[b-hebrew] Daniel 9:24-27

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat Dec 20 07:10:08 EST 2008

Dear George,

I applaud disagreement, particularly substantial 
disagreement. This is the way science should 
work, but it is not the way it actually works. A 
scholar at the university of Oslo made a study of 
which MA students  were allowed to continue with 
a Ph.D project. He found that in almost all cases 
those who were allowed to become Ph.D students 
worked on projects that agreed with the opinions 
of the University professors. Projects of MA 
students with theories and approaches which 
challenged the traditional views were rejected. 
In all scientific disciplines there are paradigms 
and axioms that never are challenged. Thomas 
Kuhn, whose field is the history of science, has 
written a lot on scientific progress and paradigm 
change. His conclusion regarding scientific 
progress is that through time different 
discoveries contradict the paradigm everyone 
believes in, and each discovery is explained away 
ad hoc. Then suddenly the old paradigm is 
rejected and a new one takes its place. According 
to Kuhn, the mechanism of paradigm change is not 
that more and more evidence against the paradigm 
accumulates, and at last it is proven to be 
wrong. To the contrary, the mechanism can be 
compared to a religious revival, and is more 
based on emotions and belief in authority than on 
rational thought. We therefore need go to the 
sources themselves and not just repeat what the 
authorities say. I know that you go to the bottom 
of things, so I look forward to read your article.

I would like to give one example showing the 
problems with following authorities instead of 
studying the sources. (I give another example in 
a post to Jason) The example is Daniel 11:20. It 
is almost universally believed that the verse 
refers to Antiochus IV who sent Heliodorus to 
despoil the temple in Jerusalem (2 Maccabees 3). 
Because Bible translators accept this reference, 
their translations are colored by it. This is 
seen in their rendering of NG$ as "tax collector" 
(or a similar expression), but there is no 
*lexical* reason for this rendering. Below I 
quote a paragraph from the book on the dating of 
Daniel that I work on.

Several Bible translators render noges
"tax-collector", It is true that the perfect form 
of the word in 2 Ki 23:35 is used in the sense 
"demand (tax)". But we should note that what is 
demanded, namely gold and silver, is explicitly 
mentioned in the text. The corresponding verb 
means "to be hard pressed". (1 Sam 13:6; 
participle: "slavedriver"; Ex 3:7; "to oppress"; 
Is 3:5; "oppressor" Is 14:4; (participle) 
"governor" Is 60:17. Thus, the word generally 
refers "to the taskmaster who urges the people to 
severe labor, afflicts and oppresses them as 
cattle." (Keil-Delitzsch 444). Because these 
characteristics could be connected with a 
governor or ruler, the word could be applied to 
such a person, even if he did not force anyone to 
do something. Thus, the participle noges
refer to any high official of a king regardless 
of what his duty was. From the point of view of 
lexical semantics, the popular rendering "tax 
collector" is wrong. There is no part of the word 
that is connected with tax, and this rendering is 
probably chosen, because the translators see the 
fulfillment in Heliodorus, who could be viewed as 
a tax collector.
The Syriac Peshitta uses s
oltan "power, ruler, 
prince", and the LXX has "a man striking (the 
honor of the king)," thus taking noges
  in the 
sense "to strike". The only thing we can know on 
the basis of the use of the word noges
, is that 
the king mentioned sent one of his officers. We 
may also infer that since this sending is 
mentioned, there must have been something special 
with this situation.

The basic meaning ma'abir "move through; pass 
over," and the hiphil participle can have the 
meaning "allow/cause to pass over".
Literally the words h‡eder and malkut mean 
kingdom/kingship and glorious/splendid 
respectively. The word malkut is basically an 
abstract word referring to kingship or kingly 
power, but because a person having kingly power 
uses to rule in a particular country, the word 
can refer to the country itself as well. Two 
renderings are possible, 1) "who will cause an 
official (or, exactor, or, governor) to pass 
through the glorious kingdom." and 2) who will 
cause an officer/exactor to pass through with 
royal glory.

NRSV renders the clause different from other 
translations.: "Then shall arise in his place one 
who shall send an official for the glory of the 

When a person reads a Bible translation and finds 
the word "tax collector " and is told about 
Heliodorus, there is no doubt about the reference 
of the verse in the mind of this person. But if 
the original text is studied, the reference to 
Heliodorus in this verse is not at all clear.

An analysis of the original text in other verses 
in Daniel and a careful scrutiny of what we know 
with certainty and what we do not know regarding 
Antiochus IV may lead to an understanding of 
Daniel that is different from the traditional one.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli Ph.D
University of Oslo

>Hi Jason!
>I'd disagree with Rolf, and say that most Daniel 
>scholars would be of the opinion that Antiochus 
>IV is certainly the focus of the visionary 
>sections of the book. There is ample support for 
>this view. However, I'd be interested in reading 
>Rolf's view when it is published. I'm not going 
>to dismiss his view out of hand (viz. that 
>Antiochus IV is not the focus), but I daresay he 
>faces an uphill battle.
>I've got an article on the 'seventy weeks' which 
>I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on in 
>the next few weeks. It will be published online 
>by JHS very soon. In short, it argues that there 
>are some unwarranted assumptions in the way we 
>view and calculate the 'seventy weeks', and 
>offers a new configuration of the 'seventy 
>weeks' which works with the narrative cues of 
>the book itself and lands smack bang at the time 
>of Antiochus IV.
>Moore Theological College (Sydney)
>Ph: 9577 9774. Mob: 0449 758 100
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list