The content of the book written by Daniel is part history and part prophetic forerunner of the apocalyptic last book of the Bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
In chapter two we will meet a metallic image which will lay down the foundation of all prophecies we find further in Daniel’s book and the Revelation written by the apostle John. We will comment more when we reach chapter two.
The message of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is all ready part of this website as well as the book Ezekiel which has references to the apocalyptic book of the Revelation, and can be found on this website also.
Daniel and Revelation should be studied together: “There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work.” (Testimonies to Ministers, TM, 112)
Revelation compliments the book of Daniel and for that reason both should be read and studied.
We will do the same as has been done with the Revelation go chapter by chapter through the whole book. We will make comments and add quotations from other writers
who have studied these books. In particular the late Dr.Mervyn Maxwell who wrote his book GOD CARES I about Daniel and Dr.Bill Shea who wrote also extensively about Daniel, and George McCready Price will be quoted as well as Dr.Jacques B. Douhkan.
Our standard Bible text will be the KJV and if another translation is used it will be so indicated.
We believe Daniel wrote this book while being a captive or prisoner of war, (POW)
from Judah, the southern kingdom, in Babylon, 605 BC.. This is not only confirmed by Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) scholars but also by the Evangelicals. Here is a quotation from The Evangelical Commentary (Ev.Co.) on the Bible page 589: Daniel is the author of the book that bears his name. Daniel, whose name means ‘God is judge’, was carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon in the third year of Jehoiakim (1:1), which according to the Babylonian system of reckoning, was 605BC”
The book can be divided in two parts. History chapters 1-6 and prophecy chapters 7-12. Daniel wrote in two languages: “The book of Daniel is written in both Hebrew (1:1-2:4a; 8:1-12:13) and Aramaic (2:4b-7:28. This reflects the historical situation, as Aramaic gradually became the official language of the Near East from 1000BC, until the time of Alexander the Great, when Greek supplanted it.” (Ev.Co.590)
In regard to interpretation we use the Historicist School, not futurism or preterism. The Historicist School was the standard one before and during the time of the reformation. To turn the attention away from the papacy, during the reformation era two Jesuit priests were asked by the papacy of that time to develop a different school of apocalyptic prophetic interpretation. Ribera developed futurism which put apocalyptic prophecy in the far future and Alcazar developed preterism which taught that all prophecy had past fulfilment in the time of the Imperial Roman Empire. In later years Protestantism accepted more and more futurism for interpretation of apocalyptic or last day’s prophetic events. Seventh-day Adventists do follow strictly the Historicist School for their interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation.
Jesus believed in Daniel as we know from his statement in Matthew 24:15 and does encourage us to pay attention to what Daniel wrote.
For more technical and historical information regarding Daniel the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (SDABC) has much to offer. See SDABC vol.4 pp 39-76 and 743-754. Also Dr.Mervyn Maxwell in his book God Cares I (GC I) and Dr.Bill Shea in his books about Daniel provide much information and answering critical questions. These materials are available from www.adventistbookcentre.com
With this brief introduction we are now ready for our journey through the book of Daniel starting by chapter one
Daniel chapter 1.
We suggest you take your Bible, preferable a KJV translation and start reading Daniel 1:1 and 1:2. Each time we deal with another part of Daniel read it first in your Bible, as well as other scripture passages. Check them with your own Bible.
From these two verses we learn the following:
1. Time when it happened
2. The event that happened in that year.
3. The victory of King Nebuchadnezzar
4. What the Babylonian king did.
We will consider these items point by point..
