Sunday Night Bible Study
Introduction to the Book
Place in the Bible
In our English Bibles, Daniel is the first of the "Minor Prophets", which follow the "Major Prophets".
Major and minor refer to size of book, not importance of the prophet.
In the Hebrew Bible, the order is different than our English Bible.
1) The Law (first five books, written by Moses)
2) The Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1-2Samuel, 1-2Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezezkiel, and the 12 Minor Prophets (excluding Daniel).
3) The Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, nehemiah, 1-2Chronicles)
Daniel isn't counted as one of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
Daniel himself doesn't call himself a prophet.
God never used Daniel to give a message publicly to Israel.
But Jesus calls Daniel a prophet.
»Matthew 24:15-AV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Daniel the person
He was known as a man of great righteousness by his own contemporaries (like Ezekiel)
»Ezekiel 14:14-AV Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver [but] their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
Imagine being put in the same class as Noah and Job!
He was also known by his contemporaries for his wisdom:
»Ezekiel 28:3-AV Behold, thou [art] wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:
(written about the prince of Tyre)
He apparently was descended from the royal line of David
»Daniel 1:3-AV And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
He was physically attractive and mentally sharp
»Daniel 1:4-NIV young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
He was taken captive as a youth, possibly 16 years old, by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 b.c., he was still alive in the third year of Cyrus (536 b.c.), so lived at least 85 years.
The book of Daniel is unique in that it was written in two different languages, Hebrew and Aramaic.
Hebrew was the language of the Jews
Aramaic was the general language of the Gentile world in that day.
The order of the languages:
1:1 - 2:4a are written in Hebrew
2:4b - 7:28 are written in Aramaic
8:1 - 12:13 are written in Hebrew
Why the different languages?
There is much in the book of Daniel that contains prophecies that affect the entire Gentile world.
These just happen to lie within Dan.2:4b - 7:28
The rest of the book greatly affects the nation Israel, written in Hebrew.
612 b.c. - Nineveh, the Assyrian capital falls under assault of Babylon and Media forces. Some Assyrians flee westward to Haran and continue Assyrian empire from there.
611 - Nabopolassar, king of Babylon moves against Assyrian forces in Haran.
610 - Babylon allies with Media again and forces Assyrians out of Haran. Assyrians flee further westward beyond the Euphrates.
609 - Assyrians seek help from Egypt, Pharaoh Neco II leads forces from Egypt to join Assyria. Josiah, king of Israel, tries to intercept Egyptian forces at Megiddo, is defeated and dies. Egypt and Assyria attack Haran and are unsuccessful.
605 Nebuchadnezzar, son of the king, is general in Babylon, leads against Egypt in Battle of Carchemish. Egypt is defeated.
605 May-June - Carchemish destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar pursues Egyptians south.
605 August - Nebuchadnezzar learns of daddy's death, returns to Babylon to assume the crown.
605 September - Nebuchadnezzar returns to Palestine, attacking Jerusalem and takes a few of the choicest of the people back to Babylon. Daniel is taken to Babylon with his friends.
597 - Nebuchadnezzar returns to Judah a second time in response to Jehoiachin's rebellion. 10,000 captives are taken to Babylon, including the prophet Ezekiel.
588 - Nebuchadnezzar returns a third time, lays seige against Jerusalem.
586 - The city is finally broken into and destroyed, the temple is burned. Most of the remaining Jews are taken to Babylon, only a few remain.
539 - Cyrus overthrows Babylon, establishing the Medo-Persian Empire
538 - Cyrus issues decree allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem. About 50,000 Jews return. Temple foundations are laid.
515 - The temple is completed.
:1-2 Daniel taken captive
:1 in the third year of the reign of Jehoikim
605 b.c., the first group to be taken captive to Babylon.
:2 part of the vessels
This wasn't a complete conquering of Jerusalem, only some things were taken back to Babylon.
It was kind of a notice of warning to Israel to join Babylon or be wiped out.
:3-7 Youths are taken
:3 certain of the children of Israel
It seems that the Babylonians had a practice of taking the best minds of each land that they conquered, taking them to Babylon, indoctrinating them in the knowledge and wisdom of Babylon, then putting them into use as government workers.
The idea is to make your government able to deal with each group better, to make a more "global" kind of government.
:3 of the king's seed
Apparently, part of the group taken back to Babylon were those in the kingly line, descended from David.
It's possible that Daniel had royal blood in him.
yeled 1) child, son, boy, offspring, youth
It could apply to a child, or a teenager.
