Why Daniel was not in the plain of Dura in Daniel 3


It may rightfully be asked why Daniel was not one of the nobles collected to be in the plain of Dura in Daniel 3 to bow down before the image?

Why was it only Sadrach, Mesach and Abednego that were standing in the plain that day with the allegiance test of Nebuchadnezzar? Where was the prophet Daniel. Did he not have to be part of this test? The detail with which Daniel is describing it gives evidence that he knew the ins and outs of this case very well.

There was an Arabic-Jew in the Middle Ages with the name of Yaphet ibn Ali-Halevi who lived around 970 CE and he wrote an Arabic commentary on Daniel.

Of course a contemporary of his also wrote a commentary on Daniel, namely, Saadya Gaon. Gaon’s Daniel Commentary was written 30 years before Yahphet ibn Ali-Halevi’s commentary.

What were the differences between these two Jews? Saadya Gaon was translating more idiomatic and not so literal but Yaphet ibn Ali-Halevi was more literal in his translations.

Where was Daniel in Daniel 3? Ali-Halevi answered “As for the case of Daniel, he was not required to bow down to the image because his station was too high; he occupied the place of a god with the king (2:46)”.

This answered is correct since if the king bowed down to Daniel and worshipped him, as he did in 2:46, he cannot and will not expect Daniel to bow down and pay allegiance to him Nebuchadnezzar, sensitive minority complex or not.

The megalomania of Nebuchadnezzar reveals actually just the opposite psychology of Nebuchadnezzar. He tries to make himself bigger than he really is because he had a minority complex that others thinks he is not able, not good enough, not equipped enough to be king or in that high position. Whether it is his upbringing as a child or the family politics or palace parties, regardless of the source, the damage was done and the psychological health of the king was not stable enough. Daniel had to be serving a ruler with distrust and mistrust around every corner.


More on Yaphet ibn Ali-Halevi the Karaite and Saadya Gaon the champion of Judiasm


In his book Jewish Philosophers by S. T. Katz (1975), 32, he mentioned that in the tenth century CE, Judaism was threatened by two streams, namely Islam and Karaism. Saadya Gaon’s philosophy responded to the challenge to answer these two.

Karaism (explains Katz 1975: 39-40), was a Jewish sect founded in Babylon about 750 CE by Anan ben David. The original aim of the sect was to base itself on Scripture instead of the Talmud and Rabbinic Judaism. That explains Ali-Halevi and it also explains Gaon as well as Seventh-day Adventist stand on this issue.

Although Judaism is uplifting Saadya Gaon as a champion of their faith, the karaite Jew Yaphet ibn Ali-Halevi who lived in Jerusalem in the same time, was as far as the translation of the Book of Daniel is concerned more literal.

To see the differences between Gaon and Ali-Halevi’s translations the words GRAMMAR and GRANDMOTHER can illustrate this well.

If someone is to ask me to copy the word GRAMMAR and I wrote GRANDMOTHER, is this a paraphrase of GRAMMAR, permutation of letters of GRAMMAR or an acoustic misperception of the phonics of the word GRAMMAR?

To use the words of Maariv Perez, an expert on Saadya Gaon, the translation method of Gaon is that of metamorphosis-translation or transformational translation. A paraphrase is a recasting translation (Bodenheimer’s view is under correction here). A defective translation is one that is using a defective original.

Although transformational is present in the translation method of Gaon, my finding was on Daniel 11:6 that Gaon employed a defective copy with corrections, a kind of notebook copy of an Arabic translation that was very close to that of Yaphet ibn Ali-Halevi thirty years later. It appears to me that Gaon was not deforming a Hebrew text but an Arabic one since the problems lies not only on a translational level. They are also on a copy-level.

It appears for me that they had trouble reading an illegible notebook and that dictating the text by memory after misreading and memorizing the text with errors and corrections in supralinear position, dictated both these in-text and out-text sentences in a one-line procedure or same-line procedure. The copyist actually placed both text and supralinear corrections in-text. Double reading abounds with Saadya Gaon in every verse and it supports my conclusion that slips of the eye and entry of errors together with the corrections were made. The errors are made in an Arabic text and not in a Hebrew text so that I rule out the possibility that Saadya Gaon was using a Hebrew text at all. Misreadings on an Arabic orthographical level is the strongest evidence I found with Saadya Gaon. Saadya need glasses and a good memory!

Another finding is that one should not take D. S. Margoliouth (1889) too seriously on the omissions of Yaphet unless proven so. One should not get the impression for example, in Daniel 11:6 that certain words were absent in the text of Yaphet because one cannot see it in the Arabic. They appear in his commentary below! He worked with them. Maybe it is not in the translation but one do find it in the commentary. They are just not translated in the Arabic.

In the same century of these two Jews was Dunash ben Librat who complained about the text of Saadya Gaon.

If one considers the possibility that what we are working with today and is called the text of Saadya is actually the corrupt duplicate of some incompetent copyist and that it means that the originals of Saadya Gaon disappeared, one can cancel this option because Dunash ben Librat did not say that they originals of Gaon were hard to come by. My conclusion is that Gaon made these errors himself.