Daniel. Meaning and origins.

Léelo en español.

In a recent post, I highlighted the significance of names. On this occasion, I am attempting to understand the meaning of my given name, Daniel.

Currently, finding out the meaning of a name is easy. It is enough to search for it using any browser and make a quick data selection and source credibility check. The result will be available in less than a few minutes.

However, when the answer is provided quickly and without effort, we tend to learn less than we could and should. We learn more as we become more invoved in the process.

During the searching, we learn more than during the finding.

Daniel Pedrero

I began my investigation knowing the answer. Daniel means “God is my Judge”, “Judgement of God”, or “Justice of God”. Nevertheless, that is not what I was looking for. Where that meaning comes from and what new things I may discover in the process are what I am actually looking for.

“Daniel” is a Biblical name; hence, its roots come from the Aramaic and Hebrew languages. It also indicates that it belongs to the Judeo-Christian tradition, which explains why and how it primarily spread to the Mediterranean, Europe, and then the Americas.

The name Daniel comes from the Hebrew and Aramaic דָּנִיֵּאל, romanized as Dānīyyēʾl. It is formed from the roots: דִּין (din) “to judge” and אֵל (‘el) “God”. Hebrew and Aramaic are written from right to left, as opposed to English and Spanish. So the translation would be as follows, divided into sections by letter and sign:

דָּנִיֵּאלדָּנִיֵּאדָּנִיֵּדָּנִיּדָּנִידָּנִדָּןדָּדּ
DaniyyelDaniyye’DaniyyeDaniyyDaniDaniDanDaD

The root אֵל (‘el) “God” is the biliteral form of the lengthier word “Elohim”, which means “The Strong One” and is the first name for God given in the Bible, referring to him as the Creator and Judge of the universe.

Despite having “din” and “el” as its roots, the name also contains the letter “i” as a third element. The reason is that adding an “i” at the end of “din” creates “dini”, which gives the word a possessive form and alters the meaning from “to judge” to “the judgement from”.

Why is the name “Daniel” rather than “Diniel” if the root is “din”? The solution is in the pronunciation. Despite the fact that it is written in romanized “i”, the pronunciation is closer to an “a”.

The hero of the Book of Daniel is the most well-known Biblical Daniel. He is depicted as a prophet who exercises, interprets, or sees God´s judgement, whether through dream interpretation or visions of the future of the Kingdom of Israel. So, the events and feats described in the book portray characteristics that represent Daniel as someone who lived up to the meaning of his name. But also as someone who, in the chapter of Daniel in the Lions´ Den, was saved from death due to God´s judgement.

On July 21, the Roman Catholic Church observes the feast day of saint Daniel, the prophet.

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