Understanding Daniel

An image of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar...

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The Book of Daniel claims to have been written in the sixth century BCE, during the times of the Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar and his son, Belshazzar, the Median king Darius and the Persian king Cyrus.  The problem with this presupposition is that when speaking of the events in this time frame, the author is often wrong, as if those events weren’t actually known to the author.  The author attempted to relay events that he/she supposedly witnessed, but the events during the time described are sometimes simply not correct.  In understanding Daniel, it is important to know what the author was talking about, when the author was writing and to whom the author was writing.

Apocalyptic evangelical Christians will often quote-mine from the Book of Daniel, usually out of context, claiming that the bible is describing events of our own day, or events soon to come.  There are two primary reasons for doing this.  The first and most obvious reason is that they simply do not understand Daniel; they are repeating what they have heard from another source, likely an evangelical preacher.  The second reason is more sinister.  Those who do understand the context of the Book of Daniel, yet quote-mine the source, do this as an attempt to convince innocent people that the end of the world is near, since that is what they say that the bible says.  They do this under the guise of “interpretation”.  In other words, the intent is to use the mined source to frighten innocent people into joining a particular sect of apocalyptic, evangelical Christianity.

Simply discarding the Book of Daniel because it is misused by apocalyptic Christians is counterproductive.  Understanding Daniel provides a better picture of Jewish history and also an appropriate response to those who attempt to use the book for their own personal agenda.  This will be a walk-through of the Book of Daniel, in search of the time and context of the original author.

Quotations from the Book of Daniel are taken from the American Standard Versionl.  Apocryphal quotations are taken from the King James Version Apocrypha.

The Siege of Jerusalem:

Daniel 1:1-2  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.  2-  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god.

According to II Kings, Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years.  After three years he did rebel against his new Babylonian overlord, but according to this author, known as the Deuteronomistic Historian, it was not during the “third year of the reign of Jehoiakim” but during the third month of the reign of his son, Jehoiachin, that Nebuchadnezzar besieged and captured Jerusalem, carrying off the “vessels of the house of God” or the “treasures of the house of Jehovah”.

2 Kings 24:8-13  Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; and he reigned in Jerusalem three months: and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.  9-  And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his father had done.  10-  At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.  11-  And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came unto the city, while his servants were besieging it;  12-  and Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.  13-  And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of Jehovah, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold, which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of Jehovah, as Jehovah had said.

Daniel was supposed to be a youth, “in whom was no blemish, but well-favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and endued with knowledge, and understanding science” (Dan. 1:4), who had experienced these events first hand, yet did not know these important details.

The Kings of Babylon:

Daniel tells of only two kings of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and his “son”, Belshazzar.

Daniel 5:2  Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, might drink therefrom.

Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuchadrezzar in the contemporary sources of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (closer to the Babylonian Nebu-kudurri-usur), died in 562 BCE, twenty four years after the destruction of Jerusalem.  He was succeeded by his son, Amel-Marduk, called Evil-merodach in 2Kings 25:27 and Jeremiah 52:31.  He was assassinated around 560 BCE by his brother in law, Nergal-shar-usur, who usurped the throne and died in 556 BCE. Nergal-shar-usur was succeeded by his son, Labashi-Marduk, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.  Labashi-Marduk was young and almost immediately dethroned by Nabu-naido (Nabu is Glorious), better known by the Greek form of his name, Nabonidus.  Nabonidus holds the official title as the last king of the Chaldean, or the Neo-Babylonian Empire whose reign ended in 538 when Cyrus took Babylon.  The Book of Daniel never talks about Nabonidus.

Where is Belshazzar?  Nabonidus was the son of a priest.  He was not a warrior and his primary interests were not defense, but scholarly endeavors.  Nabonidus appointed his oldest son, Bel-shar-utzur (Bel, protect the king), viceroy in charge of the defense of the Empire.  Nabonidus may have retired to the desert oasis of Tema and left Bel-shar-utzur with control of the kingdom. Bel-shar-utzur must be Belshazzar.  He was not a king, but a prince.  He was also in no way related to Nebuchadnezzar.

The Persian Empire:

Daniel 5:30-31  In that night Belshazzar the Chaldean King was slain.  31-  And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Daniel 9:1  In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans,

Gobryas, a general of Cyrus the Persian led his victorious army into Babylon around 540 BCE.  Cyrus “The Great”, not Darius, would have been about 62 years old at the time, “threescore and two years old”.  There is no historical reference to a “King Darius the Mede” outside of, or dependent on the Book of Daniel.  King Darius the Persian was the son-in-law of Cyrus.  He succeeded the son of Cyrus, Cambyses II, to the throne in 522 BCE.  The father of Darius was Hystaspes, who was related to Cyrus.  Darius’ son was Xerxes I, likely the “Ahasuerus” referenced in the preceding verse.  In other words, Darius was the father, not the son, he was a Persian, not a Mede and he ruled after Cyrus, not before.

