God is Judge

Chapter 1

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

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“……the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament…”
(Daniel 12:3)


© Paulus Wyns, 2011

ISBN 978-0-9870808-0-6



First Edition, Revision 1

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“History is the bearer of God’s judgment. History is both theophany and verdict”










“The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end…..but the wise shall understand”
(Daniel 12.9-10)

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AD Anno Domini

BC  Before Christ

BCE before common era

CE common era

c. circa

cf. compare 

ch./chs. chapter/chapters

ed./Eds. editor(s)

NT  New Testament

OT Old Testament

p(p). page(s)

v./vv. verse/verses


Apocrypha, Josephus Pseudepigrapha,


Antiq. Antiquities

DSS Dead Sea Scrolls

En Enoch

Jos Josephus

Macc Maccabees

Q Qumran

Modern and Ancient Versions


DBY Darby Bible

JPS Jewish Publication Society

KJV King James Version

LXX Septuagint see OG

MT Masoretic Text

NIB New International Version (BR)

NKJ New King James Version

OG Old Greek (Septuagint LXX)

RSV Revised Standard Version

Th Theodotion Greek Text

YLT Young’s Literal Translation

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There are so many commentaries on Daniel that it is valid to ask why we need another one. What does this commentary contribute and how is it differentiated from other works on Daniel?  After two millennia of exegesis, is another commentary necessary?  Since Porphyry[1]  exegetes have been forced into a priori positions regarding the dating of Daniel – by either adopting an early date coinciding with Babylonian provenance, a “real Daniel” and historical accuracy, or by adopting a late date coinciding with Maccabean provenance, “pseudonymity” and fiction (or at the very least ex eventu prophecy).  The book of Daniel has become the arena where conservative and liberal views encounter each other with the unfortunate consequence that many commentaries become either an exercise in apologetics/harmonisation or extreme criticism.


This commentary has sought to break free from the constraints of the conservative/liberal approaches and to avoid apologetics as far as possible - the problem is viewed from different perspectives, not only from that of a Jew enduring Babylonian captivity, but also from a post-exilic Maccabean viewpoint and from the vantage point of first century Christianity/Judaism. The methodologies that have proved most     Continued  ˃


[1] In the Prologue of his commentary (P. 491) (617-618) Jerome (c. 347 – 420 AD) states; “Porphyry (a 3rd century Neo-Platonist philosopher) wrote his twelfth book against the prophecy of Daniel, (A) denying that it was composed by the person to whom it is ascribed in its title, but rather by some individual living in Judaea at the time of the Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes. He furthermore alleged that “Daniel” did not foretell the future so much as he related the past, and lastly that whatever he spoke of up till the time of Antiochus contained authentic history, whereas anything he may have conjectured beyond that point was false, inasmuch as he would not have foreknown the future”. Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, (Translated by Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Baker Book House, Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1958).
Access here [cited August 2010]

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effective in achieving these goals are those of canonical hermeneutics and canonical intertextuality. [2] The Prolegomena is intended to function as both an introduction and an overview to the commentary that follows – idea’s that will be discussed in detail in the individual chapters, are painted here with large brush strokes to give the reader an impression of the book. The danger is that the big picture will be overwhelmed by the detail.  Of more concern is obscuration of the big picture by a failure to recognise “apocalyptic moments”.


Under “apocalyptic moments” we understand the temporal in-breaking of divine sovereignty in the processes of history.  This is not to deny that God is always, and has always, exercised sovereignty over his creation, but rather that at specific moments divine intervention is openly manifest in events that transform the course of history. These salvic acts are earth shattering events that confront human pride and confound human wisdom – they declare the grace and demonstrate the glory of an ever loving Father who will not be mocked.   These “apocalyptic moments” are not isolated events but form patterns, the same way that throwing stones in a pond will create ripples – the Passover deliverance from Egypt pointed forward to a greater Passover deliverance – Christ the “First Fruits”.  The crucifixion points forward to an even greater deliverance. All these events together constitute the “Day of the Lord”, thus each historical event takes on significance beyond the mere temporal and spatial confines of the continuum of history.They are “eschatological markers”, snap-shots of the consummation of history – the in-breaking of the kingdom of God in   [...continued on next page]


