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Book of Daniel

Daniel is a book of the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Bible Old Testament. It is in the section known as the Hagiographa (Hebrew Khethubim). It consists of two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first six chapters, is chiefly historical; and the second part, consisting of the remaining six chapters, is chiefly prophetical. The Septuagint version contains two additional chapters, which contain an account of Daniel and Susanna, and of Bel and the Dragon, as well as a lengthy addition to the third chapter which contains the prayer of Azariah while the three youths were in the fiery furnace, as well as the hymn of praise they sang when they realized they were delivered. These sections are generally included in Eastern Orthodox and Catholic versions of the Bible, but are omitted from Protestant editions.

The historical part of the book treats of the period of the Captivity. Daniel is "the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar ] away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia'" (2 Chr. 36:20). See also History of ancient Israel and Judah, History of Persia.

The prophetical part consists of three visions and one lengthened prophetical communication, mainly having to do with the destiny of Israel:

  1. The vision in the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon (7:1) concerning four great beasts (7:3) representing four future kings (7:17) or kingdoms (7:23), the fourth of which devours the whole earth, treading it down and crushing it (7:23); this fourth kingdom produces ten kings, and then a special, eleventh person arises out of the fourth kingdom that subdues three of the ten kings (7:24), speaks against the Most High and the saints of the Most High, and intends to change the times and the law (7:25); after a time and times and half a time (three and a half years), this person is judged and his dominion is taken away (7:26); then, the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven are given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27)
  2. The vision in the third year of Belshazzar concerning a ram and a male goat (8:1-27)
  3. The vision in first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus (9:1) concerning seventy weeks, or seventy "sevens, apportioned for the history of the Israeli people and Jerusalem (9:24)
  4. A lengthy vision in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia (10:1 - 12:13)

The historicity of this book has been much disputed, but supporters claim the following:
  1. We have the testimony of Christ (Matt. 24:15; 25:31; 26:64) and his apostles (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Thess. 2:3) for its authority; and
  2. the important testimony of Ezekiel (14:14, 20; 28:3).
  3. The character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony with the times and circumstances in which the author lived.
  4. The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, quite similar to what might be expected.
Certain portions (Dan. 2:4; 7) are written in the Chaldee language; and the portions written in Hebrew are in a style and form having a close affinity with the later books of the Old Testament, especially with that of Ezra. The writer is familiar both with the Hebrew and the Chaldee, passing from the one to the other just as his subject required. This is in strict accordance with the position of the author and of the people for whom his book was written. That Daniel is the writer of this book is also testified to in the book itself (7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1, 2; 12:4, 5).

Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed

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