« Prev 1. The Language Next »




1. The Language

Unable to learn anything further respecting the professed author of the Book of Daniel, we now turn to the Book itself. In this section I shall merely give a general sketch of its main external phenomena, and shall chiefly pass in review those characteristics which, though they have been used as arguments respecting the age in which it originated, are not absolutely irreconcilable with the supposition of any date between the termination of the Exile (b.c. 536) and the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (b.c. 164).

I. First we notice the fact that there is an interchange of the first and third person. In chapters i.-vi. Daniel is mainly spoken of in the third person: in chapters vii.-xii. he speaks mainly in the first.

Kranichfeld tries to account for this by the supposition that in chapters i.-vi. we practically have extracts from Daniel's diaries,3535   Kranichfeld, Das Buch Daniel, p. 4. whereas in the remainder of the Book he describes his own visions. The point cannot be much insisted upon, but the mention of his own high praises (e.g., in such passages as vi. 4) is perhaps hardly what we should have expected.

II. Next we observe that the Book of Daniel, like14 the Book of Ezra3636   See Ezra iv. 7, vi. 18, vii. 12-26. is written partly in the sacred Hebrew, partly in the vernacular Aramaic, which is often, but erroneously, called Chaldee.3737   "The term 'Chaldee' for the Aramaic of either the Bible or the Targums is a misnomer, the use of which is only a source of confusion" (Driver, p. 471). A single verse of Jeremiah (x. 11) is in Aramaic: "Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods who made not heaven and earth shall perish from the earth and from under heaven." Perhaps Jeremiah gave the verse "to the Jews as an answer to the heathen among whom they were" (Pusey, p. 11).

The first section (i. 1-ii. 4a) is in Hebrew. The language changes to Aramaic after the words, "Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac" (ii. 4a);3838   אֲרָמִית; LXX., Συριστι—i.e., in Aramaic. The word may be a gloss, as it is in Ezra iv. 7 (Lenormant). See, however, Kamphausen, p. 14. We cannot here enter into minor points, such as that in ii.-vi. we have אֲלוּ for "see," and in vii. 2, 3, אֲרוּ; which Meinhold takes to prove that the historic section is earlier than the prophetic. and this is continued to vii. 28. The eighth chapter begins with the words, "In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel"; and here the Hebrew is resumed, and is continued till the end of the Book.

The question at once arises why the two languages were used in the same Book.

It is easy to understand that, during the course of the seventy years' Exile, many of the Jews became practically bilingual, and would be able to write with equal facility in one language or in the other.

This circumstance, then, has no bearing on the date of the Book. Down to the Maccabean age some books continued to be written in Hebrew. These books must have found readers. Hence the knowledge of Hebrew cannot have died away so completely as has been supposed. The notion that after the return from the15 Exile Hebrew was at once superseded by Aramaic is untenable. Hebrew long continued to be the language normally spoken at Jerusalem (Neh. xiii. 24), and the Jews did not bring back Aramaic with them to Palestine, but found it there.3939   Driver, p. 471; Nöldeke, Enc. Brit., xxi. 647; Wright, Grammar, p. 16. Ad. Merx has a treatise on Cur in lib. Dan. juxta Hebr. Aramaica sit adhibita dialectus, 1865; but his solution, "Scriptorem omnia quæ rudioribus vulgi ingeniis apta viderentur Aramaice præposuisse" is wholly untenable.

But it is not clear why the linguistic divisions in the Book were adopted. Auberlen says that, after the introduction, the section ii. 4a-vii. 28 was written in Chaldee, because it describes the development of the power of the world from a world-historic point of view; and that the remainder of the Book was written in Hebrew, because it deals with the development of the world-powers in their relation to Israel the people of God.4040   Auberlen, Dan., pp. 28, 29 (E. Tr.). There is very little to be said in favour of a structure so little obvious and so highly artificial. A simpler solution of the difficulty would be that which accounts for the use of Chaldee by saying that it was adopted in those parts which involved the introduction of Aramaic documents. This, however, would not account for its use in chap. vii., which is a chapter of visions in which Hebrew might have been naturally expected as the vehicle of prophecy. Strack and Meinhold think that the Aramaic and Hebrew parts are of different origin. König supposes that the Aramaic sections were meant to indicate special reference to the Syrians and Antiochus.4141   Einleit., § 383. Some critics have thought it possible that the Aramaic sections were once written in Hebrew. That the text of Daniel has not been very16 carefully kept becomes clear from the liberties to which it was subjected by the Septuagint translators. If the Hebrew of Jer. x. 11 (a verse which only exists in Aramaic) has been lost, it is not inconceivable that the same may have happened to the Hebrew of a section of Daniel.4242   Cheyne, Enc. Brit., s.v. "Daniel."

