Daniel

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This article is about the religious figure called Daniel. For the book in the Hebrew Bible, see Book of Daniel. For other uses, see Daniel (disambiguation).
"Danyal" redirects here. For places in Iran, see Danyal, Iran.
Daniel
Daniellion.jpg
Daniel's Answer to the King by Briton Rivière
Prophet
Born 7th Century BC
Died 6th Century BC
Susa (?)
Honored in
Judaism
Christianity
Islam[1]
Bahai Faith
Major shrine Tomb of Daniel, Susa, Iran
Feast July 21: Roman Catholicism
December 17: Greek Orthodoxy
Attributes Often depicted in the den of the lions

Daniel (Hebrew: דָּנִיֵּאל, Modern Daniyyel Tiberian Dāniyyêl ; Arabic: دانيال, Hebrew "God is my Judge") is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, Daniel was one of several children taken into Babylonian captivity where they were educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways. Through instruction from "the God of Heaven" (Dan.2:18), he interpreted dreams and visions of kings, thus becoming a prominent figure in the court of Babylon. He also had apocalyptic visions concerning the four monarchies. Some of the most famous events in Daniel's life are: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the writing on the wall and Daniel in the lions' den.

Hebrew Bible[edit]

In the book of Daniel[edit]

Daniel refusing to eat at the King's table, early 1900s Bible illustration

Induction into Babylon[edit]

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 BC), Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish nobility carried off to Babylon. The four were chosen for their intellect and beauty to be trained as advisers to the Babylonian court (Daniel 1). Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar, i.e. prince of Bel or Bel protect the king, not to be confused with the neo-Babylonian king Belshazzar. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were given the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego respectively.[2]

Nebuchadnezzar[edit]

Main article: Daniel 2

In the narrative of Daniel Chapter 2, it was the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and the king was distressed by his dreams,[v.1] so he summoned his interpreters.[v.2] However, they were unable to relay or interpret the dreams.[v.10-11] The king was furious and demanded the execution of all the wise men in Babylon.[v.12] When Daniel learned of the king's order, he asked the captain of the guard, Arioch, to let him see the king.[v.13-16] Daniel prayed for God's mercy to receive a revelation from the king's dream.[v.15-18] God then revealed the mystery to Daniel in a vision that same night.[v.19] Daniel praised God with a doxology.[v.20-23] After meeting with Arioch again, Daniel was granted access to the king,[v.24-30] and relayed the description of the dream,[v.31-36] followed by its interpretation.[v.37-45] With Daniel's successful interpretation of the dream, the king expressed homage,[v.46] followed by his own doxology that affirmed that Daniel's God is God of gods for revealing this mystery of his dream.[v.47] Daniel was then promoted to chief governor over the whole province of Babylon.[v.48] At Daniel's request, his companions were also promoted, so that they remained at the king's court.[v.49][3]

Nebuchadnezzar's madness[edit]

Nebuchadnezzar recounted his dream of a huge tree that was suddenly cut down at the command of a heavenly messenger. Daniel was summoned and interpreted the dream. The tree was Nebuchadnezzar himself, who for seven years, due to his pride lost his mind and became like a wild beast. All of this came to pass until, at the end of the specified time, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men"[4:25] and his sanity and kingdom were restored to him.

Belshazzar[edit]

In Daniel's later years, king Belshazzar held a great feast for all his nobles. In a drunken state, the king called for the sacred vessels captured from the Jerusalem temple and profanely drank from them. Suddenly, the fingers of a man's hand appeared before the king and wrote on the wall of the palace.[5:1–5] When none of his wise men were able to interpret the message, Daniel was called in at the suggestion of the queen.[5:10–15] After reprimanding the king for his impiety, Daniel interpreted the words "MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN"[5:25] to mean that Belshazzar was about to lose his kingdom to the Medes and the Persians. For successfully reading the cryptic handwriting, Daniel was rewarded with a purple robe and proclaimed that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.[5:17–29] "¶ In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." (Daniel 5:1–31)

