Daniel 1 - Outline of Daniel (MENU page)
Introduction -
The world, which Daniel knew in his childhood, had been turned upside down. His nation, Israel, which had once been the head of the nations, had become the tail (cp. Deu 28:13-15), and things were about to get worse. The LORD (speaking through His prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and many others) had warned His people, admonishing them to turn back to Him, for they had given themselves to the wicked ways and the false gods of the heathen nations around them. Yet, they had refused to listen. Now, He was executing the promised judgment upon them. Those nations and powers in which Israel had placed their confidence would be given dominion over them and would terribly oppress them (cp. Jer 5:15-19; Hab 1:6-10).

Under the dominion of a heathen nation, and immersed in the culture of the corrupt world system, Daniel and his three godly friends are repeatedly confronted with situations demanding compromise. Their experiences provide practical insight for all who would "live righteously and godly in this present world" while anticipating the coming Kingdom of God. (cp. Eze 33:10; Psa 130:7; 2Tim 3:12; Titus 2:11-14)

The book of Daniel is foundational to, and provides the keys for, understanding New Testament prophecy concerning the end times. It traces the course of Gentile world dominion, from Babylon's rise to power, to the catastrophic fall of Babylon the Great. It includes detailed prophecies concerning conflicts between the intervening powers, the rise of the man of sin (the antichrist), the Great Tribulation, and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ whose dominion displaces all of this world's powers.

Because many of Daniel's detailed prophecies match subsequent historic events with amazing precision, sceptics regard this book as a forgery. They claim that it must have been written long after Daniel lived and after many of the prophetic events which the book foretells had occurred. They suggest that two or three different writers contributed to the book, perhaps during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes and the struggle of the Maccabees.