The Talmud throws no light on the question. It only says that—

i. "The men of the Great Synagogue wrote"4343   כתבו. See 2 Esdras xiv. 22-48: "In forty days they wrote two hundred and four books."—by which is perhaps meant that they "edited"—"the Book of Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Ezra";4444   Baba-Bathra, f. 15, 6: comp. Sanhedrin, f. 83, 6. and that—

ii. "The Chaldee passages in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Daniel defile the hands."4545   Yaddayim, iv.; Mish., 5.

The first of these two passages is merely an assertion that the preservation, the arrangement, and the admission into the Canon of the books mentioned was due to the body of scribes and priests—a very shadowy and unhistorical body—known as the Great Synagogue.4646   See Rau, De Synag. Magna., ii. 66 ff.; Kuenen, Over de Mannen der Groote Synagoge, 1876; Ewald, Hist. of Israel, v. 168-170 (E. Tr.); Westcott, s.v. "Canon" (Smith's Dict., i. 500).

The second passage sounds startling, but is nothing more than an authoritative declaration that the Chaldee sections of Daniel and Ezra are still parts of Holy Scripture, though not written in the sacred language.

It is a standing rule of the Talmudists that All Holy Scripture defiles the hands—even the long-disputed Books of Ecclesiastes and Canticles.4747   Yaddayim, iii.; Mish., 5; Hershon, Treasures of the Talmud, pp. 41-43. Lest any should17 misdoubt the sacredness of the Chaldee sections, they are expressly included in the rule. It seems to have originated thus: The eatables of the heave offerings were kept in close proximity to the scroll of the Law, for both were considered equally sacred. If a mouse or rat happened to nibble either, the offerings and the books became defiled, and therefore defiled the hands that touched them.4848   Hershon (l.c.) refers to Shabbath, f. 14, 1. To guard against this hypothetical defilement it was decided that all handling of the Scriptures should be followed by ceremonial ablutions. To say that the Chaldee chapters "defile the hands" is the Rabbinic way of declaring their Canonicity.

Perhaps nothing certain can be inferred from the philological examination either of the Hebrew or of the Chaldee portions of the Book; but they seem to indicate a date not earlier than the age of Alexander (b.c. 333). On this part of the subject there has been a great deal of rash and incompetent assertion. It involves delicate problems on which an independent and a valuable opinion can only be offered by the merest handful of living scholars, and respecting which even these scholars sometimes disagree. In deciding upon such points ordinary students can only weigh the authority and the arguments of specialists who have devoted a minute and lifelong study to the grammar and history of the Semitic languages.

I know no higher contemporary authorities on the date of Hebrew writings than the late veteran scholar F. Delitzsch and Professor Driver.

1. Nothing was more beautiful and remarkable in Professor Delitzsch than the open-minded candour which compelled him to the last to advance with advancing18 thought; to admit all fresh elements of evidence; to continue his education as a Biblical inquirer to the latest days of his life; and without hesitation to correct, modify, or even reverse his previous conclusions in accordance with the results of deeper study and fresh discoveries. He wrote the article on Daniel in Herzog's Real-Encyclopädie, and in the first edition of that work maintained its genuineness; but in the later editions (iii. 470) his views approximate more and more to those of the Higher Criticism. Of the Hebrew of Daniel he says that "it attaches itself here and there to Ezekiel, and also to Habakkuk; in general character it resembles the Hebrew of the Chronicler who wrote shortly before the beginning of the Greek period (b.c. 332), and as compared either with the ancient Hebrew, or with the Hebrew of the Mishnah is full of singularities and harshnesses of style."4949   Herzog, l.c.; so too König, Einleit., § 387: "Das Hebr. der B. Dan. ist nicht blos nachexilisch sondern auch nachchronistisch." He instances ribbo (Dan. xi. 12) for rebaba, "myriads" (Ezek. xvi. 7); and tamîd, "the daily burnt offering" (Dan. viii. 11), as post-Biblical Hebrew for 'olath hatamîd (Neh. x. 34), etc. Margoliouth (Expositor, April 1890) thinks that the Hebrew proves a date before b.c. 168: on which view see Driver, p, 483.

So far, then, it is clear that, if the Hebrew mainly resembles that of b.c. 332, it is hardly likely that it should have been written before b.c. 536.

Professor Driver says, "The Hebrew of Daniel in all distinctive features resembles, not the Hebrew of Ezekiel, or even of Haggai and Zechariah, but that of the age subsequent to Nehemiah"—whose age forms the great turning-point in Hebrew style.

