(Heb. and Chald. — Daniyel', דָּנִיֵּאל; also [Eze 14:14,20; Eze 28:3] in the shorter form Daniel', דָּנַאֵל; see below), the name of at least three men.
1. (Sept. Δαμνιήλ v. r. Δαλονϊvα, Vulg. Daniel.) King David's second son, "born unto him in Hebron," "of Abigail the Carmelitess" (1Ch 3:1), B.C. cir. 1051. In the parallel passage, 2Sa 3:3, he is called CHILEAB. For the Jewish explanation of the origin of the two names, see Bochart, Hierozoic. 2:55, p. 663.
2. (Sept. and N.T. Δανιήλ, Josephus Δανιῆλος.) The celebrated prophet and minister at the court of Babylon, whose life and prophecies are contained in the book bearing his name. The exact meaning of the name is disputed. The full form (דָּנִיֵּאל) is probably more correct, and in this the yod appears to be not merely formative, but a pronominal suffix (as אָהַלִיבָה, צוּרִיאֵל), so that the sense will be God is my Judge (C. B. Michaelis ap. Rosenmüller, Schol. § 1). Others interpret the word as the Judge of God, and the use of a yod formative is justified by the parallel of Melchizedek, etc. (Hitzig, § 2). This interpretation is favored by the Chaldaean name, Belteshazzar (בֵּלטשִׁאצִּר, 1:7, i.e. the prince of Bel; Sept. [Theod.]; Βαλτάσαρ; Vulg. Baltassar), which was given to Daniel at Babylon (Da 1:7), and contains a clear reference to his former name. Hitzig's interpretation ("Pala tschaiara = Erndhrer und Verzehrer") has nothing to recommend it. Such changes have been common at all times; and for the simple assumption of a foreign name, compare Ge 41:45; Eze 1:11; Eze 5:14 (Sheshbazzar). SEE NAME.
Daniel was descended from one of the highest families in Judah, if not even of royal blood (Da 1:3; comp. Josephus, Ant. 10:10, 1; of Zedekiah, according to Epiphan. Opp. 2:242). Jerusalem was thus probably his birth- place, though the passage (Da 9:24) quoted in favor of that opinion is considered by many commentators as not at all conclusive. He appears to have possessed considerable personal endowments (Da 1:4). He was taken to Babylon (while yet a boy, according to Jerome, adv. Jovin. 1:276, ed. Ven.; of twelve years, says Ignatius, ad Magnes. p. 56, ed. Cotel.), together with three other Hebrew youths of rank, Ananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, at the first deportation of the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, B.C. 606. He and his companions were obliged to enter the service of the royal court of Babylon, on which occasion he received the Chaldaean name BELTESHAZZAR SEE BELTESHAZZAR (q.v.), according to Eastern custom when a change takes place in one's condition of life, and more especially if his personal liberty is thereby affected (comp. 2Ki 23:34; 2Ki 24:17; Es 2:7; Ezr 5:14). In this his new career, Daniel received that thorough polish of education which Oriental etiquette renders indispensable in a courtier (comp. 3:6; Plato, Alcib. § 37), and was more especially instructed "in the writing and speaking Chaldaean" (Da 1:4), that is, in the dialect peculiar to the Chaldaeans. SEE CHALDEE LANGUAGE. In this dialect were composed all the writings of the ecclesiastical order, containing the substance of all the wisdom and learning of the time, and in the knowledge of which certainly but few favored laymen were initiated. That Daniel had distinguished himself, and already at an early period acquired renown for high wisdom, piety, and strict observance of the Mosaic law (comp. Eze 14:14,20; Eze 28:3; Da 1:8-16), is too evident from passages in the truly authentic Scriptures to require any additional support from the ill-warranted apocryphal stories concerning the delivery of Susannah by the wisdom of the lad Daniel, etc. A proper opportunity for evincing both the acuteness of his mind and his religious notions soon presented itself in the custom of the Eastern courts to entertain the officers attached to them from the royal table (Athenaeus, 4:10, p. 145, ed. Casaub.). Daniel was thus exposed to the temptation of partaking of unclean food, and of participating in the idolatrous ceremonies attendant on heathen banquets. Like Joseph in earlier times, he gained the favor of his guardian, and was divinely supported in his resolve to abstain from the "king's meat" for fear of defilement (Da 1:8-16). His prudent proceedings, wise bearing, and absolute refusal to comply with such customs, were crowned with the divine blessing, and had the most important results. Another reason of a sanitary nature may also be assigned for this temperance, as it is probable he was at this time undergoing the curative process after emasculation, in accordance with the barbarous custom of Oriental courts. SEE EUNUCH.