Daniel claims to be an eye-witness to these events, even confronting Belshazzar and foretelling of his demise and the rise of the next king which he claims is Darius, not Cyrus, in the verses leading up to Daniel 5:30-31.  These verses are the origin of the phrase “the handwriting is on the wall”, meaning that the ending is already determined.  Yet, ironically, the author of the Book of Daniel is ignorant about basic, yet very significant events of the 6th century.  These are known as anachronisms (ana – against, chronos – time), stories that contradict corroborative history.

So what is the Book of Daniel?

The central portion of the Book of Daniel was written in Aramaic (2:4b – 7:28).  Daniel 1:1 – 2:4a and the remainder of the book following chapter 7 were written in Hebrew.  The majority view in biblical studies is that the Book of Daniel is an apocalyptic writing, with a final form being reached during the second century BCE, in response to the encroachment of Hellenistic culture, forced by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, onto the monotheistic cult of Second Temple era Judaism, who called themselves the Hasidim and lived in around the city of Jerusalem.  This area formerly known as Judah was renamed Yehud during the time of the Persian Empire.  How can we know this?  By studying the Book of Daniel, by comparing it against other writings of that same time and the known historical events, we can narrow it down very closely to find the date of authorship.  Just as the author is ignorant of events of the 6th century, the events leading up to the time of authorship are phenomenally accurate.  Then, at a very important and specific time in history, the knowledge of the events that followed is, again, unknown.  That is why the majority opinion of biblical studies places the dating of the Book of Daniel at c. 165 BCE.

First we will be looking at features that are typical of Jewish apocalyptic literature during that time.  Apocalyptic literature was common from around 200 BCE to 100 CE and has recognizable traits that flow through the genre.  By looking at these common traits, it will help to understand the Book of Daniel.

Traits of Apocalyptic Literature:

  1. Eschatology: Authors of apocalyptic literature are convinced that they are living in the “end times”, that very soon, the deity will intervene and everything will change.   It is imminent and it will happen soon.
  2. Pseudepigraphy: Apocalyptic literature typically presents itself as being written during a previous time by a hero of old, someone recognizable from the past for the purpose of establishing credibility.  We have apocalypses written in the names of Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Ezra, Daniel, John and others.
  3. Mystical Visions: Apocalyptic authors have their heroes experience confusing divine visions that will often need to be explained by a divine being.  These visions will typically be of surreal creatures or events used metaphorically to represent people or places of the author’s past, present and imagined future.
  4. Failure: Apocalyptic literature is always wrong.  The events leading up to the time of authorship are relevant and amazingly very accurate; the events following the time of authorship are always, always wrong.  After all, who can truly tell the future, eh?

I Maccabees was written around 100 BCE and describes the events during the reign of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, earlier in the second century.  It is from I Maccabees that we can get a better understanding of some of the concepts presented in Daniel.

The Abomination of Desolation:

1 Maccabees 1:10  And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

1 Maccabees 1:44-47  For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,  45-  And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:  46-  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:  47-  Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts:

1 Maccabees 1:54  Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;

Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered that altars to Zeus be set up in the Jerusalem Temple and throughout the territory in 167 BCE.  Swine would be offered as sacrifices on the altars.  This “abomination” rendered the Temple of YHWH unclean and unfit for use by the Jerusalem Temple cult, as swine were considered to be unclean animals. Antiochus IV outlawed the worship of YHWH and the associated religious practices, under penalty of death.  He destroyed known copies of the Jewish religious writings and attempted to coerce the inhabitants, by force when necessary, to adopt Hellenistic culture.

Daniel 8:13  Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said unto that certain one which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

The author talks about this specific event five different times in the Book of Daniel, (8:13, 9:17, 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11)

I Maccabees describes these events, as well as the uprising that followed, known as the Maccabean Revolt.  One account is relayed of the regular execution of anyone involved in ritual circumcision, a requirement under Jewish law.  The mother, the child and the priest would all be killed.  The dead newborn baby would apparently be tied around the neck of the corpse of the dead mother and put on public display as a warning to anyone else attempting to continue the practice.

1 Maccabees 1:56-61  And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.  57-  And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king’s commandment was, that they should put him to death.  58-  Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities.  59-  Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.  60-  At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.  61-  And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them.

THE VISIONS OF DANIEL:

When looking at the visions in the Book of Daniel, it becomes obvious that the culmination of the events described all end up in the period of Seleucid control of the Yehudim, the inhabitants of Yehud, the area including and surrounding Jerusalem in the second century BCE.  Most specifically they point to the second century Seleucid king, Antiochus IV himself.

