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2.3 - Authorship Listen to Authorship

(Work in progress.)

(Work in progress.)

Like many books within the Bible, the name of the book of Daniel identifies the author who wrote the book’s contents: Daniel. Like Cyrus (Isa. 45:3-4), who also figures prominently in the book of Daniel, Daniel’s name was not a matter of historical accident. Daniel’s name means “God is my judge” or “God is judge”1 and serves to emphasize one of the major themes of the book: the judgment of the nations (both Jewish and Gentile).

Daniel was probably born during the reign of King Josiah and was a teenager at the time he was taken to Babylon. He served under both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires from about 605 - 537 B.C. (see Chronology of Daniel). Thus, he was intimately familiar with the historical setting surrounding the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah and the rise and eventual overthrow of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Among the varied biographical passages within Scripture, the life of Daniel in Babylon—like that of Joseph in Egypt—is notably unique:

Rarely in the Bible are we given a close and revealing look at the life of an individual whose personal history is free from major sins much less minor blunders and blemishes. . . . Rarely does a man prosper materially and have great political power and yet remain authentically righteous in his life as well as consistently loyal to his God. And rarely does a man who does possess power, prestige and wealth become a primary channel for critical revelation from God. But such a man is Daniel.2

Indeed, Daniel serves as a model for all who are called of God and find their giftedness in secular activities which are not traditionally considered as serving God.3 In this role, he is much like Joseph.

Joseph and Daniel
AttributeJoseph4 Daniel5
CharacterExcellent, godly (Gen. 39:8-13).Excellent, godly (Dan. 6:10+; 9:1-23+; 10:11+, 19+).
Taken forcefully to a foreign country.6 Joseph sold by his brothers (Gen. 37:12-36).Daniel captured by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:1-7+).
Exalted within a Gentile government.Ruled under the king of Egypt (Gen. 41:42-44; 44:14; 50:18; Ps. 105:20-22).Ruled under the kings of Babylon & Medo Persia (Dan. 2:48-49+; 5:29+; 6:2+).
Revelation given while in exile.7 Under Egypt (Gen. 41:25-32).Under Babylon & Medo-Persia (Dan. 2:23+; 4:19+; 5:25+; 7:1+; 8:1+; 9:1+, 24-27+; 10:1+).
Interpreted dreams.For Gentile king, Pharaoh (Gen. 41:25-32).For Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:29-45+).
Recognized as possessing God’s Spirit.8 By Pharaoh (Gen. 41:38)By Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:5-6+) and the queen (Dan. 5:11+).
Purpose of dreams.Revealed future: sequence of plenty before famine (Gen. 41:26-30).Revealed future: sequence of Gentile empires (Dan. 2:36-45+).
Captivity resulted in provision for the Jews (Ps. 106:46; Rom. 8:28).9 Favor for Jews during famine (Gen. 45:17-18; Ps. 105:17-23).Favor for Jews during Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9:1-19+; 10:13+, 20+).10
Supernatural abilities.Attributed to God (Gen. 41:16).Attributed to God (Dan. 2:20-23+, 28+, 30+).
Historical timing of revelation.At formation of the nation of Israel (Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1).At the close of sovereign reign of Davidic kingdom (Jer. 22:30; 36:30; Eze. 21:13) and the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles.

These parallels between Daniel and Joseph are not coincidental, but designed by the Holy Spirit. They provide significant evidence that the author of the book is none other than the biblical Daniel and not some other Daniel unknown to the biblical record (see below). These observations form part of the “Scripture safety net” we discussed in the section titled Scripture Upholds Scripture. We should also note that the stellar record of Daniel’s character exhibited within the Scriptures also provides weighty evidence against the notion that an extra-biblical Daniel authored the book.

One difference between Daniel and Joseph is that although Joseph experienced and interpreted dreams, they were not of the frequency and significance of those of Daniel. Thus, while Daniel was similar to Joseph in how he served in government, he also had a prophetic ministry leading our Lord to refer to him as “Daniel the prophet” (Mat. 24:15; Mark 13:14).11 But Daniel’s prophetic role was considerably different from that of other OT prophets. Although prophecy was revealed to and through Daniel, he never delivered prophetic messages publicly to the Jewish nation. We search his book in vain for the oft-encountered prophetic signature, Thus says the Lord . . .12 His role and ministry was not like that of other prophets for, “Daniel had no claim to the prophet’s mantle. The prophets ‘spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost:’ he merely recorded the words addressed to him by the angel, and described the visions he witnessed.”13

Daniel was not regarded as having occupied the prophetic office as such. He was not a prophet in the classic sense associated with Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah,, and others of the literary coterie for the simple reason that he did not function as a spiritual mediator between God and a theocratic community, despite the fact that he was endowed with certain conspicuous prophetic gifts. Like Joseph of old, he was a Hebrew statesman in a heathen court, and not a “writing prophet” or spiritual mediator in the commonly understood sense.14

In some sense, Daniel’s prophetic gift and function was much like that of his NT counterpart, the apostle John who wrote the book of Revelation. 15

This unique aspect of Daniel as a prophet also helps to explain why Daniel was placed among the writings within the three-fold partitioning of the Jewish Scriptures among the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nebiim) and the Writings (Ketubim).16


1 “The Hebrew proper name ‘Daniel’ means either ‘God is judge’ or ‘God is my judge,’ depending on whether the i within the word is regarded as the connective (yôd compaginis) or as the pronominal suffix for ‘my.’ In forms of this sort it is almost impossible to tell whether the one or the other of these two is meant.”—H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1949, 1969), 5.

