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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The book of Daniel outlines the challenges faced by Jews who lived under foreign empires in the postexilic period. The court tales (Daniel 1–6) describe how Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego maintained fidelity to their faith and strenuously opposed the tactics of the foreign emperors. The emperors in these chapters usually come to their senses at the end of one incident only to revert to oppressive behavior in the next chapter. The final six chapters (Daniel 7–12) are four apocalypses that were revealed to Daniel and predict divine intervention against the Syrian king Antiochus IV and the thwarting of his attacks on the Jerusalem temple and Judaism itself. The book contains the first clear statement of the doctrine of resurrection in the Hebrew Bible (Daniel 12:1–3). Resurrection will vindicate those who were martyred under the rule of Antiochus but threatens the persecutors with appropriate punishment after their deaths. While chapters 1–6 are older than chapters 7–12, their inclusion in the final form of the book makes Antiochus the last in a long line of Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek emperors. Completed just before the death of Antiochus in battle in 164 bce, the book of Daniel is among the last books included in the biblical canon. The book begins in chapter 1 in Hebrew and concludes in chapters 8–12 in the same language. The intervening chapters are written in Aramaic. While the character Daniel supposedly lived in the sixth century bce, the author of the apocalypses, in which Daniel speaks in the first person, lived in the second century bce.

Keywords: Abednego, Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV, apocalyptic, court tales, Daniel, Darius the Mede, Meshach, Nabonidus, Nebuchadnezzar

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