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Daniel: Chapter 1

Setting

Daniel is a unique book written by one of the greatest heroes in the Bible. It describes the work of God through menís activities on this earth, both with Israel and the Gentile governments. Much is written in this book concerning Christís first and second advents, and His work in the world to bring salvation to all mankind.

Daniel was a young, possibly just a boy, who was taken captive away from his land.  Yet, he had been raised well in the ways of the Lord, and he purposed in his heart to follow God.  Danielís commitment and faith in God was demonstrated repeatedly throughout this book.  The twelve chapters provide both an historical account of those who were exiled from the land of Judea and Jerusalem into Babylon, and prophetic passages concerning rule of the Gentiles and Israel's future.  This book's time frame extends from the days of Daniel to the rejection and crucifixion of Christ, then on to the millennial reign of Christ.  The detail in its prophetic passages serves as a bridge to the book of Revelation.  It begins with Israelís captivity under the rule of the Gentiles, until the end of the tribulation period when Christ will return and establish Israel as a world kingdom.  He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over the earth.  Jesus will then sit on the throne of David to rule with a rod of iron, and thus fulfill all of the remaining prophecies and promises to the nation of Israel that can only be accomplished by his return.

Historical perspective

Daniel is a historical figure, and a contemporary of the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah.  Daniel was taken captive in the first invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar, and was a great witness of God to the king's court.  Ezekiel was taken in the second invasion, and was God's man to the general population of the captives taken back to Babylon.  Jeremiah was God's witness against those who survived the third and final invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar against the land of Judah and Jerusalem.  The following chart is a summary of the three invasions.

Event

Approximate Date

Notes

1st invasion by Babylon

605 B.C.

Daniel taken into captivity

King Jehoiakim deposed
2Chronicles 36:5-6

2nd invasion by Babylon

597 B.C.

Ezekiel taken into captivity

King Jehoiachin deposed
2Chronicles 36:9-10

3rd invasion by Babylon

586 B.C.

Jerusalem destroyed,
2Chronicles 36:14-21

Jeremiah left in Judah,
Jeremiah 40:1-6

King Zedekiah deposed
2Chronicles 36:11-18

These men along with Jesus referenced Daniel in positive ways.  First, Daniel was associated with other great men of faith in the scripture, namely Job and Noah, Ezekiel 14:12-20.   Second, Daniel's wisdom was referenced in one of the words of judgment of the Lord spoken through Ezekiel, where the prince of Tyre's wisdom was compared with that of Daniel's.  Here, Daniel's wisdom served as a bench mark that others were measured against, Ezekiel 28:1-3.  Finally, the Lord referenced Daniel as a prophet during His Olivet Discourse, Mathew 24:15.

A high-level view of Israel's history leading up to King Nebuchadnezzar's invasions

