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Reference: Daniel, Book Of


This is a mixture of history and prophecy. The first six chapters are chiefly historical, and the remainder prophetical. It was completed about B. C. 534. The wonders related are of a peculiar and striking character, and were designed to show the people of God that, amid their degeneracy, the Lord's hand was not shortened that it could not save; and also to exhibit to their enemies that there was an essential difference between Jehovah and idols, between the people of God and the world. The prophecies contained in the latter part of the book extend from the days of Daniel to the general resurrection. The Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman empires are described under appropriate imagery. The precise time of Christ's coming is told; the rise and the fall of antichrist, and the duration of his power, are accurately determined; the victory of Christ over his enemies, and the universal prevalence of his religion are clearly pointed out. The book is filled with the most exalted sentiments of piety and devout gratitude. Its style is simple, clear, and concise, and many of the prophecies are delivered in language so plain and circumstantial, that some infidels have asserted that they were written after the events they described had taken place. Sir Isaac Newton regards Daniel as the most distinct and plain of all the prophets, and most easy to be understood; and therefore considers that in things relating to the last times, he is to be regarded as the key to the other prophets.

With respect to the genuineness and authenticity of the book, there is the strongest evidence, both internal and external. We have the testimony of Christ himself, Mt 24:15; of St. John and St. Paul, who have copied his prophecies; of the Jewish church and nation, who have constantly received this book as canonical; of Josephus, who recommends him as the greatest of the prophets; and of the Jewish Targets and Talmuds, which frequently cite his authority. As to the internal evidence, the style, the language, the manner of writing, perfectly agree with the age; and especially, he is proved to have been a prophet by the exact fulfilment of his predictions. This book, like that of Ezra, is written partly in Hebrew, and partly in Chaldee, the prevailing language of the Babylonians.

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is ranked by the Jews in that division of their Bible called the Hagiographa (Heb. Khethubim). (See Bible.) It consists of two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first six chapters, is chiefly historical; and the second part, consisting of the remaining six chapters, is chiefly prophetical.

The historical part of the book treats of the period of the Captivity. Daniel is "the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar] away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia'" (2Ch 36:20).

The prophetical part consists of three visions and one lengthened prophetical communication.

The genuineness of this book has been much disputed, but the arguments in its favour fully establish its claims. (1.) We have the testimony of Christ (Mt 24:15; 25:31; 26:64) and his apostles (1Co 6:2; 2Th 2:3) for its authority; and (2) the important testimony of Ezekiel (Eze 14:14,20; 28:3). (3.) The character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony with the times and circumstances in which the author lived. (4.) The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, just such as might be expected. Certain portions (Da 2:4; 7) are written in the Chaldee language; and the portions written in Hebrew are in a style and form having a close affinity with the later books of the Old Testament, especially with that of Ezra. The writer is familiar both with the Hebrew and the Chaldee, passing from the one to the other just as his subject required. This is in strict accordance with the position of the author and of the people for whom his book was written. That Daniel is the writer of this book is also testified to in the book itself (Da 7:1,28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1-2; 12:4-5). (See Belshazzar.)

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1. Authorship and Date.

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This book holds a peculiar place among the prophecies: its subject is the "Times of the Gentiles." It is not an appeal to Israelites, but is mostly taken up with prophecies concerning the Gentile powers. The times of Gentile domination had begun by Nebuchadnezzar taking Jerusalem and being called king of kings, to whom God had given a kingdom, and made him ruler over all the children of men. God's personal dealings with this monarch are recorded and the kingdoms that would follow are revealed.

The book divides itself into two portions: the first six chapters give Daniel's intercourse with the great monarchs; and the latter six chapters the visions and revelations made to Daniel himself. For the personal history of the prophet see DANIEL. The prophetical aspect of the first division begins with Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

Daniel 2: Under the figure of the Great Image are described the four Gentile empires that were to succeed each other, further particulars of which were afterwards revealed to Daniel. It is plainly manifested that these empires would depreciate. The first is compared to gold, the second to silver, the third to brass, and the fourth to iron and clay which would not mingle together. It is noteworthy that, notwithstanding this declaration, the great effort of many in modern days is to endeavour to unite the iron and clay, and others strive to make the clay (the mass of the people) the ruling power. The fourth empire will be resuscitated, for the Lord Jesus at His first coming did not set up His kingdom

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Basic English, produced by Mr C. K. Ogden of the Orthological Institute - public domain