Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book of Daniel

Daniel 1-12

The book of Daniel is all about dreams and their interpretations.  This post is about as confused as his prophesies.

Daniel and some friends are made slaves of Nebuchadnezzar and have their names changed.
Slave Daniel asks God to save his hide by helping him interput Nebuchadnezzar's bad dream.

Daniel's interpretation is convoluted and a pretty generic answer, sort of like today's psychics.

Even so, the king is so impressed that he worships the jewish god and makes Daniel a ruler;

2:46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

But in the next chapter ol' Nebu gets mad because the Jews won't worship his god and idol 
and throws them into a burning, fiery furnace, but they are unscathed!!!  And to top it off, the Son of God is walking around in the furnace with them!

3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

What else could the king do but convert to Judaism.  Again.

3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

But, God causes Nebbie to go nuts and lives like a wild animal in the woods for (a year?  Not really sure on the exact timeframe) before returning to the throne.  You think this would have been mentioned somewhere else other then the Bible but I can't find it.

Daniel repeats his dream interpretation act almost to the letter with king Belshazzar and is again rewarded.  But that doesn't stop him from being thrown to the lions by Belshazzar's confederates.

6:10-24 is the story of Daniel in the lions den.  Once again I'm shocked that such a quick story has gained such notoriety, even outside the christian community.  The gruesome end of the guilty parties (and their families) is never mentioned of course. 

The dreams and interpretations continue thru-out the book.  Daniel meets several angels.
As per Daniels first predication, a string of kings comes and goes.  Nebuchadnezzar even writes a chapter!

The second half of the book turns grim and we get some proto revelations.  End of the world stuff.
It goes into great detail on the happenings but it's still middle-east centric, which is odd because the world is so much bigger now.
When reading it, I got the feeling that the author thought the end times would occur with-in his lifetime, but Daniel is ultimately noncommittal as to when God will put and end to his failed experiment.

All we know is that there will be zombies!!!

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  1. Ah Daniel. In the Jewish Tanakh Daniel is classified as a 'writing' along with Esther, Ruth, Psalms... not as a 'prophet'; the Christian Bibles puts the book in with the Prophets. Daniel is also longer in the Roman Catholic/Orthodox Bible than in most Protestant Bibles (the extra bits include Daniel saving the life of a woman accused of adultery when he shows the stories of the two accusers don't agree and Daniel demonstrating that the god, Bel, wasn't the one eating the offerings left for him).

  2. Daniel is also interesting in that it was apparently written in two languages (or three if we count the deuterocanonical bits not found in the Jewish or Protestant Bibles that were in Greek). From the beginning until chapter 2 first half of verse 4 it is in Hebrew, second half of verse 4 until the end of chapter 7 in Aramaic and the rest of the book in Hebrew again. What is odd is that it does not follow the other major dividing point which is chapters 1-6 are stories about Daniel (or about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) and chapters 7-12 are visions.

  3. Thanks again for the info Erp. I'm guessing the language difference is due to the collection/preservation process. They took the best, most intact documents available.
    As for the extra bits, the Catholics are big on story telling. A few more can't hurt.

  4. The extra bits are from the Septuagint the early Greek version of the Bible so they do pre-date the New Testament. For the early Christians the Greek version of the Bible was the version used, Greek being the common language of the eastern Roman Empire (Hebrew had become strictly a language of ritual and scripture so few people especially thse not raised Jewish knew it) so it became the standard version.

    Why the rest of Daniel was split between Hebrew and Aramaic is debated. It would make sense if the stories were in one and the visions in the other as then it would be separate bits brought together later. Perhaps your suggestion is correct but the first change is right in the middle of a story. To be exact,

    "Then the astrologers answered the king," is in Hebrew and it switches to Aramaic for “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it” and for the next few chapters.