from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh
Sifrei Emet (poetic books)
חמש מגילות- Megillot (fixed rollers)
Writing prophets
of the Old Testament
Great prophets
Little prophets
Names after the ÖVBE
italics: Catholic Deuterocanon

Daniel ( Hebrew דָּנִיּאֵל) is the main character of the book named after him in the Tanakh . Afterwards he was a Jewish apocalyptic , interpreter of dreams and seer in Babylonian exile , who revealed YHWH , Israel's God, the apocalyptic end of the world empires ruling Judea and the following eternal kingdom of God .

The book claims that in the 6th century BC It actually came into being during the conflicts between the Maccabees and the Seleucid Antiochus IV (167–164 BC). The visions (Dan 7-12) herald its downfall, the beginning of the end times and the resurrection of the righteous Jews. Its authors from the rebellious Maccabees linked these texts with older legends about a wise and just interpreter of dreams during the time of exile (Dan 1–6). Daniel is used as the fictional role model of a Jew who is loyal to the Torah even in life-threatening persecution .

The book of Daniel belongs to the biblical apocalyptic and was included as one of the last books in the Jewish Bible canon . There it belongs to the Ketuvim ("Scriptures"), in the Christian Old Testament, however, to the four "great" prophets. The vision texts influenced Jesus of Nazareth and early Christianity . They became significant in messianism and millenarianism , among others .


The Hebrew first name "Daniel" combines the Semitic root dun ("to judge", "to create justice") with the divine title El . It means something like "God has made right". The name appears in the Bible almost exclusively in late post-exilic texts. Daniel is called a priest in Esr 8,2  EU , in 1 Chr 3,1  EU the second son of the king David , who is called in the older passage 2 Sam 3,3  EU " Kilab ". Perhaps this change of name reacted to Dan 1,3  EU , according to which Daniel was "of royal descent". The prophet Ezekiel in exile mentions a Dan (i) el as righteous next to Job and Noach ( Ez 14,14–20  EU ) and judges a foreign ruler who considered himself “wiser than Daniel” (28.3 EU ). A father-in-law of Enoch named Daniel is mentioned in the apocryphal book of anniversaries (4:20). The angel prince Daniel in the Book of Enoch probably went back to him (6,7). These examples denote primeval and legendary, non-historical persons and are not identified with Daniel in the book of Daniel because of another Hebrew name form .

However, together they may have been inspired by the mythology of Ugarit : In the Aqhat epic from Ugarit, Dan'Ilu describes a mythical king and just judge with magical and fortune telling abilities. The authors of the Book of Daniel also attributed royal ancestry, wisdom and mantic skills to her figure. The missing information about Daniel's family and place of origin also point to a mythical figure.

The name was an alias for the unknown author or authors of the Book of Daniel, who protected themselves from the persecution of believing Jews with it.


For a long time Daniel was considered to be the historical author of the book, which, because of his own statements, dates back to around 539 BC Dated. Unlike other books of the prophets, Dan 1 introduces him as a wise Jew already known to the readers, who was able to experience and convey God's will in dreams and visions without a special calling.

The mausoleum of Daniel is located in Susa , Iran , where, according to Jewish and Muslim tradition, the prophet Daniel is supposed to be buried. The mausoleum is a Muslim pilgrimage site. However, five other places claim to be Daniel's resting place, including Kirkuk in Iraq and Samarkand in Uzbekistan .


Dan 1–12, the actual book of Daniel, contains two main parts: stories about Daniel in the third person (1–6) and visions of Daniel in the first person (7–12). They overlap with a three-way linguistic division: The Aramaic main part (2,4b – 7.28) is framed by a Hebrew introduction (1–2,4a) and a Hebrew appendix of further visions and their interpretation (8–12). The center of the book is the vision of the final judgment in chapter 7, which concludes the narratives and opens the vision reports. A compositional scheme runs through the Aramaic part:

text shape content
2 Dream interpretation Fall of the world empires
establishment of the rule of God
3.1-30 narrative Sufferings of the righteous
3.31-33 Doxology King recognizes God's rule
4.1-30 Dream and interpretation The king's hubris is destroyed
4.31 f. Doxology King recognizes God's rule
5.1-28 Appearance and Interpretation The king's hubris is destroyed
5.29f. no doxology King does not recognize God's rule
6.1-25 narrative Sufferings of the godly
6.26-28 Doxology King recognizes God's rule
7th Vision and interpretation Fall of the world empires
establishment of the rule of God

The vision part is less strictly composed:

text shape content
7.1-14 Vision as a first-person report Four animals, 11 horns, final judgment, son of man
7.15-25 Interpretation by an angel Four empires
8.1-17 Vision as a first-person report Fighting rams with horns
8.15-27 Interpretation by Gabriel (Archangel) Replacement of the world empires
9.1-19 I report Israel's confession of sin
9.20-27 Appearance of Gabriel Explanation of the duration of the end times
10-12.4 Appearance of an angel of nations Interpretation of the empires, end-time events, resurrection
12.5-13 Vision as a first-person report Reference to the end,
to Daniel's resurrection and commission to him

Later editors supplemented the prayer of Azariah ( Dan 3.24 to 45  EU ), the hymn of Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace ( Dan 3.51 to 90  EU ) as well as the legends of Susanna and the Elders (Daniel 13) and Bel and the Dragon (Dan 14). These additions are written in Greek and only come down to us in the Septuagint .


For a long time Daniel was considered to be the historical author of the book, which, because of his own statements, dates back to around 539 BC Tried to date BC. But even the narrative perspective alternating between the third and first person, the language changes and Greek additions show a longer development process for the book. There are also content-related breaks: According to Dan 1.5, Daniel was supposed to serve the king after three years of training, but according to 2.1.25 he did so already in the second year. According to Dan 1,7, Daniel's fellow exiled friends were given new Chaldean names: This prepares chapter 3, where their Jewish names and the person Daniel are missing. After Dan 1.19 he was already known to the king, after 2.25 he had to be introduced to him first. According to Dan 1.21 and 6.29, he lived under the Persian king Cyrus II , who defeated the New Babylonian Empire; according to Dan 7 he foresaw this replacement as in the future.

