Book of Daniel


Authorship, date, and background Daniel, the subject of this book, was born to a Judean noble family shortly before Josiah's reformation in 621 B.C. His name means "God is my judge." He was among the first of Jewish captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. He lived and ministered in Babylon for a period of approximately sixty years under the kingships of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius the Mede (Gubaru), and Cyrus. The book was written in Babylon and contains a large segment in the Aramaic tongue, whereas the other Old Testament books were written in the Hebrew tongue.

For a variety of reasons, liberal scholars beginning with Porphyry (ca. A.D. 260) think the book was written in 165 B.C., which means that the prophetic portions, for the most part, were inscribed after, rather than before, the events took place, and the author most certainly could not have been Daniel. From the earliest days, however, Daniel was regarded as the author, although he may have been aided by a scribe, and the date of the composition was set in the sixth century B.C. Recent evidences, and particularly the Dead Sea Scrolls, reinforce the view of the early church and Jewish tradition bout Daniel's authorship and the sixth century B.C. composition date.

Daniel wrote to convince his fellow captives that their stay in Babylon was in accord with the plan of God and that it was possible to have a living faith in God despite the captivity. He demonstrated the superiority of Jehovah God over the idols of Babylon and assured the Jews that Babylon, the agent of God's judgment, would itself disappear.

Characteristics and content Daniel develops a view of history which began with the Jews in captivity and stretches from there to the end of the age. His apocalyptic vision, which has its origin in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, forecasts the rise and fall of four world-empires along with the rise and permanence of God's eternal and universal kingdom. God's direct intervention in the affairs of men and nations may be seen in the miraculous deliverance of Daniel's three colleagues who land in the fiery furnace when they refuse to worship the golden image set up by the king; later Daniel himself is miraculously delivered after being cast into the lion's den.

In the latter part of the book Daniel writes about the beast vision of a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fourth beast with ten horns. Additional details are given in the vision of the ram and the goat along with the prophetic interpretation. Then follows the seventy weeks and the end times. No one can develop a prophetic scheme without reference to the seminal work of Daniel. This book and the Revelation of John in the New Testament have much in common.