The author will often inadvertently allude to the time of authorship within the visions provided.  The visions will tell about the past, the eponymous hero’s day; the present, the author’s day; and then will attempt to predict the future.  These predictions of the future are always wrong, so it is obvious that the author, at the time of writing, had knowledge of events that had happened and what was happening, but no knowledge of what would happen after the text reached its completed form.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream:

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream, but could not remember the dream.  He called up the “the magicians, and the enchanters, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans” (v.2) to tell him what the dream meant.  He said that if they could tell him about the dream they would gain “gifts and rewards and great honor” (v. 6), but if they could not, they would be “cut in pieces” and their “houses shall be made a dunghill” (v.5).  They asked the king to tell them about the dream, but he could not remember.  He then commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be killed.  Daniel, in the tradition of Joseph in Egypt, agreed to help and save the lives of those condemned by the king.  He was given the dream and the interpretation in a “night vision” (v.19), and was taken before the king by Arioch, the king’s captain.  This is the vision of a Colossus.

Daniel 2:31-35  Thou, O king, sawest, and, behold, a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the aspect thereof was terrible.  32-  As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass,  33-  its legs of iron, its feet part of iron, and part of clay.  34-  Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces.  35-  Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a great figure, with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and with feet of part iron and part clay.   A stone “cut without hands”, “smote” the figure on the feet and the figure broke into pieces so small that they were carried away with the wind.  The stone then became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.  This vision is the origin of the phrase “feet of clay”, describing someone or something that appears strong but shatters under pressure.

Daniel then told Nebuchadnezzar both the dream and interpretation:

Daniel 2:37-44  Thou, O king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory;  38-  and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee to rule over them all: thou art the head of gold.  39-  And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.  40-  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that crusheth all these, shall it break in pieces and crush.  41-  And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.  42-  And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.  43-  And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay.  44-  And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold.  The next kingdom, inferior to the first, the breast and arms of silver, would be the supposed kingdom of Darius the Mede (5:31), which never actually existed.  The third kingdom, the belly and thighs of brass which would “bear rule over all the earth”, would be the Persian Empire (10:1).  The fourth kingdom, the legs of iron, was the short-lived Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great.  The feet of part iron and part clay “partly strong, and partly broken” represent the former kingdom of Alexander which was divided up among his four generals.  The Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Empire were the two that would most affect the author, and he will tell more about this in greater detail as the writing progresses.  The stone represented the kingdom of YHWH, which would “consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever”.

The Maccabean Revolt was successful in ousting the Seleucids and establishing their own self-rule.  However, not only did it not stand forever, it lasted only about a hundred years, when the Romans were called in to settle a dispute between two feuding members of the ruling family, the descendants of the Maccabeans, who took the name, Hasmonean.  So our author was correct, up to a point, but not so much after that.

By continuing to look closely at the visions of Daniel it is possible to obtain more details regarding the subjects of the author’s own time.

The Vision of the Four Beasts:

In Daniel 7, the author tells of a vision of the four winds of heaven blowing over the great sea.  Four great beasts arose from the great sea, “diverse one from another”.  The first beast was “like a lion, and had eagle’s wings”, the second was “like a bear” and “three ribs were in its mouth” and the third “like a leopard, which had upon its back four wings of a bird” and “four heads”.

Then the author describes the fourth beast:

Daniel 7:7-8  After this I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, terrible and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.  8-  I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

And finally, the anticipated future:

Daniel 7:13-14  I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  14-  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

According to the author, Daniel did not understand this vision, saying “the visions of my head troubled me” (v.15). One of the divine beings interpreted this vision for him.

Daniel 7:17-21  These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, that shall arise out of the earth.  18-  But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.  19-  Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was diverse from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet;  20-  and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three fell, even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake great things, whose look was more stout than its fellows.  21-  I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

Daniel 7:25  And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.

The author is particularly interested in the fourth beast, “I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast”.  He is told that this fourth beast is the fourth kingdom, “diverse from all of them” and that it will “devour the whole, earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” From this kingdom ten kings would arise, and “another shall arise after them”.  This “little horn” will “speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law”.  Verse 25 also references that “they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and a half a time”. This will be important to remember.

Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided up among four of his generals; Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus.  Again, this is how 1 Maccabees describes the actions of the second century BCE, Seleucid king, Antiochus IV.

1 Maccabees 1:44-47  For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,  45-  And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:  46-  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:  47-  Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts:

The entire point of the first vision of Daniel is to identify this “little horn”.  The little horn spoke words against the most high, wore out the saints and tried to change the ancient laws of YHWH.

Then the author tells of the anticipated end.

Daniel 7:27-28  And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.  28-  Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

The Vision of the Ram and the He-goat:

Daniel 8 follows immediately with another vision, similar to the previous one, this time introducing a ram with two horns.  One of the ram’s horns was higher than the other.  This ram pushed “westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him”(v.4).  A “he-goat” then came from the west.  This goat had one “notable horn between his eyes” (v. 5).  The he-goat then kills the ram and breaks his two horns.  The “great horn” of the goat was also broken and then out grew “four notable horns toward the four winds of the heaven” (v.8).  Out of one of those horns “came forth a little horn” which “magnified itself… took away from him the continual burnt-offering, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down” (v.11).

