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DANIEL by John Gill Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee; that it may be displayed because of the truth — Psalm 60:4 INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL This book is called, in the Vulgate Latin version, “the Prophecy of Daniel”; and in the Syriac and Arabic versions “the Prophecy of Daniel the Prophet”. This Daniel was of the children of Judah, that were carried captive into Babylon with Jehoiakim; and was of princely blood, if not of the royal seed, as appears from, ( Daniel 1:3,5). Josephus is express for it, that he was of the kindred and family of Zedekiah: and Saadiah Gaon f2 says he was of the seed of Hezekiah, and so fulfilled the prophecy in ( Kings 20:18). As to what the author of the “Lives of the Prophets”, ascribed to Epiphanius, says f3 , that he was born in upper Bethabara, not far from Jerusalem, it is not to be depended on; or that his father’s name was Sabaam, according to a tradition mentioned by the true Epiphanius f4 . The Jews would have it that this book was not written by Daniel himself, but by the men of the great synagogue; though it is evident, from the book itself, that Daniel is the writer of it, as from ( Daniel 7:1,2,28 Daniel 8:1,15,27 Daniel 9:2 Daniel 10:2 Daniel 12:5). That he wrote books, which were received, read, and believed by the Jews as of God, is affirmed by Josephus f6 ; and the Jews in general acknowledge that this book was written by the influence of the Holy Spirit, but not by prophecy; they, without any foundation, distinguishing between the Holy Spirit and prophecy. And so Maimonides says f7 , it is the general consent of their nation, that this book is among the holy writings, but not among the Prophets; nor will they allow Daniel to be a prophet: the reasons they give are frivolous; what seems to have induced them to degrade him is the manifest prophecy of the time of the Messiah’s coming in this book, which sometimes they are obliged to own is fixed in it. They tell us a story of Jonathan ben Uzziel, that having finished his paraphrase of the Prophets, thought to have wrote one on the Hagiographa, or holy writings, among which they place the book of Daniel; but was forbid by “Bath Kol”, or a voice from heaven, giving this as a reason, because that in it is contained the end of the Messiah f8 , the precise time of his coming; and the gloss on the passage adds, by way of explanation, “in the book of Daniel;” though elsewhere they would have it, that after it was made known to Daniel, it was taken away from him. For so, they say f9 , there are two men to whom the end was revealed, and afterwards it was hidden from them; and these are they, Jacob and Daniel: from Daniel, according to ( Daniel 12:4), “but thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book etc.”, from Jacob, ( Genesis 49:1), “that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days”. Yet the prophecy of Daniel was so clear, with respect to the time of the Messiah’s coming, that one of their Rabbins, who lived about fifty years before the coming of Christ, asserted that the time of the Messiah, as signified by Daniel, could not be deferred longer than those fifty years f10 ; and a most glaring prophecy it is, and sufficient to denominate Daniel a prophet, as well as many more contained in this book.
And, after all, Maimonides himself owns, that he, and the other writers of the Hagiographa, or holy writings, may be called prophets in general. And Aben Ezra observes of Daniel, in his preface, that he delivered out prophecies of things now past, and of things to come; yea, he expressly calls him a prophet on ( Daniel 1:17). And Jacchiades, another of their commentators on this book, says that he attained to the highest degree of prophecy. To which may be added the testimony of Josephus f11 , who says he was one of the greatest prophets, and to be preferred to others; since he not only predicted things future, but fixed the time when they should come to pass. And, above all, and what should satisfy us Christians, he is expressly called a prophet by our Lord, ( Matthew 24:15). There are no other authentic writings of Daniel, which bear his name; the stories of Susannah, and of Bel and the Dragon, which make the “thirteenth” and “fourteenth” chapters in the Greek of Theodotion, and in the Vulgate Latin version, are apocryphal and spurious. The Oriental writers make Daniel the author of a volume, entitled, “Principles relating to the Explanation of Dreams”. And there is another book in the king of France’s library, with this title, “Odmath-al-mantoul ân Daniel al-nabi”; which contains predictions of the Prophet Daniel, received by tradition from him. This is a book which abounds with falsities, forged by the Mahometans, and founded on the real prophecies of Daniel f12 . This book, written by him, is partly historical, relating facts in which he was concerned; and partly prophetic, of things that should happen from his time to the end of the world, and especially of the Messiah and his kingdom; and it is written partly in Hebrew, and partly in Chaldee. This great man, as he was both in nature and grace, in religion and politics, lived throughout the captivity, but does not seem ever to have returned into Judea; but continued in the courts of the kings of the Medes and Persians, to take care of the affairs of his people the Jews. Where he died, and was buried, is not certain. Some say in Babylon; and others, which is more likely, at Susa on the Tigris, where he was in the third year of Cyrus, ( Daniel 10:1,4). So says Abulfeda f13 ; with which agrees the account of Benjamin of Tudela f14 .