Apocalypses: Daniel

Apocalypses

Time Period

167–164 BCE, in the middle of the Maccabean Revolt.

Pseudonym

The author presents himself as a young Judean man living in Babylon more than four centuries earlier. The name ‘Daniel’ was adapted from the ancient folk hero Danel, mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel.

I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night …

Angelic Guide

Daniel receives guidance from an angel within his visions, from Gabriel, and from an anonymous angel.

Then someone appeared standing before me … I heard a human voice … ‘Gabriel, help this man understand the vision.’

Cosmogony

(n/a)

Primordial Events

(n/a)

Historical Review

Daniel’s prayer briefly reflects on Israel’s past.

He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven.

After-the-fact Prophecy

The ‘future’ is conveyed in a sequence of four kingdoms (Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece) and ten kings of the final kingdom (the Ptolemies and Seleucids). He then attempts to predict the resurrection of the dead during the Seleucid dynasty.

Three more kings shall arise in Persia. The fourth shall be far richer than all of them …

Persecution

The people of Israel who remain Torah-observant are oppressed and killed by Antiochus Epiphanes.

As I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was conquering them …

Social Upheaval

Only the broad-strokes of worldly disruption before the Maccabean Revolt are mentioned.

There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence.

Resurrection

After the eschatological crisis reaches its peak, the dead are suddenly raised.

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake …

Judgment

It is implied only those involved in the crisis will be raised from the dead.

some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

New Creation

(n/a)

Sources

By the middle of the Second Temple period a series of Aramaic folktales began circulating, telling of a Judean sage serving in a foreign court. (Compare Joseph in Genesis and Mordecai in Esther.) One such story survives in the Dead Sea Scrolls as text 4Q242. At some time the sage was given the name ‘Daniel’.

A small collection of the folktales was brought together in the earliest years of the Maccabean Revolt and were edited into a single narrative. This would become Daniel 4–6. (Chapter 4 contains a more developed version of the story in 4Q242.) This was soon expanded into 2.4b–7.28, containing a chiastic structure of six units. The first and last units each contained a prophecy of a four-kingdom sequence, with Israel receiving independence after the Maccabean Revolt.

An introduction, Daniel 1.1–2.4a, was written.

Three more units — chapters 8, 9, and 10–12 — were added within the next couple of years, becoming more and more specific about the crisis. Israel’s reward transformed from a worldly kingdom into an otherworldly existence in the resurrection. The introduction was translated into Hebrew.

A little more than three and a half years after the crisis began, a redactor inserted 12.11 to predict the number of days left. When this prediction failed, a second prediction was added immediately after in 12.12.

Additional stories from the folktales were appended as chapters 13 and 14. (Verses 14.31–42 contain an alternate version of the story in Daniel 6.)

Units

1: Judeans are taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and three companions refuse to eat idol-sacrificed meat and are shown favor.

2: Nebuchadnezzar dreams of four metals making a statue. Daniel interprets the dream.

3: Nebuchadnezzar decrees everyone must worship an idol. Daniel’s three companions refuse to worship it and are rescued from punishment.

4: Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a tree being cut down. Daniel interprets the dream. Nebuchadnezzar is punished for his humility, then restored.

5: Belshazzar sees a hand writing on a wall. Daniel interprets the writing. Belshazzar is killed as Babylon is conquered by the Medes.

6: Darius decrees everyone must worship him. Daniel refuses to worship him and is rescued from punishment.

7: Daniel dreams of four monsters from the sea. An angel in the dream interprets the dream.

8: Daniel has a vision of two wild animals. Gabriel interprets the vision.

9: Daniel prays for the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy of Babylon’s seventy-year dominion. Gabriel explains the seventy years have been expanded to seventy blocks of seven years, with the last block containing the eschaton.

10–12: Daniel prays for guidance. An anonymous angel serving Michael describes events leading to the eschaton.

13: Susanna, a Judean woman, is falsely accused of sexual immorality. Daniel intervenes and rescues her.

14.1–22: Daniel cleverly exposes fraudulent priests.

14.23–42: Daniel cleverly kills a dragon thought to be a god, and is rescued from punishment.

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