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Daniel 6

Chapters 4 and 5 depict two striking examples of men who were born into heathen backgrounds with whom the Spirit of God was struggling to salvage for His kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar, who in spite of acting and reacting according to the dictates of his pagan philosophy, was, nevertheless, an honest person who, when confronted with it, accepted the truth. Belshazzar, who was thoroughly familiar with his grandfathers experience, was obligated to deal with the same truths that Nebuchadnezzar, finally, whole heartedly accepted, leaving Belshazzar without excuse. He too, could have, but did not reconcile himself to the things that could have saved him the terrible embarrassment portrayed in chapter five. Such will be the fate of all who reject truth when it is plainly revealed and deliberately chose to become avowed unbelievers.

Now, contrast to the degenerate character and behavior of Belshazzar, whose final hours are depicted in the last chapter, “The character of Daniel is [here] presented to the world as a striking example of what God’s grace can make of men fallen by nature and corrupted by sin.”[1]

“Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach.”[2]

Verse 1: It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;

This was “Darius the Median [who just] took the kingdom” (Daniel 5:31). As noted in the last chapter, Darius was probably Cyrus’ uncle and father-in-law,[3] but Cyrus, the Persian, was actually the conquering king. Interestingly, the verb “took” is from the Aramaic word “kebal”[4] meaning “receive.” Therefore, it could be understood that Darius actually “received the kingdom” from Cyrus rather than conquering it. The “kingdom” he received was centered the Babylonian capitol city itself.

The first thing he did was to reorganize the kingdom according to what we might think was Median custom and policy. But, not so. The word “princes” is from the Aramaic word “’achashdarpan” meaning “satrap.” [5] It is the same word for “princes” in Daniel 3:2 that were appointed by Nebuchadnezzar. Furthermore “cuneiform sources show that under the form satarpanu the word was used as early as the time of Sargon II (722-705 B.C). A Hurrian[6] origin has now been suggested. The Persians evidently took over this official title from the west.”[7]

Therefore, it appears Darius’ pattern of reorganization must have been familiar even to the Babylonians as well as the Persians! It seems reasonable to conjecture the kingdom he inherited was in terrible disarray, not only because of the irresponsible rule of Belshazzar, but also the effect of an ongoing war of conquest by the Persians over a protracted period of time. Consequently, Darius had to start from scratch to build up a new infrastructure of government.

We have no way of knowing who the “hundred and twenty princes” may have been, but, in view of Cyrus’ benevolent treatment of those he conquered and the welcome he received from the Babylonians,[8] it seems possible they could have been chosen from among Belshazzar’s “lords” mentioned in Daniel 5:1 with Daniel being one of them!

Verse 2: And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.

We could hypothesize that Daniel was still clothed “with scarlet, and [wearing] a chain of gold about his neck” (Daniel 5:29) when the Persians rushed into the great hall crashing Belshazzar’s great feast. Perhaps the fiery letters on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace were still blazing forth. The Persians may even have required Daniel to explain their meaning. If that were the case, we can be sure the interpretation would be pleasing, and extremely reassuring to them!

Hearing the favorable interpretation would also have proved Daniel was not a loyalist to Belshazzar, and knowing that Daniel had been named “third ruler in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29) would have made him an obvious choice to be “first” over the other “presidents” who possibly were former “lords”[9] of Belshazzar’s retinue.[10]

Knowing that Darius was “threescore and two years old” (Daniel 5:31) and that he died “within about two years of the fall of Babylon,”[11] we can assume his health was poor which could account for his decision that the one hundred twenty princes render their “accounts” to the presidents rather than himself. While he intended such an arrangement to insure he would “have no damage,” it rather guaranteed he was bound to sustain damage if it were not for Daniel!

Verse 3: Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

It was in “the first year of Darius” that Daniel was chosen because of the “excellent spirit [that] was in him,” a remark made by Belshazzar’s mother a short time before in Daniel 5:12. Since the takeover of Babylon by the Persians was nonviolent, for the most part, it seems possible Belshazzar’s mother may have communicated her feelings about Daniel to the Persians, even to Darius himself. Perhaps the news of Daniel’s interpretation of the hand writing on the wall, which was bad news for Belshazzar and his kingdom, but favorable news to the conquerors, came to be Darius’ ears.

