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HTR 105:2 (2012) 139–62

Daniel 7, Intertextuality, and the History
of Israel’s Cult
Daniel Boyarin
University of California, Berkeley
Professor Hanan Eshel, in memoriam
Q The Bifurcation of the Interpretive Tradition
Ancient and modern readers have offered two basic interpretations of the “[One
like a] Son of Man” (:.x ¬::) in Dan 7:13. One line of interpretation holds that
the One like a Son of Man is a symbol of a collective, namely, the faithful Israelites
at the time of the Maccabean revolt.
The other basic line of interpretation sees the
One like a Son of Man as a divine fgure of one sort or another, a second God, a
son of God, or an archangel.
The reason for this double interpretation is not hard
to fnd; the text itself, I suggest, is split and doubled on itself. I propose (with other
interpreters and scholars) that the vision itself seems almost ineluctably to require
that we understand a divine fgure. The gloss on the vision in the end of the chapter,
or pesher (to which I will return below), on the other hand, seems equally as strongly
to interpret the One like a Son of Man as a collective earthly fgure, Israel or the
righteous of Israel.
The text is thus, in a profound sense, divided against itself. In
For literature supporting this view, see John J. Collins, 'The Son of Man and the Saints of the
Most High in the Book of Daniel,¨ JBL 93 (1974) 50–66, at 50 n. 2.
John A. Emerton, 'The Origin of the Son of Man Imagery,¨ JTS 9 (1958) 225–42.
Interpreters who do not make the move of recognizing the quilting or felting of the text are,
I think, constrained to force either the vision or its interpretation to mean something other than
they 'naturally¨ mean, taken at face value. The best attempt to harmonize the two is to be found,
I think, in an article by John J. Collins ('Son of Man,¨ 55-58). Arguing from the ft of the prose
account of the war of Israel and Antiochus that is found at the end of the book of Daniel, namely,
chs. 10-12, to the visionary account given in ch. 7, he suggests that the war on earth was considered
as paralleled by a war in heaven. He further supports this position by adducing other parallels from
the Bible. He thus suggests that the One like a Son of Man is both an angel (in his view Michael)
and a representation of the people of Israel through their guardian at one and the same time. The
general, I would suggest as a matter of method and even of theoretical principle
that almost always when a commentatorial tradition is as split as this is, we should
seek for tension within the text itself, such that both interpretations can be said to
be supported by the text.
The intertextuality of the text, its heteroglossia, precludes any possibility of
textual unity. As I shall argue, the text is made of the interweaving of two earlier,
independent apocalyptic visions and then the provision of an interpretation, a
pesher, for the newly rewoven cloth. Rather than seeing levels within the text as
authentic and inauthentic, I regard the text of the chapter as the work of its author,
the author of Daniel (note that I do not distinguish between authors and redactors),
who, nevertheless, as all authors at some level and authors of antiquity more openly
than moderns, built the text out of existing literary materials and shaped them to
his or her own design and designs. To put this another way, I would suggest that
the question of unity or disunity in the text is misplaced. The text is a unity; it has
been produced by an author, but it has not been made up out of whole cloth by him
or her. As such it incorporates other texts and traditions. Texts are felt or patchwork
more than they are warp and weft.
In the pesher on the vision, it would certainly seem as if the interpreter takes
the One like a Son of Man to be Israel, 'the saints of the Most High.¨ The crucial
portion of the text in Daniel 7 reads thus:
I approached one of the attendants and sought from him the truth about all
this. He spoke to me and made known to me the interpretation of the mat-
17 “
As for these great beasts which are four: four kings will arise from
the earth.
theophanic elements of the vision would now be preserved as being the province of this High Angel.
This is owing, in his view, to the statement in Daniel 12 that the just of Israel will join the angelic
band at the end of days: 'the people shares in the kingdom of the angels, and so the interpretation
of 7:27 is merely a spelling out of the human dimension of the more complete reality mentioned in
the vision in vs. 22 and in the interpretation in vs. 18” (ibid., 62). The “people of the holy ones” in
7:27 are so called because their king, as it were, is the angel Michael, and because they themselves
are or will be angelic: 'If the term holy ones` in the Book of Daniel contains any reference to the
Jewish people, and I believe that at least the phrase people of the holy ones` refers to them, it is
only in virtue of their association with the holy ones,` the angelic host led by Michael, which fghts
for Israel in heaven¨ (ibid., 63). Collins`s interpretation cannot be proven wrong, and it leads to an
entirely different assessment of the chapter and its meanings. To my taste, it leads, however, to a
reading too complicated by half: 'Accordingly it seems most likely that the fgure of the one like
the son of man represents the archangel, Michael, who receives the kingdom on behalf of his host
of holy ones, but also on behalf of his people Israel” (ibid., 64). It is the awkwardness of that near
afterthought, 'but also,¨ that points to the diffculty of Collins`s attempt to have his cake and eat
it too, so to speak. See a similar objection in Louis Francis Hartman and Alexander A. Di Lella,
The Book of Daniel (trans. Louis Francis Hartman; AB 23; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978)
91. Furthermore, his reading leaves untouched the diffculty of the mismatch between the Ancient
of Days as a divinity and the Son of Man as a symbol, produced out of the confation of the two
source texts. Precisely concealed in that awkward syntax is, in my view, the awkwardness of the
chapter itself as produced by its confation of two texts and two sets of meanings.
I am virtually certain that other readers of the piece will easily think of comparable examples.
The holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess
the kingdom forever and forever and ever.¨

There follows further explanation of the fourth beast and its horns and its fate,
and its defeat of the holy ones:
Until the Ancient of Days came and gave judgment for the holy ones of
the Most High and the time came and the holy ones possessed the kingdom.
The text then goes back to explain once again the fourth beast as a terrible kingdom
with ten kings-and an eleventh king worse than any of them who will set aside
three previous kings and try to wear down (x::·; v. 25) the holy ones of the Most
High. He will force them to change their law and their appointed times (Sabbaths
and festivals), and he will be permitted to do so for a time, and for two times, and
a half a time, until:
The court will be seated,
and his dominion will be taken away, for de-
struction and perdition until the end.
Kingdom and the dominion and the
greatness of the kingdoms under all heaven were given to the people of the
holy ones of the Most High. Its kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and all
of the dominions will serve and obey it.
“The people of the holy ones” cannot be other than Israel or its faithful martyrs.
I conclude then that from the viewpoint of method two entirely separate issues
must not be confated. The frst is the meaning of the One like a Son of Man as
interpreted in the pesher and as its meaning is constructed in the quilted apocalypse
that joins the two originally separate apocalypses that I shall presently identify.
The second is the possible other meanings the fgure has when taken out of this
context. These meanings can be earlier or later or even synchronic ones, made
available via the workings of intertextuality, this intertextuality being signposted
in the very roughness of the sewn seams-what Michael Riffaterre refers to as
'ungrammaticality¨-of the existing text.
It is confusion of these two moments that
has led to much of the ink being spilled in vain in the interpretation of this chapter.
Q The Two Apocalypses of Daniel 7
Let us frst take a look at the text as we have it in front of us. The text begins with
Daniel’s vision of the four beasts in 7:2–8:
All translations of Daniel are taken from John J. Collins, Daniel: A Commentary on the Book
of Daniel (ed. Frank Moore Cross; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993) unless otherwise noted.
There seems to be a corruption here in the text. Hartman and Di Lella give: 'But when the
court sits in judgment, its dominion [the dominion of the eleventh horn] will be taken away, by fnal
and utter destruction,¨ assuming a very plausible haplography. This interpretation is supported as
well by the midrash on Daniel 7 in Rev 13:6–7.
Michael Riffaterre, Text Production (trans. Terese Lyons; New York: Columbia University
Press, 1983).
In the frst year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and
the visions of his head on his bed. Thereupon he wrote down the dream:
watched and behold, the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea.
great beasts came up from the sea, each differing from the other.
The frst
was like a lion but had wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were
plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet
like a human being, and a human heart was given to it.
Behold, another
beast, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth
between its teeth. Thus it was told: 'Arise, devour much fesh.¨
After this I
watched, and behold, another, like a leopard. It had four wings of a bird on its
side and the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
After this
I watched, and behold a fourth beast, fearsome and terrible and exceedingly
strong. It had great iron teeth. It ate and crushed and trampled what was left
with its feet. It was different from all the other beasts that were before it,
and it had ten horns.
I considered the horns, and behold, another, little horn
emerged in their midst. Three of the former horns were uprooted before it.
Behold, there were eyes like human eyes in that horn and a mouth speaking
great things.