However, the reality is that we have substantial evidence to support authorship by the historic Daniel.
Time of writing: According to the text, Daniel wrote during his ministry,
which spanned the entire 70 years of captivity, from 'the third year of Jehoiakim,' 606 BC (Dan 1:1) to 'the first year of Cyrus,' 536 BC (Dan 1:21). There is no legitimate reason to date the book at a later time.
     During Daniel's childhood and early captivity, Jeremiah was proclaiming God's Word in Jerusalem, warning of the coming judgment. Ezekiel and Daniel were both young men when they were carried away to Babylon, and spent the remainder of their lives in captivity. Near the end of Daniel's life, Ezra, Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel led the first group of captives to return to Jerusalem.
Theme of the book: The universal and enduring sovereignty of God.
"The persistent Government of God in the Government of the World." [Dr. G.Campbell Morgan, quoted by JVMcGee]
Key verses: Dan 2:44; 4:34,35
The author: More is known about Daniel than any other prophet.
As "a man greatly beloved" of God (Dan 10:11), he was:
I. Daniel's Chronicles of his Times under Gentile Kings (ch. 1-6)
A. Daniel's personal history, 1:1-21
1. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand,
with part of the vessels of the house of God:
which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god;
and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
the third year... of Jehoiakim...- Jehoiakim, also called Eliakim, was the son of Josiah (2Kin 23:31-37).
Because of the sin of Jehoiakim and other kings, and of the nation at large, the LORD allowed Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah to be taken captive to Babylon. This captivity was accomplished in three stages, the first of which is described here and in 2Kin 24:1-5 (cp. 2Chr 36:5-8). Nebuchadnezzar laid seige to the city in 606 BC and took the city in 604 BC. Daniel and his friends were among thousands of captives deported at that time, along with select treasures from the Temple ("part of the vessels of the house of God").
     The second deportation occurred in 598 BC, when Jehoiachin (son of Jehoiakim) rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar (2Kin 24:6-16). At that time, many more Israelites, including Ezekiel (Eze 1:1,2) were carried away, along with most of the remaining "vessels of the house of God."
     The third and final deportation concluded the reign of Zedekiah (uncle of Jehoiachin) in 588 - 586 BC (2Kin 24:17 - 25:21), thus fulfilling the prophecies of Jerusalem's judgment at the hands of Babylon (eg., Jer 25:1-13)
in the third year... of Jehoiakim... came Nebuchadnezzar unto Jerusalem...-
There is no conflict between this statement and Jer 25:1 (cp. 2Kin 24:1), which places Nebuchadnezzar's arrival at Jerusalem during the fourth year of Jehoiakim. The Hebrew wording can mean either "came unto" or "went unto" depending upon the context. From the perspective of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar departed for Jerusalem during Jehoiakim's third year. From the perspective of Jerusalem, he arrived the following year, having been hindered by conflict with the Egyptian army along the way.
     The 70 years of captivity are reckoned from this first captivity at the time of Jehoiakim. (See the Book Notes at Jeremiah 25:8-12 for further discussion of when the 70 years began.)
into the land of Shinar...- the region in which Babylon was located. cp. Gen 10:9,10
into the treasure house of his god...- The vessels that were once Holy unto the LORD
now lay defiled and disgraced in the temple of heathen gods (though Israel's kings had previously defiled them by bringing idols into the house of the LORD).
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs,
that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel,
and
{ie., even} of the king's seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured,
and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,
and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king's palace,
and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank:
so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names:
for he gave unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach;
and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
eunuchs... of the king's seed, and of the princes - Daniel and his friends were from the royal line and other nobility.
Nebuchadnezzar's purpose was to provide himself with compliant Jewish administrators, through whom he could control the captive Israeli population. These young men were made eunuchs (ie., castrated) to make them docile. This was done in fulfillment of prophecy addressed to King Hezekiah, about a hundred years earlier (Isa 39:6,7). Even in this, God was working His greater purpose, that Daniel and his friends might be prepared more fully for His service (cp. Mat 19:12; 1Cor 7:32,33).
children...- HB=yeled, a child, a young boy, a youth, a descendant -
They were probably 12 - 17 years of age.
in whom was no blemish... well favoured...-
They were handsome and physically fit, in their outward appearance.
skilful in all wisdom... cunning in knowledge and understanding science...
They were already well educated in the knowledge of their day, and had brilliant minds capable of understanding and applying what they knew. Apparently, they already had a good grasp of the Hebrew scriptures.
ability to stand in the king's palace...-
They already knew how to handle themselves in the presence of royalty.
[for the purpose of teaching them] the learning {HB=cepher, books, legal documents} and the tongue of the Chaldeans...-
They were ready candidates for instruction in Babylonian law and culture.
Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names...
Thus these men also, not only the temple vessels, were defiled by association with heathen gods.
  • Daniel {God is my judge} became Belteshazzar {A prince of Bel (Baal)}
  • Hananiah {Favoured of Jehovah} became Shadrach {Inspired of Rak (the sun god)};
  • Mishael {Who is like God?} became Meshach {Who is like Aku (Venus)?};
  • Azariah {Helped by Jehovah} became Abednego {Servant of Nebo (the fire god)}
    [The meanings of names are as given by GWms.]
8. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself
with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank:
therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour
{HB=hesed, good will, kindness}
and tender love
{HB=rahamim, deep sympathy} with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel,
I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink:
