By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Men in the Old Testament

  • The name Daniel means, “God has judged.”
  • Daniel’s name was changed to the Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, meaning “May he protect his life.” The “he” was probably the Babylonian god, Bel.
  • Daniel’s three friends’ names were also changed.
  • Daniel refused the king’s food because he wanted to remain faithful to God and he couldn’t know for sure whether the foods were ritually unclean. What does this mean? It sounds funny.
  • He must have been on good terms with his guard in order to ask him for such a favor.
  • Daniel’s strict adherence to Judaic laws did not interfere with his being promoted.
  • This provided incentive to all Jews that God would look after them if they were faithful.
  • Daniel’s faithfulness was rewarded by God giving him the gift of understanding and the ability to interpret dreams.
  • Daniel was known as “a wise man.” He had special insights into the divine purpose along with a special understanding of God’s way in the world.
  • Because the soothsayers could not interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s first vision, he ordered them all to be killed – this would have included Daniel.
  • On his way to death row, Daniel found out the problem and convinced the king’s officer to let him talk to the king.
  • After bargaining for a little time, Daniel returned to his three friends and they pleaded to God for mercy.
  • During that night, the mystery of the vision was revealed to Daniel.
  • Daniel sang a hymn in praise of God.
  • Daniel took no credit for the interpretation, saying it had been revealed to him by God.
  • After Daniel interpreted the first vision, the king was so ecstatic that he worshiped Daniel – and then promoted him.
  • He was put in charge of all the soothsayers and astrologers and other wise men.
  • He insisted that his friends be promoted too.
  • When Nebuchadnezzar had his second vision, he specifically asked Daniel to interpret it, saying, “the spirit of the holy gods is in him.” At least this time, the king could remember the dream.
  • It was very hard for Daniel to tell the king what the dream meant because the king had always been very kind to him. He wished the dream had applied to his enemies.
  • When he told the king he would be insane for seven years, he pleaded with the king to forsake his sins and turn to righteousness.
  • Such candor could have cost him his position or even his life.
  • The one-year delay in the fulfillment might indicate the king made some attempts to reexamine his conduct in light of Daniel’s words.
  • Daniel also had visions. Some of them greatly distressed him.
  • Heavenly visitors interpreted the dreams for Daniel. And he kept all these things to himself.
  • The visions during the first and third year of Belshazzar’s reign are thought to be about the four kingdoms: Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and Greeks. (Some scholars think it refers to the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires.) A large portion of the visions centered on the fourth kingdom and is thought to be a reference to the king Antiochus IV, who reigned during the second century. The point of the visions was that none of these kingdoms would prevail; only God’s kingdom is eternal.
  • When the ghostly hand wrote on the wall during Belshazzar’s feast, the queen remembered Daniel and recommended him for the interpretation.
  • She also commended him as one who has “the spirit of the holy gods in him.”
  • This time Daniel refused all rewards in advance. Perhaps he was already advanced in age and didn’t want another promotion.
  • Despite Daniel’s grim words, the king did clothe Daniel in purple and place a gold chain around his neck. He also proclaimed him the third highest ruler in the kingdom. (Maybe he was fearful of Daniel’s authoritative speech.)
  • Belshazzar died that very night, and Darius took over.
  • Darius seemed to be a friend of Daniel.
  • Daniel’s coworkers were very jealous and looked for a way to get rid of him.
  • They tricked the king into issuing an edict that would forbid anyone from praying or worshiping anyone other than the king. The ruse was that this would serve to unite his subjects behind him.
  • The king believed it. He signed the document with his signet ring, which meant that it could not be revoked.
  • Daniel, of course, prayed three times a day to God – in full view of others.
  • The conspirators caught him in the act and rushed to tell Darius.
  • Darius was very sad upon hearing the news and “was determined to save Daniel.”
  • But he could not revoke the decree.
  • At sundown the king gave the order, and Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den.
  • The king said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
  • Then the door was sealed with clay tablets on which he pressed his royal seal, thereby preventing anyone from trying to rescue Daniel during the night.
  • The king returned to the palace but refused all food and spent the night awake.
  • Early the next morning he rushed to the den, calling out to Daniel.
  • The king was overjoyed when Daniel answered. He was not only alive, but also completely unhurt.
  • The king had the conspirators thrown into the den, and “the lions overpowered them.”
  • Daniel might have been in his eighties by this time.
  • The king then issued another decree saying that all his people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
  • And Daniel prospered.
  • During the first year of Darius, Daniel prayed humbly to God. He quoted the prophet, Jeremiah, who foretold that 70 years would pass in exile. He prayed that God would count the time from when Daniel was taken into exile. This would shorten the time by almost 20 years. The hope was that with a new king, they might be released from exile.
  • The angel, Gabriel, brought a quick response. He called Daniel “greatly beloved.”
  • It was a message of encouragement. Seventy times seven years would be required for the people of God to put away their sins and attain righteousness.
  • During the third year of Cyrus, Daniel received another disturbing vision.
  • The vision concerned a time yet to come. It spoke of wars and tribulations. They, too, would not last. Ultimately, God’s purpose would prevail.
  • The final words to Daniel are positive. “Go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” This is one of the clearest references to the resurrection of the dead in the Old Testament.
  • There is no information re: the death of Daniel.


Goldingay, John. "Daniel." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989.

Lucas, Ernest. "Daniel." Apollos Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Redditt, Paul. "Daniel." The New Century Bible Commentary. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

Russell, D.S. "Daniel." Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1981.

Towner, W. Sibley. "Daniel." Interpretation. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1984.

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