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Understanding the Book of Daniel: Daniel 1

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Introduction

Overview of the prophet Daniel
Born in 621 BC
Exiled by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (16 years old)
Lived throughout the entire Neo-Babylonian period and during some of the Persian rule.
Prophetic career 605-520 BC (85 years)
Daniel’s name means God is my judge.
Overview on the Book of Daniel
Authorship & Date: There are a variety of views on the authorship and date of the Book of Daniel:
It is believed that Daniel wrote this book in his old age, approximately 536 BC.
Some believe that this book was written by an anonymous Jew in the second century BC, writing under the pseudonym Daniel. This makes the accounts of Daniel non-historical. The purpose, therefore, is to encourage the Jewish believers during the Maccabean period. This is known as the Maccabean Thesis. Under this thesis, the book of Daniel is the oldest book in the Old Testament. The author is supposedly a member of the Jewish sect called Hasidim.
Daniel’s authorship was accepted as the traditional view for nearly 1800 years, except for a few exceptions:
Porphyry (A.D. 232-303) who stated the book of Daniel was a 2nd century book. Furthermore, it was said that Porphyry claimed that the author of Daniel used the name and made all of the stories in the book up to revive the hopes of countrymen.
Historical Setting (Judah/ Jerusalem): There are three distinct characteristics that describe the historical setting of the book of Daniel:
The Last Days: Daniel was born during the last days of the kingdom of Judah. This reference to the “last days” identifies a key eschatological motif that defines the way Daniel and his contemporaries would have interpreted the times. This idea of the last days identifies the way the phrase should be interpreted throughout the remainder of Scripture. The last days refers to the end of a nation or kingdom. During this time, the nation is led by man and God is putting an end to his kingdom.
A group of Israelites, including Daniel and the three Hebrew boys, were taken in captivity during the rule of Jehoiakim (Daniel 1:1-2).
A second group totaling 10,000 Israelites were taken under the rule of Jehoiachin, including Ezekiel (2 Kings 24:12-16, c.f. Ezekiel 1:1-2).
Zedekiah became king and like the previous kings, he defied Nebuchadnezzar, which led to the seige of Jerusalem on January 15, 588 BC (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1; 52:4; Ezekiel 24:1-2) and its capture on July 18, 586 BC (2 Kings 25:2-3; Jeremiah 39:2; 52:5-7).
Following the seige, the city and its temple was destroyed on August 14, 586 BC (2 Kings 25:8-10).
The interesting thing about these events is that Daniel saw it all.
When we think about the events and historical context of this book, it identifies an important theme found in Scripture concerning eschatological and apocalyptic literature—they are both concerned with the city of Jerusalem and its temple.
Daniel’s contemporaries: Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk.
Jeremiah would have had the most influence on all of the prophets of his time.
Ezekiel refers to Daniel three times (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28;3).
The two prophets were contemporaries, born in the same year. However, Daniel lived longer, had a longer prophetic career, and spent the longest time in Babylon.
Neo-Babylonian Context: The time of Daniel was dominated by one of the, if not the greatest leader of the time—Nebuchadnezzar. This period in history was cemented by his defeat over Egypt in May- June of 605 BC.
Other Empires: The book of Daniel is considered a book of empires. It covers Babylon, Persia, and Greece.
Literary genre: The literature in this book includes apocalyptic, historical, and prophecy.
Chapters 1-6 are historical and prophetic
Chapters 7-12 are historical, prophetic, and apocalyptic.
There is a very obvious connection between the prophecies of Daniel and the revelation of Jesus given by John the apostle.
Language: This book was written in Hebrew and Aramaic.
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