The idea, which may be a true one, that this is the latest of these three appendices, seems chiefly founded on its position at the end of Daniel, and on its subject-matter, which contains indications of belonging to the prophet's latter years. Having passed safely through many trials, he now boldly laughs at the idols of Babylon (vv.7, 19). His contempt is unconcealed, and he again confidently risks his life for the true God. In v.19 we also find him venturing to hold the king back -- ekratesen ton basilea (Th). Long experience in surmounting great difficulties by divine help had strengthened his nerve and confirmed his faith.
Original. If the LXX be taken as a translation, the original is of course older than the Greek text, but not necessarily much older. If the statement at the head, however, be accepted as referring to Habakkuk the prophet, the original is of course thrown back to a much earlier date, say circ.600 b.c., and Hebrew, not Aramaic, would be the language. But this theory will scarcely commend itself to many (cf. Chronology,' p.223).
LXX. There seems no reason to doubt that Bel and the Dragon always formed a part of this Greek version of Daniel. Pusey (quoted in Churton, Uncan. and Apocr. Script. p.389) speaks of it as 'contemporary with the LXX,' while Rothstein (Kautzsch, 178, 9) attributes it to the second century b.c., being probably of the same date as Susanna.
Theodotion. This version may reasonably be assigned to the second century a.d. But it has been pretty clearly shewn that Theodotion worked up some Greek version other than the LXX. Many of the quotations from Daniel in the N. T., and especially those in Revelation (specified in D. C. B. art. Theodotion, IV.975b), shew that a version largely corresponding with his existed at the time when these quotations were made. The Book of Baruch also (same art.976a) bears evidence of the employment of this Theodotionic ground-version, the origin of which is at present unknown. In this connection compare Prof. Swete's Introd. to Greek O. T. ed.2, p.48, and Schürer's pointed saying, quoted there in note (3), "Entweder Th. selbst ist älter als die Apostel, oder es hat einen Th.' vor Th. gegeben." There seems little reason to doubt that the unnamed previous version extended to this and the other Additions to Daniel.
Original (Semitic?). Babylonia, or possibly Palestine. "The writer," says Bissell on v.2, "shews a familiar acquaintance with what was the probable state of things in Babylon when the event narrated is supposed to have occurred."
Of the things mentioned, clay is common in Babylonia, and brass or bronze was used as a material for images; and the lion was an inhabitant of the country.
There is no sign (in this piece) of Hellenic thought influencing Jewish belief, such as would have been likely to shew itself in a purely Alexandrian production. The strong hatred of idolatry is quite in accordance with a Babylonish origin; more so perhaps than with an Alexandrian. Cf. Jer. xliv.8, which seems to shew that, at any rate in the early days of the dispersion in Egypt, the severance from idolatry was not so sharp as in Babylonia.
The mention of pitch (v.27) as a readily obtainable commodity is inconclusive, as stated under the corresponding section of Part II. The possible confusion between zph' RD.V (storm-wind) and zyph' (pitch), pointed out by Marshall in his article on Bel and the Dragon in Hastings' Dict., does not look probable as occurring in a list of substances of this kind.
LXX. Alexandria may be pretty certainly named. What Bishop Westcott calls "an Alexandrine hand" (D. B. i. p.448 ed.1, 714 ed.2) has been generally deemed apparent. So Bissell says: "The contents furnish tolerably safe evidence of its Egyptian origin." But this does not seem to agree very well with his note on v.2, quoted at the beginning of this chapter.
It might have been thought that the weights and measures which enter into this story in v.3 of both versions, and in v.27 of LXX, would have afforded some valuable local indications. But unfortunately for this requirement, the weights and measures of the ancient world were so much assimilated as to yield, in the question before us, no certain clue. Alexandria too, being a great commercial centre, had become somewhat syncretistic. As P. Smith remarks, in his article Mensura in D. Gk. & Rom. A. (1872, p.754b), "The Roman system, which was probably derived from the Greek, agreed with the Babylonian both in weights and measures." It is stated, however, in Hastings' D. B. (IV.911b, 913b) that artabai and metretai were identified at Alexandria, in which case they may have been used here as rough equivalents for the translation of some Semitic words, such as chmr and s'h in Isai. v.10 and I. Kings xviii.32 respectively. The mna of v.27 is also both Babylonian and Alexandrian (see Hastings' D. B. IV.904a). The signs, from this source, of local origin must not therefore be pressed.
Theodotion. From what little we know of this translator's life, it is not improbable that he made his version at Ephesus.
The genitive form machaires in v.26, thought to be Ionic, may lend a little support to this. Cf. Heb. xi.34, Rev. xiii.14, in A; B here failing; yet it is found in B, by the first corrector, in St. Luke xxi.24. But cf. Swete's Introd. p.304. On the other hand, the use of somata in v.32 (Th only) for slaves' is given by Deissmann (p.160) as an example of Egyptian usage. It is found in Gen. xxxiv.29, Tob. x.10, and elsewhere. Its use by Polybius (mentioned without reference by Deissmann) does not give us much local' assistance, for his travels were so extensive that he may have picked it up in various places. But its occurrence in Rev. xviii.13 may suggest that it was in use at Ephesus also. Deissmann (p.117) also thinks edapanonto eis (v.3) to be an Alexandrian idiom; but in the same verse we find the spelling tesserakonta, which is considered by Liddell and Scott to be an Ionic form. The indications therefore of this linguistic kind nearly counterbalance one another.