Daniel Made Simple!

by Leolaia 35 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    Nice, thanks. Leolaia have you any thoughts about the odd statement in the Talmud: Tract Baba Bathra, fol. 15a., and reads, ?The men of the Great Synagogue have written Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and Esther.?

  • Leolaia

    frankiespeakin....The language indeed reveals the work for what it is. The book of Daniel is a classic apocalyptic pseudegraph (that is, a work falsely claiming to be written by a famous ancient prophet or faithful person of old), exactly in the vein of 1 Enoch and 2 Baruch which similarly contain a mix of both "historical" or narrative sections and prophetic sections. It became part of the Bible on the sheer weight of its popularity. By being placed near the end of the Hagiographa (9th out of the 11 books, or 10th out of the 11 in the Aleppo Codex), we can see that it just barely made it into the OT canon. And the Hagiographa is just the odds-n-ends part of the OT. The book came along too late to be counted as one of the Prophets (strange isn't it, for a book that is supposedly a supreme exemplar of prophecy). Although it is sandwiched in our modern Bibles in the middle of the Prophets, that's not where it was in the original canon. It was basically tacked on almost at the very end of the OT.

    seattleniceguy.....Thanks very much. I can give one additional point regarding the 70 weeks prophecy that shows that the "anointed one" that is "cut-off" could not be the promised Messiah. There is indeed a messianic figure in Daniel and he is twice described as a angelic "Prince" who comes from heaven to replace Antiochus as ruler. But the critical thing is that he appears at the end of Antiochus' reign of terror, not before Antiochus even profanes the Temple. We first encounter this figure in the vision of the four beasts in ch. 7. When the vision of the fourth beast (Greece) reaches the part about the "little horn" (Antiochus), and especially in its description of how this horn had "a mouth full of boasts" (recalling Antiochus' infamous blasphemy in referring to himself as a god greater than the Jewish god), it is suddenly interrupted with vision of heaven and the arrival of the Messiah:

    "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).

    This passage clearly designates this heavenly being as replacing Antiochus' dominion with his own. And this is not a Messiah that is suddenly "cut off" before the Temple is defiled by the disastrous abomination; the text clearly states that his dominion "will not pass away". It is also important to note that this "one like a son of man" is actually an angelic being. This suggests that the figure is not actually human but rather resembles a human being, and similar expressions are used throughout Daniel to describe angels. Thus in Daniel 8:15, Gabriel is described as "one having the apperance of a man," in 10:16 an angel (possibly Gabriel) is referred to as "one in the likeness of the sons of men," and again in 10:18 the angel is described as "one having the appearance of a man. Similar expressions are found in Daniel 3:25, 9:21, and 12:6-7. One should also recognize that Daniel is literarily dependent on Ezekiel, and we find a similar description of angels as having "a likeness as it were of a human form" (Ezekiel 1:26). And of course, we should not forget that this "one like a son of man" is seen arriving on "the clouds of heaven," again suggesting a heavenly being.

    Now, the interpretation of this vision in 7:25-27 goes on to confirm that this messianic deliverer arrives after Antiochus has oppressed the Jews and defiled the Temple for 3 1/2 years:

    "He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him".

    So the Messiah appears after Antiochus has done his dirty business. It's just the same thing we find in the Great Vision of ch. 11-12. Daniel 11:36-37 says of Antiochus: "He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place". And then the text goes on to describe Antiochus' further campaigns and gives the last historical detail of what transpired: "Reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many." Indeed, in winter of 163 BC Antiochus campaigned to the north and then to Persia to quell a rebellion. There he died in real life. However, the text goes on to say that Antiochus returned from this campaign and attacked Judea one last time, presumably in revenge for the events of December 164 BC (when the Maccabean revolt restored Temple worship and regained Judean sovereignty): "He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the Land of Splendour [i.e. Judea]" (v. 45), and there he would die: " Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him". This did not happen; it is part of the book's false prophecy. Of course, everyone fully expected when the book was written that Antiochus would not take his defeat in stride and would return to strike back. However, it wasn't imagined that he would die before he had a chance to return to Judea.