for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which [are] of your sort?
then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar,
whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days;
and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee,
and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat:
and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh
than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat,
and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
But Daniel purposed in his heart {ie., resolutely determined} that he would not defile himself...-
Though plunged into ungodly circumstances in a nation which had no respect for the holy things of God's house, and having been labeled as a servant of a false god, and having had his body mutilated (thus rendering it unclean, cp. Deu 23:1), Daniel was still determined to remain inwardly clean to serve the living and true God.
...with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank...
The king's food was the best in the land. But the meat of the heathen king would include the flesh of unclean and unbled animals. From the wine which the king drank, a libation would have been offered to idols (cp. 1Cor 8:7,10; 10:27,28).
...therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.-
Daniel's request was contrary to the king's command (v.10). Daniel put his life on the line to follow the LORD. He was not of the mind "when in Babylon do as the Babylonians do." Rather, he was determined "to be not conformed to this world" (Rom 12:1,2). The stance of Daniel and his three friends was also out of conformity with the mindset of most of their countrymen. These young men were part of the godly remnant of Israel, which existed then, and which continues down through the ages (cp. Rom 11:5). They were serious about being holy for their Holy God, the neglect of whom was the cause of captivity for the unbelieving nation (cp. Lev 11:44-47).
     Obedience in the matter of dietary laws was an external indication of the state of their hearts (cp. Deu 8:2,3). In the church age, believers are no longer under the law in regard to diet and other rituals (1Cor 8:8; 10:25-27). Yet, all that we do should be for the glory of God (1Cor 10:31).
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs...-
Even before the request was made, God was preparing the way for these men to follow Him, despite their unfavorable environment.
then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over...-
Daniel arranged the dietary experiment with Melzar, a steward serving under Ashpenaz, prince of the eunuchs (v.3), apparently with the approval of the higher official.
prove thy servants... ten days...- ie., Put us to the test.
Daniel and his friends also were putting their God to the test in making their request. Was it reasonable to expect that at the end of ten days they would appear "fairer and fatter in flesh" than those partaking of the king's rich food? cp. Deu 8:3; Mal 3:10
give us pulse to eat, and water to drink...-
"Pulse" {HB=zeroa, 'grown from seed' ('seed' is HB=zara)} refers to grains and vegetables.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
Following the favorable outcome of the ten day demonstration, they were permanently placed on the diet that they had requested.
     It is important to keep in mind that Daniel and his friends were not pursuing a vegetarian diet for the sake of physical health, but rather for the sake of spiritual purity. Their purpose was to serve the LORD, separated unto Him, though they lived in the midst of the defilement of a heathen culture.
17. As for these four children,
God gave them knowledge
{ie., the science of Babylon} and skill {ie., wisdom and insight to apply what they knew}
in all learning
{ie., the books and laws of Babylon} and wisdom {ie., skill for administration}:
and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in,
then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them;
and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them,
he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.
21 And Daniel continued [even] unto the first year of king Cyrus.
...God gave them knowledge...- By the end of their period of instruction,
they were well versed in the wisdom of the Chaldeans. The education which they received in the religious superstitions and magic of Babylon could have brought them into confusion and loss of true faith. But through their knowledge of God's Word, He gave them the ability to discern between truth and error. With this discernment, their understanding of the world's wisdom would equip them to serve the LORD in the heathen culture.
...and Daniel had understanding {ie., discernment, perception} in all visions and dreams.-
In addition to an excellent understanding of the wisdom and ways of Babylon, Daniel was given the prophetic gift of interpretation of dreams. Of these four faithful young men, only Daniel was given this gift. The LORD separated him to be His prophet. Though his career was spent as a civil servant, Daniel was a prophet through whom the LORD revealed the most complete foreview of the end times, of any of the OT prophets (Mat 24:15). In the days of the OT prophets, God spoke through visions and dreams, but today He speaks to us through His Word, and we are told to be suspicious of dreams. (cp. Ecc 5:3; Isa 8:19,20; Heb 1:1-3; 2Pet 1:20,21; 2Tim 2:15; 3:15-17)
at the end of the days {ie., the three years of v.5}... the king communed with them...-
This was their final exam, taken orally, and administered by the king himself. The king evaluated them "in all matters of wisdom and understanding" (ie., concerning their mastery of Babylonian law and language, and concerning their discernment for administration and problem solving).
therefore stood they before the king...- They were enlisted into the king's service, to do his bidding.
the king found them... ten times better than
all the magicians {HB=chartom, diviners, writers of occult literature} and astrologers {HB=ashshaph, necromancers, conjurers}...-
The word 'better' is HB=yad, 'hand.' Each of these men performed their assigned tasks more effectively than ten of the others working together. Any one of them was like 'ten hired hands.' They served Nebuchadnezzar to please a higher King, and with the ability that only He could give. (cp. Col 3:17,23,24; 1Pet 4:11)
and Daniel continued {ie., in his administrative role for successive kings} unto the first year of king Cyrus.-
However, he lived a few years after ending his official duties (Dan 10:1). Thus, he witnessed both the beginning and the end of the 70 years of captivity.

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