the Babylonian priesthood, and especially among the sacred caste, there was a passionate religious intolerance. It is inconceivable that they should have accepted as their religious superior a monotheist who was the avowed and uncompromising enemy to their whole system of idolatry. It is equally inconceivable that Daniel should have accepted the position of a hierophant in a polytheistic cult. In the next three chapters there is no allusion to Daniel’s tenure of these strange and exalted offices, either civil or religious.

IX. The third chapter contains another story, told in a style of wonderful stateliness and splendour, and full of glorious lessons; but here again we encounter linguistic and other difficulties. Thus in Daniel 3:2, though "all the rulers of the provinces" and officers of all ranks are summoned to the dedication of Nebuchadrezzar’s colossus, there is not an allusion to Daniel throughout the chapter. Four of the names of the officers in Daniel 3:2-3, appear, to our surprise, to be Persian; and, of the six musical instruments, three-the lute, psaltery, and bagpipe-have obvious Greek names, two of which (as already stated) are of late origin, while another, the "sab’ka," but may have come to the Greeks from the Aramaeans. The incidents of the chapter are such as find no analogy throughout the Old or New Testament, but exactly resemble those of Jewish moralising fiction, of which they furnish the most perfect specimen. It is exactly the kind of concrete comment which a Jewish writer of piety and genius, for the encouragement of his afflicted people, might have based upon such a passage as Isaiah 43:2-3: "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." Nebuchadrezzar’s decree, "That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill," can only be paralleled out of the later Jewish literature.

X. In chapter 4 we have another monotheistic decree of the King of Babylon, announcing to "all people, nations, and languages" what "the high God hath wrought towards me." It gives us a vision which recalls Ezekiel 31:3-18, and may possibly have been suggested by that fine chapter. The language varies between the third and the first person. In Daniel 4:13 Nebuchadrezzar speaks of "a watcher and a holy one." This is the first appearance in Jewish literature of the word ‘ir, "watcher," which is so common in the Book of Enoch. {See Daniel 4:16; Daniel 4:25-30} In Daniel 4:26 the expression "after thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule" is one which has no analogue in the Old Testament, though exceedingly common in the superstitious periphrases of the later Jewish literature. As to the story of the strange lycanthropy with which Nebuchadrezzar was afflicted, though it receives nothing but the faintest shadow of support from any historic record, it may be based on some fact preserved by tradition. It is probably meant to reflect on the mad ways of Antiochus. The general phrase of Berossus, which tells us that Nebuchadrezzar "fell into a sickness and died," has been pressed into a historical verification of this narrative! But the phrase might have been equally well used in the most ordinary case, which shows what fancies have been adduced to prove that we are here dealing with history. The fragment of Abydenus in his "Assyriaca," preserved by Eusebius, shows that there was some story about Nebuchadrezzar having uttered remarkable words upon his palace-roof. The announcement of a coming irrevocable calamity to the kingdom from a Persian mule, "the son of a Median woman," and the wish that "the alien conqueror" might be driven "through the desert where wild beasts seek their food, and birds fly hither and thither," has, however, very little to do with the story of Nebuchadrezzar’s madness. Abydenus says that, "when he had thus prophesied, he suddenly vanished"; and he adds nothing about any restoration to health or to his kingdom. All that can be said is that there was current among the Babylonian Jews some popular legend of which the writer of the Book of Daniel availed himself for the purpose of his edifying "Midrash."

XI. When we reach the fifth chapter we are faced by a new king, Belshazzar, who is somewhat emphatically called the son of Nebuchadrezzar.

History knows of no such king. The prince of whom it does know was never king, and was a son, not of Nebuchadrezzar, but of the usurper Nabunaid; and between Nebuchadrezzar and Nabunaid there were three other kings.

There was a Belshazzar-"Bel-sar-utsur," "Bel protect the prince"-and we possess a clay cylinder of his father Nabunaid, the last king of Babylon, praying the moon-god that "my son, the offspring of my heart, might honour his godhead, and not give himself to sin." But if we follow Herodotus, this Belshazzar never came to the throne; and according to Berossus he was conquered in Borsippa. Xenophon, indeed, speaks of "an impious king" as being slain in Babylon; but this is only in an avowed romance which has not the smallest historic validity. Schrader conjectures that Nabunaid may have gone to take the field against Cyrus (who conquered and pardoned him, and allowed him to end his days as governor of Karamania), and that Belshazzar may have been killed in Babylon. These are mere hypotheses; as are those of Josephus, who identifies Belshazzar with Nabunaid (whom he calls Naboandelon); and of Babelon, who tries to make him the same as Maruduk-shar-utsur (as though Bel was the same as Maruduk), which is impossible, as this king reigned before Nabunaid. No contemporary writer could have fallen into the error either of calling Belshazzar "king"; or of insisting on his being "the son" of Nebuchadrezzar; or of representing him as Nebuchadrezzar’s successor. Nebuchadrezzar was succeeded by- circ. B.C.:

Evil-merodach, -561 (Avil-marduk). {2 Kings 25:27}

Nergal-sharezer, -559 (Nergal-sar-utsur).

Lakhabbashi-marudu (Laborosoarchod)-555 (an infant).

Nabunaid, -554.

Nabunaid reigned till about B.C. 538, when Babylon was taken by Cyrus.

The conduct of Belshazzar in the great feast of this chapter is probably meant as an allusive contrast to the revels and impieties of Antiochus Epiphanes, especially in his infamous festival at the grove of Daphne.

XII. "That night," we are told, "Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain." It has always been supposed that this was an incident of the capture of Babylon by assault, in accordance with the story of Herodotus, repeated by so many subsequent writers. But on this point the inscriptions of Cyrus have "revolutionised" our knowledge. "There was no siege and capture of Babylon: the capital of the Babylonian Empire opened its gates to the general of Cyrus. Gobryas and his soldiers entered the city without fighting, and the daily services in the great temple of Bel-merodach suffered no interruption. Three months later Cyrus himself arrived, and made his peaceful entry into the new capital of his empire. We gather from the contract-tablets that even the ordinary business of the place had not been affected by the war. The stage and capture of Babylon by Cyrus is really a reflection into the past of the actual sieges undergone by the city in the reigns of Darius, son of Hystaspes and Xerxes. It is clear, then, that the editor of the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel could have been as little a contemporary of the events he professes to record as Herodotus. For both alike, the true history of the Babylonian Empire has been overclouded and foreshortened by the lapse of time. The three kings who reigned between Nebuchadrezzar and Nabunaid have been forgotten, and the last king of the Babylonian Empire has become the son of its founder."

Snatching at the merest straws, those who try to vindicate the accuracy of the writer-although he makes Belshazzar a king, which he never was; and the son of Nebuchadrezzar, which is not the case; or his grandson, of which there is no tittle of evidence; and his successor, whereas four kings intervened; -think that they improve the case by urging that Daniel was made "the third ruler in the kingdom"-Nabunaid being the first, and Belshazzar being the second! Unhappily for their very precarious hypothesis, the translation "third ruler" appears to be entirely untenable. It means "one of a board of three."

XIII. In the sixth chapter we are again met by difficulty after difficulty.

Who, for instance, was Darius the Mede? We are told {Daniel 5:30-31} that, on the night of his impious banquet, "Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans" was slain, "and Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." We are also told that Daniel "prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." {Daniel 6:28} But this Darius is not even noticed elsewhere. Cyrus was the conqueror of Babylon, and between B.C. 538-536 there is no room or possibility for a Median ruler.

The inference which we should naturally draw from these statements in the Book of Daniel, and which all readers have drawn, was that Babylon had been conquered by the Medes, and that only after the death of a Median king did Cyrus the Persian succeed.

But historic monuments and records entirely overthrow this supposition. Cyrus was the king of Babylon from the day that his troops entered it without a blow He had conquered the Medes and suppressed their royalty. "The numerous contract-tables of the ordinary daily business transactions of Babylon, dated as they are month by month, and almost day by day from the reign of Nebuchadrezzar to that of Xerxes, prove that between Nabonidus and Cyrus there was no intermediate ruler." The contemporary scribes and merchants of Babylon knew nothing of any King Belshazzar, and they knew even less of any King Darius the Mede. No contemporary writer could possibly have fallen into such an error.

And against this obvious conclusion of what possible avail is it for Hengstenberg to quote a late Greek lexicographer (Harpocration, A.D. 170?), who says that the coin "a daric" was named after a Darius earlier than the father of Xerxes?-or for others to identify this shadowy Darius the Mede with Astyages?-or with Cyaxares II in the romance of Xenophon?:-or to say that Darius the Mede is Gobryas (Ug-baru) of Gutium-a Persian, and not a king at all-who under no circumstances could have been called "the king" by a contemporary, {Daniel 6:12; Daniel 9:1} and whom, apparently for three months only, Cyrus made governor of Babylon? How could a contemporary governor have appointed "one hundred and twenty princes which should be over the whole kingdom," when, even in the days of Darius Hystaspis there were only twenty or twenty-three satrapies in the Persian Empire? And how could a mere provincial viceroy be approached by "‘all the presidents of the kingdom,’ the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains," to pass a decree that any one who for thirty days offered any prayer to God or man, except to him, should be cast into the den of lions? The fact that such a decree could only be made by "a king" is emphasised in the narrative itself (Daniel 6:12: comp. Daniel 3:29). The supposed analogies offered by Professor Fuller and others in favour of a decree so absurdly impossible-except in the admitted license and for the high moral purpose of a Jewish Haggada-are to the last degree futile. In any ordinary criticism they would be set down as idle special pleading. Yet this is only one of a multitude of wildly improbable incidents, which, from misunderstanding of the writer’s age and purpose, have been for sober history, though they receive from historical records and monuments no shadow of confirmation, and are in not a few instances directly opposed to all that we now know to be certain history. Even if it were conceivable that this hypothetie "Darius the Mede" was Gobryas, or Astyages, or Cyaxares, it is plain that the author of Daniel gives him a name and national designation which lead to mere confusion, and speaks of him in a way which would have been surely avoided by any contemporary.