The main arguments against the development during the exile are:

  • According to Dan 1,1 f. EU besieged Nebuchadnezzar II. Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim's reign (607 BC), defeated and kidnapped him with courtly Jews and stole the temple treasures . This follows from 2 Chr 36,6 f. EU , but contradicts 2 Kings 24.1–16  EU and Jer 25.1  EU : According to this, Nebuchadnezzar only came to power in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, only besieged Jerusalem after Jehoiakim's death and kidnapped his successor Jehoiachin with other Jews and the temple treasures (597 BC) . Chr.). The Babylonian Chronicles confirm this older information.
  • Belšazar was contrary to Dan 5.1 f. and 7.1 not Nebuchadnezzar, but the son of Nabonidus . He had illegally conquered the throne as the fifth ruler after Nebuchadnezzar. Belšazar temporarily represented him as his governor during his lifetime. Hence the Babylonian chronicles never call him "King".
  • Dareios I , the Nabonidus 539 BC In contrast to Dan 9.1, he did not rule the media , but Persia, just like his father Hystaspes, who had his kingdom administered by satraps analogous to Dan 6.1 .

In contrast, Dan 11: 2–40 describes the historical conditions after the exile in increasing detail and with more and more relevant details:

  • The four kingdoms scheme in Dan 2 and 7-12 always refers to the time since exile and follows a coined sequence: Babylonia - Media - Persia - Greece. The fourth empire is therefore identified with the great empire of Alexander , the "ten horns" with his successors (Dan 7: 7, 24). Their power struggles, the wars between Ptolemies and Seleucids, are described in Dan 11.
  • The "little horn" that seizes power against three predecessors (Dan 7,8) is identified in Dan 11,21 as an illegitimate heir to the throne who has stolen power through intrigue. This fits in with Antiochus IV (175–164 BC), who bypassed the line of succession and disempowered several predecessors.
  • The information that this ruler will change the festival times and the Torah (7.25), abolish the daily sacrifice, prostrate the sanctuary (8.9-13) and set up a pagan altarpiece ("abomination of desolation") in the Jerusalem temple (9.27 ; 11.31), is confirmed in 1 Makk 1.54  EU for Antiochus.

From Dan 11.40 onwards some statements contradict what is historically known: There was no battle of Antiochus with Ptolemies and he died in Persia, not Judea. It is therefore almost certain that Dan 1–12 was written during the Maccabees uprising before the rededication of the temple (167–164 BC), when the Jews were awaiting victory over Antiochus and his death.

It is usually assumed that the predominantly Aramaic stories are older than the visions and the Hebrew introduction, some of them initially handed down independently and later connected with each other and the visions. With which components this tradition began and how exactly it took place, however, is controversial. It is often assumed that one or more editorial offices based in Judea linked a basic set of legends in Dan 2–6 with the Hebrew introduction and departure, thus classified it in the overall history of Israel and authorized it as part of the Bible.

The Sibylline oracles (from 140 BC) and the 1st Book of the Maccabees (2.59 EU , around 100 BC) mention passages from the Book of Daniel for the first time. Porphyrios († 304) already dated it to the time of Antiochus. The oldest fragments of the Hebrew text were found under the Dead Sea Scrolls (200–100 BC). The Codex Leningradensis from 1008 contains a complete Hebrew manuscript. The Greek Septuagint version is only preserved in papyrus 967 around 200. The Hexapla version of Origen (around 240) is only available in Greek in the Codex Chisianus R.VII.45 from the 10th century, in Syrian (Syrohexapla) in the Codex Ambrosianus C. 313 Inf. All other manuscripts follow the version of the Theodotion .


Dan 1: Training in foreign wisdom

Dan 1 (introduction) embeds Daniel's story in Israel's overall history: He is portrayed as a Jew related to the royal family, whom Nebuchadnezzar and other distinguished Jews had abducted to Babylon. On his orders, young, good-looking and well-educated Jews were selected there for a three-year training course as royal servants in the language and script of the Chaldeans (Babylonians), including Daniel and three of his friends. He had the Chaldean name Beltschazar ("Bel protect the king"), they received the names Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego . Daniel refused the food from the king's table in order not to violate the Jewish dietary laws of the Torah. He had persuaded the superintendent that he and his friends were only allowed to eat vegetable and water because they looked better and better fed than the other candidates after a ten-day rehearsal. God gave them education and Daniel also gave them the ability to interpret dreams . After completing their training, the king hired these four Jews as personal advisers and servants because they were superior to all other interpreters and fortune tellers of Babylon. From then on, Daniel remained in the royal service until Cyrus came to power, i.e. for the duration of his exile.

Dan 2: The statue with feet of clay

Daniel's reply to the King by Briton Rivière , RA (1840–1920), 1890 (Manchester Art Gallery).

According to Dan 2, Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream and orders all fortune tellers and dream interpreters in his country to guess and interpret the dream. If they fail, they face the death penalty ; if they succeed, rich wages. When they reject this request as impossible for mortals to fulfill, the king orders them all to be killed. With this he also threatens Daniel and his friends. Daniel asks for a time limit and prays to YHWH, who reveals the dream and its interpretation to him in a “night vision”. Daniel thanks YHWH, ensures that the fortune tellers are not killed, and explains to the king: YHWH let him know through the dream "what will happen at the end of the days". In a dream the king saw a huge metal statue with feet made of iron and clay. A stone rolling from a mountain smashed one's feet, the statue had turned to dust, the stone had become a mountain that filled the whole earth. The statue symbolizes Babylon and three other, subsequent great empires, the feet the division of the fourth empire, which could not be overcome even by marriage. Then God like the stone will destroy the great empires and establish his eternal kingdom. The king then recognizes YHWH as the creator of the world and exalts Daniel to be the chief of all sages in the land.