But, Daniel had other things on his mind at this time, for we find him (because the time frame of this chapter was also “the first year of Darius”) reviewing the prophecy of “Jeremiah the prophet” who predicted God “would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:1, 2). His concern was mounting because 68 years[12] had slipped by since he was captured and taken to Babylon. Only two years remained before the seventy years were completed.

Nevertheless, in spite of Darius’ heathen background, he held Daniel in high esteem in spite of his preoccupation and fully believed him fit to be “set . . . over the whole realm!” Heaven felt the same way because the angel “Gabriel” who talked with him that same year told him “thou art greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:21, 23).

But, being placed “above the [other] presidents and princes” was awkward for him because they were a “dishonest, prevaricating, godless cabinet . . .”[13] With Daniel obstructing their evil purposes, probably on numerous occasions, they must have found it impossible for them to take advantage of the sickly king.

Verse 4: Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Since it is likely the princes and presidents had been chosen from among the Babylonians, it is unlikely they were troubled by nationalistic loyalty, but rather considered Darius “the Mede” a foreigner who was fair game for any scheme they could invent.

But, Daniel frustrated all their plans and brought to naught whatever they tried to put over the king. Darius must have sensed their animosity and, in the back of his mind, had a plan to discharge them all and place Daniel in complete charge. Ordinarily, such as in Nebuchadnezzar’s case who enacted decrees on a whim, it was different with Darius. His power was limited in that he could not undo any law what had already been put into effect (see verse 8), and he had to bear in mind the possible effect of unintended consequences that can easily spoil the best of intentions.

Having already chosen 120 princes and 3 presidents to preside “over the whole kingdom,” then contemplating another move to “set [Daniel] over the whole realm” instead of them, also put Darius in an awkward position, for how could he fire them?

Somehow, the “presidents and princes” must have got wind of what the king was thinking and decided they had to do something about it. So, it was more than jealousy that inspired their animosity against Daniel. They felt they had to move quickly or they would be out of a job! They must find some pretext upon which to base a complaint against him.

It would seem, with 122 people all conspiring together to find some “error or fault” in a single individual, something could be hatched up that would be sure to bring him down. Without doubt Daniel could have told stories about the many schemes that were designed to embarrass him in the eyes of the king, but, amazingly, all their efforts were fruitless.

Verse 5: Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

“These men” were “dishonest, prevaricating” and “godless . . .”[14] not because they were heathen but because they understood the difference between right and wrong and deliberately chose what they knew was wrong and worked against Daniel on a personal level.

As discussed above, there is reason to believe “these men” may have actually viewed the strange handwriting on the wall of the palace during Belshazzar’s ignominious feast and had even heard Daniel explain it to the terrified king. Now, instead of sharing Darius’ great respect for him, they allowed jealousy and evil ambition to cloud their sense of discrimination. What was once right, now seemed evil and what once seemed evil, now became good.

Even though Darius was an exponent of a heathen religion, he offered no objection to Daniel’s religion, and obviously admired him for consistently living by its principles. King Nebuchadnezzar, although “An idolater by birth and training, and at the head of an idolatrous people . . . nevertheless [had] an innate sense of justice and right, . . .”[15] After God literally made him to “eat grass as oxen” for seven long years, he finally “blessed the most High, and praised and honoured him” acknowledging His supremacy over all “the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:33-35).

Belshazzar failed to learn by his grandfather’s experience. Now, “these men,” who must have served under his rule for a number of years, followed suit. They failed to profit by the marvelous demonstration of God’s power and foresight they had just recently witnessed.

Having set their minds against Daniel but finding no pretext upon which to complain because of his political administration, they looked into his personal life and decided to frame him as a religious nonconformist.

