The key role of daniel 7

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Grace Theological Joumal12.2 (1991) 245-261.

[Copyright © 1991 Grace Theological Seminary; cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Grace Colleges and elsewhere]


THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7

RICHARD D. PATTERSON


PERHAPS the most persistent problem with regard to the unity and

composition of the book of Daniel has been the relation of its first

six chapters to its latter half.1 Although several divergent views have

been held (particularly as to the age and provenance of chapters 1 and

72, these may presently be reduced to a widely held consensus: "The

first six chapters of the book contain material which is older than the

later chapters, and this material has been re-edited in Maccabean times

to attain a redactional unity with the apocalyptic visions of chs. 7-12.”3

This study will suggest that chapter 7 functions not only as a hinge

chapter that provides unity to the two primary literary genres in Daniel,

but plays a key role in the understanding of biblical eschatology.4
1 For a sample of diverse opinions, see O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament An Intro-

duction (New York: Harper and Row, 1965) 512-19.

2 Some have argued for these chapters as distinctive compositions, chapter 1 being

composed as an introduction to the court tales of 2-6, and chapter 7 being viewed as an

independent forerunner to the apocalypses of 8-12. For details, see R. K. Harrison, In-

troduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 1106-10; J. A. Mont-

gomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (ICC; Edinburgh:

T. & T. Clark, 1927) 88-99; W. L. Humphreys, "A Life Style for Diaspora: A Study of

the Tales of Esther and Daniel," JBL 92 (1973): 211-23.


3 J. J. Collins, "The Court-tales in Daniel and the Development of Apocalyptic,"

JBL 94 (1975): 218; see also P. R. Davies, "Eschatology in the Book of Daniel," JSOT

17 (1980): 33-53. Scholars continue to debate whether one author (see, e.g., H. H. Row-

ley, in The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament [Rev. ed.; Ox-

ford: Blackwell, 1965J 249-80) or multiple authorship (see, e.g., H. L. Ginsberg, "The

Composition of the Book of Daniel," VT 4 [1954J: 246-75; M. L. Delcor, Le Livre de

Daniel
[SB; Paris: Gabalda, 1971] 10-13) can best account for the final form of the

book. A compromise position has recently been put forward by A. A. Di LelIa (in L. P.

Hartman and A. A. Di LelIa, The Book of Daniel [AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1978]

16) who suggests that an editor-compiler (= the writer of the core apocalypse of chapter

9), utilizing the work of "several like-minded authors" was responsible for the book's

final collection. Although the original edition was written in Aramaic, a translator may

be assumed to have rendered 1:1-2:4a; 8-12 into Hebrew and subsequently published

the "work in its present form as a single book. The date would be ca. 140 B. C."



4 For discussion of hinging in the Scriptures, see R. D. Patterson, "Of Bookends,

Hinges, and Hooks: Literary Clues to the Arrangement of Jeremiah's Prophecies," WTJ

51 (1989): 116-17. For Daniel 7 as a hinge chapter, see J. E. Goldingay, Daniel (WBC;

246 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DANIEL 7 TO THE STRUCTURE OF DANIEL
The narrative of Daniel 7, though full of complex details, is simply

told. At the onset of the reign of Belshazzar, Nabonidus' son,5 Daniel

has a dream consisting of a series of nocturnal visions.6 Daniel sees a

great sea being driven and tossed by the four winds of heaven.7 As he

looks, four great beasts come up out of the sea, the fourth of which is a

frightful appearing animal with iron teeth. It also has ten horns among

which ultimately another little horn arises, breaking off three of the

existing horns. This little horn on the fearsome and dreadful beast has

eyes and a mouth like a man and speaks great boastful words. As he

looks further, Daniel catches a glimpse of the Ancient of Days seated on

his throne before the assembled courts of heaven. The record books of

judgment are opened and the awful beast with the boastful little horn is

destroyed. Then Daniel sees "One like a Son of Man coming with the

clouds of heaven" (v. 13--NIV), to whom the Ancient of Days grants an

everlasting kingdom and authority, and before whom all men worship.

As the account continues, Daniel, who in the previous court narra-

tives serves as the divine interpreter to the Babylonian court (see 2:25-

45; 4:19-27; 5:18-28), is himself overcome by the details of the awe-

some vision and asks one of the attending angels as to the true meaning

of what he has seen. He learns that the four beasts represent a succession

of earthly kingdoms that ultimately will be succeeded by that inaugu-

rated by the Most High. Upon further inquiry concerning the fourth

beast and the little horn that spoke so boastfully, he learns that these rep-

resent the culmination of earthly powers as concentrated in the hands of

an evil ruler. This one will gain power through violent means and per-

secute the saints, enacting oppressive measures aimed at subverting all

Dallas: Word, 1989) 159. J. F. Walvoord (Daniel [Chicago: Moody, 1971] 151) rightly

remarks: "Chapter 7 is a high point in revelation in the book of Daniel; and, in some

sense, the material before as well as the material which follows pivots upon the detailed

revelation of this chapter."



