Old Testament Lesson 45 (Daniel 1–6)
October 30–November 5
THE PROPHET DANIEL
● Ezekiel 14:14, 20 Ezekiel compared Daniel’s faith to that of both Noah and Job. Paul said that, through his faith, Daniel “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, [and] stopped the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). The story of Daniel, with his gift of interpreting dreams, and his rise to leadership in a foreign nation, is similar to the story of Joseph of Egypt (Genesis 39–41).
● Because of his righteousness and sensitivity to the Spirit, Daniel was greatly favored of God.
— He was given the gift of interpreting dreams and visions, bringing him to the king’s attention.
— He was raised to positions that enabled him to spend his life in service to the kings.
— He became the Lord’s minister to those rulers.
— He was made chief of the wise men.
— He was made chancellor of the equivalent of a national university.
— He was made ruler of all the Hebrew captives.
— As governor of the province of Babylon, he was one of the chief rulers in both the Babylonian and Persian empires
● Daniel served seven kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-merodach, Neriglissor, Labashi-Marduk, Nabonidus, Belshazzar, Cyrus, and Darius. Daniel remained in Babylon with many other Jews when most of them returned to Jerusalem.
● Daniel 1:21 Daniel lived 80 years, so he would have been 10 or less when taken captive. Though at times his life was endangered because of the jealousy of evil men, yet he lived so perfectly that the Lord continually protected and preserved him.
How Daniel Ended up in Babylon (Daniel 1:1–4)
● vv. 3–4 “Children” could have been translated “youth” or “young men.” Some of the young men who were taken captive were of royal bloodlines (“of the king’s seed”). Whether or not Daniel was of royal blood is not known; his genealogy is not given.
● Daniel and his friends were among the first group of Jews carried captive into Babylon about 605 BC—20 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah.
● Shinar is the plain in the lower delta of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers near the Persian Gulf. It was the ancient land of Chaldea, or Babylonia.
DANIEL AND KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR
Daniel and His Friends’ Diets
● Daniel 1:4–7 Daniel and his companions were selected for service in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Certain young men of royal lineage who showed promise were invited to participate in the king’s school for a three-year period. They were trained for service at the court and learned the language of the Babylonians. Among those selected for this honor were Daniel and three other young Jewish men.
— vv. 6–7 All four of them received new names in Babylon:
Previous Name: New Name in Babylon:
Daniel (“God is my judge”) Belteshazzar (“O protect his life”)
Hananiah (“Jehovah is gracious”) Shadrach (meaning uncertain)
Mishael (“Who is what God is?”) Meshach (meaning uncertain)
Azariah (“God is my help”) Abednego (“a servant of Nego”).
● Daniel 1:8–21 They were blessed for refusing to partake of food forbidden by the Lord. The term meat refers to the food on the king’s table (v. 8). They refused it because:
— Some foods used by the Babylonians were forbidden in the Mosaic law.
— Babylonians often ate beasts that had not been properly drained of blood.
— They consecrated food at their feasts by offering up part of it to their gods.
— Jews considered food contaminated and unclean if it was prepared by anyone considered unclean, such as the heathens.
— The last part of this verse could have been translated: “For why should he see your faces worse looking than the boys who are of your age? Then you would forfeit my head to the king” (v. 10).
— Pulse is seeds and grains such as peas, wheat, barley, and rye (vv. 12–16).
— Because of their obedience, God gave them knowledge and understanding (vv. 17–21). Daniel also “had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
● D&C 89:18–21 The similar blessings of living the Word of Wisdom today: “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (v. 19).
— Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “I have come to know . . . that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else that disturbs your health. . . . If someone ‘under the influence’ can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically.”
● Daniel 2:1–13 The king tested his servants.
— The phrase “is gone from me” should read “is certain with me,” since the Persian word azda (“sure”) is used.
— v. 9 He knew what he had dreamt, and if the interpreters could tell him the dream, he would know that he could believe them.
● Daniel 2:14–19 Daniel interpreted the dream by obtaining revelation from God.
— President Wilford Woodruff said: “The Lord does communicate some things of importance to the children of men by means of visions and dreams as well as by the records of divine truth. And what is it all for? It is to teach us a principle. We may never see anything take place exactly as we see it in a dream or a vision, yet it is intended to teach us a principle.”
— President Harold B. Lee said: “By faith in God you can be attuned to the Infinite and by power and wisdom obtained from your Heavenly Father harness the powers of the universe to serve you in your hour of need in the solution of problems too great for your human strength or intelligence.”
● Daniel 2:20–30 Daniel could have taken credit for his gift but gave the credit to God.
— v. 28 Daniel attributed his seership to God, as did Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41:16).