The nation of Israel was given privilege not given to any other nation ever existing in the world.  The Lord called them out of Egypt millennia ago, and gave them His laws, His word, and through them came the promise of the Messiah, Deuteronomy 4:4-8, Romans 3:1-3.  However, their faithfulness to all that was given to them ebbed and flowed over time, yet the Lord was faithful to His word and to all His promises.  This resulted in Israel as a nation being removed from the land promised to them on two separate occasions, yet the Lord said through Ezekiel that He would bring them back from out of all the countries of the world for His own name's sake, and they will have a renewed relationship with the Lord, Ezekiel 36:16-25.  It is important to know that the children of Israel were strangers and sojourners in the land with the Lord, for the land is the Lordís, Leviticus 25:23-24.  With this special relationship with the Lord came responsibilities.  Prior to entering and possessing the Land that the Lord had promised them, and to take possession of it, the nation received the awesome responsibilities of being a people of the Lord, Deuteronomy 27:9-10.  They were given blessings and curses based on their actions, Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Deuteronomy 28:58-59, Deuteronomy 28:63-64.  As a nation, King David brought them into great prominence, influence, and wealth because he was led by the Lord.  His son, King Solomon brought the nation to the pinnacle in the belief and worship of God in the early reign of King Solomon  at the dedication of the temple of the Lord, 2Chronicles 7:1-4.   The Lord had given great promises to King Solomon, and chose Jerusalem as the place where He would hear the prayers of His people, He would attend to that place and His eyes and ears would be there perpetually, 2Chronicles 7:12-18.  Unfortunately, the slide away from the Lord also occurred at the end of the King Solomon's reign, 1Kings 11.  The ultimate result of the growing unbelief in the nation of Israel, was that it was divided into the northern tribes and southern tribes.  Over time, as a result of their open rebellion against the Lord, the Northern tribes become captive to the Assyrians, 2Kings 18:11-12. Much later, King Hezekiah of the Southern tribes, was warned by the Prophet Isaiah of Judah would be taken captive by the Babylonians, 2Kings 20:16-18. The rebellion of the Southern tribes against the Lord and His ways had digressed to such a degree, that despite the good King Josiahís reign, Godís judgment would still occur, 2Kings 23:24-26, Psalm 137:1-7.  This is what led to the first of two occasions that Israel was exiled from the land. The first conquest of King Nebuchadnezzar and taking King Jehoiakim captive is shown in the table above, 2Chronicles 36:5-7.  The second occasion occurred centuries later, when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the Jews suffered a worldwide dispersion.

The Book of Daniel

The book of Daniel can be segregated in a few ways for better comprehension of Godís work in the history of Israel and of the Gentile nations.  Daniel chapter one through chapter six can be viewed as a historical chronology of Israelís years of captivity.  However, the latter chapters, seven through twelve, restart the historical chronology of when the visions and dreams were given to Daniel, beginning in the first year of King Belshazzar.  The events revealed to Daniel in visions, dreams, and the discourse with the angel Gabriel, are not given in a sequential prophetic timeline from chapter seven through twelve.  For example, the events revealed in chapter seven occur after the events in chapter eight. Chapter nine then covers the entire spectrum of time from King Nebuchadnezzarís destruction of Jerusalem through today, and on through to the seven years of tribulation, and into the 1,000 year reign of Christ.  Finally, chapters 10 through 12, which are all based on the same vision, recount the prophetic events in chapters seven through nine in more detail, and in sequential order.

Mapped over this, is another scheme to segment the book of Daniel, which is the language it was written in. The beginning of the book is written in the Hebrew language, then in Aramaic, then resumes to the Hebrew language. Daniel held a supreme position in King Nebuchadnezzarís court, and God had given him knowledge, skill in all learning, and wisdom, so it is not surprising that he would have been fluent in many languages. Perhaps the more subtle meaning ascribed to this change in language is to imply that God is speaking to both the nation of Israel and to the Gentile nations. For it is with the destruction of Jerusalem that we see a temporary end, but not the elimination, of the royal reign of Judah. From that time to the present, the world has witnessed a series of Gentile nations ruling over the affairs of Israel. However, upon the return of the Lord to this world to establish His earthly kingdom, the royal line of Judah will resume through the Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 19:11-21 and Revelation 20:1-6. Clearly, the association of Hebrew text to verses one through the first half of verse four in chapter two concern the captives. These verses are directly related to Daniel and his friends, and their faithfulness to Godís words despite the dire consequences they faced. The remainder of the verses in chapter two are Godís revelation to the Gentile nations so they would know of Godís sovereignty over all their activities until their end. The resumption back to the Hebrew text is found in chapter eight through the remainder of the book, which reflects God speaking to the nation of Israel directly. It is during the rule of the Medes and the Persians, that Israel was allowed to return to their own land to rebuild the temple, and eventually rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. It is the rebuilding of the wall that began the 70-week clock found in chapter nine of Daniel. The breakdown of the verses is as follows:

Passages in Daniel

Written Language

Simple Overview

1:1 - 2:4a

Hebrew

Introduction of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar

2:4b - 7:28

Aramaic

Historical passages including the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar, ending with Danielís dream of the four beasts representing future gentile governments

