Book of Daniel
|Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
Daniel is an Old Testament book about and supposedly by Daniel (an advisor to the King) who foretold the future. It combines six chapters about the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, with a further six chapters of vague prophecy. There are also a few apocryphal chapters which may or may not be present in your Bible.
Daniel is not technically a Prophet in the Jewish sense since he talked with angels not God, and since he talked to future generations not the current generation. The last half of Daniel describes the destruction of the world and the coming of the Messiah. For Christians, this carries important events that must pass before Jesus can come to the earth.
Famous stories from Book of Daniel
- King Nebuchadnezzar throwing Shadrach, Mishach, and Abedniego into the Fiery furnace where they survived by praying to their God (the God of the Jews).
- Daniel ate nothing but vegetables for 10 days, and ended up in better health than the courtiers who ate royal food during that time -- thus proving the benefits of veganism.
- "The Writing on the Wall", this saying comes directly from the story of king Belshazzar seeing writing appear on the wall that he cannot interpret but which Daniel explains tells of the destruction to come.
- The story of Susanna is canonical for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox but not Protestants. The beautiful, virtuous heroine is falsely accused of getting it on with a young man, but she is defended by someone called Daniel who disproves the allegations when her accusers disagree over what tree she was getting it on underneath. The story, with its opportunity for painting a sexy lady in a biblical context, is a popular subject in western art, from Artemisia Gentileschi to Thomas Hart Benton.
- "Bel and the Dragon" is another deuterocanonical tale, fine for Catholics but not Jews or Protestants, in which Daniel does various clever tricks including making a dragon explode.
Chapters 7-12 describe various visions involving four beasts from the sea (ch 7); a ram and a goat representing the Medes and Persians and the Greeks (ch 8); a revision of Jeremiah's prophecy that Jerusalem would be ruined for 70 years, which is upgraded by Gabriel to a massive 490 years (ch 9); and a war between Greece and Persia (ch 10-12). All of these have been widely studied by would-be prophets of doom attempting to predict the end of the world.
Based on the prophecies, which run up to around 167 BC, the book's composition is conventionally dated to between 167 and 164 BC.