5 The existence and importance of Belshazzar, once universally denounced by crit-

ics as unhistorical, can no longer be doubted. For details, see J. P. Free, Archaeology and



Bible History (Rev. ed.; Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1962) 233-35; G. Archer, A Survey of

Old Testament Introduction (Rev. ed.; Chicago: Moody, 1974) 382-83. E. Yamauchi

("The Archaeological Background of Daniel," BS 137 [1980]: 6) remarks: "A recent re-

examination of all the relevant cuneiform data has helped clarify the chronology. . . the

coregency of Nabonidus and Belshazzar should be dated as early as 550 and not just be-

fore the fall of Babylon in 539."

6 E. J. Young (The Prophecy of Daniel [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977] 141) terms

it "a divinely imposed dream."



7 The term "great sea" is normally assigned to the Mediterranean Sea in the Scrip-

tures: see Goldingay, Daniel, 160; L. Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1973) 180.
THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 247

forms of traditional law and order. His time of rule, however, will be

terminated at the sovereign direction of God who will then institute his

rule in the midst of "the people of the Most High" (v. 27--NIV).

The account lays great stress on the dream itself with its fourfold

periodization of "beastly" nations and on the culmination of that suc-

cession in the activities of a powerful and sinister figure whose defeat

brings the process to its consummation in the blessed rule of God

amidst his followers. The structure of the narrative may be conve-

niently outlined as follows: introductory setting (1), vision (2-14),

response (15), interpretation (16-27), response (28).8

Chapter 7 has rightly been closely linked with the following mate-

rial in chapters 8-12 for at least two reasons. (1) Like those chapters,

chapter 7, while a dream, is also visionary in character, thus adding to

a group of texts comprising a unit of "vision reports.”9 Such prophetic

pieces often partake of the more frequent "announcements of judg-

ment”10 and "kingdom oracles" dealing with universal judgment and

promises of ultimate blessing.11 Their distinctive feature, however, is

that they are cast in the form of a vision. Such oracles frequently

embellish the customary Old Testament eschatological perspective of

God's superintending culmination of earth's history with an emphasis

on cosmic scope and supernatural beings who play an important part,

and on the presence of a heavenly mediator/interpreter who furnishes

needed information or interpretation.12 (2) Much of the material that is

sketched in preliminary form in chapter 7 is filled out in the succeeding

8 E. M. Good ("Apocalyptic as Comedy: The Book of Daniel," Semeia 32 [1984]:

57) suggests a chiastic structure to the main material in the vision: A-four beasts (v. 3),

B-first three beasts (vv. 4-6), C-fourth beast described (vv. 7-8), D-Ancient of

Days + court scene (vv. 9-10), C'-fourth beast killed (v. 11)-, B'-first three beasts pro-

longed (v. 12), A'-human figure comes with clouds (vv. 13-14).

9 On the nature of Old Testament prophecy, see my remarks in A Literary Guide to

the Bible, eds. Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

forthcoming) .



10 See the various discussions in C. Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech,

translated by H. C. White (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1991) 129-98.



11 See G. Vos, Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948) 307-18.

C. Westermann terms such prophecies "salvation oracles"; see, e.g., Prophetic Oracles



of Salvation in the Old Testament, translated by Keith Crim (Louisville: Westminster/

John Knox, 1991).


12 The decision as to whether Daniel 7-12 can also be called apocalyptic is not an

easy one. Thus, E. Heaton (Daniel [TBC; London: SCM, 1967] 34-35) points to the

omission of such typical apocalyptic elements as cosmic imagery, great battle scenes, lu-

rid descriptions of the fate of the wicked Gentiles, and highly colored pictures of a final

kingdom, a golden age of peace, righteousness, and prosperity centered around a strong

Messianic leader. Noting the almost total absence of such typical apocalyptic themes,

teachings found in such apocalyptic pieces as I Enoch, the Sibylline Oracles, the As-

sumption of Moses, and 2 Esdras, Heaton remarks; "What we find in the present work

248 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
chapters, thus making it an integral part of the latter half of Daniel.

These data are conveniently displayed in Table 1.

Chapter 7 has also been linked closely by some with the court nar-

ratives13 of chapters 1-6.14 That such a procedure is justified may be


[Daniel] . . . is not a formal apocalyptic tradition but, rather, a miscellaneous body of

prophetic teaching and imagery about the coming kingdom of God."

Likewise, Davies ("Eschatology," 34) feels that "the word 'apocalyptic' has been

detrimental to the Book of Daniel," not only because the genre itself is ill-defined but be-

cause Daniel reflects the eschatological perspective of the court tales of chapters 1-6 as

applied to the Maccabean crisis.