8 - 12

Hebrew

Daniel 8 Ė The vision of the ram and goat
Daniel 9 Ė The message from God about the 70 weeks
Daniel 10 Ė The vision of the glory of God
Daniel 11 Ė The detailed prophesy from King Darius to the man of sin
Daniel 12 Ė The tribulation period

The following table also provides insight on the book of Daniel concerning its two great divisions; first, concerning Daniel and his three fellow exiles in a historical sense (Daniel 1-6), second, the prophesies revealed and interpreted to Daniel, (Daniel 7-12).  The following is a variation of that written by Bob Deffinbaugh, Daniel:  Relating Prophecy to Piety, Daring to Believe Daniel, whose article can be found at bible.org.  The difference with the following table by a layman, besides the extra content, is whether the prophetic passages presented in Daniel chapters 7-12 are chronological or not.  It is viewed in this site that they are not, as will be shown in pages on this site concerning Daniel 7, Daniel 7.  

A Historical and Chronological View of Daniel

Daniel chapters 1-6

Daniel chapters 7-12

Describes Daniel's life with his fellow exiles

Present future prophetic events that stretch across millennia

Provides a biographical and historical sketch of Daniel and his fellow exiles These chapters are all prophetic concerning the nation of Israel and of the Gentile nations that rule or influence Israel, its land, and Jerusalem
Present the events in these chapters chronologically The prophetic passages are not presented chronologically
Are written in the 3rd person Are written in the 1st person
Others have dreams or visions

Daniel writes about the dreams and visions that he has

Daniel is used by the Lord to interpret the dreams or visions of others Others interpret the dreams and visions of Daniel to him

A comparison of Daniel with Joseph, the son of Jacob

Before delving into Daniel 1, it is instructive how the Lord had used both Daniel and Joseph in similar ways.  There are several points of likeness between the two men.  Primary among them is that despite the desperate situation that both faced as young men, they remained faithful in face of tremendous pressure to assimilate into the culture that they were violently thrust into and in separation from any family support to help sustain them in the faith of the one and true God of Israel.  Most importantly is that the Lord was faithful to both and sustained them and kept them.  There were many dangers and threats to them, yet the Lord had a purpose for their lives, and in both cases, the Lord demonstrated His sovereignty over man's activities.  Both began their years in enslavement, but because the Lord was with them, they rose all the way to the position of being next to the pharaoh or King Nebuchadnezzar.

A Comparison of Daniel with Joseph

Subject

Joseph

Daniel

Their young age Genesis  17:3 (age 17),
Genesis 41:36 (age 30)

Daniel 1:4 (young)

Their enslavement Genesis 39:1

Daniel 1:3

Their names changed to represent the names of gods worshiped by Pharaoh or King

Genesis 41:45

Daniel 1:7

Having understandings in all visions and dreams Genesis 32:5, 9

Daniel 1:17

The Lord was with them Genesis 39:3-4, 20-23,
Genesis 41:3-40

Daniel 1:9, 20

Interpretation of Pharaoh's and King Nebuchadnezzar's dreams Genesis 41:8, 16, 32

Daniel 2

The Lord's purpose in their lives Genesis 45:7 Reveal God's sovereignty

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-2 The first invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar
3-5 Learning the Chaldean's literature and language
6-7 Four faithful children of God
8-16 Testing and receiving God's favor
17-21 The Lord's blessings