The frst beast is like a lion with eagle wings. Its wings are plucked and it is then
made to stand on two feet like a human being and given a human heart. The second
beast is like a bear with three fangs (or ribs) between its teeth; it is enjoined to devour
much fesh. The third beast is like a leopard with four bird wings and four heads
and it is given dominion (or a tongue: ˜::: in the MT, but the Greek presupposes
˜::). The fourth beast is the most terrifying of all, possessing ten horns; it eats with
iron teeth and then crushes and tramples what is left. An eleventh horn emerges,
three of the former horns are uprooted, and, “Behold, there were eyes like human
eyes in that horn and a mouth speaking great things¨ (v. 8).
Without pretending to have any interpretation of this vision in mind, I would observe a few
points. Each of the beasts has a numbered set of some anatomical feature that does not belong to
it by nature. Each of the beasts is, at least arguably, afforded a human organ in the course of the
vision, but this can be seen only if we engage in some necessary emendation. There is at least one
piece of credible evidence that the text has been corrupted. As pointed out by H. L. Ginsberg more
than a half-century ago (Studies in Daniel [Texts and Studies of the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America 14; New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1948]), the two visions of
the eagle and the bear have somehow become confated or reversed, for it is surely the bear that is
made to stand on his hind-legs like a human and not the eagle. If we emend the text accordingly,
we will discover that the eagle is given a human heart, the bear is made to stand like a human, the
leopard has a human tongue (following the Greek), and the fourth beast has eyes like human eyes
and a mouth that speaks. The three fangs, moreover, will appear in the mouth of the lion-eagle who
is enjoined to devour much. There is, accordingly, a structural unity to the vision of the four beasts
as I have just reconstructed it, following Ginsberg, who has recently been supported by Hartman
and Di Lella, who transfer the human heart from the lion-eagle to the bear, thus partly spoiling
the plan (Book of Daniel, 209). Although other commentators from Collins to Goldingay have
rejected this emendation, I would argue that the present literary considerations support it. See too
Ziony Zevit, 'The Structure and Individual Elements of Daniel 7,¨ ZAW 80 (1968) 385–86, at
387, who summarily dismisses Ginsberg`s suggestions. I am convinced, however, by Ginsberg`s
argument (although this will not affect my thesis in the present paper at all). Giving each of the
We then fnd the following sequence:
I watched until thrones were set, and an Ancient of Days took his seat. His
clothing was white as snow and his hair like lamb`s wool. His throne was
fames of fre and its wheels fashing fre. A river of fre fowed and went
out from before him.
A thousand thousands served him, and a myriad of
myriads stood before him. The court was seated and books were opened.
watched then from the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking,
I watched until the beast was slain and its body was destroyed and committed
to the burning fre.
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken
away, and an extension of life was given to them for a time and a season.
I watched in the vision of the night, and behold, one like a human being
came with the clouds of heaven, and he approached the Ancient of Days and
was presented before him.
To him was given dominion and kingdom. All
peoples, nations, and languages will serve him. His dominion is an everlast-
ing dominion, which will not pass away, and his kingdom is indestructible.
Now, on the one hand, it has to be observed that a very skillful hand has put this
text together, so skillful that biblical scholar Ziony Zevit refers to the 'essential
unity” of the chapter as “obvious.”
There remain, however, two abrupt changes of
scene in these two verses, one that jumps from the description of the speaking horn
to the tribunal and then after another two verses one that jumps back even more
abruptly to the speaking horn. At least one plausible philological/literary scenario
would have it that indeed verses 11-12 originally followed verse 8 (in some pre-
text to Daniel 7), which then would have read very smoothly:
Behold, there were eyes like human eyes in that horn and a mouth speak-
ing great things.
I watched then from the sound of the great words that
beasts something human explains their capacity to rule at all. They are beasts who can imitate a
man suffciently to have authority. This interpretation, dependent as it is on an emendation, is, of
course, highly speculative. I offer it in memory of my lamented teacher.
Translation following Collins, Daniel, 274–75, but I have restored the emendation.
Zevit himself provides the following précis of the plot: 'Section two (v. 7-12) begins with a
detailed description of the fourth beast and then concentrates on a description of the eleventh horn
before which three others are uprooted and which has eyes and a mouth speaking big things.` There
follows a change of scene to the tribunal, where the throne [sic], judge and attendants are cursorily
described, an abrupt change back to the horn talking, and fnally, one last scene in which the fourth
beast is destroyed, its body burnt, while the frst three, stripped of power, have their lives spared for
a period of time. The third and fnal section of the visions consists of one scene in which one like
a son of man` comes up to the ancient of days` and is presented to him.¨ Zevit, 'Structure,¨ 388
[emphasis added]. Zevit’s account alone, I think, accurate and precise as it is in its description of
abruptness and truncatedness, would suggest, in contrast to his own expressed view, a text that is
not of one piece. Of course, the defnition or understanding of unity and disunity has to be made
precise. To be sure, 'all of the images in the visions are explained in the interpretations,¨ (ibid.,
389) and in that sense the chapter is, as I too would claim, unifed, but the unifcation is achieved
by the author`s manipulation and incorporation of pre-existing sources (as clearly attested by the
literary considerations I shall offer). While Zevit has recognized the use of pre-existing sources in
the construction of the pericope, nothing in his discussion indicates an appreciation of the synchronic
effects of weaving such disparate sources together.
the horn was speaking, I watched until the beast was slain and its body was
destroyed and committed to the burning fre.
As for the rest of the beasts,
their dominion was taken away, and an extension of life was given to them
for a time and a season.
While it is the case, as Collins points out,
that this is a somewhat truncated ending
for the vision, it remains compelling to see this as the natural continuation from verse
8, just as, I shall propose, the natural continuation of verses 9-10 is verses 13-14.

Looking now at my second hypothesized source text, we will fnd an even
smoother ride. Attaching verses 9-10 to verses 13-14, we now have:
I watched until thrones were set, and an Ancient of Days took his seat. His
clothing was white as snow and his hair like lamb`s wool. His throne was
fames of fre and its wheels fashing fre. A river of fre fowed and went
out from before him.
A thousand thousands served him, and a myriad of
myriads stood before him. The court was seated and books were opened.
watched in the vision of the night, and behold, one like a human being came
with the clouds of heaven, and he approached the Ancient of Days and was
presented before him.
To him was given dominion and kingdom.
All peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which will not pass away,
and his kingdom is indestructible.
This reconstructed text provides a coherent whole (save only for the lack of a direct
sequel for the court scene, but this is no smoother in the current arrangement).
Without seeing the appearance of the One like a Son of Man as a direct continuation
of the appearance of the Ancient of Days, it is impossible to explain why there is
more than one throne (a point of which the rabbis of the midrash were well aware).

Second, the fact that the One like a Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days also
Translation following Collins, Daniel, 274, but I have restored the emendation.
Ibid., 280.
Martin Noth, 'Zur Komposition des Buches Daniel,¨ Theologische Studien und Kritiken
98/99 (1926) 143-63, at 145, 159. Noth deletes v. 8 too (or rather considers it 'sekondär¨) and
takes 11b as the sequel to 7. If we, as do many scholars, follow the Septuagint and treat 11a as a
doublet of some kind (perhaps even a very signifcant doublet), then 'I watched until the beast was
slain” makes a much more graceful sequel to v. 8. (In fact, it is possible that 11a was constructed
by an unskilled revisor concerned for the lack of ft between 10 and 11b.) Or, if we follow Noth,
once v. 8 was added, then 11a was added to provide a (very awkward) continuity. In any case, this
revision would have been quite late, as no Greek text of Daniel refects it.
Translated as in Collins, Daniel, 275; cf. the treatment in Matthew Black, 'The Throne-
Theophany, Prophetic Commission, and the Son of Man`,¨ in Jews, Greeks, and Christians: Religious
Cultures in Late Antiquity; Essays in Honor of W. D. Davies (ed. Robert G. Hamerton-Kelley and
Robin Scroggs; Leiden: Brill, 1976) 57-73, at 60.
Interpreters who do not make this connection of the One like a Son of Man as the occupant
of the second throne are forced into very weak and forced explanations of the plural “thrones” here:
e.g., John Goldingay, Daniel (WBC 30; Dallas, Tex.: Word, 1989) 165.
suggests that verse 13 is the natural continuation of verse 10. Thirdly, the text as we
have it does not provide a smooth narrative, for after the books are opened, there
is no judgment scene condemning the beast to the fre. He is merely thrown in.

Next, verses 9-10 and verses 13-14 are in a poetic style marked by their rhythm,
elevated diction, and parallelism, while the narrative of the four beasts and its
sequel in verses 11–12 are clearly prose.