Daniel, once again, can not understand his vision.  This time, the angel Gabriel provides the interpretation, saying “Understand, O son of man; for the vision belongeth to the time of the end.” (v. 17)   This is the first reference in the Hebrew bible of an angel being named.  Watch carefully as this second vision points more clearly to a very specific time in history.

Daniel 8:20-24  The ram which thou sawest, that had the two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia.  21-  And the rough he-goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.  22-  And as for that which was broken, in the place whereof four stood up, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his power.  23-  And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.  24-  And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and do his pleasure; and he shall destroy the mighty ones and the holy people.

The ram with two horns represented the Medes and Persians, or to the author, Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian.  The first horn of the he-goat was Alexander the Great, who defeated the Persians.  Following his death, his kingdom was divided up by his four generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus, the four horns taking the place of the one.  Then, “in a latter time” the little horn, “a king of fierce countenance” would indeed rise with mighty power and attempt to “destroy the mighty ones and the holy people”.  This “little horn” was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Antiochus God Manifest).

Daniel 8:27  And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; then I rose up, and did the king’s business: and I wondered at the vision, but none understood it.

The Vision of Seventy Weeks:

Daniel 9 is particularly interesting because it is an example of reinterpretation of an earlier failed prophecy, the prophecy of ‘70 years’ in Jeremiah 25.

Daniel 9:2  in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years.

It is interesting to note that Jeremiah would have been a contemporary of Daniel and the writings of Jeremiah the prophet would have not been considered scripture in the sixth century BCE.  They would have been revered by the second century BCE.  Jeremiah had stated that Jerusalem would lie in ruins for 70 years and then Babylon would be made “desolate for ever”.

Jeremiah 25:11-12  And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.  12-  And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it desolate for ever.

Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonians about 50 years after the exile and allowed displaced deities and their people to return to their native homelands.  Babylon had not been made desolate, in fact, Alexander the Great would later die in Babylon in 323 BCE.  Jerusalem was once again being destroyed, now under the reign of Antiochus IV.  So the author of Daniel performs some creative mathematics, to change Jeremiah’s 70 years into 70 ‘weeks’ of years, or 70 x 7, ending in the author’s own time, but he has to play with the numbers for this to be accomplished.  This segment of time is divided up into three categories; seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one week.

Daniel 9:25-27  Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.  26-  And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined.  27-  And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.

Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE.  The exiles began returning to Jerusalem, led by Zerubbabel “the anointed one, the prince” 49 years later, not 70 years later (Ezra 3:8, Nehemiah 12:1, Haggai 1:12).  The author then apparently skips back to 605 BCE, when Jeremiah said that he had issued his prophecy, and states that it will stand for sixty two weeks, or 434 years.   Subtract 434 years from 605 BCE to get 171 BCE. What was a significant event in Jewish history that happened in 171 BCE?  In 198 BCE, Onias III became the anointed Jewish High Priest.  When Antiochus IV became king, Onias III, was first deposed and replaced, then imprisoned and ultimately executed in 171 BCE.  “After the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off”.

The “people of the prince” came to “destroy the city and the sanctuary” and “he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week” but in the middle of that week (after 3 ½ years) he “will cause the sacrifice to end” and “upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate”.  Remember, looking back at Daniel 7; a times, two times and a half a time would equal three and one half years, if a “times” equals one year.

Around 164 BCE, under the leadership of Judas Maccabee, the Jerusalem Temple was cleansed and rededicated to once again be usable by the Jerusalem cult, about seven years, or one week of years, after Onias III was assassinated in 171 BCE.  This day is still celebrated by Jews as Hanukah.  Prior to that, the Temple remained unusable by the Jerusalem cult for about three and one half years after Antiochus IV set up a  representation of Zeus and began offering swine on the alter in 167 BCE, the Abomination of Desolation.

Daniel’s Final Vision:

Daniel 10 is an introduction to the final vision of chapters 11 and 12 of the Book of Daniel.  This provides the clearest description of the author’s own time.  Each previous vision has built up to this climax.  It is remarkable how accurately the details of the third and early second century are outlined in this final vision.  Ultimately, it is at the end of this extremely accurate vision where the dating for the Book of Daniel can be found.  The vision begins like this:

Daniel 11:1-4  And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.  2-  And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.  3-  And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.  4-  And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.

There were more than four kings of the Persian Empire but the author apparently only knew of four, the last of which did war unsuccessfully against Greece.  The Mesopotamian Empire of Alexander the Great defeated the Persians, but lasted only a short time, when Alexander died in 323 BCE at the age of 32 years old.  Just as Daniel says, his kingdom was divided up by four of his generals.  Two of these would be the most pertinent to the Yehudim, the Jews.   These are:  The king of the north, the Seleucid Empire of Syria; and the king of the South, the Ptolemaic Empire of Egypt.