[2] Jordan Scheetz offers a helpful overview on the concepts of intertextuality and canon criticism in the field of biblical studies. His dissertation combines an examination of the theories of intertextuality (Julia Kristeva), canon criticism (Brevard Childs, James Sanders), inner-biblical exegesis (Michael Fishbane), intratextuality (George Lindbeck), and kanonische intertextuelle Lektüre (Georg Steins) and its application to Daniel. Jordan Scheetz, The concept of canonical intertextuality and the Book of Daniel, (Dissertation, Universität Wien. Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät, Betreuer In: Loader, James Alfred,2009)

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the middle of history!   Thus the veil of history is briefly drawn aside and we are allowed a view of the end – an assurance that whatever seems permanent is actually transient. The hiddenness of God is revealed in an act of deliverance and judgement that anticipates the end- an “apocalyptic moment”.  The book of Daniel (God is Judge) contains a sequence of such moments and care must be taken not to confuse the “already” with the “not-yet” aspect of the visions, as the visions all have supra-historical significance.  The temporal “here and now” is morphed in the prophecy with the “end” in anticipation of the final consummation. The accusation of prophetic failure is in actuality a failure of interpretation (the wise will understand) due to neglecting the diachronic nature of apocalyptic literature.


The destruction of the image in Daniel 2 is an example of a prophecy that had a first century fulfilment in an “apocalyptic moment” with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  This is equalled by the first century fulfilment of the Seventy Prophecy in Daniel 9 that anticipated the destruction of the Second Temple. Elements within Second Temple Judaism expected the end of the 490 year prophecy to culminate with a final desolation and the revelation of the Messiah.  Jesus also employed Daniel 9 to warn of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. Despite the importance of first century realizations, both prophecies are not exhausted, but await eschatological consummation.


Daniel ch.7 is not completely parallel with Daniel ch.2 – it forms a prophetic digression, together with Daniel ch.8, which is fulfilled in the events of the Antiochene crisis. The persecutions and sacrilege perpetrated by the “little horn” (Antiochus Epiphanes) are another “apocalyptic moment” that reveals the in-breaking of divine sovereignty in the judgement of human affairs.  Once again the prophecy is not exhausted by events of the second century BC.  The judgement of Antiochus is depicted in eschatological terms and significantly the “apocalyptic moment” described in Daniel ch.7 is encountered in the NT with the Pauline description of the Man of Sin and Johannine imagery of a composite seven-headed-ten-horned beast in Revelation. This is not simply a recycling of familiar apocalyptic imagery by the NT writers but an indication that the prophecies of Daniel have significance beyond their initial fulfilments.

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The book of Daniel cannot be interpreted in isolation. The eschatological consummation of the prophecies can only be fully understood with help of the prophecy delivered by Jesus Christ – the book of Revelation. Unfortunately the book of Revelation suffers from the same interpretive malaise as Daniel – a failure to differentiate the “apocalyptic moment” from the continuum of history that it punctuates.  A failure to recognise that both prophecies are concerned with the Jewish nation combined with a failure to correctly contextualise and therefore understand the initial fulfilment of the prophecies.


Daniel defies easy classification as chs.1-6 are court tales and chs.7-12 are visions, the first six chapters are dominated by the third person narrative style and the last six chapters are chiefly in a first person style. This indicates a book that has two distinct components, however, a facile division into two halves, with each part coming from a different era is prevented by the bilingualism of the book, with Daniel ch.1 and chs.8-12 written in Hebrew and Daniel ch. 2 and ch.7 written in Aramaic. Daniel ch.7, which is pivotal to the “second half” of the Book, is clearly linked with Daniel ch.2 (by language and theme). Moreover, Daniel chs.1-12 is unified by intertextual use of Isaiah. Therefore, the arrangement of Daniel into court tales and visions is purely thematic and this is demonstrated by the unusual chronological arrangement of the Book - with chs.1-5 commencing in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and ending in the reign of Cyrus and chs.6-12 commencing in the reign of Darius and also ending in the reign of Cyrus.