The third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of Judah has been established as 605BC. He was the second son of King Josiah, 1Chron.3:15. Dr.Bill Shea notes: “The first date in the book, at the beginning of chapter 1, is equivalent to 605BC in our calendar. The last date, the date that accompanies the last prophecy of the book (Dan.10:1) is equivalent to 536BC. That gives us a span of almost seventy years that Daniel spent in Babylon”
(Shea in Daniel, Shea, p.32)
2. What happened in that year?
The King of Babylon came unto Jerusalem and besieged it. Nebuchadnezzar had succeeded his father, Nabopolasar and continued the ambition of his father to build a world empire which became known in history as Neo-Babylon. This ruled the world from 605 till 539BC.(Shea,p.52) God’s prophets had warned the Northern Kingdom, Israel and the Southern, Judah, that as a result of their deep apostasy such a siege would take place if they would not repent and return to true worship of the Creator God.
“Micah, Isaiah, Habakkuk Zephaniah, Jeremiah and others offered pardon in exchange for repentance, but they preached to the wind. (Maxwell in GCI p. 20/21)
The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was deported to Babylon in 722BC. Now in 605BC it was the time for Judah, the Southern Kingdom to be deported because of their unrepented attitude towards God’s messages of warnings. The Lord had sent messenger after messenger but to no avail, they remained unrepented.
Nebuchadnezzar was sent as God’s instrument of judgment over Judah after Israel. 2Chron.36:15-17. Jeremiah had warned that evil upon them would come out of the north.
Jer.1:14; 6:1, 22, and other scripture places. Daniel 1:1 records the fulfilment of these predictions
The third point to be considered is how victory of Nebuchadnezzar came about. The answer is that “the Lord gave Jehoiakim unto his hands .with part of the vessels of the house of God.” (Dan.1:2). It was not the cleverness of war strategy of Nebuchadnezzar, but the Lord God was behind it. God’s messengers had been given warning upon warning, offering pardon upon repentance, but to no avail. The Lord cannot tolerate apostasy of His people without doing something about it.
After the Exodus from Egypt the people were clearly informed, in language not to be misunderstood, by Moses who was instructed by the Lord Himself, what the result would be of obedience and disobedience. All can be read in Deuteronomy 28. Most unfortunately the two spiritual sisters, Israel and Judah choose the path of disobedience.
Point number four tells us what the king did with the vessels of God’s house. He took it to his land and placed it in the house of his god. No doubt this was the god called Marduk or Bel-Marduk and named in Jer.50:2 Merodach.. This god was regarded as the official or patron god of Babylon (From the Greatest of the Prophets, by McCready Price, p.52 (Price).
This was an act of Nebuchadnezzar to show victory of his god over the God of Judah. We find a similar event in 1Sam.4. The Ark of the Covenant, of God, was taken out of Shiloh, the tabernacle, and taken to the battlefield. The Philistines took it and brought it to Ashdod and placing it in the house of their god Dagon. However it did not work according to what they had in mind. It was against the will of the God of Judah to whom the Ark of the Covenant belonged. Read the story. In the end they had to send the Ark of the Covenant back to Judah.
But here in Daniel 1:1, 2 God allowed it to happen, but to certain limit as we will notice later in Daniel chapter five.
In this section we learn how Nebuchadnezzar tried to be wise and smart for his own benefit. He made an attempt to brainwash or re-educate those he had made captive.
He gives orders to select the best from the Hebrew captives who could be placed in such a process of re-education. We still see that in our day and age and have seen it in the past. Autocratic rulers and governments force people into re-education camps to change their mind and attitude in favour of the ruling government system. With some people it worked with others not.
Nebuchadnezzar gives order to his officer Ashpenaz to select the best from the captives of Israel. But he stipulates what the conditions have to be in order to be selected. They have to be from royal decent, princes, well educated already and able to learn the language and teachings of the Chaldeans.
The selected ones would eat from the king’s table in itself a very, very privileged offer. Usually captives or POW’s would not be treated like that. Not then and not today. The time of education would be three years and then being examined by the king himself.
Among the captive people were found Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Apparently Ashpenaz checking these young men must have found that they were of royal decent.