Let me fesh out this claim, for which
the original text will be helpful:
(˜¬·.·: ,; (˜:¬·.·: :; ~,:: ¬¬·.:“ ·¬~’x ˜¬, ::x: x·.¬“,: ~·:¬ ::~::
(¬:~,’ ,; (¬·:~,’ :;˜: (¬¬,.~x ,; (:¬,.~x :; x~·:~“, x·.¬“,˜: ~:~:
˜:¬“:¬ :::: :c: x~x.¬“,: x:.x ·.·“.: ˜·.·“. ::x:
¬:x¬ ¬.:: ¬:~ ::~: ¬:::: :~·“ ˜·::· ,·~.:“ :·:¬“ ˜::¬“: ·~ ~. ~·:¬ ¬:~
,:~ ¬:. ·¬::::: ¬:.·~ ˜·:·:: ¬·:¬“: x,.“ ¬:.:
¬.::::·“ (˜·c:x ,; (:·c:x :; π:x ·¬::~,’˜: ,c.:“ ~:. ¬:.·~ ¬¬.“
:~·~c ˜·¬c::“ :~·“ x.·~ ˜:::,·“ ·¬::~, (˜::¬ ,; (˜::¬ :; ::¬:“
·~ ~. ~·:¬ ¬:~ ¬::‘:: x.¬“, ·~ x~:¬“:¬ x·:: :,˜: ˜·~x: ~·:¬ ¬:~
x:x ~~,·: ~:·¬·: ¬::: ~::¬:“ x~:“·~ ~:·:,
˜~.:“ ˜::“~. ˜:¬: ~:·¬·“ ˜··~: ¬:¬“x:“ ˜:¬.“::: :·~.¬ x~:·~ ¬x::
,·~.~.:“ ¬:¬ ¬~x :.x‘ ¬:: x·:: ·...:. :¬x: x·:·: ·::“~: ~·:¬ ¬:~
·¬::¬“,¬ ·¬::~,: ¬:: x·::·
¬.::: ˜:~:c· ¬: x·.:::“ x·:x x·::. :::“ ::::: ¬,·: ˜::: :·¬·“ ¬::“
c ::~~~ x:·~ ¬~::::: ¬~.· x:·~ ::. ˜:::
·..:¬:·“ ·:x¬ ·::“~:“ ¬.~“. x::: :x·.~ ¬.x ·~:¬ ~·¬:~x
A fresh rendering may help to bear out the claim of the distinction (which does
seem to be accepted on virtually all sides)
between the prose and the poetry in
this Daniel 7 passage:
I was staring at the horns and behold, one more small horn arose between
them and three of the former horns were uprooted before it and behold, it had
eyes like the eyes of a human and that horn spoke great things.
Collins, Daniel, 303.
Noth, 'Zur Komposition,¨ 145; 148-49; Goldingay, Daniel, 147. Noth himself regards v. 14
as the secondary addition of the author of Daniel, a point of which I am less convinced. V. 14 seems
to me both necessary and smooth as an original part of the throne vision; indeed, it is in some sense
the very point of it. It is, moreover, presupposed by v. 18 and not only by the more elaborate (and
perhaps later) version of the pesher.
Note the alliteration of the repeated n-sounds in the beginning of several words in this
verse, for which see Stanislav Segert, 'Aramaic Poetry in the Old Testament: Daniel 2-7,¨ Archiv
Orientální 70 (2002) 75.
It should be noted that BHS sets precisely these verses as poetry and not as prose, while the
entire surrounding context is set as prose. According to Segert ('Aramaic Poetry,¨ 66-67), this
judgment was made by Walter Baumgarten already in 1937.
I was seeing until thrones were set up and One Ancient of Days sat:
His raiment was like white snow // And the hair of his head was like the wool
of sheep.
His throne was sparks of fre // Its wheels were burning fre.
A river of fre ßowed and went out from before him.
A thousand thousand served him // And a myriad of myriads stood up before
He sat in judgment and books were opened before him.
I was seeing then from the voice of the great words that the horn was
speaking. I saw until the beast was killed and his body was destroyed and
was put into the fre.
And the other animals gave over their reign but an extension of life was
given to them for a time.
I was seeing in the vision of the night and behold,
With the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming // And to the
Ancient of Days he came // And they brought him close before him.
And to him was given sovereignty and glory and kingdom // and all of the
peoples and languages will worship him.
His reign is an eternal reign which will not pass // And his kingdom will not
be destroyed.
My soul, I Daniel, was sick in its sheath and my visions of the night pan-
icked me.
The most prominent poetic sign in the italicized verses is the use of synonymous
parallelism, that which can fairly be said to be the form of biblical poetry-whether
Hebrew or Aramaic
-and a legacy, of course, from earlier Semitic poetries.
Moreover, as shown by Stanislav Segert, these verses also exhibit a rhythmic
structure typical of biblical poetry.
According to Segert`s summary, there are
myriad poetic features precisely in the italicized verses above and none whatever
in the interposing verses.
The case for the distinction should be considered closed,
and the implications for my present argument seem clear as well. This strongly
supports the view that two originally separate texts, one prose and one poetry, have
been felted together by the author of Daniel 7.
Finally, in addition to the narrative infelicities observed when the text is read as
is, there is a further ungrammaticality in the literary logic if we consider the One like
a Son of Man to be the ffth beast, Israel, and not a divinity. The vision of the four
beasts is clearly a symbolic or even allegorical vision; the beasts represent something
else, kings or kingdoms, but the Ancient of Days is not an allegorical symbol of
any kind-he is undoubtedly God. One would expect that his compatriot, the One
like a Son of Man who actually approaches him, would also not be an allegory,
but a real persona, also an actual divine entity and not a symbol of something else.
Ibid., 68.
Ibid., 73. Note that Segert does not use his analysis to further an argument for sources in the text.
Ibid., 79.
In the present form of the text, constituted as it is with that second fgure acting
as the counterpart of the animals and the symbol of Israel, we fnd an allegorical
symbol, a vision like one of the four beasts, interacting with a real character, God,
the Ancient of Days. This is clearly a sign of a literary mismatch,
because in the
vision of the two thrones and the One like a Son of Man approaching the Ancient
of Days, the One like a Son of Man is clearly a member of the heavenly court.
I thus believe that Delcor is correct in insisting that 'le fls d`Homme est ici un
symbole, comme les quatre bêtes, et non un membre de la cour céleste à quelque
titre que ce soit. Il s`identife avec une réalité terrestre au même titre que les quatre
but only on condition that it be understood that it is to the work of the
author of the pesher, seemingly the actual author of Daniel 7 itself, to which the
statement applies. And this author has created the mismatch. In the fnal text, we
end up with God speaking with a symbol for Israel and not with a member of the
celestial court. Either 'the one like a son of man¨ [sic] is a mere symbol of some
other entity (Israel, as the pesher would have it) or he is an actual member of the
heavenly court and thus not a symbol.
As the text is constituted before us, this is
a fatal contradiction in meaning. Finally, a further disjunction is implied in the fact
that for the beasts, Daniel says simply that he saw such and such a beast, while here
he sees an entity “like a human being.¨ If this were an allegorical picture as the
other four are, then why not 'I saw a human being¨? It follows that Daniel in the
original apocalypse saw a real divine entity in the form of a human being and not
a picture of a human being standing for something else. I am convinced, therefore,
that despite the Ugaritic battle between the sea and the rider on the clouds, pointed
to especially by Collins as a decisive blow against the theory of two conjoined
Martin Noth, who made the proposal of two interwoven sources
already in 1926, was essentially on target.
Collins himself remarks that “Daniel 7 is not simply a reproduction of an older
source, Canaanite or other.”
Given this correct observation, the argument that there
could not be two apocalyptic sources for Daniel 7 owing to the alleged presence
of both motifs in Ugaritic myth becomes much weaker. It should be emphasized,
moreover, that there is not a clear sequence in the Ugaritic epics between Baal`s
defeat of Yam and his investiture by El as subordinate deity. In KTU 1.2 IV 32-34,
it is Ashtart and Kothar wa-Hasis, Baal`s allies (and not El), who declare Baal king
of the gods after his defeat of Yam.
Baal`s recognition by El as his legitimate
subordinate comes somewhat later in the myth when El permits Baal to build a
Collins, Daniel, 305. Collins sees this point clearly but nonetheless does not concede that this
mismatch is conducive to a two-source hypothesis.
Mathias Delcor, Le livre de Daniel (Sources Bibliques; Paris: Gabalda, 1971) 155.
As he is clearly understood in Mark 13:27 as well (personal communication, Richard Hays).
John J. Collins, 'The Danielic Son of Man,¨ in idem, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs
of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (New York: Doubleday, 1995) 173-94, at 176.
Collins, Daniel, 289.
Mark S. Smith, ed., The Ugaritic Baal Cycle (VTSup 55; Leiden: Brill, 1994) 324, 358-59.
palace of his own. Mark Smith refers to this acquisition of his own palace as “a
highly protracted process.¨
Moreover, as Collins himself informs us, the Ugaritic
texts that seem most clearly to refer to Baal`s appointment by El are not in the Baal
Epic at all but in other Ugaritic texts and fragments.
