Introductory Notes by Arno C. Gaebelein

Revised Edition

Introductory Notes by Arno C. Gaebelein

Daniel © 1996 by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.
Neptune, New Jersey

First Edition, 1911
Second Edition, 1920
Revised Edition, 1996

Unless otherwise indicated,
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James version of the Bible.

Introductory Notes are taken from Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, ©1970, 1985 by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., and also reference the main commentary.

Introductory Notes

By Arno C. Gaebelein

Personal History of Daniel

The opening verses of the book of Daniel introduce us to the literal fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the royal house of David. One hundred years earlier that prophet had announced to Hezekiah: “Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:6-7).

Describing the fulfillment, Daniel begins, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god” (1:1-2).

Among those carried away were Daniel and his companions. Daniel was of princely descent (1:3). This young man, a captive in Babylon, became through the marvelous providence of God one of the leading figures in the great Babylonian empire. Under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar he was made, in spite of his youth, the prime minister of Babylon.

Of Daniel’s personal history we know more than of that of any of the other prophets of God. He was merely a lad when he was brought into a strange land as a captive. From the start we behold him and his companions remaining true to Jehovah, maintaining their God-given place of separation. Daniel honored Jehovah, and Jehovah honored him. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).

Soon the Lord used the young captive to reveal the forgotten dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation of it. This was followed by the exaltation of the obscure Hebrew to “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48). After this he seemed to have been the close companion of the great Gentile monarch, who eventually acknowledged the Lord God of Israel to be his God.

Later God honored Daniel by giving him sweeping visions of the future, remarkable in their scope. The Lord appeared to him, he talked with angels, and the messenger Gabriel addressed him as the “man greatly beloved.”

As an old man Daniel seemed to have been quite forgotten during the reign of Belshazzar (Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson). But on the memorable night when Babylon fell, the queen mother (the aged wife of Nebuchadnezzar) remembered Daniel and suggested that he be summoned to interpret the handwriting on the wall. Though old in years, he was as vibrant as ever in his faith. Under the subsequent reign of Darius, Daniel was cast into a den of lions because of his devotion to Jehovah and was wonderfully delivered.

What a man of prayer Daniel was we learn from the ninth chapter. He lived to a very old age, continuing his great work even into the reign of Cyrus. Before the Lord called him home, Daniel received the promise, “But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:13). In Hebrews 11, the wonderful faith chapter, his name is not mentioned, but his deeds are: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (11:33).

The Authenticity of the Book of Daniel

Perhaps no other book of the Bible has been so much attacked as the book of Daniel. It is a veritable battlefield between faith and unbelief. For about two thousand years philosophers and infidels have hammered away against it; but the book has proved to be the anvil upon which the critics’ hammers have been broken into pieces. Daniel has survived all attacks and we need not fear that critics, the most subtle infidels of Christendom in our day, can harm the book.

Some claim that the book was written not during the Babylonian captivity, but centuries later. Others say that Daniel had nothing to do with the book at all; that a holy, gifted Jew wrote it; and that it is avowed fiction. Still others contend that the book is a forgery, written during the time of the Maccabees after Antiochus Epiphanes, so clearly foretold by Daniel, had appeared.

The whole reasoning method of destructive Bible criticism can be reduced to the following: Prophecy is an impossibility; there is no such thing as foretelling events to come. Therefore a book that contains such predictions must have been written after the predicted events had actually occurred.

The following paragraphs contain a few of the answers to the infidels’ attacks on this great fundamental prophetic book.

It should be enough for any Christian that our Lord, the infallible Son of God, mentioned Daniel by name in His prophetic discourse delivered on Olivet (Matthew 24:15). When He uttered the words “Daniel the prophet,” He at once put His unimpeachable seal on both Daniel and his book.

There can be no question that at least twice more He referred to the book of Daniel: When He spoke of Himself and His coming again in the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, He confirmed Daniel’s vision in 7:13. And when He spoke of the falling stone in Matthew 21:44, He confirmed Daniel 2:44-45. How does the critic meet this argument? He tells us that our Lord knowingly or unknowingly accommodated Himself to the Jewish views current in His day. In other words, he denies the infallibility of our Lord.

There are other answers to the critics’ attacks. To those who claim that the prophecy was written during the days of the Maccabees, we can say that the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated before that time, contains the book of Daniel. The Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in the third century before Christ and therefore the book antedates the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Furthermore the first book of the Maccabees not only presupposes the existence of the book of Daniel, but shows actual acquaintance with it, and therefore gives proof that Daniel must have been written long before that period (compare 1 Maccabees 1:54 with Daniel 9:27; 2:49; 3).

The reliable Jewish historian Josephus also furnishes historical evidence for Daniel. He tells us that when Alexander the Great, who is mentioned in Daniel 8, came to Jerusalem in the year 332 B.C., Jaddua the high priest showed him the prophecies of Daniel, and Alexander was greatly impressed with them.

Then we have the testimony of another prophet of the exile, Ezekiel. He speaks twice in the highest terms of Daniel, whose contemporary he was (see Ezekiel 14:14-20; 28:3).

Daniel himself betrayed an intimate acquaintance with Chaldean customs and history and religion, such as none but one who lived there and was an eyewitness could have possessed. For instance his description of the Chaldean magicians perfectly agrees with the accounts found in other sources. The account of the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar is confirmed by the ancient historian Berosus.

There has been a most striking vindication of the book of Daniel through excavations of the Babylonian ruins. Critics used to object that no ancient historian included Belshazzar in the list of Babylonian kings, but in 1854 Sir Rawlinson translated a number of tablets brought to light by the spade. On them the name of Bil-shar-uzzar appears frequently; he is mentioned as sharing the government with his father Nabonnaid. The existence of Belshazzar and the accuracy of Daniel were at once established beyond the shadow of a doubt.

At the time, Nabonnaid was the first ruler in the kingdom, Belshazzar was the second and vice-regent, and Daniel was promised by Belshazzar to become the third (Daniel 5:16). Nabonnaid was married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and therefore Belshazzar on his mother’s side was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.

Have the critics learned from this complete defeat? Will they now leave the Bible alone? Not by any means. They will continue to look for flaws in the infallible Book. Someday they will discover the seriousness of their work.

The Language of Daniel

The book of Daniel is written in two languages—Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of Chaldea. The first chapter is written in Hebrew in a style closely allied to the Hebrew used in the book of Ezekiel. Chapters 8-12 are likewise written in the Hebrew language. However, 2:4-7:28 are written in the Aramaic language. This gives an additional argument for the authenticity of the book. The author was conversant with both languages, an attainment exactly suited to a Hebrew living in exile, but not in the least to an author in the Maccabean age, when Hebrew had long since ceased to be a living language and had been supplanted by the Aramaic vernacular dialect. Daniel was led to employ both languages for a specific reason. What concerned the monarchies of Babylonia and Medo-Persia was written in the language with which they were familiar. What concerned the Jewish people was written for them in Hebrew.

The Prophetic Message of the Book

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the book of Daniel. It is the key to all prophecy; without a knowledge of the great prophecies contained in Daniel, the entire prophetic portion of the Word of God must remain a sealed book. For example the Olivet discourse of our Lord (Matthew 24-25) and the book of Revelation can only be correctly understood in the light of the prophecies of Daniel.

The first six chapters do not contain prophecies by Daniel, but we see the prophet as the divinely chosen interpreter of what was revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in dreams. The dream of the second chapter reveals the period of time that in Scripture is called “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). This period extends from the time God withdrew from Jerusalem, where His glory dwelt, until His throne is once more established on earth. Chapters 3-6 describe moral and religious conditions in “the times of the Gentiles” and “the time of the end” by relating historical incidents that reveal the moral conduct of great world powers.

Chapters 7-12 record the communications that came from God directly to Daniel. Here we find no longer dreams, but visions, which also concern “the times of the Gentiles.” Chapter 7 goes over the same ground as chapter 2, but in much more detail. Then we learn about the relationship of the Gentile nations to Israel and what is to happen in “the time of the end”—that is, the few years that precede the complete overthrow of the dominion of the Gentiles and the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven on earth. “The time of the end” has not yet come, nor can it come as long as the church is on earth.

So to both the Babylonian king and God’s prophet were revealed the political history of “the times of the Gentiles.” The rise and fall of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Graeco-Macedonian, and Roman empires are successively revealed. There are also prophecies relating more specifically to Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The appointed end of “the times of the Gentiles” and what will follow are made known as well. Our generation lives in the very shadow of that end, so we should study these prophecies carefully.

The end of the seventieth week brings in the Righteousness of Ages through the second coming of the Lord. The kingdom established. All vision and prophecy fulfilled. Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Universal peace. Nations learn war no more.

Outline Of The Book Of Daniel

    I. Prophetic History viewed from man’s standpoint (1:1-6:28)

      A. Daniel’s Commitment (1:1-21)

      B. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (2:1-49)

      C. The Fiery Furnace (3:1-30)

      D. Nebuchadnezzar’s Conversion (4:1-37)

      E. Daniel’s Forecast of Babylon’s Doom (5:1-31)

      F. Daniel’s Deliverance from the Lions (6:1-28)

    II. Prophetic History Viewed In God’s Unsullied Light (7:1-12:13)

      A. Vision of the Four Beasts (7:1-28)

      B. Vision of the Two Beasts (8:1-27)

      C. Prophecy of Seventy Weeks (9:1-27)

      D. Daniel’s Last Prophecy (10:1-12:13)

        1. Visit of God’s Messenger (10:1-21)

        2. Wars and Oppressors (11:1-35)

        3. The Antichrist and the Endtime (11:36-12:13)