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In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. (NIV)

I don't know enough Hebrew to see where the "like" comes from. Does this construction in Hebrew (or Aramaic) indicate a comparison? Is it possible that it could be translated "there before me was a son of man?".

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    Daniel 7:13 is Aramaic.
    – Perry Webb
    Aug 24, 2023 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

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First, Dan 7 is in Aramaic, and NOT Hebrew.

Second, the operative word in Dan 7:13 is כְּבַ֥ר which consists of two parts:

  • כְּ (ke) = a preposition meaning, "like", "as", about" (BDB). There is another example in Dan 2:40, 4:32
  • בַ֥ר (bar) = "son"

Thus, כְּבַ֥ר means "like son" or "like a son".

Thus, Dan 7:13 reads (my translation):

I was watching in night visions, and behold, with clouds of heaven, [one] like a Son of Man coming and to the Ancient of the Days, He came and before Him, they brought Him near.

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  • Supporting reference: כְּ‍: the same in Heb.; ... —1. as Da 235.40 432 (→ לָא) 511 74.6.8f.13 (someone like). -- Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1994–2000). In The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament: Aramaic (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 1896). E.J. Brill.0
    – Perry Webb
    Aug 25, 2023 at 1:42
  • @PerryWebb - many thanks - good reference.
    – Dottard
    Aug 25, 2023 at 2:56
  • thank you, very helpful! Aug 25, 2023 at 20:43
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This is a case of an obviously divine figure appearing as a man, whereas He simply cannot be merely such, due to how He is treated and His prerogatives. Daniel says the Messiah (whom this is, according to the New Testament, and the Talmud, even) looked to him to be a man, but could not have been - which is why he chose the words, "[looked] like a [man]" ("son of man" is a Hebraism meaning "human being" or "[mere] human" and has nothing to do with offspring or progeny, as the word "son" suggests in English).

This is also repeated in the New Testament, actually, where the Son of God, Jesus, appears to John, but John reuses that phraseology, "one like the son of man," to convey the fact that He is very obviously, absolutely, Divine. It's not that John, who knows Christ is fully human, doesn't know Jesus is human, but rather that Christ is not [merely] what He seems to be. After all, post-Resurrection, Jesus clearly (has no need to conceal or make palatable) speaks of His divinity, identifying straight up as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who reads the innermost thoughts of man and metes out according to everyone's works, obviously, and according to the prophets, the names ("The First and the Last") prerogatives ("knowing everyone's thought and giving according to everone's works") of Yahweh alone.

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