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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Daniel

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i.e. "God is my judge"; or as others, "the judge of God," as his Chaldee name Belteshazzar means "the prince of Bel." Probably from royal blood; compare Daniel 1:3 with 1 Chronicles 3:1, from whence it appears he bore the same name as David's son by Abigail (who is called Chileab in 2 Samuel 3:3 "like his father".) Carried to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar's first deportation of captives, in the fourth (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 46:2) or third (Daniel 1:1 counting only complete years) year of Jehoiakim, the first of Nebuchadnezzar (acting under Nabopolassar in the last year of the latter's reign, but reigning alone not until the year after; as Daniel 2:1 proves, for after Daniel's three years' training the year is nevertheless called the "second" of Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. of his sole reign). Daniel was put in training with three others of the royal seed, still "children" (Daniel 1:4), according to eastern etiquette, to become courtiers; and to mark his new position he received a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (compare 2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17; Ezra 5:14; Esther 2:7).

He gave a noble proof of faithfulness combined with wisdom at this early age, by abstaining from the food of the king's table, as being defiled with the usual idolatry at pagan feasts (Daniel 1:8-16), living for ten days' trial on pulse and water, and at the end looking fairer and fatter than those fed on the king's dainties. Those who would excel in piety and wisdom must early subject the flesh to the spirit. Daniel experienced the truth of Deuteronomy 8:3. Ezekiel in the early part of his ministry refers to hint as a model of "righteousness" and "wisdom" (Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 28:3), for Daniel had not yet become a writer. Noah before and at the flood, Job in the postdiluvian patriarchal age, and Daniel toward the close of the legal theocracy are made types of "righteousness."

So Ezekiel's reference, in what it alleges and in what it omits, exactly tallies with what we should expect, presuming that Ezekiel and Daniel lived and wrote when and where they are represented. Daniel's high position while still a mere youth (Daniel 1:3-5; Daniel 1:11-16; Daniel 2:1), at the court of the Jews' conqueror and king, gave them a vivid interest in their illustrious countryman's fame for righteousness and wisdom; for in his person they felt themselves raised from their present degradation. As at the beginning of the covenant people's history their kinsman Joseph, so toward its close Daniel, by the interpretation of dreams (Daniel 2; Daniel 4), was promoted to high place in the court of their pagan masters. Thus, they both represented Israel's destined calling to be a royal priesthood among the nations, and ultimately to be the bearers of Messiah's light to the whole Gentile world (Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15).

Daniel was made by Nebuchadnezzar, governor of Babylonia and president of the Babylonian "wise men," not to be confounded with the later Persian magi. Under Belshazzar Daniel was in a lower office, and was occasionally away from Babylon (Daniel 5:7-8; Daniel 5:12) at Susa (Daniel 8:2; Daniel 8:27). His interpretation of the mystical handwriting on the wall caused his promotion again, a promotion which continued under Darius and Cyrus. Under Darius he was first of the three presidents of the empire. Envy often follows high office which men so covet; so, by a law cunningly extorted by his enemies from the weak Darius, that none should offer petition to man or god except to the king for 30 days, as though it were a test of loyalty, on pain of being cast into a lions' den, Daniel was cast in and was delivered by God, who thus rewarded his pious faithfulness (Daniel 6).

It is an accordance with Medo-Persian ideas which flows from the truth of Scripture, that the mode of capital punishment under the Babylonian rule is represented as burning (Daniel 3), but under the Medes and Persians' exposure to wild beasts, for they would have regarded fire as polluted by contact with a corpse, while they approved the devouring of bodies by animals. Berosus calls the last Babylonian king Nabonidus, and says that he surrendered to Cyrus in Borsippa, and was assigned an honorable abode in Carmania. Rawlinson has shown that the Babylonian inscriptions at Ur (Umqueir) explain the seeming discrepancy. Belshazzar or Bel-shar-ezer (on the mother's side descended front Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 5:11) was joint king with his father; having shut himself up in Babylon he fell there while his father at Borsippa survived. (See BELSHAZZAR.) Berosus as being a Chaldaean suppressed all concerning Belshazzar, since it was to the national dishonor.

If Daniel's book had been a late one, he would have copied Berosus; if it had been at variance with that prevalent in Babylonia, the Jews there would have rejected it. His mention of Darius the Mede's reign, which profane history ignores (probably because it was eclipsed by Cyrus' glory), shows that he wrote as a contemporary historian of events which He knew, and did not borrow from others. He must have been about 84 years old when he saw the visions (Daniel 10-12) concerning his people, extending down to the resurrection and the last days. Though advanced years forbade his return to the Holy Land, yet his people's interests were always nearest his heart (Daniel 9; Daniel 10:12).