He proceeds to give a list of linguistic peculiarities in support of this view, and other specimens of sentences constructed, not in the style of classical Hebrew,19 but in "the later uncouth style" of the Book of Chronicles. He points out in a note that it is no explanation of these peculiarities to argue that, during his long exile, Daniel may have partially forgotten the language of his youth; "for this would not account for the resemblance of the new and decadent idioms to those which appeared in Palestine independently two hundred and fifty years afterwards."5050   Lit. of Old Test., pp. 473-476. Behrmann, in the latest commentary on Daniel, mentions, in proof of the late character of the Hebrew: (1) the introduction of Persian words which could not have been used in Babylonian before the conquest of Cyrus (as in i. 3, 5, xi. 45, etc.); (2) many Aramaic or Aramaising words, expressions, and grammatical forms (as in i. 5, 10, 12, 16, viii. 18, 22, x. 17, 21, etc.); (3) neglect of strict accuracy in the use of the Hebrew tenses (as in viii. 14, ix. 3 f., xi. 4 f., etc.); (4) the borrowing of archaic expressions from ancient sources (as in viii. 26, ix. 2, xi. 10, 40, etc.); (5) the use of technical terms and periphrases common in Jewish apocalypses (xi. 6, 13, 35, 40, etc.).5151   Das Buch Dan., iii.

2. These views of the character of the Hebrew agree with those of previous scholars. Bertholdt and Kirms declare that its character differs toto genere from what might have been expected had the Book been genuine. Gesenius says that the language is even more corrupt than that of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi. Professor Driver says the Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established; the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great. De Wette and Ewald have20 pointed out the lack of the old passionate spontaneity of early prophecy; the absence of the numerous and profound paronomasiæ, or plays on words, which characterised the burning oratory of the prophets; and the peculiarities of the style—which is sometimes obscure and careless, sometimes pompous, iterative, and artificial.5252   See Glassius, Philol. Sacr., p. 931; Ewald, Die Proph. d. A. Bundes, i. 48; De Wette, Einleit., § 347.

3. It is noteworthy that in this Book the name of the great Babylonian conqueror, with whom, in the narrative part, Daniel is thrown into such close connexion, is invariably written in the absolutely erroneous form which his name assumed in later centuries—Nebuchadnezzar. A contemporary, familiar with the Babylonian language, could not have been ignorant of the fact that the only correct form of the name is Nebuchadrezzar—i.e., Nebu-kudurri-utsur, "Nebo protect the throne."5353   Ezekiel always uses the correct form (xxvi. 7, xxix. 18, xxx. 10). Jeremiah uses the correct form except in passages which properly belong to the Book of Kings.

4. But the erroneous form Neduchadnezzar is not the only one which entirely militates against the notion of a contemporary writer. There seem to be other mistakes about Babylonian matters into which a person in Daniel's position could not have fallen. Thus the name Belteshazzar seems to be connected in the writer's mind with Bel, the favourite deity of Nebuchadrezzar; but it can only mean Balatu-utsur, "his life protect," which looks like a mutilation. Abed-nego is an astonishingly corrupt form for Abed-nabu, "the servant of Nebo." Hammelzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Ashpenaz, are declared by Assyriologists to21 be "out of keeping with Babylonian science." In ii. 48 signîn means a civil ruler;—does not imply Archimagus, as the context seems to require, but, according to Lenormant, a high civil officer.

5. The Aramaic of Daniel closely resembles that of Ezra. Nöldeke calls it a Palestinian or Western Aramaic dialect, later than that of the Book of Ezra.5454   Nöldeke, Semit. Spr., p. 30; Driver, p. 472; König, p. 387. It is of earlier type than that of the Targums of Jonathan and Onkelos; but that fact has very little bearing on the date of the Book, because the differences are slight, and the resemblances manifold, and the Targums did not appear till after the Christian Era, nor assume their present shape perhaps before the fourth century. Further, "recently discovered inscriptions have shown that many of the forms in which the Aramaic of Daniel differs from that of the Targums were actually in use in neighbouring countries down to the first century a.d."5555   Driver, p. 472, and the authorities there quoted; as against McGill and Pusey (Daniel, pp. 45 ff., 602 ff.). Dr. Pusey's is the fullest repertory of arguments in favour of the authenticity of Daniel, many of which have become more and more obviously untenable as criticism advances. But he and Keil add little or nothing to what had been ingeniously elaborated by Hengstenberg and Hävernick. For a sketch of the peculiarities in the Aramaic see Behrmann, Daniel, v.-x. Renan (Hist. Gén. des Langues Sém., p. 219) exaggerates when he says, "La langue des parties chaldénnes est beaucoup plus basse que celle des fragments chaldéens du Livre d'Esdras, et s'incline beaucoup vers la langue du Talmud."

