Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "DANIEL"

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

The Book of Daniel

Daniel's name means "God is My Judge."

Daniel is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. It may be said to be introductory to the book of Revelation in the New Testament, and both should be studied together. "The book of Revelation removes the seal (Rev. 22:10) from the book of Daniel (12:4)."

All that is known of Daniel is found in the book that bears his name. He was of noble if not royal birth (1:3). He was carried into Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar II (1:1), in the third year of Jehoiakim's reign by Babylonian reckoning (fourth year by Jewish reckoning). He lived until the overthrow of Babylon and at least until the year 536 BC.

The authenticity of the book of Daniel has been many times attacked. A chief critic, Porphyry, in the third century AD, offered objections to the book which have survived to the present, and are borrowed by the skeptical critics of today.

In essence, their position is that the book was written after the kingdoms enu­merated in chapter 2 had appeared historically. Thus, inescapably it is not from the pen of Daniel and is thus not prophecy but a fraud, because the writer many times says he is Daniel. These critics assign it to the period in which the Jews were fighting for their independence under the Maccabees. It was written (they say) to encourage the Jews in a hope of final victory and was cast into prophetic form for dramatic effect. Daniel's venerable name was attached to insure a reading audience.

Boddis gives the following arguments in favor of its genuineness:

  1. It claims to be written by Daniel.
    This is especially true of some of the prophecies in the last six chapters — 7:1, 15, 28; 8:1, 27; 9:1-4; 10:1-2, 10-12; 11:1l -- though Daniel is sometimes mentioned in the third person in earlier chapters.

  2. Our Lord quoted from Daniel the prophet in Matthew 24:15.
    Presumptively He is quoting from a book, not citing mere oral tradition.

  3. Daniel is mentioned in Ezekiel (Ezk. 14:14, 20; 28:3).
    These allusions show the piety and wisdom of Daniel, both of which accord with what is said in the book concerning him.

  4. The First Book of Maccabees refers to incidents in Daniel.
    This is done in such a way as to show that the author of tins book was familiar with it and the incidents it records. (See 2:59-60)

  5. The testimony of Josephus affirms that Jaddua, the high priest, showed Alexander the Great the prophecies in which Daniel foretold his (Alexander's) coming, because of which Alexander was impressed and spared Jerusalem. (Alexander preceded Antiochus and the Maccabees by more than 150 years.)

  6. Internal evidence shows that the author had an intimate acquaintance with Chaldean history, customs, and religion. This was not so likely to be true if the author lived 200 years after the Persian conquest.

  7. Archaeology remarkably confirms many previously challenged statements in the book of Daniel: e.g., concerning Belshazzar, certain Persian and Greek words used in the book, the palace university in which Daniel was trained, etc.

It will be of help to us to know that the following were kings of Babylon (in the order named):   Dates are after Jack Finegan in Light from the Ancient Past.

  1. Nabopolassar (625-605 BC), father of

  2. Nebuchadrezzar II (or "nezzar") (605-562 BC), who reigned 43 years and was followed by his son

  3. Amil-Marduk (562-560 BC) (2 Ki. 25:27, called "Evil-Merodach, " i.e., "Man of Marduk"), a weak successor to a great king who was slain at the end of 2 years by his brother-in-law

  4. Nergalsharezer (560-556 BC) (Jer. 39:3), who seized the throne for himself; he followed in the footsteps of his father-in-law Nebuchadrezzar II in a rebuilding program of public works; he died at the end of four years, leaving the throne to his son

  5. Lubashi-Merodach (556 BC), a child-king who was murdered within nine months and succeeded by

  6. Nabonidus (also written Nabonahid or Nabona'id), a trusted general of the troops of his predecessors, reigning from 556-539 BC. Nabonidus weakened his influence with his people, especially the priests, by rebuilding the temples of Babylon's ancient deities and neglecting the current gods, thus losing his grip on the empire and preparing the way for Cyrus II's conquest, whose policy of letting conquered people worship their favorite gods was more pleasing to a large part of the empire than their own king's (Nabonidus's) policy.

  7. Nabonidus's son, Belshazzar, reigned as viceroy with his father, who for several years toward the end of his reign resided at Teima in western Arabia. This explains why Nabonidus is not present with his son Belshazzar on the night of the great feast and the capture of the city, described in chapter 5.