Daniel in the Lion's den protected by an angel by François Verdier

Darius the Mede[edit]

After the Persian conquest of Babylon, Daniel was the first of three presidents over parts of the kingdom during the reign of Darius the Mede.[6:1–2] When the king decided to set Daniel over the whole kingdom, the other officials plotted his downfall. Unable to uncover any corruption, they used Daniel's religious devotion to try to defeat him. The officials tricked the king into issuing an irrevocable decree that "whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions."[6:3–7] When Daniel continued to pray three times a day toward Jerusalem, he was thrown into a lions den, much to the distress of Darius.[6:8–17] After an angel shut the lions' mouths, Daniel was delivered, and Daniel's accusers, with their wives and children, were thrown into the den and they were devoured. (Daniel 6:18–24)

Visions and dreams[edit]

Daniel's ministry as a prophet began late in life. Whereas his early exploits were a matter of common knowledge within his community, these same events, with his pious reputation, served as the basis for his prophetic ministry. The recognition for his prophetic message was that of other prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel whose backgrounds were the basis for their revelations.

Engraving of Daniel's vision in chapter 7 by Matthäus Merian, 1630.

From Chapter 7 to the end of the book of Daniel, an apocalyptic vision is being described, supposedly from the perspective of Daniel.[2] This marks a change in the narrative from Daniel interpreting to messengers of God interpreting for Daniel. Daniel dreamed of four beasts that came out of the sea: a lion with eagle's wings, a bear with three tusks, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a beast with iron teeth, ten horns and one little horn and human eyes.(Daniel 7:4-8) These beasts are all present at a convening of the divine counsel. Presiding over the counsel is the Ancient of Days, which may, in fact, be the Israelite God.[2] The Ancient One proceeds to put to death the beast with the one little horn. (Daniel 7:9-11) Daniel also describes the fates of the other beasts saying that while their dominion was taken away, their lives were prolonged. (Daniel 7:12) This introduction leads into a series of dreams and visions where these events are expressed in greater detail.

Scholars argue that each of these beasts represent an emperor or kingdom that ruled over the Israelites. The vast majority of scholars[citation needed] accept the first as Babylon, the second as Media/Persia, the third as Greece and the fourth as Rome. The feet and toes represent the modern age which will be destroyed at the return of Christ when Christ is set up as head. A small group believes the first being Babylon, then Media, then Persia, and finally the Greeks. The horns of the last beast may be symbolic of the rulers that replaced Alexander the Great upon his death, culminating with the little horn, or Antiochus IV.[2] There are additional details in the text that allude to Antiochus IV, including some form of desecration to the temple (Daniel 11:31) and persecution (Daniel 11:23).[2] The final message of the second half of Daniel is that God will deliver the people from oppression, the latest of which is Antiochus IV.[2]

Daniel's final days[edit]

The time and circumstances of Daniel's death have not been recorded. However, tradition maintains that Daniel was still alive in the third year of Cyrus according to the Tanakh (Daniel 10:1). He would have been almost 101 years old at that point, having been brought to Babylon when he was in his teens, more than 80 years previously. Rabbinic sources indicate that he was still alive during the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 15a based on Book of Esther 4, 5). Some say he was killed by Haman, the prime minister of Ahasuerus (Targum Sheini on Esther, 4, 11). Many[who?] posit that he possibly died at Susa in Iran. Tradition holds that his tomb is located in Susa at a site known as Shush-e Daniyal. Other locations have been claimed as the site of his burial, including Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk, Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt, Tarsus and, notably, Samarkand, which claims a tomb of Daniel (see "The Ruins of Afrasiab" in the Samarkand article), with some traditions suggesting that his remains were removed, perhaps by Tamerlane, from Susa to Samarkand (see, for instance, Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela,[4] section 153).

