The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Daniel 6

Dan 6:1

Dan 6: Darius' pride and Daniel's preservation: (1) Daniel's promotion in the Persian government (vv 1-3); (2) The conspiracy against Daniel (vv 4-9); (3) Daniel's faithfulness and Darius' predicament (vv 10-15); (4) Daniel in the lions' den (vv 16-18); (5) Daniel's deliverance and his enemies' destruction (vv 19-24); (6) Darius' decree and praise of Yahweh (vv 25-28).

Vv 1,2: When the Medo-Persian alliance overthrew the Babylonian Empire, it acquired much geographic territory that it proceeded to incorporate into its kingdom. The Persian Empire became the largest that the world had yet seen eventually encompassing modern Turkey, Egypt, and parts of India and North Africa as well as Babylonia. Darius divided his realm into 120 satrapies or provinces and set a satrap ("protector of the realm") in charge of each one (cp Est 1:1; 8:9). They reported to three commissioners -- one of whom was Daniel. Evidently Darius had heard about Daniel's unique gifts and accomplishments as a Babylonian administrator and wanted to use him in his cabinet.

Dan 6:3

NOW DANIEL SO DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF...: What makes this so extraordinary is that Daniel would have been in his 80s by now!

Dan 6:4

AT THIS, THE ADMINISTRATORS AND THE SATRAPS TRIED TO FIND GROUNDS FOR CHARGES AGAINST DANIEL...: Why did the other officials wanted to get rid of Daniel? Perhaps his integrity made it difficult for them to get away with graft and political corruption. A godly man in authority is a threat to every ungodly man under his authority (Pro 20:8). This explains why the men about to be placed under Daniel's authority were willing to take risks to keep Daniel from being promoted. (It is also the reason the scribes and Pharisees were terrified at the thought of Jesus being in authority over them. They wished to persist in their sins and to profit from them. They devised a scheme to put Jesus to death, even as Daniel's enemies formed a conspiracy to bring about his death.)

Maybe since Daniel was quite old, his enemies wanted to eliminate him so someone from a younger generation could take his place. Anti-Semitism could also have been part of their reason (cp v 13; Dan 3:12).

THEY COULD FIND NO CORRUPTION IN HIM: He was persecuted, though blameless: cp Psa 59:4; 109:3; Joh 19:6.

HE WAS TRUSTWORTHY: Examples of faithfulness in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David (1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah (Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4); Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9); Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5); Antipas (Rev 2:13).

Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.

Dan 6:5

The accusers' plan was similar to that of the Babylonian officials who had tried to topple Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Dan 3). They knew that Daniel was a God-fearing man who did not worship pagan idols. So they set a trap for him believing that he would remain faithful to his faith. When Daniel had to choose between obeying his God or his government, his God came first (v 10; Acts 5:29).

Dan 6:7

THE ROYAL ADMINISTRATORS, PREFECTS... HAVE ALL AGREED: The adversaries' exaggerated their claim that all the rulers of the kingdom had concurred with their proposal. Obviously Daniel had not agreed to it. Nevertheless it was believable enough that Darius did not object or consult Daniel.

ANYONE WHO PRAYS TO ANY GOD OR MAN DURING THE NEXT THIRTY DAYS, EXCEPT TO YOU, O KING...: The plan catered to the king's vanity. The proposed statute evidently covered petitions of a religious nature rather than requests of any type since a general ban, even a permanent ban, would have been absurd. Perhaps the antagonistic rulers also aimed at impressing the Babylonians with the importance of remaining loyal to their new Persian king. In any case they promoted humanism, the philosophy that puts man in the place of God.

"The iniquity of world rulers during the 'times of the Gentiles' has not yet been examined to the last detail. These monarchs have sponsored idolatry in the past [Dan 3], and they will again in the prophetic future. They became deranged by their senseless, overbearing pride in the past [Dan 4], and they will again in the predicted future. They were blatantly impious in their desecration of holy things in the past [Dan 5], and they will be again in the foretold future.

"But that is not all; there is yet a final touch. Man will finally seek to displace God altogether" (Feinberg).

Dan 6:8

PUT IT IN WRITING THAT IT CANNOT BE ALTERED: Under Persian law, the king was bound by the authority of a royal edict (vv 8,12,15; cp Est 1:19; 8:8). This made his power less than it was under an absolute dictator such as Nebuchadnezzar (cp Dan 2:39). The action of Darius was both foolish and wicked. Did he yield to the request of the ministers because he was greatly influenced by the claims to deity which many of the Persian kings made?

Dan 6:10

WHERE THE WINDOWS OPENED TOWARD JERUSALEM: Solomon had taught the Jews to pray to the Lord facing Jerusalem since that is where He promised to be in a special sense for them (2Ch 6:21,34-39; cp Psa 5:7). The fact that his window was open evidently symbolized for Daniel that his prayers were unhindered.

THREE TIMES A DAY: Praying three times a day was evidently the practice of godly Jews dating back to David, if not before then (Psa 55:16,17).

HE GOT DOWN ON HIS KNEES: Daniel's kneeling posture, reminiscent of Solomon's at the temple dedication, indicated his dependence on God as a suppliant. Normally the Jews stood when they prayed (1Ch 23:30; Neh 9; Mat 6:5; Mar 11:25; Luke 18:11,13), but they kneeled (and prostrated themselves) when they felt a more urgent need (1Ki 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5).

"He knew the penalty. Was he foolhardy? Why couldn't he have taken care not to be seen? Why couldn't he have closed the lattice window, which is so pointedly mentioned as being open? Wouldn't common prudence have demanded at least that? God could hear just as well with it shut.