On the other hand, scholars such as A. B. Mickelsen (Daniel and Revelation: Rid-

dles or Realities? [Nashville: Nelson, 1984] 24-25) and J. J. Collins (The Apocalyptic

Imagination [New York: Crossroad, 1984] 68-92) defend assigning the term "apocalyp-

tic" to large portions of Daniel. Citing the importance of angelic activity and heavenly

mediatorship of revelation in Daniel, as well as the explicit hope of resurrection in chap-

ter 12, Collins ("Apocalyptic Genre and Mythic Allusions in Daniel," JSOT 21 [1981]

89) suggests that Daniel "has been hindered more fundamentally by the failure of schol-

arship to examine individual works like Daniel in the context of the genre constituted by

the corpus of apocalypses."

Both schools of interpretation can make their point. Certainly current definitions and

descriptions of apocalypse do allow distinctive portions of Daniel 7-12 to be viewed as

apocalyptic. If, however, one searches for the over-emphasis on cosmic themes, cataclys-

mic changes in the physical world and the extreme language so characteristic of later

Jewish apocalyptic fervor, it is evident that Daniel uses such things sparingly. In any

case, Daniel is more closely tied to mainstream eschatology with its emphasis on a sov-

ereign God's active superintendence of the details of history so as to bring them to his

final purposes. Daniel may, then, perhaps be better set beside such Old Testament pas-

sages as Zeph. 1:14-18 as "emergent apocalyptic." See further my discussion in Nahum,


Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC; Chicago: Moody, 1991) 285-88.

13 Chapters 1-6 are customarily termed "court tales." Such stories have as their cen-

tral plot an account of the heroic exploits of a godly exile in a foreign court. This person's

godly walk and wisdom prove his worth in various tests. He then rises to such personal

prominence that he is able to improve the well-being of his people or even effect their

deliverance.

These narratives customarily include such elements as: (1) a specific test involving

faith, morality, or compromise of covenantal standards, (2) the friendliness of some resident

court official, (3) besting the foreigners in contests or conflict, and (4) an unexpected ex-

traordinary resolution to a besetting problem. Typical biblical examples include Daniel

(Dan 1-6), Joseph (Gen 37-50), Esther, and, to some extent, Ezra and Nehemiah. Extra-

biblical examples may be cited in the apocryphal stories concerning Zerubbabel (I Esdras

3-4), Tobit, and Judith, as well as the Aramaic story of Ahiqar and the Egyptian Tale of

Sinuhe.

For details, see Collins, "Court-Tales," 218-34; J. G. Gammie, "On the Intention and


Sources of Daniel I-VI," VT 31 (1981): 282-92; Heaton, Daniel, 33-53; and Humphreys,

"Life Style," 211-23. Humphreys divides such stories into two types: the court contest, in

which the hero provides the interpretation to a seemingly insoluble problem and the court

conflict, in which the hero's purity is rewarded with deliverance. Humphreys' twofold cat-

egorization is perhaps the simplest way to view the court narratives. According to this ar-

rangement, Daniel 2, 4-5 belong with the first type and Daniel 3, 6, with the second.


14 See, for example, A. Lenglet, "La structure litteraire de Daniel 2-7," Biblica 53

(1972): 169-90; J. Baldwin, Daniel (TOTC; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978) 59-63.


THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 249

250 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

seen not only in the fact that chapter 7 shares the same language (Ara-

maic) with 2:4b-6:28, but that, as Lenglet observes, Daniel 2-7

"est. . . ecrit d'une maniere concentrique.”15 Indeed, its structure is

finely balanced, forming a neat chiastic arrangement of material, chap-

ters 2 and 7 presenting visions of a fourfold periodization of earth's

historical and political succession, chapters 3 and 6 depicting specific

adventures (told in characteristic "U shaped" plot) that test the faith of

Daniel and his three friends, and chapters 4 and 5 (the centerpiece of

the chiasmus) relating details illustrating divine dealings aimed at try-

ing the character of two Babylonian kings.

Structural patterning may also be observed in the balanced pro-

gression within the two halves (2-4; 5-7) of the chiasmus. Thus,

chapters 2 and 5 relate Daniel's testing in the midst of the Babylonian

wise men, chapters 3 and 6 detail the personal trials of Daniel's three

friends, and chapters 4 and 7 involve elements of personal testimony

with regard to the reception and understanding of revelatory dreams. In

addition, the close relationship of chapters 4 and 5 with their stress on

royal discipline, the fifth chapter utilizing elements narrated in the

fourth, has often been noted.16 Further, the structure of chapter 7 can

be seen to bear close affinities with the preceding court narratives, par-

ticularly those in chapters 2, 4, and 5. A still further unifying element

can be seen in that chapter 7, like chapters 1-6, features a court scene

(vv. 9-10, 13-14,26-27), this one, however, presided over by a Heav-

enly Sovereign. These data are illustrated in Table 2.

