Daniel - The Prophet Daniel is mentioned in Ezekiel only in the Old Testament.
Ugarit was at its prime in 1200 BC and very close to the Hebraic language.
Archaeology was important here for the Hebrew etymology to learn where the language came from.
Daniel's prophecy seems to have been collected at various times.
Daniel was written (Chapters 2-7) in Aramaic entirely. In these, they are separate stories and in Chapter 7 it begins doing apocalyptic language and goes that way to Chapter 12.
Around 190 BC, someone probably cemented the collections of Daniel together into the versions we have today.
Greek variants of Daniel have Susanna and Bel and the Dragon and one extension as well.
The Hebrews' Masoretic texts don't seem to have it but as far as the oldest manuscripts go, they are the Greek manuscripts and they do have it (oldest is 200 BC that we know of and have).
The Theodotian version of Daniel seems to predate the Hebrew version and the LXX version was done in 100 BC.
Any text that we have found of Daniel past 250 AD do not have anything but the Theodotian variant. The Orthodox Church has all the variants but in printing canons chose the Theodotion as the most accurate translation and version to use. This is why it uses this one and always has. The Vulgate uses the Theodotion as well. Multiple versions of Daniel translations abound. The Protestants did not use the Theodotian because the refugees of Constantinople had very few Latin translations of Daniel that they could use and spare so the Protestants ended up using the Jews' bibles since they have Daniel in it.
Daniel is probably 12 years old or a teen when he is taken in the 2nd Babylonian deportation. He goes through at least 4 different kings in his lifetime. Daniel and company could read and write. They are given pagan names. Daniel was taken to be a tutor for King Neb's son. A common theme can be said in Daniel that we are to choose God or Babylon/Gog.
Jehoikam and Susanna. He was a wealthy man and she was beautiful and righteous. They are part of the deportee community. They have two elders but these two men are disgusting and they suck. Susanna would go for walks and they desired her because she was beautiful so they concoct a plan together to try and rape her. Susanna tries to bathe in the Garden and they try to make her have sex with them both and then they try to gaslight her as well. She is righteous but has no witnesses and this is two elder men versus her which puts her at risk for the death penalty and her chances are not good in this time period. She risks the death penalty however instead of being unrighteous and letting them rape her so they accuse her and the people believe them.
0:45 - As she is being laid to be put to the death penalty, God speaks to Daniel and he calls out the elders and this lynch mob as a kid/teen/12 year old.
They didn't even examine the evidence so Daniel separates the judges and asks what tree she did her evil deeds (that she obviously didn't do). They give two different trees and Susanna is thus freed and the elders get the death penalty instead. The people love Daniel after this and honor him. God uses Daniel here to intercede and interact. He is an Ambassador of Yahweh for Babylon and the book of Daniel will show this to be the case time and time again.
Daniel is taken with Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael who are all sons of Judah.
Daniel is renamed Belteshazzar which means "Protect King's Life".
Hananiah is renamed Shadrach which means "Marduk".
Azariah is renamed Abednego which means "Servant of Nebo".
Mishael is renamed Meschach which means "Ishtar".
They are all made eunuchs which means they are owned as slaves and become emasculated.
The story starts really with them all being groomed into becoming proper for the King and what he wants from them and they are to eat the food given to them. The problem is though, these foods have all been sacrificed to idols. This was a common practice of pagan nations at this time and Babylon did it all the time in every meal having it be "blessed" by their gods. Daniel asks gutsily if he and his crew can be allowed to eat kosher. This is super gutsy because he could be killed for this. He is a slave and he goes as a little slave teen asking the eunuch chief if he can do this.
The eunuch chief doesn't have to do this but Daniel finds favor with him. He is worried however that Daniel and them will fall behind in their upcoming tests if they do not eat properly because how will they do their duties if they are weak and malnourished? This would also be on the eunuch chief's head if he allows this because these boys are King Neb's property and slaves and this would be considered damaged goods. Daniel asks to be tested at first (negotiates) over 10 days with only eating vegetables.
They end up not only passing the test but are found to be superior. These four youths get blessed by God and King Neb ends up liking them better. Daniel then works for King Neb. until Cyrus comes.
