Observe: That is the primary in a two-part sequence reflecting on girls within the biblical e-book of Daniel.
I not too long ago had the prospect to take a deep dive into the biblical e-book of Daniel. I feel it’s the primary time I’ve learn the entire e-book of Daniel since I’ve began deliberately attending to the questions of feminist biblical interpretation: The place are girls current? The place are girls absent? What are they doing or not doing—maybe prohibited from doing? How does this passage transfer its readers towards—or away from—gender fairness and girls’s empowerment? How does it converse to—or deny—girls’s full humanity?
The absence of girls in many of the e-book of Daniel feels obviously apparent to me. The primary characters embody the Hebrew exile Daniel, Daniel’s three (male) buddies, King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, and King Darius. The angels appear to be males. The divinely appointed eschatological authority determine is described as being like a “son of man.” The significantly oppressive king who desecrates the temple, abolishes the ritual sacrifices, and units up an “abomination that causes desolation” is unquestionably male.
The place are the ladies?
It took me two reads by the e-book, however on my second learn, I seen two girls. For some purpose, they didn’t stand out to me on the primary learn. I used to be specializing in different issues; I’ve been conditioned to go over feminine characters as if they don’t seem to be significantly vital, simply because they usually don’t get as a lot air time as their male counterparts. However feminist biblical interpretation insists that girls are vital. And so I don’t wish to overlook these girls—even when their roles within the overarching narrative appear minor in comparison with a Daniel or a Nebuchadnezzar.
The primary of those two girls is the queen, who seems in Daniel 5:10-12. Students have usually thought-about her to be the mom (and even the grandmother) of King Belshazzar, not his spouse. This queen was nowhere to be discovered when the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines had been feasting and consuming wine from the golden goblets plundered from Jerusalem (Dan 5:1-4). This act of consuming from the stolen goblets prompted the stunning look of a human hand, writing phrases on the wall, leaving the king terrified (vv. 5-6).
The place was the queen? Was she maybe skipping out on the banquet, figuring out it was stuffed with depravity, wanting no half in evil acts? Did she really feel regret quite than pleasure that her individuals had ransacked Jerusalem and destroyed it, taking what was invaluable and utilizing it for their very own feasting with out disgrace? Did she have combined emotions about her involvement on this violent, oppressive empire, maybe married off into the royal household towards her personal will?
I don’t know any of these items. However they don’t seem to be unattainable—and even significantly unbelievable—prospects.
The king, in his terror, calls in all of the astrologers and diviners he can discover, providing wealthy rewards for any who may clarify the mysterious and terrifying writing. Nobody can. And the king simply retains getting extra terrified (vv. 7-9). The narrator tells us, “his face grew extra pale” (v. 9)—and that’s after his legs had already turn out to be weak and his “knees had been knocking” (v. 6, NIV).
At this second, lastly, the queen steps in. From exterior the banquet corridor, she heard the king and his nobles speaking, all of them fully and completely “baffled” (v. 9) by the writing on the wall. The queen had no supernatural powers. She didn’t know what the writing meant, both. However she knew what to do. As angels usually greeted individuals, “don’t be afraid”—and as Jesus instructed his followers many instances, “peace be with you”—so too the queen, on this second of terror and confusion, stated, “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale!” (v. 10). She noticed the entire room’s bafflement and concern and spoke on to it. In impact: It’s going to be okay. I do know that is terrifying, however there’s one thing we are able to do.
After which she provided an answer. “There’s a man in your kingdom,” she instructed the king, “who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. Within the time of your father he was discovered to have perception and intelligence and knowledge like that of the gods” (v. 11). When everybody else had forgotten Daniel and his wonderful dream interpretations from a earlier era (chapters 2 and 4), the queen remembered. And in so doing, she joined the far-reaching ranks of girls by the ages who keep in mind the tales vital to their individuals when many have lengthy forgotten.
Perhaps the tales of Daniel had circulated amongst girls for many years as they did their work collectively. Perhaps the Babylonian girls questioned collectively concerning the God Daniel served. Perhaps they noticed in Daniel a special form of energy from the ability they noticed within the violent kings who dominated over them—a form of energy that was engaging to them, a form of energy combined with knowledge and compassion, a form of energy they wished to embody for themselves.
The queen remembered, and she or he shared with the king what she knew. “Name for Daniel,” she stated. “He’ll inform you what the writing means” (v. 12). The king adopted her suggestion, and it was precisely as she stated. Daniel interpreted the writing that nobody else may make any sense of.
So, the place are the ladies—and who’re the ladies—on this story? This specific lady, the queen, is the reminiscence keeper. She is the clever counselor. She is the issue solver. She is a supply of knowledge; and never simply that, however she is smart sufficient to know the boundaries of her personal knowledge, to know when (and whom) to ask for assist. She is the voice of purpose in a time of collective confusion. She remembers and passes on the tales that may in any other case be forgotten. She speaks peace. She reveals the way in which ahead when there appears to be no approach. If not for her, the story would have ended with the writing uninterpreted, the entire royal courtroom baffled, the pilfered golden goblets half stuffed with wine—and Daniel nowhere close to the scene, blissfully unaware that any of this was taking place.
(Male) Bible commentators could gloss over the queen—and we in our personal androcentric conditioning could also be tempted to do the identical—however we are able to select to see her. We will select to marvel about her. We will select to honor her. We will select to recollect her, as she remembered Daniel.
Half 2, tomorrow
 I discovered not too long ago that Catholic Bibles embody two chapters of Daniel that Protestant Bibles don’t: chapters 13 and 14. Chapter 13 facilities a lady, Susanna, in a captivating story that offers with sexual assault and sufferer blaming. Since I converse from the Protestant custom, I gained’t handle chapters 13-14 at the moment.
 Typically regarded as Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose second century BCE reign of terror and persecution doubtless sparked the writing of Daniel within the first place