The temple is the focal point of this exposition. A similar position is adopted by Lebram, leading Collins to remark that, “Lebram’s main argument is that the temple also plays a central role in Daniel and that the disruption of the cult is the author’s primary concern. He [Lebram] also argues that the periodization of history and the cosmic scope of the book are priestly characteristics….Collins adds,…..It is not apparent, however, that Daniel’s visions are dominated by the temple to the degree that    Continued  ˃

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Lebram claims. The great vision in ch.7 does not refer to it explicitly.”[3]


While it is true that we do not have explicit reference to the temple in ch. 7, Fletcher-Louis has proposed that the cultic setting of ch.7 is the Day of Atonement, where the priest enters the sanctuary in a cloud of incense – this has implications for “one like a son of man” entering into the divine presence.[4] When this observation is added to Antiochus’ attempt to alter the cultic festivals[5] (which are temple-centric) and when this is placed in the wider context of the desecration of the sanctuary in chs. 8-9 the conclusion becomes inescapable that the temple and its liturgy are central elements to Daniel, with an eschatological Jubilee Day of Atonement anticipated in order, “To make reconciliation for iniquity” (Dan 9:24).


Even the court tales are related to the temple with the “temple vessels” forming an “inclusio” (Dan 1:2; 5:23) on the Babylonian unit. The “ten days” of trial experienced by Daniel (Dan 1:12) and his companions are reminiscent of the “ten days of awe” proceeding the Day of Atonement- considered by the Jews to be the most important temple feast. This was a time of probation before the “books” (cf. Dan 7:10) were opened.  Moreover, this exegesis will seek to demonstrate that the subtext of the court tales is the destruction of the temple – the burning of the temple (cf. fiery trial in ch.3), the punishment of national pride in the ‘house’ (cf. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and subsequent madness in ch.4) and the removal and restoration of the ‘daily’ (continual sacrifice)    Continued  ˃

[3] J. J. Collins, Daniel: with an introduction to apocalyptic literature, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing,1984),37 referring to J.C.H. Lebram, The background of Jewish Apocalyptic (London: Athlone Press,1978)

[4] Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis, “The High Priest as Divine Mediator in the Hebrew Bible: Dan 7:13 as a Test Case”, (SBL Seminary Paper: Oxford, England, 1997), 163

[5] To change the times and law (Dan. 7:25)

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in the temple (cf. Daniel punished for his continual service and restored in ch.6). Daniel’s enigmatic time periods are not Maccabean revisions of the ‘end’ but draw on intervals between the fast that commemorates the destruction of the temple on the ninth of Ab and important Jewish feast days that celebrate deliverance or atonement some three-and-a-half years later.


From the perspective of the Golah (exilic community) the return under Cyrus was only partially successful and was influenced by elements that were agitating for an early return (cf. Jer.28:3). The seventy years of Jeremiah are determined from the destruction of the temple (not calculated from the beginning of the exile) and terminate in the reign of Darius Hystaspis (Darius the Mede), who allowed the building of the temple during the ministry of Zechariah and Haggai in the Persian period, ensuring the temple was completed seventy years after it had been destroyed (cf. Zech 1:12; 7:5). For this reason the Danielic narrative skips the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus and proceeds directly to the conquest of Babylon under Darius. This should not surprise us because the history that Daniel presents is selective (as it is in the Neo-Babylonian era) and subordinate to his theology, which is concerned with the temple.


The importance of Darius to the restoration process is indicated by the codification of the number sixty-two in the omen given in ch.5 to Belshazzar as well as the ‘age’ of Darius (Dan 6:1) and the reuse of ‘sixty-two’ in the ‘Seventy prophecy’ (Dan 9:24-27). The cipher is relevant because Nebuchadnezzar deported (581/2) the last contingent of exiles (Jer. 52.30)…… sixty-two years prior to Darius Hystaspsis taking power (520/1).


