August 7, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Daniel 1-6
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Author: Daniel, a prophet taken captive by the Babylonians
Date: Between 606 BC - 536 BC
Context: Today’s reading in Daniel covers the historical aspect of his life. The remainder of the book examines his visions and prophecies during his time in the foreign land. Chapter 1 introduces the historical setting and Daniel and his friends. In this chapter, we also see that the diet prescribed to the Israelites by the Lord was not simply to set them apart from other nations, it was for their own health! Daniel and his friends, in just 10 days, were obviously healthier than those who dined on food from the king’s table. In chapter 2, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. Daniel was the only person able to tell the king the dream and interpret it. The gold stands for the Babylonian Empire, the silver for the Media-Persian Empire, the brass for the Graeco-Macedonian Empire, iron for the Roman Empire, and the iron clay mix for the last form of Roman rule, which we are living in today. Chapter 3 concerns Daniel’s three friends who refused to bow down and worship an image of the King. For their disobedience, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. The furnace was so hot that the guards who threw them into the fire died! The king observed a fourth man in the furnace, a man he did not recognize. It is not clear, and scholars continue to debate, if this fourth man was an angle or a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Chapter 4 is written from King Nebuchadnezzar’s point of view. Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, which Daniel was able to interpret and explain. In chapter 5, Belshazzar is introduced as King. Likely Belshazzar was co-regent with his father, who was away during this feast that occurs in this chapter. By this time, Daniel is an old man, long since retired. Yet he was called out of retirement to interpret God’s writing which foretold of the death of Belshazzar. That same night, Belshazzar died. By chapter 6, the Babylonian Empire had fallen from power and the Media-Persian Empire has risen. Daniel is thrown into a den of lions because he refuses to cease praying to the Lord God. Daniel showed his dedication and faith in the Lord and refused to be intimated or back down from worshiping the Lord.
World History: Daniel was born during the final days of Judah. He witnessed first hand the destruction of the nation of Judah. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were also prophets during this time. It is likely that Daniel would have heard of Jeremiah, if not personally have heard him speak, as Jeremiah was prophesying several years before the fall of Judah. It is unknown if Daniel and Ezekiel knew of each other, although it is unlikely that they ever met. Other historians appear to verify the events of chapter 4. It is believed that King Nebuchadnezzar was mentally ill and the 7-year illness in this chapter was hysteria.