The Three Additions to Daniel, A Study
by William Heaford Daubney
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


A Study





. —Hist. Sus. v. 60.





To my Wife Alice Daubney


The three apocryphal portions of Daniel considered in this book have often been hardly judged. One of them had almost become a byword of contempt for fabulous inventiveness. Yet the writer hopes that he has succeeded in shewing that they are worthy of more serious attention than they have frequently received. The prejudice long existing in this country against the Apocrypha as a whole has told heavily against two at any rate of these booklets; and he who attempts to investigate the nature and origin of the Additions to Daniel finds himself following a track which is anything but well beaten. The number of commentaries or treatises in English dealing directly with these works is very small. Indeed, considering the position accorded to them by the Church, it is surprisingly so. And of those which exist, some are not very valuable for accurate study. Hence, in preparing a treatise of this kind, materials have to be quarried and brought together from varied and distant sources; and the work, small as its result may be in size, has proved a laborious one. The conclusions arrived at on many points are but provisional; for the writer thinks that the day has not yet come when the source and place of these Additions to Daniel can be surely and incontrovertibly fixed. It is to be hoped that further evidence and longer study will eventually make these matters clearer than they are at present. Meanwhile, careful and unprejudiced work upon the subject, by whomsoever undertaken, cannot but tend towards that goal; and the author trusts that he may have contributed something which will help, at least a little, towards the solution of the difficult problem presented.

The Song of the Three and the Histories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are most interesting memorials of the spirit of their time, though that time may be difficult to fix precisely. And when looked at from the religious point of view they are replete with valuable moral lessons for "example of life and instruction of manners," to borrow the terms which the Sixth Article of Religion employs with regard to the Apocryphal books. An attempt has been made, in a concluding chapter on each book, to draw some of these lessons out, so that they may be easily available for such homiletic and other purposes as are contemplated in that Article.

The study of these three pieces supplementary to Daniel has convinced the writer that they are of more value than has been generally supposed, and are worthy of the attention of biblical scholars in a much higher degree than that which has usually been accorded to them. If he has in any way helped in providing materials, or in suggesting ideas, which may fructify in abler hands, he will be rewarded for the researches he has made.

It appears to him that there is much connected with these books which we are unable now fully to discover; much about which it is unwise to dogmatize; many questions which must be treated as open ones; many problems which can at most only receive provisional solutions, till further facts are elicited and further insight given. The time is apparently still distant when the origin and true standing of these Additions can be certainly assigned to them: for, at the present, agreement amongst Christians on these points shews but little sign of being arrived at. Yet we trust that the time will come when deeper knowledge will make it possible for disputed points to be settled. "The patience of the godly shall not be frustrate" (Ecclus. xvi. 13).

In conclusion I must record my hearty thanks to Dr. Sinker, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, for the great assistance he has given me in correcting the proof-sheets, as well as for his constant kindness in many other ways, of which these words are but an insufficient acknowledgment.



St. Matthias' Day, 1906.








1. Title and Position

2. Authorship

3. Date and Place of Writing

4. For Whom and with what Object Written

5. Integrity and State of the Text

6. Language and Style

7. Religious and Social State

8. Theology

9. Chronology

10. Canonicity

11. Early Christian Literature and Art

12. Liturgical Use

13. "Example of Life and Instruction of Manners"




1. Title and Position

2. Date and Place of Writing

3. Authorship

4. For Whom and with what Object Written

5. Integrity and State of the Text

6. Language and Style

7. Religious and Social State

8. Theology

9. Chronology

10. Canonicity

11. Early Christian Literature and Art

12. "Example of Life and Instruction of Manners"




1. Title and Position

2. Authorship

3. Date and Place of Writing

4. For Whom and with what Object Written

5. Integrity and State of the Text

6. Language and Style

7. Religious and Social State

8. Theology

9. Chronology

10. Canonicity

11. Early Christian Literature and Art

12. "Example of Life and Instruction of Manners"



[The text of the 'Additions' used throughout is that of Dr. Swete's Old Testament in Greek, Vol. III. ed. 2, Cambridge, 1899.]




These Additions differ from the other Apocryphal books, except the "rest of" Esther, in not claiming to be separate works, but appearing as supplements to a canonical book. The Song of the Three Children takes its assumed place between vv. 23 and 24 of Dan. iii.; the History of Susanna in the language of the A.V. is "set apart from the beginning of Daniel"; and Bel and the Dragon is "cut off from the end of" the same book. The first of these additions alone has an organic connection with the main narrative; the other two are independent scenes from the life, or what purports to be the life, of Daniel—episodes, one in his earlier, one in his later, career. In the Song, Daniel personally does not appear at all; in Susanna and in Bel he plays a conspicuous part; in Susanna appearing as a sort of 'deus ex machina' to set things right at the end; and in Bel he is an essential actor in the whole story.

It is hoped to shew, amongst other things, that the dissimilarity supposed to exist between these additions and the rest of Daniel is by no means so great as has sometimes been imagined. The opinion of one of the latest commentators on Daniel (Marti, Tübingen, 1901, p. xx) may be taken as a fair sample of this view. He thinks these pieces by no means congruous with the canonical Daniel: "Den Abstand dieser apokryphischen Erzählungen von dem in hebraram. Dan. aufgenommen Volkstradition kann niemand verkennen." So far as these additions to the contents of Daniel are concerned, he would agree with the exaggerated statement of Trommius as to all the Apocrypha: "ad libros canonicos S. Scripturæ proprie non pertinent nec cum Græca eorum versione quicquam commune habent," etc. (Concord. Præf. § xi.). The sharp distinction drawn by J.M. Fuller also between the style and thought of these additions, and of the canonical Daniel, is far too strong: "as clearly marked as between the canonical and apocryphal gospels." Few will think the separation between them so wide as this (Speaker's Comm. Introd. to Dan. p. 221a). Moreover, they are much less obviously incongruous, less plainly meant for edifying "improvements" by a later hand, than the Additions to Esther.

But beyond the connection, more or less strong, which these pieces have with the canonical book, they have also a connection, by means of certain similar features, with one another. All have this in common, viz. the celebration or record of some deliverance. God's persecuted people are rescued from mortal danger. In the first and third cases they suffer at the hands of idolaters; in the second, of Jewish co-religionists. In each case they provide us with a scene from Israelitish life "in a strange land." They are tales of the Babylonian Captivity.

In each story the ministry of angels, giving aid against visible foes, takes a prominent place; though in Susanna these appearances are suppressed in Theodotion's version, an angel, however, being just mentioned in Daniel's sentences of condemnation. In each case too there is distinct progress under God's guiding hand; things are left much better at the end than at the beginning. There is a tone of confidence, bred of sure conviction, in one abundantly expressed, in the others latent, as to the ultimate triumph of right. They agree in the certainty of God's defence, and shew complete reliance on Him. The Captivity had done a purifying work.

These stories of rescue from oppressors would be specially acceptable to the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity; more so probably than to the Jews of the Dispersion elsewhere. Howbeit they are records of zeal and trust which have moved many hearts in all ages and places.

In the last two Daniel appears as a person of great knowledge and power, successfully acting under the Divine guidance. In all three there is little which can properly be called strained or far-fetched. Almost everything is drawn naturally from what we may presume would be the condition of Daniel's time. Both behind and through the details of the stories we can see the heart of one who praised God, loved justice, and hated idolatry; who took delight in what was noble, pure, and truthful, and waged a successful warfare with whatever he encountered of an opposite character.

Each piece, moreover, has what may be thought to be its own allusion or reminiscence in the New Testament. And each of these parallels, curiously enough, seems eminently characteristic of the addition whence it may have been taken.

Thus we find in the parallel of St. Matt, xxvii. 24 with Susanna 46 the assertion of innocency in respect of miscarriage of justice; in that of Heb. xii. 23 with the Song 64 (86), the utterance of the spirits and souls of the righteous; and in that of Acts xvii. 23 with Bel and Dragon 27, the mocker of idols.

One is from the beginning, one from the midst, one from the end of the Greek Daniel; the first by St. Matthew reporting Pilate; the second by a writer not certainly identified; the third by St. Luke reporting St. Paul. These may be merely accidental resemblances, but their occurrence in this way is curious, and worthy of consideration.

As to the position of these pieces, whether in or out of the canon, it is probable, speaking generally, that those who used the Hebrew Bible, or versions uninfluenced by the LXX, disregarded them as not being part of Holy Scripture; and that those who used the LXX, or its versions, accepted them, either with or without hesitation. Under the chapters entitled "Early Christian Literature" it will be seen that those were by no means wanting who appear to attribute in practical use canonical authority to each fragment; and at least what Otto Stähelin says of Clement of Alexandria, that he "nicht geringer schätzte," may be held true of nearly all the Fathers who name them (Clem. Alex, und LXX, Nürnberg, 1901, p. 74). It is, however, surprising that this divergence of use, in so important a matter as the extent of the canon, did not give rise to a more general controversy. What discussion there was on this question lay chiefly between a few scholarly individuals, who treated the matter as of private and personal, almost as much as of public, interest.

