You are on page 1of 6

The Prophet Daniel

by Arend Remmers

12 chapters

Author and Time of Writing

Purpose of Writing
Overview of Contents

1. Author and Time of Writing

The book of the prophet Daniel ( hebr. = my God is judge) owes its name to the main
character. Daniel, as many other authors of the antiquity and the Bible, writes of himself
in the third person throughout the first part of the book. From chapter 7:28 onwards (in
the second part) he writes of himself in the first person. In chap. 7:1 Daniel tells us how
he wrote down the dream that was revealed to him. In chap. 12:4 he is asked to shut up
the words and seal the book. This can only relate to the entire book written by him.
Daniel belonged to those Jews who had been led away captive to Babylon at the first
siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 605 BC (compare Dan. 1:1-2 with 2
Kings 24:1 and 2 Chron. 36:6-7). By this Isaiahs prophecy to king Hezekiah was
fulfilled which was spoken of around 100 years before Daniels time. This prophecy said
that the descendants of Judahs king would become servants of the king of Babylon
(compare Dan. 1:3 with Is. 39:5-7). Daniel was one of these nobles und descendants of
the Jewish royalty who were destined to serve at the Babylonian court after profound
training. He was probably not more than 15 to 20 years old at his imprisonment.
Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were exemplary in their
heathen surrounding by their believing determination. The first six chapters of the book
describe their and especially Daniels faithfulness in the most varied circumstances of
Under Nebuchadnezzar Daniel served as regent over the whole province of Babylon and
was chief of the governors over all the wise of Babylon (Dan. 2:48). After
Nebuchadnezzars death we hear of Daniel again during the time of Belshazzar only.
Belshazzar was Nabonids son and reigned during his fathers absence as vice-king. At
that time Daniel was an old man already.
After the conquest of Babylon through Darius the Mede (probably Gubaru or Gobryas) in
the year 539/538 BC Daniel was appointed as one of the three presidents set over 120
satraps of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians (Dan. 6:2-3).

The last indication of a date is the 3rd year of king Cyrus of Persia in Dan. 10:1 which
was the year 536/35 BC. Daniel must have been around 85 to 90 years of age when he
wrote down his last visions.
Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel who went into Babylonian captivity in 597 BC
(around eight years later than Daniel). Ezekiel mentions Daniel three times in his book
( Ez. 14:14.20; 28:3). Daniel knew also Jeremiahs writings whose service had begun
already some years before the Babylonians started to attack Jerusalem. While studying
the book of Jeremiah Daniel came to the conclusion that the announced 70-yearscaptivity would come to a soon end (Dan. 9:2).
When the Lord Jesus in his Olivet discourse spoke of the profanation of the temple
through the Antichrist He explicitly mentions Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15; compare
with Dan. 11:31; 12:11). The Lord refers to Daniel 7:13 in Matt. 24:30 and 26:64 as well.
Daniel is not mentioned especially in Heb. 11 among the heroes of faith of the OT. But
should the words of verse 33 who stopped the mouths of lions not refer to Daniel who
was spared in the lions den (Dan. 6)?
The book of Daniel has been the object of unbelieving criticism for ages. The first attacks
go back to the heathen New Platonist Porphyrius of Tyre (3rd century AC). Porphyrius
designates the book of Daniel as the work of a Jew of the 2nd century BC. The modern
critics hold similar opinions. The reasons mentioned against Daniels authorship are
pretended historical inaccuracies, linguistic details and the theology of Daniel. The
main reason for criticism however is no doubt the fact that Daniel prophesied historical
events with absolute precision (as did Isaiah). For Daniel has in detail described the SyroEgyptian fights of the time of the Maccabees among other events (Dan. 11:1-35). This is
simply impossible say the critics. They say a book with such details must have been
written only after these events. But Daniel has also prophesied precisely of the coming of
Christ (Dan. 9:25). Finally he writes on the still future events of the time of the end
before the second coming of Christ. In all this the words of Amos the prophet are clearly
affirmed: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealed his secret unto his
servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

2. Purpose of Writing
In the Hebrew Bible the book of Daniel does not belong to the prophets but to the
writings (hebr. ketubim), which is the third and last part of the OT. There the book is
placed between Esther and Ezra.
A large part of the book is written in Aramaic (chapters 2:4 7:28). Aramaic was the
official language of the Babylonians and Persians. The reason for these facts is probably
that Daniel in contrast to the other prophets living during and after the exile prophesied
hardly anything in relation to Israel or Judah but his prophecies are mainly about the
heathen nations.