In fact, in my reconstruction
of two apocalypses, I think I can descry the outlines at least of a syncresis between
two separate mythic motifs in Daniel, Baal`s defeat of Yam and Baal`s investiture
by El as king of the gods and El`s virtual successor. Note that both of them would
result in the triumph of the junior god, thus explaining their having been conjoined
by the author of Daniel as well. In Exodus 15, for example, we see both the defeat
by Y’ of the Sea and his triumphant reign thematized, but this is not the same thing
as investiture of the younger god by the elder one. Nonetheless, the compatibility
of the two narratives enabled, on my hypothesis, their confation in Daniel 7.
should note that I do not offer these considerations in support of my analysis of
Daniel 7 as the confation of two apocalypses but rather to raise signifcant doubt
that the Ugaritic evidence militates against it. Whatever the original mythic origins
of the two apocalypses in Ugarit or Israel, it seems clear that the author of Daniel
had before him two texts in two literary forms, a myth that had been transformed
already into a prose political allegory (the four beasts) and a poetic fragment of
myth that the author of Daniel sought (largely but not entirely successfully) to so
transform through his own literary and then interpretive art.
Further evidence that the one with the appearance of a Son of Man is an actual
divine fgure in at least some of the sources of Daniel can be adduced as well. The
one with rather remarkable resemblance to a man is mentioned three more times in
Daniel-in 8:15, 10:16, and 10:18-although not under the name of One like a Son
of Man, but rather, in Hebrew diction ¬:: ¬x¬:: (8:15 only, “like the appearance
of a man¨). In the frst of these verses, we fnd the One who appears as a man
commanding the angel Gabriel: 'And it came to pass, when I, even I, Daniel, had
seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as
the appearance of a man. And I heard a man`s voice . . . which said, Gabriel, make
this man to understand the vision.`¨ Once again, we can see that the One like a Son
of Man or 'with the appearance of a human¨ is not a mere symbolic or allegorical
fgure but a divine entity. In addition, the fact that this fgure has the authority to
command an angel such as Gabriel seems to indicate that he has indeed already
received his dominion.
An allegorical symbol in a vision can hardly be such an
active agent. Indeed, it is the son-of-man-like fgure who explains the vision.
Ibid., 296.
Collins, Daniel, 287.
Even with Exodus 15, however, it should be mentioned that Y’ does not kill and defeat the Sea
but rather subordinates him to the purposes of Y’, as the midrash understood well. (I am grateful to
Daniel Fisher for helpful conversations on this matter.) See, too, John Day, God's Conßict with the
Dragon and the Sea: Echoes of a Canaanite Myth in the Old Testament (University of Cambridge
Oriental Publications 35; Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985) 165.
The point has been made well by Paul Escobar, 'The Disciples, the Pharisees, and the
The thesis of an originally independent throne vision with two divine fgures
can also be supported thematically.
Autopsy of the vision itself argues for the
interpretation of the One like a Son of Man as being a holy and heavenly being. In
the prophetic book closest to Daniel in spirit and tone, the book of Ezekiel, God
is referred to as having human form more than once: at 1:26 an appearance like
a human being (:~x ¬x¬:: ~::~), which is almost word for word our expression
in Daniel`s Hebrew diction, and again at Ezek 8:2, where the expression is 'an
appearance like a man” (:·x ¬x¬:: ~::~, reading :·x for MT :x with Greek and
other witnesses), which may, according to some commentators, refer to a separate
heavenly being. Furthermore, clouds, as well as riding on or with clouds, are a
common concomitant of biblical theophanies.
J. A. Emerton made the point
even more decisively: 'The act of coming with clouds suggests a theophany of
Yahwe himself. If Dan. vii.13 does not refer to a divine being, then it is the only
exception out of about seventy passages in the OT.”
I want to bring Emerton`s
point out more explicitly than Emerton did and remark that since every other such
incident in the Tanakh refers to an appearance of God, we should read this one too
as the revelation of God, a second God, as it were, and not an angel. This is not a
human being (or primordial Anthropos)
but one who looks like a human being,
an explicitly anthropomorphic divine fgure as in Ezekiel. The implication is, of
course, that there are two such divine fgures in heaven, an old God, the Ancient
of Days, and a young God,
the One like a Son of Man.
Comparing the following description of a basic structure in the Canaanite
pantheon, the relation of El to Baal, as described by Frank Cross, will help
Multitudes: The Various Audiences of the Son of Man,” unpublished paper (Berkeley, Calif., 2009).
See too A. Feuillet, 'Le fls de l`homme de Daniel et la tradition biblique,¨ RB 60 (1953)
187–89. See, too, Black, “Throne,” 61, who concludes properly from Feuillet: “This, in effect,
means that Dan. 7 knows of two divinities, the Head of Days and the Son of Man.” One of the
earliest readers of Daniel 7, the author of the Similitudes of Enoch, certainly reads the two-throne
apocalypse independently of the 'beasts from the sea¨ pericope, suggesting either that he saw the
exegetical point offered here, or, even more intriguingly, that he was not reading Daniel 7 but rather
a source text for Daniel 7. See too Adela Yarbro Collins and John J. Collins, King and Messiah
as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature
(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008) 73.
Hartman and Di Lella, Book of Daniel, 101 list Exod 13:21; 19:16; 20:21; Deut 5:22; 1 Kgs
8:10; Sir 45:4.
Emerton, 'Origin,¨ 231-32.
As remarked already, with his usual good judgment, by Erik Sjöberg, Der Menschensohn
im ethiopischen Henochbuch (Lund: Gleerup, 1946) 193. Mowinckel, somewhat surprisingly,
still adopts the Religionsgeschichte perspective by which the “Son of Man” is the name for the
primordial man, whom the so-called gnostics would call Anthropos, and Daniel’s “One like a Son of
Man¨ is a secondary defanging of the concept! (Sigmund Olaf Plytt Mowinckel, He That Cometh:
The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism [trans. G. W. Anderson; Oxford:
Blackwell, 1956] 372–73).
For a study of the ubiquity of this pattern, see Moshe Idel, Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism
(Kogod Library of Judaic Studies; London: Continuum, 2007).
to corroborate the deep connection between this pattern and the most ancient
wellsprings of Israel`s Canaanite cult:
In Akkadian and Amorite religion as also in Canaanite, Ël frequently plays the
role of 'god of the father,¨ the social deity who governs the tribe or league,
often bound to league or king with covenant ties.
His characteristic mode of manifestation appears to be the vision or audition,
often in dreams. This mode stands in strong contrast to the theophany of
the storm god whose voice is the thunder and who goes out to battle riding
the cloud chariot . . . Baࣰl comes near in his shining storm cloud. Ël is the
transcendent one.
The homology between this and our Ancient of Days and One like a Son of Man
is striking. This unreconstructed relic of Israel`s religious past (if not her present
as well) was no doubt disturbing to at least some Jews in antiquity, including, I
suppose, the author of Daniel, who forced it to be a representation not of a divinity
but of the people of Israel. Other Jews adopted wholeheartedly, or simply inherited,
the doubleness of Israel`s God, the old Ancient of Days, and the young Rider on
the Clouds with the appearance of a human being. The two-throne apocalypse in
Daniel calls up a very ancient strand in Israel`s religion, one in which, it would
seem, the El-like sky-God of justice and the younger Rider on the Clouds, storm-
God of war, have not really been fully and successfully merged.
Q What Did the Author Do?
The redactional work that joined together the apocalypse of the four beasts and the
apocalypse of the two thrones is of an ideological piece with the work of the author
of Daniel in adding his pesher.
According to my hypothesis, the author of Daniel
felted these two visions together in order to make possible the demythologizing and
historicizing interpretation (pesher) of the newly compounded apocalypse that we
fnd in verses 15-29, while at the same time providing hooks backward to chapter
2 and forward to chapter 8. This felting provides a much more harmonious text,
although not, of course, one entirely without discordant notes as well. By splicing
the apocalypse of the two thrones into the apocalypse of the four beasts, the author
revised completely (but not completely successfully) the theology of the throne
vision of two divine fgures and turned them into one divine fgure and one symbol
of a human group, the righteous Jews.
To the question of why the author included the throne vision at all only to reduce
its theological signifcance, I would answer that in order to provide a fre to which
the fourth beast could be consigned, the author of Daniel inserted the frst verses
Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1973) 43.
This work of his is thus consistent with the work of the Deuteronomists and Prophets, who,
according to Adela Yarbro Collins and John Collins, 'criticized and qualifed¨ the divinizing royal
ideology of ancient Israel (King and Messiah, xi).
of the throne apocalypse before fnishing the narrative of the four beasts, since
these verses of the throne apocalypse provide two elements that he wished for, a
judgment (books were opened) and a punishment (the river of fre). Continuing
the throne apocalypse after the intruded verses that signal the end of the beast
apocalypse enabled the author to reinterpret the One like a Son of Man as well,
such that he now is not the counterpart of the Ancient of Days but rather of the
beasts, especially the fourth beast. The particle ké (“like”) in the case of the One
like a Son of Man is quite different in usage than the same particle with respect
to the beasts. In the former case it means a real divine entity that has the form
of a human being, while in the latter cases it means a vision that appears like a
bear, leopard, etc. The morphological coincidence of ké being used in two senses
enabled the relatively seamless quilting of the two pieces even though they were
semantically very different in the original source texts.
