ListenLarger documents may require additional load time.
Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 5. 2nd ed. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p417-419.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 Keter Publishing House Ltd.
Full Text: 
Page 417


DANIEL (Heb. דָּנִאֵל ,דָּנִיֵאל, "God has judged, or vindicated").

(1) An evidently pre-Mosaic saint (Ezek. 14:14, 20) and sage (28:3) and, as such, of a type conceivable in any land (14:3ff.) and assumed by Ezekiel to have been heard of by the pagan prince of Tyre (28:1–3). The publication of the Ugaritic epic of Aqhat in 1936 showed the probability that the Phoenicians had a tradition about a man Daniel who was famed for both piety and wisdom. Aqhat's father, Dnil, is a devout worshiper of the gods and has their ear (especially that of Baal); he is also one who, either as an elder or king, "judges the case of the fatherless, adjudicates the cause of the widow." As Cassuto pointed out, this requires not only goodness but also wisdom (cf. I Kings 3:5ff.). It is perhaps no accident that in the great majority of Ezekiel manuscripts the name of this Daniel is written without yod (cf. the Ugaritic dnil, whereas the name of all the other biblical Daniels is written דניאל). It may be assumed that in the tradition known to Ezekiel this Daniel figured as a monotheist.

Page 418  |  Top of Article

(2) The name of David's second son according to I Chronicles 3:1 (according to II Sam. 3:3, Chileab).

(3) The hero of the Book of Daniel; see the Book of *Daniel .

(4) A priest of post-Exilic times (Ezra 8:2; Neh. 10:7).

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

In the Aggadah

Daniel (no. 3 above) was a scion of the House of David. He and his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were eunuchs at the royal palace and were thus able to exonerate themselves of the charges of immorality brought against them (Sanh. 93b; PdRE 52). Although the Mekhilta de-R. Ishmael (Pisḥa, 1) and Josephus (Ant., 10:266ff.) count Daniel among the prophets as do Christian sources (e.g., Matt. 24:15), the Talmud denies that he was a prophet. However, he was possessed of such great wisdom that he outweighed all wise men of the world (Yoma 77a). He was an expert in the interpretation of dreams and *Nebuchadnezzar trusted him at once (Tanḥ. B., Gen. 191). Despite the many dangers and difficulties at the royal court, Daniel conducted himself with the utmost piety. He refused to partake of wine or oil of the gentiles (Av. Zar. 36a). He was prepared to sacrifice his life rather than omit reciting the statutory prayers thrice daily, and he was cast into the lion's den as a punishment when the nobles surprised him reciting the Minḥah prayer. The mouth of the den was sealed with a huge stone which had rolled from Palestine to Babylon. Upon this stone sat an angel in the shape of a lion to protect Daniel against harassment by his enemies. When the following morning the king went to see Daniel's fate, he found him reciting the Shema (Mid. Ps. to 66). On another occasion Nebuchadnezzar tried to induce Daniel to worship an idol into whose mouth he placed the diadem (ẓiẓ) of the high priest bearing God's ineffable name, as a result of which the idol uttered the words "I am thy Lord." Daniel, however, did not yield. He conjured the idol not to desecrate God's name, whereupon the ẓiẓ passed to Daniel's mouth and the idol crumbled to pieces (Song. R. 7:9).

God revealed to Daniel the destiny of Israel and the date of the Last Judgment, which was not even revealed to Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Dan. 10:7). Daniel, however, forgot the keẓ ("end") revealed to him (Gen. R. 98:2). Despite the fact that Daniel is lauded for his virtues of piety and charity (ARN1 4, 11), it is also stated that he was not rescued from the lion's den because of his own merits but through the merits of Abraham (Ber. 7b). Moreover, some regard him as a sinner who was punished because he gave good counsel to Nebuchadnezzar (BB 4a). Daniel is variously identified with the eunuch Hathach (Esth. 4:5, 6; Meg. 15a; BB 4a), Memucan (Esth. 1:16; Targ. Sheni), or Sheshbazzar (PR 6:23, et al.). According to *Josippon it was owing to Daniel's merit that Darius issued the orders that Jews should return to Palestine and rebuild the Temple (ch. 24). Daniel asked the king to appoint *Zerubbabel in his place. Opinions differ as to whether Daniel accompanied the returned exiles to Palestine. Some state that he returned after the proclamation of *Cyrus (Song. R. 5:5) while later sources (e.g., Josippon 9d–10a) state that he retired to *Shushan where he lived a pious life until his death and was buried there. The Talmud mentions "a synagogue of Daniel" situated three miles from the city of Barnish (Er. 21a).