The restoration under Cyrus did not live up to the questionable expectations imposed on the Isaiah prophecy concerning the ‘anointed’ (Isa 45:1) - it proved to be a disappointment as the temple was not built during the reign of Cyrus.[6] Commenting on the notion of delay    Continued  ˃


[6] Gabriele Boccaccini states, “In its present form, the edict of Cyrus as preserved in Hebrew (Ezra 1:1-4) or Aramaic (6:1-5) by the tradition of Ezra is essentially a forgery or, more likely, a sort of free adaptation elucidating the implications of Cyrus’ general decree for the Jewish people”. Gabriele Boccaccini, Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: an intellectual history, from Ezekiel to Daniel, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 50

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in the context of the ‘Maccabean’ time periods of ch.12, Gabriele Boccaccini states; “It is time to give back the notion of the delay of the end to New Testament theology, from where it comes and to which it properly belongs.”[7] This is certainly true of the enigmatic time periods (1260/1290/1335) of ch.12, which are not Maccabean ‘updates’ or revisions of a delayed end. However, the motif of delay is central to the ‘Seventy Prophecy’[8] as it is made clear to Daniel that final restoration would not occur after Jeremiah’s 70 years, but would extend until the completion of further desolations lasting a total of 490 years. Initial indications suggest that the core of the book of Daniel was formulated in the Persian era (from earlier material) to explain the supposed failure of Jeremiah’s prophecy which was expected to be realized in the reign of Cyrus.


The distance between the Persian and the Greek eras is bridged by the dramas personae—the ‘princes’ (angels) of the nations that direct the power-play of the kingdoms. Moreover, the 21 year interval between the different conquests of Babylon (by Cyrus and Darius) is supported by the angelic explanation of a 21 day delay (Dan 10:13). Significantly, this 21 year delay in the Persian period, explained to Daniel at the commencement of Cyrus’ reign, is used to introduce the turbulent inter-testament struggles between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties culminating in the great tribulation of ch.12. Therefore the concept of postponement also informs the Hellenistic era and is attributed to the concealed manipulations of the ‘princes’ of the nations…… for centuries the kings of the north and south persisted to use the ‘glorious land’ as a stage for their struggles, thus extending the ‘desolations’    Continued  ˃


[7] Gabriele Boccaccini, Roots,199


[8] Daniel 9:19 - “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

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beyond Jeremiah’s original seventy years and leading to further desecrations of the temple.


The re-dedication of the temple by the Maccabees 420 years[9] after the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar was almost certainly regarded by the Hasmoneans as a partial realization of Daniel’s Persian era “Seventy Prophecy”.  No doubt the next seventy years were expected to usher in the end of Daniel’s 490 years. The Maccabees legitimized the re-dedication of the temple by elevating the nascent Persian era version of Hanukkah[10] to a national festival. However, the Hasmonean era did not usher in the end of the 490 years - instead it saw the rise of Roman power and ultimately the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. Rabbinical Judaism adapted the prophecy by compressing the period between the destruction of the first (586 BC) and second temples (AD 70) in the Seder Olam chronicle (a Jewish calendar ca. 160 AD), to a mere 490 years thus effectively revising history by omitting 166 years from the Persian era.  With the removal of the temple cult in AD 70 attention was refocused on the codification of the oral traditions know as the Mishna and the conclusion of the “Torah era” but this is hardly a satisfactory realization of a prophecy that signified the in-breaking of God’s rule on earth and promised, “To bring in everlasting    Continued  ˃


[9] The 420 year interval is a factor of 6x70 years, or  of 2x210 years – the former indicating that only one ‘seventy’ remained until the great Day of Atonement and the latter finding correspondence with the 21 day delay of Dan. 10:13.


[10] The embryonic form of the ‘Feast of Lights’ (Hanukkah) originated during the ministry of Haggai/Zechariah, (Hag 2:19, cf.v.10) with the visionary symbol of lamps (Zech 4:2, 14) associated with the dedication of the post-exilic temple during the reign of Darius. The Maccabees were not averse to employing other Persian era feasts in order to further their cause. For example, Nicanor was defeated........ “on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month - which is called Adar in the Syrian language - the day before Mordecai’s day [Purim] and from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews”. (2 Macc 15:36-37). Notably the defeat of Nicanor occurred at Adasa which is very similar to the Jewish name for Esther - Hadasah (Est. 2:7).

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righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy” (Dan 9:24b). 


Daniel also influences the eschatological narrative of the NT. The Loci Citati Vel Allegati Ex Vetere Testamento lists 203 different references to the book of Daniel in the New Testament.[11]  Most importantly the Gospel trial narratives are influenced by Daniel, with Jesus and his servant Stephen accused of attempting to destroy the temple and change the customs (like Antiochus Epiphanes) provoking a Danielic response to the high priest and the Sanhedrin indicating that Christ himself (cf. “one like a son of man”), would act as their judge.