The first invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 1:1-2, the record of the time is given to set the stage for the introduction of Daniel, a young man taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.  The map seen to the right, illustrates the general path and distance that the captives traveled as they were displaced from their land to Babylon.  The length of time of such a trip is recorded by Ezra when he and those with him returned to Jerusalem following their captivity under the rule of the Babylonians, Ezra 7:8-9.  The first conquest of King Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem occurred during the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah.  It is imperative to note in the second verse, that the success of King Nebuchadnezzar is not his skill as a warrior and general, but that it was the Lord who gave King Jehoiakim into his hand.  In addition, it is the Lord who allowed part of the vessels of the house of God to be carried away by King Nebuchadnezzar.  The irony is not that King Nebuchadnezzar stored the Lord's vessels in his god's treasure house, which were safely held as prophesied by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 27:16-22, and returned to Israel on Ezra's return to Jerusalem, Ezra 1:5-10.  These vessels were kept safe and protected until the 70 years of judgment were fulfilled which the Lord had determined against Israel and measured by the desolations of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:1-2.  Upon the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia at the fulfillment of the 70 years of Israel's exile, the king sent out his proclamation throughout all his kingdom that the Lord God had given him a commandment to build the Lord a house at Jerusalem, Ezra 1:1-4.  All those of Israel who left to return to their land, returned with the all of the articles of the house of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods, Ezra 1:5-11.

An important part of the lives of Israel while in captivity under the rule of the Babylonians, is that the Lord had instructed them to pray for their captors and live peaceably in Babylon, Jeremiah 29:4-11.  They were not to rebel, fight for freedom, and escape their exile, but they were to regard the word of the Lord that was sent by letter from Jeremiah the prophet.  In this letter, the exiles were also warned to be aware of the same false prophets and diviners who led them astray in Jerusalem, also deceive them in exile, for they prophesied falsely in the name of the Lord.  A most important point in this passage is Jeremiah 29:10-11 where the Lord expresses His thoughts toward Israel, which are of peace, and to reaffirm the expected end to their exile, which was 70 years.  However, those in exile were not to pray for those who remained behind, Jeremiah 7:15-20.  During their exile, the land would be desolate, Leviticus 26:27-36.  In both dispersions, during the Babylonian exile and their worldwide exile from the land under the Romans, the land remained desolate.  In most cases, others would have come into the land to claim it, farm, cultivate, and thrive in it.  But this was not the case for Israel, for this is God's land.  Evidence is but a generation away, where prior to Israel becoming a nation again shortly after World War II, the land had been desolate for nearly two millennia.  During the 1860s, a first hand account of the region was recorded by Mark Twain.  He had remarked on the increadable bleakness, no vegitation of regard, dry and rocky, and little populated for such an important city in the history of mankind.  However, once the Jews returned to the land that God promised them, it flourished, and now it is a major exporter of foods to Europe, and the land is green.  Satellite images show the stark contrast between the land controlled by Israel and that controlled by the Palestinians.  

Learning the Chaldean's literature and language     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 1:3-5, the record of Daniel's exile is given during his first years of his captivity.  From the beginning, it is reported that Daniel was well favored among all of the others also taken into captivity.  It was intended for this elite group with no physical blemishes, were educated, had an understanding of the expected behaviors, customs, and protocol within the king's court, were to receive special training and ultimately serve in King Nebuchadnezzar's court.  These were to be taught the culture, religion, and their language.  During this time, they were also to be treated with all of the king's food, which ended up being the one element of change that Daniel chose to resist in the name of God, so that he could observe the Lord's dietary laws that were levied upon the children of Israel.  This was probably an intense training program, which lasted for three years.  Thereafter, the trainees were to appear before the king to be examined.  It was probably a grueling examination.

Four faithful children of God     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 1:6-7, three other fellow exiles are introduced with Daniel.  All four are found in this book to be incredible sound and stellar witnesses for God.  Despite the remote and insolated conditions from that of the rest of the exiles, they sought how they could serve the Lord, and remain faithful to him, despite the very tempting and dangerous conditions they found themselves in.  They resisted being completely matriculated within the Babylonian culture, which was most likely a primary goal of the training that they received.  Being the conquered, it was up to the king to rename them, just as Pharaoh did with Joseph in the years preceding the days of Moses.  At this time, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were given new names that were in recognition of the gods the Babylonians worshiped.  The following table shows the names of these four young men and how they were associated with the attributes of the Lord, and the names that they received from the Babylonians and their meaning, which were associated with the belief of their gods, which was taken from Blue Letter Bible.

