“Introduction to Daniel,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Daniel,” Old Testament Study Guide
The book of Daniel provides an account of the experiences of Daniel and other faithful Jews who were taken captive to Babylon. As you study the book of Daniel, you can learn the importance of remaining faithful to God and qualifying to receive the blessings He gives to those who are faithful to Him (see Bible Dictionary, “Daniel, book of”). It also contains the interpretation of an important dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had about the kingdom of God in the last days.
The prophet Daniel is the author of this book (see Daniel 8:1; 9:2, 20; 10:2). Daniel’s name means “a judge (is) God” (Bible Dictionary, “Daniel”). “Nothing is known of his parentage, though he appears to have been of royal descent (Dan. 1:3); he was taken captive to Babylon [as part of the first deportation of the Jews in approximately 605 B.C.] and received the name of Belteshazzar (1:6–7)” (Bible Dictionary, “Daniel”). Daniel was selected as one of the choicest Jewish youths to be trained for service in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. God blessed Daniel with the gift of interpreting dreams, and he rose to leadership positions within the Babylonian and Persian governments. In many ways his life was similar to the life of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. (See Bible Dictionary, “Daniel.”)
The book of Daniel was likely written around 530 B.C., while Daniel was living in Babylon. Assuming he was a teenager when he was taken to Babylon, Daniel may have been around 90 years old when he wrote his book. (See Gleason L. Archer Jr., “Daniel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 12 vols. [1976–1992], 7:6.)
“The book has two divisions: Dan. 1–6 contains narratives regarding Daniel and his three companions; Dan. 7–12 contains prophetic visions seen by Daniel and reported in his own name” (Bible Dictionary, “Daniel, book of”). Some of these visions relate to the last days and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
“A major contribution of the book is the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In the dream, the kingdom of God in the last days is depicted as a stone that is cut out of a mountain. The stone will roll forth until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2; see also D&C 65:2)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Daniel”; scriptures.lds.org).
The divine protection of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace and later of Daniel in the lion’s den demonstrate how God delivers the faithful who honor Him at all times and in all circumstances.
Daniel 1. Daniel and his companions are faithful to the law of Moses, and God blesses them with knowledge and wisdom. They receive positions of service in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
Daniel 2. By revelation Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which concerns the destinies of kingdoms of the earth and the kingdom of God in the last days.
Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol and are cast into a fiery furnace, but the Lord delivers them.
Daniel 4–5. Daniel interprets another dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and later interprets writing on a wall regarding Babylon’s impending fall to the Medes and Persians.
Daniel 6. Daniel is delivered from a den of lions. He was cast into the den for praying to the Lord rather than obeying King Darius’s decree forbidding petitioning any god or man other than the king.
Daniel 7–12. Daniel has prophetic visions of events from soon after his time through the last days. These events include conquests of kingdoms of the earth, the coming of the Messiah, the distress and deliverance of God’s people in the last days, and the Resurrection of the dead.