A.E. Gardner, «Decoding Daniel: The Case of Dan 7,5», Vol. 88 (2007) 222-233
The interpretation of almost every detail of the description on the bear in Daniel 7 is disputed by scholars, mainly because of the uncertainty about the background of the imagery of the beasts. The present paper reviews suggested backgrounds and shows that while many have some appropriate elements, they are unable to explain all the details of the beasts or their actions. The Bible is shown to be the source of all aspects of Dan 7,5. Proceeding from Hos 13,5, the author utilized prophecies of the downfall of Babylon, supplemented from elsewhere in the Bible, to paint his picture of the second beast who is to be identified as Media and Persia.
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Decoding Daniel: The Case of Dan 7,5
The translation of Dan 7,5 provided here is in accord with the findings of the
bdl hymd hnynt yrja hwyj wraw
hynÃ§ Ë†yb hmpb Ë†y[l[ tltw
aygÃ§ rÃ§b ylka ymwq hl Ë†yrma Ë†kw
â€œAnd behold, another beast, a second, like a bear
and it was established as one dominion
and three suckers were in its mouth between its teeth
and thus they said to it, â€˜Arise, devour much fleshâ€™ (Dan 7,5).
1. The puzzling aspects of Dan 7,5
In many respects Dan 7,5 has proved puzzling to scholars:
djArfÃ§l has been taken by most scholars, following the LXX, to mean â€œto
one sideâ€ (1) and by a few as â€œone dominionâ€ (2).
tmqh has been translated as active, â€œraised itself upâ€ and as passive, â€œwas
raised upâ€ or â€œestablishedâ€ (3).
The meaning of Ë†y[l[ has been debated: some commentators have
translated it as â€œribsâ€, in line with the LXX, taking them to represent the
remnant of three items the bear has already devoured; others, by analogy with
the description of the other beasts, i.e. the (two) feet of the first, the four wings
and heads of the third, the ten or eleven horns of the fourth, say that Ë†y[l[
should be understood as an integral physical characteristic of the bear.
Accordingly scholars have sought an alternative meaning with â€œfangsâ€, from
an arabic root, suggested originally by Saadia Gaon being adopted by R.M.
Frank (4) .
(1) Some scholars have posited that the phrase implies that the bear was raised up ready
to pounce on Babylon e.g. J.A. MONTGOMERY, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
the Book of Daniel (ICC; Edinburgh 1927) 288-289; C.C. TORREY, â€œMedes and Persiansâ€,
AOS 66 (1946) 1-15 proposed an alternative rationale: â€œone sideâ€ indicates the remoteness
of Media from Israel. L. WATERMAN, â€œA Gloss on Darius the Mede in Daniel 7 5â€, JBL 65
(1946) 59-61, followed by L.F. HARTMANN â€“ A. DI LELLA, The Book of Daniel (AB 23;
Garden City â€“ New York 1978) 212-213 and J.E GOLDINGAY, Daniel (WBC 30;
Dallas1989) 162, think that â€œone sideâ€ refers to the only â€œMedianâ€ monarch known to the
author of Daniel, Darius the Mede.
(2) AV and RV translate as â€œone dominionâ€. MONTGOMERY, Daniel, 289, comments
that such a translation is â€œa mistaken understanding of the nounâ€!
(3)The MT has the active but LXX and Theodotian have the passive. R.H. CHARLES, A
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Oxford 1929) 177 comments
that â€œthe difference is immaterial as far as the meaning goes, which is far from obviousâ€.
Scholars are divided on the issue although the majority favour the passive. HARTMANN â€“ DI
LELLA, Daniel, 202, 205 and M. DELCOR, Le Livre de Daniel (Sources Bibliques; Paris
1971) 145 are among the few who accept the active rendering of the verb.
(4) â€œThe Description of the â€˜Bearâ€™ in Dan 7:5â€, CBQ 21 (1959) 505-507. Frank
concentrates on the etymology of Ë†y[l[. He points out that Saadia Gaon said that some