The Book of Daniel

Question

How we are supposed to academically, and religiously, understand the book of Daniel?

Daniel is a noble Jewish youth of Jerusalem, taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He serves the king and his successors with loyalty until the time of the Persian conqueror Cyrus, while remaining true to the God of Israel.

Question, is this supposed to be Nebuchadnezzar II (605 BC – c. 562 BC)

Most modern scholars see the book of Daniel as actually being written during the reign of the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BCE) (the villain of the Chanukah story), although based on older materials.

Question: Do any classical, medieval, or modern Jewish rabbis also see it this way? Any info would be appreciated.

In the book, knowledge of the Babylonian-Persian period (Nebuchadnezzar era) is vague or erroneous. For example,

“Belshazzar (Bel-shar-user) is identified as the son of Nebuchadrezzar and is called “king” (5:1), but we have seen that his father was Nabonidus and that, though he was a regent, he never became a king.
King Darius is called a Mede, the son of Xerxes (Ahasuerus), in Daniel 9:1,
although we know that he was a Persian and the father of Xerxes.

As the story moves into the Greek period, it becomes more accurate. The writer knows of the desecration of God’s altar by Antiochus IV in 168 (9:27; 11:31) but not of the restoration of worship by Judas Maccabeus three years later. The book must have been completed between 168 and 165, probably closer to 165. The presence of Persian and Greek loan-words lends support to the Hellenistic dating.”
(Old Testament Life and Literature, Gerald A. Larue )

How do we understand this book in an authentically Jewish and also academically responsible way?

 

7 months

Answers

  1. According to the Rabbis Daniel was taken to Babylonia in the year 442 BCE which seems to preclude it being the Nebuchadnezzar that you are suggesting.

    The Book of Daniel is notoriously difficult to decipher. Personally, I think that the best option is to study the Book of Daniel published by ArtScroll (www.artscroll.com) as it has excellent footnotes and historical background.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team