Building on these findings and adding a consideration of the first

chapter, an overall view of the structure of the book emerges that

yields a distinctive ABA pattern:

A. Historical Introduction (1) [Hebrew]

B. Historical Information (2-7) [Aramaic]

A. Future Information (7, 8-12) [Hebrew]17

The importance of this ancient format (observable as early as the Code

of Hammurapi18) to the unity and composition of Daniel is duly noted

by C. H. Gordon:
15 Lenglet, “La structure,” 188.

16 Gammie (“Intention and Sources,” 283) calls attention as well to “the extremely

important element of ‘prophecy fulfilled’ . . . in chapters iv and v.”



17 Note that 12:4-13 forms not only a conclusion to the vision report begun in 10:1

but also a concluding summary with instructions that serve, together with chapter 1, to

bookend the entire prophecy.

18 The rendering of the name of the great Mesopotamian lawgiver with a “p” rather than a “be” is now certain, the ambiguous Akkadian syllable sign (**)(= bi or pi) being

uniformly treated in this name as a p in Ugaritic (**).

THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 251

252 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

Hammurapi's Code has a comprehensive literary form. The pro-

logue and epilogue are in poetry, whose form is parallelistic and whose

language is archaic. The laws in the middle, however, are in prose, so

that the whole composition has a pattern, which we call ABA; A being

poetry, B being prose. This has an important bearing upon other oriental

compositions including the Bible: . . . Similarly the biblical Book of

Daniel begins and ends in Hebrew, though the middle is in Aramaic. The

possibility of an intentional ABA structure deserves earnest consider-

ation and should deter us from hastily dissecting the text.19

Gordon's remark as to intentionality in the ABA pattern adds to the

impression gained by noting the book's structural refinements. The

cumulative effect has important implications for the unity and compo-

sition of Daniel. Rather than pointing to the unifying work of a late

redactor/compiler who stands at the end of a long line of editorial

activity, Daniel is best explained as supporting Gooding's contention

that "we must take seriously the book's internal proportions, as having

been deliberately planned by the author.”20

The key role of chapter 7 to the book of Daniel is thus readily

apparent. Its central location and close correspondence with the two

major portions make it evident that Daniel 7 is in many respects the

key that unlocks the door to the problem of the unity, as well as the

understanding, of the book. Baldwin remarks: "Looked at in relation to

the Aramaic section this chapter constitutes the climax, and it is the

high point in relation to the whole book; subsequent chapters treat only

part of the picture and concentrate on some particular aspect of it.”21


19 C. H. Gordon, The Ancient Near East (3d ed.; New York: Norton, 1965) 83-84.

ABA structure is, of course, a familiar feature of Old Testament writing style. See

W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (JSOTS 26; Sheffield: University of

Sheffield, 1986) 204-7.


20 W. Gooding, "The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel and Its Implica-

tions," TB 32 (1981): 68. Gooding's analysis, however, proceeds along more thematic,

rather than literary, lines so that his suggested structural arrangement differs significantly

from the consensus of Old Testament scholarship.

Authorial intention in the ABA structural pattern would appear to be vindicated fur-

ther by the witness of Qumran. Contrary to the view of some scholars who hold that the

complete Daniel was originally written in Aramaic with sections subsequently translated

into Hebrew, manuscripts from both Cave One and Cave Four validate the change from

Hebrew to Aramaic at 2:4b and the change from Aramaic to Hebrew at 8:1. Thus, G. Ha-

sel ("New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls," Archaeology and


Biblical Research 5 [1992]: 50) remarks: "The Hebrew/Aramaic Masoretic text of the

book of Daniel now has stronger support than at any other time in the history of the in-

terpretation of the book of Daniel."

21 Baldwin, Daniel, 137.

THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 253


THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DANIEL 7 TO DANIEL'S ESCHATOLOGY

The strategic structural position of chapter 7 provides a key not

only to the form of the book but to the understanding of Daniel's

eschatology. Together with the bookending chapter of its first part

(chapter 2), it gives a picture of earth's political future from Daniel's

day onward. As noted above, that prophesied future falls into a four-

fold periodization that begins with Babylon (2:36-38) and proceeds

with generally deteriorating political cohesiveness but increasing

ferocity through two more kingdoms to a fourth era, toward the end of

which a fearsome leader arises.22 During his time, the saints will be

sorely oppressed but God will accomplish his defeat and rule through

his designated leader who will reign in the midst of the saints forever

(7:13-14,18-27).

This general overview undergirds and circumscribes the further

complementary revelations that follow in chapters 8-12.23 Particularly

troublesome to harmonizing the data of those chapters with the basic

format of chapters 7 and 2 is the twofold problem of (1) the identifica-

tion of those kingdoms/eras that succeed Babylon and (2) the under-

standing of the discussions concerning the little horn and the willful

king that figure so prominently in chapters 8 and 11.

