LECTURES ON THE PROPHET DANIELINTRODUCTION
Daniel of Babylon: Prince, Prophet, Statesman – the Great Visionary of Prophecy.
BRI International Internet Yeshiva Forum Notes, April 3, 2004
Les Aron Gosling, Messianic Rebbe
CAUTION: These BRI Expositions are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.
Copyright © BRI/IMCF 2004, 2015 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling, Messianic lecturer (BRI/IMCF)
An author on the subject of Daniel says this about the prophetic volume: “Among the great prophetic books of Scripture, none provides a more comprehensive and chronological prophetic view of the broad movement of history than the book of Daniel... Although other prophets like Jeremiah had much to say to the nations and Israel, Daniel brings together and interrelates these great themes of prophecy as does no other portion of Scripture... Daniel is essential to the structure of prophecy and is the key to the entire... prophetic revelation. A study of this book is, therefore, not only important from the standpoint of determining the revelation of one of the great books of the [Hebrew Scriptures] but is an indispensable preliminary investigation to any complete eschatological system” (J.F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation
, 1971, 7).
The pagan Porphyry (3rd century CE) first questioned the authorship of the scroll, and he was the only person to do so until the advent of higher criticism in the seventeenth century of our era. Be this as it may, Our Lord Yeshua testified to Daniel's predictive record thus validating his calling and election and the centrality of Daniel in understanding world events (Mt 24.15; Mk 13.14
), and Ezekiel also gave vitally important contemporary historicity to Daniel:
“The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Human being, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will exterminate man and animal from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD. If I cause noisome creatures to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the creatures: Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I exterminate man and animal from it: Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and animal: Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Eze 14.12-20
“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Human being, say unto the prince of Tyre: Thus says the Lord GOD; Because your heart is elevated, and you have said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God: Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee” (Eze 28.3
In the Hebrew Scriptures Daniel is placed, not where you would expect to locate him (that is, in the “Prophets” section of the Bible) but among the Writings (K'tuvim
). Recall the Hebrew Bible is divided up into three divisions: Torah
(Writings). The first three letters of each section create an acronym for Tanack
, the Jewish name for the Hebrew Bible. Search as we might, nowhere in the volume is Daniel called a prophet – although he clearly had a prophetic ministry. There are four reasons why Daniel in found in the Writings division of the sacred Scriptures. Firstly
, while he was not called a prophet he was recognised as a “Seer” or “Wise Man.” Only those writings by people called “prophets” are included in the second division of the Bible.Secondly
, the character of the scroll is much different to that of books penned by other prophets as one can tell even upon a surface scan of the volume. Its character better suits the third division.Thirdly
, Daniel was a government official, and the Spirit-inspired Writings of personages who were of legal standing in the community of Israel – Kings, priests, scribes – were located in the third division.
David was a prophet as pointed out in Acts 2.29,30
but his Psalms
(which are highly prophetic in nature) are also located in this third division. David, you see, although he was a prophet, was also a King.Fourthly
, and possibly most importantly, was the fact that – in Jewish thoughtform – the author and the book he wrote were to be considered inseparable; they were not to be differentiated. Hence the volume penned was considered to be the person himself.
Daniel was a eunuch
and thus prohibited from entering the Temple (Deut 23.1
); his volume comprised predictions relating to Gentile kings and kingdoms; their rise, their conquests and their fall. It included references to Gentile persecution of the people of Israel. Like a eunuch, no heathen Gentile could enter the sacred precincts of the Temple of God. They were excluded. This is a main reason WHY all three volumes of the last division (Writings) of the sacred Scriptures, namely Ezra/Nehemiah
(considered one volume), Chronicles
– a genealogical work – and Daniel
, were not permitted to be placed within the library of the Temple itself and had to be preserved at the official walled-village of the Sanhedrin, Bethphage. This place was found “outside the camp” on the Mount Olivet, the extension of the Temple precincts. (Flavius Josephus apparently disagreed with the decision to canonise Daniel in the “Writings” section of holy Scripture. He placed him squarely in the second division!)