Daniel is a bit like the New Joseph in a lot of ways in that he is able to interpret dreams and visions.
King Neb. has a dream. He tells his guys to interpret it. If they are phonies he will screw them over and have them killed so they smartly and wisely tell him that they can't interpret the dream for him. King Neb plans to have them killed for this, and this includes Daniel and his friends.
Arioch tells him about it so Daniel says he will answer the dream interpretation. Daniel is not just trying to save himself and his friends here. He righteously intercedes for everyone, including the pagans he has to work with. Daniel is given by God the meaning of this dream.
God revealed this dream to Daniel and he gives the meaning to King Neb.
In it is a big idol/statue. It has a head that is made of gold, it has its hands, arms, and chest made of silver, its stomach and thighs are made of copper, and its legs are made of iron and its feet are made of clay.
There is a boulder that comes and hits the statue and becomes a giant mountain which ultimately grows and covers the whole world.
King Neb is the king of gold. Babylon is the 1st Kingdom in the dream.
The rest are other kingdoms and the Mountain is Christ's Kingdom/the Kingdom of Yahweh's (2:44).
Persia, Greece, and Rome are these other kingdoms... Rome is notably the one empire that gets mixed with weakness.
The boulder is Christ because it made of no hands. It is Christ during the Roman Empire who overthrows it and His Kingdom grows and fills the entire world to be a Christian world.
Why does God give this dream to King Neb so that he knows the future? To show/call him to repentance and to follow Yahweh, the True God, because God loves King Neb too. Not just Israel. As King, King Neb is whether he wants to be or not, a vassel for Yahweh and subject to Him and a vassel that will be used for God's Kingdom.
King Neb ends up worshipping Daniel and gives him and company a lot of power.
Archaeology proves that Babylon did all the stuff mentioned. King Neb. makes an idol/statue of gold and all must worship his idol/image. He is declaring he is a god here. The entire statue he makes of gold. This is his bold attempt to counter Yahweh as he thinks he is the superior god here.
Daniel and company are forced to either worship King Neb and his image or be killed. They refuse.
The furnace is used as Daniel and Company's punishment because they will not worship him or his gods. It was common in the cultures, that in order to be polite, you were to honor all the cultures' god/gods. The Hebrews don't and Christians also don't and so they are seen as rude.
Shadrach, Abednego and Meshach go into the furnace.
3:52 - Blessed is Your Name, the Temple of your glory.
From King Neb's perspective, he has destroyed a Jerusalem that appeared to be polytheistic and he thinks he is a god so he is baffled by their behavior. The three are thrown in the furnace to be burnt to a crisp. They survive though as one like a Son of God was with them in the furnace and appears there with them. They are protected and walking around this furnace unharmed.
2 hymns come up next. The whole Creation worships the One True God. Everyone sees this and is baffled at what has happened here. King Neb sees this "son of a god", a divine being of some sort and recognizes that this being is "Most High". He is so impressed that they are to be respected now.
God has joined them in the furnace. The furnace is typology for humanity being put in to face their death and being at their lowest point. Christ in that moment joins with them and joins with humanity and is with them. We can see Christus Victor here. Like the 3 in the furnace, God dies (Christ) too and being with us, we make it through death, unharmed. A perfect typology is found here.
A shift happens. King Neb is the speaker here. When he writes this, he has had another dream and only Daniel can answer it. He says the spirit of his god is with him, calls Daniel the prince of enchanters, and "spirits of the holy god". He seems to think, and this is a common belief of the pagans, that Daniel is being possessed by this god Yahweh. King Neb dreams of a great tree with animals. An angel chops it down and it is done and made by decree of "the watchers" (a Divine Council reference is made here).
Daniel takes an hour to answer this and it troubles him, mostly because this is probably going to make King Neb upset. The dream means that currently King Neb is strong like that tree but he will be made low for seven years. This is a judgment of some sort. Later on, King Neb will get a voice from Yahweh and he will go crazy, live outside and act like an animal.
People think this is crazy and a myth but there actually is a 7 year period in the Babylonian Chronicler where there is no one mentioned who serves as king for 7 years. Absolute silence.
