One of the four great prophets, although he is not once spoken of in the Old Testament as a prophet. His life and prophecies are recorded in the Book of Daniel. He was descended from one of the noble families of Judah (Daniel 1:3), and was probably born in Jerusalem about B.C. 623, during the reign of Josiah. At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (the kingdom of Israel had come to an end nearly a century before), or immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at the second battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (B.C. 606), Daniel and other three noble youths were carried off to Babylon, along with part of the vessels of the temple. There he was obliged to enter into the service of the king of Babylon, and in accordance with the custom of the age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., "prince of Bel," or "Bel protect the king!" His residence in Babylon was very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified with a mass of shapeless mounds called the Kasr, on the right bank of the river.
His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Daniel 1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. He was distinguished during this period for his piety and his stict observance of the Mosaic law (1:8-16), and gained the confidence and esteem of those who were over him. His habit of attention gained during his education in Jerusalem enabled him soon to master the wisdom and learning of the Chaldeans, and even to excel his compeers.
At the close of his three years of discipline and training in the royal schools, Daniel was distinguished for his proficiency in the "wisdom" of his day, and was brought out into public life. He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (1:17; 2:14), and rose to the rank of governor of the province of Babylon, and became "chief of the governors" (Chald. Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon. He made known and also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream; and many years afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm and consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious feast, he was called in at the instance of the queen-mother (perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret the mysterious handwriting on the wall. He was rewarded with a purple robe and elevation to the rank of "third ruler." The place of "second ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated with his father, Nabonidus, on the throne (5:16). Daniel interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain."
After the taking of Babylon, Cyrus, who was now master of all Asia from India to the Dardanelles, placed Darius (q.v.), a Median prince, on the throne, during the two years of whose reign Daniel held the office of first of the "three presidents" of the empire, and was thus practically at the head of affairs, no doubt interesting himself in the prospects of the captive Jews (Daniel 9), whom he had at last the happiness of seeing restored to their own land, although he did not return with them, but remained still in Babylon. His fidelity to God exposed him to persecution, and he was cast into a den of lions, but was miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (6:26). He "prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian," whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of the decree which put an end to the Captivity (B.C. 536).
He had a series of prophetic visions vouch-safed to him which opened up the prospect of a glorious future for the people of God, and must have imparted peace and gladness to his spirit in his old age as he waited on at his post till the "end of the days." The time and circumstances of his death are not recorded. He probably died at Susa, about eighty-five years of age.
Ezekiel, with whom he was contemporary, mentions him as a pattern of righteousness (14:14,20) and wisdom (28:3). (See NEBUCHADNEZZAR .)
1. The second son of David, by Abigail the Carmelitess. (1 Chronicles 3:1) In (2 Samuel 3:3) he is called Chileab. (B.C. about 1051.)
2. The fourth of ’the greater prophets." Nothing is known of his parentage or family. He appears, however, to have been of royal or noble descent, (Daniel 1:3) and to have possessed considerable personal endowments. (Daniel 1:4) He was taken to Babylon in "the third year of Jehoiakim" (B.C. 604), and trained for the king’s service. He was divinely supported in his resolve to abstain from the "king’s meat" for fear of defilement. (Daniel 1:8-16) At the close of his three years discipline, (Daniel 1:5,18) Daniel had an opportunity of exercising his peculiar gift, (Daniel 1:17) of interpreting dreams, on the occasion of Nebuchadnezzar’s decree against the Magi. (Daniel 2:14) ff. In consequence of his success he was made "ruler of the whole province of Babylon." (Daniel 2:48) He afterwards interpreted the second dream of Nebuchadnezzar, (Daniel 4:8-27) and the handwriting on the wall which disturbed the feast of Belshazzar. (Daniel 5:10-28) At the accession of Darius he was made first of the "three presidents" of the empire, (Daniel 6:2) and was delivered from the lion’s den, into which he had been cast for his faithfulness to the rites of his faith. (Daniel 6:10-23) cf. Bel and Dr. 29-42. At the accession of Cyrus he still retained his prosperity, (Daniel 6:28) cf. Dani 1:21 Though he does not appear to have remained at Babylon, cf. (Daniel 1:21) and in "the third year of Cyrus" (B.C. 534) he saw his last recorded vision, on the banks of the Tigris. (Daniel 10:1,4) In the prophecies of Ezekiel mention is made of Daniel as a pattern of righteousness, (Ezekiel 14:14,20) and wisdom. (Ezekiel 28:3) The narrative in (Daniel 1:11) implies that Daniel was conspicuously distinguished for purity and knowledge at a very early age.
3. A descendant of Ithamar, who returned with Ezra. (Ezra 8:2)
4. A priest who sealed the covenant drawn up by Nehemiah, B.C. 445. (Nehemiah 10:6) He is perhaps the same as No. 3.
dan'-yel (daniye'l, dani'-el, "God is my judge"; Daniel):
(1) One of the sons of David (1 Chronicles 3:1).
(2) A Levite of the family of Ithamar (Ezra 8:2; Nehemiah 10:6).
(3) A prophet of the time of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, the hero and author of the Book of Daniel.
