The foreign kings and the Jewish sages : reading the narratives in Daniel 1–6.
Access changed 12/4/23.
This study examines the portrayal of foreign kings in Dan 1–6, suggesting a new interpretive approach to these narratives and drawing out the implications of this portrayal for the unity and theme of the book of Daniel. This dissertation argues that the narratives depict foreign kings in a positive manner rather than satirizing them. While interpreting the narratives’ portrayals of foreign kings as negative fits within the apocalyptic part of the book (Dan 7–12), this reading shows that the narratives in Dan 1–6 have a distinct agenda of demonstrating the role of wise men—maśkîlîm (11:33, 35; 12:3, 10)—in the context of foreign empires. This study shows that this depiction of the ways in which wise men relate to foreign kings illustrates the role of wise men in Dan 11:33 and 12:3 to “lead many to righteousness,” including even the foreign kings, by the transformative power of wisdom—the knowledge of God. As a result, the final form of the book of Daniel reflects the concern of wisdom circles as well as an apocalyptic orientation. The narratives carry out the political and theological goals of rationalizing polity and religion under foreign rulers, and envisioning the transformative power of wisdom in an imperial context for the Jews after the exile.