Even if it were admitted that these works were not in the Hebrew canon, the question is still not absolutely settled. For it might be contended, without at all asserting that the Hebrew canon was erroneous or deficient in its time, that these and other apocryphal works were reserved in the providence of God for the Christian Church to deal with as she thought fit. Nor is it clear that her powers as to them, when deciding for canonicity or no, were of necessity more restricted than her powers as to the N.T. books on the same question. What Tertullian says with regard to 'Enoch' might be extended to other books, "Scio scripturam Enoch... non recipi a quibusdam quia nec in armarium Judaicum admittitur... a vobis quidem nihil omnino rejiciendum est quod pertinent ad nos" (De cult. fæm. I. 13).

The title 'Daniel,' it should be observed, in lists of Scripture books, often covers these additions; as for example in Origen's list, as preserved by Eusebius, H.E. vi. 25. For we know that Origen (Ep. ad Afric.) defended these additions, and so almost certainly intended this title to include them. So also with Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem'(see Sus. 'Canonicity,' p. 160). Probably it is on this account that Loisy (O.T. Canon, Paris, 1890, p. 97) says that Athanasius received "certainement les fragments de Daniel, sur la foi des Septante, comme le font Origène et tous les Pères grecs."

Ecclesiastical practice, as well as their distribution amongst the canonical books of both Greek and Latin Bibles, told, as time went on, more and more in favour of their inclusion.

But they were not officially recognized as on a level in all respects with Holy Scripture, even by the Roman Church, till the fourth session of the Council of Trent (1546), when they were all placed on an equality with, in fact treated as portions of, the book of Daniel. Probably the phrase "libros integros cum omnibus suis partibus" was introduced into the decree with special reference to these additions and those to Esther. This decree, making them "sacred and canonical," was carried, according to Loisy (p. 201), by 44 placets to 3 non-placets and 5 doubtful.[1] Dr. Streane, however, says (Age of the Maccabees, 1898, p. 102) it was passed by "a small majority." Even writers so late as Nicholas de Lyra (1340) and Denys the Carthusian (1471) speak of these additions as true, but not parts of Holy Scripture (Loisy, p. 223, quoting Corn. à Lap. on Dan. xiii. 3). And they were of the Roman obedience.

Bleek (Introd. to O.T. II. 336, Eng. tr.) says that the seventh decree of the Council of Florence (1439), making mention of apocryphal books as canonical, which no one was acquainted with before the Tridentine Council, is very probably not genuine. Denys the Carthusian, it will be observed, was subsequent to the supposed Florentine decree, and seemingly ignorant of its existence.

The same writer states (pp. 336, 339) that while Karlstadt classed some of the Apocrypha as "hagiographa extra canonem," he called these supplements to Daniel, with the Prayer of Manasses, and others as "plane apocryphos." He also represents Luther as prettily styling these pieces corn-flowers plucked up, because not in the Hebrew, yet placed in a separate garden or bed, because much that is good is found in them. They are thus detached in his version, as in ours, from Daniel, and placed among the apocryphal books. Calvin, however, in his Lectures on Daniel entirely ignores these additions. His English translator barely mentions them in his preface (Edinb. 1852, p. xlix.).

Far more contemptuous than Luther's estimate of these productions is that of Professor (now Bishop) Ryle in the Cambridge Companion to the Bible (1894), where he writes: "The character of these stories is trifling and childish."

But in reply to this and similar depreciatory opinions, it may be pointed out that one does not look in these extra-Danielic stories for such a knowledge of the human heart as is displayed in the Psalms, nor for such knowledge of the Godhead as is revealed in St. John's Gospel. If we look for fully developed doctrine of this kind, we shall no doubt be disappointed. But we do find religious teaching after the tenor of the old covenant, such as might be expected in compositions which are mainly narrative; we meet with teaching which looks quite as clear as that, say, of the books of Ruth, Chronicles, or Esther. Indeed, those who have a mind to draw moral and spiritual instruction from these brief works will not find it difficult to do so, or discover that the religious teaching is out of harmony with that which is acknowledged to exist in Daniel (see chaps, on "Example of Life and Instruction of Manners"). In point of fact, an overgrowth of unreasonable objections has been too much encouraged; and if these pieces may not in all respects secure a favourable vote, it is desirable that they may receive at least an unprejudiced and equitable judgment.

The examples of patristic use given under the head of "Early Christian Literature" will, it is hoped, sufficiently refute such statements as that of Albert Barnes (Daniel, Lond. 1853, pp. 79, 80): "It is seldom that these additions to Daniel are quoted or alluded to at all by the early Christian writers, but when they are, it is only that they may be condemned." This may be taken as a specimen of a certain class of adverse opinion, evidently formed without sufficient investigation of the subject. In reality, these pieces are referred to, considering their brevity, with surprising frequency; that the references are not exclusively, or even generally, for purposes of condemnation, hardly needs to be stated.

What effect these writings took on Jewish readers there is little or nothing to shew. With the rest of the LXX, they seem to have lost ground with Jews as they gained it with Christians. The closing scene of Bel and the Dragon, however, is made use of in Breshith Rabba to illustrate Joseph's abandonment in the pit (Gen. xxxvii.)[2]. To Christians indeed they have, from a very early date, constantly presented themselves as highly valuable for purposes of edification. Nor, with the possible exception of Susanna, is it easy to see in what way they could have furthered, in that aspect, any undesirable end.

What will be the future of these pieces by which, in the Greek Bible, the contents of Daniel were increased? It is not easy to say. Much will surely depend on the eventual consensus of opinion as to the date of that book itself. Neither the Roman nor Greek Churches shew any sign of modifying their entire,[3] or very slightly qualified, acceptance of these additions as integral parts of Holy Scripture. On the other hand, English-speaking Protestant Dissenters shew almost as little sign of rising to any religious appreciation of them.

Between these extremes the Church of England, and perhaps the German and Scandinavian Lutherans, hold, as to these books, an intermediate position, which in this, as in some other questions, may not improbably prove to be the right one. In any case the English Church has always treated them with great respect, a large part of one of them entering into her Morning Prayer, and the other two having been appointed as first lessons in her calendar from 1549 to 1872, except that Bel and the Dragon was removed from 1604 to 1662. Previous to this last date they were read, not as independent books, but as Dan. xiii. and xiv.

A patient waiting for the production of further evidence as to the origin and position of these additions can hardly be unrewarded. Meanwhile we may fitly agree with St. Gregory of Nazianzus' lines, which apply as well to these as to the other books of the Apocrypha:

, . , , , , .

(Poems, lib. II., ad Seleucum, 252—256; Migne, Patr. Gr. xxxvii. 1593.)



( )




1, 2. Narrative in continuation of the canonical text, describing the procedure of the three children in the furnace.

3-22. Azarias' confession (3-10), and prayer (11-22), on behalf of them all.

23-28. Narrative describing the fire, the descent of the Angel, and the happy result.

29-68. The Song of praise itself, which may be subdivided thus: God directly addressed in blessing (29-34); after all God's works, celestial objects are addressed, including Angels[4] (35-41); objects of the lower heaven or atmosphere are called upon, including those immediately concerned, wind and dew being placed next to fire and heat (42-51); then the earth[5] and its natural features, and the animals inhabiting it, are called upon (52-59); then the human race, as a whole and in various classes, down to the three children themselves (60-66). In conclusion God is extolled for His ever-enduring mercy in phrases culled from the Psalter (67, 68).

The tendency of the arrangement of the Song proper is to descend from generals to particulars. It has a refrain at the end of each verse, slightly differing in those preliminary verses which are addressed to the Lord Himself, and wanting in the last three. The rendering of the refrain in the preliminary verses does not seem very happy in its English (A.V. and K.V.).



Forming, as it does, an integral portion of the third chapter of the Greek Daniel, the principal MSS. give the Song, in that place, no independent title. It falls of course under the general title of the whole Book, Daniel.

Van Ess in his LXX (Lips. 1835) entitles it , but as he puts this heading in curved brackets it is possibly merely his own insertion. 'B' is the codex which he is professing to follow in his text; but that MS. is credited with no such title in Dr. Swete's Greek Old Testament; nor do Holmes and Parsons shew any knowledge of it as existing in any of their MSS.

In the Veronese Graeco-Latin Psalter it is headed , and in the Turin Psalter , which title it inserts again at v. 57, strangely regarding that verse as the commencement of a fresh canticle with a new number, . Churton (Uncan. and Apocr. Script., p. 391) suggests that the former title "may have been wrongly transferred from Ecclus. xliv." at the head of which it stands. He also calls it the title in the Alexandrian Psalter—the Odes, presumably that is, at the end. But the title to Ecclus. xliv. is simply , so that the likelihood of the transfer, deemed possible by Churton, having taken place is very small.

In the Odes, at the end of Cod. A, two canticles are extracted from this piece; the first (Ode IX.) entitled , the second (Ode X.) , each corresponding with the name given to it. In the office of Eastern Lauds the two parts have separate titles, being assigned to different days of the week (D.C.A. art. Canticle).

In the Syriac and Arabic versions of Daniel a separate title is given after v. 23 of chap. iii., and in the latter after v. 52, according to Churton in his marginal notes. He also says that "the prayer of the companions of Ananias" is the Syriac title. The titles on the whole are fairly suited to their purpose; but the use of the word "children" () in the common heading of the Song contemplates the three as of the age indicated in Daniel i. rather than that in Daniel iii.


