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There is but little in the way of chronological indication in this addition; considerably less than in the other two, and what there is, is indirectly brought in.
A time after the Captivity is evidently pointed to in vv. 26, 32, 37, 38. Jerusalem was lying under a heavy visitation, the people delivered over to the enemy, almost denationalized, and deprived of the sacrificial worship to which they had been accustomed. Yet this position of affairs is spoken of as if it were not one of very long standing. (Cf. the use of νῦν in vv. 31, 33, 42, though in the last of these instances its use may not perhaps be temporal.)
It has been objected, quite unnecessarily, that v. 38 is inconsistent with v. 53, the one implying the destruction of the temple, the other recognizing its existence; v. 84, too, may be taken as supposing priests to be still capable of performing their offices. It is even possible that the corrections of Cod. A in 67v. 38 may have had behind them some idea of softening a discrepancy. This supposed lack of consistency has been taken as an indication of double authorship of the Prayer and the Song; and of course, if the Prayer were a later interpolation than the Song, even the appearance of contemporary inconsistency is avoided. But if we were to decline this hypothesis, and take Prayer and Song as from the same pen, there is still no real difficulty; for v. 38 is thinking of the earthly temple, v. 53 of the heavenly. Grotius (Critici Sacri), apparently accepting the statements of v. 38 as correct, writes: ”Harum rerum penuria animos venturo Evangelio præparabit.“
Another chronological difficulty, that of “no prophet,”2525Cf.Ps. lxxiv. 9. in the same verse (38) has even been offered as a ‘proof’ of non-canonicity (Cloquet, Articles, p. 113). So T. H. Horne in Vol. IV. of his Introduction, quoted by A. Barnes on Daniel (I. 81), says that “v. 15 (38) contains a direct falsehood”; and in Vol. II. 937 of his Introduction (ed. 1852), he asserts that the author “slipped in the part he assumed.” More just is his observation that “Theodotion does not appear to have marked the discrepancy.” Ball, too, joins in the condemnation, by 68expressing an opinion that the writer had “lost his cue” (Introd. to Song, p. 308); and Reuss, ”Hier verrät sich der Verfasser“ (O. T., Brunswick, 1894, VII. 166). It has been suggested (J. H. Blunt in loc.) that Ezekiel, who was both priest and prophet, had just finished his utterances, while Daniel, if he had commenced his, would, out of modesty, not reckon himself. The same commentator also attempts, still less successfully, to overcome the difficulty of “no prince.” Probably, however, this merely means that no monarch was actually reigning, and that Jewish rulers were themselves ruled and their authority superseded, not that no member of the royal house or of the ruling classes was in existence. And this seems to fit in better with an early period of the Captivity than with a later age, when Simon Maccabeus is said to have had the title נָשִׂיא on his coins; and Mattathias is called ἄρχων in 1 Macc. ii. 17. Gesenius says in his Thesaurus under נשיא on the authority of F. P. Bayer (de numis hebraeo-samaritanis, p. 171, append. p. XV.), that Simon’s coins had the inscription שמעון נשיא ישראל2626See also H. J. Rose’s Paper On the Heb. coins called shekels, Beds. Architect. Soc. Rep. I., p. 367, 1851. but it is now doubted whether the coins formerly attributed to Simon are really of his time. (Cf. Bp. 69Wordsworth of Lincoln on 1 Macc. xv. 6.) Zöckler’s idea (Comm. in loc.) that ἡγούμενος must be understood here as equivalent to “priest” is unsupported and needless. כֹּהֵן is never so translated by LXX.
Cornelius à Lap. (Paris, 1874), deals with the difficulty of “no prophet” in a different way. He writes, “Quia Dan. potius somniorum regiorum erat interpres, quam propheta populi; Ezech. autem propheta aberat agebatque in Chobar aliisque Chaldaeae locis, eratque is unus et captivus. Itaque ‘non est,’ i.e. vix nullus erat.“ Of ’princeps et dux“ he says nothing; but Peronne adds a note to say that Daniel was thinking of Judaea only. It is not unlikely that Hos. iii. 4 was in the mind of the writer of the Song, as being fulfilled in his days.
If, however, we assume a date for the whole piece considerably later than that of the canonical book, it is quite conceivable that the author may have made a backward transference of the circumstances of his own time to that of the earlier exile. For this is a species of error all traces of which even expert forgers find it difficult to remove.
It is generally assumed, and probably rightly, that v. 88 is intended as a contemporary utterance of the Three calling upon themselves; nevertheless it is quite intelligible as the expression of a later writer 70summoning them, with the rest of creation, to praise their Maker. And, assuming this verse to be contemporary with the rest, this latter idea would of course mark the hymn as not really issuing from the mouths of the Three.
Everything said and done in this piece takes place within one day, the day on which Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects were ordered to worship the golden image. There is therefore much less scope than in Bel and the Dragon, or even Susanna, for those who seek to discover chronological difficulties, because devotional compositions afford fewer openings than narrative matter for the raising of such questions.
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