Saturday, December 5, 2009

Further notes on Daniel 2 and 7

A further point to consider lies in the interpretation of the prophecies that are found in the book of Daniel. Usually, the earthly kingdoms of Dan. 2 and 7 are given as four in number: Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. [for instance, see Gammie (1976) 204; Collins (1977): 153; Porteus, 19; Rowley (1935/6): 220; Eissfeldt, 519-20; Gurney, 39; Boutflower (1923): 13-34; Larue, 407; Lacocque (1979): 9, 51, on page 123 he cites Elias Bickerman, Four Strange Books of the Bible. (1967): 67-8: "in the Jewish schema the four empires were Babylon, Media, Persia, and Macedonia."; Collins (1984): 52; Eissfeldt, 522; McNamara (1967): 635; Dummelow, 526; see Davies (1988): 28-9 for his attempt to create an error for Daniel; this view was possibly derived from Porphyry -- see Casey, 19; Gruenthaner, 209-10 notes that some scholars took note of the difficulties that were "created by assuming the second kingdom to be the Median empire"-see, for example, Taylor [2].

They thus propose: Neo-Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Alexander's Greek empire, Seleucid-see for instance Rennie and Muller [2]. But, Gruenthaner notes that this is "contrary to Daniel's outlook upon history." He also briefly examines the idea that these kingdoms are the reigns of specific kings and shows how it fails to meet the criteria of the prophecy.] But the author of the book clearly recognized that the Medes and the Persians were the second of the series of kingdoms (5:28)--also we should note that in chapter 2 there are 5 earthly kingdoms, not four: gold, silver, brass, iron, iron and clay. So, that means we have Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greeks, ? (Rome), and ??. According to the prophecy Rome itself would fall and then that no other world-dominating power would take its place. Now, how did the writer of the book, if it was written "after the fact" in 164 B.C., know that the Greeks were going to fall before it happened [from here on of course Daniel would be an excellent example of pure prophecy--see Porteous, 18: "The genuine attempt at prophecy (Dan. 12:40ff)"--I think he meant chapter 11 verse 40 and onward], and to whom, and then on top of all that the final power was going to fall and that there would never be another? That this is the correct sequence of empires can be seen by the parallel vision in chapters 7-8.

In chapter 7 the bear "raised itself up on one side" [Lacocque (1979): 140 says that this means it is either "crouched down ready to spring[!] or standing up on its back legs in an aggressive position"--compare that opinion with the text itself; see also Gurney, 43] and in chapter 8 one of the two horns on the ram "was higher than the other, and the higher came up last." [Eissfeldt, 522 recognizes that the two horns represent two separate kingdoms; Lacocque (1979): 160: recognizes that the ram with its two horns represent Persia and Media--although he confuses the later horn with Media] Notice also that in 8:7 the goat breaks both horns of the ram thereby indicating that "they cannot be two successive kingdoms one of which was overthrown 200 years earlier than the second!" [Emery, 38-9] And then when could the book have been written? We should note, as Goldingay does, that Josephus saw Rome as the fourth empire. [Goldingay, xxix-xxx] Goldingay advances the idea that since "Nebuchadnezzar personally is the head, so it is more natural to refer to them to the regins (sic) of four kings over a single empire." [Goldingay, 49] In doing so he ignores the idea that in an absolute monarchy the king personifies the kingdom as a whole. In looking at the metals involved in the statute of Dan. 2 Goldingay tries to claim that there is "no implication of deterioration as we move from head to trunk ..." and yet on the next page he says "the second regime is inferior to the first". [Goldingay, 49-50; he has to make the later admission because 2:39 says that the kingdom that follows Babylon will be "inferior"; it can be assumed from that alone that all the others will be "inferior" in some respect to their predecessor; see also Gruenthaner, 74-5; Gurney, 41] But, Davies points out that "the Greek poet Hesiod (eight century BC) who, in his Works and Days spoke of four (or five) ages of men represented by metals. Each age is successively degenerate--gold, silver, bronze, then iron ..." [Davies (1988): 44] Lacocque also notes that "Hesiod (Works and Days, 109-201) and Ovid (Metamorphoses I, 89-150) speak of a succession of the ages of the world as a process of degeneration: gold-silver-bronze-iron." [Lacocque (1979): 48; see also Collins (1975): 221] Goldingay may be quite correct in seeing these various metals as constituting the sum of the "valuable natural resources or valuable booty"; but, there is no evidence in the text that this is what these metals stood for. [Goldingay, 49] The story in chapter 3 indicates that by making his "statute" all gold Nebuchadnezzar saw the metals as indicating declining value and he was the greatest of all and that he also wanted his empire to last forever. This is contrary to any Jewish view point a Collins pointed out; but is completely true to the Babylonian way of looking at things. [Collins (1975): 222]

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