Obviously this is not meant for an independent work, since it has no proper commencement of its own. "And they walked" is clearly intended as a continuation of some foregoing history. Accordingly, its position in the LXX, Theodotion, Vulgate, and other versions, is immediately after the 23rd verse of Daniel iii., thus forming a portion of that chapter. This is clearly its natural and appropriate place. It unites well both at the beginning and the end with the canonical text, "Qui se trouve entrelassée (sic) dans le texte," as D. Martin says in the heading of the book in his French version. T.H. Home, however (Introd. 1856, II. 936), mentions its "abrupt nature" as a reason for thinking that the translator did not invent it, but made use of already existing materials. But the abruptness is not so apparent to other eyes and ears. Indeed G. Jahn, in his note on Dan. iii. 24 (Leipzig, 1904), considers the gap between vv. 23 and 24 in the Massoretic text is filled up satisfactorily in the LXX and Theodotion only.

By means of this insertion, and the inclusion of what in A.V. are the first four verses of chap. iv., this chapter is lengthened out in the Greek and Latin versions to exactly 100 verses.

Bishop Gray's note (Key to O.T. 1797, p. 608), in which he says "the Song of the three holy children is not in the Vat. copy of the LXX," is certainly a mistake. It is just possible, however, that he may have meant that the true LXX version was absent from it. So Ball somewhat obscurely (p. 310 "the Alex. MS. omits"[6]), and Bissell (p. 442), though not very distinctly, suggest a like idea as to its omission from Dan. iii. in A, and Zöckler in his commentary falls into the same mistake (Munich, 1891, p. 231). It is not unlikely that these writers successively influenced each other.

E. Philippe's idea (Vigouroux, Dict. II. 1267a), that this piece was separated from the original book because "elle retarde le récit et est en dehors du but final" seems unconvincing—as much so as Dereser's (quoted in Bissell, p. 444), from whom perhaps it was borrowed—that "the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem shortened it for convenient use," An equally unsatisfying "reason" is that of H. Deane in Daniel, his Life and Times, p. 70 (pref. 1888). "There is no doubt as to the antiquity of this addition, but probably on account of the feelings of hatred the three children express with regard to their enemies, it was not universally received by the Church." In the face of many stronger expressions in the O.T. received without hesitation, this explanation seems untenable, or at least insufficient. And the same may be said of G. Jahn's theory that some mention of the singing of the three, contained in the original, was expunged by the Massoretes as too wonderful and apocryphal.

Much has been made of the omission of this and the other additions from the original Syriac (e.g. Westcott, quoting Polychronius, Smith's D.B., ed. 2. 7136, Bissell, 448), but they are contained in the Syriac text of Origen's Hexapla, in the MS. in the Ambrosian Library at Milan (Kautzsch, I. 172), published in facsimile by Ceriani. Bugati in his edition of Daniel gives this Syriac and the LXX text in parallel columns. In Jephet Ibn All's (the Karaite's) Arabic commentary on Daniel, translated by D.S. Margoliouth (Oxf. 1889), no notice is taken of the additions. The commentary was probably written about A.D. 1000.

Professor Rothstein (Kautzsch, I. 173) compares the situation of the prayer in ix. 4 sqq., which he deems, like this one, to have been perhaps a later insertion into the book.

It is beyond question that if this psalm of prayer and praise is to find a place anywhere in the Book of Daniel, no more suitable position can be found for it than that which it occupies so well in the Greek. If it is a digression from the course of the original narrative it is very happily placed, since it accounts satisfactorily for the statement "the king was astonied" in v. 24 (91). He was surprised at the voice of praise, instead of the shrieks of pain which he had expected to produce by the execution of his decree.


In the Greek of neither nor is there variation sufficient to prove that the writer differed from the one who translated the rest of the book. Rather do the indications point to the same hand having been at work throughout. Comely says of this and its companion pieces, "Neque in trium pericoparum argumentis quidquam invenitur quo illas Danielis auctori attribuere prohibeamur" (Compendium, Paris, 1889, p. 421). This, like other R.C. writings, holds of course a brief for their canonicity.

The Prayer, on the surface, claims to be by Azarias; the Song by all the three. The introductory and intermediate narrative verses are given as if from the same pen as the rest of Daniel's history; v. 4 (27) reminds us in its terms of Daniel iv. 37 (34) very strongly, and, in part, of ix. 14. In v. 24 (47) the mention of 49 (7 x 7) is paralleled by the symbolic use of the number 7 in iv. 25, etc. But even if, as is likely, they did not originate with the ostensible utterers, still it is quite possible that the hand for the prayer, the narrative, and the Song may not, in the first instance, have been identical.

Probably, however, we are intended, by the producer of the piece in its present shape, to understand that the prayer and the Song are recorded, even if not originated, by the author of the whole book. If not genuine parts of Daniel, their parentage has not been assigned to any named author; and the work must be treated as anonymous, for no clue has been traced which points to a definite writer.

The putting forward in v. 2 (25) of the second person of the trio, not otherwise distinguished from his fellows, is remarkable, and not suggestive of a forgery. There is nothing to shew why he led the prayer, as no special characteristics are attached to Abed-nego in our knowledge. Most likely a forger would have put the prayer into the mouth of Shadrach (Ananias), who always stands first, though the order of the last two is reversed in the one place in which the three are named in the uncanonical portion of the chapter. Ewald (Hist. of Israel, E. Tr. Lond. 1874, V. 486) thinks that Azarias is introduced as the eldest, or perhaps the teacher, of the other two; but this conjecture does not account for the varying orders of the names of the three in v. 65.

However thick a veil may rest over the author's name, it may safely be regarded as certain that he was a Jew, and a Jew who was well acquainted with the Psalter. But the opinion as to whether he was of Babylonian, Palestinian, or Alexandrian extraction will depend in a great measure on the view taken as to the original language, whether Chaldee, Hebrew, or Greek. Professor Rothstein (p. 174) admits the possibility of this addition having been made to Daniel before its translation into Greek. But Dean W.R.W. Stephens (Helps to Study of P.B., Oxf. n. d., prob. 1901, p. 45) may be taken as representing what has been the commonest view. He thinks it "probably composed by an Alexandrine Jew." On the other hand, Dr. Streane's remark tells against this increase of contents having begun at Alexandria. "The tendency to diffuseness, characteristic of later Judaism... operated much more slightly among Egyptian Jews than with their brethren elsewhere" (quoted in Dr. Swete's Introd. to Greek O.T., p. 259).

The assertion has gone the round of the commentators that the Song proper is a mere expansion of Psalm cxlviii., leaving us to infer that it is hardly a work of independent authorship. Perowne[7] writes, "the earliest imitation of this psalm is the Song of the Three Children." And J.H. Blunt, in loc., tells us that "the hymn in its original shape was obviously an expanded form of the 148th Psalm." So even Gaster, "modelled evidently on Ps. cxlviii."[8]; while Wheatley[9] goes so far as to say that it is "an exact paraphrase" of that psalm, "and so like it in words and sense that whoever despiseth this reproacheth that part of the canonical writings."[10] But though the general idea for calling upon nature to glorify God is the same, the author of Benedicite is much more than a mere expander or imitator. Naturally many of the same objects are mentioned; but while comparison with the LXX version of the psalm shews some resemblance in word and thought, it shews much more variation in style, phraseology, and treatment. That the writer, as a Jew, was acquainted with this psalm can scarcely be doubted; that he consciously imitated it there is little to shew. Moreover, the use of this psalm at Lauds in the Ambrosian, the Eastern, and Quignon's service-books, together with the Benedicite, would hardly have occurred if the Church had regarded the latter as a mere expansion of the former, and not as a distinct production.

Whoever the author may have been, he was evidently strictly orthodox, and quite in sympathy with his three heroes, in whose mouths he placed this lively, agreeable, and most religious Song. He has added a much appreciated treasure, at least among Christians, to the ecclesiastical hooks; a most serviceable form of utterance for the Church's praiseful voice. But the nature of the piece does not afford much scope for display of the character or personality of the writer. He effaces himself while extolling devotion to Jehovah, and, if he be Daniel, while recording the faithfulness of the blessed friends of his youth. What subject more likely to excite his enthusiastic sympathy? Honour to the martyrs who endured, praise to the Lord who delivered, it was plainly a pleasure to him to give.



Almost everything, excepting its absence from the original, points to the Song having been from the beginning a part of the LXX text of Daniel. Its date therefore in this case would be the date of that text. The way in which it is worked into the canonical Daniel narrative suggests that, if there be any variation as to date in the three additions, this is seemingly the earliest.

That the LXX translator invented this enlargement out of his own genius seems highly improbable; nor, were it not for its absence from the original Daniel, few would have doubted that he obtained the whole of his material from the same quarter. In such case our 'apocryphon' would obviously ante-date the LXX text.

It is not unlikely that the Alexandrian translator worked up certain traditions (J.M. Fuller, S.P.C.K. Comm.; see also Bevan, Dan. Camb. 1892, p. 45), or, if Gaster's discovery be what he thinks, written narratives. What sources, however, were used in preparing its LXX Greek form can only be conjectured, and that on very slender data.