In Islam

Muslim legend is acquainted with both biblical Daniels; the wise man mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14 and 28:3, and the hero of the Book of Daniel. Among the commentators of the Koran, some interpret the verses of Sura 85:4–5, "The fellows of the pit were slain," and "The fire with its kindling," as referring to Daniel (Dāniyāl) and his colleagues in the fiery furnace; nevertheless, this is only one of the many explanations to these obscure verses.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]

In the Arts

The hero of the Book of Daniel early attracted the attention of writers. One of the first examples of Anglo-Saxon poetry is a seventh-century paraphrase of the Book of Daniel, and he also appears later in the English miracle play, Ordo Prophetarum. In the 17th century the German tragicomedy Der siegende Hofmann Daniel (1671) dealt with the theme. After the English writer Hannah More, whose Sacred Dramas (1782) included a play about Daniel, literary treatments of the story became rare. Two 20th-century reinterpretations were Daniel (1907) by the Polish dramatist Stanislaw Wyspiański, and "The Daniel Jazz" (1920), the title poem in a collection by the U.S. writer Vachel Lindsay which imitates the dramatic sermons characteristic of the Afro-American churches.

In art, Daniel was a far more familiar figure, both because of the dramatic, visual quality of the biblical episodes in which he figures and because of his adaptability to Christian typology. Daniel in the lion's den was thought to prefigure Jesus in his sepulcher and was also seen as representing the saved soul, or man under God's protection. Daniel is usually portrayed as a young, beardless, and often naked youth, sometimes wearing the Phrygian bonnet. He is seen flanked by his lions, and occasionally accompanied by the ram of his apocalyptic vision. He is often associated with other figures from the Book of Daniel (and its apocryphal addition) in a narrative cycle: giving judgment in the case of *Susannah and the Elders ; preceded in the ordeal by the Three Hebrews; and twice cast into the den of lions, under both Darius and Cyrus. The cycle of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams interpreted by Daniel shows the prophet more by implication than by presence, as does the apocalyptic cycle. A vast number of works of art depict the Daniel narrative in full, in part, or in isolated episodes. Daniel appears on fourth-century sarcophagi, fifth and sixth-century church doors, woven cloths, and belt-buckles in Spain, Germany, and Italy. In the seventh century, he is seen in the Cosmas Indicopleustès (Vatican Library) and, from the ninth century onward, on capitals and portals throughout the Romanesque world. Examples in miniature painting are to be found in the 11th-century Apocalypse of Saint-Sever (Paris,Page 419  |  Top of Article Bibliothèque Nationale) and Spanish Beatus manuscripts, and later in 14th- and 15th-century Bibles. After the 13th century the theme was less popular. There is a Tintoretto Daniel in the Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, and Rubens painted Daniel and the lions (1618). Bernini's sculptures of Daniel and Habakkuk (1656) are to be seen in the Chigi chapel in S. Maria del Popolo, Rome. Delacroix painted Daniel and the lions in 1849. The Nebuchadnezzar dream cycle is illustrated by Guido Reni's 17th-century painting in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, and the apocalyptic cycle is referred to by Rembrandt in his "Vision of Daniel" (1650, Berlin). Some other portrayals are Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, and an 18th-century statue by Aleijadinho (Francisco Antônio Lisbôa) at Congonhas do Campo, Brazil. The subject of the Three Hebrews in the fiery furnace occurs in frescoes in Roman catacombs of the third and fourth centuries C.E. In the Middle Ages this theme is found in sculpture, mosaics, and manuscripts as well as frescoes. The three men were taken to represent the elect protected from all perils, including the flames of Hell. In early representations they are often nude, despite the fact that the Bible states that they were thrown into the flames fully clothed. They are also often depicted as children, their hands raised in an attitude of prayer.