A Comparison of  the Given and Assigned Names of the Four Hebrews

Hebrew Names

Babylonian Names

Daniel - God is my judge

Belteshazzar - lord of the treasure

Hananiah - God has favored

Shadrach - royal or the great scribe

Mishael - Who is what God is? Meshack - guest of a king
Azariah - Jehovah has helped Abednego - Servant of Nebo

One of the reasons for Israel's judgment from God was her rebellion against the Lord by worshiping idols.  Though the prophet Habakkuk wrote of the impending judgment, and their cruelty and idolatrous behavior, God still used the Babylonians as an instrument of His judgment against Israel, which is never to be construed as God's as His endorsement of their behavior, Habakkuk 1.  The Babylonians were later judged by God for all their atrocities and rejection of God.  However, at this time, the four young Hebrew men were given names that may have been related to  idols.  These idols may have been some of the very gods that some in Israel had worshiped and caused the Lord's wrath to be vented against them, 2Kings 21:10-18.

Testing and receiving God's favor     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 1:8-16, a most extraordinary event occurs.  Considering the helpless situation the Hebrews found themselves (in a worldly sense), they yet chose to follow  and honor the Lord, in those areas that they could control.  Their experiences compares well with what Joseph faced in the days that he was in Egypt before Pharaoh's dream.  The is shown in the table on the comparison of Daniel and Joseph above.  Both the Hebrews and Joseph were given new names that were an acknowledgement of a false god, but both continued in their faith and belief in the Lord, and gave Him all glory in whatever circumstance they found themselves in.  So why did Daniel and the other three Hebrews choose to use their diet as the grounds to establish their faith with the eunuchs unto whom they were subordinated and not their names?  Throughout this book, Daniel's Babylonian name is used interchangeably with his Hebrew name.  Daniel 1:8 provides the answer, that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the meat and wine from the king's portion of his meals.  Unlike the name change, which did not defile a person, it was the consumption of certain foods, particularly those used in the sacrifice and worship of false gods, that defiled a person.  Further, Daniel did not demand or protest the food given him, but as was already attributed to him, he acted wisely with the eunuchs by submitting a request.  Undoubtedly, there was concern on the part of the eunuchs about this request, since not only were the Hebrews to be evaluated by the king himself in three years, but the training and charge of the eunuchs were under review as well.  They were very interested in the mental and physical well-being of their charges as they appeared before the king.  So it is no wonder that the eunuchs expressed great concern over this request.  The fact that they would even entertain such a request is evidence of how God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs, Proverbs 16:7.  As seen over and over again, Daniel was well prepared for these courtly situations, and in this case offered to the eunuchs a test, a scientific experiment.  After 10 days of the Hebrews' eating special diet, which was different from the king's, their countenance would be compared against the rest of the captives.  Of course, the test proved that their physical appearance would not diminish but improve.  Therefore, per Daniel's request, the king's portion was taken from them and a diet that complied with the Lord's commandments were given them.  Behind all of this, is the Lord honoring Daniel and the other Hebrews for their faithfulness to His word, Psalm 31:21-24.

The Lord's blessings     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 1:17-20, three years have past, and the time for testing the four Hebrews had arrived.  In Daniel 1:17, it is revealed that the Lord had given them knowledge and skill in learning and wisdom.  To Daniel, the Lord also gave the gift of understanding in all visions and dreams.  Even in judgment, God does not forget His own, but He keeps them and blesses them.  Without the Lord's blessing, none of these Hebrews would have survived or succeeded.  As they appeared before King Nebuchadnezzar, the four Hebrew men demonstrated that they were of greater worth than any other the king had in his realm, so much that the king consulted them in all matters of wisdom and understanding.  It is stated in Daniel 1:20, that the king found all four to be 10 times better than all of the king's other advisors.  Daniel 1:21 is a concluding verse for this introductory chapter.  It shows that Daniel outlived the Babylonian kingdom, and lived to see the transition to the Medes and Persian empire.  


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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