Complete Study Of The Book Of Daniel


The name of this book is taken from its main character and author, Daniel, which means, “God is my judge.”

We know very little about his early life or his parents. It seems evident that he was of royal or princely ancestry. He probably was born and reared in Jerusalem. He must have received outstanding training. It is estimated that he was carried to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when very young about 15 or 16 years of age.

Daniel’s life spanned a very interesting period of history. He saw his beloved nation overrun by the Babylonians. Carried to Babylon he saw this great kingdom fall to the Persians. He served during this time of the captivity under many of the kings of Babylon and Persia. He also lived to see a remnant of the Hebrews return to their native land after seventy years of captivity. His life then spanned the entire period of Babylonian captivity.

Upon the death of Solomon, the great kingdom built by David and Solomon was divided into two parts. Ten northern tribes united to become known as the nation of Israel while the remaining two tribes of the south became known as Judah. Both would fall into idolatry. Israel fell first with Judah falling next. It is the fall and captivity of Judah that the book of Daniel centres around.

The fall of Judah is a sad time in the history of God’s people. Their last good king was Josiah. Unfortunately, he was killed as he attempted to stop the advance of the Egyptian army as it was passing through the land to engage the Assyrians in battle. The battle took place near Megiddo when the young king was wounded. He was carried back to Jerusalem where he died. With the death of Josiah, we begin to see the downfall of Judah.

After Josiah’s death, his son Jehoahaz was proclaimed king in 609 BC. His reign lasted three months when Pharaoh Necho deposed of him having him deported to Egypt where later he died. In his place, Necho placed his brother Eliakim on the throne changing his to Jehoiakim. He was nothing more than a puppet king ruling from 609 to 598. Heavy tribute was placed upon the people during his reign. In 605 Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho at the battle of Carchemish in northern Syria. The result was that Nebuchadnezzar came into control of Palestine.

The following year he moved into Palestine and suddenly Jehoiakim found it expedient to transfer his allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar. Later on, after a battle with the Egyptians Nebuchadnezzar would return home. During his absence, Jehoiakim rebelled turning his allegiance to Egypt again. Nebuchadnezzar dispatched troops to Judah in December 598. Jehoiakim was bound in chains but before he could be carried to Babylon he either died or was killed.

Jehoiachin, the eighteen-year-old son of Jehoiakim took the throne. Three months later Jerusalem surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. The king, his mother and leading citizens were taken to Babylon along with many of the vessels of the temple and other treasurers. This king after being taken to Babylon lived for 37 years.

Zedekiah, the last king of Judah and a brother to Jehoiachin next came to the throne and ruled from 597 to 587. He was a weak ruler. Many of the Judeans never considered him as their king but still considered the exiled Jehoiachin as the legitimate king. Jeremiah who was still in Judah at this time advised the king to use restraint and reject the advice of the Egyptians to come over to their side. Babylon and Egypt again fought with the victory going to the Babylonians.

In July 587, the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem. Zedekiah tried to escape but was captured near Jericho and taken to Nebuchadnezzar’s camp. He was forced to watch the execution of his sons. He was blinded and taken in chains to Babylon where he later died. A month later the Temple, palace and private houses of Jerusalem were burned. The walls of the city were broken down. Many people were executed and in 832 were carried captives to Babylon. This left only the poorest classes of people to remain behind.

The Babylonians appointed a man Gedaliah to serve as their governor with headquarters in Mizpah because Jerusalem was now in ruins. He sought to return things to normal but a group of extremists looked upon him as a collaborator and plotted to kill him. Those who were left fearing Nebuchadnezzar fled to Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah was forced to go with them.

In all Nebuchadnezzar was 20 years in taking and destroying Jerusalem. The reason for this lengthy period was that he would have preferred to receive tribute than to have to destroy the city and its people. Destroyed it was useless to him. If the kings and people had lived in subjection to him he could have received a great amount of tribute.

It was during the reign of Jehoiakim that Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego were taken captive to Babylon. Ezekiel the prophet was also to be taken a prisoner. He was sent to a work camp on the river Chebar.

The city of Babylon was one of the great cities of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar made one of the most beautiful cities in history with its famous hanging gardens. Its outer walls were 60 miles around a 15-mile square. The walls were 300 feet high, 80 feet thick and 35 feet into the ground. There were 250 towers guarding the walls. One hundred brass gates made it accessible from every side.

The Euphrates River flowed under its walls and through the midst of the city. The famous hanging gardens were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Marduk (Bel) was the most famous in that part of the world. Its golden image and altar weighed 50,000 pounds. Today Babylon lies in ruins.

This was prophesied by Jeremiah in 51:37-43.

Archaeologists have been able to locate where the city once existed.

The Book of Daniel falls into two main parts.

Daniel 1-6 are historical, dealing with important events in Babylon.

Daniel 7-12 are prophetical, revealing the future of great world governments and the coming of the kingdom of Christ.

An interesting aspect of the book is that it is written in two languages.

Daniel 1:1-2:4a and Daniel 8-12:13 are written in Hebrew.

However, Daniel 2:4b-7:28 are written in Aramaic. Why is this? Aramaic was the language of the world and is used in those portions which outline the future history of world empires. Hebrew is used in those portions which interpret for the Hebrews the meaning of the visions.

Its prophecy is of a style termed Apocalyptic which is similar to the book of Revelation. It uses bold, symbols and figures to describe the future of nations and the kingdom of God. It also has a very strong Messianic message, especially in chapters Revelation 2 / Revelation 7 and Revelation 9.

The purpose of this book is to show the superiority of the God of Israel over the idol gods of Babylon and other pagan nations. We see the humiliation of the idol gods and uselessness and on the other hand the glorious victories of Jehovah, God of the Hebrews. Jehovah met and solved every problem whereas the idols failed on every occasion.

The book also serves as a great comfort to the Hebrews in the hardships they were enduring. God will deliver them from their captivity and return them to their homes in Palestine. The wisdom of Daniel was found to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters of Babylon.

Daniel gave God the credit for his wisdom and understanding. He was rewarded for his counsel and rose to the highest civil posts in three governments. He was not only a prophet but an outstanding statesman. Yet, in all his high positions he was never afraid to declare God’s truth boldly.

Ezekiel praised him as a righteous man of the same calibre as Noah and Job, Ezekiel 14:14.

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Complete Study Of The Book Of Daniel