In Music

The dramatic episodes of the "Daniel cycle," including and often combining the canonical and apocryphal parts, have always been favored by composers. While the music of the 12th-century Daniel play by Hilary of Poitiers has not survived, the contemporary Ludus Danielis from Beauvais Abbey is completely "scored" in the manuscript (British Museum, Ms. Egerton 2615, fols. 95r–108r) with a combination of composed songs and traditional church melodies. This has become known through a recording directed by Noah *Greenberg . Notable settings of the Daniel cycle are Caldara's opera and Hasse's oratorio (both presented at the Viennese court in 1731); Darius *Milhaud 's Les Miracles de la foi (1951), a cantata for tenor, chorus, and orchestra based on passages from the Book of Daniel; and Benjamin Britten's modern "parable for church performance," The Burning Fiery Furnace (1966), with text by William Plomer. Vachel Lindsay's "The Daniel Jazz" was set to music in the jazz idiom by Louis *Gruenberg , for tenor and eight instruments (1923); and by Herbert Chappell (1963), for unison voices and piano. The Song of the Three Children (Canticum trium Puerorum, Vulg. Dan. 3:52–90), included in the Catholic liturgy, has inspired many fine musical settings. There is a notable setting by Josquin des Prés (15th century); a polychoral structure by Heinrich Schuetz and Michael Praetorius (17th century); and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gesang der drei Juenglinge (1956) which dissolves and reconstitutes the human utterance by electronic manipulation. On the popular level is Shadrack, Meshack, Abednego, a composed spiritual by Robert MacGinney (often thought to be authentic), which was made famous by the jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong.


Cassuto, in: EM, 2 (1954), 683–5; Ginsberg, in: Pritchard, Texts, 149–55 (English translation of the Aqhat epic); G.R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends (1955), 48–60. IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, index. IN ISLAM: Tabarī, Tafsīr, 30 (1329 A.H.), 85 (in the name of Ibn ʿAbbās); Thaʿlabī, Qisas (1356 A.H.), 370 (in the name of Muqātil) A. Geiger, Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen (1833), 189–90; J. Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen (1926), 92; G. Vajda, in: El2 S.V. Dāniyāl. IN THE ARTS: L. Réau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 2 pt. 1 (1956), 390–410; E. Kirschbaum (ed.), Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, 1 (1968), 469–73, includes bibliography; T. Ehrenstein, Das Alte Testament im Bilde (1923), 797–813; The Bible in Art: The Old Testament (1956), 232–3.

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition) 
Ginsberg, Harold Louis, and Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg. "Daniel." Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 2nd ed., vol. 5, Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, pp. 417-419. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX2587504853

View other articles linked to these index terms:

Page locators that refer to this article are not hyper-linked.

  • Animals,
    • lions,
      • 5: 418
  • Apocalypse,
  • Art and artists,
    • Daniel in,
      • 5: 418-419
  • Azariah (Book of Daniel),
    • 5: 418
    • 5: 419
  • British literature
    • Daniel in,
      • 5: 418
  • Christianity,
    • Daniel prefiguring Jesus,
      • 5: 418
  • Daniel (biblical figure),
  • Daniel, Book of,
  • The Daniel Jazz (Lindsay),
    • 5: 419
  • David (biblical figure),
    • sons,
      • 5: 418
  • Ezekiel,
    • Daniel,
      • 5: 417
  • German literature,
    • Daniel in,
      • 5: 418
  • Hananiah (Book of Daniel),
    • 5: 418
    • 5: 419
  • Islam,
    • Daniel in,
      • 5: 418
  • Literature
    • Anglo-Saxon, Daniel in,
      • 5: 418
    • Apocalyptic,
  • Mishael (Book of Daniel),
    • 5: 418
    • 5: 419
  • Nebuchadnezzar,
  • Phoenicia, Phoenicians,
    • Daniel,
      • 5: 417
  • Prophets and prophecy,
  • United States literature,
    • Daniel in,
      • 5: 418