It is possible, because of Belshazzar’s godless influence, they shared the former king’s distain for religion in general. Like Belshazzar who scorned his father’s devotion to the Moon god “Sin”[16] instead of Marduk, and failing to heed his mothers’ council, devoted himself to a thoughtless, and reckless style of life devoted entirely to pleasure and self-gratification, “these men” prospered in that climate and had become accustomed to advantaging themselves with schemes and intrigues of various kinds. If they had held some official office during Belshazzar’s reign, they may have found Daniel an easy mark for their animosity and might even have engineered his exile to Shushan (Daniel 8:2) early in Belshazzar’s reign!

Now, the table was turned, and finding themselves under Daniel’s rule, it was just too much!

Verse 6: Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.

The phrase “assembled together” is from the Aramaic word “reg-ash’” meaning “to be in tumult” or “to gather tumultuously”[17] suggesting this assembly was deliberately planned to appear spontaneous and unstructured. Since it included all the “presidents (with the exception of Daniel) and princes,” it numbered at least 122 men rushing into the king’s presence all at once.

If that were the case, it would have caught Darius off his guard. Their salutation “King Darius, live for ever” at the same time bowing and kneeling prostrate at his feet, would appeal to his ego. He may have thought this was a spontaneous demonstration of approval from his recently appointed staff revealing that his effort to integrate the Babylonians into the Medo-Persian kingdom was far more successful than he could reasonably have hoped!

Verse 7: All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

Notice the first word “all.” With the sudden appearance of this large gathering, it would have been entirely excusable for the king not to notice Daniel’s absence. We are not told if they appointed a spokesmen, but it is possible they all spoke at once. They probably rehearsed this entire scenario many times before coming to the king. So, without knowledge or warning of what was taking place, who wouldn’t be flattered to suddenly be met by a large group all shouting great enthusiastic words of adulation?

But, flattered or not, the king was being trapped into something he was soon to regret.

Verse 8: Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

This does not prove they were “Medes” or “Persians,” but it does prove they knew their laws. Once they got the king’s signature, they could be sure of their prey. It might seem, with a scribe standing nearby having pen and paper in hand with the decree all nicely written out with a blank space for his name, Darius might have become suspicious. But, like all of us, even kings, we all crave praise and appreciation. Even if we think it might be insincere, we just naturally tend to give it the benefit of the doubt and accept it as being sincere. Darius was no exception.

Note “these men” reminded the king that “the decree” could not be altered under any circumstance. That suggests they were fully aware that the king would do everything he could to undo what he had just done when it dawned on him what they were up to. This suggests they had little, real respect for the king who had it in his power to even the score with them no matter how successful their evil plan turned out to be.

So, as far as they were concerned, their plan was rock solid. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Verse 9: Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

Note that he merely “signed the writing” suggesting he did not write it up beforehand. So, “these men” were successful with the first part of their scheme. Now, all they had to do was wait and watch what Daniel, the nonconformist, would do.

Verse 10: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

So, even though Daniel was likely absent from the obsequious crowd, he was not ignorant of the scheme his peers were carrying out. Quite possibly he had considered warning the king, but it would have only been his word against 122 others placing the king in an awkward position. However, it just might have put Darius on his guard, something we will never know until we ask Daniel himself someday.

Nevertheless, Daniel was not the least intimidated nor did he seek to make his supplications more private than usual which would be understandable under the circumstances. He probably felt that any attempt to hide his customary habits of devotion would only make their attempts to convict him even more invasive than ever. Therefore, why not meet the crisis head on and let the consequences be what they may! This was not presumption, it was complete and total faith in God’s power to deliver.

“His windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem” deserves comment. Note that it was also “in the first year of Darius,” the same time frame that the events of this chapter speak that we find Daniel expressing intense concern about the “seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” toward which his open windows were facing. It seems possible that the events of chapter 9 could have taken place the same time of the events of this chapter transpired. More on that later.

Verse 11: Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

This was phase two of their well planned scheme. Note that the verb “assembled” is from same Aramaic term for “assembled together” in verse 6 meaning “to gather tumultuously.” The least we can say is that they made no secret of their presence. Perhaps they wanted Daniel to react aggressively against them in order to amplify their charge against him as being openly defiant.

Daniel did nothing of the sort. In fact, he acted as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary even though he knew all about it.

Although they must have been familiar with his routine, they had to confirm the fact that he would not change his habit in spite of the new decree. There must have been some lapse of time between the signing of the decree and when it could be expected everybody in the kingdom would know about it. They surely would not want Daniel pleading ignorance when it came time to accuse him. The “thirty days” included in the law gave them plenty of time to make it known.

So, when they were sure Daniel knew about it, they spent “an entire day” observing him. “Three times they saw him go to his chamber, and three times they heard his voice lifted in earnest intercession to God. The next morning they laid their complaint before the king.”[18]

“It might, at this day, be called overrighteousness to go, as was his wont, three times a day and kneel before the open window for prayer when he knew that prying eyes were observing him and that his enemies were ready to accuse him of disloyalty to the king; but Daniel would allow no earthly power to come in between him and his God, even with the prospect of death in the den of lions.”[19]

Be-that-as-it-may, it would have been futile to attempt concealing his devotion to God, for his enemies were relentless. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who fearlessly faced Nebuchadnezzar, declaring their “God . . . [to be] able to deliver [them] from the burning fiery furnace, and . . . out of thine hand, O king” (Daniel 3:17), Daniel, who was now in the same fix, maintained the same attitude.

Verse 12: Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

This was “the next morning” after spending a whole day watching for Daniel to pray before the open window of his apartment. Perhaps they had huddled together most of that night planning how they would bring their accusation against Daniel to the king. Did any of them consider the possibility of any unanticipated consequences to their action? We wonder. If such were suggested, it must have been immediately dismissed because, as this verse indicates, they lost no time in hesitation before coming to the king. So, this too suggests they had little respect for the king and, having been successful thus far in their scheme, they must have felt certain he would be easy to manipulate.

The first thing they did was remind the king of the decree he had signed, suggesting that a few days had elapsed. They also stipulated that he could not change it and reviewed the penalty for violating it.

The king’s calm answer in the affirmative suggests, up to this point, he suspected no fowl play whatsoever.

This verse marks the point of no return for “these men.” They could have used this final moment to change their minds and suggest to the king that they just wanted to tell him how much they appreciated him and thank him for allowing them to speak to him for a few moments and then go home. They could have saved themselves and their families. But, they were too full of hatred and animosity to consider such a move. They rushed on into a “pit” that they dug for Daniel and fell into it themselves (see Psalms 7:15; 9:15; Proverbs 26:27; 28:10; Ecclesiastes 10:8).

Verse 13: Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

The king’s mouth must have dropped open and his eyes widened in surprise at this unexpected accusation against Daniel, the one he was thinking “to set . . . over the whole realm” in verse 3. Perhaps we could consider Darius a bit naive for not anticipating this. However, it appears he had acted in good faith throughout this scenario up to now and expected to be reciprocated in the same spirit.

Verse 14: Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

The reaction of this king was most unusual. To acknowledge he had made a mistake and instead of castigating the presidents and princes for causing him great embarrassment, he blamed himself! Being in possession of such great authority, and even if believing himself incapable to changing the law, we would think he could have made things so “hot” for the presidents and princes that he could have cowed them into assisting him in his effort to save Daniel. Perhaps he could have added to the law telling them they were going into the den with Daniel! If that were the case, surely they would have done all they could help the king make the needed change.

But, as it appears, “he laboured” vainly to change the “law” instead of changing “these men” in some way.

So, making laws that are immune to unintended consequences, is tricky business. Very careful thinking must accompany rule-making.

Verse 15: Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

At this point, the whole picture rose up before the king. He now realized that the decree he thought was intended to do him honor, was only a snare. He was about to lose the only man he could really trust. Now, all 122 of the others became threats to the security of his kingdom for, without Daniel, what else would they do? Panic began to creep into his mind.

Even while witnessing the king striving desperately to deliver Daniel and seeing how unhappy he was over the situation, no sympathy was forthcoming from “these men.” Instead, it appears they watched with some trepidation lest the king find some means to spare Daniel his fate. Hence, they again thronged the king to impress upon him the importance of adhering to the tradition of the Medes and Persians against changing a law that had been signed by the king. Even the king himself could not change it, they urged!

So, the audacity and arrogance of “these men” is quite amazing. It seems they held no more respect for the king himself than for Daniel! But, while the king was in agony over Daniel’s fate, he had even more to worry about for himself! If Daniel were gone, these evil, scheming men would be the only ones left to assist him in the rule of his new kingdom. Without Daniel, not only would his work-load increase, even his own life would be in continual jeopardy!

Verse 16: Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

So, the sun had set following an agonizing, fruitless day of cabinet meetings, and soul searching on the part of the king who was obstructed at every turn by the relentless stubbornness of “these men” who were filled with a jealous hatred that gave no quarter.

In spite of his fears, Darius reluctantly commanded to bring Daniel. But, before he was cast into the den, the king spoke these encouraging words. But, what made him say, in a way that expressed certainty, “his God would deliver him?”

Some 41 years before,[20] during the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar when Darius himself was about 21 years of age, a decree had gone out from the king to “every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel 3:29). Doubtless, Darius, the uncle of Cyrus, had read that decree, wondered about it and made certain he found out all the details.

That last phrase “no other God can deliver after this sort” could well have found a permanent place in Darius’ heart. It is also quite possible he knew about Daniel as well as his three friends who were cast into the furnace. Now he expresses faith that God would do the same thing for Daniel that He did for his friends.

Verse 17: And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

Note the den was sealed, not only with the “signet” of the king, but of his evil “lords” as well. While there must have been tears in the eyes of the king, there must have been expressions of mirth and triumph with his “lords.”

“God did not prevent Daniel’s enemies from casting him into the lion’s den; He permitted evil angels and wicked men thus far to accomplish their purpose; but it was that He might make the deliverance of his servant more marked, and the defeat of the enemies of truth and righteousness more complete. . . Through the courage of this one man who chose to follow right rather than policy, Satan was to be defeated, and the name of God was to be exalted and honored.”[21] It most certainly confirmed Darius’ faith that God would deliver Daniel.

But, whether the “lords” noticed it or not, there was no scream of fear and pain, neither did they hear roars from the lions whom they expected would be attacking their prey. Perhaps that is why they insisted on placing “signets” or “seals” on the “stone” that was placed over the “mouth of the den.”

Verse 18: Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

So, it was a sleepless night for Darius. He was in no mood for entertainment and had no appetite for food. The future loomed dark as he thought upon the wicked treachery of the men who hated Daniel. The fact that their services would now be forced upon him, at least for a while, drove him to near despair.

But, Daniel, who authored this story, says something very interesting later on in his accounts. He quotes the angel Gabriel who said “Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him” (Daniel 11:1). It seems very likely this is the incident he was referring to. In that case, the “angel” God had “sent” in verse 21 to protect Daniel, could be the same one that stood by the king that night, namely Gabriel himself. Can a angel be in two places at once? Probably not but he could surely keep the lion’s mouth’s closed even if he were not immediately present.

Verse 19: Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

Perhaps it wasn’t even daylight, but it didn’t matter to Darius because he wasn’t sleeping anyway. We can see him running to see whether or not Daniel’s God really HAD delivered him, for no other possibility other than Divine intervention could possibly save his life. Gabriel, of course, already knew.

Verse 20: And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

Although this verse fails to mention it, the signets and seals placed on the “stone” by the king and his lords on the “mouth of the den” in verse 17, had to be broken and the stone removed from the opening. Only then could the king look down and ask the agonizing question that had been haunting him throughout the past, sleepless night. His “lamentable” or grief stricken “voice” speaks volumes about the depth of his concern for his faithful servant. At this point in Darius’ career, not only his personal welfare, but the welfare of the whole kingdom trembled in the balance. Without Daniel’s services then being victimized again and again by his scheming, dishonest, and godless cabinet, it would not be long before his nephew Cyrus would be forced to reinvade the city and wrest it again from the hand of the treacherous Babylonians.

Notice the king’s assessment of Daniel’s character. He portrayed him as a consistent, faithful servant, not of the king himself, but of “the living God.” Note the adverb “continually” indicative of consistency which the king much appreciated, especially in view of the gross inconstancy of the other members of his cabinet.

His reference to “the living God” suggests he was beginning to doubt that the “god” he himself was accustomed to serving was not real, let alone “alive.”