"Darius the Mede," says Professor Sayce, "is in fact a reflection into the past of ‘Darius the son of Hystaspes,’ just as the siege and capture of Babylon by Cyrus are a reflection into the past of its siege and capture by the same prince. The name of Darius and the story of the slaughter of the Chaldean king go together. They are alike derived from the unwritten history which, in the East of today, is still made by the people, and which blends together in a single picture the manifold events and personages of the past. It is a history which has no perspective, though it is based on actual facts; the accurate combinations of the chronologer have no meaning for it, and the events of a century are crowded into a few years. This is the kind of history which the Jewish mind in the age of the Talmud loved to adapt to moral and religious purposes. This kind of history then becomes as it were a parable, and under the name of Haggada serves to illustrate that teaching of the law."

The favourable view given of the character of the imaginary Darius the Mede, and his regard for Daniel, may have been a confusion with the Jewish reminiscences of Darius, son of Hystaspes, who permitted the rebuilding of the Temple under Zerubbabel.

If we look for the source of the confusion we see it perhaps in the prophecy of Isaiah, {Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 14:6-22} that the Medes should be the destroyers of Babylon; or in that of Jeremiah-a prophet of whom the author had made a special study {Daniel 9:2} - to the same effect; {Jeremiah 51:11-28} together with the tradition that a Darius-namely, the son of Hystaspes - had once conquered Babylon.

XIV. But to make confusion worse confounded, if these chapters were meant for history, the problematic "Darius the Mede" is in Daniel 9:1 called "the son of Ahasuerus."

Now Ahasuerus (Achashverosh) is the same as Xerxes, and is the Persian name Khshyarsha; and Xerxes was the son, not the father, of Darius Hystaspis, who was a Persian, not a Mede. Before Darius Hystaspis could have been transformed into the son of his own son Xerxes, the reigns, not only of Darius, but also of Xerxes, must have long been past.

XV. There is yet another historic sign that this Book did not originate till the Persian Empire had long ceased to exist. In Daniel 11:2 the writer only knows of four kings of Persia. These are evidently Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius Hystaspis, and Xerxes-whom he describes as the richest of them. This king is destroyed by the kingdom of Grecia an obvious confusion of popular tradition between the defeat inflicted on the Persians by the Republican Greeks in the days of Xerxes (B.C. 480), and the overthrow of the Persian kingdom under Darius Codomannus by Alexander the Great (B.C. 333).

These, then, are some of the apparent historic impossibilities by which we are confronted when we regard this Book as professed history. The doubts suggested by such seeming errors are not in the least removed by the acervation of endless conjectures. They are greatly increased by the fact that, so far from standing alone, they are intensified by other difficulties which arise under every fresh aspect under which the Book is studied. Behrmann, the latest editor, sums up his studies with the remark that "there is an almost universal agreement that the Book, in its present form and as a whole, had its origin in the Maccabean age; while there is a widening impression that in its purpose it is not an exclusive product of that period." No amount of casuistical ingenuity can long prevail to overthrow the spreading conviction that the views of Hengstenberg, Havernick, Keil, Pusey, and their followers, have been refuted by the light of advancing knowledge-which is a light kindled for us by God Himself.


IN endeavouring to see the idea and construction of a book there is always much room for the play of subjective considerations. Meinhold has especially studied this subject, but we cannot be certain that his views are more than imaginative. He thinks that Daniel 2:1-49, in which we are strongly reminded of the story of Joseph and of Pharaoh’s dreams, is intended to set forth God as Omniscient, and Daniel 3:1-30 as Omnipotent. To these conceptions is added in Daniel 4:1-37 the insistence upon God’s All-holiness. The fifth and sixth chapters form one conception. Since the death of Belshazzar is assigned to the night of his banquet no edict could be ascribed to him resembling those attributed to Nebuchadrezzar. The effect of Daniel’s character and of the Divine protection accorded to him on the mind of Darius is expressed in the strong edict of the latter in Daniel 6:26-27. This is meant to illustrate that the All-wise, Almighty, All-holy God is the Only Living God. The consistent and homogeneous object of the whole historic section is to set forth the God of the Hebrews as exalting Himself in the midst of heathendom, and extorting submission by mighty portents from heathen potentates. In this the Book offers a general analogy to the section of the history of the Israelites in Egypt narrated in Exodus 1:12. The culmination of recognition as to the power of God is seen in the decree of Darius, {Daniel 6:26-27} as compared with that of Nebuchadrezzar in Daniel 4:33. According to this view, the meaning and essence of each separate chapter are given in its closing section, and there is artistic advance to the great climax, marked alike by the resemblances of these four paragraphs, {Daniel 2:47; Daniel 3:28-29; Daniel 4:37; Daniel 6:26-27} and by their differences. To this main purpose all the other elements of these splendid pictures-the faithfulness of Hebrew worshippers, the abasement of blaspheming despots, the mission of Israel to the nations-are subordinated. The chief aim is to set forth the helpless humiliation of all false gods before the might of the God of Israel. It might be expressed in the words, "Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone."

A closer glance at these chapters will show some grounds for these conclusions.

Thus, in the second chapter, the magicians and sorcerers repudiate all possibility of revealing the king’s dream and its interpretation, because they are but men, and the gods have not their dwelling with mortal flesh; {Daniel 2:11} but Daniel can tell the dream because he stands near to his God, who, though He is in heaven, yet is All-wise, and revealeth secrets.

In the third chapter the destruction of the strongest soldiers of Nebuchadrezzar by fire, and the absolute deliverance of the three Jews whom they have flung into the furnace, convince Nebuchadrezzar that no god can deliver as the Almighty does, and that therefore it is blasphemy deserving of death to utter a word against Him.

In Daniel 4:1-37 the supremacy of Daniel’s wisdom as derived from God, the fulfilment of the threatened judgment, and the deliverance of the mighty King of Babylon from his degrading madness when he lifts up his eyes to heaven, convince Nebuchadrezzar still more deeply that God is not only a Great God, but that no other being, man or god, can even be compared to Him. He is the Only and the Eternal God, who "doeth according to His will in the army of heaven," as well as "among the inhabitants of the earth," and "none can stay His hand." This is the highest point of conviction. Nebuchadrezzar confesses that God is not only "Primus inter pares," but the Irresistible God, and his own God. And after this, in the fifth chapter, Daniel can speak to Belshazzar of "the Lord of heaven"; {Daniel 5:23} and as the king’s Creator; and of the nothingness of gods of silver, and gold, and brass, and wood, and stone; -as though those truths had already been decisively proved. And this belief finds open expression in the decree of Darius, {Daniel 6:26-27} which concludes the historic section.

It is another indication of this main purpose of these histories that the plural form of the Name of God-"Elohim"-does not once occur in chapters 2-6. It is used in Daniel 1:2; Daniel 1:9; Daniel 1:17; but not again till the ninth chapter, where it occurs twelve times; once in the tenth; {Daniel 10:12} and twice of God in the eleventh chapter. {Daniel 11:32; Daniel 11:37} In the prophetic section {Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 7:27} we have "Most High" in the plural ("‘elionin"); but with reference only to the One God. {see Daniel 7:25} But in all cases where the heathen are addressed this plural becomes the singular ("ehlleh,"), as throughout the first six chapters. This avoidance of so common a word as the plural "Elohim" for God, because the plural form might conceivably have been misunderstood by the heathen, shows the elaborate construction of the Book. God is called Eloah Shamain, "God of heaven," in the second and third chapters; but in later chapters we have the common post-exilic phrase in the plural.

In the fourth and fifth chapters we have God’s Holiness first brought before us, chiefly on its avenging side; and it is not till we have witnessed the proof of His Unity, Wisdom, Omnipotence, and Justice, which it is the mission of Israel to make manifest among the heathen, that all is summed up in the edict of Darius to all people, nations, and languages. The omission of any express recognition of God’s tender compassion is due to the structure of these chapters; for it would hardly be possible for heathen potentates to recognise that attribute in the immediate presence of His judgments. It is somewhat remarkable that the name "Jehovah" is avoided. As the Jews purposely pronounced it with wrong vowels, and the LXX render it by ~κυριος~, the Samaritan by hmyη, and the Rabbis by "the Name," so we find in the Book of Daniel a similar avoidance of the awful Tetragrammaton.


As regards the religious views of the Book of Daniel some of them at any rate are in full accordance with the belief in the late origin of the Book to which we are led by so many indications.

I. Thus in Daniel 12:2 (for we may here so far anticipate the examination of the second section of the Book) we meet, for the first time in Scripture, with a distinct recognition of the resurrection of the individual dead. This, as all know, is a doctrine of which we only find the faintest indication in the earlier books of the Canon. Although the doctrine is still but dimly formulated, it is clearer in this respect than Isaiah 25:8, Isaiah 26:19.

II. Still more remarkable is the special prominence of angels. It is not God who goes forth to war, {Judges 5:13; Judges 5:23} or takes personal part in the deliverance or punishment of nations. {Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18} Throned in isolated and unapproachable transcendence, He uses the agency of intermediate beings. {Daniel 4:14}

In full accordance with late developments of Jewish opinion angels are mentioned by special names, and appear as Princes and Protectors of special lands. {Daniel 4:14; Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20} In no other book in the Old Testament have we any names given to angels, or any distinction between their dignities, or any trace of their being in mutual rivalry as Princes or Patrons of different nationalities. These remarkable features of angelology only occur in the later epoch, and in the apocalyptic literature to which this Book belongs. Thus they are found in the LXX translations Deuteronomy 32:8 and Isaiah 30:4, and in such post-Maccabean books as those of Enoch and Esdras.

III. Again, we have the fixed custom of three daily formal prayers, uttered towards the Kibleh of Jerusalem. This may, possibly, have begun during the Exile. It became a normal rule for later ages. The Book, however, like that of Jonah, is, as a whole, remarkably free from any extravagant estimate of Levitical minutiae.

IV. Once more, for the first time in Jewish story, we find extreme importance attached to the Levitical distinction of clean and unclean meats, which also comes into prominence in the age of the Maccabees, as it afterwards constituted a most prominent element in the ideal of Talmudic religionism. {#/RAPC 1 Maccabees 1:62; 2 Maccabees 5:27; 2 Maccabees 6:18-31; 2 Maccabees 7:1-42} Daniel and the Three Children are vegetarians, like the Pharisees after the destruction of the Second Temple, mentioned in "Baba Bathra," f. 60, 2.

V. We have already noticed the avoidance of the sacred name "Jehovah" even in passages addressed to Jews, {Daniel 2:18} though we find "Jehovah" in 2 Chronicles 36:7. Jehovah only occurs in reference to Jeremiah 25:8-11, and in the prayer of the ninth chapter, where we also find "Adonai" and "Elohim."

Periphrases for God, like "the Ancient of Days," become normal in Talmudic literature.

