Introduction

Daniel

Introduction to Daniel

The book of Daniel has been subject to more criticism and rejection by critics than any book of the Bible except Genesis. This is essentially because of one reason only: the many remarkably fulfilled prophecies in the book. Critics who refuse to believe in God’s ability to reveal future events through His prophets have gone to great lengths to impugn the traditional authorship. They have charged historical errors and linguistic anomalies, but the real reason is its prophecies.

The other supposed arguments have been well refuted. Its main historical “errors” were references to Belshazzar and Darius the Mede, who were unknown to secular history—at least until they finally were identified as real rulers in the annals of Babylon and Persia. Its supposed linguistic problems have been turned back on the critics by identification of foreign words in Daniel which would have been obsolete at the late date critics would like to ascribe to Daniel.

Daniel was recognized as a great, wise, and righteous man of God by his contemporary prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14,20; 28:3), and almost all the ancient authorities, both Jewish and Christian, accepted the authentic Danielic authorship. The question is conclusively settled, however, by the fact that Jesus Himself attributed the authorship of one of the book’s most important prophecies to “Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15).

There is every reason, therefore, to accept the authenticity of the book of Daniel. Its histories are valid histories and its prophecies are genuine prophecies, many of them fulfilled already and the others awaiting the closing days of the Gentile age.

As far as Daniel himself is concerned, he was among the “king’s seed” (Daniel 1:3,6)—that is, of royal blood—who were carried away from Judah into Babylonian captivity, with king Jehoiakim in the first wave of exiles. Daniel, with his three friends (Daniel 1:6), took a strong and uncompromising stand for God in this pagan environment, and God greatly used and honored him as a result.

Daniel served as a high official in Babylon under several kings, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:48,49), followed by Evil-Merodach, Nergal-sharezer, Labashi-marduk (none of whom are mentioned in Daniel) then under Nabonidus and Belshazzar, who was son of Nabonidus and co-regent with him in Babylon, at the time of the fall of Babylon to Persia (Daniel 5:29-31). He then continued under Darius the Mede and finally under Cyrus of Persia (Daniel 6:28). All of this seems to have occupied a total of almost seventy years (compare Daniel 9:2).

The book is written in the first person, Daniel asserting several times that he was the author (Daniel 8:1; 9:2,3). A substantial part of the book, from Daniel 2:4–7:28, was written in Aramaic, presumably because that was the court language in Babylon and because those portions of his book dealt mostly with events centering in the Gentile kingdoms of the world, as distinct from those portions focusing especially on the nation of Israel and therefore written in Hebrew. Among the latter is the great prophecy of the seventy “weeks” (Daniel 9:24-27), giving a prophetic chronology anticipating the coming of Messiah, and then for the climactic events coming at the end of the age. The seventieth week is essential to the understanding of the book of Revelation in particular.

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