THE BOOK OF DANIEL
The prophet Daniel is one of four Major Prophets in Hebrew Scripture, along with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Book of Daniel is followed by the Prophet Hosea, the first of the Prophets of the Book of the Twelve. Daniel in the Lions' Den is a favorite Bible story for children. In addition, the captivating prophecy, imagery, and symbolism make the Book of Daniel one of the most read of the Old Testament of the Bible.
The Book of Daniel is unusual in that it takes its name from the hero of the book, Daniel, a young Jewish prophet who lived in Babylon during the Babylonian captivity, which began in 597 BC. The prophet Ezekiel, who wrote his prophecy in Babylon about the same time, mentioned three Biblical figures in a row as men of righteousness, Noah, Daniel, and Job (Ezekiel 14:14 and 14:20).
The Book of Daniel is rich in imagery. Chapters 1-6 refer to the great Kings of Persia. Chapter 6 describes Daniel in the Lions' Den. Chapters 7-12 reveal the angels Gabriel and Michael in the apocalyptic visions. Daniel 12:2 is one of the rare passages in the Old Testament that refers to the Resurrection of the Dead. Chapters 13-14 relate the beautiful story of Susanna and mention the prophet Habakkuk in the vignette on Bel and the Dragon.
The Book of Daniel serves as the only apocalyptic Book of the Old Testament, as Chapters 7-12 foretell the End Times. The great nations of the world have risen against Yahweh; but God's Kingdom shall overthrow existing powers and last forever. Jesus, in calling himself the "Son of Man," reminds us that he fulfills the destiny of the Messianic figure in Chapter Seven of the Book of Daniel.
The textual problems encountered in the Book of Daniel in a sense are representative of the entire Old Testament. The author and time of writing are unknown, the book is written in three different languages, and the actual text varies with each of our four extant versions: the Greek Septuagint assembled in Alexandria, the Dead Sea Scrolls uncovered in Qumran, the Masoretic text, and the Peshitta, the Aramaic Bible of the ancient Church of the East! For example, the Book of Daniel is placed with the Prophets in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but is found in the Writings in the Masoretic Hebrew texts.
Daniel, whose name signifies The Judgment of God, was of the royal blood of the kings of Judah. He was one of those that was carried away in the Babylonian captivity. Renowned for wisdom and knowledge, it became a proverb among the Babylonians that "As wise as Daniel" (Ezekiel 28:3). He is not commonly numbered by the Hebrews among the prophets because he lived at court, and in high station in the world: but if we consider his many clear predictions of things to come, we should find that no one better deserves the name and title of a prophet which also has been given him by the Son of God Himself (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
Daniel and his companions are taken into the palace of the king of Babylon: they abstain from his meat and wine, and succeed better with pulse and water. There excellence and wisdom.
Daniel, by divine revelation, declares the dream of Nabuchodonosor, and the interpretation of it. He is highly honoured by the king.
Nabuchodonosor sets up a golden statue; which he commands all to adore: the three children for refusing to do it are cast into the fiery furnace; but are not hurt by the flames. Their prayer and canticle of praise.
Nabuchodonosor's dream, by which the judgments of God are denounced against him for his pride, is interpreted by Daniel, and verified by the event.
Baltazar's profane banquet: his sentence is denounced by a handwriting on the wall, which Daniel reads and interprets.
Daniel is promoted by Darius: his enemies procure a law forbidding prayer; for the transgression of this law Daniel is cast into the lions' den: but miraculously delivered.
Daniel's vision of the four beasts, signifying four kingdoms: of God sitting on his throne: and of the opposite
kingdoms of Christ and Antichrist.
Daniel's vision of the ram and he goat interpreted by the angel Gabriel.
Daniel's confession and prayer: Gabriel informs him concerning the seventy weeks to the coming of Christ.
Daniel having humbled himself by fasting and penance seeth a vision, with which he is much terrified; but he is comforted by an angel.
The angel declares to Daniel many things to come, with regard to the Persians and Grecian kings: more especially with regard to Antiochus as a figure of Antichrist.
Michael shall stand up for the people of God: with other things relating to the Antichrist, and the end of the world.
The history of Susanna and the two elders.
The history of Bel, and of the great serpent worshiped by the Babylonians.