VI. Again: the doctrine of the Messiah, like these other doctrines, is, as Professor Driver says, "taught with greater distinctness and in a more developed form than elsewhere in the Old Testament, and with features approximating to, though not identical with, those met with in the earlier parts of the Book of Enoch (B.C. too). In one or two instances these developments may have been partially moulded by foreign influences." They undoubtedly mark a later phase of revelation than that which is set before us in other books of the Old Testament. And the conclusion indicated by these special features in the Book is confirmed by the general atmosphere which we breathe throughout it. The atmosphere and tone are not those of any other writings belonging to the Jews of the Exile; it is rather that of the Maccabean "Chasidim." How far the Messianic "Bar Enosh" {Daniel 7:13} is meant to be a person will be considered in the comment on that passage.

We shall see in later pages that the supreme value and importance of the Book of Daniel, rightly understood, consists in this-that "it is the first attempt at a Philosophy, or rather at a Theology of History." Its main object was to teach the crushed and afflicted to place unshaken confidence in God.


IF we have found much to lead us to serious doubts as to the authenticity and genuineness- i.e. , as to the literal historicity and the real author-of the Book of Daniel in its historic section, we shall find still more in the prophetic section. If the phenomena already passed in review are more than enough to indicate the impossibility that the Book could have been written by the historic Daniel, the phenomena now to be considered are such as have sufficed to convince the immense majority of learned critics that, in its present form, the Book did not appear before the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. The probable date is B.C. 164. As in the Book of Enoch 90:15, 16, it contains history written under the form of prophecy.

Leaving minuter examinations to later chapters of commentary, we will now take a brief survey of this unique apocalypse.

I. As regards the style and method the only distant approach to it in the rest of the Old Testament is in a few visions of Ezekiel and Zechariah, which differ greatly from the clear, and so to speak classic, style of the older prophets. But in Daniel we find visions far more enigmatical, and far less full of passion and poetry. Indeed, as regards style and intellectual force, the splendid historic scenes of chapters 1-6 far surpass the visions of chapters 7-12, some of which have been described as "composite logographs," in which the ideas are forcibly juxtaposed without care for any coherence in the symbols-as, for instance, when a horn speaks and has eyes.

Chapter 7 contains a vision of four different wild beasts rising from the sea: a lion, with eagle-wings, which afterwards becomes semi-human; a bear, leaning on one side, and having three ribs in its mouth; a four-winged, four-headed panther; and a still more terrible creature, with iron teeth, brazen claws, and ten horns, among which rises a little horn, which destroyed three of the others-it has man’s eyes and a mouth speaking proud things.

There follows an epiphany of the Ancient of Days, who destroys the little horn, but prolongs for a time the existence of the other wild beasts. Then comes One in human semblance, who is brought before the Ancient of Days, and is clothed by Him with universal and eternal power.

We shall see reasons for the view that the four beasts-in accordance with the interpretation of the vision given to Daniel himself-represent the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, and the Greek empires, issuing in the separate kingdoms of Alexander’s successors; and that the little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes, whose overthrow is to be followed immediately by the Messianic Kingdom.

The vision of the eighth chapter mainly pursues the history of the fourth of these kingdoms. Daniel sees a ram standing eastward of the river-basin of the Ulai, having two horns, of which one is higher than the other. It butts westward, northward, and southward, and seemed irresistible, until a he-goat from the West, with one horn between its eyes, confronted it, and stamped it to pieces. After this its one horn broke into four towards the four winds of heaven, and one of them shot forth a puny horn, which grew great towards the South and East, and acted tyrannously against the Holy People, and spoke blasphemously against God. Daniel hears the holy ones declaring that its powers shall only last two thousand three hundred evening-mornings. An angel bids Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel; and Gabriel tells the seer that the ram represents the Medo-Persian and the he-goat the Greek Kingdom. Its great horn is Alexander; the four horns are the kingdoms of his successors, the Diadochi: the little horn is a king bold of vision and versed in enigmas, whom all agree to be Antiochus Epiphanes.

In the ninth chapter we are told that Daniel has been meditating on the prophecy of Jeremiah that Jerusalem should be rebuilt after seventy years, and as the seventy years seem to be drawing to a close he humbles himself with prayer and fasting. But Gabriel comes flying to him at the time of the evening sacrifice, and explains to him that the seventy years is to mean seventy weeks of years- i.e. , four hundred and ninety years, divided into three periods of 7 + 62 + 1. At the end of seven ( i.e., forty-nine) years an anointed prince will order the restoration of Jerusalem. The city will continue, though in humiliation, for sixty-two ( i.e., four hundred and thirty-four) years, when "an anointed" will be cut off, and a prince will destroy it. During half a week ( i.e., for three and a half years) he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and he will make a covenant with many for one week, at the end of which he will be cut off.

Here, again, we shall have reason to see that the whole prophecy culminates in, and is mainly concerned with, Antiochus Epiphanes. In fact, it furnishes us with a sketch of his fortunes, which, in connection with the eleventh chapter, tells us more about him than we learn from any extant history.

In the tenth chapter Daniel, after a fast of twenty-one days, sees a vision of Gabriel, who explains to him why his coming has been delayed, soothes his fears, touches his lips, and prepares him for the vision of chapter eleven. That chapter is mainly occupied with a singularly minute and circumstantial history of the murders, intrigues, wars, and intermarriages of the Lagidae and Seleucidae. So detailed is it that in some cases the history has to be reconstructed out of it. This sketch is followed by the doings and final overthrow of Antiochus Epiphanes.

The twelfth chapter is the picture of a resurrection, and of words of consolation and exhortation addressed to Daniel.

Such in briefest outline are the contents of these chapters, and their peculiarities are very marked. Until the reader has studied the more detailed explanation of the chapters separately, and especially of the eleventh, he will be unable to estimate the enormous force of the arguments adduced to prove the impossibility of such "prophecies" having emanated from Babylon and Susa about B.C. 536. Long before the astonishing enlargement of our critical knowledge which has been the work of the last generation-nearly fifty years ago-the mere perusal of the Book as it stands produced on the manly and honest judgment of Dr. Arnold a strong impression of uncertainty. He said that the latter chapters of Daniel would, if genuine, be a clear exception to the canons of interpretation which he laid down in his "Sermons on Prophecy," since "there can be no reasonable spiritual meaning made out of the kings of the North and South." "But," he adds, "I have long thought that the greater part of the Book of Daniel is most certainly a very late work of the time of the Maccabees; and the pretended prophecies about the kings of Grecia and Persia, and of the North and South, are mere history, like the poetical prophecies in Virgil and elsewhere. In fact, you can trace distinctly the date when it was written, because the events up to that date are given with historical minuteness, totally unlike the character of real prophecy; and beyond that date all is imaginary."

The Book is the earliest specimen of its kind known to us It inaugurated a new and important branch of Jewish literature, which influenced many subsequent writers. An apocalypse, so far as its literary form is concerned, "claims throughout to be a supernatural revelation given to mankind by the mouth of those men in whose names the various writings appear." An apocalypse-such, for instance, as the Books of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, Baruch 1:1-21, 2 Esdras, and the Sibylline Oracles-is characterised by its enigmatic form, which shrouds its meaning in parables and symbols. It indicates persons without naming them, and shadows forth historic events under animal forms, or as operations of Nature. Even the explanations which follow, as in this Book, are still mysterious and indirect.

II. In the next place an apocalypse is literary, not oral. Schurer, who classes Daniel among the oldest and most original of "pseudepigraphic prophecies," etc., rightly says that "the old prophets in their teachings and exhortations addressed themselves directly to the people first and foremost through their oral utterances; and then, but only as subordinate to these, by written discourses as well. But now, when men felt themselves at any time compelled by their religious enthusiasm to influence their contemporaries, instead of directly addressing them in person like the prophets of old, they did so by a writing purporting to be the work of some one or other of the great names of the past, in the hope that in this way the effect would be all the surer and all the more powerful." The Daniel of this Book represents himself, not as a prophet, but as a humble student of the prophets. He no longer claims, as Isaiah did, to speak in the Name of God Himself with a "Thus saith Jehovah."

III. Thirdly, it is impossible not to notice that Daniel differs from all other prophecies by its all-but-total indifference to the circumstances and surroundings in the midst of which the prediction is supposed to have originated. The Daniel of Babylon and Susa is represented as the writer; yet his whole interest is concentrated, not in the events which immediately interest the Jews of Babylon in the days of Cyrus, or of Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, but deals with a number of predictions which revolve almost exclusively about the reign of a very inferior king four centuries afterwards. And with this king the predictions abruptly stop short, and are followed by the very general promise of an immediate Messianic age.

We may notice further the constant use of round and cyclic numbers, such as three and its compounds; {Daniel 1:5; Daniel 3:1; Daniel 6:7; Daniel 6:10; Daniel 7:5; Daniel 7:8} four; {Daniel 2:1-49, Daniel 7:6, and Daniel 8:8; Daniel 11:12} seven and its compounds. {Daniel 3:19; Daniel 4:16; Daniel 4:23; Daniel 9:24, etc.} The apocalyptic symbols of Bears, Lions, Eagles, Horns, Wings, etc., abound in the contemporary and later Books of Enoch, Baruch 4:1-37 Esdras, the Assumption of Moses, and the Sibyllines, as well as in the early Christian apocalypses, like that of Peter. The authors of the Sibyllines (B.C. 140) were acquainted with Daniel; the Book of Enoch breathes exactly the same spirit with this Book, in the transcendentalism which avoids the name Jehovah (Daniel 7:13; Enoch 46:1, 47:3), in the number of angels (Daniel 7:10; Enoch 40:1, 60:2), their names, the title of "watchers" given to them, and their guardianship of men (Enoch 20:5). The Judgment and the Books (Daniel 7:9-10, Daniel 12:1) occur again in Enoch 47:3, 81:1, as in the Book of Jubilees, and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.