This set up the combined text as a new apocalypse which enabled a reinterpretation
of the One like a Son of Man. Having separated him from his natural place on the
second throne as a heavenly being alongside the Ancient of Days, he is brought
down to earth, and like the four beasts, read as a human political entity, Israel. Thus
the four beasts, whatever they were in the source myth (which is beyond the scope
of the present argument), become now the empires of Babylonia, the Medes, Persia,
and the most terrible fourth one of Alexander and his descendants, which will, in
the end, be defeated by the One like a Son of Man-namely the people of the holy
ones on high, faithful Israel-at the successful end of the war against Antiochus.
The author of Daniel has made this so by his weaving of a single apocalypse out
of two mythic texts, namely, by his transformation of what is essentially a mythical
representation into a historical one.
The very disjunct that I noted before between
For the disjunct in the use of ké in the present text between the animals and the One like a
Son of Man, see Goldingay (Daniel, 168), who, nonetheless, comes to quite different conclusions
from mine.
In this sense I both agree and disagree with Hartman and Di Lella: 'Since there is suffcient
consensus that k#bar <énå¡, one in human likeness` (7:13), is a symbol of qaddª¡ê >elyônªn, the
holy ones of the Most High,` the understanding of this much disputed person will not be infuenced
in any appreciable way by one’s hypothesis that there may be two hands at work in the chapter”
(Book of Daniel, 85). They are, of course, just right vis-à-vis the interpretation of the book of Daniel,
but if my hypothesis of a prior composition incorporated into the book were deemed acceptable,
another meaning of the One like a Son of Man may be descried before the text, as it were. This
point obviates objections to the notion of the imagery as drawn from Israelite-Canaanite myth,
such as the one offered by Zevit, who states: 'Writing against the pagan abominations of Antiochus
Epiphanes, it is most doubtful that he would have used any imagery that smacked of paganism as
a vehicle for the message so clearly set forth in this chapter. If any images were adopted from the
non-Jewish world, they must have been neutral ones¨ ('Structure,¨ 391). This objection is obviated,
however, if instead of thinking of adoption we think rather of suppression, and if instead of thinking
of non-Jewish-as if 'Jewish¨ comprised a certain kind of severe orthodox monotheism-we think
rather of traditional material that is being 'neutralized¨ by its demythologization. We have met the
'pagan¨ and he is us, to misquote Pogo. Notwithstanding the comment of an anonymous reader of
this paper, I fail to see how Daniel 8 and 11 damage my thesis in any way. Whatever the precise
meaning of the attack by the goat on the heavenly host in 8:10 (and in its parallel in ch. 11), it
the Ancient of Days as a real presence and the One like a Son of Man as a symbol is
precisely what the author of Daniel desired to achieve in his search for a perfectly
“monotheistic” representation. As in any author, but perhaps in his case more than
many, the workings of intertextuality have left their mark on the surface of the text,
and it is this roughness of the surface that allows multiple interpretations both in
traditional reading and in modern scholarly investigation alike.
As Carsten Colpe has put it, '[T]he differences between fgure and interpretation
suggest fragmentation and an alien tradition.¨
The “alien” tradition is, however,
a tradition from within Israel that has been alienated by the author of Daniel, more
like the 'alien word¨ of Bakhtin than like the 'alien¨ of heresiological purity-
seeking. The pesher in verses 16-18 makes this, I think, crystal clear:
I drew close to one who was standing there and asked him about all this
and he answered and made known to me the explanation [pesher] of the
These great beasts which are four are four kings that will arise from
the earth.
And the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and
hold the kingdom forever and ever.
As Hartman and Di Lella point out, 'Moreover,
the Jews on hearing or reading
the apocalypse would surely have been baffed by verses 21-22, that horn [=
Antiochus IV] waged war against [the angels] and was prevailing against them until
the Ancient One arrived`; and by vs. 25, He [Antiochus] will utter words against
the Most High, and [the angels] he will devastate, planning to change the feast
days and the law; they will be handed over to him for a year, two years, and half
a year.’”
If we substitute 'Israel¨ in each bracketed instance of the 'angels,¨ the
text would be crystal clear to them and to us: 'Antiochus did fght against the Jews
because of their adherence to the Mosaic Law, and he did abolish the celebration
of the Jewish feast days, and the Jews were in his control for some three years (1
Macc 1:41-63; 4:26-66). Thus the holy ones of the Most High` must refer to the
faithful men, women, and children who were being persecuted by the Seleucid
I thus conclude with Hartman and Di Lella that in Daniel 7 as we have it
before us ' the one in human likeness` must be a unireferential symbol of only the
certainly does not seem to imply a second God but only the arrogance of the emperor, for which
compare the arrogance of the king of Babylon (as in Isa 14:12-15) who thinks he can attack the host
of heaven itself. The demythologization of the apocalypse is, moreover, carried out even further in
the angelic explanation in ch. 8 (see vv. 24b-25: 'he will destroy powerful people and his plotting
will be directed against holy ones, and deceit will prosper in his hand. He will grow great in his
own mind¨), just as in ch. 7.
Carsten Colpe, 'Ho Huios Tou AnthrĿpou,¨ in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
(vol. 8; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1972) 8:406.
I do not accept their argument to which this is a 'moreover¨: namely, that were the holy ones
angels, the book would not comfort those for whom it is intended-that is, the 'disenfranchised
Jews who were being hounded by Antiochus IV¨ (Hartman and Di Lella, Book of Daniel, 91), a
perfect example of begging the question.
Ibid., 95.
holy ones of the most high,` i.e., the historically recognizable Jews who suffered
and died rather than apostatize.¨
The author of Daniel has made the One like a
Son of Man the analogue of the great stone of Daniel 2 which comes and crushes
the four kingdoms symbolized by the four metals in the great statue. Hartman and
Di Lella are correct in thus interpreting the book of Daniel, but not so in ignoring
the incongruity, the lack of ft, of this view with the older apocalypse embedded
in the text itself.
The analysis I offer here thus enables both traditional views about the One like
a Son of Man to stand: on the one hand, the clearly correct view that the One like
a Son of Man as he appears in the vision itself is a divine redeemer fgure, and,
on the other hand, the equally clearly correct view that the author of the book of
Daniel has dethroned and demythologized this fgure and turned him into a symbol
for the faithful, holy, people of Israel. I believe that I have accomplished three
things in the analysis so far. First, I hope I have shown that chapter 7 of Daniel is
essentially the work of a single author (with the possible exception of the account
of the eleventh horn, which conceivably is the work of a secondary hand) who has
shaped traditional mythical materials by combining them into a demythologized
historical apocalypse. His work in producing the pesher on this newly produced
(by him) apocalypse is consistent with the semantic effect of combining the two
pre-existing texts into one and supports it. Second, I hope to have shown how
we might now study the pre-existing text itself as diachronic religious evidence,
notwithstanding the very effort of the author of Daniel to demythologize it, to
dethrone the young God with the appearance of a Son of Man and turn him into
a mere symbol of the people of Israel. Third, we can now see more clearly how
synchronically the text makes itself available to be read in the fashion that it was in
the Similitudes of Enoch and the Gospels as producing a second divine fgure, the
Son of Man, in heaven together with the Ancient of Days. Diachronic production
of the text out of its sources produces intertextuality on the synchronic surface.
Source criticism is about the history of the text. Intertextuality is about the text as a
synchronic structure. This is a point frequently glossed over in biblical-studies usage
of the term intertextuality as if it simply were a fancy word for source criticism.
An analogy might help. In Rome, one wanders upon the surface of the ground,
but everywhere there are fragments of older strata of the city woven into the fabric
of the modern city. When I taught there recently, the offce I had at the Gregorian
University was in a building, one wall of which was from the time of the Empire,
one wall medieval, and two walls from the eighteenth century. Phenomena such as
this occur all over the Eternal City. One can discern the lineaments of an older city,
of older cities, right on the surface; one does not need to be an archaeologist to see
it. The diachronic situation of having been built in several periods is replicated in
the synchronic appearance of the building and the city. This is how I conceive of
Ibid., 92. This could make Daniel the earliest text, I believe, in which “holy ones” is used to
mean 'martyrs,¨ a most frequent usage in later Hebrew, of course.
the biblical text; older religious materials, and indeed, texts, have been woven into
the fabric of the current text, but in their own right and in the very marks of the
weaving, and one does not have to be a philologist to perceive this. Not only we
modern scholars but earlier readers of many generations could discern the older
forms, and for many Jews, these were very appealing. Just as the builders of the
medieval building in Rome incorporated a still-standing Roman wall into their
building, and then the modern builders incorporated that Roman wall and the still
sound medieval wall into theirs, new religious texts and concepts could be produced
out of old ones, sometimes coming very close to those most ancient strata of all.