Dr.Gerhard Pfandl (Pfandl) in his book about Daniel writes “King Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, one of his officers, to select the most promising among the exiled youth and to train them in Babylonian culture. Many years earlier, the prophet Isaiah told king Hezekiah, that some of his descendants would become ‘eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon’ (Isa.39:7) Rabbinic tradition, therefore asserts that Daniel and his three friends were descendants of King Hezekiah who were made unto eunuchs at the court of Babylon. The word ‘saris’ (eunuch) however can simply refer to a high officer of the court. For example, Gen.39:1 calls Potiphar a ‘saris’ even though he was married”
The Hebrew meaning of the names of these four young men was Hebrew God related. Daniel = God is my judge. Hananiah = Yaweh is gracious. Mishael = Who belongs to God?. Azariah – Yaweh helps. (SDABC vol.4 p.759)
The prince of the eunuchs changed their names, most likely also instructed by the king to do so. Daniel became Beltesashazzar; Hananiah got the name of Shadrach; Mishael was named Meshach and Azariah was changed into Abednego. The precise meaning of these new names has not been established. But they were directly related to the Babylonian culture and its religion. In Daniel’s new name we discover “Bel” the popular name for Babylon’s chief god. (SDABC vol.4 p.759)
In everything the king endeavoured to make sure these men would be put on a course of action to forget where they came from and to become completely integrated in their new environment
Soon after being selected and receiving new names a serious test of loyalty came about. Remain true to the Hebrew God of their home country or accept the culture of the gods of the land of their captivity. They were soon to find out where the real blessings could be found.
The first thing we find in Daniel 1:8 is that Daniel himself made a firm decision in his heart to put God first and man second. Other translations read “Daniel resolved or made up his mind” (NASB) It is clear from what follows that Daniel’s friends did the same.
In the New Testament (NT) we learn from Peter the same firmness in attitude towards God and man. Standing before his human rulers Peter said “Judge yourself whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God”. (Acts 4:19) Next time standing again before the council Peter said “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)
Daniel resolved to do the same, putting God first before men. Daniel and his friends were young, teenagers, captives or prisoners of war. In such a situation not much individual freedom is granted. Still they decided to remain firm in regard to what they had learned at home in their land of Judah. May be in their family life there was not so much apostasy as in Judah in general. What they had learned at home in regard to God’s statutes and commandments had to be put to practice in a hostile environment.
They knew about God’s dietary laws as stated in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. They also knew what God had said in connection with these laws. “For I am the Lord your God ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves and ye shall be holy, for I am holy neither shall ye defile yourselves…..” (Lev.11:44)
Peter quotes this in the NT in 1Pet.1:15, 16 “In all manner of conversation” which means in all manner of living or deportment of your lives. (Philips translation) With these words of Peter the NT believer is subject to the same as Daniel was in his time.
Daniel was also well aware of Solomon’s writings in regard to intoxicated drinks. Prov.20:1; 23:29-32; 31:4, 5.
It is interesting what Dr.MacArthur writes: “the pagan foods and drinks were devoted to idols. To indulge was to be understood as honouring these deities. Daniel ‘purposed in his heart (cf. Prov.4:23) not to be engaged in compromise by being untrue to God’s call of commitment (cf.Ex.34:14, 15) Also foods that God’s law prohibited (Lev.11) were items that pagans consumed, to partake entailed direct compromise (cf.Dan.1:12) Moses took the stand (Hebr.11:24-26) as did the Psalmist (Ps.119:115) and Jesus (Hebr.7:26)
cf 2Cor.6:14-18; 2Tim.2:20. (From Nelson’s Ultimate Bible Reference, NUBR)
It is interesting to note that Dr.MacArthur calls these laws, God’s law, not Law of Moses.
They are God’s law and for that reason Daniel and his friends remained loyal to that law, as we should be the same even today.
