Who was Daniel?
In the Bible story, Daniel was one of the Jews who was in captivity in Babylon during the reign of the Neo-Babylonian kings, in the 600s BC.
History of the Jews
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How did Daniel get to know the king?
Like the earlier Joseph (and many other characters in stories), Daniel was able to interpret people’s dreams to tell the future. Because God let him interpret dreams, Daniel became a big favorite of King Nebuchadnezzar.
Joseph and the Pharaoh
The writing on the wall
A little later on, Babylon was being ruled by the last Babylonian king Belshazzar. Belshazzar was drinking wine with his lords one night when a disembodied human hand appeared and wrote mysterious letters on the wall of his palace. They said
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, U-PHARSIN
Daniel interpreted the letters for Belshazzar. He told Belshazzar that these letters meant that the Babylonian Empire would fall. Sure enough, that very night (according to the story) the Persians did take over Babylon.
Who were the Persians?
Daniel in the lion’s den
The new Persian king, Darius, made Daniel one of his main helpers. (Though really the first Persian king was Cyrus, not Darius – the story has it wrong.)
Ezra and Nehemiah
But other people were jealous and got Darius to make a law that no one could worship any god but Darius himself. Daniel continued to worship his own God, following the Commandments. Daniel stood up for his freedom against the king’s abuse of his power. So these jealous people forced Darius to throw Daniel into a pit with lions.
What happened to Daniel?
But (says the Bible), because God protected Daniel, the lions refused to eat Daniel, and he came out of the pit safe. Darius saw that he was abusing his power and should treat his subjects better. He learned to be stronger too. Soon Darius (really Cyrus) allowed all the Jews to go back to Jerusalem.
Did you find out what you wanted to know about Daniel in the lion’s den? Let us know in the comments!
The Persians and the Jews
Esther and Haman
The Jewish holiday of Purim
More about the Persian Empire
Bibliography and further reading about the history of Judaism:
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