Thus the later Jewish religious notion of a dual (or binitarian) Godhead reproduces
(but not uncannily) one of the most ancient strata of biblical (or even pre-biblical)
myth in Israel. The point of this analogy, which may well seem commonplace to
biblical scholars, is to emphasize the diachronic matter of sources and the synchronic
matter of interpretations at one and the same time. It is no accident that Freud chose
Rome as his analogue for the unconscious and not Jerusalem, for example. It is
precisely the ways that Rome wears its history on its surface that present it for these
hermeneutical moments. The analysis presented in this paper enables us to go both
backward and forward in time, back to the most ancient sources of Israelite cult and
forward to its manifestations in the forms of Judaism found in Enoch and the Gospels.
Q Israel`s Second God: Interpreting the Two-Throne Apocalypse
Concluding, then, that the pesher written by the author of Daniel asserts that the
One like a Son of Man is a representation of the holy ones of Israel during the
Maccabean revolt, one can nevertheless inquire separately into the meaning of
the fgure in the vision text, notwithstanding its present context, which is what I
shall propose to do next. For all his success in reweaving, the author of Daniel has
still left indices of the patchwork on the surface of the text, making the 'older¨ or
'more original¨ meaning of the throne apocalypse and the fgure of the One like a
Son of Man available for interpretation as a divine fgure.
For the rest of this paper, I want to concentrate on interpreting the hypothesized
pre-text, the apocalypse of the two thrones. Taking the two-throne vision out of the
context of Daniel 7 as a whole, we fnd several crucial elements: 1) there are two
2) there are two divine fgures, one apparently old and one apparently
young; 3) the young fgure is to be the redeemer and eternal ruler of the world. It
would certainly not be wrong to suggest, I think, that even if the actual notion of
I frst developed this notion of older forms of Israelite religion as present on the surface of
the biblical text in “The Sea Resists: Midrash and the (Psycho)Dynamics of Intertextuality,” Poetics
Today 10 (1989) 661–77, later incorporated into Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990). I am grateful to my colleague Ronald Hendel for
reminding me of these publications and rescuing me from some potentially very embarrassing
After the rabbis, I have found that only Mowinckel (He That Cometh, 352) emphasizes this
point suffciently, but, of course, since the literature is massive, I have almost certainly missed others.
messiah is not yet present here, the notion of a divinely appointed divine king over
earth is, and that this has great potential for understanding the development of the
messiah notion in later Judaism (including Christianity).
The second-God redeemer fgure thus comes, in my view (a view that is, of
course, not new but very controversial), out of the earlier history of Israel`s religion.
Goldingay writes:
For the anointed one to be a heavenly fgure would be a novel idea; by
defnition, the anointed one is an earthly descendant of David. The visionary
portrayal of him coming with the clouds of the heavens might simply signify
that he comes by God`s initiative and as his gift, without suggesting that he
is in himself other than human. . . . Nevertheless, if the humanlike fgure is
the anointed, the anointed as Daniel pictures him now has a very transcendent
dimension. If the idea of the anointed moves between a God pole and a hu-
man pole, this humanlike fgure is at the former.
The One like a Son of Man, Goldingay`s 'humanlike fgure,¨ is thus, as he argues,
clearly a divine fgure, who, as messiah, necessarily will have both a human and a
divine pole. I want to sharpen Goldingay`s point further. We cannot see this coming
with the clouds of heaven as a 'gift¨ to a human, for then he would not be One like
a Son of Man, but simply a son of man. In the simile lies the divinity; the deuteros
theos is in the detail. Rather than, however, seeing the divinity of the redeemer king
as a novel idea, I would suggest that it is, in fact, one of the oldest of the elements
of this vision and one that would have a very lively future life. As Carsten Colpe
has written with characteristic clarity of argument: 'The fgure of the Son of
Man undoubtedly attracted to itself the attributes of Yahweh, e.g., riding on the
clouds . . . . Such traits could be transferred to an eschatological Son of Man
only if He was a heavenly being and not a mere earthly messiah.¨
Where I part
company with Colpe is in his statement that these traits 'point directly to an origin
of the concept outside the tradition of Israel.” There is very little warrant for this
statement, if any; there is no reason to consider this concept as anything but a part of
the inheritance of ancient Israel together with the other Canaanite tribes and groups.

Following the argument made originally by Emerton,

Collins has helpfully
summed up the main points of comparison with Canaanite (Ugaritic) representations.
As he argues, 'What is important is the pattern of relationships,¨
namely, the fact
that in Daniel there are two godlike fgures, one old and one young; the younger
Goldingay, Daniel, 170.
Colpe, “Ho Huios,” 406.
See the statement of Smith: 'The biblical evidence pertaining to the asherah does not sustain
a historical dichotomy between normative Yahwism` over and against Canaanite religion` or a
popular religion` tainted by Canaanite infuence.¨ Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh
and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (2d ed.; The Biblical Resource Series; Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Eerdmans, 2002) 110.
Collins, Daniel, 291.
one comes riding on the clouds, and he receives everlasting dominion.
Colpe has
noted that 'the mythographical similarity between the relation of the Ancient of
Days and Son of Man on the one side and that of El and Baal on the other . . . fts
into the broader conclusion that older material lives on in the tradition of Israel
and Judah.¨
Those interpretations-and they are legion-that take even the most
compelling parallel between the narrative in Daniel and the narrative of El and Baal
from Ugarit as evidence of actual literary infuence are thus, in my humble view,
mistaken. Finally, and continuing this line of thought, it is a mistake to think of
Israelite cult as ever being a uniform and fxed thing; it is not that there was a cult
of El and Y’ that was later replaced by a cult of Y’ alone, but rather that different
strands of Canaanite cult, broader strands such as the El cult and more narrowly
focused ones such as the Y’ cult, became related and confated in different ways at
different times and places.

It is, therefore, counterintuitive for me to imagine a religious scenario in which
Y’ was broadly understood as a God subordinate to El until the Deuteronomic
reforms, as held by Otto Eissfeldt, except for the very earliest stages of the cult of
There are, to be sure, in accordance with the notion expressed in the last
paragraph, some remarkable texts in the Hebrew Bible that do seem to represent
survivals of this very archaic stage. The clearest example of a biblical text in which
Y’ is a son or subordinate of El is Deut 32:8-9:
:x¬:· ·.: ¬c::: :·:. ~:::“ :x· :~x ·.: :~·¬c¬: :·:: ˜:·:. :~.“¬:
:~:~. ::~ :,.· ::. ¬:¬·“ ,:~ ·:
When Elyon established the nations, when he separated humans from each
other, he set the borders of the nations according to the number of the sons
of El. For the portion of Y’ is his nation, and Jacob the allotment of his in-
As given, the verse certainly seems to indicate that Y’ is one of the sons of Elyon
or El, the one of the sons who has been afforded Israel as his particular lot and
inheritance. The translation of verse 8 follows the Septuagint and other ancient
witnesses including two Qumran MSS, while the Masoretic Text has undermined
the explosive potential of this verse by emending 'sons of El¨ to read 'children of
I have modifed Collins`s original list of such patterns in two ways. I have dropped the
comparison with the sea, since I believe that the sea vision and the Son of Man vision were once
two separate elements, and I have emphasized the differential ages of the two divine fgures, which
seems to me crucial for understanding the pattern of relationships here.
Colpe, “Ho Huios,” 419.
Smith, Early History of God, 7–8.
Otto Eissfeldt, 'El and Yahweh,¨ JSS 1 (1956) 25–37.
Israel,” which makes little sense.
Apart from this and some other possible cognate
texts in the Bible,
we fnd only Y’ as the supreme God of Israel.
As Mowinckel already realized and Cross ratifed, Baal as intermediary between
humans and El parallels the functions of the Angel of the Lord in the biblical texts.

It is no wonder, then, that this Angel is confated and ambiguously identifed with Y’
himself in many biblical texts, and no 'outside¨ infuence whatever need be posited.
For the merging of El and Y’, nothing could be more eloquent than Exod 6:3: 'And
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but my name, Y’, I
did not make known to them.” The ancient southern theophanies of Y’, especially
at Sinai and the Sea, are (as shown by Cross) too Baal-like for us to see Baal as a
later incursion (dressed up as Y’, as it were) into the divine economy of Israel. My
best guess on this is that El was the general Canaanite high divinity while Y’ was
the Baal-like divinity of a small group of southern Canaanites, the Hebrews, with
El a very distant absence for these Hebrews. When the groups merged and emerged
as Israel,
Y’, the Israelite version of Baal, became assimilated to El as the high
God and their attributes largely merged into one doubled God, with El receiving his
warlike, storm-god characteristics from Y’.