Daniel 11:5-6  And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.  6-  And at the end of years they shall join themselves together; and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the strength of her arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm; but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in those times.

The northern king, Antiochus II, the grandson of Seleucus I, married the daughter of the southern king, Ptolemy II.  Her name was Berenice.  It was a political move made as an attempt to unite Syria and Egypt.  Berenice and her son by Antiochus II were murdered around 246 BCE, which brought about the Third Syrian War.  Berenice’s brother Ptolemy III led the Ptolemies in Egypt against the Seleucids in Syria.

Daniel 11:7  But out of a shoot from her roots shall one stand up in his place, who shall come unto the army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.

Ptolemy III defeated Seleucus II in the Third Syrian War.  Seleucus II died in 225 BCE.  His son Seleucus III succeeded him, but was murdered.  The next ruler was Antiochus III, the brother of Seleucus III.  Antiochus III would then face Ptolemy IV in the Fourth Syrian War, which would also end badly for the Seleucids in 217 BCE.

Daniel 11:10-13  And his sons shall war, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall come on, and overflow, and pass through; and they shall return and war, even to his fortress.  11-  And the king of the south shall be moved with anger, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north; and he shall set forth a great multitude, and the multitude shall be given into his hand.  12-  And the multitude shall be lifted up, and his heart shall be exalted; and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.  13-  And the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former; and he shall come on at the end of the times, even of years, with a great army and with much substance.

Antiochus III would recover, rebuild another army and be victorious in the Fifth Syrian War, at the Battle of Panium around 200 BCE.  This gave him control over the Mediterranean coast, including Yehud.  There was now a new sheriff in town and the author of the Book of Daniel did not like it one bit.

Daniel 11:15-16  So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mound, and take a well-fortified city: and the forces of the south shall not stand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to stand.  16-  But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, and in his hand shall be destruction.

“The glorious land” in Jewish writings is always a reference to Jerusalem and Judah, the land named Yehud by the Persians, a small area of about only 10 or 15 miles surrounding Jerusalem.  Their boundaries would change and the name would later be changed to Judea and then Palestine.

Moving forward in Hellenistic history, the daughter of Antiochus III, Cleopatra, was given in marriage to Ptolemy IV, once again, as a political move to attempt to unite Syria and Egypt.  When Ptolemy died, Cleopatra gained control of Egypt.  However, she was more loyal to Egypt than to Syria.  Antiochus III once again tried to increase his territory but was met by a new foe, the Romans, who pushed him back to Syria.

Daniel 11:17-19  And he shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him equitable conditions; and he shall perform them: and he shall give him the daughter of women, to corrupt her; but she shall not stand, neither be for him.  18-  After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; yea, moreover, he shall cause his reproach to turn upon him.  19-  Then he shall turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

Antiochus III was killed in Susa in 187 BCE and was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV, who was assassinated a few years later.

Daniel 11:20  Then shall stand up in his place one that shall cause an exactor to pass through the glory of the kingdom; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle

Before his death, Seleucus IV was forced to render financial support to the Romans due to his father’s failures, according to the Treaty of Apamea in 188 BCE.  Seleucus decided to pull these funds from the Temple of Jerusalem.  This is the reference to “an extractor to pass through the glory of the kingdom”.  The effort failed as he met firm resistance from the Yehudim.   2 Maccabees 3 gives a legendary account of that experience.  Seleucus is then assassinated and succeeded by his brother, Antiochus IV, the “little horn”, the antagonist in the Book of Daniel.

Daniel 11:21  And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

Antiochus IV became king of Seleucid Syria in 175 BCE.  His cousin was the legitimate heir to the throne but was a hostage in Rome.  Antiochus seized the throne after ousting Heliodorus, who had reportedly killed Seleucus IV.

1 Maccabees 1:11-13  In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.  12-  So this device pleased them well.  13-  Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen:

Many of the entrepreneurial Yehudim were influenced by Hellenistic culture in the assimilation process.  Antiochus, however, had bigger problems to contend with as he attempted to increase his kingdom; the Roman Empire.

Daniel 11:30  For ships of Kittim shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and shall return, and have indignation against the holy covenant, and shall do his pleasure: he shall even return, and have regard unto them that forsake the holy covenant.

The word “Kittim” is used a few different times in the Hebrew bible, generally identifying a location or its people, often called the “isles of Kittim”, possibly Cyprus.  Here it is an obvious reference to the Romans.   Antiochus IV was forced out of both Cypress and Egypt by the Romans.  He then withdrew to focus on his own territory, including Jerusalem.

Daniel 11:31  And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the abomination that maketh desolate.