Rothstein in Kautzsch (I. 176) deems it to have been imported into the text of Daniel before the LXX translation, which he dates at latest in the first quarter of the last century B.C.

How an interpolation of this kind came to be admitted into the original of Daniel is a difficult matter to explain. Even on the supposition that the were less rigidly fixed than the Law or even the Prophets, the insertion or omission of such a section as this seems a very bold step. Ewald (Hist. Israel, v. 86, 87, Eng. Tr.) thinks these additions to be fragments of an enlarged Daniel based on the older book, which was composed one or two centuries earlier.[11] Some later writer must have compared this new book, which was originally written in Greek, with the translation of the older book of Daniel, and transferred whatever he thought proper from the former into the latter. The work, thus compiled afresh, has been preserved in Greek shape, while the intervening book, whose former existence is proved by clearest traces, is now lost. It is only in this way, Ewald thinks, that we can explain the origin and preservation of the portions which are not contained in the Hebrew.

Prof. Kautzsch (I. 121) deems III. Maccabees, in vi. 6 of which book there is a reference to v. 27 (50) of the Song, to date from some time between the end of the second century B.C. and 70 A.D. at the latest. Within these limits he fixes upon the commencement of the Christian era as the most likely time. Dr. Streane, moreover (Age of Macc. p. 157), thinks that while century I. B.C. is very possible, it cannot be of earlier date, on account of the proof given by this verse of acquaintance with the Song. This reference, therefore, undoubted as it is, does not greatly help us in solving the problem of date, except as to its ad quem limit.

Tob. xii. 6 and xiii. 10 (the latter especially in the Vulgate) are very similar in phraseology to the refrain of the Benedicite; vv. 29, 30 (52) too, in both Greek versions, strongly suggest an acquaintance with Tob. viii. 5, since appears more likely to have been added to, than omitted from, the later document of the two. This is on the assumption that Tobit is, as Streane thinks (p. 148), pre-Maccabean, or at any rate earlier than this Song. But as the words used are not very distinctive, it is quite possible that they might have been independently prepared. The mention of Ananias, Azarias, and Misael in I. Macc. ii. 59 is not conclusive as to its writer's knowledge of the Song, but the order of the names, which does not occur elsewhere, makes a remembrance of v. 88 not improbable. I. Macc. is dated by Kautzsch (I. 31) from 100 to 90 B.C.; Streane (p. 149) allows slightly wider limits; and Westcott (Smith's D.B. II. 173) suggests 120 to 100. As to another possible indication given by v. 66 (88), see 'Chronology,' p. 69.

Of that scepticism which followed the refinements of rabbinism there is no trace, either here, or in Susanna, or in Bel and the Dragon. The tone of them all is that of an earlier time, free from any symptoms of this later decline. But still the signs of date are not sufficiently decided to justify us in fixing upon a narrow period with any degree of certainty. Taking the piece as independent of the original Daniel, the second century B.C. might perhaps be named as far from improbable. But a closer date than this it is hardly safe to fix.


If we assume an Aramaic original, Babylonia most probably will be the place for its production; Palestine somewhat less probably. But indications of place in the piece itself are very faint. It is true, however, that the order "nights and days" is "in conformity with the Shemitic custom of fixing the beginning of the day at the preceding evening" (McSwiney, Psalms and Canticles, 1901, p. 644).

Everyone must have noticed the frequency with which things watery and things cold are mentioned in the Song. The number of times they occur seems quite out of proportion with the scale on which it is conceived. Water, showers, dew, cold, frost, snow,[12] sea, rivers, fountains, all that move in the waters, are apostrophised in succession. The preponderance of these objects is very noticeable, even to a cursory reader. Now both Babylon and Alexandria are alike situated in hot countries; but of the two, a resident in the former would be more likely to have had these things brought before his eyes than a resident in the latter. Lower Egypt with its almost rainless climate, and its one river, does not seem the most likely locality to suggest a constant reference to such topics. Chaldæa, on the other hand, is better watered and is within the region of rain, and at any rate in its northern parts, of frost and snow. Dura, according to Keith Johnston's map, is close to the hills. But the position of "the plain of Dura," where the martyrdom took place, has not been certainly identified. J.M. Fuller's note on v. 42 (64), "Rain and dew have that prominence which naturally belongs to them in the parched East," is far from sufficing to explain the oft recurring mention of these matters.

Still less does Bishop Forbes' remark[13] that "the element of water seems specially to have received the benediction of the Lord," serve to elucidate the cause of its preponderance here.

The slight anthropomorphism in v. 54, where 'sitting' is implied in , expressed in , is more conformable to Babylonian than Alexandrian ideas; but this may be a mere reminiscence of Psalms lxxx. 1, xcix. 1. The mention of pitch or bitumen is inconclusive, inasmuch as it is found in both Babylonia and Egypt; but the mention of "heavens" and "stars of heaven" (vv. 59, 63), agrees very well with Chaldean origin. So far, therefore, as these considerations go, they turn the scale, to a small extent, in favour of Babylonia.

The only natural object which may be regarded as telling in the opposite direction is (v. 79), which might be thought to point to knowledge of the Mediterranean Sea (see Child Chaplin, Benedicite, 1879, p. 324).

The birthplace of the LXX text is surely Alexandria. The character of this, as of the other additions, indicates, according to Westcott (D.B. ed. 2, I. 1714a) and Wordsworth (on Dan. iii. 23), the hand of an Alexandrian writer.

It is well, however, to notice that this, with its companion pieces, has as few indications of Greek philosophy and habits of thought as any part of the Apocrypha; and in common with most Alexandrian writers it has little or nothing of purely Egyptian character. Still, Dereser's idea that "Daniel may have written his book in Greek at Babylon with all the additions" (quoted by Bissell, p. 444) seems most unlikely, and could hardly have been advanced except under the necessity of supporting the Roman view of the book.

Theodotion's version, so far as concerns the locality where it originated, shares the obscurity which hangs over much of Theodotion's personal life. Ephesus may be suggested, for Irenæus (III. xxiii.) styles him ; though Epiphanius calls him (D.C.B. art. Hexapla, p. 22a). The latter author is, for the most part, the less accurate of the two. In De Mensuris, etc., XVII. he states that 's version was issued in the second Commodus' reign, 180—192, "obviously too late."[14] The pre-Theodotionic version which is thought to have used may of course have been an Alexandrian production; but at present little is known of it.

That Theodotion had some earlier rendering, besides the LXX as his basis, the quotations in Rev. ix. 20, etc., and St. Matt. xii. 18, coinciding with his version,[15] render highly probable, inasmuch as he wrote subsequently to any likely date for those books. Possibly he may have used Aquila's version, or that of some unknown translator. Professor Gwynn's idea (D.C.B. art. Theodotion, 977a) of "two rival Septuagintal Daniels"[16] seems to have more "inherent improbability" than he is inclined to admit. But where this ground text, circulated apparently in Palestine and Asia Minor, was made, who can say? But if we take St. John as the author of Revelation, his connection with Ephesus, and the probable publication of his work there, give some little support to the theory of an Ephesian origin of Theodotion's translation.

It is strange that a version supposed to be made by one who was not an orthodox Christian, if Christian at all, should have been preferred, as far as concerns Daniel, by the Christian Church for ordinary use.[17] Jerome (Præf. in Dan.) says, as if he felt that some explanation was needed, "et hoc cur acciderit nescio," though he proceeds to suggest some possible reasons why the version of one "qui utique post adventum Christi incredulus fuit" should have been so much honoured. The religious work of a Jew, who lived before Christ, and that of one who refused to acknowledge his advent after it had taken place, stand obviously, for Christians, on a different footing.



Undoubtedly for Jewish readers, who were already interested in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; designed for those who had Daniel's book in their hands, who felt the Three to be heroes rightly honoured.

Of course, if the words were really spoken by Azarias, they were for the honour of God and the benefit of himself and his companions in the fire; and the Song itself becomes a real thanksgiving, on the spur of the moment, for the literal fulfilment of such promises as Isai. xliii. 2—a form, for their own personal use, to express their immediate feelings.

Verse 24 () might suggest the idea that the prayer (and perhaps the Song also) were uttered in the interval between the issue and the execution of the king's order for burning alive; but the words in v. 25 forbid this view. (As to a possible subsequent insertion of the prayer, see 'Integr. and State of Text,' p. 42.) Theodotion also precludes this idea by his insertion of in v. 24 itself, as well as in v. 25. The slight change in the case of the last two words lessens the likelihood of their having been transferred from v. 25 of one version to v. 25 of the other. But it is quite possible that may have purposely omitted the clause in v. 24 of , beginning , in order to shut out the idea of these devotions having taken place in the interval suggested above.

Dean Farrar even says that the Song is "not very apposite" (Expositor's Bible, Daniel, Lond. 1895, p. 180), though other minds find it remarkably so. In writing on v. 27 (50) he erroneously substitutes for . This is probably copied from Ball's note in loc. If the latter part of v. 66 (88) was in the original Song, the reference to their own position is of course apposite enough.