Significantly, the Lukan birth narratives are influenced by Daniel and by the restoration prophets (Zechariah/Haggai). Calculations indicate that Luke has the birth of John the Baptist occur during the feast of Hanukkah (Hag 2:19, cf.v.10).[12] Luke intertextually links Daniel with the annunciation narratives of John and Jesus and this coincides with the commencement of the last 70 years of Daniel’s 490 year prophecy. John and Jesus function as the two ‘lights’[13] of Zechariah’s prophecy.


[11] Jordan Scheetz (2009:132) offers the following overview based on Nestle-Aland; “From these 203 examples only 12 are listed as quotes. All of the quotes are found in Gospels, are from the mouth of Jesus (with the exception of Revelation 1:7), and are from only five verses in the book of Daniel (3:6; 7:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). From Daniel 3:6 there are two quotes (Mt 13:42, 50).  From Daniel 7:13 there are six quotes (Mt 24:30; 26:64; Mk 13:26; 14:62; Lk 21:27; Rev 1:7).  From Daniel 9:27 there is one quote (Mt 24:15). From Daniel 11:31 there are two quotes (Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14). From Daniel 12:11 there is one quote (Mk 13:14)”. Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), 796-798.

[12] This is discussed in Chapter 17: The Last Seventy

[13] The two ‘lights’ of the Fourth Gospel are celestial (sun and moon), fitting the creation language of the Prologue. However the typology also draws on Hanukkah (Feast of Lights), which essentially demythologizes the winter solstice. The Fourth Evangelist also adopts Hanukkah (Dedication) as backdrop for the charge of blasphemy (John 10:22, 33cf.5:18) levelled at Christ, echoing the Maccabean death bed confession of Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc.9:12).  Although the birth of the Baptist occurred during Hanukkah he was not the Messiah; “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light”. (John 5:35) “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light”. (John 1:8)

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Luke understands the birth of Christ as the dedication of a new temple and is followed in this by the Fourth Evangelist, who has Jesus define himself as the divine dwelling place - “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. (John 2:19) The Gospel depictions of Christ and his church are analogous with that of a temple (cf. “anoint the Most Holy” in Dan. 9:24b) where the Father is worshipped in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23). In order for the new temple to be validated the old temple had to be removed. The Olivet prophecy completes the Synoptic treatment of the Danielic temple topos with warnings of the coming destruction of the sanctuary. Later NT writings, such as the epistle to the Hebrews (that focuses on the status of the temple), also warn of coming wrath.  Therefore, the three-and-one-half year Roman war that destroyed the Second Temple was understood by early Christians as a partial realization of Daniel/Olivet that confirmed the New Covenant and highlighted the New Sanctuary (Christ and his church) as the true Temple.


The eschatological three-and-one-half year “martyr-witnessing” of Revelation 11 also alludes to the Book of Daniel and to the restoration prophets (Zechariah/Haggai). Commencing with the instruction to, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there”. (Rev 11:1)  Revelation 11 alludes to Persian era feasts; the nascent Hanukkah (lamps, v. 4) and Purim (gifts, v.10) and to the dedication of the temple at the fully developed Hanukkah of the Maccabean era, where Rev.11:19 echoes the eschatological vision of the Ark of the Covenant described in Maccabees (2 Macc.2:1-12). [14]


[14] 2 Maccabees, when exhorting the readers to celebrate Hanukkah, recounts how the ark was hidden by Jeremiah only to be revealed in an eschatological vision: “Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord (i.e. the ark) will be seen in the cloud…”

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The theme of Rev.11 is the dedication of a temple[15] and an altar[16] which is analogous with the measuring of worshipers as the Apocalypse concludes with an eschatological city-temple, the “New Jerusalem” in which the absence of a temple structure is conspicuous - “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”. (Rev 21:22) Despite prolific Temple imagery/liturgy occurring in the Apocalypse the impact has been marginal on interpretive approaches and the topos is barely noted in commentaries. Recently this neglect has been addressed (1997/1999) by studies from Brigg[17] and Spatafora(s),[18] who investigate the  [...continued on next page]


[15] Revelation 11 has many allusions to Psalm 30 (cf. The Psalm title: A Song at the dedication of the house of David) and the 1260 days or 42 months of the Book of Revelation find correspondence with Daniel’s time periods (cf. the weight of the dedicatory gifts for the tabernacle in Numbers 7 (2x1260 shekels) and the 42 generations between Abraham and Christ enumerated in Matthew 1:17).