Once again we see the ‘Abomination of Desolation’, or the “abomination that maketh desolate”.  By desecrating the Temple of YHWH, it was rendered unclean and unusable by the Jerusalem Temple Cult.  This next block of text is where the author reveals the time of authorship, the point where he no longer knows what actually happened to Antiochus IV.  After all, no one can truly tell the future.

Daniel 11:44-45  But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him; and he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to sweep away many.  45-  And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

Daniel says that Antiochus IV would “plant his tents…between the sea and the glorious holy mountain”, that is, between the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem.  That is where he would “come to his end, and none shall help him.”

Antiochus IV died in Persia in 164 BCE, not between the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem as the author predicts.  The author was simply wrong.  Therefore it becomes clear that the Book of Daniel was written after the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple in 167 BCE and even possibly after the rededication of the Temple three and a half years later, but before the death of Antiochus IV in 164 BCE, which gives us a very narrow window.  The last chapter of Daniel will help narrow it down even more.

The Resurrection of the Dead: Chapter 12

The Book of Daniel also promotes a new idea; the first and only clear reference to the resurrection of the dead in the Hebrew bible, the time when mankind would be brought back from the dead to face the final judgment and either eternal reward or eternal punishment.  Many of the elite of Yehud had seen great potential in becoming a part of the growing Hellenistic world-view and rejected the old separatist tribal ways of the Hasidim.  Those who remained faithful to YHWH, such as the author of Daniel, saw this as not only a rebellion against their own people, but rebellion against YHWH.  Many that had rejected the Jerusalem Temple Cult prospered greatly with the influx of Greek culture and the new trade opportunities that it offered, and had died wealthy.  Many had remained faithful to YHWH or the Jerusalem Temple Cult, suffered greatly and even died horrible deaths under the thumb of Antiochus IV.  The last failed prediction in the Book of Daniel is this final resurrection and judgment.

Daniel 12:1-3  And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  2-  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  3-  And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel is then told, in the fictional setting of the sixth century, to seal his book until the perceived end, the second century BCE.

Daniel 12:9  And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end.

This may seem like nit-picking, but it is very important when attempting to understand Jewish apocalypticism.  The text does not say the “end of time”, but the “time of the end”.  This is not the end of the world, but the end of an era.  A new era is to follow, the era of divine rule, but a physical place in time, on earth.

The author then decides that he must once again give the length of time that the Temple in Jerusalem will be rendered unusable leading up to the end.

Daniel 12:11  And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days.

One Thousand, two hundred and ninety days is approximately three and one half years; the same period of time between Antiochus’ defilement of the Temple and the rededication under the Maccabbees.  Add to that forty five days, and then will come the final judgment and resurrection.

Daniel 12:12  Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

1,335 days (v.12) minus 1,290 days (v.11) equals 45 days.  In the last verse in the Book of Daniel, the hero is then told that while he will die, he will be part of the group that will stand, with the faithful, at “the end of the days.”

Daniel 12:13  But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days.

Looking Back at Daniel:

Knowing what we now know about the Book of Daniel, a review of a few of the stories in the book will now make much more sense.  Some of these stories were not included in the Hebrew canon, and were therefore not included in the Protestant bible, but can still be found in the Catholic bible.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden image of himself in the plain of Dura.  His herald issued the command that everyone should fall down and worship this golden image.  Anyone refusing shall “in the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” (v.6)   Three young Jews “appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon”, renamed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, refused, claiming that this violated their commandment to not “serve other gods” (v.12)  They were bound and thrown into a “burning fiery furnace”, and were miraculously delivered by YHWH.

Nebuchadnezzar then made a decree:

Daniel 3:29-30  Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god that is able to deliver after this sort.  30-  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon.

It was the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, that demanded that everyone abandon their religious practices and assimilate into Greek culture.  There is no evidence to suggest that the Babylonians forced anyone to do this.  There was no need; Marduk had easily defeated YHWH when Jerusalem was destroyed.  When condemned, the three young men were not sure whether or not they would be delivered, but said, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”.  This was the reality of the Yehudim facing Antiochus.  Many were not delivered, but died as they waited for a deliverance that never arrived.

In Daniel 6, those loyal to King Darius came up with the idea that, “whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” (v. 7)  Daniel was caught “making petition and supplication before his God” and this was brought to the attention of the king.

Daniel 6:16-18  Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.  17-  And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.  18-  Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep fled from him.

The king had been fond of Daniel and this upset him, so he spent the “night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep fled from him.” Early the next morning, Darius “went in haste unto the den of lions” (v. 19) and found that YHWH had delivered Daniel from the mouths of the lions.  Darius then made a decree, with a result similar to the one made by Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 3.