As for the former problem, chapter 8, which is set in the third year

of Belshazzar, would appear to describe two kingdoms that will suc-

ceed Babylon, kingdoms that are identified as Medo-Persia and Greece

(vv. 20-21). The vision of this chapter also tells of the rise and fall of

Greece's most prominent king (= Alexander the Great), the parceling

out of his kingdom after his demise, and the subsequent rise and

destruction of a wicked king (= Antiochus Epiphanes) who opposes

God's people (vv. 8-12, 22-25).

As for the latter problem, since the prediction concerning the

wicked king (= the little horn that grew up on the he goat) at first sight

seems to parallel that of the wicked king (= the little horn that grew up

on the fearful beast) of chapter 7 (vv. 19-25), the question arises as to

whether these two chapters are speaking of the same person. The

difficulty in deciding affirmatively for such an identification is that the

22 The allocating of prophetic history into episodic schemes is well known in the

ancient Near East, being attested in the Sibylline Oracles (4:49-101) and Tobit, as well

as in Greek, Roman, Persian, and Mesopotamian traditions. For details, see J. Baldwin,

"Some Literary Affinities in the Book of Daniel," TB 30 (1979): 90-92; Daniel, 55;

Goldingay, Daniel, 40-41; Di LelIa, Daniel, 29-33; and J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; Garden City: Doubleday, 1983) 1:382.

23 For the juxtapositioning of complementary revelations as a feature of apocalyptic

literature, see Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 85-86.

254 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
little horn of chapter 7 arises in the era of the fourth kingdom, while

that in chapter 8 apparently belongs to the third. To solve that problem,

many expositors suggest that the two-horned ram in the vision of chap-

ter 8, representing Media and Persia, should be harmonized with the

four kingdom sequence of chapter 7 by taking the ram as symbolizing

two successive kingdoms. The resultant four kingdom sequence can

therefore be understood as Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Thus,

Di Lella remarks:

Whereas in ch. 2 and ch. 7 there is one symbol for the kingdom of

the Medes and another for that of the Persians (2:39; 7:5-6), in ch. 8

there is a single symbol, the ram, for both these kingdoms (8:3-4, 20).

But this does not mean that the author of ch. 8 is ignorant of the "four

kingdom" concept of the rest of the book. On the one hand, both ch. 6

and the Book of Esther treat the Medes and the Persians as kindred peo-

ples in a coalition (Dan 6:9, 13; Esther 1:3; 2:14, 18; etc.); while on the

other hand, ch. 8, in which each of the two large horns of the ram sym-

bolizes a separate kingdom (cf. vs. 20), makes a distinction between the

"longer and more recent" horn, Persia, and "the other," Media (vs. 3).24

Such a decision, however, runs counter to Daniel's consistent

symbolic scheme. For elsewhere each animal depicts a given kingdom/

era and, while the parts of an animal may signify different persons/

events/segments within a particular kingdom/era, they never appear to

be able to be understood of entirely different kingdom/eras. Further,

within the last vision (chapters 10-12), set in the days of the second or

Persian kingdom (10:1), attention is focused once again on only the

two kingdoms of Persia and Greece (11:2-4). It would appear, then,

that while chapter 7 (combined with chapter 2) provides the basic four

epoch prophetic framework for the future, the visions of chapters 8 and

11 amplify details relative to the nearer historical scene in the days of

the second and third kingdoms.

24 Di LelIa, Daniel, 234; see also 212-14. Actually, those who decide for the first

and fourth kingdoms as referring to Babylon and Greece respectively are far from unan-

imous as to the identity of the second and third kingdoms. Goldingay (Daniel, 175, 176),

sensing the inherent difficulty in the problem and having surveyed various solutions to it,

concludes: "It is as certain an exegetical judgment as most that the contextual meaning

of Dan 7 is that the first empire is Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, the fourth is Greece.

There is less certainly about the identity of the second and third kingdoms. . . . There is

little evidence to go on in identifying the second and third kingdoms, and each interpre-

tation gives a slightly artificial result. This reflects two facts. First, Daniel is not really

interested in the second and third kingdoms, and perhaps had no opinion regarding their

identity. Second, the four-empire scheme as a whole is more important than the identifi-

cation of its parts. Dan 7 is applying a well-known scheme to a period that has to begin

with the exile and end with the Antiochene crisis."

THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 255


The result of these considerations is that the twofold problem can

be solved by concluding that (1) the proper identification in the four

kingdom periods is Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and a concluding

fourth kingdom/era, and (2) the little horn of chapter 8 must "be distin-

guished from the little horn of chapter 7, which came up among the ten

horns of the indescribable beast. Though they have a superficial simi-

larity, there are many differences between them and they do not belong

to the same era.”25

It may be added that the fourth of these kingdoms/eras most likely

began with Rome and stretches on to the divinely instituted kingdom.26

The appearance of the figure of a little horn in both the third and fourth

kingdoms indicates that the person involved in the third (unanimously

identified as Antiochus Epiphanes) stands either as a type or prophetic

precursor to his antitype in the fourth kingdom. Thus, chapter 8 can be

viewed as "historically fulfilled in Antiochus, but to varying degrees

foreshadowing typically the future world ruler who would dominate

the situation at the end of the times of the Gentiles”27 or by seeing

chapter 8 as prophetic fulfillment without consummation. Consistency

of approach also predisposes one to treat chapter 11 in similar fashion.