[16] The altar is central to the temple in Rev 11. In Ezekiel’s temple the altar also formed the architectural centre not the Holy of Holies. Stevenson suggests: “This focus on the Altar expresses the understanding that societal and cosmic well-being needs more than the presence of YHWH, there is also need for a means of cleansing the society and the cosmos from the effects of impurity” D. L. Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation: The Territorial Rhetoric of Ezekiel 40-48, (SBLDS 154; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996),40-41

[17] Robert A. Brigg, Jewish Temple Imagery in the Book of Revelation, (Studies in Biblical Literature, Vol 10: Peter Lang Publishing,1999)

[18] Spatafora(s) observes that, “All other studies and commentaries appear to analyse the individual recurrences, but they fail to see a relationship between them”. Andrew Spatafora and Andrea Spatafora, From the ‘Temple of God’ to God as the Temple: A Biblical Theological Study of the Temple in the Book of Revelation,(Pontificia Univ. Gregoriana:Italy,1997),7-9

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use of Temple imagery in apocryphal and OT sources and the subsequent development of the Temple theme in the Apocalypse. The common feature shared by these recent works is recognition of the importance of temple imagery/liturgy in the Apocalypse, particularly the importance of the Day of Atonement, a feature also noted by H. A. Whittaker.[19] Therefore, Daniel, the Gospels and especially Revelation are umbilically linked by temple thematic – they all long for the restoration of true worship which encompasses the renewal of creation, the cleansing from impurity and the dwelling of Yahweh amongst his people.


[19] H.A. Whittaker, Revelation: A Biblical Approach, (Lichfield: Staffs, 1973), 104-5

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Chapter 1


The Structure of Daniel


The book of Daniel has two distinct parts: a series of six narratives (chapters one to six) and four apocalyptic visions (chapters seven to twelve). The book is also divided by language with the introduction (1:1 to 2:4a) written in Hebrew, followed by an Aramaic portion (2:4b to 7:28) with the last section (chapter 8-12) written in Hebrew. The fact that the division by language does not coincide with the division by genre is considered perplexing.[1] The narratives take the form of court stories which focus on trials involving Daniel and his friends (chapters one, three and six), and interpretation of royal dreams and visions by Daniel (chapters two, four and five). In the second part of the book, Daniel recounts his reception of dreams, visions and angelic interpretations in the first person. A schematic overview of the internal chronology that is encountered in the book of Daniel highlights the discontinuities between the different units:


Daniel 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.[2]


Daniel 1:21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.





[1] One would expect, for example, chapter 7 which belongs with the apocalyptic visions of chapters 8-12, to also be in written in the Hebrew language.

[2] This suggests that Daniel underwent a training period of three years that began with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar; however this is thought to be incompatible with the chronological setting of chapter 2 which is dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s second year. Alternatively, the authenticity of the reading has been questioned as Papyrus 967 has the 12th year instead of the 2nd year but this is most certainly a gloss. See Chapter 2:The Chronology of Daniel 1:1-2 and 2:1

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Daniel 2:1 Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him.

Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.

Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.

Daniel 5:31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom.

Daniel 6:28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me -- to me, Daniel -- after the one that appeared to me the first time.

Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans --

Daniel 10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar.[3]

Daniel 11:1 Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.


If the chronological data is arranged in units delineated by the different kings then a chiasmic grouping of chapters emerges (see the diagram below). The schematic overview is demarcated by the first and last mention of a king.  For example the first unit NC is Nebuchadnezzar in Dan1:1 until the first mention of Cyrus in Dan 1:21. The units are as  [...continued on next page]


[3] This seemingly contradicts Dan 1:21 where the career of Daniel continues until the first year of Cyrus. The OG provides the alternative reading “first year” for Dan 10.1.