Even a writer of such a stamp as Albert Barnes (Comm. on Dan. iii. 23) is obliged to confess that "with some things that are improbable and absurd, the Song contains many things that are beautiful and that would be highly appropriate if a song had been uttered at all in the furnace." But to a contrary effect J. Kennedy goes even further than Dean Farrar, calling it "an elaborate composition by some one whose imagination failed to realise what was fitting and natural to men in the position of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace" (Dan. from a Christian Standpoint, 1898, p. 55).

The passage vv. 26 to 34 is provided in Littledale's Priest's P.B. (1876, p. 95) as a suitable Scripture reading for those "in fever." Although there is a kind of appropriateness in the narrative of the fire being driven off, many would regard this application of the extract as highly fanciful, and not quite agreeable to the object with which the piece was written.


Unless we assume the writer to be purely an imaginative novelist, the preservation of serviceable traditions as profitable records of religion, is clearly his principal aim. This addition cannot reasonably be said in any way to distort or disagree with, though it adds to, the sacred narrative. It is very well fitted into the main story; and the non-appearance of Daniel is quite in accord with his absence from the scene in chap. iii.

An edifying purpose is most conspicuous, and, if we assume that it is really an interpolation of the original book, we may well suppose with Bishop Gray, that "some writer desirous of imitating and embellishing the sacred text" has left us this specimen of his work; that the veneration of some Hellenistic Jew probably induced him to fabricate this ornamental addition to the history (op. cit. pp. 610, 611).

One aim would be to satisfy the interest awakened by the wonderful experiences of the three, which afforded a narrative ground-work for this extension; falling in this respect, as Prof. Ryssel points out (Kautzsch I. 167), into the same category as the Prayer of Manasses and the additions to Esther. It may be said that resistance to idolatry, securing divine deliverance, is, as in Bel and the Dragon, the "motif" of the piece. But this is not accomplished without great peril and anxiety to these martyrs in will, who kept before them an uncompromising standard, worthy of their noble lineage (Dan. i. 3), as well as of their true religion.

In some respects we are reminded of Jonah's prayer, which had a similar object, viz., to secure a deliverance from hopeless danger, a deliverance as marvellous as that of the Three. The words by which it is introduced are similar ( ... , Jon. ii. 2; ... , Dan. iii. 25, ); and the spirit of turning to God in dire straits is the same. But Jonah's prayer differs from Azarias' in containing much mention of his immediate danger. Yet the absence of this from Azarias' prayer hardly amounts to a probable indication of forgery; indeed the possibility of so long an utterance implies some restraint of the consuming power of the furnace, such as is described in v. 27 of the Chaldee.

A subsidiary purpose answered in the Song proper is that of joining nature with ourselves, by addressing it in a series of invitations to magnify Him who is its God and ours alike, thus interpreting the feelings which nature maybe supposed to entertain. It is recognised that the irrational as well as the rational have their rightful spheres of action; and a wholesome sympathy is manifested with those portions of nature—which we think are lower than ourselves. With this may be compared Adam and Eve's morning hymn (in Milton's Paradise Lost, Book V., 1. 153 sq.), which is very similar in tone and in sequence of objects apostrophized.

The Song so readily leads itself to use as a Canticle that the idea inevitably arises of its having been composed with that purpose in view; but proof that it was ever so used by the Jews seems entirely wanting. The statements made in some P.B. manuals that it was so used appear to have arisen from a misunderstanding of an ambiguous sentence of Wheatley's (see 'Liturgical Use,' p. 83). Still, there may have been an arrière pensée in the composer's mind of providing models of prayer and of praise for others, in crisis of trial or deliverance, to offer unto God. It is pleasing to note in this respect, that the thanksgiving is not stinted, but is even longer than the prayer. Nowhere is the manifold wealth of God's revelation in nature more fully and comprehensively set forth in the most exalted spirit of praise; so that, if this were one of the composer's objects, it is most abundantly answered.


It has been suggested by Prof. Rothstein (in Kautzsch I. 174, 175) that the prayer of Azarias, the intermediate narrative, and the Song itself, were not all written at the same time. But this view is based purely on internal probability, and derives little or no support from any of the MSS. or versions, unless the introduction of titles in the Arabic after v. 28 (51), and in some Greek copies to the prayer of Azarias, be thought to give it countenance; yet these may have crept in from their convenience for liturgical use, and so be accounted for merely on practical grounds.

To base this separation, however, on a supposed disagreement between v. 15 (38) and vv. 31 (53), 62 (84), is certainly insufficient cause, as Ball points out (307b), for assigning Prayer and Song to different writers (see 'Chronology,' p. 67). But the observation that the narrative passage between the Prayer and the Song fits in well after the canonical v. 23[18] seems a stronger basis for supposing that the prayer is a later introduction than the Song. Rothstein points out (p. 181, note d) that v. 1 (24) in has relation to the Song, but not to the Prayer, and originally, as he imagines, took the place of the present v. 28 (91) of similar import. Corn. a Lap. notes of v. 1 (24) "est hysterologia." This view is also mentioned with favour in Charles' article on Apocrypha in the 1902 vols. of Encycl. Brit. (cf. 'For whom written,' p. 36).

It is observable also that the statement of v. 26 (48) is not a mere repetition of that in v. 22, but refers to the scorching of the onlookers, while v. 22 speaks of those who executed the king's order.[19]

The repetition of the same invocation at the commencement of the Prayer and the Song is noteworthy; if the two are not contemporary, it has probably been borrowed by the composer of the Prayer. But the difficulty (often magnified) of reconciling the statements of v. 15 (38) with the Jews' civil and ecclesiastical condition at the time of Daniel iii. wears quite a different aspect if the Prayer is regarded as an interpolation of later date by another hand. Altogether this theory of the interpolation of the Prayer is surrounded with a considerable air of probability.

Five extra verses are interspersed in the Syriac of the Song, calling upon the hosts of the Lord, ye that fear the Lord, cold and heat (the winter and summer of our Benedicite), the herbs of the field, and the creeping things of the earth (Churton's translation). Of these "frigus and aestus" is in the Vulgate, taken from . The source of the others is unapparent, though creeping things would very naturally follow beasts and cattle, as in Gen. vii. 14.

The present ending of the Song, after the usual refrain in the middle of v. 66 (88) is of a laboured nature with a decidedly "dragging" style. It certainly has the appearance of being an afterthought, added by some not very skilful composer, who fancied the original termination to be too abrupt, and thought he could attach an appropriate supplement. But of this theory no external evidence is at present forthcoming.

agrees with the text much more closely in this than in the other additions. Most verses are the same, word for word; and many others have but the slightest variations. He makes a few small omissions, as in (Greek) vv. 24, 40, 67, 68; but in general he follows exactly. Even vv. 67, 68, are contained in A, in both places, in Daniel and in the Odes at the end; also they are in the Turin Psalter, though omitted in the Veronese (Swete's LXX). As they are found, with a little difference in the text, they may have fallen out of B and Q accidentally. The identical refrain at the end of each verse would naturally facilitate an error of this kind.

The principal MSS. available for 's text are the same as those for the canonical part of Daniel, A, B, and Q. fails us here, as in other passages, except from vv. 37—52, in which its variations are unimportant.

Taking B as the ground-work, A's changes are not generally of serious moment, excepting in the case of the two inserted verses, 67 and 68, and the transposition of vv. 73 and 74. Otherwise they chiefly consist of small insertions or omissions which do not materially affect the sense (vv 36, 81); varying forms from the same root such as for (v. 54), for (v. 56). The correctors of B in v. 38, though unsupported by the chief codices, certainly seem right in substituting for . Q's variations not unfrequently agree with A's; where they do not, they are scarcely more important, and often partake of a similar character. In v. 88 a synonym is substituted, viz., for (2nd). In the few verses covered by , B is generally agreed with; a change of case, instead of , appearing in v. 50.



The probability of a Semitic original lying in the background of this piece, has always been considerable. Those who have maintained Greek as the original language, have generally spoken a little less confidently with regard to this than with regard to its two companion pieces. So Bissell writes (p. 443), though a supporter of the Greek (p. 43), "undoubtedly more can be said in favour of such a theory" [of a Semitic original] "than for a similar one in respect of the two remaining additions." And since M. Gaster discovered in 1894 an Aramaic text, the grounds for deeming the Greek to be the original, though not set aside, have been partially undermined. Schürer, however, in Hauck's Encycl. (I. 639), appears to think that this is translated from , and not vice versâ, as Gaster claims. In his third German ed. of H.J.P. (III. 333) he agrees with Gaster in deeming to be , but considers the Aramaic to be a rendering of 's Greek, taken into the tenth-century Chronicle of Jerahmeel.

It must be confessed that the existence of two Greek versions increases the probability, though it does not prove the existence, of an original in another language. It does not seem likely that would have revised the of the additions in the same way as the canonical part, unless he had a similar basis to go upon in both cases. If not, why, and on what authority, did he alter the additions at all? And this consideration applies to the other two, even more than to the one we are dealing with, inasmuch as the version of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon involved more numerous changes. Irenæus' statement that Theodotion "," taken strictly, would of course always imply an original to translate; but Irenæus may only have been thinking of the particular passage from Isaiah which he refers to (III. xxiii.).

