Biblical People
Daniel. [Heb. and Aramaic Danéyel, and, more correctly, Daniel. The latter form means, "God is my judge." The name occurs in Ugaritic and Nabataean as Dnl, in Palmyrene as Dnyl, and in Akkadian as Danilu. Gr. Danie µl].

1. A son born to David by Abigail at Hebron (1 Chr 3:1), called also Chileab (2 Sa 3:3).

2. Jewish statesman and prophet at the court of Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian captivity, and author of the book that bears his name. Daniel was of the royal family (Dan 1:3), and thus of the tribe of Judah. He was obviously a young man at the time he was taken captive, for his foreign service, first, for a time, at the court of Babylon, and again briefly under the Persian Empire, spanned a period of at least 67 years (see chs 1:1-4, 7, 21; 10:1; 12:13). Being a prince and a youth of ability and promise (ch 1:3, 4), he was selected, along with others, for a 3-year course of training designed to qualify him for service at court (vs. 5, 19). The curriculum consisted among other things of "the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans [Aramaic]" (v 4). Students taking this course were considered as members of the court and enjoyed certain special privileges (v 5). Apparently from the very first, Daniel's gracious personality and integrity of character won him the favour of the court officials in whose charge he was placed (Dan 1:8, 9). These qualities soon won for him the opportunity of demonstrating the advantages of a healthful diet (vs. 8-16). At the close of the course (3 years, inclusive), Daniel and his 3 companions graduated with highest honours (vs. 17-20). Thus even before Daniel formally entered upon his service at court he had earned the respect and confidence of the king and his courtiers, having given evidence of a gracious personality, a healthy physique, and superior intellect €”in addition to native talent and integrity of character.

Soon thereafter a situation arose that, in God's providence, launched Daniel on his career as a minister and adviser to the king (Dan 2). Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a great image, which, most particularly its spectacular climax, was well calculated to arouse the interest of an idolatrous monarch. When he awoke, he found that the contents of the dream had been erased from his memory. He summoned his wise men to declare it to him, but they finally admitted that none but "the gods" could answer the king's queries (vs. 10, 11). This set the stage for Daniel to prove his own acquaintance with the God of heaven, who not only revealed the dream but so interpreted it as to win Nebuchadnezzar's complete confidence in Daniel as a representative of the true God (vs. 46-49). After the passage of an unspecified period of time, Nebuchadnezzar erected a magnificent golden image and required all his officials to bow before it (ch 3). This golden image was probably designed to represent an empire that would never end, in defiance of the prediction in the dream of ch 2 that envisioned Babylon giving way to another world power (Dan 2:38, 39). For some reason, Daniel was apparently not summoned.

After the passage of another unspecified period of time, and apparently toward the close of Nebuchadnezzar's long reign, the king again dismissed the God of heaven from his mind (Dan 4:4, 30). God accorded him another dream that presaged his humiliation (vs. 5-18), and once more Daniel proved to be the only one able to interpret it (vs. 19-27). After the humiliating experience foretold by the dream (vs. 28-34), the king testified publicly to the greatness of God, to his own submission to God, and implied his own readiness to co-operate with the divine plan for his reign (vs. 1-3, 34-37). But Nebuchadnezzar's successors on the throne of Babylon, though they knew all this, refused to follow his course of submission to the will of God (ch 5:22), and actually defied Him (vs. 2-4, 23). This persistent and obdurate refusal to comply with the divine plan brought about the downfall of the kingdom only a few years prior to the termination of the 70 years of captivity (Jer 25:12; 29:10; Dan 9:1, 2). Daniel's subsequent installation as a high official in the Persian Empire gave him an opportunity to testify to his faith before the leaders of the nation that was destined of God to bring about the predicted return of the Jews to their homeland and to assist in re-establishing them there. His deliverance from the lions' den resulted in the recognition of Daniel as an ambassador of the court of heaven (Dan 6:22-28), and doubtless opened the way for him to call attention to the prophecies about Cyrus and his role in the restoration of Jerusalem (Is 44:24 to 45:13).

On at least 4 occasions Daniel was the recipient of divine revelation, first the vision of Dan 7 early in Belshazzar's reign, second the vision of ch 8 two years later, third the communication of ch 9 after the conquest of Babylon by the Persians, and fourth the vision of ch 10 and the lengthy explanation that followed it, as recorded in chs 11 and 12, in the 3rd year of the new empire. (For an analysis of these visions, see Daniel, Book of.) Thus Daniel lived at least till the 3rd year of Cyrus, and was at that time almost 90 years of age.

3. A priest of the time of Nehemiah who affixed his signature to a covenant of loyalty to God, probably as head of his father's house (Ezr 8:2; Neh 10:6).

4. In Eze 14:14, 20, and 28:3 reference is made to Daniel, spelled in unvocalised Hebrew Dnl, in contrast to Dnyl of the book of Daniel. In the first two passages, he appears, together with Noah and Job, as an example of a righteous man and in the third passage as an extraordinary wise man. The discovery of the Ugaritic texts has brought to light a hero of ancient times, "Danel, the Rephaite" who was known as "judging the cause of the widow, adjudicating the case of the fatherless" (ANET, 149-151). Since this discovery, many scholars have argued that this ancient Danel must be the one to whom Ezekiel refers together with the two other ancients, Noah and Job, instead of Daniel, his contemporary. They have pointed out that the spelling of the name Danel in Ezekiel and in the Ugaritic texts is the same, while that of the statesman Daniel is different, and also to the fact that Jewish tradition knew a Danel of prediluvian times, for the pseudepigraphic Book of Jubilees (produced in the 3rd or 2nd cent. b.c.) says that the father-in-law of the patriarch Henoch was Danel (4:20). Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Danel of the Ugaritic texts is called a rp, "Rephaite," a term that parallels the "Rephaim," a people of patriarchal times (Gen 14:5; Deut 2:11, 20; 3:11, 13; etc.) -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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