Setting Date Overview Commentary
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
The events of chapter 6 took place in the context of the reorganization of Babylon following its takover by the Medo-Persian Empire. Not only were political details, such as the appointing of "presidents and princes," to be cared for, but the religious situation was in a state of disorder as well.
One of the last things Nabonidus had done in an effort to protect the city of Babylon from Medo-Persian invasion was to collect images of the Babylonian gods from throughout Babylonia and bring them all to the capital city. There he evidently hoped that the combined strength of all those gods would prevent the overthrow of the city.
When the new administration took over, they faced the logistical problem of returning all those images to their home cities. Without their gods, the people could not conduct their worship. The Nabonidus Chronicle says that not until the spring of 538 B.C., at the end of the Babylonian calendar year, did all the gods find their way back to their respective locations.
Under such conditions it becomes easier to understand how a decree such as the king signed in this story could be considered reasonable.
The last few verses of chapter 5 tell us that upon the fall of Babylon and the assasination of Belshazzar, "Darius the Median took the kingdom."
The exact working relationship between Darius and Cyrus has been confusing to some. The difficulty is that there is no mention of anyone by the name of Darius the Mede outside of the Bible, thus his exact identity has been difficult to pinpoint.
The use of more than one name by kings was a common practice in ancient times. Darius must have been the throne name of someone referred to by another name in secular sources. But who? Let's begin by collecting all the Biblical information:
|"Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old"
|"It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom"
|"King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; . . . I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom . . ."
|"The reign of Darius"
|"Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans"
|"Darius the Mede"
Some commentators believe that Darius is to be identified with Gobryas, governor of Gutium. See, for example, C. Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares I, pp. 104, 105; and William H. Shea in Andrews University Seminary Studies, January 1971 to July 1972.
It seems, however, that stronger evidence can be found in support of the view that Darius was Cyaxares II. This view is explained by Siegfried Horn in The Review and Herald, April 16, 1964. Cyaxares II was Cyrus' uncle and father-in-law. (See the relational chart.) His age would match the Bible specification.
The Bible says that Darius was "the son of Ahasuerus." The name Ahasuerus can be identified linguistically with that of Cyaxares I, and the word "son" can properly refer to a grandson.
When Babylon was conquered by the armies of Medo-Persia, Darius the Mede "was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 9:1). Cyrus, while at that time reigning over the united kingdom of Medo-Persia, did not assume the kingship of Babylon until the death of Daruis, a full year later.
Since Darius did not live much more than a year after the overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon, this story had to have taken place sometime between the autumn of 539 B.C. when Babylon fell, and the autumn of 538 B.C., when we have the first record of Cyrus adding "King of Babylon" to his titles.
If we are correct, as suggested in the setting above, that this story took place during the returning of the Babylonian images to their respective cities, it seems that the most likely period for it to have occurred would be during the winter of early 538 B.C.
This is the story of Daniel in the lion's den. It all began with the other government official's jealousy of Daniel, who had been placed above all the presidents and princes in Darius' kingdom.
The princes sought in vain to find some flaw in Daniel's character or in his work, of which they could accuse him. Imagine their frustration when they could find no fault in the man! They finally decided that the only way to trap him would be to devise some law which would conflict with Daniel's devotion to God.
By appealing to the king's pride, pretending to do him great honor, the presidents and princes were able to persuade Darius to sign a decree that whoever would make petition to any god or man, except to the king, for thirty days, would be thrown to the lions.
Daniel's allegiance to God was stronger than his fear of death. And even though the king, when he finally realized the scheme, tried to save his faithful friend, Daniel was cast into the den of lions.
But God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, so Daniel was not harmed. Then the scheming princes were thrown into the den, and were torn to pieces before they ever hit the floor.
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