Many phrases may be instanced which point to a Semitic original, or at least fit in well with the theory of its existence. Towards counterbalancing this there is a much smaller number which may be thought to tell in the opposite direction. But in the main, as Comely truly writes (op. cit. p. 420), "accedit hebraismorum frequentia quum in Alexandrini tum in Theodotionis versione."[20]

It is to be observed, however, that the names of the Three are Grecized from their original Hebrew nomenclature,[21] although their Babylonian names are employed in Dan. iii., and adopted by and in the canonical portions, both before and after the apocryphal episode. An apparent exception occurs in v. 23 of , where clauses of that verse and of v. 22 have been transposed and slightly altered. Here Azarias occurs in the same form as in the apocryphal portion. But this isolated use of the Hebrew form of his name has probably been brought about by the insertion of our piece into the chapter, the same form and phrase, , being found in v. 49 of both Greek texts. A like phrase occurs in Ezek. xxxviii. 6, and in Acts xiii. 13. The order of names, too, differs in this Addition from their order elsewhere, the two last changing places, thus bringing Azarias (Abed-nego) into the middle. It is remarkable that he is twice, vv. 2 (25) and 8 (49), placed as if he were the leading member of the trio, in the former verse as uttering the prayer, in the latter as heading the party in the furnace; and so also, as pointed out above, in v. 23 of . This last fact, however, is counterbalanced in the same version by all three being named in v. 24 as praying, Azarias not there figuring as the sole speaker. These small indications certainly point to some ancient distinction between the uncanonical insertion, as we have it, and the body of the book.

E. Philippe (in Vigouroux' D.B. II. p. 1266) argues for Hebrew and not Greek originals, because of the existence of two Greek versions, neither of which, he says, appears to be a revision of the other, containing hebraisms suggestive of a Hebrew original. But as regards the Song of the Three, this statement, that neither version is a revision of the other, must be regarded as more than doubtful. He also says that the Chisian and Syro-Hexaplar MSS. contain critical signs of Origen, revealing a Hebrew text, and in 87 (Chisianus) at xiii. 1-5, , , indicate Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, all translators from the Hebrew. This last point, however, may not stand as to the Song of the Three (see note in Kautzsch, p. 176) so far as Aquila is concerned. For Origen, in his letter to Africanus, seems to imply that Aquila's rendering did not contain the Song: —§ 2.

Jerome's words in the Vulgate, after v. 23, "quæ sequuntur in Hebraeis voluminibus non reperi," are very guarded, not absolutely denying the existence of a Hebrew text, but merely asserting that he has not met with it. Cod. Amiatinus, however, has 'non repperiuntur,' an expression which asserts more comprehensively the absence of this passage in his time.

The following are some specific indications of language which appear to be of sufficient interest to be noted separately:

v. 27 , . = rendered by in Dan. ix. 14 (in both versions) and in Neh. ix. 33. also occurs in Bar. ii. 9, in that part of Baruch which is almost certainly a translation from the Hebrew. Ball (Speaker's Comm.) gives a similar phrase from the Iliad, and Bissell a still more apposite one from Il. IV. 28, to shew that it is not unknown in pure Greek. Gaster's Aramaic has simply not .

v. 30 , . governs the genitive correctly, but , coupled with it, is made to govern the same noun. Exigencies of translation might easily cause this awkwardness, but hardly original Greek composition.

v. 31 . = So translated in II. Chron. vi. 16, 17 at the beginning of the verse, as here; it occurs again in vv. 33 and 41 in both versions, as also in ix. 15, 17. It is not a very natural beginning of a Greek sentence.

v. 32 , . Why , a title which does not seem very applicable to the Babylonians? It may be merely a rendering of as in Ezra iv. 12, 15. The Vulgate here has 'prævaricator.' In Gaster's Aramaic the verse is different. But cf. use of in Eph. ii. 12 of those who had never belonged to Israel.

v. 33 , . looks very like a translation of , an idiom used in II. Chron. xxxv. 3, 15 in the sense of 'cannot,' followed by a verb in the infinitive. Cf. Heb. ix. 5.

v. 34 , . = or as in II. Chron. xii. 12, Ps. xv. 11. . This curious expression may be the rendering of such a phrase as that in I. Kings xv. 19, , there translated by the same words; also in Jer. xi. 10.

v. 36 , . , as in viii. 10, xii. 3, both .

v. 37 , . . Did the translators read for ?

v. 38 , . . Cf. Lev. ii. 9, 11, being similarly translated. is also used in the same sense in I. Esd. iv. 52. Deissmann has an interesting 'study' of this word in his Bible Studies (Eng. transl., Edinb. 1901, p. 135).

v. 40 , . ... = ... . is thought by Ball to have arisen from some confusion between and , but this is dubious. Marshall (Hastings' D.B. IV. 755b) suggests in Kal or Piel.

v. 44 , . , Grotius (in Critici Sacri) says "Expressit Hebræum quod est in Ps. lx. 3 (5) et alibi." The verb is so translated in Exod. ix. 16.

v. 49 , . The apparent Grecism of occurs in the LXX of Ezek. xxxviii. 6 and elsewhere. , Ball suggests from Ps. xlix. 18. Gaster gives . Gaster characterises as a "senseless" rendering of "and it cooled down," which word certainly gives an excellent sense.

v. 50 , . The well known "crux" of appears in the Aramaic as which Gaster translates "as a wind that blows (and causes) the dew (to descend)."

v. 51 . = .

v. 54 . , cf. Dan. iv. 36 (33) , . is the Aramaic in both places. , as in Jer. xiv. 21. is used of God's throne in Dan. vii. 9, end.

v. 59 , . = (not in Gaster's Aramaic).

vv. 64, 68 . Repetition of , and vv. 67, 69 , of , suggests possible difficulty of a translator, causing him to fall back on same word.

vv. 65, 86 , . The different senses of point to as the underlying original of both.

v. 87 , . ; Luther renders "elend und betrübt sind," since these words, if of literal and immediate application, would indicate the depression of the Babylonian exiles; and so would tell in favour of a Semitic original, Greek being unfamiliar to them.

v. 88 , . , cf. Dan. iii. 21, 29; vii. 11 (, Chald. in first and third of these cases, and also in Gaster's Aramaic of this piece).

v. 89 , . does not seem a very suitable word, as they had not yet been into . It may be a translation of as in Jer. xlii. 11, if from a Hebrew original. is given by Gaster as the original of both () and .

v. 90 , . , used of proselytes of the gate in Acts xvii. 17, may have this meaning here also, as coming last, and in connection with , a possible reference to the "gods of the nations." Gaster's Aramaic has nothing answering to . Grotius suggests " ut Job i. I, 8, ii. 3," where is the word.

The writer deems the evidence of language to point on the whole to a Semitic rather than to a Greek base. The difficulty of balancing the indications however of the original language is shewn by the names of important authorities which may be ranged on either side, Ball, Rothstein, and Swete regarding the Semitic as probable; Westcott, Schürer, and Fritzsche holding a similar opinion as to the Greek.

When a Semitic original is pronounced for, the further question arises, was it Hebrew or Aramaic? The grounds unfortunately appear too indecisive to warrant a distinct choice between these alternatives.


This is the only one of the three Additions which takes a devotional and poetical form. The Song has perhaps exceeded the others in the great estimation accorded to it. The frequent liturgical use made of it is both a sign and a cause of this.

The style of the Greek is Hellenistic, and is not out of character with the versions of which it is a part; nor in particular with the Book of Daniel with which it is incorporated. It is spirited, interesting, and agreeable, mainly Hebraic in the character of its thought and cast of its language.

The Prayer may possibly be accused of the needless repetition of similar sentiments; especially in vv. 4, 5, and 8 as to God's truth and justice; and in vv. 6 and 7 as to Israel's disobedience, which are somewhat over-insisted upon. But perhaps this may be attributed to earnest pleading. It is instructive to compare and contrast Daniel's Prayer, chap. ix., remembering that a different person would naturally have a different style; a consideration which may also help to account for the change we are conscious of when we pass from the prayer of Azarias to the Song which purports to he the composition of the Three.

The principle on which is inserted in some verses and omitted in others does not seem clear. Rhythmical considerations do not sufficiently account for it. Something other than style seems to have influenced its use; but what that something may have been it is difficult to discern. Nor does the principle seem clearer in the Aramaic than in the Greek.

The poem has a simple yet majestic structure, with a refrain apt to linger in the ear, either in Greek or English, , , , "Bless ye the Lord, praise Him, and magnify Him for ever." In Gaster's Aramaic the refrain is slightly varied, being used where God is addressed, where His creatures are exhorted. Dr. Gaster understands the former to mean "for ever," but the latter "in the world."[22] This distinction, if a just one, is entirely obliterated in the versions. In the Vulgate however the refrain sounds less agreeably, for "superexaltate " is a cumbrous word for frequent repetition. It is one of those exaggerated compounds of which the translator of Daniel seems to have been too fond, such as "superlaudabilis," "supergloriosus" (v. 52), "deambulo" and "discoöperio" (Sus. vv. 8, 32). This inconvenience was evidently felt in liturgical use, as in the Roman Breviary and Missal the repetition of "superexaltate" is avoided. Psalm cxxxvi. affords a biblical instance of a refrain similarly repeated at the end of each verse; and Deut. xxvii. 15-26 may be regarded as containing a liturgical repetition of another species.

