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BOOK : Daniel

Description : The story of exiled Daniel in the court of Babylon, and visions received by him

Author: Daniel

Date written : probably completed about 530BC

Chapters :12


Brief Synopsis:


•  Daniel and his three friends deported from Israel to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar
•  Being faithful to the Lord they are taken into the king's service
•  As Jews in the pagan court they go through trials but God is there for them.
•  Daniel is God's voice for Nebuchadnezzar (ch.2-4), Belshazzar (ch.5) & Darius (ch.6) and is still there when Cyrus takes over (ch.10)
•  Daniel receives visions for the future (ch.7-12)


Outline :


Ch.1 Young Men Transported

1:1,2 Historical Introduction
1:3-7 Daniel and His Friends Are Taken Captive
1:8-16 The Young Men Are Faithful
1:17-21 The Young Men Are Elevated to High Positions

Ch.2-6 Daniel in the court of the kings

Ch.2 Nebuchadnezzar: Dream of a Large Statue
Ch.3 Nebuchadnezzar: Worshipping an image and 3 friends delivered from the furnace
Ch.4 Nebuchadnezzar: Dream of an Enormous Tree & driven mad for a period
Ch.5 Belshazzar: Writing on the wall and he is killed
Ch.6 Darius the Mede: Daniel's Deliverance from the lion's den

Ch.8-12 Daniel's Visions

Ch.7 Daniel's Dream of Four Beasts
Ch.8 Daniel's Vision of a Ram and a Goat
Ch.9 Daniel's Prayer and His Vision of the 70 "Sevens"
Ch.10-12 Daniel's Visions for the distant future



Time Scales in Daniel


Exact timings always tend to be difficult in parts of the Old Testament and historians differ in their calculations and so what follows should be taken as a rough guide only. We have put then in order of time rather than how they appear in order in the book


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah , Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.



In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams;



In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon , Daniel had a dream



In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.



King Belshazzar gave a great banquet (son of Nebuchadnezzar)….. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two



In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.



in the first year of Darius the Mede….



In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia , a revelation was given to Daniel [Cyrus had taken Babylon in 539]



NB. Following these dates, approx 69 years passed between the first one and last one. By the end Daniel must have been in his eighties.



Key Verses: Dreams, Visions & Interpretations :


Because new readers often struggle with the prophetic elements of this book, we will limit our key verses for this book to highlighting the dreams & visions that come and the interpretations (where given):


a) Nebuchadnezzar's First Dream

2:1 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream but refuses to tell his seers what it was

Daniel tells what the dream was:

2:31-35 … a large statue…. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay…. a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel gives the interpretation (kingdoms will come & go, but only God's kingdom will prevail)

2:36-44 The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom , one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom , strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.
Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a king dom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.


b) Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream

4:10-17 there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
"…. I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: `Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. "Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him. " `The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'

Daniel interprets it (Discipline will be brought on Nebuchadnezzar)

4:22,25,26 you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth….. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.


c) Daniel's First Vision (The Four Beasts)

7:2-14 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
(Part 1) "The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it. "And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, `Get up and eat your fill of flesh!' "After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. "After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast --terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns .
(Part 2) "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn , a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
(Part 3) "As I looked, " thrones were set in place , and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
(Part 4) "Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
(Part 5) "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

He is given the interpretation (kingdoms will come & go, but only God's kingdom will prevail)

7:17,18,23-27 (Summary) ` The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever--yes, for ever and ever.'
•  (Details) The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.
•  The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom.
•  After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
•  But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.
•  Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.'


Daniel's Second Vision (the Ram and the Goat)

8:2- 14 … there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
… suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
Out of one of them came another horn , which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land . It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled--the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?"
He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."

He is given the interpretation (changing kingdoms and a deceiver in the end time)

8:17-26 "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end …… the vision concerns the appointed time of the end . The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia . The shaggy goat is the king of Greece , and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
"In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king , a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. "The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."


Chapters 11 & 12 appear to expand on this information but because they are so extensive in detail we will not include them here but leave it to the reader to work his way through them comparing them with the details above.



Concluding Comments


•  The story is Daniel is quite remarkable. As a young man taken in one of Nebuchadnezzar's earlier raids on Israel , he ends up in the court of Nebuchadnezzar and becomes God's voice to him.
•  Nebuchadnezzar is also quite a remarkable figure. He appears all over the place in the records of that time and is clearly used by God to bring judgment on Israel and many other surrounding nations. However he himself eventually has dealings with God that are revealed in this book that result in him submitting to and praising and worshipping the Lord.
•  Daniel continues to be God's mouthpiece in Babylonia right through the reigns (sometimes fairly short!) of Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, and eventually Cyrus the Persian. It is, of course, Cyrus who initiates the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple .
•  Within the stories of Daniel and his three friends are two stories of remarkable deliverance – the fiery furnace and the lion's den. The Lord is there for His servants.
•  Essentially the whole book – history and prophecy – is all about the sovereignty of God. Nebuchadnezzar is simply a tool in God's hand, and the Lord is there bringing dreams and revelations to work out His purposes, and reveal Daniel as His servant. In the closing prophecies the message is always the same – kingdoms will come and go but it will only be the kingdom of God that will prevail. He IS the Lord! Let that reality grab you as you read this remarkable book.


Additional Resources on this site:

     Daniel's Story  - Bible studies