Dreams and visions sent by YHWH are sometimes associated with prophecy in the Bible ( Joel 2: 28–32  EU ). In Babylon as in ancient Egypt, dreams were regarded as the gods' medium of revelation. The chapter drastically illustrates the impotence of the Babylonian dream experts, all of whom are dependent on the king and at his mercy. They are collectively referred to here as “Chaldeans” (pagans) and with the Akkadian loan word “conjurers” (Hebrew “magicians”), thus practicing pagan practices that are strictly forbidden by the Torah. They point out to the king that only “the gods” could reveal the dream to them, but unlike Daniel they do not pray. In fact, it was common in Babylon for dream interpreters to ask for divine help with deciphering and for communication of the divine will. The king, too, is powerless because he expects the courtly interpreters of dreams to be betrayed and therefore demands the impossible of them: to guess the dream. This condition was indeed unusual: although the rulers reserved sleeping in the temple in order to obtain dreams of the gods, telling the dream content was a common part of therapy. The narrative tension is also increased by the fact that Daniel is still unknown to the king here, only learns the king's order to interpret dreams after his order to kill all dream interpreters and must first ask for a reprieve. So this chapter comes from a different author than Dan 1.

Daniel's prayer of thanks to YHWH sums up the apocalyptic theology of the book and is possibly included as a secondary. YHWH is mentioned here for the only time "God of my fathers" and is thus linked to the God of the patriarchs and the psalmist. He alone is the one who gives the wise insight into the hidden secrets, light in the dark and who predetermines the periods of existence of all world empires. To the king, Daniel first apologizes Babylon's fortune tellers, sign interpreters and "astrologers" and thus saves their lives: Without God's grace they really could not guess anything. So initially he does not interpret the dream to the king, but announces the true God to him in the prophetic line of Isa 44.25  EU : “I am YHWH, who does everything, [...], who thwarts the work of the magicians and to the fortune tellers Makes a fool who forces the wise to retreat and exposes their cleverness as stupidity ... "

Dan 3: The fiery furnace

The furnace (wall painting by Franz Joseph Hermann, 1771)
Simeon Solomon: Schadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego (1863)
  • Dan 3: The fiery furnace. The king has a golden image of God erected that all officials of the kingdom are to worship. Daniel's friends refuse and survive the fiery furnace into which they are thrown as punishment. The king then commands the worship of YHWH as the only God.
  • (Extended chapter 3) Miraculous phenomena in the fiery furnace
  1. Azariah's prayer goes something like this: “All of your punishments are right, all of your judgments are true. We trust you completely. "
  2. Even though the stove was heated so much that flames leaking out killed the bystanders, Azariah and his companions remained unharmed in the fire. An angel of the Lord drove out the flames.
  3. The saved then praise God with an extensive hymn in which they call all creation to praise .

Shadrach (also "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego;" as Hebrews Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and Ananias, Misael and Azarias in the Vulgate ) are symbolic of extraordinary courage and fortitude as they in spite of threats, in refused to bow to a statue erected by Nebuchadnezzar and thus remained loyal to YHWH. The meanings of the Babylonian names are controversial, but they all refer to pagan gods and were certainly chosen deliberately to portray the Hebrews, whose names all referred to their god, as being knowledgeable in Babylon's religion:

  • Schadrach ( Hebrew שׁדרך): "Commandment Akus "
  • Meshach (מישׁך): "Who is like Aku"
  • Abed-Nego (עבד נגוא / עבד נגו): "Servant Nabus "

The names only appear in the first three chapters of the Book of Daniel (14 times) and there always in the same order. Since only Dan 1 mentions them with Hebrew names and as Daniel's companions, the Aramaic component of Dan 3 is considered a separate legendary story. With their renaming (Dan 1,17) and their common residence at the royal court (Dan 2,17) this is prepared literarily.

Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue built and demanded from his “princes, prefects, governors, advisors, magistrates and all other officials of the provinces” ( Dan 3.2  EU ) that they throw themselves to the ground in front of the statue and worship it as soon as possible the music had started playing. He threatened to let anyone who didn't do this be thrown into the glowing furnace . Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego were among those asked, but they refused to throw themselves to the ground in front of the statue. When the king asked them again, they refused the order. Even if their God, so their words before the king, did not want to save them from the glowing furnace (although he could), they would never worship the golden statue of the king ( Dan 3:16–18  EU ). The king then ordered them to be tied up and thrown into the stove, which was to be heated seven times hotter than usual, so hot that the flames that came out of the door killed the men the three friends and their clothes were in threw the stove.

Nebuchadnezzar then saw four figures (the three friends and an angel ) walking around in the fire. He had to see that God had saved the three friends. He ordered them to get out of the fire. The governors were to examine the three men. You were unharmed. There was no smell of burning on them, their cloaks were intact and not a single hair was scorched ( Dan 3:26–27  ELB ). So Nebuchadnezzar had to realize that someone is more powerful than himself: the only true and almighty God. He ordered that anyone who said something against the God of the three men should be killed ( Dan 3.29  EU ) and honored them with high offices in the province of Babel ( Dan 3.24–30  EU ).

Dan 4: The tree that grows to the sky

The chapter began in the original Hebrew text with Dan 3:31 ff. For  example, as a circular from Nebuchadnezzar “to all peoples, nations and languages ​​all over the world”: He wanted to announce to him the “signs and wonders” of the “highest God” for whom To proclaim “eternal rule of the king”. Accordingly, a hymnic doxology (3.33; 4.31 f.34) frames the king's speech: God's rule is infinitely superior to all human rule because it is true, enforces justice and humbles the haughty. This illustrates the narrative in several scenes:

  • In the middle of a carefree life situation, the king dreams a terrifying dream that none of his magicians and dream interpreters can interpret for him. Finally, he tells the dream of Daniel / Belshazzar, the “chief of magicians”, in which, as is well known, “the spirit of the holy gods” is (4.1–15).
  • He explains the dream to him: The tree growing towards the sky in the middle of the earth is the king himself. God has decided to destroy his kingdom, but to leave a rootstock. Daniel advised the king to redeem his offenses through justice and mercy against the poor in order to regain lasting happiness (4: 16-25).
  • The king's boast is followed by his overthrow: the dream becomes reality (4,26-30).
  • The outcast king finally turns to God and recognizes his superior rule, so that he pardons and reinstates him (4.31–34).