I. OTHER prophets start from the ground of the present , and to exigencies of the present their prophecies were primarily directed. It is true that their lofty moral teaching, their rapt poetry, their impassioned feeling, had its inestimable value for all ages. But these elements scarcely exist in the Book of Daniel. Almost the whole of its prophecies bear on one short particular period nearly four hundred years after the supposed epoch of their delivery. What, then, is the phenomenon they present? Whereas other prophets, by studying the problems of the present in the light flung upon them by the past, are enabled, by combining the present with the past, to gain, with the aid of God’s Holy Spirit, a vivid glimpse of the immediate future, for the instruction of the living generation, the reputed author of Daniel passes over the immediate future with a few words, and spends the main part of his revelations on a triad of years separated by centuries from contemporary history. Occupied as this description is with the wars and negotiations of empires which were yet unborn, it can have had little practical significance for Daniel’s fellow-exiles. Nor could these "predictions" have been to prove the possibility of supernatural foreknowledge, since, even after their supposed fulfilment, the interpretation of them is open to the greatest difficulties and the gravest doubts. If to a Babylonian exile was vouchsafed a gift of prevision so minute and so marvellous as enabled him to describe the intermarriages of Ptolemies and Seleucidae four centuries later, surely the gift must have been granted for some decisive end. But these predictions are precisely the ones which seem to have the smallest significance. We must say, with Semler, that no such benefit seems likely to result from this predetermination of comparatively unimportant minutiae as God must surely intend when He makes use of means of a very extraordinary character. It might perhaps be said that the Book was written, four hundred years before the crisis occurred, to console the Jews under their brief period of persecution by the Seleucidae. It would be indeed extraordinary that so curious, distant, and roundabout a method should have been adopted for an end which, in accordance with the entire economy of God’s dealings with men in revelation, could have been so much more easily and so much more effectually accomplished in simpler ways. Further, unless we accept an isolated allusion to Daniel in the imaginary speech of the dying Mattathias, there is no trace whatever that the Book had the smallest influence in inspiring the Jews in that terrible epoch. And the reference of Mattathias, if it was ever made at all, may be to old tradition, and does not allude to the prophecies about Antiochus and his fate.

But, as Hengstenberg, the chief supporter of the authenticity of the Book of Daniel, well observes, "Prophecy can never entirely separate itself from the ground of the present, to influence which is always its more immediate object, and to which therefore it must constantly construct a bridge. On this also rests all certainty of exposition as to the future. And that the means should be provided for such a certainty is a necessary consequence of the Divine nature of prophecy. A truly Divine prophecy cannot possibly swim in the air; nor can the Church be left to mere guesses in the exposition of Scripture which has been given to her as a light amid the darkness."

II. And as it does not start from the ground of the present, so too the Book of Daniel reverses the method of prophecy with reference to the future.

For the genuine predictions of Scripture advance by slow and gradual degrees from the uncertain and the general to the definite and the special. Prophecy marches with history, and takes a step forward at each new period. So far as we know there is not a single instance in which any prophet alludes to, much less dwells upon, any kingdom which had not then risen above the political horizon.

In Daniel the case is reversed: the only kingdom which was looming into sight is dismissed with a few words, and the kingdom most dwelt upon is the most distant and quite the most insignificant of all, of the very existence of which neither Daniel nor his contemporaries had even remotely heard. (Comp. Enoch 1:2)

III. Then again, although the prophets, with their Divinely illuminated souls, reached far beyond intellectual sagacity and political foresight, yet their hints about the future never distantly approach to detailed history like that of Daniel. They do indeed so far lift the veil of the unseen as to shadow forth the outline of the near future, but they do this only on general terms and on general principles. Their object, as I have repeatedly observed, was mainly moral, and it was also confessedly conditional, even when no hint is given of the implied condition. (Comp. Micah 3:12 Jeremiah 26:1-19 Ezekiel 1:21. comp. Daniel 9:18-19). Nothing is more certain than the wisdom and beneficence of that Divine provision which has hidden the future from men’s eyes, and even taught us to regard all prying into its minute events as vulgar and sinful. {Deuteronomy 18:10} Stargazing and monthly prognostication were rather the characteristics of false religion and unhallowed divinations than of faithful and holy souls. Nitzsche most justly lays it down as an essential condition of prophecy that it "should not disturb man’s relation to history." Anything like detailed description of the future would intolerably perplex and confuse our sense of human free-will. It would drive us to the inevitable conclusion, that men are but puppets moved irresponsibly by the hand of inevitable fate. Not one such prophecy, unless this be one, occurs anywhere in the Bible. We do not think that (apart from Messianic prophecies) a single instance can be given in which any prophet distinctly and minutely predicts a future series of events of which the fulfilment was not near at hand. In the few cases when some event, already imminent, is predicted apparently with some detail, it is not certain whether some touches-names, for instance-may not have been added by editors living subsequently to the occurrence of the event. That there has been at all times a gift of prescience, whereby the Spirit of God, "entering into holy souls, has made them sons of God and prophets," is indisputable. It is in virtue of this high foreknowledge that the voice of the Hebrew Sibyl has "Rolled sounding onwards through a thousand years Her deep prophetic bodiments."

Even Demosthenes, by virtue of a statesman’s thoughtful experience, can describe it as his office and duty "to see events in their beginnings, to discern their purport and tendencies from the first, and to forewarn his countrymen accordingly." Yet the power of Demosthenes was as nothing compared with that of an Isaiah or a Nahum; and we may safely say that the writings alike of the Greek orator and the Hebrew prophets would have been comparatively valueless had they merely contained anticipations of future history, instead of dealing with truths whose value is equal for all ages-truths and principles which give clearness to the past, security to the present, and guidance to the future. Had it been the function of prophecy to remove the veil of obscurity which God in His wisdom has hung over the destinies of men and kingdoms, it would never have attained, as it has done, to the love and reverence of mankind.

IV. Another unique and abnormal feature is found in the close and accurate chronological calculations in which the Book of Daniel abounds. We shall see later on that the dates of the Maccabean reconsecration of the Temple and the ruin of Antiochus Epiphanes are indicated almost to the day. The numbers of prophecy are in all other cases symbolical and general. They are intentional compounds of seven-the sum of three and four, which are the numbers that mystically shadow forth God and the world-a number which even Cicero calls "rerum omnium fere modus"; and of ten, the number of the world. If we except the prophecy of the seventy years’ captivity-which was a round number, and is in no respect parallel to the periods of Daniel-there is no other instance in the Bible of a chronological prophecy. We say no other instance, because one of the commentators who, in writing upon Daniel, objects to the remark of Nitzsch that the numbers of prophecy are mystical, yet observes on the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of Revelation 12:1-17. that the number one thousand two hundred and sixty, or three and a half years, "has no historical signification whatever, and is only to be viewed in its relation to the number seven-viz., as symbolising the apparent victory of the world over the Church."

V. Alike, then, in style, in matter, and in what has been called by V Orelli its "exoteric" manner, -alike in its definiteness and its indefiniteness-in the point from which it starts and the period at which it terminates-in its minute details and its chronological indications-in the absence of the moral and the impassioned element, and in the sense of fatalism which it must have introduced into history had it been a genuine prophecy, -the Book of Daniel differs from all the other books which compose that prophetic canon. From that canon it was rightly and deliberately excluded by the Jews. Its worth and dignity can only be rationally vindicated or rightly understood by supposing it to have been the work of an unknown moralist and patriot of the Maccabean age. And if anything further were wanting to complete the cogency of the internal evidence which forces this conclusion upon us, it is amply found in a study of those books, confessedly apocryphal, which, although far inferior to the Book before us, are yet of value, and which we believe to have emanated from the same era. They resemble this book in their language, both Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as in certain recurring expressions and forms to be found in the Books of Maccabees and the Second Book of Esdras; -in their style-rhetorical rather than poetical, stately rather than ecstatic, diffuse rather than pointed, and wholly inferior to the prophets in depth and power; -in the use of an apocalyptic method, and the strange combination of dreams and symbols; -in the insertion, by way of embellishment, of speeches and formal documents which can at the best be only semi-historical; -finally, in the whole tone of thought, especially in the quite peculiar doctrine of archangels, of angels guarding kingdoms, and of opposing evil spirits. In short, the Book of Daniel may be illustrated by the Apocryphal books in every single particular. In the adoption of an illustrious name-which is the most marked characteristic of this period-it resembles the additions to the Book of Daniel, the Books of Esdras, the Letters of Baruch and Jeremiah, and the Wisdom of Solomon. In the imaginary and quasi-legendary treatment of history it finds a parallel in Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-29; Wisdom of Solomon 17:1-21; Wisdom of Solomon 18:1-25; Wisdom of Solomon 19:1-22, and parts of the Second Book of Maccabees and the Second Book of Esdras. As an allusive narrative bearing on contemporaneous events under the guise of describing the past, it is closely parallel to the Book of Judith, while the character of Daniel bears the same relation to that of Joseph as the representation of Judith does to that of Jael. As an ethical development of a few scattered historical data, tending to the marvellous and supernatural, but rising to the dignity of a very noble and important religious fiction, it is analogous, though incomparably superior, to Bel and the Dragon, and to the stories of Tobit and Susanna.

The conclusion is obvious; and it is equally obvious that, when we suppose the name of Daniel to have been assumed, and the assumption to have been supported by an antique colouring. we do not for a moment charge the unknown author-who may very well have been Onias IV-with any dishonesty. Indeed, it appears to us that there are many traces in the Book which exonerate the writer from any suspicion of intentional deception. They may have been meant to remove any tendency to error in understanding the artistic guise which was adopted for the better and more forcible inculcation of the lessons to be conveyed. That the stories of Daniel offered peculiar opportunities for this treatment is shown by the apocryphal additions to the Book; and that the practice was well understood even before the closing of the Canon is sufficiently shown by the Book of Ecclesiastes. The writer of that strange and fascinating book, with its alternating moods of cynicism and resignation, merely adopted the name of Solomon, and adopted it with no dishonourable purpose; for he could not have dreamed that utterances which in page after page betray to criticism their late origin would really be identified with the words of the son of David a thousand years before Christ. This may now be regarded as an indisputable, and is indeed a no longer disputed result of all literary and philological inquiry.

It is to Porphyry, a Neoplatonist of the third century (born at Tyre, A.D. 233; died in Rome, A.D. 303), that we owe our ability to write a continuous historical commentary on the symbols of Daniel. That writer devoted the twelfth book of his Christian to a proof that Daniel was not written till after the epoch which it so minutely described. In order to do this he collected with great learning and industry a history of the obscure Antiochian epoch from authors most of whom have perished. Of these authors Jerome-the most valuable part of whose commentary is derived from Porphyry-gives a formidable list, mentioning among others Callinicus, Diodorus, Polybius, Posidonius, Claudius, Theo, and Andronicus. It is a strange fact that the exposition of a canonical book should have been mainly rendered possible by an avowed opponent of Christianity. It was the object of Porphyry to prove that the apocalyptic portion of the Book was not a prophecy at all. It used to be a constant taunt against those who adopt his critical conclusions that their weapons are borrowed from the armoury of an infidel. The objection hardly seems worth answering. "Fas est et ab hoste doceri." If the enemies of our religion have sometimes helped us the better to understand our sacred books, or to judge more correctly respecting them, we should be grateful that their assaults have been overruled to our instruction. The reproach is wholly beside the question. We may apply to it the manly words of Grotius: "Neque me pudeat consentire Porphyrio , quando is in verarm sententiam incidit." Moreover, St. Jerome himself could not have written his commentary, as he himself admits, without availing himself of the aid of the erudition of the heathen philosopher, whom no less a person than St. Augustine called "doctissimus philosophorum," though unhappily he was "acerrimus christiano-rum inimicus."


WE have seen that there are many circumstances which force upon us the gravest doubts as to the authenticity of the Book of Daniel. We now proceed to examine the evidence urged in its favour, and deemed adequate to refute the conclusion that in its present form it did not see the light before the time of Antiochus IV.

Taking Hengstenberg as the most learned reasoner in favour of the genuineness of Daniel, we will pass in review all the positive arguments which he has adduced. They occupy no less than one hundred and ten pages (pp. 182-291) of the English translation of his work on the genuineness of Daniel. Most of them are tortuous specimens of special pleading inadequate in themselves, or refuted by increased knowledge derived from the monuments and from further inquiry. To these arguments neither Dr. Pusey nor any subsequent writer has made any material addition. Some of them have been already answered, and many of them are so unsatisfactory that they may be dismissed at once.

I. Such, for instance, is the testimony of the author himself. In one of those slovenly treatises which only serve to throw dust in the eyes of the ignorant we find it stated that, "although the name of Daniel is not prefixed to his Book, the passages in which he speaks in the first person sufficiently prove that he was the author!" Such assertions deserve no answer. If the mere assumption of a name be a sufficient proof of the authorship of the book, we are rich indeed in Jewish authors-and, not to speak of others, our list includes works by Adam, Enoch, Eldad, Medad, and Elijah. "Pseudonymity," says Behrmann, "was a very common characteristic of the literature of that day, and the conception of literary property was alien to that epoch, and especially to the circle of writings of this class."

II. The character of the language, as we have seen already, proves nothing. Hebrew and Aramaic long continued in common use side by side, at least among the learned, and the divergence of the Aramaic in Daniel from that of the Targums leads to no definite result, considering the late and uncertain age of those writings.

III. How any argument can be founded on the exact knowledge of history displayed by local colouring we cannot understand. Were the knowledge displayed ever so exact it would only prove that the author was a learned man, which is obvious already. But so far from any remarkable accuracy being shown by the author, it is, on the contrary, all but impossible to reconcile many of his statements with acknowledged facts. The elaborate and tortuous explanations, the frequent subauditur, the numerous assumptions required to force the text into accordance with the certain historic data of the baby Ionian and Persian empires, tell far more against the Book than for it. The methods of accounting for these inaccuracies are mostly self-confuting, for they leave the subject in hopeless confusion, and each orthodox commentator shows how untenable are the views of others.

IV. Passing over other arguments of Keil, Hengstenberg, etc., which have been either refuted already, or which are too weak to deserve repetition, we proceed to examine one or two of a more serious character. Great stress, for instance, is laid on the reception of the Book into the Canon. We acknowledge the canonicity of the Book, its high value when rightly apprehended, and its rightful acceptance as a sacred book: but this in nowise proves its authenticity. The history of the Old Testament Canon is involved in the deepest obscurity. The belief that it was finally completed by Ezra and the Great Synagogue rests on no foundation; indeed, it is irreconcilable with later historic notices and other facts connected with the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and the two Books of Chronicles. The Christian Fathers in this, as in some other cases, implicitly believed what came to them from the most questionable sources, and was mixed up with mere Jewish fables. One of the oldest Talmudic books, the "Pirke Aboth," is entirely silent on the collection of the Old Testament, though in a vague way it connects the Great Synagogue with the preservation of the Law. The earliest mention of the legend about Ezra is the Second Book of Esdras (14:29-48). This book does not possess the slightest claim to authority, as it was not completed till a century after the Christian era; and it mingles up with this very narrative a number of particulars thoroughly fabulous and characteristic of a period when the Jewish writers were always ready to subordinate history to imaginative fables. The account of the magic cup, the forty days’ and forty nights’ dictation, the ninety books of which seventy were secret and intended only for the learned, form part of the very passage from which we are asked to believe that Ezra established our existing Canon, though the genuine Book of Ezra is wholly silent about his having performed any such inestimable service. It adds nothing to the credit of this fable that it is echoed by Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Tertullian. Nor are there any external considerations which render it probable. The Talmudic tradition in the "Baba Bathra," which says (among other remarks in a passage of which "the notorious errors prove the unreliability of its testimony") that the "men of the Great Synagogue wrote the Books of Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel , and Ezra." It is evident that, so far as this evidence is worth anything, it rather goes against the authenticity of Daniel than for it. The "Pirke Aboth" makes Simon the Just (about B.C. 290) a member of this Great Synagogue, of which the very existence is dubious.

Again, the author of the forged letter at the beginning of the Second Book of Maccabees "the work" says Hengstenberg, "of an arrant impostor"-attributes the connection of certain books first to Nehemiah, and then, when they had been lost, to Judas Maccabaeus. {#/RAPC 2 Maccabees 2:13-14} The canonicity of the Old Testament books does not rest on such evidence as this, and it is hardly worth while to pursue it further. That the Book of Daniel was regarded as authentic by Josephus is clear; but this by no means decides its date or authorship. It is one of the very few books of which Philo makes no mention whatever.

V. Nor can the supposed traces of the early existence of the Book be considered adequate to prove its genuineness. With the most important of these, the story of Josephus ("Antt.," 11. 8:5) that the high priest Jaddua showed to Alexander the Great the prophecies of Daniel respecting himself, we shall deal later. The alleged traces of the Book in Ecclesiasticus are very uncertain, or rather wholly questionable; and the allusion to Daniel in Macc. 2:60 decides nothing, because there is nothing to prove that the speech of the dying Mattathias is authentic, and because we know nothing certain as to the date of the Greek translator of that book or of the Book of Daniel. The absence of all allusion to the prophecies of Daniel is, on the other hand, a far more cogent point against the authenticity. Whatever be the date of the Books of Maccabees, it is inconceivable that they should offer no vestige of proof that Judas and his brothers received any hope or comfort from such explicit predictions as Daniel 11:1-45, had the Book been in the hands of those pious and noble chiefs.

The First Book of Maccabees cannot be certainly dated more than a century before Christ, nor have we reason to believe that the Septuagint version of the Book is much older.

VI. The badness of the Alexandrian version, and the apocryphal additions to it, seem to be rather an argument for the late age and less established authority of the Book than for its genuineness. Nor can we attach much weight to the assertion (though it is endorsed by the high authority of Bishop Westcott) that "it is far more difficult to explain its composition in the Maccabean period than to meet the peculiarities which it exhibits with the exigencies of the Return." So far is this from being the case that, as we have seen already, it resembles in almost every particular the acknowledged productions of the age in which we believe it to have been written. Many of the statements made on this subject by those who defend the authenticity cannot be maintained. Thus Hengstenberg remarks that

(1) "at this time the Messianic hopes are dead," and

(2) "that no great literary work appeared between the Restoration from the Captivity and the time of Christ."

Now the facts are precisely the reverse in each instance. For

(1) the little book called the Psalms of Solomon, which belongs to this period, contains the strongest and clearest Messianic hopes , and the Book of Enoch most closely resembles Daniel in its Messianic predictions. Thus it speaks of the preexistence of the Messiah (48:6, 62:7), of His sitting on a throne of glory (55:4, 61:8), and receiving the power of rule.

(2) Still less can we attach any force to Hengstenberg’s argument that, in the Maccabean age, the gift of prophecy was believed to have departed forever. Indeed, that is an argument in favour of the pseudonymity of the Book. For in the age at which-for purposes of literary form-it is represented as having appeared the spirit of prophecy was far from being dead. Ezekiel was still living, or had died but recently. Zechariah, Haggai, and long afterwards Malachi, were still to continue the succession of the mighty prophets of their race. Now, if prediction be an element in the prophet’s work, no prophet, nor all the prophets together, ever distantly approached any such power of minutely foretelling the events of a distant future-even the half-meaningless and all-but-trivial events of four centuries later, in kingdoms which had not yet thrown their distant shadows on the horizon-as that which Daniel must have possessed, if he were indeed the author of this Book. Yet, as we have seen, he never thinks of claiming the functions of the prophets, or speaking in the prophet’s commanding voice, as the foreteller of the message of God. On the contrary, he adopts the comparatively feebler and more entangled methods of the literary composers in an age when men saw not their tokens and there was no prophet more.

We must postpone a closer examination of the questions as to the "four kingdoms" intended by the writer, and of his curious and enigmatic chronological calculations; but we must reject at once the monstrous assertion-excusable in the days of Sir Isaac Newton, but which has now become unwise and even portentous-that "to reject Daniel’s prophecies would be to undermine the Christian religion, which is all but founded on his prophecies respecting Christ !" Happily the Christian religion is not built on such foundations of sand. Had it been so, it would long since have been swept away by the beating rain and the rushing floods. Here, again, the arguments urged by those who believe in the authenticity of Daniel recoil with tenfold force upon themselves. Sir Isaac Newton’s observations on the prophecies of Daniel only show how little transcendent genius in one domain of inquiry can save a great thinker from absolute mistakes in another. In writing upon prophecy the great astronomer was writing on the assumption of baseless premisses which he had drawn from stereotyped tradition; and he was also writing at an epoch when the elements for the final solution of the problem had not as yet been discovered or elaborated. It is as certain that, had he been living now, he would have accepted the conclusion of all the ablest and most candid inquirers, as it is certain that Bacon, had he now been living, would have accepted the Copernican theory. It is absurdly false to say that "the Christian religion is all but founded on Daniel’s prophecies respecting Christ." If it were not absurdly false, we might well ask, How it came that neither Christ nor His Apostles ever once alluded to the existence of any such argument, or ever pointed to the Book of Daniel and the prophecy of the seventy weeks as containing the least germ of evidence in favour of Christ’s mission or the Gospel teaching? No such argument is remotely alluded to till long afterwards by some of the Fathers.