Baldwin rightly affirms:

There are reasons for thinking that, although the chapter finds its

first fulfillment in the character and reign of Antiochus IV, the matter

does not stop there. Notice that (i) there are details which do not apply

to Antiochus if our information about him from other sources is accu-

rate. (ii) The emphasis throughout is less on the king's deeds than on his

character which prompts his deeds. (iii) The account keeps returning to

the persecution which will be directed against the godly people and the

covenant. (iv) Throughout the book the proud are manifestly brought

low or suddenly cut out of the picture by death. God's sovereign way of

25 Baldwin, Daniel, 24.

26 The overwhelming consensus of Jewish and Christian interpreters holds to a four

kingdom sequence culminating in Rome. See the helpful excursus of C. F. Keil, Biblical



Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954) 245-68.

27 Walvoord, Daniel, 196. Many expositors suggest that chapter 8 prophesies

events relative to both Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist. Thus, Wood (Daniel,

223) "sees the angel Gabriel as now giving the meaning of the vision by showing, not

only the significance involving Antiochus of ancient history, but also that of the one

whom Antiochus foreshadowed, the Antichrist of future history. That is, Antiochus' op-

pression is seen to provide a partial fulfillment of the prophetic vision, but that of the

Antichrist the complete fulfillment."

An interesting parallel may be seen in D. L. Turner's conclusion ("The Structure and

Sequence of Matthew 24:1-41: Interaction with Evangelical Treatments," GTJ 10

[1989]: 16-17) that our Lord's discussion of the interpretation of Daniel's prophecy con-

cerning the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15-28) relates both to the A.D. 70 de-

struction of Jerusalem and to the eschatological Antichrist.

256 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

bringing this about is a marked emphasis in the case of Nebuchadrezzar,

Belshazzar, Alexander and his successors. (v) These rulers become pro-

gressively more anti-God as the book draws to its conclusion. (vi) The

chapter takes up the point made in 8:17, where the vision was 'for the

time of the end.’28

One final problem within the book of Daniel has to do with the rela-

tion of the framework of chapter 7 to the prophecy of the seventy weeks 11

in 9:24-27. Final interpretation of this passage has eluded the best

efforts of expositors of all ages. Indeed, Montgomery calls it the "Dis-

mal Swamp of O. T. criticism.”29 The many diverse views and the multi-

faceted interpretative problems resident in the passage need not be

rehearsed here. For our purposes, it can simply be pointed out that by

remembering that 9:24-27 is set in a context largely made up of apoc-

alyptic literature and by allowing chapter 7 to exercise its full regulatory

constraints on all subsequent chapters in the book, a satisfactory har-

monization of all the data in chapters 7-12 (as well as chapter 2) can be

achieved.30 The resultant picture is demonstrated in Table 3.

28 Baldwin, Daniel, 199-200. Many commentators suggest that the shift from Anti-

ochus Epiphanes to the future wicked ruler comes at 11:36. See, e.g., Walvoord, Daniel,

270-80; Wood, Daniel, 304-14; and R. D. Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days (New

York: Revell, 1954) 163-71. Culver (167) takes a reverse approach in observing, "So,

while I feel that Antiochus' career (chapter 8, 11:21-35) is adumbrative of Antichrist's, it

also appears that the prophecy of Antichrist (11:36-45) may be reflected backward to

Antiochus. To one acquainted with the technique of the prophets this will not appear

strange. It is one of the commonest of phenomena to find events of similar nature, but

separated widely in time, united in one prophetic oracle."


29 Montgomery, Daniel, 400. Montgomery concludes his long discussion of the

passage (372-401) by affirming: "The trackless wilderness of assumptions and theories

in the efforts to obtain an exact chronology fitting into the history of Salvation, after

these 2,000 years of infinitely varied interpretations, would seem to preclude any use of

the 70 Weeks for the determination of a definite prophetic chronology."

30 The position taken here takes into account the full weight of the symbolism of

the numbers seventy and seven so prevalent in the Old Testament and the intertestamen-

tal literature. The apocalyptic nature of this portion of Daniel lends further expectation

to a symbolic use of numbers here (and in varying degrees throughout chapters 7-12).

See M. S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988 reprint) 20-21; D. S.

Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Westminster,

1964) 195-202; L. Morris, Apocalyptic (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 34-37.

The passage may be conveniently divided into "seven weeks," capped by the com-

ing of Messiah, "sixty-two weeks" of Israelite history, and a final "seventieth week" of

great affliction for Israel. This latter "week" is dominated by the appearance of the Anti-

christ, whose godless and oppressive tactics are terminated when God's decreed end is

levied upon him. For a similar division, of the seventy weeks, but with different conclu-

sions, see M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon,

1985) 482-87.