There were a number of Jewish prophets active during the Axial period of history. In our lectures, we have so far covered Jeremiah (who must be ranked the major Axial prophet) and, of course, the mystical Ezekiel. But as we shall see in this new series, there was yet another prophet that was used by God during this pivotal epoch in human affairs. This man was a royal prince (Dan 1.3
; Josephus Flavius, Antiquities
., Bk X, x, 1). Daniel's (Heb. Dnyal
; LXX Dani'el
) very name means “God is my Judge”). As with all Jewish names, this prophet is highly significant, considering the context of his prophetic writings. For, the contents of his scroll reveal the negative judgments of God on the Gentile powers of the world in their relationship with Israel. Carried into captivity by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, at the first invasion of Jerusalem in 605 BCE, Daniel knew very well that God's judgments on him were entirely favourable. God judged the nations one way, and judged Daniel in quite another fashion.
Certainly, like Jeremiah, Daniel coded his volume. You will note that Dan 1-2.4
and Dan 8-12
are written in Hebrew, while Dan 2-7
are scripted in Aramaic. Aramaic was the lingua franca
of the ancient world, but it was at that time entirely alien to Israel. Again, like Jeremiah, Daniel was also extremely cautious in not publishing his prophecies during the Neo-Babylonian period, but left it until the Persian period for public reading of its contents (Robert Duncan Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days
, 1954, 1977, 108). Daniel had two related but distinct kinds of message to deliver – one to the Gentile world, and the other to Israel, the people of God (ibid).
Despite the fact we actually no nothing of Daniel's immediate genealogy (other than that he was of the Royal Jewish line), nothing about his age (except that he was a boy, or lad, when he was carried away captive to Babylon), and absolutely nothing of his death, the events contained in the book of Daniel span to around the third year of Koresh (Cyrus) 536 BCE which would cover a period of 70 years. Scholars are in agreement that Daniel himself may well have lived on to circa 530 BCE. He does not speak of himself in the first person until chapter 7. In the first person, “Daniel” is located repeatedly in the latter portion of the scroll (Dan 7.2,15,28; 8.1,15,27; 9.2,22; 10.2,7,11,12; 12.5
Now, Daniel happened to be a man explicitly disqualified by the statements of the Torah from ever entering the sacred precincts of the Temple of God. He was forbidden to do so, as we have seen, because he was a eunuch
). How he became a eunuch we have no way of knowing. But Daniel also found himself among a number of royal captives spared by Nebuchadnezzar and taken as prisoners to the city of Babylon, on the Euphrates. The prophet records that he was placed in the care of a gay court official by the name of Ashpenaz who was “the master of the eunuchs” (Dan 1.3,7
). Not only is this the case, but, as unpopular a thought as it may be to some people in some quarters, Daniel admits that he was brought “into favour and tender love
with the prince of the eunuchs” in Nebuchadnezzar's palace (Dan 1.3,4,6,7,9
). Best estimates have his age at this time as around 14 or 15 years old. Certainly, age 17 would be tops.
While in the gentle care of this man, Daniel was educated in the language and learning of the “Chaldeans.” The expression includes the professors of divination, magic, and astrology in Babylon (Dan 1.3,4
). He was given the new name of Baltassar (Babyl. Bal-tsu-usur, “Bel protect his life”).
Daniel and his companions were to be educated in the ways of the Babylonians extending over a period of three years (Dan 1.5
). They were all to be fed a special diet from the king's own banquet table consisting of specialised meals which were designed to make them nicely plump in appearance (Dan 1.5
) – for obvious reasons. Notice that it was after the three years when they would approach the king. They had to be to his definite “liking.”
I want our students to first realise that the Babylonians took these youths because they fitted the five primary requirements of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1.3,4
. All included in the captive grouping were related to royalty.2
. They were “children” and this could imply that they were in their early teens or more than likely younger. On the other hand, if this term “children” includes the idea of “youthfulness” (and in Aramaic it certainly can; Aramaic was the commercial language of the multiracial empire) then that would raise the age-spectrum from around 14 to 20 years of age. However, while this may well be the case, Plato tells us candidly that the education of Babylonian youth began at 14 years of age and continued on for 3 years concluding at 17 (Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament
, 1978, Vol. IX, 73). Whatever the case, they were all very much under 20.3
. All of these youths were considerably handsome. It is recorded they possessed “no blemish” and they were “well favoured.”4
. The youths were “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and in understanding science.” In other words, they were all well educated. Not only so, but they each possessed a high intelligence. Nebuchadnezzar recognised that they were the intellectuals of the emerging New Order.5
. Finally, they were groomed in the finer arts – their royal station creating a measure of refinement in the social graces which was apparent to anyone who looked their way. Hence, the description that they were capable of “standing in the king's palace... before the king” (Dan 1.4,5
). They possessed a sure confidence, and personality plus!
