The twenty-seventh book of the Old Testament.

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King James Bible

A male name, Hebrew in origin, literally meaning "God is my judge". It's also my name :)

Daniel was the son of Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky of Russia. Daniel himself never actually held the title of Grand Prince of Russia, but he is on many lists of Russian Rulers because he was the first Prince of Moscow from 1277 to 1304 and built up the territory and prestige of the relatively new city.

The House of Moscow, consisting of his descendants, fought with their cousins the House of Tver for the Grand Prince's throne and eventually two of Daniel's sons, Yuri III and Ivan I were to be Grand Prince. This started a dynasty of rulers in Moscow which would last so long that up until the reign of Peter the Great in the early 1700s, the country was called "Muscovy" rather than "Russia" in many European languages.

The Book of Daniel and its Historical Setting
The book of Daniel is made up of two parts, the story of the court of King Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel’s visions.  It is also made up of different sections in different languages.  In fact it switches languages more than any other book in the Bible.  These facts have led many scholars to believe that the book was not written by one person, or even during one period of time (REDDITT 1).

   The story of the book itself begins among the Babylonian conquest of the holy land.  The kingdom of Medes had weakened the Assyrian empire and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon seized on the opportunity to gain control of Israel.  Therefore the book of Daniel (like much of the Old Testament) is set during a time of the Jews in exile (Sullivan 3).

   Like many of the books written during an exile the character of Daniel himself is meant to led those Jews lost among the pagans back to the one true Hebrew God.  It accomplishes this through apocalyptic visions such as the following:

“I, Daniel saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts come up out of the sea, different from one another.  The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings.  Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it… And was told, ‘Arise, devour many bodies!’ (Daniel 7:2-4 and 5)”

   The use of this language is not only to scare lapsed Jews into piousness, it also serves as a reassurance to those who have remained faithful that God has not forgotten them, and one day the Lord will rise up and bring them justice.  As Elizabeth Dyer put it in U.S. Catholic, “Apocalyptic literature often functioned in times of crisis to assure the hearer of God’s reliable power,” and the Lord’s ability to “ultimately rescue the faithful” (Dyer 2).
The most famous of Daniel’s reassurances to his fellow Jews is the story of his time in the lion’s den.  The story begins with a writing appearing on the wall of the King Belshazzar’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s son) palace.  Daniel was summoned to interpret it.  He rejects the king’s gifts and tells Belshazzar that he has not humbled himself before God and that God had “numbered the days of your kingdom” (Daniel 5:26).  Belshazzar thanks Daniel, but later the king’s advisors plot against Daniel and convince the king to sentence him to a death in the lion’s den.  After Daniel is able to survive a night in the den, he is triumphant. He has proven that faith in God protects the believer even in the most dire circumstances.  As the writer(s) of Daniel put it, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before Him (Daniel 6:22)”.

Daniel’s Purpose

   The literary themes of the book of Daniel hold out several important ideas for us today.  First, Daniel is not a book with any historical “lessons” to preach to its readers (Sullivan 7).  The book's existence is for the most part simply to edify God.  However, through Daniel’s actions in putting God before himself several important concepts are offered.
First is the humility of the faithful before God. The place of God at the head of all things shows the Yahwistic leanings of the Books’ authors (Redditt 3).  This is important today because even among God-fearing Christians, the placement of God is not often before themselves let alone others.
Second are the necessity of truth and the idea of the Lord as truth.  When Daniel is called on to interpret dreams or other visions, he speaks truthfully, often to his own detriment.  Granted, the apocalyptic scenes in the later chapters are not very accessible to readers, but the Daniel speaks truthfully all the same.


The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989)

Sullivan, R.S.C.J., Kathryn. “An Introduction to the Book of Daniel” The Old Testament Reading Guide: The Book of Daniel and The Book of Jonah, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1975)

Dreyer, Elizabeth. "Apocalypse Now and Then," U.S. Catholic Vol. 63/Issue 3, March 1998 Ebscohost April 3, 2000.

Redditt, Paul L. "Daniel 11 and the Sociohistorical Setting of the Book of Daniel," Catholic Bible Quarterly Vol. 60/Issue 3, July 1998 Ebscohost April 3, 2000.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
Book: Daniel
Chapters: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 ·

Daniel was of noble Birth, if not one of the royal family of
Judah. He was carried Captive to Babylon in the fourth Year of
Jehoiachin, B. C. 606, when a youth. He was there taught the
learning of the Chaldeans, and held high offices, both under the
Babylonian and Persian empires. He was persecuted for his
religion, but was miraculously delivered; and lived to a great
Age, as he must have been about ninety-four years old at the
time of the last of his visions. The Book of Daniel is partly
historical, relating various circumstances which befell himself
and the Jews, at Babylon; but is chiefly prophetical, detailing
visions and prophecies which foretell numerous important events
relative to the four great empires of the world, the coming and
Death of the Messiah, the restoration of the Jews, and the
Conversion of the Gentiles. Though there are considerable
difficulties in explaining the prophetical meaning of some
passages in this Book, we always find encouragement to Faith and
Hope, examples worthy of imitation, and something to direct our
thoughts to Christ Jesus upon the Cross and On his glorious

I sat on the bathroom floor beside the tub, splashing the water on my baby brother. Daniel was almost a year old, and I was just six. I held up a toy boat.

“Whee!” I shouted enthusiastically.

My parents’ fighting had escalated, and I wasn’t sure anymore why they were mad. They were looking for excuses at this point. Though I hated to hear them yelling at all, I was relieved whenever I wasn’t the target of their anger.

That night, they fought about the long wooden table in our living room. The year before, Laura had gashed her head open on the corner of it, and we’d driven to the hospital in the night so she could get stitches. The table sat beneath the front window, in the sun. My mother had picked a light finish for it; my father wanted a darker glaze.

“We talked about it! We agreed on this one!”

“I thought we said the lighter one!”

“No, we did not!”

I ran down the hall quickly and peeked around the corner into the living room. They were standing in front of the table, in front of the window, out in the open, face to face but not touching.

“Well, we’re not going to stain it that color, I can tell you that much!”

“What am I supposed to do with this then?”

“Take it back to the store! Get the darker one!”

“And what if I don’t?”

My father laughed. “Seriously, Emily. Just take it back.”


Just a minute!”

“I think Daniel is done with his bath.”

She whipped around to face me: “Now is not a good time!”

“I think he needs to get out now.” I had hoped this would stop the fight.

My father looked at me. “If you’re so concerned, why don’t you take him out?”

I shuffled back to the tub and pulled out my brother. He was a little big for me to handle, but I knew I could lift him, and I had carried him farther than the length of the house before.

I carried him in the towel to the changing table in the room that was once mine, dried him off, and put a clean diaper on him, just as I had seen my mother do. I chose a pair of blue footie pajamas that had been handed down from Laura to me to Victoria, and finally to Daniel, struggling to dress him as he squirmed. I put him into his crib and sneaked out, careful now not to draw my parents’ attention.

from The Book of Revelation

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Dan"i*el (?), n.

A Hebrew prophet distinguished for sagacity and ripeness of judgment in youth; hence, a sagacious and upright judge.

A Daniel come to judgment. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

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