Is Daniel 11:1-19 Based on a Ptolemaic Narrative?

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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Daniel 11 is considered an exceptional Biblical text because of its interest in and accuracy about historical and political events in the Hellenistic world. A recent theory suggests that the author was a former Seleucid scribe; another theory posits the use of a Ptolemaic propaganda document. The approach here will be inductive, reading out from the text to adduce evidence that the author of Daniel 11 either used or reflected the attitudes of Ptolemaic narrative, not necessarily because he was pro-Ptolemaic but because it suited his anti-Antiochene purpose.

Journal for the Study of Judaism

In the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period




Phillip R. Davies, “The Scribal School of Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception (ed. John J. Collins and Peter W. Flint; 2 vols.; vtSup 83; Leiden: Brill, 2002), 1:247-65, here 251.


In 1898, George A. Barton, “The Composition of the Book of Daniel,” jbl 17 (1898): 62-86 stated (p. 76): “I rather suspect that the author’s style was here influenced by some historical notes of which he made use, and which were already in a written form, perhaps in some language other than Hebrew. At all events, the author of this apocalypse has a knowledge of the history of the Greek kingdoms unique in the book of Daniel.”


Elias J. Bickerman, The Jews in the Greek Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 122.


See Lora Holland, “Plutarch’s Aemilius Paullus and the Model of the Philosopher Statesman,” in The Statesman in Plutarch’s Works: Volume II: The Statesman in Plutarch’s Greek and Roman Lives (ed. L. de Blois et al.; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 269-79 and William Reiter, Aemilius Paullus: Conqueror of Greece (London: Croom Helm, 1988), passim.


Philo, Moses 2.278; cf. Elias Bickerman, Four Strange Books of the Bible:Jonah, Daniel, Koheleth, Esther (New York: Schocken, 1968), 118.


Bickerman, Four Strange Books, 118.


H. Gese, “Das Geschichtsbild des Danielbuches und Ägypten,” in Fontes atque Pontes: Eine Festgabe für Hellmut Brunner (ed. Manfred Görg; Ägypten und Altes Testament 5; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1983), 139-54, esp. 151.


Redditt, Daniel, 174.


Stephen B. Reid, Enoch and Daniel: A Form Critical and Sociological Study of the Historical Apocalypses (Berkeley: Bibal, 1989), 135.


Many scholars, e.g., Samuel R. Driver, The Book of Daniel (Cambridge: Cambridge at the University Press, 1900), 171-72, agree that the failure of the lawless Judaeans is the defeat of the pro-Seleucid faction who opposed Scopas’s campaign to retake Judaea in 201/200; cf. A.J. 12.135 and Polyb. 16.39.1.


Redditt, “Daniel 11,” 467.


Lebram, Das Buch Daniel, 20.


Lebram, “The Piety,” 187.


Lebram, Das Buch Daniel, 99.


Lebram, “König Antiochus,” 760-61.


Reinhard G. Kratz, “The Visions of Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, 1:91-113, here 108.


Lebram, “Konig Antiochus,” 737-72.


Lebram, “The Piety,” 183.


R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1929), 86.


Redditt, Daniel, 176.


Lester L. Grabbe, “A Dan(iel) for All Seasons: For Whom was Daniel Important?” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, 1:229-46 (here 234, n. 13) states that the division into four “does not of course correspond to historical reality, where the final division was between the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and the Antigonids.” But then he does find “four” where the others do: “The treaty of 301 after the battle of Ipsus provided for a four-fold division, but this was soon overtaken by events.”


See Paul G. Mosca, “Ugarit and Daniel 7: A Missing Link,” Bib 67 (1986): 496-517, esp. 500, n. 19.


So according to Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 18.3 (hereafter Bib. Hist.) and Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 13.4 (hereafter Philip. Hist.), respectively.


Lebram, Das Buch Daniel, 118.


Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander (trans. John Yardley; London: Penguin, 2001), 255.


Justin, Philip. Hist., 13.4.10.


See Robin Waterfield, Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 16.


Edwyn Robert Bevan, The House of Seleucus (2 vols.; London: Edward Arnold, 1902), 1:322.


Bevan, The House of Seleucus, 1:34-35.


John D. Grainger, Seleukos Nikator: Constructing a Hellenistic Kingdom (London: Routledge, 1990), 53.


Ibid., 50-51.


Ibid., 60.


Ibid., 55.


Ibid., 52-55.


Cf. Appian, Syr. 9.54, who says 1000 foot and 300 horse.


Bevan, The House of Seleucus, 1:53.


So Anathea Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 237, who notes that חזק appears 292 times in the Hebrew Bible, 13 of which are in Daniel.


Richard Hunter, Theocritus: Encomium of Ptolemy Philadelphus: Text and Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 85.


R. M. Errington, “Bias in Ptolemy’s History of Alexander,” Classical Quarterly 19 (1969): 233-42, esp. 234. While some have suggested that Ptolemy knowingly suppressed information about Seleucus’s military career (as seems to be reflected in Appian’s Syrian Wars, who based his narrative at least partly on Ptolemy’s now lost work), Errington thinks that Seleucus simply was not important at that time. Joseph Roisman, “Ptolemy and his Rivals in his History of Alexander the Great,” Classical Quarterly 34 (1984): 373-85 demurs from the judgment that Ptolemy wrote with any bias. See also A. E. Samuel, “Alexander’s Royal Journals,” Historia 14 (1965): 1-12; N. L. Collins, “The Various Fathers of Ptolemy I,” Mnemosyne 50 (1997): 436-76; and R. A. Hazzard, Imagination of a Monarchy: Studies in Ptolemaic Propaganda (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000).


Frank W. Walbank, Polybius, Rome and the Hellenistic World: Essays and Reflections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 125.


See Hartman and Di Lella, The Book of Daniel, 258; Collins, Daniel (fotl), 365; and André Lacocque, The Book of Daniel (trans. David Pellauer; Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), 219. The Vulgate renders opibus “resources.”


Goldingay, Daniel, 273.


Charles, Daniel, 123. Theodotion has ἐν ὑπάρξει πολλῇ, “with much substance”; og has ἐν χρήµασι πολλοῖς, “with much property.”


Montgomery, Daniel, 438.


Driver, Book of Daniel, 171. Driver says that רְכוּשׁ “denotes especially such possessions as stores, furniture, implements,” and he lists 1 Chr 27:31, 2 Chr 20:25, and 21:14 as parallels.


Thiel, “רכושׁ,” 495.


John D. Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazeteer (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 16-17.


M. M. Austin, “Hellenistic Kings, War, and the Economy,” Classical Quarterly 36 (1986): 450-66, esp. 463-65.


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