1. Early Life:
We know nothing of the early life of Daniel, except what is recorded in the book bearing his name. Here it is said that he was one of the youths of royal or noble seed, who were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. These youths were without blemish, well-favored, skillful in all wisdom, endued with knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace. The king commanded to teach them the knowledge and tongue of the Chaldeans; and appointed for them a daily portion of the king's food and of the wine which he drank. After having been thus nourished for three years, they were to stand before the king. Ashpenaz, the master or chief of the eunuchs, into whose hands they had been entrusted, following a custom of the time, gave to each of these youths a new and Babylonian name. To Daniel, he gave the name Belteshazzar. In Babylonian this name was probably Belu-lita-sharri-usur, which means "O Bel, protect thou the hostage of the king," a most appropriate name for one in the place which Daniel occupied as a hostage of Jehoiakim at the court of the king of Babylon. The youths were probably from 12 to 15 years of age at the time when they were carried captive. (For changes of names, compare Joseph changed to Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45); Eliakim, to Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:34); Mattaniah, to Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17); and the tw names of the high priest Johanan's brother in the Sachau Papyri, i.e. Ostan and Anani.)
Having purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the food and drink of the king, Daniel requested of Ashpenaz permission to eat vegetables and drink water. Through the favor of God, this request was granted, notwithstanding the fear of Ashpenaz that his head would be endangered to the king on account of the probably resulting poor appearance of the youths living upon this blood-diluting diet, in comparison with the expected healthy appearance of the others of their class. However, ten days' trial having been first granted, and at the end of that time their countenances having been found fairer and their flesh fatter than the other youths', the permission was made permanent; and God gave to Daniel and his companions knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and to Daniel understanding in all visions and dreams; so that at the end of the three years when the king communed with them, he found them much superior to all the magicians and enchanters in every matter of wisdom and understanding.
Daniel's public activities were in harmony with his education. His first appearance was as an interpreter of the dream recorded in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar having seen in his dream a vision of a great image, excellent in brightness and terrible in appearance, its head of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay, beheld a stone cut out without hands smiting the image and breaking it in pieces, until it became like chaff and was carried away by the wind; while the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. When the king awoke from his troubled sleep, he forgot, or reigned that he had forgotten, the dream, and summoned the wise men of Babylon both to tell him the dream and to give the interpretation thereof. The wise men having said that they could not tell the dream, nor interpret it as long as it was untold, the king threatened them with death. Daniel, who seems not to have been present when the other wise men were before the king, when he was informed of the threat of the king, and that preparations were being made to slay all of the wise men of Babylon, himself and his three companions included, boldly went in to the king and requested that he would appoint a time for him to appear to show the interpretation, Then he went to his house, and he and his companions prayed, and the dream and its interpretation were made known unto Daniel. At the appointed time, the dream was explained and the four Hebrews were loaded with wealth and given high positions in the service of the king. In the 4th chapter, we have recorded Daniel's interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar about the great tree that was hewn at the command of an angel, thus prefiguring the insanity of the king.
3. Interpreter of Signs:
Daniel's third great appearance in the book is in chapter 5, where he is called upon to explain the extraordinary writing upon the wall of Belshazzar's palace, which foretold the end of the Babylonian empire and the incoming of the Medes and Persians. For this service Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold put around his neck, and he was made the third ruler in the kingdom.
4. Seer of Visions:
Daniel, however, was not merely an interpreter of other men's visions. In the last six chapters we have recorded four or five of his own visions, all of which are taken up with revelations concerning the future history of the great world empires, especially in their relation to the people of God, and predictions of the final triumph of the Messiah's kingdom.
5. Official of the Kings:
In addition to his duties as seer and as interpreter of signs and dreams, Daniel also stood high in the governmental service of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede, and perhaps also of Cyrus. The Book of Dnl, our only reliable source of information on this subject, does not tell us much about his civil duties and performances. It does say, however, that he was chief of the wise men, that he was in the gate of the king, and that he was governor over the whole province of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar; that Belshazzar made him the third ruler in his kingdom; and that Darius made him one of the three presidents to whom his hundred and twenty satraps were to give account; and that he even thought to set him over his whole kingdom. In all of these positions he seems to have conducted himself with faithfulness and judgment. While in the service of Darius the Mede, he aroused the antipathy of the other presidents and of the satraps. Unable to find any fault with his official acts, they induced the king to make a decree, apparently general in form and purpose, but really aimed at Daniel alone. They saw that they could find no valid accusation against him, unless they found it in connection with something concerning the law of his God. They therefore caused the king to make a decree that no one should make a request of anyone for the space of thirty days, save of the king. Daniel, having publicly prayed three times a day as he was in the habit of doing, was caught in the act, accused, and on account of the irrevocability of a law of the Medes and Persians, was condemned in accordance with the decree to be cast into a den of lions. The king was much troubled at this, but was unable to withhold the punishment. However, he expressed to Daniel his belief that his God in whom he trusted continually would deliver him; and so indeed it came to pass. For in the morning, when the king drew near to the mouth of the den, and called to him, Daniel said that God had sent His angel and shut the mouths of the lions. So Daniel was taken up unharmed, and at the command of the king his accusers, having been cast into tile den, were destroyed before they reached the bottom.
Besides the commentaries and other works mentioned in the article on the Book of Daniel, valuable information may be found in Josephus and in Payne Smith's Lectures on Daniel.