It would appear that Daniel and his friends are perhaps 16 years old or so.
:4 no blemish
No physical defects in these kids.
:4 well favoured
Good looking, handsome kids.
:4 skilful in all wisdom ... knowledge
These were smart kids too, the top of their class.
Nebuchadnezzar took the cream of the crop to help his nation out.
:4 ability to stand in the king's palace
They were good candidates to serve the king.
:4 the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans
They were going to be taught all the university level stuff from Babylon.
They would be enrolled in Babylon U.
Their study probably included:
Agriculture, architecture, astrology, astronomy, law, mathematics, and the difficult Akkadian language.
:5 daily provision of the king's meat
They were given food from the king's table, the same kind of food that the king ate.
:5 nourishing them three years
They would be trained and fed for three years, then given their final exams before the king himself.
:7 gave names ...
They are all given new names, this cuts them off from their past and the ties to their heritage.
Note how all four had names that honored God, but are given pagan names to replace them.
Daniel (God is my judge)
Belteshazzar (Lady, protect the king)
Hananiah (Yahweh has been gracious)
Shadrach (I am fearful of a god)
Mishael (Who is what God is?)
Meshach (I am despised, contemptible, humbled before my god)
Azariah (Yahweh has helped)
Abednego (Servant of Nebo)
The attempt is to take these young men away from their God, and make them into useful, secular, pagan people.
:8-16 The first test of Daniel
:8 with the portion of the king's meat
Apparently the Babylonian food did not conform to the Mosaic law of eating.
It's possible that it contained things forbidden, or unclean to a Jew.
Things like pork, shrimp, etc.
It's possible that it was not slaughtered correctly, it might have had the blood in the meat.
Somehow, it was apparent to Daniel that it wasn't what God wanted for him.
Daniel knew right from wrong.
He was familiar with the Law.
He knew when he was breaking God's commandments.
:8 Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself
Here's the key to what is going to happen to Daniel.
He made up his mind ahead of time.
Victory often starts with resolve
When we go into a situation without really making up our minds ahead of time, we are wide open to temptation.
Resolve isn't always enough though.
If you can avoid temptation, do it!
Daniel couldn't avoid this situation.
:8 he requested ... might not defile himself
He spoke up.
:9 favour and tender love
tender love - racham - compassion
Here's Daniel in school, and because of his walk with the Lord, his teacher really liked him.
»Proverbs 16:7-AV When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
They won't always like it when you speak the truth to them.
But they like the compassion, understanding, comfort, etc. they see in your life.
:10 your faces worse
The eunuch is afraid that if Daniel doesn't eat the king's food, that he'll grow weak and haggard looking.
If that happens, the eunuch could loose his head.
:12 Prove thy servants
I like this approach.
Just give it a try, what can it hurt you?
Try it God's way.
1) vegetables (as sown)
May include grains too (sown seeds)
:15 fairer and fatter
God's ways are always better!
:17-21 Rewards for obedience
:17 God gave them knowledge and skill
These aren't especially spiritual gifts.
They are things that pagans can possess.
But these young men understood that the special abilities that they had were given to them from God.
»James 1:17-AV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Recognize where your abilities come from.
Use your abilities for the Lord.
:17 Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams
This will come in handy in the future!
Reminds us of Joseph and his interpreting of dreams.
Both men rose to prominence under a Gentile ruler.
:18 at the end of the days
After the three years of training.
:19 the king communed with them
Not as in "communion".
But as in "final exams".
:19 stood they before the king
They entered into government service.
:20 found them ten times better
God's ways are best
If you want the best training programs, the best education, the best preparation, do it God's way!
»Psalms 119:99-AV I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation.
God's people should strive for excellence
It grieves me when I see God's people settle for working only like average people.
I think God's people should demonstrate that with God's help, they can be the best at what they do!
Here's a believer in a secular world, and he's the best!
How? By doing things God's way!
:20 than all the magicians and astrologers
Doesn't it sound incredibly pagan for Nebuchadnezzar to have hired magicians and astrologers as part of his entourage of counselors?
Last week in the Register - many businesses today are hiring astrologers and mediums on a regular basis to help them set up policies for their businesses, and to help them decide who to hire and who to promote. Some of these are even big companies, Fortune 500 companies, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Amazing! Things don't really change.
:21 Daniel continued ... first year of king Cyrus
Not Billy Ray.
Cyrus overthrew Babylon in 539 b.c.
Daniel had a long career, into his eighties.