This time I want to open the discussion about the reference to “Daniel” in the same verses, Ezek 14:14 & 20.
Ezekiel 14:14 (ESV)
even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord God.
Ezekiel 14:20 (ESV)Is this a reference to the biblical Daniel known from the book bearing his name? It seems unlikely to me for two reasons. First, the name is spelled differently – Daniel in Hebrew is דָּנִיֵּאל. In Ezek 14, the name is spelled דָּנִאֵל. Now in the unlikely event that you don’t read Hebrew, the difference is that one consonant in the middle – yodh. Since the Masoretes were kind enough to point the name in Ezekiel with the same vowels, we read “Daniel” in the Hebrew text which makes its way into English translations as well. But, the vowels were added to the consonantal text hundreds of years later, so even the vowels are a level of interpretation. The consonants of “Daniel” are DNY’L. The consonants in Ezek 14 are DN’L. (The quote mark indicates the consonant aleph-a guttural often silent in pronunciation.) We can argue about the significance of orthography and provide counter-examples of names with variant spellings, and if there were no other candidate for who Ezekiel might be referencing, they might be compelling.
even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.
The second reason requires a little bit of background, but it has to do with the later reference to Daniel in Ezek 28:3 – same name, same spelling – important context – an oracle against the prince of Tyre.
Ezekiel 28:2–3 (ESV)Why is this context important? Well, what relevance would referencing the biblical Daniel have for the prince of Tyre?
2 “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god— 3 you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you;
“You are indeed wiser than Daniel.”
“You know, the Jewish sage in Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Babylon.”
“No, didn’t know that. Are you sure you don’t mean Danel from the Tale of Aqhat?”
There’s the bottom line. There is an extra-biblical literary character with the West Semitic name DN’L. He is a key character in the Tale of Aqhat, known from Ugaritic literature. A reference to this character makes sense in Ezekiel 14 in a list of 3 non-Israelite figures.
The issue, of course, is whether this Canaanite literary figure fits the description of Ezekiel for a wise, righteous leader. It is easy to assume that what we know about Dan’ilu (aka Danel or Dnil) from the Tale of Aqhat is the full extent of his legend. From there we can dismiss him as not being specifically “wise” or depicted as particularly righteous (as Dressler 1979, for example) and thus not the referent of Ezekiel.
Consider, however, this excerpt from the Tale of Aqhat that depicts Dan’ilu in the typical role of a wise judge (like Job adjudicating at the city gate; cp. Job 29:7-16).
Dānīʾilu the man of Rapaʾu, the valiant Harnamite man, Arose and sat at the entrance to the (city–)gate, among the leaders (sitting) at the threshing floor. He judged the widow’s case, made decisions regarding the orphan. (Context of Scripture, The ‘Aqhatu Legend, 1.103, 5.3.)I am still researching this question, but at this point, these two lines of evidence are, in my mind, compelling that Daniel in Ezekiel is the Phoenician character, not the biblical sage.
1. The different spelling of the name in Ezekiel is significant.
2. The Phoenician context of Ezekiel 28 suggests a Canaanite, not Babylonian Jewish, literary reference.
Many scholars have written on this issue with the intent of proving the biblical Daniel is in view here in Ezekiel. What they fail to realize is that all of their arguments calling the connection to Dan’ilu into question do not automatically provide support for a connection to biblical Daniel. Even if the identification of Dan’ilu is incorrect, the connection to Daniel the prophet is not thereby proven. (That reminds me – the Logical Fallacies series is ripe for continuation. The above chain of reasoning bears elements of the burden of proof and false dilemma fallacies. I like to call it the “if-you’re-wrong-then-I’m-right” fallacy. It needs a catchier name though.)
In part 2, I will look further into arguments that Daniel in Ezekiel 14 is a reference to the biblical Daniel. I’m waiting to see Daniel Block’s argument in his commentary which I’m told is persuasive, so I’m keeping an open mind.
Dressler, Harold H. P. “The Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel” Vetus Testamentum 29:2 (1979), 152-161; Hallo, W. W. and K. L. Younger. Context of Scripture vol. 1. Leiden: Brill, 1997; Matthews, Victor H. and Don C. Benjamin. “The Tale of Aqhat” in Old Testament Parallels, 70-79. Paulist Press, 2006; Margalit, Baruch. “Interpreting the Story of Aqht: A Reply to H. H. P. Dressler, VT 29 (1979), pp. 152-61” Vetus Testamentum 30:3 (1980), 361-365.