Each individual scene names the purpose of the dream and its interpretation: "so that the living may recognize that the Most High has power over human rule" (v. 14); “Until you know that the Most High has power over human rule and that he gives it to whom he will” (vv. 22 and 29). The fictional missive thus announces to the readers of the Book of Daniel that the “God of heaven” is the true, real ruler (“the highest”). He alone has the power to call and depose the earthly ruler and to lead him from the wrong to the right path through dreams like these. This god acts at all turning points in history, right through the human turbulence. Even the earthly rulers of the readers are, in spite of all their arbitrariness, ultimately only executive tools of this God.

According to Klaus Koch , verse 27 was added later, because he spoke of the king in a third person, contrary to the context, and justified his fall with his self-praise for his great buildings in the year after the dream, while verse 24 the fall with his previous ruthlessness on the poor (according to Dan 3 the enforced worship of foreign gods). The respectful king, worried about his dream, has become a boastful unimpressed by the dream and its interpretation. The editor can one also from Eusebius have known traditional Greek legend of the curse of Nebuchadnezzar at the loss of his kingdom: Then he wished for his victorious battles, walking on the palace roof, "the Medes," the Cyrus to victory over the last Babylonian ruler Nabonidus helped had to be expelled and wander around among animals. According to Dan 4:27–30, this inevitable fate met him himself: The editor took into account that the book of Daniel equated Nebuchadnezzar with Nabonid, the father of Belshazar.

Various extra-biblical text finds are considered as the motivic background of Dan 4. Christopher B. Hays sees parallels with the Babylonian poem Ludlul bēl nēmeqi . The Prayer of Nabonidus published in 1954 (an Aramaic fragment of the Qumran scrolls created after 100 BC) also tells of a Babylonian king who was divinely destructed with disease for seven years, lost his rule, living far from society with animals and had to feed on grass until a Judean, here nameless soothsayer enabled him to discover the true God and thus to heal and return to the throne. The parallels are less often explained by literary dependence, more often from a common older folk tale from the late period of the Babylonian Empire. Two steles from Harran, discovered in 1954, confirm this assumption. Nabonidus based his praise on God on this with biographical details in first-person style: He had to leave Babylon for a number of years determined by heavenly powers and wander around the area of ​​the Tema oasis. The highest being (here the moon god Sin ) punished Babylonian cities for their iniquity with illness. A divine dream revelation brought about the turning point: Sin ordered him to build a temple and enthroned him again after it was carried out. This royal propaganda could already have been reinterpreted by oppositional Marduk priests into a popular saga against Nabonidus. Exiled Jews can find out about this, and their descendants may later have referred to their god YHWH for their testimony.

They brought in the following features: Dan 4 is aimed at "all peoples and languages", that is, a nationally differentiated world audience. Not just any highest God is praised, but the creator of the world and his coming kingdom of justice for the poor, which is already intervening in world history. The earthly great king also rules universally, but is used by this god to fulfill his will in law. He has to prove himself by recognizing this God and protecting the poor and their religion. If he fails at this, God's will and action contradict his will until God prevails over his superior will. The traditional means of revelation of the royal dreams needs to be deciphered by Jewish, spirit-filled interpreters who limit the king's power.

Dan 5: The writing on the wall

The prophet Daniel on the ceiling fresco of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

At the feast of Belšazar, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar, the stolen Jerusalem temple treasures are used and desecrated by worshiping other gods. Thereupon a writing (the menetekel ) appears on the wall:מְנֵא מְנֵא תְּקֵל וּפַרְסִין[ məˈne məˈne təˈqel ufarˈsin ] 'counted, weighed and divided'. Only Daniel, called by the king's mother, can decipher it: God had counted Belšazar's days, weighed him and found him too light, he would divide his kingdom and hand it over to the Medes and Persians . That same night the king was killed, although he had previously clothed Daniel in purple and made him the third most senior public servant. The order of precedence is as follows: Nabonid (the king), Bel-šarru-uṣur (Belšazar, his son), the interpreter (Daniel).

Daniel could read the characters on the wall like coins:

  • Mene: God the Lord counted days of your rule (v. 26)
  • Mene: The Lord God has counted your rule and put an end to it (v. 26)
  • Tekel: You were weighed on the scales and found too light (v. 27)
  • Peres: Divided is thy kingdom, and given to the Medes and Persians given (v 28)

The Hebrew script, like the Arabic one, originally consisted only of consonant characters; apart from matres lectionis , it did not contain any characters for vowels. So he read:מנא מנא תקל ופרסין mn 'mn' tkl wprsjn

  • The first mn ' ( mene ) was a passive participle of Aramaic mena' ' to count'. It could also stand for mine (weight, coin), i.e. for a value. Rule is monetary.
  • The second mn ' is also a passive participle after the consonants and vowels and not only had the value of a mine, but should be read as' counted'. Then only the subjects God and Kingdom were needed to express: “God, the Lord, has counted your kingdom”. The mysterious origin of the whole script does not point to people, and the place where it was found - the wall - is of course understood as a support, as a rule.
  • All that was needed was the word שׁלםin the verbal stem hafˈʕel הַשְׁלֵם[ haʃlem ] 'put an end to' (your kingdom) with a personal suffix .
  • The word tkl initially means tekel , but could alsoתְּקִיל[ təqil ] mean 'weighed'. Daniel adds analogously: "You have been weighed". The Aramaic tikla (Heb.שֶׁקֶל[ ˈƩɛkɛl ]), like mine, denotes both a weight and a coin. Daniel adds: "you are (too) light".
  • In the same way Daniel takes a double meaning from the word prs :
  • pəˈres פְּרֵס(in the plural parˈsin ) indicates partial or half mines, but Daniel is readingפְּרִיס[ pəˈris ], passive participle 'broken', 'broken away', 'torn away'. Daniel adds one sentence to these words: "Your kingship has been torn from you". The wider sense of the prs indicatesפָּרָס[ paˈras ], that is, to Persia.