King Neb praises Yahweh and is humbled. He exalts Yahweh. God is in charge. It may very well be that King Neb is in heaven as he here exalted Yahweh but also seems to be historically accurate as the Chronicler of Babylon seems to suggest strongly.
Belshazzar is king now of Babylon. King Neb's son. The one Daniel had tutored. He has a feast and decides to use the Temple vessels and plates and cups and drinks from them. By doing this, he profanes them by offering his feasts to the pagan gods. It is not just a feast though; it is a lot of paganism involved here. They all in the middle of this event see a disembodied hand writing on the wall. He calls Daniel eventually who is now a much older man.
Daniel says to keep the job that Belshazzar tries to give him and tells him that he needs to be humbled like his dad was. King Belshazzar knows King Neb was humbled. He dishonors Yahweh and for that his kingdom shall fall and be given to Medo-Persia.
The words written on the wall say "Mene, mene, tekel, upsharin. Darius the Mede conquers them that very night.
Darius the Mede was an ambitious general who said he was cousins with Cyrus. Daniel is appointed as a governor and a plot ensues. He is thrown into the den with lions and spared because of God's protection. This is clear typology here of Christ's descent into Hades and his resurrection.
The Persians had a completely different culture than the Jews. They thought that the body was meaningless and a trap for the soul. They would leave the dead out to let animals eat them. Darius does favor and like Daniel though and the officials trap him in this devious plot versus Dainel. The lions are at peace though and there is a reference to Genesis Pre-Fall here with all the peace.
Daniel has a prophetic dream in Belshazzar's 1st year as king. The great sea is the Meditterenean Sea.
He sees 4 beasts: One is a lion with wings, a bear with 3 ribs, a leopard with 4 heads, and the 4th beast is something with iron teeth and 10 horns and a little horn develops on it that uproots 3 of its teeth almost like baby teeth. It is also arrogant.
7:9 - Daniel sees the Ancient of Days. Thrones are put in place (judgment). Jesus refers to this and says the apostles will judge from thrones one day. The Ancient of Days is wise and from before anything was, because He is God. Eternal God of all ages.
7:11 - The beast was destroyed. This kingdom. All 3 beasts have their time. This future beast is also destroyed. These 10 horns are 10 kings. One king will rise and humble 3 kings. Saints will be persecuted until God comes.
The first beast: Babylon.
The second: Medo-Persia.
The third: Alexander the Great and Macedonia. He dies early and leaves his kingdom to 4 generals who split it up.
This 4th beast is a super-beast and the evil left behind by the other empires.
"Time, time, and a half-time" (3 1/2 years).
John says in his letters that there are many antichrists. This little blasphemous horn that pops up is all of those who are against God and war against His people. Gog in other words.
[Chapter 8-12 are in Hebrew. When Ezra shared Torah he needed a translator because none knew Hebrew because of the Exile] [Chapters 8-12 deals with the future of the Jewish people]
Ram and Goat. This ram with 2 horns is powerful and a goat with one horn wins and his horn shatters into four pieces. The Ram is Medo-Persia and the Goat is Greek. The 4 pieces are Alexander the Great's empire shattering and splitting into 4 different nations which happens when he died. One of these generals conquered almost all of the East area largely: Seleucids. This general would go on to father Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who took the title of a god.
He is the strong horn (8:9). He loses war against part of Egypt and scapegoats the Jews for it because they would not sacrifice to his gods. He, mad, sacrifices a pig at the Temple and it is called later the Abomination of Desolation. He becomes an antichrist figure that truly represents evil and Gog. Daniel worries when he gets this vision but is told to "seal the vision" (8:26).
He realizes Jeremiah's prophecy is 70 years. He prays to God for Israel's sins because he sees Israel is not where they need to be or are supposed to be as His glory has not come/returned. Daniel is humble and assumes he too is a sinner though he is righteous.
In prayer, the angel Gabriel comes and tells him that it is 70 weeks of years. Thus, this is actually 490 years. In the midst of the week, the abomination will occur, the Temple will be destroyed, the Gentiles will trample, and this Messiah promised to come will also be killed. Those in the NT all knew this time was approaching in the 1st CE. As a matter of fact, aside from Jesus' claim to Messiahship, the last try to have an uprising and claim to be Messiah happened with the Bar Kochba Rebellion. Jesus fulfills all this in 70 AD and then Bar Kochba happens later. Rome is the people of the prince that are mentioned. The real Temple (Christ) remains.