The use of a symbolic multiple of 7 in v. 24 (47) accords well with a similar practice in Daniel iii. 19, ix. 24, and x. 2,13. The number 3 itself (v. 28) may also be symbolic; but this is merely continued from the canonical part of the story, being quite of a piece with it. No other numbers occur.

There is a remarkable resemblance between the natural objects mentioned in Ecclus. xliii. and in the Song. Especially v. 22[23] of the former is like v. 27 (50) of the latter in its leading idea. The furnace, , is also named in v. 4 of the Ecclus. passage; and the aim of glorifying God is most prominent in both. But the resemblance in style to Psalm cxlviii. is not so great as has sometimes been imagined. (See what is said on this point under 'Authorship,' p. 26.) On the whole, the style of the work, whether supplicatory, narrative, or poetic, is well suited to the purpose for which it is designed; and although the influence of previous writers is evident, the manner of the author is not that of a mere imitator of their compositions. He has a form of his own in which to present his subject.



So far as the Jewish actors in the scene are concerned, they exhibit a true religious spirit from the O.T. standpoint, with an unshakeable firmness of conviction that Jehovah alone should be worshipped.

The episode shews (in common with the canonical part) that the Captivity had already produced a stubborn opposition to idolatrous temptations among the Jews. The tendency to follow after other gods, and to depart from Jehovah in this way, had been outrooted from the habits of these exiles; and their example now would be for all time an incentive to others to resist, at any cost, the pressing inducements to become idolaters.

It is difficult to find anything really inconsistent with the religious position, so far as we know it, of Israel in Babylon. Bissell, however, writes strongly to the contrary, in company as he avers, with almost all non-Romish scholars. This opinion is based on little more than the supposed inappropriateness of the Prayer and Song to the occasion, and on the discrepancy of v. 15 (38) with the circumstances of the time, and with other parts of the composition (p. 445 and on v. 15). This "discrepancy" is dealt with under 'Chronology.' Bissell also quotes with approval the exaggerated comparison of Eichhorn, who deems the three "like dervishes gifted in penitential exclamations, which they interrupt by abuse of Nebuchadnezzar." A consistent religious ground is maintained throughout by the three; there is for them no "doing at Rome as Rome does" in vital matters of religion. And their condition is evidently compassionated by God, their faithfulness approved, amid the persecutions of a foreign land.

Considerable talent and art in devotional composition are manifested in confession, petition, and praise—talent and art of which the Christian Church has widely availed herself from a very early period. The tone of Azarias' prayer is not discordant with Daniel's description of his own prayer in ix. 20, nor with the prayer itself immediately preceding that verse, either in sentiment or phraseology. They may well have come from the same editor, whether the prime author of the whole book or not. Verse 16 (39) apparently contains phrases culled from Pss. xxxiv. 18, li. 17. M. Parker on Deut. xxviii. 56 (Bibliotheca Biblica, Oxf. 1735) thinks that the declaration of the three in v. 9 (32) corresponds with Deut. xxviii. 49, 50, being in fact a public acknowledgment that national impiety had brought upon them the distress in which they were at present involved. If so, it shews knowledge of the law on their part. But the connection is one solely of idea, and not of phraseology. There is a strong connection in phraseology, however, between v. 27 and Deut. xxxii. 4 in LXX. In any case the religious tone of the whole production is not inconsistent with what we might have expected.


The nature of this piece does not afford much scope for the display of the social condition of Babylon and its inhabitants. It is to be expected therefore that it will shew us far less of these matters than either Susanna or Bel and the Dragon. But so far as it gives any indications, it is in accord with the canonical Daniel, and with what we know from other sources of the customs of the country. Evidently Israel was in a state of subjection to the Babylonian king, who ordered idolatry to be practised by captives and natives alike. It is shewn by v. 9 (32) sqq. that the former smarted under his tyranny, and appealed to God for redress, like their forefathers in Egyptian bondage.

The punishment of burning, on which the whole story turns, is quite Babylonian. Jer. xxix. 22 is another instance, so that there is no lack of vraisemblance in its introduction here. (See Hastings' D.B. art. Crimes and Punishments, I. 523, for other instances). It has been thought (Smith's D.B. ed. 2 art. Furnace, I. 1092b) that this furnace in Daniel is alluded to by our Lord in St. Matt. xiii. 42, 50; but how opposite on this occasion are the consequences of being cast into it! Here prayer and praise from the righteous, there weeping and gnashing from the wicked. The allusion must be considered a very doubtful one.

The subservience of the king's servants[24] in performing their cruel work, and the absence of a protesting voice or of a helping hand from any quarter, is very characteristic of the results of Eastern despotism. All, except the three martyrs, were afraid of Nebuchadnezzar, whose murderous rage under contradiction is of a piece in both the Chaldee and the Greek portions of the chapter. No one else on this occasion dared to disobey his decree, and there is no sign of anyone venturing so much as to intercede for the Jewish victims.

In such small glimpses as are given, in this extension of chap. iii., of the social state of Babylonia there is nothing clearly indicating that the interpolation (if such it be) is of an unhistoric or untrustworthy character, nothing wholly irreconcilable with the rest of the book. Indeed the author (W.T. Bullock) of the note on Daniel iii. 23 in the S.P.C.K. Commentary goes so far as to write of "that noble canticle Benedicite," as an "historical document." This expression may require qualification, but it is not beyond the bounds of possible fact.


The theology appears to be of a perfectly orthodox character, quite what might have been expected from the three children; nor is it inconsistent with that contained in the rest of the book of Daniel. The exile had not now contaminated the Jewish religion, but had rather purged it of its corruptions, and eradicated in particular the fatal tendency to "serve other gods." Such sins are thoroughly confessed by Azarias in a style not without resemblance to Daniel's confession. (Cf. v. 6 (29) with ix. 5 in both versions; also Esther xiv. 6, 7.)

The God of their fathers is He alone to whom prayers and praises are to be addressed. He is regarded as the Lord of all creation, both as a whole and in its specific parts. He is looked up to to make good the old promises (13), being full of mercy (19), as well as of power and glory (20, 22, 68). He is a king (33), just (4), and gracious (67), with an ear open to the addresses of his people. The righteousness of even His heavy judgements is acknowledged in the prayer; and the hymn throughout shews that the gratitude of man is plainly deemed acceptable to Him.

As to the question of praise being called for from inanimate things or irrational beings, we must remember that though unfitted, so far as we understand them, for conscious praise, their creation, maintenance, and usefulness give evidence of God's greatness and goodness. As Cornelius à Lapide notes on v. 35 (57) "Inanimes creaturæ benedicunt Deum creatorem suum, non ore sed opere, ait S. Hieronymus," giving, however, no reference to the passage in Jerome. Ps. civ. 4 and Heb. i. 7 afford some helpful clues to the operations of Nature in this connection. Man is treated by our author as the interpreter of Nature, with a right, as made in the image of God, to call upon it to glorify its Maker. He offers vocal praise on its hehalf as well as on his own; though things without life praise God silently, by fulfilling the parts for which He made them. A somewhat similar idea of the elevating influence exerted by natural beings may be discerned in the second of the New sayings of Jesus as restored by Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt (Lond. 1904, p. 15). And Addison fitly writes (Spect. No. 393), "The cheerfulness of heart which springs up in us from the survey of Nature's works, is an admirable preparation for gratitude "(cf. 'Early Christian Literature and Art,' s.v. 'Hippolytus').

Azarias desires that the rescue of the party may redound to the knowledge among all men of the sole deity of Jehovah (22)—a petition for the conversion of the Gentiles. The phrase in the last verse of the Song, , might be taken as an admission of the existence of other gods over whom Jehovah was supreme. But clearly this is not so intended, as may be proved from the use of the phrase in Deut. x. 17, Pss. xlix. I (LXX), cxxxvi. 2. Yet it is not unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar used the phrase in this acceptation in ii. 47. The other occasion, however, on which it is used in Daniel (xi. 36), allows it to be taken only in an orthodox sense; nor is any other likely in the mouth of Azarias, who resisted to the utmost the command to sin by idolatry. It is observable that Azarias omits the clause "in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. xxii. 18, xxvi. 4) from his quotation of the patriarchal promise. This might arise from dislike to the nations, who had conquered Israel; but on the other hand, the gist of it is contained in his concluding petition in v. 22.

The objection that Ananias, Azarias, and Misael are invoked as saints (which probably caused the omission in 1789 of v. 66 (88) from the American P.B.) is sufficiently answered by pointing out that the Song is praise, not prayer; and that these three do not stand on a different footing in this respect from the other objects apostrophized. Moreover, a highly poetical composition of this kind is not to be too literally interpreted. As Liddon remarks in his Elements of Religion (Lond. 1892, p. 182), "The apostrophes of the Psalms and Benedicite are really acts of praise to God, of which his creatures furnish the occasion;" and Addison again (Spect. No. 327), "Invocations of this nature fill the mind with glorious ideas of God's works." v. 43 (65) is oddly applied by Archdeacon Frank, Serm. XLII. to Pentecost (Oxf. 1849, II. 254).

