Book of Daniel Explained

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The title of the book comes from the name of its chief character and author, Daniel who through the book received revelations from God. Daniel bridges the entire 70 years of the Babylonian captivity for 605 to 536 b.c.

Nine of the 12 chapters relate revelation through dreams and visions. Daniel was God's mouthpiece to the Gentile and Jewish world, declaring God's current and future plans. What Revelation is to the New Testament prophetically and apocalyptically, Daniel is to the Old Testament.

The authenticity of few books in the bible has been more furiously assailed by critics that the Book of Daniel. The primary reasons for this is:

  1. The book is said to make several historical blunders.

  2. The language of the period.***

  3. The position of the book in the third part of the threefold division of the Old Testament Canon (laws and writings) shows that it was written too late to be placed in the collection of the Prophets.

  4. The book contains many examples of historical events that occurred long after the time of the traditional date for Daniel.

The arguments for the book's authenticity however are quite convincing and answer well those negative doubts:

  1. The charges of historical blunders have proved false in the past (e.g., the mention of Belshazzar, now firmly established by the discovery of the Nabonidus Chronicle, was once thought to be a mistake). Present problematic passages will eventually likewise be solved.

  2. Not only do the international contacts of the Neo-Babylonian Empire account for the presence of foreign words, but recent linguistic research has rendered obsolete the argument concerning the supposed lateness of Daniel's language.

  3. Daniel was a statesman as well as a prophet, and could thus easily be included in the writings.

  4. Since God is the Sovereign of history, He can inspire men to record accurate predictions of events both near and far.

  5. Jesus quoted Daniel as a prophet (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14).

  6. Daniels contemporaries mention him as a person known for his righteousness and wisdom (Ezek. 14:14; 20; 28:3).

  7. Ancient authorities, both Jewish and Christian, accepted the book's authenticity.

  8. Taken at face value, the book purports to be a document of the sixth century b.c., written by a prophet of God. There is no good reason to reject Daniel's authorship of the book

If the claims of the book are taken at face value, it was written during the lifetime of Daniel at various periods between the time he was captured and the third year of Cyrus (605 to 536 b.c.) or simply, the sixth century b.c. The dates of the three kings mentioned in the book are well known: Nebuchadnezzar (605 - 562 b.c.), Belshazzar (553-539 b.c.) and Cyrus (559 - 529 b.c.). Cyrus's reign over Babylon, the scene of the later chapters of Daniel, began in 539 b.c.

The interpretation of the book can be determined only by understanding its historical background. In 626 b.c. Nabopolassar of Babylon freed his city from Assyrian control and thus began the Neo-Babylonian Empire. In 612 b.c. Babylonia and Media together defeated the Assyrians and destroyed Nineveh, their capital. Nabopolassar was succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar in 605 b.c., shortly after the latter had defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish. The Babylonians were then the undisputed masters of the ancient Near East. In the first of three campaigns against Judah, Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and his three friends, among others, captive to Babylon (605 b.c.). Later campaigns resulted in the taking of 10,000 captives, including Ezekiel (597 b.c.), and finally, the destruction of the temple and city itself (586 b.c.)

Four successive Babylonian kings are not mentioned in Daniel: Amel-marduk (the Evil-merodach of the Bible, 562 - 560 b.c.), Nergalsharusur (the Nergal-sharezer of Jer. 39:3, known to the Greeks as Neriglissar, 560 - 556 b.c., Labashi-marduk (556 b.c.); and Nabonidus (555 - 539 b.c.). However, the final king of the Empire, Belshazzar (553-539 b.c.) is an important figure in Daniel's account. Belshazzar, although a co-regent with his father Nabonidus, was in fact the reigning monarch for much of his father's term. During Belshazzar's rule Daniel had the vision of the four beasts, chapter 7, and the vision of the ram and the male goat in chapter 8. The famous "handwriting on the wall" in chapter 5 was a prediction of Belshazzar's fall, since the city was taken that night, Oct. 12, 539 b.c. by Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus is the only Persian king mentioned in the book. Darius is clearly identified as a Mede and should not be confused with a later Persian king by the same name.

The writing of this book has several purposes:

  1. It presents a divine philosophy of history. God is represented as the Sovereign over all of history. He moves men and nations according to His will (4:35).

  2. It provides a prophetic framework for the future, that period called by Jesus as "the times of the Gentiles", Luke 21:24. The world empires mentioned in chapters 2 and 7 show the ultimate fortunes of Gentile powers.

  3. It explains other portions of Scripture. The Book of Revelation could not be understood apart from the Book of Daniel. Revelation 4-19 is a commentary on the events of Daniel's "seventieth week", Daniel 9:27.

  4. It served as a book of encouragement to the Babylonian exiles, whose hearts were no doubt lightened by Daniel's predictions of the ultimate triumph of Israel over her enemines.

*** Daniel lived beyond the time described in Dan. 10:1. (536 b.c.) It seems most probable that he wrote the book shortly after this date but before 530 b.c. Daniel 2:4b - 7:28, which prophetically describes the course of Gentle world history, was originally and appropriately written in Aramaic, the contemporary language of international business. Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah were Daniel's prophetic contemporaries.

Each of the chapters are done individually. Some due to length, have been shorten into "continued" sections. Each section contains a questionnaire which follows the section which has been done to aid in the learning process. Each section can be accessed by the simple menu found at the bottom of the file. (i.e., continue to next section or return to previous section.

Index

Daniel Chapter 1 Daniel Chapter 7
Daniel Chapter 2 Daniel Chapter 8
Daniel Chapter 2 Continued Daniel Chapter 9
Daniel Chapter 3 Daniel Chapter 10
Daniel Chapter 4 Daniel Chapter 11
Daniel Chapter 5 Daniel Chapter 11 Continued
Daniel Chapter 6 Daniel Chapter 12

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