But so far from finding any agreement in the opinions of the Christian Fathers and commentators on a subject which, in Newton’s view, was so momentous, we only find ourselves weltering in a chaos of uncertainties and contradictions. Thus Eusebius records the attempt of some early Christian commentators to treat the last of the seventy weeks as representing, not, like all the rest, seven years, but seventy years, in order to bring down the prophecy to the days of Trajan! Neither Jewish nor Christian exegetes have ever been able to come to the least agreement between themselves or with one another as to the beginning or end-the terminus a quo or the terminus ad quem- with reference to which the seventy weeks are to be reckoned. The Christians naturally made great efforts to make the seventy weeks end with the Crucifixion. But Julius Africanus (A.D. 232), beginning with the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Nehemiah 2:1-9, (B.C. 444), gets only four hundred and seventy-five to the Crucifixion, and to escape the difficulty makes the years lunar years.

Hippolytus separates the last week from all the rest, and relegates it to the days of Antichrist and the end of the world. Eusebius himself refers "the anointed one" to the line of Jewish high priests, separates the last week from the others, ends it with the fourth year after the Crucifixion, and refers the ceasing of the sacrifice {Deuteronomy 9:27} to the rejection of Jewish sacrifices by God after the death of Christ. Apollinaris makes the seventy weeks begin with the birth of Christ, and argues that Elijah and Antichrist were to appear A.D. 490! None of these views found general acceptance. Not one of them was sanctioned by Church authority. Every one, as Jerome says. argued in this direction or that pro captu ingenii sui. The climax of arbitrariness is reached by Keil-the last prominent defender of the so-called "orthodoxy" of criticism-when he makes the weeks not such commonplace things as "earthly chronological weeks," but Divine, symbolic, and therefore unknown and unascertainable periods. And are we to be told that it is on such fantastic, self-contradictory, and mutually refuting calculations that "the Christian religion is all but founded?" Thank God, the assertion is entirely wild.


THE reception of the Book of Daniel anywhere into the Canon might be regarded as an argument in favour of its authenticity, if the case of the Books of Jonah and Ecclesiastes did not sufficiently prove that canonicity, while it does constitute a proof of the value and sacred significance of a book, has no weight as to its traditional authorship. But in point of fact the position assigned by the Jews to the Book of Daniel-not among the Prophets, where, had the Book been genuine, it would have had a supreme right to stand, but only with the Book of Esther, among the latest of the Hagiographa-is a strong argument for its late date. The division of the Old Testament into Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa first occurs in the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (about B.C. 131)-"the Law, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books." In spite of its peculiarities, its prophetic claims among those who accepted it as genuine were so strong that the LXX and the later translations unhesitatingly reckon the author among the four greater prophets. If the Daniel of the Captivity had written this Book, he would have had a far greater claim to this position among the prophets than Haggai, Malachi, or the later Zechariah. Yet the Jews deliberately placed the Book among the Kethubim, to the writers of which they indeed ascribe the Holy Spirit ( Ruach Hakkodesh ), but whom they did not credit with the higher degree of prophetic inspiration. Josephus expresses the Jewish conviction that, since the days of Artaxerxes onwards, the writings which had appeared had not been deemed worthy of the same reverence as those which had preceded them, because there had occurred no unquestionable succession of prophets. The Jews who thus decided the true nature of the Book of Daniel must surely have been guided by strong traditional, critical, historical, or other grounds for denying (as they did) to the author the gift of prophecy. Theodoret denounces this as "shameless impudence" on their part; but may it not rather have been fuller knowledge or simple honesty? At any rate, on any other grounds it would have been strange indeed of the Talmudists to decide that the most minutely predictive of the prophets-if indeed this were a prophecy-wrote without the gift of prophecy. It can only have been the late and suspected appearance of the Book, and its marked phenomena, which led to its relegation to the lowest place in the Jewish Canon. Already in #/RAPC 1 Maccabees 4:46 we find that the stories of the demolished pagan altar are kept "until there should arise a prophet to show what should be clone with them"; and in #/RAPC 1 Maccabees 14:41 we again meet the phrase "until there should arise a faithful prophet." Before this epoch there is no trace of the existence of the Book of Daniel, and not only so, but the prophecies of the post-exilic prophets as to the future contemplate a wholly different horizon and a wholly different order of events. Had Daniel existed before the Maccabean epoch, it is impossible that the rank of the Book should have been deliberately ignored. The Jewish Rabbis of the age in which it appeared saw, quite correctly, that it had points of affinity with other pseudepigraphic apocalypses which arose in the same epoch. The Hebrew scholar Dr. Joel has pointed out how, amid its immeasurable superiority to such a poem as the enigmatic "Cassandra" of the Alexandrian poet Lycophron, it resembles that book in its indirectness of nomenclature. Lycophron is one of the pleiad of poets in the days of Ptolemy Philadelphus; but his writings, like the Book before us, have probably received interpolations from later hands. He never calls a god or a hero by his name, but always describes him by a periphrasis, just as here we have "the King of the North" and "the King of the South," though the name "Egypt" slips in. {Daniel 11:8} Thus Hercules is "a three-nights’ lion," and Alexander the Great is "a wolf." A son is always "an offshoot," or is designed by some other metaphor. When Lycophron wants to allude to Rome, the Greek is used in its sense of "strength." The name Ptolemaios becomes by anagram ajpolitov, "from honey"; and the name Arsinoe becomes "the violet of Hera." We may find some resemblances to these procedures when we are considering the eleventh chapter of Daniel.

It is a serious abuse of argument to pretend, as is done by Hengstenberg, by Dr. Pusey, and by many of their feebler followers, that "there are few books whose Divine authority is so fully established by the testimony of the New Testament, and in particular by our Lord Himself, as the Book of Daniel." It is to the last degree dangerous, irreverent, and unwise to stake the Divine authority of our Lord on the maintenance of those ecclesiastical traditions of which so many have been scattered to the winds for ever. Our Lord, on one occasion, in the discourse on the Mount of Olives warned His disciples that, "when they should see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, they should flee from Jerusalem into the mountain district." {Mark 13:14}

There is nothing to prove that He Himself uttered either the words "let him that readeth understand," or even "spoken of by Daniel the prophet." Both of those may belong to the explanatory narrative of the Evangelist, and the latter does not occur in St. Mark. Further, in St. Luke {Luke 21:20} there is no specific allusion to Daniel at all; but instead of it we find, "When ye see Jerusalem being encircled by armies, then know that its desolation is near." We cannot be certain that the specific reference to Daniel may not be due to the Evangelist. But without so much as raising these questions, it is fully admitted that, whether exactly in its present form or not, the Book of Daniel formed part of the Canon in the days of Christ. If He directly refers to it as a book known to His hearers, His reference lies as wholly outside all questions of genuineness and authenticity as does St. Jude’s quotation from the Book of Enoch, or St. Paul’s (possible) allusions to the Assumption of Elijah, {1 Corinthians 2:9 Ephesians 5:11} or Christ’s own passing reference to the Book of Jonah. Those who attempt to drag in these allusions as decisive critical dicta transfer them to a sphere wholly different from that of the moral application for which they were intended. They not only open vast and indistinct questions as to the self-imposed limitations of our Lord’s human knowledge as part of His own voluntary "emptying Himself of His glory," but they also do a deadly disservice to the most essential cause of Christianity. The only thing which is acceptable to the God of truth is truth; and since He has given us our reason and our conscience as lights which light every man who is born into the world, we must walk by these lights in all questions which belong to these domains. History, literature and criticism, and the interpretation of human language do belong to the domain of pure reason; and we must not be bribed by the misapplication of hypothetical exegesis to give them up for the support of traditional views which advancing knowledge no longer suffers us to maintain. It may be true or not that our Lord adopted the title "Son of Man" (Bar Enosh) from the Book of Daniel; but even if He did, which is at least disputable, that would only show, what we all already admit, that in His time the Book was an acknowledged part of the Canon. On the other hand, if our Lord and His Apostles regarded the Book of Daniel as containing the most explicit prophecies of Himself and of His kingdom, why did they never appeal or even allude to it to prove that He was the promised Messiah?

Again, Hengstenberg and his school try to prove that the Book of Daniel existed before the Maccabean age, because Josephus says that the high priest Jaddua showed to Alexander the Great, in the year B.C. 332, the prophecy of himself as the Grecian he-goat in the Book of Daniel; and that the leniency which Alexander showed towards the Jews was due to the favourable impression thus produced.

The story, which is a beautiful and an interesting one, runs as follows:-

On his way from Tyre, after capturing Gaza, Alexander decided to advance to Jerusalem. The news threw Jaddua the high priest into an agony of alarm. He feared that the king was displeased with the Jews, and would inflict severe vengeance upon them. He ordered a general supplication with sacrifices, and was encouraged by God in a dream to decorate the city. throw open the gates, and go forth in procession at the head of priests and people to meet the dreaded conqueror. The procession, "so unlike that of any other nation, went forth as soon as they heard that Alexander was approaching the city. They met the king on the summit of Scopas, the watch-tower-the height of Mizpah, from which the first glimpse of the city is obtained. It is the famous Blanca Guarda of the Crusaders, on the summit of which Richard I turned away, and did not deem himself worthy to glance at the city which he was too weak to rescue from the infidel. The Phoenicians and Chaldeans in Alexander’s army promised themselves that they would now be permitted to plunder the city and torment the high priest to death. But it happened far otherwise. For when the king saw the white-robed procession approaching, headed by Jaddua in his purple and golden array, and wearing on his head the golden petalon, with its inscription "Holiness to Jehovah," he advanced, saluted the priest, and adored the Divine Name. The Jews encircled and saluted him with unanimous greeting, while the King of Syria and his other followers fancied that he must be distraught. "How is it," asked Parmenio, "that you, whom all others adore, yourself adore the Jewish high priest? I did not adore the high priest," said Alexander, "but God, by whose priesthood He has been honoured. When I was at Dium in Macedonia, meditating on the conquest of Asia, I saw this very man in this same apparel, who invited me to march boldly and without delay, and that he would conduct me to the conquest of the Persians." Then he took Jaddua by the hand, and in the midst of the rejoicing priests entered Jerusalem, where he sacrificed to God. Jaddua showed him the prediction about himself in the Book of Daniel, and in extreme satisfaction he granted to the Jews, at the high priest’s request, all the petitions which they desired of him.