Few Christians realise that Daniel was the subject of a prophecy given many years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This prophecy, which is located in 2 Kings 20.17,18
, issued from the mouth of Isaiah: “And of your sons that shall issue from you, which you shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (see also Isa 39.7
where mention of the prophecy is repeated).
Some biblical scholars insist that Daniel became a eunuch while under Babylonian arrest. In my opinion far too much is read into the text to determine this as a correct assessment. The text itself simply states, “they shall BE eunuchs in the palace.” It does not say “they shall BECOME eunuchs in the palace.”
Ultimately, and in our Introductory overview, Daniel worked for the Beast of the Axial period, and for the Babylonian system. He did so with God's knowledge, approbation and favour. He went from student to civil servant (Dan 1.19
The phrase “to stand before the king” meant to advise the king on matters of state and civil concern. He rose to become ruler of the entire province of Babylon and Master (Magus
) of the Governors over all the “wise men” (Dan 2.48
). This was certainly no mean feat in anyone's book.
Finally, Daniel made it “Big-Time” in the Big Apple! He found himself the third highest ruler in the entire empire of Babylon (Dan 5.29
Did his climb to power end there? In no way! Daniel didn't stop until he was the first of three administrators over 120 satraps in Medo-Persia during the reign of Darius the Mede, Viceroy of Babylon under Koresh (Cyrus) the Great (Dan 6.1,2
). Yet, never in all this time did Daniel ever sway from obedience to the God of Israel, nor in denying his own identity as a Jew. I want to establish this to be the case. I can do so quite easily.
In Dan 1.7
it is plainly stated that Daniel and his companions were all given new names in order to begin their assimilation into Babylonian society. Because he was so young, and presumably still at an early impressionable age, the imposition of a new name was to create an entirely new personal identity. The Babylonians had hoped to see the Jewish youths eventually forsake their heritage, culture and religion altogether. This theme surfaces over and over throughout the document. Much of what Daniel discovers in his voyage through Babylon is pertinent to one degree or another in relation to believers today who are soon to face the emergence of the EndTime Babylonian New World Order. As such the book of Daniel has a prime significance for our day today.
I have said that Daniel did not integrate himself into Babylonian society, even though he lived within it and freely exercised his rights, freedoms and talents guaranteed to him by the Babylonian State itself. He was, and remained, a Jew who had dedicated his life to the Creator God. Yet he was able to rise through the ranks to become a man of powerful influence in that very system of evil. Note that when he refers to himself it is not as Baltassar, but as Daniel and every Gentile sovereign throughout his life calls him by his Jewish name as well (Dan 4.8,19; 5.12; 6.5,13,20
). He was also staunch in his pursuit of Torah observance when it came to his dietary needs and requirements (Dan 1.5
; cf 1 Cor 10.20
). There is little doubt the wine and food on Nebuchadnezzar's table had been consecrated to Babylon's gods and the Babylonians would eat anything they wanted. [For those new to BRI/IMCF Yeshiva lectures, God's laws on diet are located in Deut 14
and Lev 11
.] Like his contemporary, Ezekiel, he resolved not to partake of the gourmet of the Gentiles (Eze 4.13,14 cf Deut 8.3
So, what did Daniel do? He admits he went vegetarian! Strictly speaking, the Hebrew word rendered “pulse” in the AV ought to be translated “seeds” and the LXX concurs (the Septuagint has “spermaton
”, seeds). So Daniel actually chose to eat seeds and nuts, and grains – a very tough regimen indeed, if his diet was so limited. But, as Gomer Pyle would declare, “surprise, surprise, surprise!” – Daniel and his three associates looked healthier and more fit after a secret trial run of 10 days than the others who ate “dainties” from the king's table. On that basis they were granted permission to disallow the expectations of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1.16