In the book of Ezekiel[edit]

Main article: Danel

The prophet Ezekiel, with whom Daniel was a contemporary, describes Daniel as a "pattern of righteousness" in the Book of Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and "wisdom" (28:3).[5] In the Hebrew sections of the Book of Daniel the name is spelled Dânîê’l whereas in the Book of Ezekiel that name is spelled Dânîyê’l.

A number of scholars have proposed that Ezekiel is referring to another Daniel, possibly the "Danel" ("Judgment of God") known from Caananite Ugaritic literature (such as the Epic of Aqhat and Anat.[6] However Danel is never called "wise" or "righteous"; since Danel was a worshipper of Baal and other pagan gods, it would be unusual if he was considered a paradigm of Jewish righteousness by Ezekiel.[7] In contrast, the hero of the Book of Daniel is both wise and righteous.[8]

Deuterocanon[edit]

Bel and the Dragon[edit]

In the Deuterocanonical portion of Daniel known as Bel and the Dragon, the prophet Habakkuk is supernaturally transported by an angel to take a meal to Daniel while he is in the lions' den. In response, Daniel prays, "Thou hast remembered me, O God; neither hast thou forsaken them that seek Thee and love Thee".[9]

Views of Daniel[edit]

Daniel in the Lion's Den, c 1615 by Pieter Paul Rubens

Judaism[edit]

According to Rabbinical tradition, Daniel was of royal descent; and his fate, together with that of his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, was foretold by the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah in these words, "and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon".Isaiah 39:7[10][11]

According to this view, Daniel and his friends were eunuchs, and were consequently able to prove the groundlessness of charges of immorality brought against them, which had almost caused their death at the hands of the king.[11]

Christianity[edit]

The prophet is commemorated in the Coptic Church on the 23rd day of the Coptic month of Baramhat.[12]

On the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar, the feast days celebrating St. Daniel the Prophet together with the Three Young Men, falls on December 17 (during the Nativity Fast), on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers[13] (the Sunday which falls between 11 and 17 December), and on the Sunday before Nativity.[14] Daniel's prophesy regarding the stone which smashed the idol (Daniel 2:34-35) is often used in Orthodox hymns as a metaphor for the Incarnation: the "stone cut out" being symbolic of the Logos (Christ), and the fact that it was cut "without hands" being symbolic of the virgin birth. Thus the hymns will refer to the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) as the "uncut mountain"

Daniel is commemorated as a prophet in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod together with the Three Young Men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), on December 17.[15]

The Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Daniel in the Roman Martyrology on July 21.[16] However, his commemoration at Mass occurs only on local calendars of particular dioceses, sometimes on July 21 and sometimes on another day. For example, the archdiocese of Gorizia celebrates the feast of St. Daniel, prophet and confessor, on September 11. The reading of the Mass is taken from the Book of Daniel, chapter 14; the Gradual from Psalm 91; the Alleluia verse from the Epistle of James 1; and the Gospel from Matthew 24.[17]

Islam[edit]

Muslims traditionally consider Daniyal (Arabic: دانيال, Danyal) as an Islamic prophet, alongside the other major prophets of the Old Testament. Although Daniel is not mentioned in the Qur'an, there are accounts of Daniel's life which feature in later Muslim literature. Daniel is listed as a prophet in all major versions of Stories of the Prophets.[18] When the Muslims conquered Alexandria in AD 641, a mosque was immediately built dedicated to Daniel.[19]

Muslim exegesis, including Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings narrates that Daniel was carried off to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar's attack on Jerusalem. It goes on to state that there he was thrown into the den of the lions, but was later rescued. In one such account, Daniel is aided by Jeremiah, who comes to Babylon to help Daniel in the lions' den.[20] In the apocryphal Bel and the Dragon, however, there is a very similar tale which states that the Hebrew prophet Habbakuk was miraculously transported to the den of the lions, to give a meal to Daniel.