Daniel 6:26-28  I make a decree, that in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, And his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed; and his dominion shall be even unto the end.  27-  He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.  28-  So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The author is clearly looking back at time of old, putting words in the mouths of the kings of Babylon and Persia that they would have never said, words he wished the Seleucid king would say.  Again, there is no evidence to suggest that either of these empires required the rejection of YHWH, but it was during the cruel reign of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria in the second century BCE, where these requirements were imposed upon the unwilling people of YHWH.

1 Maccabees 1:44-47  For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,  45-  And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:  46-  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:  47-  Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts:

Daniel 11:31  And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the abomination that maketh desolate.

Apocryphal Daniel:

In the Catholic bible, there are two additional chapters at the end of the Book of Daniel.  They are not considered authentic to the original Book of Daniel and the Jews and the Protestants do not include them in their canon.  They are interesting stories, so a brief overview of them will be included.  It should be noted that they have absolutely nothing to do with the apocalyptic writing of the Book of Daniel.  But the possible reason for their later addition can be seen.

The Story of Susanna, Chapter 13:

Susanna was a beautiful woman and the wife of an Israelite man named Joacim who lived in Babylon.  Joacim was very wealthy and had a “fair garden joining unto his house” (v. 4).  Two Jewish “elders” had each been secretly watching and lusting after the beautiful Susanna, but struggled with their desires.

Daniel 13:8-14  And the two elders saw her going in every day, and walking; so that their lust was inflamed toward her.  9-  And they perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments.  10-  And albeit they both were wounded with her love, yet durst not one shew another his grief.  11-  For they were ashamed to declare their lust, that they desired to have to do with her.  12-  Yet they watched diligently from day to day to see her.  13-  And the one said to the other, Let us now go home: for it is dinner time.  14-  So when they were gone out, they parted the one from the other, and turning back again they came to the same place; and after that they had asked one another the cause, they acknowledged their lust: then appointed they a time both together, when they might find her alone.

Once the two realized that they each shared a common desire, they devised a sinister plot.  They would approach Susanna when she was alone in the garden and convince her to have sex with them or they would both bear witness against her claiming that they had caught her having sex with an unknown young man.

Daniel 13:22-23  Then Susanna sighed, and said, I am straitened on every side: for if I do this thing, it is death unto me: and if I do it not I cannot escape your hands.  23-  It is better for me to fall into your hands, and not do it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord.

The two elders did exactly what they had agreed to do and publicly exposed her alleged sin of adultery.  The people were assembled, including her husband, Joacim, and the elders brought forth their case, which would, by the testimony of two witnesses, result in the execution of Susanna.

Daniel 13:36-40  And the elders said, As we walked in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, and shut the garden doors, and sent the maids away.  37-  Then a young man, who there was hid, came unto her, and lay with her.  38-  Then we that stood in a corner of the garden, seeing this wickedness, ran unto them.  39-  And when we saw them together, the man we could not hold: for he was stronger than we, and opened the door, and leaped out.  40-  But having taken this woman, we asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us: these things do we testify.

As she was being led to the place of her execution, a young man, the author’s hero, Daniel, came forward and stated, “I am clear from the blood of this woman”.  The community asked that he explain himself.

Daniel 13:48  So he standing in the midst of them said, Are ye such fools, ye sons of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth ye have condemned a daughter of Israel?

Daniel recommended that the two witnesses be separated and the he be allowed to question them independently so that the truth may be found.  Daniel then asked each of them one question, “Under what tree sawest thou them companying together?” One of them replied, “Under a mastick tree” (v. 54), the other replied, “Under a holm tree” (v. 58).  Daniel thereby proved that these two men were bearing false witness.  The people then rose up against the two false-witnesses and they were both put to death.

Daniel 13:64  From that day forth was Daniel had in great reputation in the sight of the people.

Perhaps this story was inserted to help establish credibility for the character of Daniel, but it does reveal one specific interest.  The lesson of the story is that it is better to obey YHWH and risk certain death than to disobey YHWH and live.  This was a message that would have certainly been powerful for Torah observant Jews in the Hellenistic era.  Many of the elite, the educated, the prominent, were rejecting the old tribal ways and that left many others torn between the two cultures.  The “elders” may have represented the unfaithful and Susanna may have represented the faithful.  One may also recognize a similarity to the story added into the New Testament at the beginning of John 8, known as the Pericope Adulterae, or the “Woman taken in Adultery” where the “scribes and Pharisees”, perhaps the elders, brought a woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery to Jesus.  In both stories, the alleged male partner in crime was not present.  In the New Testament story, the crowd was prompted to judge themselves before judging the unnamed woman.

Bel and the Dragon. Chapter 14:

This two-part story, one of Bel and the other of the Dragon are also set in Babylon, during the reign of King Cyrus of Persia.  Cyrus and Daniel were said to be close friends.  Cyrus had a practice of visiting a temple and worshiping a Babylonian deity known as Bel.  “Every day twelve great measures of fine flour, and fourty sheep and six vessels of wine” were offered as a sacrifice to Bel.  Cyrus asked Daniel why he would not worship this deity.  Daniel’s response was the he could not “worship idols made with hands, but the living God” only (v. 5).