Belief is plainly shewn in an angelic ministry, sent down to help God's suffering servants, and endued with miraculous powers. The angel comes, too, after their humble confession and prayer for rescue (vv. 43—45), and before their song of praise. The very propriety however of this arrangement, from a theological point of view, induces Rothstein to deem the prayer a subsequent introduction, in order to supply the want of request for deliverance before praise for its accomplishment; and he thinks that the opening in the narrative for the insertion of the prayer (between vv. 23 and 46) was not, in the , very deftly effected (Kautzsch, I. 175, 181).

The natural and the supernatural, without any incongruity, are blended as being all under one control, all subserving the same great ends, as in the Hebrew Bible. But there is no increase of the miraculous element beyond that in chapter iii., in which this piece is inserted; and at a later age increase would have been highly probable. What essential difference is there to be found between the miracles of the Chaldee and of the Greek Daniel? Surely none.

A typical resemblance was discerned by St. Antony of Padua (Moral Concordances, ed. Neale, p. 123), between v. 26 (44) and the Annunciation, but this will be regarded by many minds as a very fanciful theological discovery, and one surely not in the purview of the composer of the passage.


There is but little in the way of chronological indication in this addition; considerably less than in the other two, and what there is, is indirectly brought in.

A time after the Captivity is evidently pointed to in vv. 26, 32, 37, 38. Jerusalem was lying under a heavy visitation, the people delivered over to the enemy, almost denationalized, and deprived of the sacrificial worship to which they had been accustomed. Yet this position of affairs is spoken of as if it were not one of very long standing. (Cf. the use of in vv. 31, 33, 42, though in the last of these instances its use may not perhaps be temporal.)

It has been objected, quite unnecessarily, that v. 38 is inconsistent with v. 53, the one implying the destruction of the temple, the other recognizing its existence; v. 84, too, may be taken as supposing priests to be still capable of performing their offices. It is even possible that the corrections of Cod. A in v. 38 may have had behind them some idea of softening a discrepancy. This supposed lack of consistency has been taken as an indication of double authorship of the Prayer and the Song; and of course, if the Prayer were a later interpolation than the Song, even the appearance of contemporary inconsistency is avoided. But if we were to decline this hypothesis, and take Prayer and Song as from the same pen, there is still no real difficulty; for v. 38 is thinking of the earthly temple, v. 53 of the heavenly. Grotius (Critici Sacri), apparently accepting the statements of v. 38 as correct, writes: "Harum rerum penuria animos venture Evangelio præparabit."

Another chronological difficulty, that of "no prophet,"[25] in the same verse (38) has even been offered as a 'proof' of non-canonicity (Cloquet, Articles, p. 113). So T.H. Horne in Vol. IV. of his Introduction, quoted by A. Barnes on Daniel (I. 81), says that "v. 15 (38) contains a direct falsehood"; and in Vol. II. 937 of his Introduction (ed. 1852), he asserts that the author "slipped in the part he assumed." More just is his observation that "Theodotion does not appear to have marked the discrepancy." Ball, too, joins in the condemnation, by expressing an opinion that the writer had "lost his cue" (Introd. to Song, p. 308); and Reuss, "Hier verrät sich der Verfasser" (O.T., Brunswick, 1894, VII. 166). It has been suggested (J.H. Blunt in loc.) that Ezekiel, who was both priest and prophet, had just finished his utterances, while Daniel, if he had commenced his, would, out of modesty, not reckon himself. The same commentator also attempts, still less successfully, to overcome the difficulty of "no prince." Probably, however, this merely means that no monarch was actually reigning, and that Jewish rulers were themselves ruled and their authority superseded, not that no member of the royal house or of the ruling classes was in existence. And this seems to fit in better with an early period of the Captivity than with a later age, when Simon Maccabeus is said to have had the title on his coins: and Mattathias is called in I Macc. ii. 17. Gesenius says in his Thesaurus under on the authority of F.P. Bayer (de numis hebraeosamaritanis, p. 171, append, p. xv.), that Simon's coins had the inscription [26]; but it is now doubted whether the coins formerly attributed to Simon are really of his time. (Cf. Bp. Wordsworth of Lincoln on I Macc. xv. 6.) Zöckler's idea (Comm. in loc.) that must be understood here as equivalent to "priest" is unsupported and needless. is never so translated by LXX.

Cornelius à Lap. (Paris, 1874), deals with the difficulty of "no prophet" in a different way. He writes, "Quia Dan. potius somniorum regiorum erat interpres, quam propheta populi; Ezech. autem propheta aberat agebatque in Chobar aliisque Chaldaeae locis, eratque is unus et captivus. Itaque 'non est,' i.e. vix nullus erat." Of "princeps et dux" he says nothing; but Peronne adds a note to say that Daniel was thinking of Judaea only. It is not unlikely that Hos. iii. 4 was in the mind of the writer of the Song, as being fulfilled in his days.

If, however, we assume a date for the whole piece considerably later than that of the canonical book, it is quite conceivable that the author may have made a backward transference of the circumstances of his own time to that of the earlier exile. For this is a species of error all traces of which even expert forgers find it difficult to remove.

It is generally assumed, and probably rightly, that v. 88 is intended as a contemporary utterance of the Three calling upon themselves; nevertheless it is quite intelligible as the expression of a later writer summoning them, with the rest of creation, to praise their Maker. And, assuming this verse to be contemporary with the rest, this latter idea would of course mark the hymn as not really issuing from the mouths of the Three.

Everything said and done in this piece takes place within one day, the day on which Nebuchadnezzar's subjects were ordered to worship the golden image. There is therefore much less scope than in Bel and the Dragon, or even Susanna, for those who seek to discover chronological difficulties, because devotional compositions afford fewer openings than narrative matter for the raising of such questions.


Like Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, the Song of the Three Children formed, so far as we know, part of the original LXX text of Daniel, having a connection with it closer even than theirs. For while they take their places at the beginning or the end, this one is incorporated into the narrative of chapter iii. as one connected whole. Prof. Robertson Smith does indeed write (O.T. in Jewish Church, 1895, p. 154), "these are perhaps later additions to the Greek version"; but this is only conjecture, and as such he puts it forward.

Until the correspondence of Origen with Africanus, the canonicity of these pieces does not seem to have been called in question by Christians who used Greek or Latin Bibles; nor do Greek-speaking Jews appear to have disputed the matter seriously. "Commonly quoted by Greek and Latin Fathers as parts of Daniel," says Westcott (Smith's D.B., ed. 2, I. 713b). So Schürer (II. III. 185), "Julius Africanus alone among the older Fathers disputes the canonicity of these fragments." See also Bissell's admission on p. 448 of his Apocrypha. But Jerome seriously called their canonicity in question (Præf. in Dan.), although he included them in his translation, with a notice that they were not found in the Hebrew. Polychronius, Theodore of Mopsuestia's brother, refused to comment on this piece because it was not part of the original Daniel, nor in the Syriac, . In this latter respect it keeps company with the Catholic Epistles in the earliest stage of the Syriac N.T. (Carr, St. James, p. XLVII). But it gained a place in the Peshitto (D.C.B. arts. Polychronius & Polycarpus Chorepisc.). Buhl (Kanon und Text des A.T., 1891, p. 52) says that the Nestorians recognise "die apokryphischen Zusätze zum Daniel als kanonisch;" and the Malabar Christians regard this, with its two companions, "as part and parcel of the book of Daniel." (Letter to the writer from F. Givargese, Principal of Mar Dionysius' Seminary, Kottayam, 1902.) They formed part of the Sahidic, and probably other Egyptian versions of Daniel, which may be as early as century II.; as also of the Ethiopic and, seemingly, of the Old Latin (Swete, Introd. 96, 107, 110).

It seems very difficult to prove that the Alexandrian Jews who used the LXX did not regard this piece as canonically valid; though how they reconciled their canon with the Palestinian one is not clear. Their frequent communication with Palestinian Jews must have brought any considerable discrepancy to the notice of both sides. F.C. Movers (Loci quidam Hist. can. V.T., Breslau, 1842, pp. 20, 22) solves the difficulty by imagining that this and the other Apocrypha were similarly regarded both in Palestine and Alexandria, "vix credibile est alios libros a Palestinensibus inter profanos repositos ab Alexandrinis codici sacro adscitos esse." Acts ii. 10 proves the presence of Egyptian Jews at Jerusalem for Pentecost, and vi. 9 that they had a synagogue there. This close connection must have brought their religious practices to one another's knowledge, and any differences, considered seriously important, could hardly have failed to raise disputes. Now Bleek (Introd. to O.T., II. 303, Engl. transl, Lond. 1869), says "the additions to Esther and Daniel were certainly looked upon by the Hellenistic Jews in just the same light as the portions of the books which are in the Hebrew." And this seems to have been done almost without question, difficulty, or protest, although Alexandrian ideas must have been, brought under the notice of the religious authorities in Jerusalem. (Cf. Meyer's note on Acts vi. 9, and Jos. cond. Ap. I. 7, as to regular intercourse between Palestinian and Alexandrian Jews.)

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse