Book Background: Daniel

Written by Will Johnston | July 26, 2010 |

You probably know at least a bit about Daniel.  The story about him being thrown to the lions is one of the most popular in the Bible.  Daniel prays to God in defiance of the king’s decree and is ratted out by some bad dudes.  So even though the king likes Daniel, he’s forced to throw him into a pit with hungry lions, but God saves Daniel and the bad dudes are fed to the lions instead.

Daniel lived during a time of imperial upheaval.  In the late 7th century BC the Assyrian Empire was in decline and was replaced on the world stage by the Babylonian Empire.  The Assyrians had turned Judah into a vassal state, and when the Babylonians took over, they began exiling Jews from their homeland in 605 BC.  Daniel was among the first of those taken to Babylon and while there saw the fall of the Babylonians and the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire.  The details of Daniel’s death were not recorded, but we know he lived to be very old and died sometime after 522 BC.

As you will read, God’s favor causes a quick rise to prominence for Daniel.  The first six chapters of the book chronicle this story, while the latter six record Daniel’s apocalyptic prophecies about the rise and fall of future empires.  Key themes include pride/rebellion and the Kingdom of God.

The book of Daniel was at least in part written by Daniel himself, as the use of first person narration in the second half indicates.  However, the first half refers to Daniel in the third person, opening the door to the possibility that others were involved in the process as well.

Sources
ESV Study Bible
A Survey of the Old Testament

For Further Study
Handbook on the Prophets