2 Paul Benware, Daniel’s Prophecy of Things to Come (Clifton, TX: Scofield Ministries, 2007), 9.

3 We used the term secular in the sense of denoting activities not considered by most as being religious. We recognize that the Scriptures do not make such a distinction, teaching that whatever a believer does in any realm is to be done as unto the Lord (Rom. 12:1; Col. 3:22-23).

4 Typologically, Joseph clearly represents Christ: “Both Joseph and Christ were born by special intervention of God (Gen. 30:22-24; Luke 1:35). Both were objects of special love by their fathers (Gen. 37:3; Mat. 3:17; John 3:35); both were hated by brethren (Gen. 37:4; John 15:24-25); both were rejected as rulers over their brethren (Gen. 37:8; Mat. 27:37-39; John 15:24-25); both were robbed of their robes (Gen. 37:23; Mat. 27:35); both were conspired against and placed in the pit of death (Gen. 37:18, 37:24; Mat. 26:3-4; Mat. 27:35-37); both were sold for silver (Gen. 37:28; Mat. 26:14-15); both became servants (Gen. 39:4; Php. 2:7); both were condemned though innocent (Gen. 39:11-20; Isa. 53:9; Mat. 27:19, 24). . . Both were raised from humiliation to glory by the power of God. . . Both during the time of exaltation but continued rejection by brethren take a Gentile bride and are a blessing to Gentiles (Gen. 41:1-45; Acts 15:14; Rom. 11:11-12; Eph. 5:25-32). After the time of Gentile blessing begins to wane, both are received finally by their brethren and recognized as a savior and deliverer (Gen. 45:1-15; Rom. 11:1-27). Both exalt their brethren to places of honor and safety (Gen. 45:16-18; Isa. 65:17-25).”—John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), 66-67. Both Joseph and Judah are prophesied to have their brothers bow down before them (Gen. 37:9; 49:8). The embalming of Joseph (Gen. 50:2,52) may also typify the preservation of Christ who never saw decay (Ps. 16:10).

5 Typologically, Daniel and his three companions represent the nation Israel under Gentile dominion during the Times of the Gentiles. See Thematic Outline.

6 Andrew E Steinmann, Daniel (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2008), 37.

7 This is also true of Ezekiel (Eze. 1:1) and the Apostle John (Rev. 1:9+).

8 Steinmann, Daniel, 38.

9 During the Babylonian deportations, Mordecai (or his great-grandfather Kish) was taken, resulting years later, in Mordecai and Esther providing for the safety of their countrymen (Est. 2:5-6; 10:3). “Amongst the leaders of the people who returned with Zerubbabel and Jeshua in the 1st year of Cyrus, we find (Ezra 2:2) the names of Nehemiah, Seraiah (alternatively called Azariah, Neh. 7:7, and possibly identical with Ezra) and Mordecai. There is no reason why these three should not be identified with the well known Nehemiah the Tirshatha (Neh. 8:9), Ezra the priest the scribe (Neh. 8:9), and Mordecai of the Book of Esther. These three men take first rank. They stand at the very head of the list of the exiles who returned with Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and the prominence given to them in the narrative of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther is quite in accord with the position assigned to them here. It is only the mistaken identification of the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah with Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 464-424) instead of with Darius Hystaspes (B.C. 521-485), and by consequence the mistaken date assigned to Nehemiah that has led to the distinguishing of the Nehemiah of the first year of Cyrus (Ezra 2:2, 7:7) from Nehemiah the cupbearer and the Tirshatha of Neh. 1:11 and 8:9. And it is only the mistaken identification of the Ahasuerus of Esther with Xerxes (B.C. 485-465) instead of with Darius Hystaspes (B.C. 521-485), that has led to the distinguishing of the Mordecai of the first year of Cyrus (Ezra 2:2 and Neh. 7:7), from the Mordecai of the Book of Esther, and the torturing of the passage in Esther 2:5-6 to make it mean that Kish was carried away with Jeconiah, instead of what it really does say, which is, that Mordecai was carried away with Jeconiah (B.C. 597).”—Martin Anstey, The Romance of Bible Chronology: The Treatise (Vol 1) (London, England: Marshall Brothers Ltd., 1913), 238.

10 The favor extended to the Jews during the Babylonian captivity is predicted by Jeremiah and evidenced by the fact that many remained in Babylon even after Cyrus gave permission to return to Jerusalem. While Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning favor in captivity (Jer. 29:4-7) and Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Cyrus (Isa. 44:28-45:13) appear independent of Daniel, we can safely assume that Daniel’s high and enduring role in the successive governments of Babylon and Medo-Persia, along with his intercession on behalf of his people were key contributors to their experience in Babylon and obtaining the release via Cyrus. Angelic assistance concerning the release of the Jews may have been connected with Daniel’s intercession and visions. See Daniel 10:20+.

11 Daniel was also considered a prophet by the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls. See Date.

12 The phrase Thus says the Lord occurs 293 times in the OT outside the book of Daniel.

13 Robert Anderson, Daniel in the Critic’s Den (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1909, 1990), 60.

14 Roland K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1969, 1999), 1123.

15 “His visions have their New Testament counterpart, but yet no one speaks of ‘the prophet John.’ . . . Daniel contains the record, not of God-breathed words uttered by the seer, but of the words spoken to him, and of dreams and visions accorded him.”—Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, 10th ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1894, 1957), xxv.

16 “Not to class Daniel with the other prophets marks a very correct observation on the part of the Jewish guardians of the Old Testament canon. For, in fact, Daniel was not sent to the people of God with a message to proclaim to them day by day as other prophets were.”—Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, 20.

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