The approach suggested here has three benefits. (1) It avoids the problems inherent

in finding the seventy weeks of years either as fulfilled in Christ or as punctuated with an

THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 257

258 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


THE FURTHER SIGNIFICANCE OF DANIEL 7
Because Daniel was an heir to a long tradition of mainstream pro-

phetic activity, with which he often interacted (e.g., cf. Jer. 25:8-14;

29:10-14 with Dan. 9), his own prophetic outlook can be taken as nor-

mative when attempting to determine Hebrew eschatological perspec-

tive near the end of the Old Testament revelation. Indeed, it must

provide the framework for such important prophesied events as the

regathering of Israel, the period of Israel's persecution involved in the

teachings concerning the Day of the Lord, the great final battles of

earth's history, the coming and reign of Messiah, and the everlasting

felicity of God's people. The key role of chapter 7, so important to the

full teaching of Daniel, thus gains wider significance as an interpreta-

tive key for Old Testament eschatology.

The limited corpus of subsequent Old Testament revelation makes

specific examples of the use of Daniel 7 by later authors to be scanty at

best. The influence of Daniel 7, however, may possibly be felt in

Zechariah's report of a night vision (cf. Dan 7:7, 13 with 2:19) featur-

ing the number four (Dan 7:2-3; Zech 1:8; cf. 6:1-8). It is interesting

to note that much like Daniel's night vision, which bookends the chias-

tically designed section of Aramaic court narratives, Zechariah's vision

reports are arranged in chiastic form. Moreover, much like Daniel (7-

12), Zechariah makes great use of apocalyptic and groups his vision

reports together anthologically (1-6, 9-12). Zechariah's editorial deci-

sion may possibly have been directly influenced by Daniel.31

While the unquestioned instances of the continued use of Daniel 7

during the intertestamental era are few (but note such important cases

as I Enoch 69:26-71:17; 90:9-13a, 20-27; Sibylline Oracles 3:388-

400; Testament of Joseph 19:6-12; 1QM 17:6-8),32 the fact that this

chapter provides a quarry from which many exegetical stones have been

hewn by writers of the Christian era demonstrates that its influence

indeterminable gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks for which there is no

exegetical justification. (2) It keeps the Jewish perspective in focus. (3) It allows the full

weight of biblical evidence and apocalyptic literary interpretation to be felt. The time

perspective of Daniel is thus one of chronography, not chronology.



31 If the proposed Danielic influence on Zechariah is allowable, it further strengthens

the contention that apocalyptic had likely already emerged by the days traditionally asso-

ciated with Daniel, the sixth century B.C. Having arisen out of eschatological prophecy, the

apocalyptic form was thus an inner-Jewish development that reached the full status as a

genre in the Intertestamental Period. Note (though he assigns a late date to Daniel) the

similar concession by D. Aune (Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediter-



ranean World [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983] 112): "Prophecy appears to have gradu-

ally merged into apocalyptic. . . . Apocalyptic is therefore an inner-Jewish development."



32 Many of the themes and images in Daniel 7 do occur often, such as God's fiery

throne, the "Holy Ones," "One like a Son of Man," and the ten horns.

THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7 259

must have continued to have been felt.33 Certainly the Lord Jesus

employs it in his Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:29-31; cf. Mark 13:26-27;

Luke 21:25-28). Referring to Daniel 7:13-14 and linking it with

Zechariah 12:10-12, he points out that these prophecies find their con-

summation as he, the Son of Man, comes in splendor and power on the

clouds of heaven to gather the elect from all quarters, much to the con-

sternation of the unbelievers of earth. In his final appearance before the

Sanhedrin (Matt 26:64; cf. Mark 14:62; Luke 22:20), Jesus again draws

upon Daniel 7:13, this time combining it with Psalm 110:1. Here he

uses the Old Testament to emphasize his rightful place not only as the

expected King Messiah, but as the sovereign judge.

It is in the Apocalypse, however, that the weight of Daniel 7 is

more keenly felt. In a thorough study of the influence of the book of

Daniel upon the book of Revelation, Beale demonstrates that Daniel 7

is the controlling source for large portions of Revelation (e.g., 1:4-7,

11-12; 4:1-5:14 [especially 5:2-14]; 13:1-8, 11-18; 17:5-16a).34 It

is particularly important to note the use and crucial placement of Rev-

elation 13 and 17 in the structure of the book. After the prologue (1:1-

8) and section dealing with the seven letter scrolls (1:9-3:22), the

majority of the book is devoted to a discussion of the heavenly scroll

(4:1-22:5). During the course of heavenly worship (4), a sealed scroll

is seen in God's hand that none is found worthy to open except the vic-

torious Lamb (5). Before the scroll can be read, each of the seven seals

is opened (6:1-8:1) and seven trumpets are sounded (8:2-11:19). Now

the message of the scroll can be received. It is an awesome message of

the apparent reign of evil for a period of time, an era in which God's

people will be sorely afflicted. Ultimately, however, the Messiah King,

Jesus Christ, descends with his armies to defeat and judge the forces of

evil, reign in triumph for a thousand years, and then, having put down

a last Satanic insurgency, rules over a new heaven and earth.

