The Book of Daniel
Daniel or The Book of Daniel forms an important part of the Ketuvim in the Hebrew Bible Tanakh. It is also included in the Christian Bibles and Septuagint. The book of Daniel provides an account of the visions and activities of Daniel, a Jew who was exiled at Babylon. It is divided into two halves – the first half comprises chapters 1 to 6 and the second half includes chapters 7 to 12. Although traditionally the authorship of the entire book of Daniel is ascribed to the seer Daniel, chapters 1 to 6 are believed to have been composed by an unknown narrator. Chapter 4 appears to be a letter from the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The following half of the book, i.e. chapters 7 to 12 is believed to have been penned by Daniel himself. The book is a work of Wisdom, where wisdom is expressed in God’s revelations.
The initial six chapters discuss stories of Jewish heroism that are set in Babylonian court; the second half of the book of Daniel contains 4 apocalyptic revelations. The language for chapters 2 to 7 is Aramaic; the rest are composed in Hebrew. The book of Daniel begins with a short reference to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar who robs the Solomon’s Temple. Some Judean noblemen, including Daniel are then included into king’s service. Although they are allowed to consume royal provisions of wine and meat, they refuse to do so. When posed with the question of deterioration of health, Daniel suggested a 10-day trial that will include only pulses and water in the diet. When Daniel and his men are found to have healthier dispositions than their counterparts, the king allows them to continue with their simple diet. Daniel is further noted to have the special power of dream interpretation.
Nebuchadnezzar sees a disturbing reverie which he then asks his men to construe. When they all refuse, the king sentences all wise men to death. Daniel then asks God for an answer and receives a vision which allows him to successfully interpret the king’s dream. This pleases the king and he makes Daniel and his men rulers of all the major cities of Babylon.
In the next story of the book of Daniel, three of Daniel’s companions, Azariah, Ananias and Mishael are thrown into the furnace for refusing to bow down to the golden statue of the emperor. When Nebuchadnezzar observes the appearance of a fourth figure in the flames, God is credited to save them from their demise.
In another vision, Nebuchadnezzar sees the reflection of a huge tree, which is cut down all of a sudden under the command of some heavenly messenger. When Daniel is asked to read the vision, he states that the king himself is represented by the tree, who will lose his sanity for 7 years. His sanity and kingdom will be restored at the end of the seven-year period when he acknowledges the authority of the Lord.
Belshazzar and his men indulged themselves in a blasphemous feast when a strange hand surfaced and wrote a note on the palace walls. When Daniel was requested to interpret the writing, he spoke of God’s sentence and how the Babylonian empire was going to be split up between Medes and Persians. Belshazzar was killed that very night, and his throne was taken over by Darius the Mede.
Daniel was raised to a prestigious position under the reign of Darius. When jealous conspirators asked Darius to prohibit worshipping of any other God for 30 days, Daniel was found guilty of praying to the God of Jerusalem. Daniel is then thrown into a lions’ den but he is protected by God. When the king finds Daniel unharmed the next morning, he throws the conspirators into the lions’ den where they are devoured instantly. The book of Daniel is an important part of the Hebrew Bible.