    Anyway, the very next verse describes what happens next: "At that time Michael, the great Prince who protects your people, will stand up. This will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered" (Daniel 12:1). Again, Michael the Archangel did not deliver Judea from Antiochus in 163 BC as expected. But Michael does not simply "stand up" ('md) .... this is actually an idiom used throughout the book of Daniel (cf. 8:22-23; 11:2-3, 20, 21, etc.) to mean "begin ruling as king":

    "In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce face, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up...Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia...A mighty king shall stand up, who shall rule with great dominion" (8:22; 11:2-3).

    So here we encounter the same picture as in ch. 7: Antiochus' domination as tyrant is replaced by the heavenly, angelic prince who is given authority and dominion and who reigns as king forever. Note also that the books of judgment are mentioned in connection with Michael in 12:1-2 and with the "one like a son of man" and the Ancient of Days in 7:10-13 (cf. Revelation 20:12). A very similar role can be found for Michael in the Qumran War Scroll (first century B.C.), who is appointed to combat and subdue the "prince of the realm of wickedness", in a divine war that comes very close to the struggle described in Daniel 11-12, and which ends with Michael given authority and the "dominion of Israel":

    "You appointed the Prince of Light from of old to assist us, for in his lot are all the sons of righteousness and all sprits of truth are in his dominion....Today is God's appointed time to subdue and to humiliate the prince of the realm of wickedness. He will send eternal support to the company of his redeemed by the power of his majestic angel of the authority of Michael. By eternal light he shall joyfully light up the covenant of Israel -- peace and blessing for the lot of God -- to exalt the authority of Michael among the gods and dominion of Israel among all flesh. (War Scroll, 1QM 13:10; 17:5-8)

    Now, after surveying the above, we can simply see that the "anointed one" that is "cut off" could not possibly be the expected messianic figure. He is cut off at the beginning of the 70th week (after the completion of the 69 weeks), before the defiling of the Temple and the cessation of sacrifice that spans from the middle of the 70th week to the end of the week (the time when the book was written, the "time of the end" in Daniel). In the schema of the 70 weeks, the Messiah figure should show up to take his authority after the completion of the 70 weeks. So therefore, he cannot be the "anointed one" who dies at the beginning of the 69th week. This "anointed one" has to be somebody else. And indeed, nowhere do the other visions in Daniel refer to a different Messiah figure who appears before Antiochus meets his end. But....in the Great Vision of ch. 11, we do encounter an allusion to the assassination of Onias III in Daniel 11:22 that matches very well with the earlier vision's "anointed one" who is "cut off" without a successor.

  • seattleniceguy

    Hey Leoleia, thanks for that followup! I'm going to have to read that a bit more slowly when I have some more time...but thanks!

    And damn you are smart!


  • Leolaia

    January 163 BC was an extremely tense time. People had no idea how long the Temple would be restored, or how long Judean sovereignty would last. Finally after centuries of subjugation, fulfullment of the old exilic and post-exilic Messianic prophecies seemed to be at hand! Great things were about to happen. The kingdoms would surely get what's coming to them for what they did to the Temple and to the saints who were martyred in the persecutions. And it certainly was expected that Antiochus would not take this defeat in stride, that he would return in great vengeance to reclaim what was taken from him. For the author of Daniel, it literally was the end of history. This is what most modern readers of Daniel fail to realize. I think the months of tense waiting to see what happens next would have been the perfect milieu for the book to spread like wildfire. Too bad things ended so anti-climactically tho. But because of the vagueness of the vision's conclusion, and because of the popularity of the book, it was ripe for reinterpretation as generations of Jews and Christians have done since.

  • peacefulpete

    Am I in the dog house with you guys too?

  • Leolaia

    PP....Ummmm...I'm not sure I understand what you mean about being in the doghouse??