The record of events on the scroll itself is presented in two stages

termed signs, the first depicting general conditions (12-14) and the

second describing specific events (15:1-22:5). The material drawn

from Daniel 7 figures prominently under each of the signs. Chapter 13

tells of the rise and reign of terror of the Antichrist; chapter 17 iden-

tifies the location of his base of operations. In these chapters many of

the themes and much of the phraseology of Daniel 7 may be found,

33 In addition to New Testament examples may be noted Sibylline Oracles 4; Apoc-

alypse of Elijah 2; 5; 2 Esdras 12:10-12; 2 Baruch 39:5-8; 4 Ezra 12:10-39; 13:1-13a;

I Enoch 46-47 (though the date is disputed, much as the case of 69:26-71:17).

34 G. K. Beale, The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Rev-

elation of St. John (New York: University Press of America, 1984) 154-267. Helpful

summaries of Beale's research can be found on pp. 170-77; 202-3; 222-28; 244-48;

265-67.

260 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

such as the appearance of a dreadful ten horned beast (Rev 13:1-2;

17:3) who boasts great things and blasphemes God (Rev 13:2, 7, 25;

17:14) and opposes the saints (Rev 13:7; 17:6) and who has supreme

authority for three and a half years (Rev 13:5). Noting these and other

allusions to Daniel 7, Beale remarks:

These parallels demonstrate a close association between chaps. 13

and 17, and are striking especially because most are the result of Daniel

7 influence. Our proposal that Daniel 7 is the controlling pattern for

Revelation 17 receives more support in that chap. 13 exhibits the clear-

est Danielic Vorbild in Revelation (especially in 13:1-8, from which all

but one of the above parallels are found).35

It is of crucial importance to note that in detailing the events of

these future end-time days, John draws upon the material presented

under Daniel's predictions relative to the fourth kingdom/era. Thus it

may be seen that Daniel's fourth kingdom/era prophesies not of Greece

(as suggested by many), which, of course, was past by the time when

John wrote the Revelation, but of Rome. However, this era stretches

beyond historic Rome through all its successors on to the distant

period of the Great Tribulation and beyond. John's use of the material

and format of Daniel 7 to portray the events of the future Tribulation

Period and following reinforces the view which holds that the deeds

first enacted historically under Antiochus Epiphanes will be reenacted

in even more savage degree by the Antichrist. Keil rightly observes:


Antioc hus, in his conduct towards the Old Testament people of

God, is only the type of Antichrist, who will arise out of the ten king-

doms of the fourth world-kingdom (ch. vii.24) and be diverse from

them, arrogate to himself the omnipotence which is given to Christ, and

in this arrogance will put himself in the place of God.

The sameness of the designation given to both of these adversaries

of the people of God, a "little horn," not only points to the relation of

type and antitype, but also, as Kliefoth has justly remarked, to "inten-

tional and definite" " parallelism between the third world-kingdom (the

Macedonian) and the fourth (the Roman).36

The broad use made of Daniel 7 by the extra-biblical authors as

well by Jesus and John testifies to its continuing influence and its

importance to future expectations. Daniel 7, then, provides an impor-

tant setting for biblical eschatology.

35 Beale, Use of Daniel, 267.

36 Keil, Daniel, 260-62.

261 THE KEY ROLE OF DANIEL 7

Because all of the Bible is God's inspired objectively verifiable

revelation, all of it is important. Nevertheless, it is obvious that certain

verses, passages, and books provide distinctive keys to the arrange-

ment and understanding of given portions or of the Scriptures in their

entirety.

The seventh chapter of Daniel takes its place among these scrip-

tural keys. Not only is it the key to the structure of the book but it pro-

vides the framework by which the prophecies of Daniel may be

understood. Further, facets of its eschatology remained normative for

both subsequent orthodox Judaism and Christianity. While additional

details beyond Daniel's purview have been added in the New Testa-

ment revelation, its epochal orientation and predicted events remain as

basic tenets of biblical eschatology.

It is, then, a key chapter. As such it provides a meeting place for

Jews and Christians, although each may differ on matters of soteriol-

ogy. For both look forward to that day when after the Tribulation that

stands near the end of this age, the Messiah and our Lord shall reign in

the midst of his people over a refreshed and glorified earth forever.

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.

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord

and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”37




37 Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15 (NIV).

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Grace Theological Seminary

200 Seminary Dr.

Winona Lake, IN 46590

www.grace.edu



Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: thildebrandt@gordon.edu


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