Thus, to restate the point, the ancient El
and Y’-a southern Hebrew equivalent in function (within the paradigm of relations
between El and a young warrior-god) to the northern Baal
-merged at some point
in Israelite-Canaanite history and apparently quite early.
I would suggest-and
Jeffrey H. Tigay, Deuteronomy (JPS Torah Commentary; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication
Society, 1996) 302; Mark S. Smith, God in Translation: Cross-Cultural Recognition of Deities in
the Biblical World (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008) 193-216. Smith has a long and detailed
discussion on the Deut 32:8 issue.
Another text that possibly exhibits a fragment of a survival of this very ancient Israelite
religious notion of a council of El of which Y’ is a member is Psalm 82, although the interpretation
of this psalm is obscure. For an excellent (save only a certain apologetic Tendenz) discussion of
these two texts, see Michael S. Heiser, 'Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God,¨ Bibliotheca Sacra
158 (2001) 52–74, and see other earlier literature cited there. Y’ is not mentioned in the psalm at
all, as we have it according to the Masoretic Text, but there are important witnesses that read Y’
for Elohim. Pace ibid., n. 36, this variation makes an enormous difference in interpreting the psalm,
to the point where one might suggest that the reading Elohim represents another masoretic attempt
to reduce the theologically explosive potential of the text. If I am not mistaken, other references to
the Divine Council in the Hebrew Bible have Y’ at its head, thus representing precisely the merger
of Y’ into El that I posit in this article.
Cross, Canaanite Myth, 180.
Ronald Hendel, Remembering Abraham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) 57–75.
Cross, Canaanite Myth, 58. See also David Biale, 'The God with Breasts: El Shaddai in the
Bible,” History of Religions 21 (1982) 240–56 and Smith, Early History of God, 184.
This explanation of Baal and Y’ as rivals for the young God spot might be taken to explain
better the extreme rivalry between them manifested in the Bible.
Smith, Early History of God, 32-33. Cross, in contrast, argues that Y’ was originally a
cultic name for El used in the south and this usage eventually split off from, and then ousted, El
(Canaanite Myth, 71). This seems to me to leave somewhat unclear the Baal-like characteristics
of Y’, as these have been described by Cross himself in the passage cited immediately above.
Cross`s comments (ibid., 75) on two strands in 'Israel`s primitive religion¨ do not quite answer
any such suggestion must, of course, remain hypothetical-that this merger was
not by any means a perfect union. El and Y’ had very different and in some ways
antithetical functions, and this dysfunctionality, I propose, left a residue in which
some of the characteristics of the young divinity always had the potential to split
off again in a hypostasis (or even separate god) of their own.
This tension and
resultant splitting manifests itself in the traditions behind the Daniel 7 theophany,
where we see a new young one, nameless, it would seem,
at least until he comes
to be called Jesus-or Enoch.
As a much later rabbinic poetic text would have it,
Y’ is: 'ancient on the day of judgment and a youth on the day of battle.¨
This event, if indeed there ever was one like it, must have happened very early on,
as it is constitutive of Israel itself.
This 'merger,¨ if you will, leaves its marks right
on the surface of the text, where the El-Y’ combination can still be detected in the
tensions and doublings of the biblical text, available to be resurrected, as it were, by
astute readers of a certain cast of religious mind as a second, young God, or as a part
of God, or divine person within God (and all of these options have been adopted by
perfectly 'orthodox,¨ non-Christian Jewish theologians as well as by Christians
Some of the ancient (and modern) readers noting one stratum and ideological
line in the text protest that that is the valid one, while others claim the opposite.
this question. In a later chapter of his book, Cross treats the close affnities between Baal and Y’,
which are so close, indeed, that as my teacher H. L. Ginsberg realized already in the thirties of the
last century, an entire Baal hymn has been lifted intact and adapted for Y’ in Psalm 29. As Cross
emphasizes, this could hardly have been done if the imagery were not appropriate already for
Y’ (ibid., 156). Cross therefore writes, 'The language of theophany in early Israel was primarily
language drawn from the theophany of Bal¨ (ibid., 157), a formulation that I would slightly modify
to read: the language of the theophany of Y’ in ancient Israel was parallel (even nearly identical)
to the language of Baal`s theophanies among northern Canaanites. Cross, of course, recognizes the
merger here but it is less clear why El/Y’ should have absorbed Baal`s characteristics that seemingly
did not exist before in Israel`s religion. As Cross`s reconstruction seems not to recognize Y’ as a
variant of Baal, where would he come from? This diffculty is obviated if we assume an ancient
cult of El as the universal old God of all of the Canaanites and Baal and Y’ as variant forms and
names of the young God, with Y’ merged into El in the later forms of offcial biblical religion. Of
course, I do not imagine for one moment that Y’ did not further appropriate characteristics of Baal
as he moved northward and became more of a rain- and storm-god in addition to the mountain-
and volcano-god that he had been in his putative original southern home. See also Peter Hayman,
'Monotheism-A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?¨ JJS 42 (1991) 5.
A similar explanation, mutatis mutandis, might help to understand the place of ˙okmâ and her
connections with Asherah, on which see Smith, Early History of God, 133, and sources cited there.
It is here that I part company most decisively with Eissfeldt, 'El and Yahweh¨ and Margaret
Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (London: SPCK, 1992).
Another possible hypothesis would be that these traditions are a direct continuation of such
survivals as Deut 32:8. I fnd this less plausible than my explanation offered in the body of the
text, but it would be hard to prove. In any case, what is clear enough in Daniel and presumably in
whatever traditions lie behind it is that the Ancient of Days is Y’ and not an Elyon separate from
and superior to Y’.
Cross, Canaanite Myth, 186.
Daniel Abrams, 'The Boundaries of Divine Ontology: The Inclusion and Exclusion of Me†a†ron
in the Godhead,¨ HTR 87 (1994) 291–321.
We fnd in Aphrahat, the Iranian Father of the Church, the following attack on
an interpretation (presumably Jewish) that makes the One like a Son of Man out
to be the people of Israel:
'Have the children of Israel received the kingdom of
the Most High? God forbid. Or has that people come on the clouds of heaven?¨
(Demonstration 5.21). While the frst point is, of course, merely polemical (as
the 'God forbid¨ makes clear), the second is exegetical and to the point.
On the
other hand, the Jews could clearly have retorted: 'Is a divine redeemer subject to
oppression by a Seleucid king who forces him (the divine redeemer) to abandon
his holy days and his law for three and a half years? The Son of Man must be the
children of Israel!¨ Our job as scholars is to take neither of these two positions but
to note the surface remains in the text that give rise to such a bifurcated interpretive
tradition in which everyone is right.
The difference between traditional and modern readings of the text is that we
try to see both sides of this unresolved tension in the text and thus make sense
of both faces of Janus. Traditional readers did not look at the text and fnd a
patchwork of different texts from different periods; they fxed on one or another
of the meaning-strands and said: this is what the text means. In other words, I am
suggesting that the reading of the two-throne apocalypse as signaling a double
divinity and a transfer of sovereignty from an older to a younger God is a distinct
synchronic hermeneutic option. Many Jews in antiquity, including Jesus and his
community, as well as the new communities that he has engendered, insisted that
the Son of Man is a name for the divine-human redeemer.
Other Jews, then, and
most Jews since late antiquity, insisted no: the One like a Son of Man is Israel,
and there is no fgure called 'the Son of Man.¨ The unresolved tension in Daniel
7 is what gives rise to the legitimately two-faced interpretive tradition about the
meaning of the chapter and especially the crucial term, so fateful for the history
of religion, 'the Son of Man.¨
The pesher insists that the One like a Son of Man is a collective, not an individual
and certainly not a divine individual but the saints of the Most High. These saints,
for the pesher, are almost doubtlessly the Maccabean heroes who redeemed the
temple after a time, two times, and a half time (three and a half years, the actual
historical time of the temple`s desecration), and to whom dominion has been given.
The author of Daniel, in writing this pesher into the text, has accomplished two
purposes for his own time: he has discredited the appearance of a second divine
Thus predating by centuries Ibn Ezra`s collective interpretation, pace Collins, Daniel, 87, who
writes that that 12th-century rabbi was the frst to interpret it thus.
Pace Collins, 308 n. 271, who believes that it is a mere reductio ad absurdum. I would also
surmise that there had been a Jewish interpretation prior to Aphrahat that saw the Son of Man as a
representation of the collective, Israel.