Overall, it should be shown how Daniel knows how to dress the mysterious script in understandable words like puns in an ambiguous sense from the weight and coin information. The text reads: “God has counted the days and the time of your kingdom and established that the predetermined number has been fully reached and has come to an end. You have been weighed and counted for too easy. Your kingdom will be torn away from you and given to the Persians. "

At the end Daniel is given the promised reward. But the next night Belšazar was killed.

The play on words Mene mene tekel u-parsin is most likely a picture puzzle and is a derivation of the Akkadian words manû šiqlu parsu , which were used to denote weight units . Against this background, it is clear why none of those present could explain the meaning of these words, even though the terms belonged to everyday language. The editor of the Book of Daniel turns this into a play on words in Aramaic, the literal translation of which remains unclear today as it was then.

The last time Belšazar is named as a deputy in the 13th year of the Nabu-na'id, whom he has represented since the 4th year of government. There is no direct reference to Belšazar's royal dignity outside of the Book of Daniel - but there is evidence that oaths were sworn on him as the king's son.

After the return of the Babylonian king from Tayma in the 14th year of reign, the name Belšazar is no longer mentioned in the documents. A premature death of his son is not recorded in the Nabonidus chronicles . In this context it is significant that the descendants of the Babylonian king were not prophesied of any subsequent kingship. It is therefore possible that there is a historical reference and that Belšazar was actually killed by the Marduk priesthood.

Dan 6: In the lions' den

Daniel in the Lions Den (painting by Peter Paul Rubens , ca.1615)
Daniel with lion, detail from the portal of St.Trophime in Arles
  • Dan 6: The new king Darius is urged by the envious of Daniel to pass a law that is supposed to forbid the worship of gods other than himself under threat of the death penalty. Because Daniel does not obey this, he is thrown into the den of lions, which the king himself seals. The next morning he is still alive: "... and no injury was found in him because he trusted his God". Then the king had Daniel's enemies killed and passed a law that stipulates that the biblical first commandment must be respected throughout the empire:

"He is the living God who remains forever, and his kingdom is immortal and his rule has no end."

Dan 7: Four animals, final judgment and son of man

The nocturnal vision consists of a sequence of scenes, each of which begins with “I had a vision / saw / looked”. The “night” is a picture of the fatal persecution that Jews in Israel were exposed to at that time. Verses 2-8 describe the rise of four great predators out of the sea churned by the four heavenly winds. The winds signal a global issue: It's about world history. The sea stands for the primordial flood, the chaos opposing God's ordering creation (Gen 1,2). The animals (lion, bear, panther) are images of ancient empires whose bestial threat increases: While the lion's wings are clipped and replaced by a human heart, the bear eats meat and the panther has more wings and heads than its predecessors. The fourth animal appears as a particularly cruel, immoderate creature that eats and grinds everything with huge iron teeth and crushes everything with its feet. The eleventh of his horns tore off three previous horns and spoke presumptuously with a human mouth. This blasphemy is followed by the final judgment in verses 9-12: God (the “very old”) and his council take their seats on the throne of fire while countless crowds serve him; Books are opened. Animals are deprived of their power and burned in fire. In the fourth beast, the reason is repeated ("because of the arrogant words spoken by the horn"). In verses 13-14 the Son of Man appears with the clouds of heaven. God hands over his power to him so that people “of all peoples, nations and languages” may serve him. His kingdom will be forever.

According to the four-animal scheme in Dan 2, the winged lion is identified with Babylonia, the erect bear with media, the four-headed panther mostly with Persia and the fourth animal with the empire of Alexander and his successors. Sometimes the second animal is identified with media and Persia, the third with Alexander's empire and the fourth only with the diadochin empire . There is consensus that the eleventh horn refers to Antiochus IV., His loud mouth refers to the temple desecration, also named in 1 Makk (167 BC).

The symbolic contrast between the violence and cruelty of the world empires born out of chaos and the kingdom of the Son of Man coming from heaven is clear: while the animals rob, eat and destroy everything, he rules without violence, so that all people serve him voluntarily. That, so the statement, is not a possible result of an internal historical development, but only God's work, which will break off and destroy all tyranny. Nevertheless it is a real, earthly kingdom on this earth.

The following interpretation, put in the mouth of an angel (verses 15-27), confirms this: There the Son of Man is identified with the “saints of the Most High”, that is, the people of the Torah-loyal Jews who persecuted persecution. So in the vision he represents both God's eternal rulership and the chosen people of God for whom it benefits. Thus, this apocalyptic vision after the end of the Israelite kingship preserves the earlier prophetic promises that the end-time Israel will one day be freed from all tyranny and be given world peace as a gift.