What we see in Antiochius IV is he sacrifices to Zeus a pig on the Temple, defiles the Temple in the process. Then the Maccabean Revolt takes place and they re-dedicate the Temple after successfully fighting back. At the end of the 490 years, the Messiah comes, dies, and then the Temple falls (70 AD).
Daniel has another vision. He sees a person. Everyone runs away but him and he falls on his face.
10:13-18 - Angels administer over the nations. Some are fallen angels/demons. The prince (angel) of Persia fought 21 days until Michael the archangel helped him. He knew Daniel was in need of answered prayers but had to fight the demon in charge of Persia first.
10:15-16 - Theophany happens here with Christ.
10:18-21 - God says I will be giving you a vision but first I must deal with Persia and then the Greeks after.
10:21 - Michael is your "prince" (angel). Israel's gaurdian angel is Michael. He is also because the Church is Israel, the Church's chief archangel gaurdian.
Xerxes gets mentioned and is the one who will fight the Greeks and lose at the end of his reign. Alexander the Great will rise up quickly and die quickly. After Alexander the Great, there is a King of the South to rise: General Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. The Seleucids of the North and Ptolemy of the South will make war.
11:14 - Even the Jews will be forced to be involved in these wars.
11:16 - Antiochus III takes over Israel.
11:17-30 - Ptolemy V and Cleopatra do not stay together. Antiochus IV then later goes openly against Yahweh and defiles the Temple that has been rebuilt. He offers a pig to Yahweh and deliberately does it to try and piss off Yahweh.
11:31-45 - Antiochus IV will fall like the rest. God gives Daniel the bigger picture to show him that there will be a time the Jews will get out of Exile but it is going to get worse before it gets better. It is a corrective too for Daniel who is himself worried since he thought that the 70 years were up and nothing had come close to having happened yet.
Antiochus IV will become seen as a type of antichrist to the Early Church and Titus under Nero, AD 70, and other events like the Bar Kochba Revolt where there was a literal false messiah that tried to reclaim the lands of Judah and failed which ended in Jerusalem's annihalation (something AD 70 did not do) that relate to this will also be seen as fulfillments of these verses in some way or form, though these are both and all imperfect figures. It is likely that all these events do not perfectly fit and that they are actually prefigurement figures of a final antichrist in the end of human history that has not yet come. God's people have dealt with times where this prophecy has seemingly been fulfilled many-a-time but yet, there has been no 2nd Coming nor the resurrection of the dead to take place. God is faithful to His promises so we know that there will come a time when this will take place. We must always remember there is some mystery to eschatology and to try and see the bigger picture which is for the faithful to remain faithful despite trials and perseuctions and tribulations.
12:1-3 - Archangel St. Michael watches over Israel for he is their gaurdian angel. There will be a time of tribulation to take place and then a resurrection of the dead is prophesied to happen. A resurrection of the dead that involves the just and the unjust takes place at some point. We don't have a resurrection of the dead that takes place in the Maccabean Revolt nor AD 70 obviously so this is not about Antiochus IV at the end of the day and to an event in the future. V.3 is an obvious reference to Abraham's promise that his people will be as numerous as the stars, an event that is fully fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead event.
12:4 - Daniel is told to keep these words secret and to seal the book until the time of the end is ready to take place. When it is unsealed it will be a time when there will be a lot of people roaming about all over the world it seems and knowledge of things will be vastly improved. These people of this time will be intelligent and be able to travel many places perhaps but this is somewhat speculative.
12:5 - Daniel looks and there is Michael the angel of Israel, and there are two men can be seen. One is on the bank of the river and there is another on the other side.
12:6 - One man is dressed in linen and stands above the water of the river. He is asked by the man on the other end a question: How long until the end of these wondrous things?
12:7 - Then the man dressed in linen answers and raises both his hands toward heaven and swears to the one who lives eternally (this can only be Christ or God) that this will take what seems to be 3 and 1/2 year. Things will be completed when the power of the holy people are shattered. This cannot be referring to Antiochius IV or Judas Maccabeus because as St. Jerome says in his commentary of Daniel.
12:8-9 - Daniel hears what is said but does not understand this at all and inquires about it with God but he tells him he will not get this answer as "the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end" comes.
12:10 - Whatever happens at this time, many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand".
12:11-12, this would "have been correct... if the book of Maccabees had recorded that the temple was polluted over a period of three and a half years instead of three years" according to St. Jerome.
12:13 - Daniel is told to go his way and rest for there are many days ahead til any of this happens. He is told at the end of the days he too will, because he is faithful, partake in his inheritance as one of God's people and be part of the resurrection of the dead.
A disclaimer needs to be made though here... and I'll refer to a discourse I am summarizing with Fr. Stephen DeYoung on this issue. The texts of Daniel are notoriously difficult to interpret. There may be a different interpretation to take that is better but this is what I will go with for now in an idealist fashion because it aligns with Scripture and the bigger picture. Daniel 11-12 are very much in an eschatological sense having to do with Antiochius IV but on a bigger picture, we know it has to do with something deeper in that God will deal with all of his enemies. They will not stand to the Lord ultimately and we will all, if faithful in persecution and trials and tribulations, be part of His Kingdom at the 2nd Coming and the Resurrection of the dead.
A daily sacrifice never ceased to happen except with Antiochius IV. It cannot be about Christ or something ending with Him and His worship because Christ is the Eucharist and that is an unceasing sacrifice, an eternal sacrifice. The Eucharist is Christ's sacrifice.
As Fr. DeYoung said in a discourse with me asking him about Daniel 12: "The fathers all understood this and that is why they understand it as referring to the defilement of the temple by Antiochus, and that to be a type of the coming antichrist. It isn't even that God had left that temple long before it was destroyed. It's worse than that. He was never there. There was no manifestation of the Presence in the Second Temple and the Judeans of the time were painfully aware of it. It's part of how they knew they were still in exile. Also, now that we have a better grasp of the diversity of Judaisms in the first century, we know just how irrelevant that building was to huge swathes of the Judean people who had either actively rejected it (ala Qumran and other sects) or who were ambivalent toward it, largely because of the corruption of the Herodians and Sadducees, like the Pharisees"... "Daniel is talking mostly about Antiochus Epiphanes with these last chapters and he is a preliminary fulfillment of the Man of Lawlessness or Son of Belial that St. Paul will go on later in history in the NT to talk about. This is how 2nd Temple Judaism understood it too, that Antiochus was a type of the coming anti-Messiah".
Fun notes: In 135 AD there will be a false messiah to come in the Bar Kochba Revolt who is far more significant than the events of 70 AD. 70 AD did not bring about the ultimate end of Judaism as we knew it. That was actually the Bar Kochba Revolt that triggered the complete split between Christianity and the creation of Rabbinic Judaism... Bar Kochva had an actual false Messiah who proclaimed a kingdom in Jerusalem that lasted for 3.5 years (this is summarized by me - Fr. Stephen DeYoung said it).
Bel & The Dragon -
They want Daniel to worship Bel and he says no. The king gets mad when Daniel tells him Bel is a false idol. The 70 priests of Bel have been eating the idol's food when no one is looking and have had a smart plan they've concocted (they are a representation of a false Divine Council by the way). Daniel sets a trap however with some ash and catches the priests, proving that Bel is a fake.
Next, there is a literal serpent/dragon that they all worship. Daniel says he will worship Yahweh and slay it without using a weapon. He feeds the dragon serpent and it blows up with what he gives it. The King is impressed and worships Yahweh but now all the people/ think that the King is now fully become a Jew. A mob erupts.
Daniel is taken by mob and thrown into a new lion's den but angels put peace with Daniel and the lions as happened when he was thrown another time into the lion's den previously in his life. 2nd time is not the charm for the enemies of God and Daniel because he survives yet again.
A prophet named Habbakuk is cooking up a stew in Judea so God calls him and tells him to feed Daniel. He orders an angel to carry him to Daniel and feeds him. Then the angel takes Habbakuk back and Daniel is fed and vindicated yet again. Once this happens, all who have plotted his death are taken and executed, being put to death.