At the close of his three years' discipline (Da 1:5,18), Daniel had an opportunity of exercising his peculiar gift (Da 1:17) of interpreting dreams (comp. Herod. 1:34; Diod. Sic. 2:29) on the occasion of Nebuchadnezzar's decree against the Magi (Da 2:14 sq.). In consequence of his success, by the divine aid — like Joseph of old in Egypt — he rose into high favor with the king, and was entrusted with two important offices — the governorship of the province of Babylon, and the head-inspectorship of the sacerdotal caste (Daniel 2). SEE MAGI. Considerably later in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar we find Daniel interpreting another dream of the king's, to the effect that, in punishment of his pride, he was to lose for a time his throne, but to be again restored to it after his humiliation had been completed (Daniel 4). Here he displays not only the most touching anxiety, love, loyalty, and concern for his princely benefactor, but also the energy and solemnity becoming his position, pointing out with vigor and power the only course left for the monarch to pursue for his peace and welfare. Under the unworthy successors of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and his merits seem to have been forgotten, and he was removed from his high posts. His situation at court appears to have been confined to a very inferior office (comp. Da 8:27); neither is it likely that he should have retained his rank as head inspector of the order of the Magians in a country where these were the principal actors in effecting changes in the administration whenever a new succession to the throne took place. We thus lose sight of Daniel until the first year of king Belshazzar (Da 5:7-8), when he was both alarmed and comforted by two remarkable visions (Da 7; Da 8), which disclosed to him: the future course of events, and the ultimate fate of the most powerful empires in the world, but in particular their relations to the kingdom of God, and its development to the great consummation. He afterwards interpreted the handwriting on the wall which disturbed the feast of Belshazzar (v. 10-28), though he no longer held his official position among the magi (Da 5:7-8,12), and probably lived at Susa (Da 8:2; comp. Joseph. Ant. 10:11, 7; Bochart, Geogr. Sacr. 3, 14). After the conquest of Babylon by the united powers of Media and Persia, Daniel, being made first of the "three presidents" of the empire (comp. 1 Esdras 3:9), seriously busied himself under the short reign (two years) of Darius the Mede or Cyaxares II with the affairs of his people and their possible return from exile, the term of which was fast approaching, according to the prophecies of Jeremiah. In deep humility and prostration of spirit he then prayed to the Almighty, in the name of his people, for forgiveness of their sins, and for the Divine mercy in their behalf; and the answering promises which he received far exceeded the tenor of his prayer, for the visions of the seer were extended to the end of Judaism (Daniel 9). In a practical point of view, also, Daniel appeared at that time a highly-favored instrument of Jehovah. Occupying, as he did, one of the highest posts of honor in the state, the strictness and scrupulousness with which he fulfilled his official duties could not fail to rouse envy and jealousy in the breasts of his colleagues, who well knew how to win the weak monarch, whom they at last induced to issue a decree imposing certain acts, the performance of which they well knew was altogether at variance with the creed of which Daniel was a zealous professor (comp. the apocryphal Bel and the Dragon). For his disobedience the prophet suffered the penalty specified in the decree; he was thrown into a den (q.v.) of lions, but was miraculously saved by the mercy of God — a circumstance which enhanced his reputation, and again raised him to the highest posts of honor. He had at last the happiness to see his most ardent wishes accomplished — to behold his people restored to their own land. Though his advanced age would not allow him to be among those who returned to Palestine, yet did he never for a moment cease to occupy his mind and heart with his people and their concerns (Da 10:12). At the accession of Cyrus he still retained his prosperity (6. 28; comp. 1:21; Bel and the Dragons 2), though he does not appear to have remained at Babylon (comp. Da 1:21). In the third year of Cyrus he had a series of visions, in which he was informed of the minutest details respecting the future history and sufferings of his nation, to the period of their true redemption through Christ, as also a: consolatory notice to himself to proceed calmly and peaceably to the end of his days, and then await patiently the resurrection of the dead at the end of time.