Dan 8–12: Further visions

  • Dan 8: Interpretation of the vision and representation of a religious persecution (possibly under Antiochus IV. Epiphanes, "the enlightened one").
  • Protest against the desecration of the temple by the Greeks
  • The dream of the ram and the billy goat and its horns:
    1. The Greeks triumph over the Medes and Persians (8.20), four small Greek empires (Diadochin empires) emerge
    2. He who prevents the daily sacrifice in the temple will be crushed without human intervention (8:25)
    3. Violence is unnecessary to liberate the temple (with which the Book of Daniel possibly gives an answer to the question, which was much discussed in Judaism under Antiochus IV. , How the temple was liberated)
  • In a near expectation (calculation in 8,14 and 12,12) Israel should be encouraged to decide for faithfulness and against foreign rule.
  • It is lamented that Israel deviated from the laws of Moses (9: 5) and the prophets (9: 6), but there is hope for a forgiving God (9:19)
  • Chapter 9 is about the seventy weeks of the year, or seventy "sevens" (Hebrew shabua ). It ties in with a promise made by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 25:11; 29:10), which dated the exile of the people of Israel in Babylon at seventy years. The expansion took place on the same basis, the penalty period (70 years of Babel) was increased sevenfold.
  • Events of the end times until the dawn of salvation (chap. 10-12)
  • Appearance of an angel prince, depiction from the "Book of Truth"
  • World history develops in wars and campaigns, but the "kings of the south" and the "kings of the north" are denied the honor of being named (possibly the Ptolemies and the Seleucids )
  • The "land of ornament", d. H. Israel falls completely under foreign rule (11:16)
  • Tax officials will subjugate Israel, they will be crushed, but "neither by anger nor by war" (11:20)
  • A “king of the north” tries to force many in Israel to leave the covenant (their own faith)
  • A rebellion is counted by the authors only as a "little help" (11.34) (possibly the Maccabees )
  • It is predicted that the "King of the North" and the "King of the South" will fight each other and that the "King of the North" will come to an end in Jerusalem.
  • There are several places in the Book of Daniel about "books".
    1. 7,10 "books will be opened"
    2. 10:21 "I will tell you what is recorded in the book of truth"
    3. 12.1 "everyone who is recorded in the book"
    4. 12.4 "seal the book until the time of the end"
  • Those recorded in the “book” (note: these are the righteous) will be saved. Many who sleep in the dust of the land will wake up; some to eternal life, others to shame, to eternal abhorrence.
  • In addition, in this end time, many dead in Israel will come to life again and awaken to eternal life
  • Counterviolence is rejected (cf. 11.20) - princes of angels protect in times of distress (12.1)

Dan 13-14: appendices


The Book of Daniel is a Jewish apocalypse and the only apocalyptic book of the Tanach. This literary genre can only be found there in individual chapters such as Isa 24-27, Isa 33 and Sach 1,7-6,8 (night faces). The “Book of the Guardians” at the beginning of the Book of Enoch (1–5; before 200 BC) influenced the ideas of the end times in Dan 12. The main feature is the visionary, coded, revelation of the future of the empires and the end times in a stylized speech form, accessible only to an initiated circle (Dan 2; 4; 7-12).

After the fall of the Jewish kingdom and centuries of foreign rule, the authors broaden their perspectives on world history . They claim to see and uncover God's plan for this story and its ultimate goal. The sequence of the world empires is predetermined and inevitably runs towards God's final judgment, which will time all tyranny, break it off and replace it with his imperishable rule. Accordingly, in the book of Daniel, God is usually called “God of heaven” (e.g. in Dan 2.18 f .; 5.23), only rarely YHWH. The title appears often in post-exilic Jewish literature and in Jewish letters from Elephantine (approx. 400 BC) and is interpreted as a Hebrew variant of the Ugaritic Ba'alsamem . This deity was identified in Hellenism with the highest Greek god Zeus Olympios. Antiochus' attempt to set up an altarpiece for Zeus in the Jerusalem temple and thus identify him with YHWH failed: for Jews who were loyal to the Torah, it was blasphemy worthy of death . This is what Dan 8:13 signifies; 9.27; 11.31; 12.11 and 1 Makk 1.54  EU that altarpiece and the associated practices in similar words as the "abomination of desolation".

Daniel's apocalyptic is a political theology that is critical of domination : based on the basic idea that YHWH as the Creator controls human history, it sees the emergence of ever new world empires with foreign gods who threaten the chosen people of God as part of his hidden plan. Nebuchadnezzar is a typified example of a foreign ruler who threatens himself and his kingdom with his hubris, so that YHWH gives him dreams and reminds him of the limits of his power through Torah-loyal Jews. Without claiming political power, they stand for the only God and the independence of their faith in him, which the foreign state must also respect for its own salvation. Because this state is always in danger of absolute claims to power, the representatives of the true ruler YHWH who are subordinate to it must be ready to be martyred .



With the apocryphal story Bel and the Dragon , Daniel was placed in the rank of biblical prophets. In the Jewish Tanakh, however, the book is not one of the "prophets" (Nevi'im), but one of the later "writings" (Ketuvim), which were canonized as the last and theologically subordinate group of scriptures. Daniel was not counted among the prophets for two main reasons:

  1. According to the Torah, prophets (nevi'im) always speak directly to God and not to intermediaries such as angels. Daniel, on the other hand, never spoke directly to God.
  2. In Judaism, a prophet (navi) speaks to his generation, not to subsequent generations. However, Daniel's visions are only intended for the future and not for his generation.

Rashi shows in his commentary on the Talmud that in order to be recognized as such a prophet must spread the news he receives. Daniel's prophecies are forward-looking because they covertly tell what will happen in the future. However, his messages were not spread among the population as the text itself implies. The Jewish historian Flavius ​​Josephus relates that older men in Jerusalem showed Alexander the Great when he entered Daniel's prophecy about the billy goat and the ram and that he referred the prophecy to himself. He treated the Jews, who were demonstrably friends with the Persians, very kindly, although at the time he was campaigning against Persia and its allies.

Early Christianity

Jesus of Nazareth knew and quoted Daniel's vision of the final judgment on the empires and of the Son of Man. He not only proclaimed the coming rule of God like Israel's prophets, but also like Daniel the coming of the Son of Man. This sovereign title appears in the New Testament exclusively in Jesus' own statements, unlike the post-Easter sovereignty titles of the early Christians (Christ, Kyrios, Logos, etc.). Characteristic was Jesus' claim to anticipate God's rule already now, under the still ongoing Roman tyranny. So he linked the visionary symbol of a finally human, nonviolent society with his person and made “Son of Man” his own name. He also claimed to represent the chosen and Torah-loyal people of Israel. At the same time he changed the apocalyptic expectation of the future: The Son of Man did not come to be served (cf. Dan 7:14), but to serve and to give his life as a “ransom for the many” (Mk 10:45; cf. Isa 53). In this way he excluded any misunderstanding of his work on the model of earthly tyranny and drew the eternal, immortal kingdom of the Son of Man into his suffering and death at the side of the victims of tyranny.