But this story, so grateful to Jewish vanity, is a transparent fiction. It does not find the least support from any other historic source, and is evidently one of the Jewish Haggadoth in which the intense national self-exaltation of that strange nation delighted to depict the homage which they, and their national religion, extorted from the supernaturally caused dread of the greatest heathen potentates. In this respect it resembles the earlier chapters of the Book of Daniel itself, and the numberless stories of the haughty superiority of great Rabbis to kings and emperors in which the Talmud delights. Roman Catholic historians, like Jahn and Hess, and older writers, like Prideaux, accept the story, even when they reject the fable about Sanballat and the Temple on Gerizim which follows it. Stress is naturally laid upon it by apologists like Hengstenberg; but a historian like Grote does not vouchsafe to notice it by a single word, and most modern writers reject it. The Bishop of Bath and Wells thinks that these stories are "probably derived from some apocryphal book of Alexandrian growth, in which chronology and history gave way to romance and Jewish vanity." All the historians except Josephus say that Alexander went straight from Gaza to Egypt, and make no mention of Jerusalem or Samaria; and Alexander was by no means "adored" by all men at that period of his career, for he never received till after his conquest of Persia. Nor can we account for the presence of "Chaldeans" in his army at this time, for Chaldea was then under the rule of Babylon. Besides which, Daniel was expressly bidden, as Bleek observes, to “seal up his prophecy till the "time of the end"; and the "time of the end" was certainly not the era of Alexander, -not to mention the circumstance that Alexander, if the prophecies were pointed out to him at all, would hardly have been content with the single verse or two about himself, and would have been anything but gratified by what immediately follows.

I pass over as meaningless Hengstenberg’s arguments in favour of the genuineness of the Book from the predominance of symbolism; from the moderation of tone towards Nebuchadrezzar; from the political gifts shown by the writer; and from his prediction that the Messianic Kingdom would at once appear after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes! When we are told that these circumstances "can only be explained on the assumption of a Babylonian origin"; that "they are directly opposed to the spirit of the Maccabean time"; that the artifice with which the writing is pervaded, supposing it to be a pseudepigraphic book, "far surpasses the powers of the most gifted poet"; and that "such a distinct expectation of the near advent of the Messianic Kingdom is utterly without analogy in the whole of prophetic literature,"-such arguments can only be regarded as appeals to ignorance. They are either assertions which float in the air, or are disproved at once alike by the canonical prophets and by the apocryphal literature of the Maccabean age. Symbolism is the distinguishing characteristic of apocalypses, and is found in those of the late post-exilic period. The views of the Jews about Nebuchadrezzar varied. Some writers were partially favourable to him, others were severe upon him. It does not in the least follow that a writer during the Antiochian persecution, who freely adapted traditional or imaginative elements, should necessarily represent the old potentates as irredeemably wicked, even if he meant to satirise Epiphanes in the story of their extravagances. It was necessary for his purpose to bring out the better features of their characters, in order to show the conviction wrought in them by Divine interpositions. The notion that the Book of Daniel could only have been written by a statesman or a consummate politician is mere fancy. And, lastly, in making the Messianic reign begin immediately at the close of the Seleucid persecution, the writer both expresses his own faith and hope, and follows the exact analogy of Isaiah and all the other Messianic prophets.

But though it is common with the prophets to pass at once from the warnings of destruction to the hopes of a Messianic Kingdom which is to arise immediately beyond the horizon which limits their vision, it is remarkable-and the consideration tells strongly against the authenticity of Daniel-that not one of them had the least glimpse of the four successive kingdoms or of the four hundred and ninety years; -not even those prophets "who, if the Book of Daniel were genuine, must have had it in their hands." To imagine that Daniel took means to have his Book left undiscovered for some four hundred years, and then brought to light during the Maccabean struggle, is a grotesque impossibility. If the Book existed, it must have been known. Yet not only is there no real trace of its existence before B.C. 167. but the post-exilic prophets pay no sort of regard to its detailed predictions, and were evidently unaware that any such predictions had ever been uttered. What room is there for Daniel’s four empires and four hundred and ninety years in such a prophecy as Zechariah 2:6-13 The pseudepigraphic Daniel possibly took the symbolism of four horns from Zechariah 1:18-19; but there is not the slightest connection between Zechariah’s symbol and that of the pseudo-Daniel. If the number four in Zechariah be not a mere number of completeness with reference to the four quarters of the world, {comp. Zechariah 1:18} the four horns symbolise either Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, and Persia, or more generally the nations which had then scattered Israel; {Zechariah 2:8; Zechariah 6:1-8 Ezekiel 37:9} so that the following promise does not even contemplate a victorious succession of heathen powers. Again, what room is there for Daniel’s four successive pagan empires in any natural interpretation of Haggai’s "yet a little while and I will shake all nations," {Haggai 2:7} and in the promise that this shaking shall take place in the lifetime of Zerubbabel? {Haggai 2:20-23} And can we suppose that Malachi wrote that the messenger of the Lord should "suddenly" come to His Temple with such prophecies as those of Daniel before him?

But if it be thought extraordinary that a pseudepigraphic prophecy should have been admitted into the Canon at all, even when placed low among the "Kethubim," and if it be argued that the Jews would never have conferred such an honour on such a composition, the answer is that even when compared with such fine books as those of Wisdom and Jesus the Son of Sirach, the Book has a right to such a place by its intrinsic superiority. Taken as a whole it is far superior in moral and spiritual instructiveness to any of the books of the Apocrypha. It was profoundly adapted to meet the needs of the age in which it originated. It was in its favour that it was written partly in Hebrew as well as in Aramaic, and it came before the Jewish Church under the sanction of a famous ancient name which was partly at least traditional and historical. There is nothing astonishing in the fact that in an age in which literature was rare and criticism unknown it soon came to be accepted as genuine. Similar phenomena are quite common in much later and more comparatively learned ages. One or two instances will suffice. Few books have exercised a more powerful influence on Christian literature than the spurious letters of Ignatius and the pseudo-Clementines. They were accepted, and their genuineness was defended for centuries; yet in these days no sane critic would imperil his reputation by an attempt to defend their genuineness. The book of the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite was regarded as genuine and authoritative down to the days of the Reformation, and the author professes to have seen the supernatural darkness of the Crucifixion: yet "Dionysius the Areopagite" did not write before A.D. 532! The power of the Papal usurpation was mainly built on the Forged Decretals, and for centuries no one ventured to question the genuineness and authenticity of those gross forgeries, till Laurentius Valla exposed the cheat and flung the tatters of the Decretals to the winds. In the eighteenth century Ireland could deceive even the acutest critics into the belief that his paltry "Vortigern" was a rediscovered play of Shakespeare; and a Cornish clergyman wrote a ballad which even Macaulay took for a genuine production of the reign of James II Those who read the Book of Daniel in the light of Seleucid and Ptolemaic history saw that the writer was well acquainted with the events of those days, and that his words were full of hope, consolation, and instruction. After a certain lapse of time they were in no position to estimate the many indications that by no possibility could the Book have been written in the days of the Babylonian Exile; nor had it yet become manifest that all the detailed knowledge stops short with the close of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. The enigmatical character of the Book, and the varying elements of its calculations, led later commentators into the error that the fourth beast and the iron legs of the image stood for the Roman Empire, so that they did not expect the Messianic reign at the close of the Greek Empire, which, in the prediction, it immediately succeeds.

How late was the date before the Jewish Canon was finally settled we see from the Talmudic stories that but for Hananiah ben-Hizkiah, with the help of his three hundred bottles of oil burnt in nightly studies, even the Book of Ezekiel would have been suppressed, as being contrary to the Law ("Shabbath," f. 13, 2); and that but for the mystic line of interpretation adopted by Rabbi Aqiba (A. B. 120) a similar fate might have befallen the Song of Songs ("Yaddayim," c. 3.; "Mish.," 5).

There is, then, the strongest reason to adopt the conclusion that the Book of Daniel was the production of one of the "Chasidim" towards the beginning of the Maccabean struggle, and that its immediate object was to warn the Jews against the apostasies of commencing Hellenism. It was meant to encourage the faithful, who were waging a fierce battle against Greek influences and against the mighty and persecuting heathen forces by which they were supported. Although the writer’s knowledge of history up to the time of Alexander the Great is vague and erroneous, and his knowledge of the period which followed Antiochus entirely nebulous, on the other hand his acquaintance with the period of Antiochus Epiphanes is so extraordinarily precise as to furnish our chief information on some points of that king’s reign. Guided by these indications, it is perhaps possible to fix the exact year and month in which the Book saw the light-namely, about January, B.C. 164.

Daniel 8:14 it seems that the author had lived till the cleansing of the Temple after its pollution by the Seleucid King. {#/RAPC 1 Maccabees 4:42-58} For though the Maccabean uprising is only called "a little help" (Daniel 11:34), this is in comparison with the splendid future triumph and epiphany to which he looked forward. It is sufficiently clear from #/RAPC 1 Maccabees 5:15-16, that the Jews, even after the early victories of Judas, were in evil case, and that the nominal adhesion of many Hellenising Jews to the national cause was merely hypocritical.

Now the Temple was dedicated on December 25, B.C. 165; and the Book appeared before the death of Antiochus, which the writer expected to happen at the end of the seventy weeks, or, as he calculated them, in June, 164. The king did not actually die till the close of 164 or the beginning of 163. {#/RAPC 1 Maccabees 6:1-16}


THE contents of the previous sections may be briefly summarised.

I. The objections to the authenticity and genuineness of Daniel do not arise, as is falsely asserted, from any a priori objection to admit to the full the reality either of miracles or of genuine prediction. Hundreds of critics who have long abandoned the attempt to maintain the early date of Daniel believe both in miracles and prophecy.

II. The grounds for regarding the Book as a pseudepigraph are many and striking. The very Book which would most stand in need of overwhelming evidence in its favour is the one which furnishes the most decisive arguments against itself, and has the least external testimony in its support.

