Daniel, the book
DANIEL, BOOK OF
II. PLACE IN THE CANON
III. DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
V. PURPOSE OF THE BOOK
1. The Predictions
2. The Miracles
3. The Text
4. The Language
5. The Historical Statements
Commentaries and Introductions
X. APOCRYPHAL ADDITIONS
The Book of Daniel is rightly so called, whether we consider Daniel as the author of it, or as the principal person mentioned in it.
II. Place in the Canon.
In the English Bible, Daniel is placed among the Major Prophets, immediately after Ezk, thus following the order of the Septuagint and of the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Bible, 390-405 A. D.) In the Hebrew Bible, however, it is placed in the third division of the Canon, called the Kethuvim or writings, by the Hebrews, and the hagiographa, or holy writings, by the Seventy. It has been claimed, that Daniel was placed by the Jews in the third part of the Canon, either because they thought the inspiration of its author to be of a lower kind than was that of the other prophets, or because the book was written after the second or prophetical part of the Canon had been closed. It is more probable, that the book was placed in this part of the Hebrew Canon, because Daniel is not called a nabhi' ("prophet"), but was rather a chozeh ("seer") and a chakham ("wise man"). None but the works of the nebhi'im were put in the second part of the Jewish Canon, the third being reserved for the heterogeneous works of seers, wise men, and priests, or for those that do not mention the name or work of a prophet, or that are poetical in form. A confusion has arisen, because the Greek word prophet is used to render the two Hebrew words nabhi' and chozeh. In the Scriptures, God is said to speak to the former, whereas the latter see visions and dream dreams. Some have attempted to explain the position of Daniel by assuming that he had the prophetic gift without holding the prophetic office. It must be kept in mind that all reasons given to account for the order and place of many of the books in the Canon are purely conjectural, since we have no historical evidence bearing upon the subject earlier than the time of Jesus ben Sirach, who wrote probably about 180 BC.
III. Divisions of the Book.
According to its subject-matter, the book falls naturally into two great divisions, each consisting of six chapters, the first portion containing the historical sections, and the second the apocalyptic, or predictive, portions; though the former is not devoid of predictions, nor the latter of historical statements. More specifically, the first chapter is introductory to the whole book; Daniel 2-6 describe some marvelous events in the history of Daniel and his three companions in their relations with the rulers of Babylon; and chapters 7-12 narrate some visions of Daniel concerning the great world-empires, especially in relation to the kingdom of God.
According to the languages in which the book is written, it may be divided into the Aramaic portion, extending from Daniel 2:4 to the end of chapter 7, and a Hebrew portion embracing the rest of the book.
The language of the book is partly Hebrew and partly a dialect of Aramaic, which has been called Chaldee, or Biblical Aramaic This Aramaic is almost exactly the same as that which is found in portions of Ezra. On account of the large number of Babylonian and Persian words characteristic of this Aramaic and of that of the papyri recently found in Egypt, as well as on account of the general similarity of the nominal, verbal and other forms, and of the syntactical construction, the Aramaic of this period might properly be called the Babylonian-Persian Aramaic With the exception of the sign used to denote the sound "dh," and of the use of qoph in a few cases where Daniel has `ayin, the spelling in the papyri is the same in general as that in the Biblical books. Whether the change of spelling was made at a later time in the manuscripts of Daniel, or whether it was a peculiarity of the Babylonian Aramaic as distinguished from the Egyptian or whether it was due to the unifying, scientific genius of Daniel himself, we have no means at present to determine.
In view of the fact that the Elephantine Papyri frequently employ the "d" sign to express the "dh" sound, and that it is always employed in Ezra to express it; in view further of the fact that the "z" sign is found as late as the earliest Nabatean inscription, that of 70 BC (see Euting, 349:
1, 2, 4) to express the "dh" sound, it seems fatuous to insist on the ground of the writing of these two sounds in the Book of Daniel, that it cannot have been written in the Persian period. As to the use of qoph and `ayin for the Aramaic sound which corresponds to the Hebrew tsadhe when equivalent to an Arabic dad, any hasty conclusion is debarred by the fact that the Aramaic papyri of the 5th century BC, the manuscripts of the Samaritan Targum and the Mandaic manuscripts written from 600 to 900 AD all employ the two letters to express the one sound. The writing of 'aleph and he without any proper discrimination occurs in the papyri as well as in Daniel.
The only serious objection to the early date of upon the ground of its spelling is that which is based upon the use of a final "n" in the pronominal suffix of the second and third persons masculine plural instead of the margin of the Aramaic papyri and of the Zakir and Sendschirli inscriptions. It is possible that was influenced in this by the corresponding forms of the Babylonian language. The Syriac and Mandaic dialects of the Aramaic agree with the Babylonian in the formation of the pronominal suffixes of the second and third persons masculine plural, as against the Hebrew, Arabic, Minaean, Sabean and Ethiopic. It is possible that the occurrence of "m" in some west Aramaic documents may have arisen through the influence of the Hebrew and Phoenician, and that pure Aramaic always had "n" just as we find it in Assyrian and Babylonian, and in all east Aramaic documents thus far discovered.
The supposition that the use of "y" in Daniel as a preformative of the third person masculine of the imperfect proves a Palestinian provenience has been shown to be untenable by the discovery that the earliest east Syriac also used "y". (See M. Pognon, Inscriptions semitiques, premiere partie, 17.)
This inscription is dated 73 AD. This proof that in the earlier stages of its history the east Aramaic was in this respect the same as that found in Daniel is confirmed by the fact that the forms of the 3rd person of the imperfect found in the proper names on the Aramaic dockets of the Assyrian inscriptions also have the preformative y. (See Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, II, 47.)