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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Daniel

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was a descendant of the kings of Judah, and is said to have been born at Upper Bethoron, in the territory of Ephraim. He was carried away captive to Babylon when he was about eighteen or twenty years of age, in the year 606 before the Christian aera. He was placed in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, and was afterward raised to situations of great rank and power, both in the empire of Babylon and of Persia. He lived to the end of the captivity, but being then nearly ninety years old, it is most probable that he did not return to Judea. It is generally believed that he died at Susa, soon after his last vision, which is dated in the third year of the reign of Cyrus. Daniel seems to have been the only prophet who enjoyed a great share of worldly prosperity; but amidst the corruptions of a licentious court he preserved his virtue and integrity inviolate, and no danger or temptation could divert him from the worship of the true God. The book of Daniel is a mixture of history and prophecy: in the first six chapters is recorded a variety of events which occurred in the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius; and, in particular, the second chapter contains Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream concerning the four great successive monarchies, and the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah, which dream God enabled Daniel to interpret. In the last six chapters we have a series of prophecies, revealed at different times, extending from the days of Daniel to the general resurrection. The Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman empires, are all particularly described under appropriate characters; and it is expressly declared that the last of them was to be divided into ten lesser kingdoms; the time at which Christ was to appear is precisely fixed; the rise and fall of antichrist, and the duration of his power, are exactly determined; and the future restoration of the Jews, the victory of Christ over all his enemies, and the universal prevalence of true religion, are distinctly foretold, as being to precede the consummation of that stupendous plan of God, which "was laid before the foundation of the world," and reaches to its dissolution. Part of this book is written in the Chaldaic language, namely, from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh chapter; these chapters relate chiefly to the affairs of Babylon, and it is probable that some passages were taken from the public registers. This book abounds with the most exalted sentiments of piety and devout gratitude; its style is clear, simple, and concise; and many of its prophecies are delivered in terms so plain and circumstantial, that some unbelievers have asserted, in opposition to the strongest evidence, that they were written after the events which they describe had taken place. With respect to the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Daniel, there is abundance both of external and internal evidence; indeed all that can well be had or desired in a case of this nature: not only the testimony of the whole Jewish church and nation, who have constantly received this book as canonical, but of Josephus particularly, who recommends him as the greatest of the prophets; of the Jewish Targums and Talmuds, which frequently cite and appeal to his authority; of St. Paul and St. John, who have copied many of his prophecies; and of our Saviour himself, who cites his words, and styles him "Daniel the prophet." Nor is the internal less powerful and convincing than the external evidence; for the language, the style, the manner of writing, and all other internal marks and characters, are perfectly agreeable to that age; and finally, he appears plainly and undeniably to have been a prophet by the exact accomplishment of his prophecies.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Daniel'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/d/daniel.html. 1831-2.

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