Then, the next fundamental question naturally followed: “is he able to do the impossible?” The answer he was about to receive was a profound YES!

Even though this happened more than two thousand years ago, the same God that saved Daniel is still alive and fully able to spare His faithful servants today.

Verses 21 & 22: Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

It seems probable that Darius could not see Daniel because of the darkness in the great hole that housed the lions. All he could do was shout and wait for an answer. When it came, what a surge of relief must have swept over him! Perhaps he had to grip the rim of the pit to keep from falling in, such was his utter joy.

Daniel’s initial response, “O king, live for ever,” seems to indicate more concern for the king than for himself. The “angel” he referred to, who “shut the lions’ mouths,” could well be the same one that “stood to confirm and to strengthen” Darius that same night. That doesn’t mean he had to be in two places at once. Surely, once the angel “shut the lions’ mouths,” they stayed shut whether he remained there or not!

Note, this is the first time on record that Daniel said anything to the king to defend himself. The only One he talked to before being cast into the den was God. We are not told whether or not Darius had quizzed Daniel the previous day while desperately searching for a way to deliver him, but, the king himself may have often witnessed Daniel praying before his open window and knew for certain that the accusation brought against him was true. That could be one more reason he “was sore displeased with himself” (verse 14) when the accusation was brought against Daniel.

Verse 23: Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

What a contrast! Only a few hours before, Darius had been “sore displeased with himself,” now he became “exceeding glad for” Daniel who was roughly “cast . . . into” the den some hours before by soldiers who thought they would never see him again. Now, perhaps, he was rescued by the same soldiers using a rope, or rope ladder of some kind. Nobody, of course would dare go down to assist him with his escape from the dark hole where the hungry, savage beasts lurked close at hand.

Not only would serious wounds be expected from fang and claw, but, when he was cast into the dungeon, no telling how far he would have fallen, one would expect bruises and contusions, if not broken bones. But, upon examination, no sign of injury of any kind was found. Why? Daniel answers as he writes the account: “because [I] believed in [my] God.”[22]

His experience was similar to his three friends who upon emerging from the “burning fiery furnace,” it was seen “the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them” in Daniel 3:27.

Verse 24: And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

So, since “those men” had to be brought in, it is unlikely they were standing by. Rather, they were probably sleeping comfortably dreaming of the plans they had in mind now that Daniel was out of the way. What a terrifying surprise awaited them when soldiers entered their homes, seized the whole family, and ushered them to the same hole in the ground where they had thrust Daniel.

Then, to their utter astonishment, they beheld Daniel being interviewed by the king and hearing him protesting his innocence. They could have said nothing to defend themselves other then to observe: “the lions were not hungry!”

While they richly deserved to be “cast . . . into the den,” we cringe to hear “their children, and . . . wives” shared the same fate. Such barbaric cruelty is horrifying and difficult to even imagine. Since there were 120 princes and 2 presidents beside Daniel, it would seem at least two to three times that number of people became food for the lions.

But, the authors of the Commentary take issue with that conclusion saying: “the Bible nowhere states that this was the number condemned to death.” It maintains: “It is pure speculation to say how many were involved in the matter.” The argument against the magnitude of such a slaughter is that “the den in which the lions were kept could not have been large enough to receive 122 men with their families; further, that there could not have been enough lions in Babylon to eat so many victims.” While such seems reasonable, we have no biblical dimensions to go by; neither is there any way to objectively assess the number of lions. Furthermore, it is not necessary to conclude they were all thrown in at once. However, “Both Herodotus (iii.119) and Ammianus Marcellinus (xxiii. 6, 81) testify that consigning to death the wives and children along with condemned men was in accordance with Persian custom.” [22]

Verse 25: Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

Keep in mind that Darius’ nationality was Mede while he was ruler of the defeated Babylonians. Since the 120 princes and 2 presidents had been selected from among the Babylonians, their execution could have been misconstrued by the Babylonians, as well as all the other “people, nations, and languages” of the then-known world, to mean the king was now going to take vengeance on the rest of them by instituting a rule of fear and oppression. Hence the need for a reassuring message that the king bore them no animosity. In fact, according to verse 14, he took the blame for the whole thing upon himself. No wonder “the reign of Darius was honored of God!”[24]

Verses 26 & 27: I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Note that Darius’ “decree” was far less threatening than Nebuchadnezzar’s which warned “That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill” (Daniel 3:29). While Nebuchadnezzar’s decree mandated annihilation, Darius’ did not go that far. He toned it down considerably by only recommending, rather than mandating great respect for Daniel’s God.

He reversed the mandate of the previous ruling that he negligently signed by redirecting all worshipful petitions from himself to “the God of Daniel,” confirming Him to be “the living God” whose rule will never end. What a declaration from a man, who, for all we know, was heathen from birth! He seems to have much in common, character wise, with Nebuchadnezzar who had an “innate sense of justice and right.”[26]

The “signs and wonders in heaven” Darius mentions suggests familiarity with God’s workings in many other instances that he was familiar with other than Daniel’s current deliverance from the lion’s den. The strong possibility of his knowledge of Nebuchadnezzar’s decree more than forty years before, suggest he must have known much about other happenings of that great king’s experience as well. And thus, because he was a believer in the true God long before, he was challenged with this most recent crisis.

Verse 28: So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Darius did not live long after witnessing Daniel’s deliverance for he died “within about two years of the fall of Babylon” after which “Cyrus succeeded to the throne.”[27]

We can be sure that many exciting episodes transpired in the life of Daniel other than what he chose to describe during the Darius’ “first year.” However, Daniel, being a modest person, chose to leave the rest to our imagination. An important point to recognize is that the year “Cyrus succeeded to the throne . . . marked the completion of the seventy years since the first company of Hebrews had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar from their Judean home to Babylon.” [28]

The next six chapters revert back from Darius’ first year time frame of this chapter, to “the first year of Belshazzar” in chapter 7, then the “third year” of Belshazzar in chapter 8, then to the “first year of Darius” in chapter 9 (the same in this chapter), then ahead to “the third year of Cyrus” in chapter 10.

They all deal primarily with the wonderful encounters Daniel experienced with the angel Gabriel and the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ. The phenomenal wonders related have transfixed the attention of Bible scholars for more than 2500 years ever since they were written.

Rather than becoming outdated and obsolete, the passage of time has continued to substantiate the fact that God, who knows the “end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10) is the real author of these dreams and visions. We all do well to pay close attention to what Daniel put to writing in the six following chapters of the wonderful book of Daniel. Not only does it outline past history with wonderful precision, we can be fully confident that the many things it outlines for the future, even beyond our time, are equally reliable.

In the meantime: “Stand like Daniel, that faithful statesman, a man whom no temptation could corrupt. Do not disappoint Him who so loved you that He gave His own life to cancel your sins. He says. ‘Without Me ye can do nothing.’ Remember this, If you have made mistakes, you certainly gain a victory if you see these mistakes and regard them as beacons of warning. Thus you turn defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy and honoring your Redeemer.”[29]

Summary of chapter 6: This chapter, depicting Daniel’s harrowing experience in the den of lions because of his refusal to comply with a decree making it illegal to worship his God, is another example of the test and trials of God’s people throughout time, but particularly during the final hours of earth’s history. Daniel’s brave adherence to the worship of God and his integrity in doing the business of administration in the midst of those who wished him harm is not only awesome, but is a demonstration of the possibilities existing for any who love and serve God with all their heart. King Darius himself, in spite of his weakness when he succumbed to what we could call a Satanic “rush job,” exhibited a mind set similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s in that he did the best he could to accommodate his rule to God’s expectations.

At this point, we come to the end of the narrative portion of the book of Daniel. While we could say that chapter 2 is partly narrative and partly prophetic, it is clear that the remaining 6 chapters are prophetic and that they follow the basic outline of history laid out in Nebuchadnezzar’s image dream of chapter 2. In the meantime, this chapter completes the description of four basic categories of human character and behavior patterns: (1) Daniel and his three friends represent the first pattern of those who love and serve God regardless of consequences. (2) King Jehoiakim and Daniel’s fellow captors who were supposed to be followers of God, were really apostate hypocrites who misrepresented God. (3) King Nebuchadnezzar and king Darius as well as Melzar, and perhaps even Arioch as well as Cyrus represent heathen or pagan men who seek the truth wherever they can find it and live up to it to the best of their abilities. God deals with them in mercy in spite of their backgrounds. (4) King Belshazzar and his father Nabonidus, as well as the magicians, sorcerers and astrologers, represents the last group who despise God and His righteousness altogether. We will discover these four character and behavior patterns illustrated both symbolically and literally in the remaining chapters of Daniel and even more graphically in the book of Revelation.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

[1]  Sanctified Life by Ellen G. White page 21 (bracket supplied)

[2]  Testimonies for the Church Vol. 4; pages 569-570

[3] See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary page 254 under “Darius the Mede . . .”

[4] From Online Computer Lexicon: #6902 lbq q@bal (Aramaic) keb-al’ corresponding to 06901; TWOT – 2964; v. KJV – take 2, receive 1; 3. 1) (Pael) to receive” The word “Kebal” is found three times in Daniel 2:6 “receive”; 5:31 “took”; & 7:18 “take”

[5] From Online Computer Lexicon: #0324 Nprdvxa ‘achashdarpan (Aramaic) akh-ash-dar-pan’ corresponding to 0323; TWOT – 2569; n m KJV – princes 9; 9. 1) satrap, a governor of a Persian province

[6] The Hurrians (also Khurrites;[1] cuneiform Ḫu-ur-ri ) were a people of the Ancient Near East, who lived in northern Mesopotamia and areas to the immediate east and west, beginning approximately 2500 BC. They probably originated in the Caucasus and entered from the north, but this is not certain. Their known homeland was centred in Subartu, the Khabur River valley, and later they established themselves as rulers of small kingdoms throughout northern Mesopotamia and Syria. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni.” The Hurrians played a substantial part in the History of the Hittites.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurrian)

[7] see Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4 page 810 (left column under “Princes” and page 781 under “Princes.”

[8] “. . . the famous Cyrus cylinder, . . . goes on to describe how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced peoples and restored temples and cult sanctuaries. . . . some have asserted that the cylinder represents a form of ‘human rights charter’, . . .” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great)

[9] two of the “thousand of his lords?” Daniel 5:1

[10] we will investigate other possible ramifications for the reason Daniel was chosen in chapter 8.

[11] Prophets and Kings by Ellen G. White, pages 556, 557

[12] If 607 B.C. is the beginning point, and 539 B.C. was Darius’ “first year,” 607-539 = 68 years. But, if the starting time was 605, four years would yet remain with less reason for Daniel’s concern.

[13] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4, page 1171

[14] Youth’s Instructor 11-1-1900

[15] Prophets and Kings by Ellen G. White, pages 514, 515

[16] see http://www.xs4all.nl/~kvenjb/madmonarchs/nabonidus/nabonidus_bio.htm

[17] From Online Computer Lexicon: #7284 vgr r@gash (Aramaic) reg-ash’ corresponding to 07283; TWOT – 2989; v KJV – assembled 2, assembled together 1; 3. 1) to be in tumult. 1a) (Aphel) to gather in a tumultuous throng, show tumultuousness, come thronging.” The same word is used in verses 11 & 15 suggesting they acted somewhat like a mob in those contexts.

[18] Prophets and Kings by Ellen G. White, page 542

[19] Testimonies for the Church Vol. 5 page 527

[20] 539 B.C. – 580 B.C = 41 years; based on Darius age being 62 (see Dan.5:31) at the time of this incident.

[21] Prophets and Kings by Ellen G. White, pages 543- 544 (ellipse mine).

[22] Note that Daniel, who must have authored this account, writes in the third person. For that reason I paraphrased this sentence to make it more personal.

[23] SDA Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 814 (bottom right & top left columns) Note carefully the quotation marks indicating where my thoughts are intermingled with the quotes.

[24] Prophets and Kings by Ellen G. White, page 556

[25] Ibid 514

[26] Ibid. 556

[27] Ibid 557

[28] Ibid

[29] Christ Object Lessons by Ellen G. White page 332