Daniel Introduction
The Book of Daniel is located very close to the end of the Writings, the third and final section of the Hebrew Bible. Since this was one of the last books in the Hebrew Bible to be written, it could only be placed in this last section. Canonical approval by the rabbis of the books in the first two sections—Torah and Prophets—had closed those sections long before the final decisions were made for the last section. But, the Greek Septuagint Bible relocated Daniel to a position among the prophetic books with which it has a number of affinities, between the three major prophets and the twelve minor prophets. The Latin Vulgate Bible did likewise, as did the KJV. Another clue to the lateness of Daniel is that a sizeable section, everything from 2.4 to 7.28, is written in Aramaic, the international language of the Persian Empire, rather than in Hebrew as used elsewhere in Daniel. The main aim of this book is to encourage faithfulness to God in an age of deadly persecution of Jews under the Seleucid Greek rulers in the early second century b.c. The setting of the story is that of the exile in Babylonia, and it recounts the story of Daniel and his three friends, all young Jewish exiles who have already begun to acculturate and assume positions within the Babylonian government. The first six chapters are a third-person narrative about Daniel and his friends. Daniel is quickly renowned for his wisdom and even becomes an interpreter of dreams for the Babylonian king. These faithful young Jews, however, are frequently tested by policies aimed at enforcing the worship of idols, which they refuse to do. Daniel's friends are saved by God from any harm when they are thrown into a fiery furnace (chapter 3). Later, Daniel is similarly thrown into a den of lions for disobedience of a royal order. Like his friends before him, he is spared when God sends an angel to protect him. This amazing rescue causes the king to give glowing praise to Daniel's God. By this kind of staunch faith and trust in God in the face of deadly harm, Daniel and his friends are portrayed as role models from an earlier time for the persecuted faithful of the Seleucid age. At chapter 7, the narrative abruptly shifts to a series of first-person accounts of Daniel's visions and dreams, which the angel Gabriel explains for him. The two sections of the book together celebrate God as the divine ruler of the universe and of human history, who will come to the aid of people who put their trust in God in times of oppression or persecution.
Daniel's appeal to the Jewish community living under oppressive rule is further evidenced by three additions added later and included in the Greek Septuagint Bible: The Song of the Three Holy Children, which expands on the experience of Daniel's friends in the fiery furnace, and The History of Susanna and The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, two stories recounting three more examples of Daniel's wisdom, cleverness, and faith. These three books can be found on pp. 0000–0000 in the Apocrypha section of this Bible.
The Stories of Daniel in Babylonia (1.1—6.28)
The Visions of Daniel (7.1—12.13)

King James Version 1611, spelling, punctuation and text formatting modernized by ABS in 1962; typesetting © 2010 American Bible Society.

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