great Babylonian monarch himself (in the prophecy’s simplest meaning). (Dan. 4:20-22) Nebuchadnezzar would be insane for seven years and then would regain his sanity and his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar testifies to this actually having happened to him at God’s hand by seeing fit to publicize the occurrence throughout the realm.—Dan. 4:1, 2.
Daniel received two visions (chaps. 7 and 8), during the first and third years of Belshazzar, in which various animals represented successive world powers, leading to the time when these would be forcefully broken up and the heavenly rulership would be given to “someone like a son of man.” (Dan. 7:11-14) Whether Daniel was actually in Shushan when he received the vision recorded in chapter 8, or saw himself there in vision, is not certain. It appears, sometime after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, that Daniel was used little, if at all, as counselor for many years, so that the queen (likely the queen mother Nitocris) had to recall him to Belshazzar when none of the wise men were able to interpret the ominous handwriting on the palace wall at the time of Belshazzar’s riotous and blasphemous feast. As promised, Daniel received the honor of being third ruler in the kingdom, Nabonidus being first ruler and his son, Belshazzar, being second. That same night the city fell to the Medes and Persians and Belshazzar was slain.—Dan. 5:1, 10-31.
UNDER MEDO-PERSIAN RULE
During the short reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel was one of the three high officials appointed over the 120 satraps who were to rule the kingdom. Excelling greatly in governmental service because of divine favor, Daniel was about to be elevated over all the kingdom when envy and jealousy caused the other officials to scheme for his execution. The law that they induced the king to enact would have to be in connection with Daniel’s worship of God, as they could find no fault with him otherwise. The king acted reluctantly to carry out the law, which, according to custom, could not be changed, and cast Daniel into the pit of the lions. For Daniel’s firm integrity and faith, Jehovah sent his angel to deliver him from the lions’ mouths Darius then executed justice on the conspirators, having them destroyed by the same lions.—Dan. chap. 6.
In the first year of Darius Daniel discerned the nearness of the end of the seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem, according to the writings of Jeremiah. (Jer. 25:11, 12) Humbly Daniel acknowledged the sins of his people and prayed that Jehovah would cause his face to shine upon the desolated sanctuary in Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:1, 2, 17) He was favored with a revelation from Gabriel, who gave him the prophecy of the seventy weeks, pinpointing the year of Messiah’s arrival. In his old age and toward the close of his long career, during the third year of Cyrus (c. 536 B.C.E.), Daniel was given a vision by an angel who, in his mission to visit Daniel, had to contend with the prince of Persia. The angel spoke to reveal what was to “befall [Daniel’s] people in the final part of the days, because it is a vision yet for the days to come.” (Dan. 10:14) Starting with the kings of Persia, he recorded history in advance. The prophecy revealed that the world scene would come to be dominated by two main opposing political powers, named “the king of the north” and “the king of the south,” which situation would prevail until the standing up of Michael, with a great time of distress to follow.—Dan. chaps. 11, 12.
Daniel happily lived to see the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E., but it is not stated that he accompanied them. He may not have lived much beyond that date. If he was a teen-ager at the time of being brought to Babylon, in 617 B.C.E., he would be almost a hundred years old when he received his last vision, in Cyrus’ third year. The angel’s statement to Daniel, “As for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days,” seems to imply that his life was nearing its close, with assurance of a resurrection for him.—Dan. 12:13.
Daniel is referred to by Christ (Matt. 24:15) and alluded to at Hebrews 11:33. It cannot be demonstrated successfully by the critics that one or more later writers of Maccabean times had to do with the writing of all or parts of the canonical book of Daniel. However, three additions called the “Song of the Three Holy Children,” “Susanna and the Elders” and “Destruction of Bel and the Dragon” are apocryphal and are by a later hand. These and other writings claiming Daniel as the writer or setting forth unusual feats or teachings by him are more in the realm of fable revolving around the great fame of Daniel and are not reliable.—See APOCRYPHA; also DANIEL, BOOK OF.
3. A priest of the Levite house of Ithamar who accompanied Ezra to Jerusalem in 468 B.C.E. (Ezra 8:2) Possibly the same priest, or his descendant, signed the confession contract during Nehemiah’s governorship (Neh. 10:6), but not the same person as the prophet Daniel, who was of the tribe of Judah.—Dan. 1:6.
DANIEL, BOOK OF
SETTING AND TIME OF WRITING
The setting of the book is in Babylon, with one of its visions in Shushan by the river Ulai. Whether Daniel was in Shushan actually or in a visionary way is not clear. The writing was completed in about 536 B.C.E. and the book covers the period from 618 to about 536 B.C.E.—Dan. 8:1, 2.
That Daniel was the writer is made evident by the book itself. It reports: “In the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon, Daniel himself beheld a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. At that time he wrote down the dream itself. The complete account of the matters he told.” (Dan. 7:1) His being the writer is also apparent from the fact that chapters seven to twelve are written in the first person.
Chapters one to six are written in the third person, but this does not argue against Daniel’s writership. He took the position of an observer who was reporting what was happening to himself and others. Another Bible writer, Jeremiah, does this frequently. (See Jeremiah 20:1-6; 21:1-3 and chapters 26 and 36.) Again, Jeremiah writes in the first person.—Jer. chaps. 1, 13, 15, 18.
PLACE IN THE CANON
In the English Bible Daniel is placed among the major prophets, immediately after Ezekiel. This is the order followed in the Septuagint and in the Latin Vulgate. In the Hebrew canon Daniel is placed in the “Writings” or “Hagiographa.”
Some critics question the authenticity of Daniel, although learned and able scholars have written conclusive refutations of their theories, which theories are all based on supposition. The critics of the authenticity of the book assume the position taken by a third-century heathen philosopher and enemy of Christianity, Porphyry, who contended that the book of Daniel was forged by a Palestinian Jew of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. This forger, he theorized, took past events and made them appear to be prophecies. The genuineness of the book of Daniel was not seriously questioned, however, from that day until the early part of the eighteenth century.