Ellen G.White (EGW) writes: It was God’s design to show the Babylonians that there was a King above the king of Babylon, ——— the God whom the Hebrew youths worshipped. These youths exalted God. They knew that they were to carry out the principles of truth and therefore they refused the meat from the royal table and the wine from the royal cellar”. (Bible Echo, July 2, 1900)
The same must apply in our lives in this time of modern spiritual Babylon as is revealed in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible. The dragon may be angry with such people, Rev.12:17 but Christ, the Lamb will gain the victory and all who are standing with Jesus Christ, Rev.17:14
As a result of this firm decision made beforehand, Daniel requested from the palace officer to be exempt and that “he might not defile himself”
From verse 9 we learn that God had His hand in it as well. The palace officer looked with favour upon Daniel, with tender love. This was the first sign that God honoured Daniel’s faithfulness. EGW writes “Strict compliance with the requirements of heaven brings temporal as well as spiritual blessings. Unwavering in his allegiance to God, unyielding in his mastering of self, Daniel by his noble dignity and unswerving integrity, while yet a young man, won the ‘favour and tender love’ of the heathen officer in whose charge he had been placed” (Prophets and Kings ,PK, p.546)
Joseph had a similar experience, read Gen.39:1-4. Ezra also made up his mind to be faithful to God, Ezra 7:10. Read also Nehemiah’s experience in Neh.2:1-6. Remember these men were Jewish captives in a heathen land, but still showed strict faithfulness to the Creator God they only knew. God blessed them. We will experience the same in this day of world’s history under the same Creator God.
In this part of the first chapter of Daniel we learn about the result of Daniel’s decision and his friends not to defile themselves with the food and drinks from the king’s table. In verse 10 we read how the palace officer shows fear for his life if he would grant these four men their request.
But Daniel suggest a testing time of ten days. (Dan.1:11-12) the officer found this a reasonable suggestion and granted them their request to eat only pulse and drink only water. This was allowed for ten days, Dan.1:14
In essence they lived on the pre-fall Eden food, Gen.1:29. After the fall mankind was allowed to add herbs to their diet, like the animals at. Gen.3:18 and 1:30. Only after the flood, that is about 1650 years after Eden the Lord allowed humans to eat flesh food. Gen.9:3 However with the understanding that they knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. This was demonstrated to Noah when the animals entered the ark as stated in Gen.7:1-9. Seven pair of clean animals and only one pair of unclean. Later it was set in law as we have it in Lev.11 and Deut.14. These are not ceremonial laws for atonement, type of Christ’s sacrificial atonement, the true Lamb of God, John 1:9. These laws about clean and unclean are plain dietary laws for our good and retaining good health. The Creator who has made our bodies knows what is best to have it operating as best as possible. Christ came to make unclean sinners clean, to save them from their sins, Matth.1:21; 1John 1:9; 3:5. Christ did not sacrifice His life to get unclean animals clean. What was unclean then and not good for human consumption is still unclean today and not good for human consumption.
What happened to Daniel and his friends after these ten days? Daniel 1:15 tells us that they looked far better than the ones who had been eating and drinking from the king’s table. So Melzar, the palace officer had no choice than to grant Daniel and his friends to stick to their choice of food and drink during the three years of their education.
But the Lord had more blessings in store for these four men of God. After the three years of training and education they were brought before the king for private royal examination. The king himself must have been a very well educated person to perform such an examination. The result was that he found them ten times better than all the other educated men in his kingdom.Dan.1:20 Far and much better physically (1:15) and now ten times better intellectually. This was a gift of God, his goodness towards their faithfulness. “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom and knowledge, and joy.” Eccl.2:26 Of Daniel it is reported that he received from God something extra, the understanding in all dreams and visions.Dan.1:17. In NT terms we would call that the gift of prophecy. When we move further in this book we learn that for sure Daniel had this gift to understand dreams and visions and was called upon more than once, in Daniel 2, 4 and 5. What was darkness for the secular so-called wise men was made clear to Daniel by divine inspiration.
A wonderful first chapter in this remarkable Bible book Daniel, with lessons to be learned and put to practice even in the 21st century.
Pastor Jan T.Knopper
Edited October 2010
Revisted August 2013