The Revelation of John , the only apocalyptic script of the NT that was created during the persecution of Christians , takes up the image motifs, numerical symbols and metaphors from Dan 7 to 11 and relates the “beast from the abyss” to the Roman Empire.


The Prophet Daniel (stained glass in Augsburg Cathedral , first half of the 12th century)
The tomb of the protagonist Daniel in Samarkand
The dream of Nebuchadnezzar ( Bamberg, State Library, Msc. Bibl. 22 , fol. 31v) Richenauer book painting, end of the 10th century

The Christianity expects Daniel to the "great prophet". In the Old Testament (OT) it is mostly after Isaiah , Jeremiah and Ezekiel : in the Bible editions of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches before the Book of the Twelve Prophets , in those of the Eastern churches behind it, i.e. at the end of the OT. Catholic and Orthodox churches followed the Septuagint and included its additions in their Bible canon. The Protestant churches, on the other hand, followed the Masoretic text and handed down the additions either not at all or as a special part of deuterocanonical or apocryphal texts with individual chapter and verse numbering (e.g. as pieces for the Book of Daniel with three chapters in Luther Bibles with Apocrypha or as the book "Additions Daniel" with chapters "A", "B" and "C" in some Good News Bibles ). Since the Middle Ages , the book has been divided into 12 or 14 chapters.

A Russian icon of Daniel, who holds a scroll with his prophecy and points to the "unbroken mountain". (Dan 2.34–35 EU ). From the 18th century.
17th century Russian Orthodox icon of Daniel in the den of lions. Above the Logos (Christ, Immanuel ) is shown before his incarnation, below Habakkuk, who is carried by an angel.

Daniel's prophecy, which predicts the “destruction of the image” ( Dan 2.24 f.  EU ) is often understood in orthodox songs as a metaphor for the Incarnation of God : The broken stone as a symbol of the Logos of Jesus Christ , and since it is “not by hands “Was broken loose, this is symbolically interpreted as the virginity of Mary . That is why the Theotokos is also referred to in songs as the “unbroken mountain”.

The Orthodox Churches have decided to commemorate Daniel and the three men in the fiery furnace on December 17th and on the Sunday of the Holy Ancestors (the Sunday between December 11th and 17th). On December 17th, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and the Armenian Apostolic Church also commemorate Daniel and the men in the furnace. The Roman Catholic Church commemorates Daniels on July 21, the Coptic Church on March 19. The prophet Daniel is depicted as a memorial for the palace dome in Berlin by Gustav Blaeser and as a sandstone figure by Gustav Blaeser for the Friedenskirche in Potsdam .

The Jehovah's Witnesses , the Adventists and the Brethren the Book until today particularly strong attention is.


Although Daniel does not appear in the Koran , he is described in several hadiths by Mohammed and others, according to which whoever finds the corpse of this prophet and buries it will go to paradise. According to the World Chronicle at-Tabarīs , the body was found at the time of the second caliph ʿUmar ibn al-Chattāb (634-644) by Abū Mūsā al-Aschʿarī in Susa in what is now Persia and then buried again. The body is said to have been unharmed and to have worn a ring with a man and two lions.

The historian Husain ibn Muhammad ad-Diyārbakrī (d. 1559) narrates the following description and explanation of Daniel's signet ring in his world chronicle Taʾrīḫ al-Ḫamīs : “On Daniel's signet ring there was engraved a lion and a lioness with a boy between them they licked. When ʿUmar looked at it, his eyes swam in tears. The background (sc. Of the picture) was that when Nebuchadnezzar had taken power, it was prophesied that someone who would be born in his day would kill him. He then consistently had all the boys killed. And when Daniel was born, his mother threw him into a thicket in the hope that he would escape the killing. God then brought him a lion to protect him and a lioness to suckle him. These are the two who lick it off. And Daniel wanted to keep the memory of the experienced goodness of God with this engraving on his signet ring. "

See also




  • Klaus Koch: Biblical Commentary Old Testament XXII / 1: Daniel 1–4. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2005, ISBN 3-7887-0788-7 .
  • Matthias Albani: Daniel. Dream interpreter and end time prophet. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2010, ISBN 978-3-374-02717-0 .
  • Dieter Bauer: The Book of Daniel. Catholic Bible Work, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-460-07221-0 .
  • Gerhard Maier : The Prophet Daniel. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1982, ISBN 3-417-25209-1 .

Individual examinations

  • Hartmut Gese : The historical picture of the Daniel book and Egypt. In: Hartmut Gese: Old Testament Studies. Mohr, Tübingen 1991, ISBN 3-16-145699-8 , pp. 189-201.
  • Hartmut Gese: The meaning of the crisis under Antiochus IV. Epiphanes for the apocalyptic of the Daniel book. In: Hartmut Gese: Old Testament Studies. Mohr, Tübingen 1991, ISBN 3-16-145699-8 , pp. 202-217.
  • Roger Liebi : World history in the sights of the prophet Daniel. 8., revised. Edition. CLV, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-86699-102-6 .
  • Katharina Bracht, David S. du Toit (ed.): The history of the Daniel interpretation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Studies on the commentary on the Daniel book in literature and art (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science. Vol. 371). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019301-5 , urn : nbn: de: 101: 1-2016112311761 .
  • Klaus Koch: The realms of the world and the coming Son of Man. Studies on the Daniel Book. Collected essays Volume 2. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, ISBN 3-7887-1515-4 .
  • John Day: The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the hero of the Book of Daniel. In: Vetus Testamentum. 30 (1980), ISSN  0042-4935 , pp. 174-184, doi: 10.1163 / 156853380X00047 .