In another article (Daniel Boyarin, 'How Enoch Can Teach Us about Jesus,¨ Early Christianity
2 [2011] 51-76), I have tried to show that the Parables of Enoch demonstrate another independent
Jewish group`s reading of Daniel in a way that is similar (but different, too) to that of the Jewish
groups involved with Jesus.
fgure in the text (or at least, he thinks he has), and he has inscribed his own heroes,
the Maccabees, who will issue in the Hasmonean dynasty as the legitimate, heroic,
angelic, and divinely ordained rulers of Israel. Note 7:22: 'until the Ancient of
Days came and provided the holy ones of the Most High and the time arrived and
the holy ones held the kingdom.¨ After these holy ones suffer for three and one-half
years under the dominion of the arrogant Seleucid, then:
Justice will be given and the dominion will pass to destroy and desolate
And the kingdom and the dominion and greatness of the king-
doms under all of the heaven is given to the people of the most holy ones;
their kingdom is an eternal kingdom and all of the rulers will be subservient
and obedient to them.
Voilà: demythologization, historicization, and Maccabean propaganda, all in
one fell swoop. It should further be at least adumbrated that such 'reforming¨
movements leading, inter alia, to absolute centralization of the cult as well as
suppression of widespread religious tendencies are usually the province of dominant
classes with highly hierarchical structures, the Josianic and Maccabean reforms
both being examples of this phenomenon in Israel.
On my reading, the young God in the original mythic text in Daniel is the fgure
who will redeem Israel and the world and not an exalted Davidic king.
There is,
as I have argued, nothing in this vision that suggests or even allows seeing the
One like a Son of Man as an actual human being. Setting aside the pesher and just
looking at the original vision, we do fnd already, however, that this divine fgure,
whether messiah or not, will be given 'the dominion, the glory, the kingdom and
all of the peoples, nations, and languages will worship him, and his dominion
will be eternal dominion which will not pass and his kingdom which will not be
destroyed¨ (v. 14). This mythic pattern of second God as redeemer will be crucial,
of course, in interpreting the Gospels and the pattern of religion proclaimed there.
We will have to try to understand better the relationship of this divine redeemer to
the human redeemer, the Davidic messiah.
Without subscribing to views that too specifcally identify the second God with
Baal or Y’ or even Marduk, I would assert that the general outlines of a myth of
a young God subordinated to an old God are enacted in the sources of the throne
vision of Daniel 7, however much the author of Daniel seeks to suppress this myth.
In place of notions of El and Y’ as the two Gods of Israel, I would suggest that the
pattern of an older God and a younger one, a God of wise judgment and a God of
war and punishment, have been transferred from older forms of Israelite-Canaanite
religion to new forms in which the older God, whose supremacy is not in question,
is now entirely named by the Tetragrammaton, while the functions of the younger
God have been, in part, taken by supreme angels or other sorts of divine beings,
I am grateful to Daniel Fisher for reminding me of this point.
Pace Barker, Great Angel, 40. I thus agree with Emerton`s conclusion that 'the language used
of the Son of man suggests Yahwe, not the Davidic king¨ ('Origin,¨ 231).
redeemer fgures-at least in the 'offcial¨ religion of the biblical text. There is not
the slightest reason, however, to imagine that the bulk of the 'people of the land¨
had ever accepted this form of offcial monotheism.
Once Y’ absorbs El, the younger God has no name of his own but presumably is
identifed at different times with the archangels or other versions of the Great Angel,
Michael, as well as with Enoch, Christ, and later on Me̝a̝ron as well. Some of his
ancient guises, especially 'the Little Yahu,Yahoel¨ (!), indicate his ancient (extra-
biblical) identity as Y’.
It is the power of that myth itself on its own that explains
the continuing life of Jewish binitarianism into Christian Judaism and that is vitally
present in non-Christian Judaism as well. There are thus two legacies left us by
Daniel 7: it is the ultimate source of 'Son of Man¨ terminology for a heavenly
redeemer fgure and it is also the best evidence we have for the continuation of a
very ancient binitarian (or even ditheistic) Israelite theology deep into the Second
Temple period. Although these are separate in Daniel (since there is there no fgure
called the Son of Man), it is the not-entirely-successful suppression of this myth in
Daniel-and thus its strong association with the 'One like a Son of Man¨-that will
explain the later development of the Son of Man as a title in both the Similitudes of
Enoch, as well as in the Gospels. While all this is, as I have said, of little signifcance
for the interpretation of the Book of Daniel, for which it is clear that the One like a
Son of Man is Israel, or more precisely the Maccabean martyrs, the intertextuality
of it all is of the utmost importance for the history of Israel`s religion.
The bottom line, I think, is that when interpreting the book qua book, we must
take it on the terms of its fnal redaction, but that does not prevent us from paying
attention-indeed for a historical perspective, it is necessary to pay attention-to
other meanings that various components of the text might have had on their own.

Better put, perhaps, we must pay attention to the way that these various components
do not quite ft together, for it is the cracks and seams that enable the productivity of
the text in its future incarnations. The recognition of the separateness of the vision
'Yahoel¨ appears in the Apocalypse of Abraham (70-150 C.E.), but then as late as 3 Enoch
(4th–5th c. C.E.) we fnd 'Yahoel Yah¨ and 'Yahoel¨ explicitly given as names for Me†a†ron (Andrei
Orlov, 'Praxis of the Voice: The Divine Name Traditions in the Apocalypse of Abraham,¨ JBL 127
[2008] 53-70 and Philip S. Alexander, 'The Historical Setting of the Hebrew Book of Enoch,¨ JJS
28 [1977] 163-64). See also in this context Gedaliahu G. Stroumsa, 'Form[s] of God: Some Notes
on Metatron and Christ; For Shlomo Pines,¨ HTR 763 (1983) 269–88. As Alexander points out in
his article, these very names are predicated in other contemporary texts of God himself. The lines
between exalted 'angels¨ and gods get harder and harder to draw and see. Cf. Emerton, 'Origin,¨
242: 'At some stage, the old myth was reinterpreted in terms of the supremacy of Yahwe, who had
been identifed with both Elyon and Baal. Then the Son of man was degraded to the status of an
angel, even though he retained the imagery which was so closely attached to him in tradition. This
would help to explain the attribution of an exalted status to such beings as Michael and Metatron
in later Judaism.¨
This is the precise contrary of the position taken by Mowinckel, He That Cometh, 353, who
argues that the 'Son of Man¨ was a pre-existing messianic title derived from the primordial man
(Anthropos) concept that was transformed by the author of Daniel into a fgure for the people of
Israel. See also ibid., 420–37.
of the two thrones from its context allows us to look both at the possible history
of such a religious vision and at its possible consequences for an understanding
of later movements within the religion. It thus has a diachronic dimension, but it
also has a synchronic dimension, in that it explains why later interpretive-religious
strands within the religion have read the text as they have. Part of the reason for
the confict and debate among scholars is that while seeming to answer the same
question, in truth, they have been asking (and thus answering) very different
questions. One question is the meaning of the phrase One like a Son of Man and
its usage within chapter 7 of Daniel; quite another question would be what other
meanings the text might have both before its incorporation in the book of Daniel
and in its afterlife.
I would take it as a bit of very precious evidence-all the more
so as it is against the grain of biblical theology itself-for the continued vitality of
worship of an old and a young God in Israel. This argument follows the form of
the Collinses’ own in another closely related context: “The fact that the dominant
attitude in biblical tradition insists on a sharp distinction between divinity and
humanity, and is sharply critical of kingship makes the preservation of the royal
psalms all the more remarkable. It requires that we take them seriously as a witness
to preexilic religion, before it was chastened by the harsh historical experiences
that led to the demise of the monarchy.”
Ditto, I would say, for Daniel and the
tradition of the Rider on the Clouds as a second divine fgure (or perhaps it would
be more precise to say, given my considerations above, for the Ancient of Days as
a second divine fgure).
The historical ties of that pattern of religion to later forms of Judaism, including
both rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, are thus clarifed if my reconstruction bears
weight. Where John Collins seems to consider the pattern of religion enshrined
in the throne vision as a frozen relic from Israel`s past (or even a foreign past),

I would see it as very much a living part of Israel`s religion both before and long
after, explaining both the form of Judaism we call Christianity and also much in
non-Christian later Judaism as well.

The failure to make this distinction leads scholars as distinguished as Black ('Throne,¨ 61-62)
into confusion, as it has led many others (on both sides of the hermeneutical divide), many of them
mentioned by Black.
Collins and Collins, King and Messiah, 24.
'It has been argued that motifs should not be torn out of their living contexts` but should
be considered against the totality of the phenomenological conception of the works in which such
correspondences occur.` Such demands are justifed when the intention is to compare the pattern of
religion` in a myth and a biblical text, but this has never been the issue in the discussion of Daniel
7” (Collins, Daniel, 281).
See Daniel Boyarin, 'Beyond Judaisms: Me†a†ron and the Divine Polymorphy of Ancient
Judaism,¨ Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods 41
(2010) 323–65.