III. The historical errors in which it abounds tell overwhelmingly against it. There was no deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim; there was no King Belshazzar; the Belshazzar son of Nabunaid was not a son of Nebuchadrezzar; the names Nebuchadnezzar and Abed-nego are erroneous in form; there was no "Darius the Mede" who preceded Cyrus as king and conqueror of Babylon, though there was a later Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who conquered Babylon; the demands and decrees of Nebuchadrezzar are unlike anything which we find in history, and show every characteristic of the Jewish Haggada; and the notion that a faithful Jew could become President of the Chaldean Magi is impossible. It is not true that there were only two Babylonian kings-there were five: nor were there only four Persian kings-there were twelve. Xerxes seems to be confounded alike with Darius Hystaspis and Darius Codomannus as the last king of Persia. All correct accounts of the reign, even of Antiochus Epiphanes, seem to end about B.C. 164, and the indications in Daniel 7:11-14; Daniel 8:25; Daniel 11:40-45, do not seem to accord with the historic realities of the time indicated.

IV. The philological peculiarities of the Book are no less unfavourable to its genuineness. The Hebrew is pronounced by the majority of experts to be of a later character than the time assumed for it. The Aramaic is not the Babylonian East-Aramaic, but the later Palestinian West-Aramaic. The word "Kasdim" is used for "diviners," whereas at the period of the Exile it was a national name. Persian words and titles occur in the decrees attributed to Nebuchadrezzar. At least three Greek words occur, of which one is certainly of late origin, and is known to have been a favourite instrument with Antiochus Epiphanes.

V. There are no traces of the existence of the Book before the second century B.C., although there are abundant traces of the other books-Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Second Isaiah-which belong to the period of the Exile. Even in Ecclesiasticus, while Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets are mentioned (Sirach 48:20-25; Sirach 49:6-10), not a syllable is said about Daniel, and that although the writer erroneously regards prophecy as mainly concerned with prediction. Jesus, son of Sirach, even goes out of his way to say that no man like Joseph had risen since Joseph’s time, though the story of Daniel repeatedly recalls that of Joseph, and though, if Daniel 1:1-21; Daniel 2:1-49; Daniel 3:1-30; Daniel 4:1-37; Daniel 5:1-31; Daniel 6:1-28 had been authentic history, Daniel’s work was far more marvellous and decisive, and his faithfulness more striking and continuous, than that of Joseph. The earliest trace of the Book is in an Imaginary speech of a book written about B.C. 100. {#/RAPC 1 Maccabees 2:59-60}

VI. The Book was admitted by the Jews into the Canon; but so far from being placed where, if genuine, it would have had a right to stand-among the four Great Prophets-it does not even receive a place among the twelve Minor Prophets, such as is accorded to the much shorter and far inferior Book of Jonah. It is relegated to the "Kethubim," side by side with such a book as Esther. If it originated during the Babylonian Exile, Josephus might well speak of its "undeviating prophetic accuracy." Yet this absolutely unparalleled and even unapproached foreteller of the minute future is not allowed by the Jews any place at all in their prophetic Canon! In the LXX it is treated with remarkable freedom, and a number of other Haggadoth are made a part of it. It resembles Old Testament literature in very few respects, and all its peculiarities are such as abound in the later apocalypses and Apochrypha. Philo, though he quotes so frequently both from the Prophets and the Hagiographa, does not even allude to the Book of Daniel.

VII. Its author seems to accept for himself the view of his age that the spirit of genuine prophecy had departed for evermore. {Psalms 74:9, / RAPC 1 Maccabees 4:46; 1 Maccabees 9:27; 1 Maccabees 14:41} He speaks of himself as a student of the older prophecies, and alludes to the Scriptures as an authoritative Canon-Hassephorim , "the books." His views and practices as regards three daily prayers towards Jerusalem; {Daniel 6:11} the importance attached to Levitical rules about food; {Daniel 1:8-21} the expiatory and other value attached to alms and fasting; {Daniel 4:24; Daniel 9:3; Daniel 10:3} the angelology involving even the names, distinctions, and rival offices of angels; the form taken by the Messianic hope; the twofold resurrection of good and evil, -are all in close accord with the standpoint of the second century before Christ as shown distinctly in its literature.

VIII. When we have been led by decisive arguments to admit the real date of the Book of Daniel, its place among the Hagiographa confirms all our conclusions. The Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa represent, as Professor Sanday has pointed out, three layers or stages in the history of the collection of the Canon. If the Book of Chronicles was not accepted among the Histories (which were designated "The Former Prophets"), nor the Book of Daniel among the Greater or Lesser Prophets, the reason was that, at the date when the Prophets were formally collected into a division of the Canon, these books were not yet in existence, or at any rate had not been accepted on the same level with the other books.

IX. All these circumstances, and others which have been mentioned, have come home to earnest, unprejudiced, and profoundly learned critics with so irresistible a force, and the counter-arguments which are adduced are so little valid that the defenders of the genuineness are now an ever-dwindling body, and many of them can only support their basis at all by the hypothesis of interpolations or twofold authorship. Thus C.V Orelli can only accept a modified genuineness, for which he scarcely offers a single argument; but even he resorts to the hypothesis of a late editor in the Maccabean age who put together the traditions and general prophecies of the real Daniel. He admits that without such a supposition-by which it does not seem that we gain much-the Book of Daniel is wholly exceptional, and without a single analogy in the Old Testament. And he clearly sees that all the rays of the Book are focussed in the struggle against Antiochus as in their central point, and that the best commentary on the prophetic section of the Book is the First Book of Maccabees.

X. It may then be said with confidence that the critical view has finally won the day. The human mind will in the end accept that theory which covers the greatest number of facts, and harmonises best with the sum-total of knowledge. Now, in regard to the Book of Daniel, these conditions appear to be far better satisfied by the supposition that the Book was written in the second century than in the sixth. The history, imperfect as to the pseudepigraphic date, but very precise as it approaches B.C. 176-164, the late characteristics which mark the language, the notable silence respecting the Book from the sixth to the second century, and its subsequent prominence and the place which it occupies in the "Kethubim," are arguments which few candid minds can resist. The critics of Germany, even the most moderate, such as Delitzsch, Cornill, Riehm, Strack, C. v. Orelli, Meinhold, are unanimous as to the late date of, and even in the far more conservative criticism of England there is no shadow of doubt on the subject left in the minds of such scholars as Driver, Cheyne, Sanday, Bevan, and Robertson Smith. Yet, so far from detracting from the value of the Book, we add to its real value and to its accurate apprehension when we regard it, not as the work of a prophet in the Exile, but of some faithful "Chasid" in the days of the Seleucid tyrant, anxious to inspire the courage and console the sufferings of his countrymen. Thus considered, the Book presents some analogy to St. Augustine’s "City of God." It sets forth, in strong outlines, and with magnificent originality and faith, the contrast between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, to which the eternal victory has been foreordained from the foundation of the world. In this respect we must compare it with the Apocalypse. Antiochus Epiphanes was an anticipated Nero. And just as the agonies of the Neronian persecutions wrung from the impassioned spirit of St. John the Divine those visions of glory and that denunciation of doom, in order that the hearts of Christians in Rome and Asia might be encouraged to the endurance of martyrdom, and to the certain hope that the irresistible might of their weakness would ultimately shake the world, so the folly and fury of Antiochus led the holy, and gifted Jew who wrote the Book of Daniel to set forth a similar faith, partly in Haggadoth, which may, to some extent, have been drawn from tradition, and partly in prophecies, of which the central conception was that which all history teaches us-namely, that "for every false word and unrighteous deed, for cruelty and oppression, for lust and vanity, the price has to be paid at last, not always by the chief offenders, but paid by some one. Justice and truth alone endure and live. Injustice and oppression maybe long-lived, but doomsday comes to them at last." And when that doom has been carried to its ultimate issues, then begins the Kingdom of the Son of Man, the reign of God’s Anointed, and the inheritance of the earth by the Saints of God.


Jehoiakim, -608-597 B.C.

Zedekiah.-597-588 B.C.

Jerusalem taken, -588 B.C.

Death of Nebuchadrezzar, -561 B.C.

Evil-merodach, -561 B.C.

Neriglissar, -559 B.C.

Laborosoarchod, -555 B.C.

Nabunaid, -555 B.C.

Capture of Babylon, -538 B.C.

Decree of Cyrus, -536 B.C.

Cambyses, -529 B.C.

Darius, son of Hystaspes-521, B.C.

Dedication of the Second Temple-516 B.C.

Battle of Salamis, -480 B.C.

Ezra-458 B.C.

Nehemiah-444 B.C.

Nehemiah’s reforms, -428 B.C.

Malachi, -420 B.C.

Alexander the Great invades Persia, -334 B.C.

Battle of Granicus, -334 B.C.

Battle of Issus, -333 B.C.

Battle of Arbela, -331 B.C.

Death of Darius Codomannus.-330 B.C.

Death of Alexander, -323 B.C.

Ptolemy Soter captures Jerusalem, -320 B.C.

Simon the Just high priest, -310 B.C.

Beginning of Septuagint translation, -284 B.C.

Antiochus the Great conquers Palestine, (?)- 202 B.C.

Accession of Antiochus Epiphanes, 176 B.C.- Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20.

Joshua (Jason), brother of Onias III, gets the priesthood by bribery, and promotes Hellenism among the Jews 174 B.C.- Daniel 11:22-24; Daniel 9:26.

First expedition of Antiochus against Egypt.-Murder of Onias III, 171 B.C.

His second expedition, 170 B.C.

His plunder of the Temple and massacre at Jerusalem, 170 B.C.- Daniel 8:9-10; Daniel 11:28.

Third expedition of Antiochus, 169 B.C.- Daniel 11:29-30.

Apollonius, the general of Antiochus, advances against Jerusalem with an army of 22,000.-Massacre.-The abomination of desolation in the Temple.-Antiochus carries off some of the holy vessels; {#/RAPC 1 Maccabees 1:25} forbids circumcision; burns the books of the Law; puts down the daily sacrifice, 169-8 B.C.- Daniel 7:21; Daniel 7:24-25; Daniel 8:11-13; Daniel 8:24; Daniel 11:30-35, etc.

Desecration of the Temple.-Jews compelled to pay public honour to false gods. Faithfulness of scribes, and Chasidim.-Revolt of Maccabees, 167 B.C.- Daniel 11:34-35; Daniel 12:3.

Jewish war of independence. Death of the priest Mattathias.-Judas Maccabaeus defeats Lysias 166 B.C.

Battles of Beth-zur and Emmaus.-Purification of Temple (Kisleu 25) 165 B.C.- Daniel 7:11-26; Daniel 8:14, Daniel 11:45, etc.

Death of Antiochus Epiphanes 163 B.C.

Judas Maecabaeus dies in battle at Eleasa, 161 B.C.

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