Web links

Commons : Daniel  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Book of Daniel  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Bible text


Single receipts

  1. ^ Dieter Bauer: The book of Daniel. Stuttgart 1996, p. 36.
  2. Jürgen Lebram: Daniel / Daniel book. In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . Volume VIII. De Gruyter, Berlin 1981, p. 325 f.
  3. ^ Herbert Niehr: The book of Daniel. In: Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart 2006, p. 511.
  4. Gerhard Lohfink : The beasts and the son of man. In: Gerhard Lohfink: Jesus of Nazareth. What he wanted what he was. 3. Edition. Herder, Freiburg 2012, p. 70.
  5. ^ CL Seow: Daniel (= Westminster Bible companion ). Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville KY / London 2003, ISBN 0-664-25675-9 , p. 3 ( preview in Google Book Search).
  6. ^ Tombs of the Prophets in the Middle East. Israelnetz.de , March 20, 2020, accessed on March 27, 2020 .
  7. ^ Dieter Bauer: The book of Daniel. Stuttgart 1996, pp. 17-20.
  8. ^ Herbert Niehr: The book of Daniel. In: Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart 2006, p. 508 f.
  9. ^ Herbert Niehr: The book of Daniel. In: Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart 2006, pp. 510-512.
  10. Klaus Koch: Daniel 1–4. Neukirchen-Vluyn 2005, pp. 25-30.
  11. ^ Dieter Bauer: The book of Daniel. Stuttgart 1996, pp. 27-29.
  12. ^ CL Seow: Daniel (= Westminster Bible companion ). Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville KY / London 2003, ISBN 0-664-25675-9 , pp. 4-7.
  13. ^ Herbert Niehr: The book of Daniel. In: Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart 2006, pp. 510-512.
  14. Otto Kaiser: Introduction to the Old Testament. 4th edition. Gütersloh 1978, ISBN 3-579-04458-3 , p. 282 f.
  15. ^ Dieter Bauer: The book of Daniel. Stuttgart 1996, pp. 65-76.
  16. ^ Dieter Bauer: The book of Daniel. Stuttgart 1996, pp. 77-90.
  17. Klaus Koch: God's rule over the human kingdom. Dan 4 in the light of new discoveries. In: Klaus Koch: The realms of the world and the coming Son of Man. Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, pp. 82-89.
  18. Klaus Koch: God's rule over the human kingdom. Dan 4 in the light of new discoveries. In: Klaus Koch: The realms of the world and the coming Son of Man. Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, pp. 89-95.
  19. Christopher B. Hays: Chirps from the Dust: The Affliction of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30 in its ancient Near Eastern Context. In: Journal of Biblical Literature . 126/2, 2007, ISSN  0021-9231 , pp. 305-325, doi: 10.2307 / 27638436 .
  20. Klaus Koch: God's rule over the human kingdom. Dan 4 in the light of new discoveries. In: Klaus Koch: The realms of the world and the coming Son of Man. Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, pp. 95-105.
  21. Klaus Koch: God's rule over the human kingdom. Dan 4 in the light of new discoveries. In: Klaus Koch: The realms of the world and the coming Son of Man. Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, p. 117 f.
  22. Gerhard Lohfink: The beasts and the son of man. In: Gerhard Lohfink: Jesus of Nazareth. Freiburg 2012, pp. 68–73.
  23. Otto Kaiser: Introduction to the Old Testament. Gütersloh 1978, p. 282.
  24. ^ Herbert Niehr: The book of Daniel. In: Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart 2006, p. 512 f.
  25. Othmar Keel : Antiochus IV's ritual measures: persecution of religion and / or attempt at reform? In: Othmar Keel (ed.): Hellenism and Judaism. Four studies on Daniel 7 and on the religious distress under Antiochus IV. (= Orbis biblicus et orientalis. Volume 178). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen; Univ.-Verlag, Freiburg, Switzerland 2000, ISBN 3-525-53992-4 , pp. 103–111 ( preview in Google book search).
  26. Klaus Koch: Daniel 1–4. Neukirchen-Vluyn 2005, SV
  27. ^ Jewish Thought. Who were the prophets? How many? (No longer available online.) In: shamash.org. Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, archived from the original ; accessed on September 6, 2018 (English, SCJ FAQ: Section 12.11.).
  28. Gerhard Lohfink: Jesus the Son of Man. In: Gerhard Lohfink: Jesus of Nazareth. What he wanted what he was. Freiburg 2012, pp. 446–449.
  29. Pieces from the Book of Daniel: chap. 1: The story of Susanna and Daniel; Cape. 2: From Bel to Babel (addition to the end of the book of Daniel); From the Dragon to Babel (continuation of the previous); Cape. 3: Azariah's prayer (addition to Dan 3:23); The song of the three men in the fiery furnace (continuation of the addition to Dan 3:23).
  30. Sergei Nikolajewitsch Bulgakow : December 11-17: Sunday of the Holy Forefathers. In: Handbook for Church Servers. 2nd Edition. Translated by Eugene D. Tarris (2000). Kharkov 1900, pp. 453-462; online ( memento of March 26, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). In: transfigcathedral.org, accessed on May 5, 2017 (PDF; 17 kB).
  31. December 17th. In: Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  32. ^ Francis Gigot: Daniel. In: The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 4. Robert Appleton Company, New York 1908 ( online at: newadvent.org, accessed November 21, 2017).
  33. ^ Daniel in the Ecumenical Saint Lexicon , accessed on November 21, 2017
  34. Hartmut Bobzin : Comments on Daniel in the Islamic tradition. In: K. Bracht, D. S. du Toit (ed.): The history of the Daniel interpretation. 2007, pp. 167–178, here: p. 174.
  35. Ḥusain ibn Muḥammad ad-Diyārbakrī:تاريخ الخميس في أحوال أنفس نفيس Tārīḫ al-ḫamīs fī aḥwāl anfas nafīs . 2 vols. Cairo 1866–67. Reprinted by Muʾassasat Šaʿbān li-n-Našr wa-t-Tauzīʿ, Beirut 1975. Vol. I, OCLC 910102916 , p. 178.