The king told Daniel that this deity was indeed alive, the proof being that he ate and drank the offerings given to him daily.  “Then Daniel smiled, and said, O king, be not deceived: for this is but clay within, and brass without, and did never eat or drink any thing” (v. 7)

Daniel 14:8-9  So the king was wroth, and called for his priests, and said unto them, If ye tell me not who this is that devoureth these expences, ye shall die.  9-  But if ye can certify me that Bel devoureth them, then Daniel shall die: for he hath spoken blasphemy against Bel. And Daniel said unto the king, Let it be according to thy word.

The priests set out to convince the king that Bel was actually accepting these offerings.  They told the king to bring the offerings, then lock and seal the door for the night and when he returned the next morning, the seal would be unbroken and the sacrifices would have been devoured by the deity.  What they didn’t expect was the skeptical wisdom of the hero, Daniel.

Daniel 14:14  So when they were gone forth, the king set meats before Bel. Now Daniel had commanded his servants to bring ashes, and those they strewed throughout all the temple in the presence of the king alone: then went they out, and shut the door, and sealed it with the king’s signet, and so departed.

Daniel 14:16-22  In the morning betime the king arose, and Daniel with him.  17-  And the king said, Daniel, are the seals whole? And he said, Yea, O king, they be whole.  18-  And as soon as he had opened the dour, the king looked upon the table, and cried with a loud voice, Great art thou, O Bel, and with thee is no deceit at all.  19-  Then laughed Daniel, and held the king that he should not go in, and said, Behold now the pavement, and mark well whose footsteps are these.  20-  And the king said, I see the footsteps of men, women, and children. And then the king was angry,  21-  And took the priests with their wives and children, who shewed him the privy doors, where they came in, and consumed such things as were upon the table.  22-  Therefore the king slew them, and delivered Bel into Daniel’s power, who destroyed him and his temple.

“In that same place” was another deity that King Cyrus worshiped; a great dragon.  The king said to Daniel, “Wilt though also say that this is of brass?  Lo, he liveth, he eateth and drinketh; thou canst not say that he is no living god: therefore worship him” (v. 24).

Daniel then asks the king to leave him and he would “slay this dragon without sword or staff” (v. 26).  The king agreed.  Daniel took “pitch, and fat, and hair, and did seethe them together” and put them into the dragon’s mouth and the dragon “burst  in sunder” (v. 27)  It is possible that this brass statue of a dragon was hollow, with a fire underneath that heated the metal.  If water was placed above the flames, it would evaporate, travel through the statue and exit through the mouth or nose, producing a visual effect.  Pitch, fat and hair could be used to block the escape of the steam and result in the explosion of the dragon.  This destructive action caused an uprising from the citizens of Babylon who demanded that the king deliver Daniel to them or they would destroy him and his house.

Daniel 14:30-32  Now when the king saw that they pressed him sore, being constrained, he delivered Daniel unto them:  31-  Who cast him into the lions’ den: where he was six days.  32-  And in the den there were seven lions, and they had given them every day two carcases, and two sheep: which then were not given to them, to the intent they might devour Daniel.

An angel of YHWH appeared to a prophet named Habbacuc in Judah and told him to carry food to Daniel hundreds of miles away in Babylon.  He was reluctant to make the trip but was soon convinced, so to speak:

Daniel 14:36-39  Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown, and bare him by the hair of his head, and through the vehemency of his spirit set him in Babylon over the den.  37-  And Habbacuc cried, saying, O Daniel, Daniel, take the dinner which God hath sent thee.  38-  And Daniel said, Thou hast remembered me, O God: neither hast thou forsaken them that seek thee and love thee.  39-  So Daniel arose, and did eat: and the angel of the Lord set Habbacuc in his own place again immediately.

At the end of the seventh day, the king went to the lion’s den to mourn for the death of his friend, Daniel.  Upon arriving, he realized that Daniel was still alive and said “Great art Lord God of Daniel, and there is non other beside thee” (v. 41)

Daniel 14:42  And he drew him out, and cast those that were the cause of his destruction into the den: and they were devoured in a moment before his face.

This is another story, written at some time, that sought not only to establish the credibility of the hero Daniel, but to also convince hearers that while man-made deities are not divine, the deity of the Jews was God, “and there is non other beside thee”.  This would have been another example of the struggle against those swayed by Hellenistic culture.

It should be noted that a similar controlled test of YHWH would likely result in the same outcome.  Disproving the claim of one deity does not prove the existence of another.

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Discussion

One thought on “Understanding Daniel

  1. X- you are very knowledgeable and gifted in many ways. Nevaeh :)

    Posted by Nevaeh | December 4, 2012, 1:09 pm

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