All sources classical and modern, describe Daniel as a saintly and spiritual man. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his Qur'anic commentary says:

Daniel was a righteous man of princely lineage and lived about 620-538 B.C. He was carried off to Babylon in 605 B.C by Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian, but was still living when Assyria was overthrown by the Medes and Persians. In spite of the "captivity" of the Jews, Daniel enjoyed the highest offices of state at Babylon, but he was ever true to Jerusalem. His enemies (under the Persian monarch) got a penal law passed against any one who "asked a petition of any god or man for 30 days" except the Persian King. But Daniel continued true to Jerusalem. "His windows being open in his chambers towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."

(The year change to 620 B.C., From Text THESE SOUGHT A COUNTRY, A History of Israel in Old Testament Times; Road to Judgement, page 331-333, By Robert L. Cate, Broadman Press - 1985 (ISBN: 0-8054-1232-8) Note: Daniel was approximately 15/16 when taken into captivity in 605 B.C., resulting in a date of birth approximately 620/619 B.C.

Baha'i[edit]

Daniel is considered a minor prophet in the teachings of the Baha'i Faith.[22] Some Baha'i converts introduced the principle of reincarnation, specifically that of Daniel and John.[23]

Six tombs of Daniel[edit]

Tomb of Daniel at Susa, Iran.
The tomb of protagonist Daniel in Samarkand
Main article: Tomb of Daniel

There are six different locations claiming to be the site of the tomb of the biblical figure Daniel: Babylon, Kirkuk and Muqdadiyah in Iraq, Susa and Malamir in Iran, and Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Tomb of Daniel at Susa is most agreed tomb .[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wheeler, B. M. "Daniel". Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. "Daniel is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an but there are accounts of his prophethood in later Muslim literature..." 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Coogan, Michael. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  3. ^ Collins, John J. (1984). Daniel : with an introduction to apocalyptic literature (Reprinted. ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. pp. 47–49. ISBN 0-8028-0020-3. 
  4. ^ http://isfsp.org/sages/ben5.html
  5. ^  Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Daniel". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons. 
  6. ^ Day, J (1980). "The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the Hero of the Book of Daniel". Vetus Testamentum 30 (2). 
  7. ^ Dressler, H. H. P. (1984). "Reading and Interpreting the Aqhat Text: A Rejoiner to Drs J. Day and B.Margalit". Vetus Testamentum 34 (1). 
  8. ^ Gaston, Thomas (2009). Historical Issues in the Book of Daniel. Oxford: Taanathshiloh. pp. 10–19. ISBN 978-0-9561540-0-2. 
  9. ^ Dixon, Henry Lancelot (1903). "Saying Grace" Historically Considered and Numerous Forms of Grace:Taken from Ancient and Modern Sources; With Appendices. Oxford and London: James Parker and Co. p. 11. 
  10. ^ (Talmud tractate Sanhedrin 93b; Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer lii)
  11. ^ a b "DANIEL". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  12. ^ "The Departure of the great prophet Daniel". Copticchurch.net. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  13. ^ Sergei Bulgakov, Manual for Church Servers, 2nd ed. (Kharkov, 1900) pp. 453-5. December 11–17: Sunday of the Holy Forefathers Translation: Archpriest Eugene D. Tarris
  14. ^ Bulgakov, 'Manual for Church Servers', pp. 461-2. December 18–24: Sunday before the Nativity of Christ of the Holy Fathers
  15. ^ "Today in History - December 17". Chi.lcms.org. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  16. ^ Francis E. Gigot (1889). "Daniel". Catholic Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. New Advent. 
  17. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia
  18. ^ See, for example, Ibn Kathir's Stories of the Prophets: "The Story of Daniel"
  19. ^ Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, B. M. Wheeler, Daniel
  20. ^ Stories of the Prophets, The Story of Daniel, Part 1. Food in the Lions Den
  21. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali|The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Note.150
  22. ^ May, Dann J (December 1993). The Bahá'í Principle of Religious Unity and the Challenge of Radical Pluralism. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. p. 102.
  23. ^ From Iran East and West - Volume 2 - Page 127 and 106, Juan R. I. Cole, Moojan Momen - 1984
  24. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia

External links[edit]