Daniel's Answer to the King by Briton Rivičre, R.A. (1840-1920), 1890 (Manchester City Art Gallery)
- For the song by Elton John, see Daniel (song)
- See also: Book of Daniel
Daniel (דָּנִיֵּאל, Standard Hebrew Daniyyel, Tiberian Hebrew Dāniyyęl) is the name of two people from the Bible. The name means "My judge is God", or "God has judged".
David's second son, "born unto him in Hebron, of Abigail the Carmelitess" (1 Chr. 3:1). He is called also Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3).
- Allegedly, one of the four great prophets, although he is not once spoken of in the Old Testament as a prophet.
The rest of this article deals only with the latter. It should be noted that it is often doubted by modern historians whether he is a historical figure at all, see Book of Daniel for details. The rest of this article is written as if he was a historical figure.
His life and prophecies are recorded in the Book of Daniel. He was descended from one of the noble families of Judah (Dan. 1:3), and was probably born in Jerusalem about B.C. 623, during the reign of Josiah.
At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (the kingdom of Israel had come to an end nearly a century before), or immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at the second battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (B.C. 606), Daniel and other three noble youths were carried off to Babylon, along with part of the vessels of the temple. There he was obliged to enter into the service of the king of Babylon, and in accordance with the custom of the age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., prince of Bel, or Bel protect the king! His residence in Babylon was very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified with a mass of shapeless mounds called the Kasr , on the right bank of the river.
His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Dan. 1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. He was distinguished during this period for his piety and his strict observance of the Mosaic law (1:8-16), and gained the confidence and esteem of those who were over him.
At the close of his three years of discipline and training in the royal schools, Daniel was distinguished for his proficiency in the "wisdom" of his day, and was brought out into public life. He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (1:17; 2:14), and rose to the rank of governor of the province of Babylon, and became "chief of the governors" (Chald. Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon. He made known and also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream; and many years afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm and consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious feast, he was called in at the instance of the queen-mother (perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret the mysterious handwriting on the wall. He was rewarded with a purple robe and elevation to the rank of "third ruler." The place of "second ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated with his father, Nabonidus, on the throne (5:16). Daniel interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain."
After the taking of Babylon, Cyrus the Great, who was now master of all Asia from India to the Dardanelles, placed Darius, a Median prince, on the throne, during the two years of whose reign Daniel held the office of first of the "three presidents" of the empire, and was thus practically at the head of affairs,no doubt interesting himself in the prospects of the captive Jews (Dan. 9), whom he had at last the happiness of seeing restored to their own land, although he did not return with them, but remained still in Babylon.
His fidelity to God exposed him to persecution, and he was cast into a den of lions, but was miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (6:26). He "prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian," whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of the decree which put an end to the Captivity (B.C. 536).
The time and circumstances of his death are not recorded. He possibly died at Susa, about eighty-five years of age.
Ezekiel, with whom he was contemporary, mentions him as a pattern of righteousness (14:14, 20) and wisdom (28:3). Those scholars that consider the Daniel of the Book of Daniel as unhistorical, usually contend that Ezekiel meant another figure that is now forgotten, and that the author of the Book of Daniel took up this clue from Ezekiel to name his alledged prophet, to bind him to the older books of the Bible.
- Variations: Daniell (male); Danielle (female)
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04