    Here is the passage from the Babylonian Talmud:

    "Who wrote the Scriptures? ? Moses wrote his own book and the portion of Balaam and Job. Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and [the last] eight verses of the Pentateuch. Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the Book of Judges and Ruth. David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, namely, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. Jeremiah wrote the book which bears his name, the Book of Kings, and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the Great Assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time. This confirms the opinion of Rab, since Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab: Ezra did not leave Babylon to go up to Eretz Yisrael until he had written his own genealogy. Who then finished it [the Book of Chronicles]? ? Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah." (Baba Bathra 14b-15a)

    I'm not sure what the correct answer to your question is, but here is my guess. The Men of the Great Assembly are the ones, according to tradition, who put together the OT canon after Ezra. Now, the word translated "wrote" might imply "finish writing" or "publish", as in copying the work into a canonical compilation. That would make sense in the case of Hezekiah being the author of Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs, etc. That is, King Hezekiah would be the one who completed the writing of these books, copying them and distributing them (i.e. publishing them) -- even though the person who traditionally wrote most of Isaiah was Isaiah and the person who traditionally wrote most of Proverbs and Song of Songs was Solomon. In the case of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Esther, the thing they all have in common is that they were not written in Judea....each being written in exile in another land. So...it is possible that the tradition held that these books were copied and published in Judea by the Men of the Great Assembly to be added to the canon. I don't know what to make of the reference to the Minor Prophets tho. I'm sure there are a ton of Jewish reference works on the Talmud that might help interpret this passage.

  • Corvin


    Corvin....Well, the article I led this thread off with does a fantastic job in explaining what the book of Daniel is all about, and it really is a lot simpler than it looks, because the whole book is really just about one thing.... that the terror of Antiochus Epiphanes is about to come to an end and the glorious Messianic kingdom is about to break through at any moment. Every vision is about the same thing and even the historical parts liken the present tyranny and persecution with that that Daniel lived through under Babylonian rule. The martyred saints who kept their faith through persecution are like those the Babylonian king threw into the lion's den or into the fiery furnace. And the promise is that Antiochus, like Belshazzar, has his days numbered and will be overthrown at any moment.

    It is a spectacular failed prophecy. And like the Watchtower Society, ppl ever since have tried to rationalize the failure and change the interpretations to fit current circumstances. It is an object lesson in the failure to predict the future, and of just how long ppl have been waiting for this so-called "paradise" to appear.

    Thanks for the short answer .

  • LittleToe


    A little over two years ago JanH put me straight on the dating of the book (in no uncertain terms). I hadn't read up on all of that detail, though.

    Thanks again.

    (good to see you around, too, Pete )

  • peacefulpete

    I'm just a little paranoid lately I guess. We of course lost the appeal, they df's us for comments I made nearly 4 years ago with a good freind questioning whether the flood story need be interpreted as worldwide. Also when 2 elders came uninvited ostensibly for a "sheparding visit" last winter and they pumped me until I asked if THEY understood the blood policy. And because my wife wrote in a letter to her mom last year that she regretted having shunned her little sister now that she undestood how it hurts. They are now using the "abandonment of faith" clause in the Flock book without the subsequent words about "teaching false doctrine" or "promoting false religion". IOW never tell them you have doubts nor express your concerns as these reveal a loss of faith which is a disfellowshipping offence. We're playing our last hand now by threatening suit if they proceed. We of course would love to be free of the stigma of having been associated with the cult, but my parents still need us and we them. I will provide details later. Then I lost my head and got embroiled in a knock down drag out fight about exposed breast feeding....I plead temporary insanity.

  • frankiespeakin


    I feel for you,, I think the elders dealing with you are recieving pressure from the CO to get you DF'd. I hope your threats of law of a law suit bring some relief for both you and your parents.

    As for the "little" misunderstanding on the bf thread I think all us males that read it have a better idea of what women go thru and how sensitive and important this subject is to them.

    I feel you were easily misunderstood because of the very sensitive nature of the issue. Don't let it get you down. I think what these women were trying to do is educate us men about nursing and the problems they encounter,, and your comments kind of opened the way for them to bring out more feelings that may have been eating at them. I really feel your comments were good and kind,,they just touched on a very sensitive area, I also think you are not in the dog house anymore and everything has settled down.

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