"But why SHOULD he hide? Why should he be ashamed or afraid? Who has supreme power, God or man? Naaman the Syrian said (2Ki 5:18): 'When I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant this thing.' But Daniel was a man of different stamp. Why should he temporise and interrupt his communion with God at the whim of a heathen monarch? It was no sin to pray; it was his duty. And if he intended to pray, why should he hide it?

"He could not have faithfully followed any other course. His allegiance to God was on trial, and he faced the issue squarely. He did not go out of his way to flout the king's commandment. He merely ignored it, and followed his usual custom of worship, scorning subterfuge" (GVG).

For what did Daniel pray? For the welfare of the city where God had sent them into exile, and for the Jews' return from exile. That this was the subject of his praying, among other things including thanksgiving (v 10), seems clear since Daniel possessed a copy of Jeremiah's prophecy (Dan 9:2; cp Jer 29:1,7,10). Jeremiah had written that God had promised to hear such prayers, if they were wholehearted, to restore the fortunes of the Jews, and to regather them to the Promised Land (Jer 29:12-14). See Daniel's specific prayer, recorded in Dan 9:3-19.

Cp Christ in Gethsemane: praying the third time (Mat 26:44). Here are portrayed "the sufferings of Christ" -- AND "the glories that follows" (1Pe 1:11).

Dan 6:11

They evidently felt that eyewitness testimony would be important in making their case. But did they suppose that a man who was so faithful as to pray, even under threat of death, would pray and then lie about doing so?!

Dan 6:13

WHO IS ONE OF THE EXILES FROM JUDAH: The same anti-semitic description had been used before, of Daniel (Dan 2:25; 5:13), and of his 3 friends (Dan 3:12).

Dan 6:14

HE WAS GREATLY DISTRESSED: Nebuchadnezzar had become angry with Daniel's three friends when they refused to idolize him (Dan 3:19), but Darius became angry with himself for signing the decree. This shows how much he respected and valued Daniel.

HE WAS DETERMINED TO RESCUE DANIEL: Cp Pilate with Jesus (Luk 23:20).

Dan 6:16

THEY BROUGHT DANIEL AND THREW HIM INTO THE LIONS' DEN: Two different books have been written which share the same title: "Daniel in the Critics' Den". Their authors have compared Daniel's experience in the lion's den to the book of Daniel coming under attack by textual critics, Dan 6 is one of the portions which has come under the heaviest attack. A good part of this attack has to do with the Gentiles who appear in the book: Belshazzar (Dan 5), and Darius (Dan 6) -- whose very existences have been disputed. However, by now, perfectly reasonable explanations for both have been discovered and offered: Until recent years, nothing was known of Belshazzar, but by now his existence and identity have been independently confirmed. "Darius" is commonly accepted as one of the titles of Cyrus, which seems the best guess as of now, but In twenty or forty years, we may know as much about Darius as we now know about Belshazzar. Either way, most of the critics' case against the book of Daniel has evaporated.

MAY YOUR GOD, WHOM YOU SERVE CONTINUALLY, RESCUE YOU!: The KJV is even more definite: "Thy God whom thou servest continually, HE WILL deliver thee."

Dan 6:17

The lions' den appears to have been a large pit in the ground with an opening above that a large stone sealed, probably to keep people from stumbling into it. Such pits were commonly used as cisterns to store water or as prisons. Daniel had to be lifted up out of it (v 23), and others when thrown into it fell down toward its bottom (v 24). It may also have had a side entrance or drain since if it did not, rain could have filled the den and drowned the lions.

A STONE WAS BROUGHT AND PLACED OVER THE MOUTH OF THE DEN: Cp the great stone at the tomb of Christ.

Dan 6:18

AND HE COULD NOT SLEEP: Quite possibly Daniel -- in the lions' den -- slept better than his king -- in the safety and comfort of his palace! To the believer, external circumstances and surroundings are not the prerequisite for "peace". Daniel in a lions' den, Joseph in a pit, Paul in a storm-tossed ship, or in a prison... all these are more in the hands of God than any unbeliever!

Dan 6:19

AT THE FIRST LIGHT OF DAWN: Evidently spending a night in the lions' den was the minimum that the law required.

For the typical parallel, cp those who go to the tomb of Jesus, "at dawn" (Mat 28:1).

Dan 6:22

His unlikely surroundings do not keep Daniel from delivering his exhortation to the king!

MY GOD SENT HIS ANGEL: Like the Angel who was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace: Dan 3:28. Cp Acts 27:23-25; 12:5-10; Gen 24:40.

AND HE SHUT THE MOUTHS OF THE LIONS: "...who through faith... shut the mouths of lions" (Heb 11:33).

NOR HAVE I EVER DONE ANY WRONG BEFORE YOU: Cp the innocence of Christ.

Dan 6:24

Then the king applied the "law of retaliation", and cast his friend's accusers into the very den in which they had placed Daniel (cp, generally, Gen 12:3; Est 7:9,10; Gal 6:7).

BEFORE THEY REACHED THE FLOOR OF THE DEN, THE LIONS OVERPOWERED THEM AND CRUSHED ALL THEIR BONES: Thus proving that it wasn't through lack of appetite that Daniel's life was spared!

Dan 6:26

Recognition of the supremacy of God's dominion and kingdom over all others. Such a decree would encourage the scattered exiles of Israel, and keep them ready and willing for their eventual return from exile.

Dan 6:28

DURING THE REIGN OF DARIUS AND THE REIGN OF CYRUS: Or, as the NIV mg, "the reign of Darius, THAT IS, the reign of Cyrus". This supports the view that "Darius" was a title for Cyrus. Cyrus' first full year as king of Babylon was 538 BC, and this is when Daniel's career in government service ended (Dan 1:21).

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