From that period the accounts respecting Daniel are vague and confused (see Prideaux, Connection, 1:206). According to the Mohammedan tradition (D'Herbelot. Bibl. Or. 1:561) he returned to Judaea, held the government of Syria, and finally died at Susa (Rosenmüller, Schol. p. 5, n.), where his tomb is still shown (Ouseley's Trav. in Persia, 1:422; 3, 564), and is visited by crowds of pilgrims (see Loftus, Trav. in Chaldaea, p. 320 sq.). Ezekiel mentions Daniel as a pattern of righteousness (14:14, 20) and wisdom (28:3); and since Daniel was still young at that time, some have thought that another prophet of the name must have lived at some earlier time (Bleek), perhaps during the captivity of Nineveh (Ewald, Die Propheten, 2:560), whose fame was transferred to his later namesake. Hitzig imagines (Vorbemerk. § 3) that the Daniel of Ezekiel was purely a mythical personage, whose prototype is to be sought in Melchizedek, and that the character was borrowed by the author of the book of Daniel as suited to his design. These suppositions are favored by no internal probability, and are unsupported by any direct evidence. The order of the names "Noah, Daniel, and Job" (Eze 14:14) seems to suggest the idea that they represent the first and last historic types of righteousness before the law and under it, combined with the ideal type (comp. Delitzsch, p. 271). On the other hand, the narrative in Da 1:11 implies that Daniel was conspicuously distinguished for purity and knowledge at a very early age (comp. the apocryphal Hist. of Susan. 45), and he may have been nearly forty years old at the time of Ezekiel's prophecy (B.C. 592). See Alexander, De Daniele (in his Hist. Eccl. 3, 566); Robinson, Script. Char. ii; M'Gavin, Life of Daniel (1832); Evans, Script. Biog. 2:174; Williams,
Char. of O.T. p. 301; Kennedy, Daniel, his Life and its Lessons (Lond. 1858); Knox; Reflections on Daniel's Life and Character (Lond. 1849). SEE PROPHET.
Allusion has been made above to the comparison which may be instituted between Daniel and Joseph, who stand at the beginning and the close of the divine history of the Jews as representatives of the true God in heathen courts (Auberlen, Daniel, p. 32,33). In this respect the position of Daniel must have exercised a powerful influence upon the form of the revelations conveyed through him; and in turn the authority which he enjoyed renders the course of the exile and the return clearly intelligible. By station, by education, and by character, he was peculiarly fitted to ful fil the work assigned to him. He was not only a resident in a foreign land, like Jeremiah or Ezekiel, but the minister of a foreign empire, and of successive dynasties (Da 2:48; Da 6:28). His political experience would naturally qualify him to give distinct expression to the characteristics of nations in themselves, and not only in their relation to God's people. His intellectual advantages were as remarkable as his civil dignity. Like the great lawgiver who was "trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," the great seel was trained in the secrets of Chaldaean wisdom, and placed at the head of the school of the Magi (Da 2:48). He was thus enabled to preserve whatever was true in the traditional teaching of the East, and to cast his revelations into a form suited to their special character. But, though engaged in the service of a heathen prince and familiar with Oriental learning, Daniel was from the first distinguished by his strict observance of the Mosaic law (1. 8-16; comp. 6:10, 11) In this way the third outward condition for his work was satisfied, and at the close of the exile he offered a pattern of holiness for the instruction of the Dispersion of after times (comp. Auberlen, DANIEL, p. 24, etc.). SEE DANIEL, BOOK OF.
Various apocryphal fragments attributed to Daniel are collected by Fabricius (Cod. Pseud. V. T. 1:1124), and his wisdom is extravagantly lauded by the Rabbins (Gemara, Yoma); but it is surprising that his fame in later times seems to have been obscured (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. 92). Comp. Epiph. Vit. Dan. ii, p. 243, ed. Petav.; Vit. Dan. ap. Fabric.; Josephus, Ant. 10:11, 7. SEE DANIEL, APOCRYPHAL ADDITIONS TO.