It will be observed that Daniel is concerned only with Nebuchadrezzar and Belshazzar, the first and the last kings of the first world-empire of the "head of gold," before introducing Cyrus and "Darius the Mede, " the leaders of the two-armed Medo-Persian empire.    Formerly Darius was confused with the general who captured Babylon under the theory that the two names, Gubaru (Gobryas) and Ugbaru, were variant spell­ings for the same man.   Whitcomb has now clarified the matter.   Ugbaru was an elderly general who captures Babylon and died within weeks thereafter.    "Darius the Mede" was evidently Gubaru (Gobryas), whom Cyrus, a restless conqueror, made satrap over Babylon.   (Cyrus usually placed a trusted subordinate over a conquered territory while lie sought other fields of conquest.)   So when Babylon fell to the Persians October 13, 539 BC, Cyrus entered in peace two weeks later (October 29, 539 BC), and was received more as a deliverer than as a conqueror.   Indeed, there was no pitched battle for the city of Babylon.   Its fall was due rather to internal lack of loyalty to Nabonidus and Belshazzar.   The city preferred the tolerant Persian policy of allowing conquered peoples to follow the popular gods to Nabonidus's policy of enforced return to the forsaken ancient gods, especially Marduk (i.e., Bel) for whom Nabonidus named his son, Marduk-sherazzar (i.e., Belshazzar).

NOTE:    The viewpoint of Daniel is that of "world-wide dominion" with the emphasis that the God of heaven "ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whom­soever he will" (4:25, 32, 34-35).    Israel having failed in dominion, it is given to four successive Gentile world rulers, who will likewise fail and be superseded by Messiah's kingdom.   Observe 2:38 plainly gives "universal dominion" to Nebuchadrezzar.   It was "never fully realized, but power was given for it, " and that is the point.   (See New Scofield notes, pp. 898-899.)

THE KINGS OF PERSIA:    It might be helpful as further background for the book of Daniel to have a rundown on the kings of Persia (see notes from 10:19-11:35):

  1. (Family of) Archaemenes,  c. 700 BC

  2. Teispes,  c. 675-640 BC

  3. Cyrus I,  c. 640-600 BC

  4. Cambyses I, c. 600-559 BC
    Up to this time, Persians were under the domination of the Medes. Nominally Cambyses I was king in his own right, but actually he was subordinate to the Median king Astyages.   Cambyses married Astyages's daughter, Mandane, whose son was

  5. Cyrus II the Great,  c. 559-530 BC
    Cyrus revolted against Astyages, who then marched against him. But the Median army rebelled and Cyrus took over Ecbatana (Astyages's capital).   Three satrapies were established which, in order of rank, were; Persia, Media,  Elam.

    Throughout his extensive campaigns, and in contrast with other oriental conquerors, Cyrus was always humane.   He spared the lives of Astyages and Croesus and each was allotted a royal train.   Babylon was not destroyed, but its people won over by his mercy.   Thus, his permission for the Jews to return to their homeland was entirely in character.

  6. Next came:
    Cambyses II, 530-522 BC
    Darius I the Great, 522-486 BC, son of Hystaspes. Darius saved the empire against the rebel, Gaumata. During his reign the Persians were defeated at Marathon (491 BC), and--after his death--the Persian fleet was beaten at Salamis (480 BC). Thereafter the future belonged to Europe instead of Asia.

  7. Following these came:
    Xerxes I, 486-465 BC (cp. book of Esther)
    Artaxerxes I Longimanus, 465-423 BC
    Darius II, 423-404 BC
    Artaxerxes II Mnemnon, 404-359 BC (cp. Nehemiah)

  8. Artaxerxes III Ochus, 359-338 BC
    Arses, 338-335 BC
    Darius III, 335-331 BC, at which point the Persian kingdom ends when Alexander the Great took over.



A. The moral preparation necessary for receiving and understanding prophecy 1
B. The forgotten dream 2:1-3

  1. GENTILE WORLD EMPIRE ("The Times of the Gentiles") 2:4-7:28 (in ARAMAIC)

    1. The great colossus: A prophetic panorama of the world's entire future 2:4-4


      1. Enforced worship of the image 3

      2. An account (in retrospect) of Nebuchadrezzar's humbling (told by himself) 4

      3. The doom of Belshazzar and the first world kingdom 5

      4. Darius's decrees and Daniel's deliverance from a den of lions 6

    2. Daniel's vision of the four world empires 7
      "The Times of the Gentiles" (cp. Dan. 2)


    1. Israel's experiences under the RAM (Medo-Persia) and GOAT (Greece) Empires 8

    2. The time-table of Israel's future revealed to Daniel 9

    3. Daniel's last vision (in third year of Cyrus) 10-12

      1. The preparation of the prophet 10:1-18

      2. The mighty angel's message: The future of Daniel's people, Israel (10:14) 10:19-12:13

        1. The sixty-nine weeks 10:19-11:35

        2. The seventieth week ("the time of the end") 11:36-12:4

        3. An appendix to the prophecy 12:5-13


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