The great theme of the book of Daniel are the four world empires which rule and will rule
the worlds history from after Jerusalems destruction up to Christs appearing before the
millennium. This period is called the times of the Gentiles in the NT (Luke 21:24).
Jehovah could no longer publicly accept His earthly people Israel or Judah respectively.
He punished it through the captivity in Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and the
temple. He had left His habitation the temple (Ez. 10:4.18; 11:23). The most high God,
possessor of heavens and earth (Gen. 14:19), had as it were retired to the heavens. In the
book of Daniel God is called the God of heaven four times (chap. 2:,
King of heaven once (chap. 4:37) and once Lord of heaven (chap. 5:23). During this
time of His indirect government God puts the authority over the earth into the hands of
heathen nations until His Blessed One, the Lord Jesus, shall take over the government as
glorified Son of Man.
Daniel gives a prophetic overview on the times of the Gentiles that is the four world
empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. After the complete failure of these
empires government finally the people of Israel will be restored to God and Christ will
reign over all as king.
The fact that Daniel is describing the times in which we are still living makes the book
especially interesting for the Christian.
The book may be divided into two great parts. The first part (chap. 1 6) after the
introduction of a faithful remnant (Dan. 1) describes various historical events out of
Daniels life. To start with, chapter 2 tells us of Nebuchadnezzars dream and Daniels
interpretation of it. This dream contains Nebuchadnezzars human view of the four world
empires. This is an imposing view indeed! The following chapters 4 6 not only show
Daniel and his friends exemplary faithfulness but also indicate various characteristics of
the heathen world empires, which will find their culmination in the time of the end.
Chapter 3 shows the idol worship, chapter 4 the human arrogance, chapter 5 the
blasphemy and chapter 6 the deification of man.
The second part starts in chapter 7 with a second revelation on the four world empires but
out of Gods sight: The empires are like four wild beasts. Chapter 8 tells us of the second
and third empire, chapter 9 of the end of the Babylonian captivity and of the Messiah and
chapters 10 to 11 of the kings of the north (Syria) and the south (Egypt). Chapter 12
forms the end in which we find the faithful remnant again.
There is a close relationship between the book of Daniel and the revelations concerning
the future in the New Testament. Matt. 24 25, 2 Thes. 1 2 and Revelation are
additions respectively extensions of the revelations Daniel received. Only by considering
them all together will we receive the right comprehension over the future events.

3. Peculiarities

The Prophecy of the 70 Weeks

Daniel 9:24-27 gives exact indications on the point of time of the Messiahs appearing.
After 70 weeks that is periods of each seven years (= year weeks, compare with Lev.
25:8) there shall be made an end of sins and everlasting righteousness shall be brought in
and a most holy place shall be anointed. The 70 year weeks fall into three periods: seven
weeks (= 49 years), 62 weeks (= 434 years) and one week (= 7 years), 490 years in total.
The starting point for counting these 490 years is the commandment to restore and build
Jerusalem. This happened in the year 445 BC in Artaxerxes 20 th year ( Neh. 2)*. To
begin with follow the seven weeks, that is 49 years, in which Jerusalem was rebuilt under
great threat from within and from without. This is partly described in the book of
Nehemiah. Then follow the 62 weeks or 434 years leading up to the Messiah. But after
the 69 weeks, that is 483 years, the Messiah would be cut off and have nothing.
*According to earlier opinion Artaxerxes edict was made in 455 BC. If one deducts 483
years one gets the year 28 AC.
This can only relate to the death and ascension of the Lord Jesus. If one calculates these
483 years as prophetical years of 360 days each (12 x 30 days) one gets 173.880 days
which including the leap-years result in 476 calendar years and lead to the year 31/32 AC.
The last year week still awaits its fulfilment. They are the last seven years before the
millennium will be set up. Between the end of the 69 th and the beginning of the 70 th
year week lies the actual time of grace, during which the calendar of Israel is not valid
so to speak. The last year week of Daniel will begin after the rapture of the saints.
According to Dan. 9:27 this week will be divided into two parts. The second half of these
3 years is mentioned more than once in the Revelation either as a time, times and half
a time (Rev. 12:14, compare with Dan. 7:25) or as 42 months (Rev. 11:2; 13:5) or also as
1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6). If one assumes that it is always the same period of 3 years
one discerns that these prophetic years are 12 x 30 days.
The Four World Empires
According to Daniel 2 and 7 the God of heaven considers the worlds history from
another viewpoint than man. For Him His people Israel are the most important people on
earth (Deut. 32:8-9) and the land of Palestine is the navel or the middle of the earth
(rendered land in English) ( Ez. 38:12). During the time of the rejection of Israel as a
nation God sees the worlds history as sequel of four great world empires: Babylon,
Persia, Greece and Rome. In Daniel 2 these empires appear to Nebuchadnezzar in form of
an imposing human image composed of four parts. A stone (which signifies the Lord
Jesus) without human hands finally destroy this image. In Daniel 7 God gives the prophet
another sight; here the world empires are portrayed as four rapacious wild beasts without
knowledge that finally receive their judgment.

Daniel 2

Daniel 7


Head of Fine Gold (Dan. Lion with Eagles



Breast and Arms of Silver Bear

Persia (Dan. 5:28; 6:1)

Belly and Thighs of Brass Leopard

Greece (Dan. 8:20-21)

Legs of Iron, Feet part of Beast with 10 Horns Roman Empire (compare Rev.
Iron and Part of Clay
13:1; 17:3.7.12)

The fourth empire ( Rome) ruled at the time the Lord Jesus was living on earth (compare
Luke 2:1). It perished during the Middle Age but will rise again according to Rev. 17:8b
in the last days (the beast that was, and is not, and yet is) and then be destroyed by
Christ with the other countries before the millennium will be set up (Dan. 2:44-45; 7:1114; Rev. 13; 19:19-21).

4. Overview of Contents
Daniel 1, Introduction: Daniels Decision and Gods Answer
Daniel 2 6: Character of the World Empires
Chapter 2

The Four World

Human Point of View

Chapter 3

The Golden Image:


Chapter 4

Arrogance, Fall and

Chapter 5

Blasphemy and

Chapter 6

Daniel in the Lions


Daniel 7 11: Prophetical History of World Empires

Chapter 7

The World Empires:

Daniels Divine
Point of View

Chapter 8

Persia and Greece

Chapter 9

Daniels Humiliation
and the Time of the
70 Year Weeks

Chapter 10 The Kings of the

11 North and of the
Daniel 12:
Chapter 12

End: The Faithful


Arend Remmers