6. Two further philological considerations bear on the age of the Book.

i. One of these is the existence of no less than fifteen Persian words (according to Nöldeke and others), especially in the Aramaic part. These words,22 which would not be surprising after the complete establishment of the Persian Empire, are surprising in passages which describe Babylonian institutions before the conquest of Cyrus.5656   Meinhold, Beiträge, pp. 30-32; Driver, p. 470. Various attempts have been made to account for this phenomenon. Professor Fuller attempts to show, but with little success, that some of them may be Semitic.5757   Speaker's Commentary, vi. 246-250. Others argue that they are amply accounted for by the Persian trade which, as may be seen from the Records of the Past,5858   New Series, iii. 124. existed between Persia and Babylonia as early as the days of Belshazzar. To this it is replied that some of the words are not of a kind which one nation would at once borrow from another,5959   E.g., הדם, "limb"; רז, "secret"; פתגם, "message." There are no Persian words in Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, or Malachi; they are found in Ezra and Esther, which were written long after the establishment of the Persian Empire. and that "no Persian words have hitherto been found in Assyrian or Babylonian inscriptions prior to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, except the name of the god Mithra."

ii. But the linguistic evidence unfavourable to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel is far stronger than this, in the startling fact that it contains at least three Greek words. After giving the fullest consideration to all that has been urged in refutation of the conclusion, this circumstance has always been to me a strong confirmation of the view that the Book of Daniel in its present form is not older than the days of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Those three Greek words occur in the list of musical instruments mentioned in iii. 5, 7, 10, 15. They are: קיתרם, kitharos, κίθαρις, "harp"; פסנתרין, psanterîn,23 ψαλτήριον, "psaltery";6060   The change of n for l is not uncommon: comp. βέντιον, φίντατος, etc. סומפניא, sūmpōnyāh, συμφωνία, A.V. "dulcimer," but perhaps "bagpipes."6161   The word שָׂבֽכָא, Sab'ka, also bears a suspicious resemblance to σαμβύκη, but Athenæus says (Deipnos., iv. 173) that the instrument was invented by the Syrians. Some have seen in kārôz (iii. 4, "herald") the Greek κήρυξ, and in hamnîk, "chain," the Greek μανιάκης: but these cannot be pressed.

Be it remembered that these musical instruments are described as having (b.c. 550). Now, this is the date at which Pisistratus was tyrant at Athens, in the days of Pythagoras and Polycrates, before Athens became a fixed democracy. It is just conceivable that in those days the Babylonians might have borrowed from Greece the word kitharis.6262   It is true that there was some small intercourse between even the Assyrians and Ionians (Ja-am-na-a) as far back as the days of Sargon (b.c. 722-705); but not enough to account for such words. It is, indeed, supremely unlikely, because the harp had been known in the East from the earliest days; and it is at least as probable that Greece, which at this time was only beginning to sit as a learner at the feet of the immemorial East, borrowed the idea of the instrument from Asia. Let it, however, be admitted that such words as yayîn, "wine" (οἶνος), lappid, "a torch" (λαμπάς), and a few others, may indicate some early intercourse between Greece and the East, and that some commercial relations of a rudimentary kind were existent even in prehistoric days.6363   Sayce, Contemp. Rev., December 1878.

But what are we to say of the two other words? Both are derivatives. Psalterion does not occur in Greek before Aristotle (d. 322); nor sumphonia before Plato (d. 347). In relation to music, and probably as the name of a musical instrument, sumphonia is first24 used by Polybius (xxvi. 10, § 5, xxxi. 4, § 8), and in express connexion with the festivities of the very king with whom the apocalyptic section of Daniel is mainly occupied—Antiochus Epiphanes.6464   Some argue that in this passage συμφωνία means "a concert" (comp. Luke xv. 25); but Polybius mentions it with "a horn" (κεράτιον). Behrmann (p. ix) connects it with σίφων, and makes it mean "a pipe." The attempts of Professor Fuller and others to derive these words from Semitic roots are a desperate resource, and cannot win the assent of a single trained philologist. "These words," says Professor Driver, "could not have been used in the Book of Daniel, unless it had been written after the dissemination of Greek influence in Asia through the conquest of Alexander the Great."6565   Pusey says all he can on the other side (pp. 23-28), and has not changed the opinion of scholars (pp. 27-33). Fabre d'Envieu (i. 101) also desperately denies the existence of any Greek words. On the other side see Derenbourg, Les Mots grecs dans le Livre biblique de Daniel (Mélanges Graux, 1884).

« Prev 1. The Language Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |