Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read:
Daniel 3: 3 friends in the fiery furnace
Daniel 5: the handwriting on the wall
Daniel 6: Daniel in the lions' den
Orientation Daniel is book #27 of 39 in the Old Testament, and the last book of the Major Prophets. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis This book has three sections.
1. Daniel writes of his own background and training (ch 1).
2. Prophecy for the gentiles - as Daniel interprets for others. He interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (2:24). He and his friends refuse to worship an idol - the friends wind up in a furnace, but are unharmed (3:19). He interprets Nebuchadnezzar's vision of a great tree (4:19) and Belshazzar's vision of handwriting on a wall (5:10). He is thrown in the lions' den but is unharmed (6:16).
3. Prophecy for Israel - as an angel interprets Daniel's dreams. He dreams of a ram and goat (8:1), the seventy weeks (9:20), a great man (10:4), and a vision of Israel's future (11-12).
Major characters Daniel, the prophet, exiled in Babylon
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ; three friends who survive the fiery furnace; along with a fourth unnamed mystery person
Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler who has his dreams interpreted
Belshazzar, the ruler who sees handwriting appear on the wall
Discussion points In Ch. 1, persons are selected and trained over three years for service. Does God use a similar long-term selection and training process?
Who could be the fourth person seen in the fiery furnace (3:25)?
Compare the unexpected results of the throwing the three into the furnace (3:22) and throwing Daniel into the lions' den (6:24). Who received the worst punishment and why?
Connections Daniel lived at the same time as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so these books describe the same time period.
Daniel also shows up in a book of the Apocrypha. In the legend of Bel and the Dragon, the prophet Habakkuk is transported by an angel from his home in Judah to Babylon, where he brings a bowl of stew to Daniel while he is trapped in the lion's den.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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