I ended up wandering around Wikipedia, and discovered:
- My given name, Daniel, literally means “judge-is-god” in Hebrew
- Though, Hebrew goes right-to-left, so דָּנִיֵּאל literally reads (to me) as “el is judge”
- Daniel is thus theophoric, which means it “embeds the name of a god, both invoking and displaying the protection of that deity.”
- “El was the supreme god, the father of mankind and all creatures and the husband of the Goddess Asherah.”
- In Judaism, God has many names: “the various names of God in Judaism represent God as he is known, as well as the divine aspects which are attributed to him.”
- The historic figure of Daniel was a pious Jew who spent most of his life away from his kinfolk, working for King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon.
- Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall that had been left by Angels, which foretold the imminent assassination of King Belshazzar and the subsequent fall of Babylon to Persia.
- Under Persian rule, Daniel was given great administrative authority, and likely played a significant role in freeing the Jews from the “Babylonian Captivity”, though he himself did not return to Jerusalem with them.
- Later in his life, Daniel ministered as a prophet. In Christianity he is one of the “four great prophets” but in Judaism, he is not regarded as a prophet, because he did not speak directly with God.
And I can’t boil this paragraph down to a bullet point:
Daniel’s fidelity to God exposed him to persecution by jealous rivals within the king’s administration. The fact that he had just interpreted the emperors’ dream had resulted in his promotion and that of his companions. Being favored by the Emperor, he was untouchable. His companions were vulnerable to the accusation that had them thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship the Babylonian king as a god; but they were miraculously saved, and Daniel would years later be cast into a den of lions (for continuing to practice his faith in YHWH), but was miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree enjoining reverence for “the God of Daniel” (6:26). He “prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian,” whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of the decree which put an end to the Jewish Captivity (B.C. 536).
Anyway, if I wanted to draw anything from this namesake, it would be that spending most of your adult life far from home serving a doomed empire is perfectly reasonable, but keep pious in order that one may interpret the “writing on the wall” which can lead one to develop the power to free people. Piety will further bring the benevolence of God, which will come in damned handy on those occasions when one is tossed into the lion’s den.
And here I am sitting around in California with the moniker “dannyman” which could be read “judge is man” . . . which strikes me as awfully impious.
I guess I’ll have to try harder. And I’ll have to rely on my own good judgment. Dang.