Friday, October 2, 2015

Introduction to the Arimaic Section (Daniel 2-7)

I do thus verily apologize for the complete lack of post on Monday. I have an excuse, but I assume that you won't want to hear it, so if that assumption is true, you can skip to the next paragraph. So, I had a debate tournament this weekend, and got behind in schoolwork for the first time in my college career. So I didn't post on my blog. Probably justifiable. But I have caught up by now and can reenter my responsibilities.

So today, we enter into Daniel 2, Let's begin with reading the first three verses,
"And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream."

Then in verse 4, we read the Scripture state that, "Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack."

Syriack is the King James way of saying Aramaic. And at this point until the end of chapter 7, the book of Daniel is written in Aramaic. At first, it is easy to write this off as simply useless trivia, but wait one moment. We believe that the Bible is written more purposefully than this.

If you are writing, you don't usually change the language in which you are writing. Even if you happen to know multiple languages, you are not likely to suddenly change from one language into another. Indeed, you are not likely to change even from one piece of jargon to another at any given time within the same writing.

So why does this particular book switch into Aramaic when that is generally considered bad literary form? It is not enough to write this off as unimportant because the author of the book clearly made this decision for a reason. We need to understand what that reason is.

So let's remember from two weeks ago, the background of the time. Those throughout the world are convinced because of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem that the Babylonians god at their weakest are strongest than God is at His strongest.

We then remember that this book is all about proving that the God of Israel really is stronger than all other gods, and indeed that there are no other gods. In Hebrew, this book communicates to the Israelites, but basically that only communicates to the Israelites.

Historical background (once more from Dr. Miller's Old Testament class): at this time, the primary language of almost all the world is Aramaic. So communicating in Aramaic is to communicate to the rest of the world. Chapters 2-7 are a section of the book of Daniel, which are written so as to communicate to the whole world.

So what does the Lord want to say to the entire wor? Well, let's look a moment at the structure of this Aramaic section.

Chapter 2: Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, interpreted by Daniel and Daniel alone sharing God's power over the nations.
Chapter 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago travel into a fiery furnace, but God shows his power in delivering them.
Chapters 4-5:  God shows His power over individual rulers by tearing Nebuchadnezzar down to the level of a beast, and then putting the writing on the wall to end Belshazzar's reigns
Chapter 6: God shows His power in delivering His servant Daniel.
Chapter 7: God shows his power over that nations by Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue.

You might notice a few similarities here. Indeed, this structure is very chiastic.

And in a chiasm, the most important part if put in the middle of the structure. So the Lord seems to be stressing that He is more powerful than the most powerful of rulers in the world. All else doesn't stand; the Lord is God and He is sovereign over all.

The Aramaic section is a powerful section of the book and honestly the reason why I decided to do this expositional analysis on the book of Daniel. I look forward to looking at you next week.

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