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follows: NB, (Nebuchadnezzar-Belshazzar) DC, (Darius-Cyrus) BD, (Belshazzar-Darius), CD (Cyrus-Darius).  What becomes clear from the schematic overview is that literary and theological considerations take precedence over chronology. The chronology is not progressive and sequential but is subordinated to the literary structure of the book. Note the parallelism of themes. This chiasmic grouping of chapters having the same themes has important implications when it comes to the chapters containing prophecies (for example the 4 Empires).  The recurrent theme of the temple and the linking function of the number 62 which is codified in the omen to Belshazzar, in the “age” of Darius and in the Seventy Prophecy, will be discussed anon.  See the diagram on the Chiasmic Structure of Daniel on the next page.

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Chiastic or concentric structure is a common feature of ancient Hebrew poetry and literature. The proposed structure has its focal point in chapter 6. In the proposed schema the C-B-A grouping in the first half of the book inverts to a C-A-B grouping in the latter half of the book (see below). Whereas the emphasis in the first half of the book is on the trial of God’s people followed by the demise of the persecutor the emphasis in the second half falls firstly on the demise of the world powers followed by a description of the trials – this is presumably done to encourage God’s people by highlighting the temporary nature of the world powers. Below is a comparison of the proposed structure (C-B-A) with that of Lenglet(boxed) – note Lenglet’s lack of correspondence with chapter 1.


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The chiastic structure of chapters 2 - 7, originally identified by A. Lenglet in 1972,[4] is widely accepted by scholars; Lenglet noted that chs.2-7 form a chiastic structure in which 2 and 7 are related by the four-kingdom schema, 3 and 6 are tales of deliverance, and 4 and 5 offer critiques of the kings. Gooding traced a structure that balances chapters 1-5 with 6-12, [5] however, Collins remarks that, “the argument of Gooding, that the book should be divided at 6:1, fits neither the formal nor the linguistic data”.[6] William H. Shea suggests that the book of Daniel was composed as a double chiasm, but his proposal is also not generally accepted in scholarship.[7] On the other hand, John Collins argues that chapter 7 is an interlocking device which unifies chapters 1-6 with the four visions of 7-12.[8]  The judgement scene in chapter 7 anticipates the end of the book where it is expanded in Dan 11:36-12:4; the book which God opens is only mentioned in Dan 7:10  [...continued on next page]


[4] A.D. Lenglet, “La structure litteraire de Daniel 2-7,”Biblica 53 (1972):169-190

[5] David W. Gooding, “The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel and its Implications,” Tyndale Bulletin, 32: 1981, 43-79.

[6] J. J. Collins, Daniel,(Forms of the Old Testament Literature, Ed., Rolf, P. Knierim, Gene , M. Tucker: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1984),28

[7] William H. Shea, “The Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27”, in The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy,(ed. F. Holbrook, Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, Vol. 3, Review and Herald Publishing Association,1986)

[8] J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Vision of the Book of Daniel, Harvard Semitic Monograph 16, (Missoula, Montana :Scholars Press, 1977),11-19

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and Dan 12:1. Paul Raabe[9] identifies Dan 9:24-27 as the midpoint of chapters 7-12 with similar motif’s to Dan 11:36-12:4. He also detects a significant chiasm in the middle of chapters 2-7 where the usual order of kingdom/dominion[10] is reversed in 4:34 - this produces a symmetrical pyramidal structure:



[9] P. Raabe, “The Structure of Daniel”: Evangelical Theological Society: 36th National Conference, 1984, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, (Publisher: Theological Research Exchange Network, Portland: Oregon,1984:1-8) http://www.tren.com [cited Sept 2008]


[10] For convenience we list the following primary references to kingdom,dominion and everlasting:

2:44-- a kingdom which shall never be destroyed....shall stand forever

4:3-- everlasting kingdom, and His dominion....

4:34-- everlasting dominion, and His kingdom.....

5:21--rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses

6:26--kingdom...not be destroyed...dominion...endure to the end

7:14--everlasting dominion…….

7:18--saints...receive kingdom...posses….forever and ever

7:27--everlasting kingdom…..

9:24--everlasting righteousness……

12:2 --saints...everlasting life....everlasting contempt…

12:3 --saints...shine as the stars forever and ever…

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Although nuances in the structure may be debated it is undeniable that literary and theological considerations take precedence over chronology. This has important implications for the way that the book of Daniel presents history.