His last recorded vision was in the third year of Cyrus (534 B.C.), on the banks of the Tigris (Hiddekel) Daniel 10:1-4. In Daniel 3:2, Hebrew for "princes," Nebuchadnezzar summons his satraps ('achashdarpni , Persian khshtrapa ). Some allege that Daniel erroneously attributes to the Babylonians the satrapial form of government. But Gedaliah was virtually a satrap under Nebuchadnezzar in Judaea, i.e. a governor over a province, instead of its being left under the native kings (2 Kings 25:23). Berosus speaks of Nabopolassar's "satrap of Egypt, Coelosyria, and Phoenicia." Daniel writing for Jews under Persia at the time uses naturally the familiar Persian term "satrap" instead of the corresponding Babylonian term. (On Daniel's representation of the relation of the Medes to the Persians and Darius the Mede (possibly equating to Astyages, or his son, the former of whom Cyrus deposed and treated kindly) to Cyrus. (See CYRUS.)

The objection to Daniel on the ground that Susa, or at least its palace, was not built when Daniel saw the vision there, rests on Pliny alone, who alleges it to have been built by Darius Hystaspis. But the Assyrian inscriptions prove it was one of the most ancient Mesopotamian cities, and its palace (the Memnonium is the name the Greeks give it) famous centuries before Daniel. Darius Hystaspes was only the first to build at Susa a palace in Persian fashion. Daniel, like Moses, was trained in all the learning of the world; his political experience moreover, as a minister of state under successive dynasties of the great world powers, gave the natural qualifications to which God added supernatural spiritual insight, enabling him to characterize to the life the several world monarchies which bore or were to bear sway until Messiah's kingdom shall come with power.

Personal purity and selfrestraint amidst the world's corrupting luxuries (Daniel 1:8-16; compare Moses, Hebrews 11:25; Joseph, Genesis 39:9); faithfulness to God at all costs, and fearless witnessing for God before great men (Daniel 5:17-23), unbribed by lucre and unawed by threats (Daniel 6:10-11); the holiest and most single-minded patriotism which with burning prayers interceded for his chastened countrymen (Daniel 9); intimate communion with God, so that, like the beloved disciple and apocalyptic seer of the New Testament, John, Daniel also is called" a man greatly beloved," and this twice, by the angel of the Lord (Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:11), and received the exact disclosure of the date of Messiah's advent, the 70 weeks of years, and the successive events down to the Lord's final advent for the deliverance of His people: these are all prominent characteristics of this man of God.

It is not stated in Daniel 3 why Daniel was not among the rulers summoned to worship Nebuchadnezzar's golden image. Perhaps he was on state business in some distant part of the empire where the summons had not time to reach him. The Jews' enemies found it more political to attack first the three nearer at hand before proceeding to attack Daniel, the most influential. The king also, regarding him as divine (Daniel 2:46), forbore to summon him to worship the image, the self-deifying formation and setting up of which Daniel's own interpretation probably had suggested unintentionally to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:37-39). As Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 go together, so Daniel 3 and Daniel 6; Daniel 4 and Daniel 5; the pair Daniel 3 and Daniel 6 shows God's nearness to save His saints, if faithful, just when they are on the point of being crushed by the world power.

The pair Daniel 4 and Daniel 5 shows God's power to humble the world power in the height of its impious arrogance; first Nebuchadnezzar, whose coming hypochondriacal exile among the beasts Daniel foretells with fidelity and tenderness; then Belshazzar, whose blasphemy he more sternly reproves. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse positive homage to the world power's image, so Daniel refuses it even negative homage by omitting even for a few days worship to Jehovah. Jehovah's power manifested for the saints against the world first in individual histories (Daniel 3; 6) is exhibited next in worldwide prophetical pictures (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7). God manifested His irresistible power in Daniel and his friends, as representing the theocracy then depressed, before the pagan king who deemed himself divine. Thus, God secured the heathen's respect for His covenant people which found its culmination in Cyrus' decree for their restoration and the rebuilding of the temple of Jehovah, whom he confessed to be preeminently "THE God of heaven" (Ezra 1:1-4). Ezra 8:2 and Nehemiah 10:6 mention another Daniel, Ithamar's descendant.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Daniel'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/d/daniel.html. 1949.

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