Now stop and think for a moment about the situation in which Daniel found himself. Here was a young boy, not more than a youth, who suffered the trauma of national invasion of his homeland, saw his family butchered before his eyes, was probably castrated by violent pagan soldiers, taken away as a prisoner to an unknown and uncertain future, conscripted to become a slave in Nebuchadnezzar's palace because of his good looks and condemned to live among the idolatrous heathen for whom every Jew had contempt. He could not be blamed by any of us if he occasionally displayed some rancor toward his negative situation, and even perhaps toward God Himself who (after all) had permitted such a terrible thing to occur. But instead, Daniel maintained and exhibited time and time again an explicitly confident faith in God and an affirmative view of life, what we would refer today as being a positive mental attitude
Whatever the relationship was that existed between Daniel and the Master of the Eunuchs, Ashpenaz, Daniel himself uses the Hebrew term chesed v'rachamim
. All agree that chesed
is “mercy.” V'rachamim
is a plural form utilised to emphasise its relative importance. It, like so many words in Hebrew, can have multiple meanings. Among other things, it can mean “mercy” and it can also mean “physical [marital] love.” I very much personally doubt that Daniel was intending to tell us that he was shown “mercy and mercy” by Ashpenaz! Rather, the humble prophet of God was shown mercy by Ashpenaz and he engaged in physical love with the handsome Jewish youth. As unacceptable as this might first seem to be to some Christian ears, we must understand that through this relationship Daniel learned to survive in the palatial court of one of the most brutal despots of the ancient world – the Saddam Hussein on the Axial Period who changed the world forever. Intriguingly, the KJV reference to “tender love” would appear to be the closest to the truth concerning the loving relationship that existed between the two men.
And, as its context plainly reveals, we must not overlook the fact that God Himself brought the relationship into existence for Daniel's very survival.
In this introduction to Daniel bear in mind that during the Axial Period there was enormous “alien” contact occurring all over the Earth, and particularly centred in Mesopotamia, especially Babylon. Ezekiel had a series of “close encounters” of the Third Kind, and we shall see that Daniel did too. Nebuchadnezzar, the dwarf, also had “visions” of “Watchers” (Dan 4.13,17,23
). These “Watchers” (always associated with heavenly “shields” or “wheels”) were very active in Japan during this age as well. Whoever the “Watchers” are, that come from the stars, they figure right throughout history. The Egyptian monk, Panodorus, talked of them (I.P. Cory, Ancient Fragments
, 1828). The Qumran Book of Jubilees
speaks of their descent in the days of Jared, the great-great-great grandson of Adam, and during the lifetime of our original father (Dr R.H.C. Charles, The Book of Jubilees
). Two hundred of them came to Earth through a Stargate over Mt Hermon in Syria and seized local women. The Zadokite Document
mentions their arrival, conquest of humanity, and their immorality confirming the Genesis
account (Theodore H. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect
). They will figure importantly as we enter the misty realms of the prophetic future.
Certainly, an entirely new age commenced with Nebuchadnezzar and his Neo-Babylonian Empire.
God sent his prophet Jeremiah to be the prime Axial prophet of that age. Ezekiel was granted mystical experiences, and extraterrestrial visitations which showed him like nothing else could (and all those who read his volume) that the Star Nations guide the destiny and progress of humanity. On a number of occasions he beheld a bejewelled Wheel commanded by four “living creatures.” Daniel communicated with a man clothed in linen “his face as the appearance of lightning and his eyes as lamps of fire.” This prophet of God wrote in such a way as to especially inform the world of the monumental change that was taking place, in world history, by the will of God.
The world in which we find ourselves today is Babylonian from the top to the bottom. John's Apocalypse
speaks of the EndTime world system by the designation “Babylon.”
Babylon it is indeed. And we are all told, to “come out” while we yet have time.
We are going to discover, as we pour over the inspired writings of Daniel, that his entire prophecy is for our day today, or at least for the next twenty or so years directly ahead of us now.
Let's stay tuned to what Daniel has to tell us.
Our lives, and the lives of our immediate loved ones, may yet entirely depend on how we heed the message of this prophet of God.
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