Daniel Interpreted the King’s Dream
● Daniel 2:31–43 Daniel revealed the king’s dream and then interpreted it.
— v. 38 The fulfillment of the king’s dream would begin in the immediate future.
— v. 44 The culmination, however, was to take place in the last days. The Hebrew word achariyth means “last or end.”
— President Spencer W. Kimball said: “This is revelation concerning the history of the world, when one world power would supersede another until there would be numerous smaller kingdoms to share the control of the earth. And it was in the days of these kings that power would not be given to men, but the God of heaven would set up a kingdom—the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people.”
— “Nebuchadnezzar represented the king of kings, a world power, representing the head of gold. Another kingdom would arise and take over world dominion [from Babylon]. The interpretation included the domination of other kingdoms. Cyrus the Great, with his Medes and Persians, would be replaced by the Greek or Macedonian kingdom under Philip and Alexander; and that world power would be replaced by the Roman Empire; and Rome would be replaced by a group of nations of Europe represented by the toes of the image.”
— vv. 37–41 Each clay or metal part represents a separate kingdom.
— v. 38 The golden head represents Nebuchadnezzar.
— vv. 39–42 The kingdoms that succeed each other differed in strength.
— vv. 40–43 The feet and toes; the divided nature of the various kingdoms.
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven
● Daniel 2:44 The Kingdom of God established in the latter days will stand forever.
— President Brigham Young said: “The Lord God Almighty has set up a kingdom that will sway the scepter of power and authority over all the kingdoms of the world, and will never be destroyed; it is the kingdom that Daniel saw and wrote of. It may be considered treason to say that the kingdom which that Prophet foretold is actually set up; that we cannot help, but we know it is so, and call upon the nations to believe our testimony. The kingdom will continue to increase, to grow, to spread and prosper more and more. Every time its enemies undertake to overthrow it, it will become more extensive and powerful; instead of its decreasing, it will continue to increase, it will spread the more, become more wonderful and conspicuous to the nations, until it fills the whole earth.”
— President Wilford Woodruff said: “And I will say, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, that “Mormonism” will live and prosper, Zion will flourish, and the Kingdom of God will stand in power and glory and dominion as Daniel saw it, when this nation is broken to pieces as a potter’s vessel and laid in the dust, and brought to judgment, or God never spoke by my mouth.”
● Daniel 2:34, 45 The Kingdom of God will consume all the other kingdoms.
● What is the “Kingdom of God” and what is the “Kingdom of Heaven”?
— Jesus Christ prayed for the coming of the “kingdom of heaven (Matt. 6:10).”
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “During the millennium the kingdom of God will continue on earth, but in that day it will be both an ecclesiastical and apolitical kingdom. That is, the Church (which is the kingdom) will have the rule and government of the world given to it.”
The Stone Cut out of the Mountain Without Hands Is the Church
— D&C 65:2 The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.”
— The stone cut out without hands is the “Kingdom of God.”
— The “Kingdom of God” (the Church) prepares the way for . . .
— The “Kingdom of Heaven” (Christ’s kingdom) which is to come.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world.”
— The Prophet Joseph Smith also compared himself to Daniel’s stone: “I am like a huge rough stone rolling down from a high mountain: and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women–all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus will I become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred.”
DANIEL’S FRIENDS IN THE FIERY FURNACE
● Daniel 3:1–12 Nebuchadnezzar commanded everybody to worship his idols.
— v. 1 The golden image was ninety feet high and nine feet wide.
● Daniel 3:13–18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to do so.
— Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “We will [not] always be rescued from proximate problems, but we will be rescued from everlasting death! Meanwhile, ultimate hope makes it possible to say the same three words used centuries ago by three valiant men. They knew God could rescue them from the fiery furnace if He chose. ‘But if not,’ they said, nevertheless, they would still serve Him!”
● Daniel 3:19–23 They were cast into a fiery furnace.
— v. 19 “Seven times more” is an idiom meaning “much hotter than usual.”
● Daniel 3:24–30 They were protected by the Lord and are not consumed by the fire.
DANIEL AND KING DARIUS OF PERSIA
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
● Daniel 6:1–3 King Darius recognized Daniel’s greatness and promoted him.
● Daniel 6:4–9 Daniel’s jealous enemies sought to entrap and kill him. They persuaded the king to sign a decree that for 30 days all petitions must be directed to him rather than to any other man or to God. Those who disobeyed the decree would be thrown into a den of lions.
● Daniel 6:10–11 Daniel’s response was to pray. Those who are righteous do not fear men. Daniel refused to follow the abominable decree and sought his God in prayer.
— President Spencer W. Kimball: “This unalterable law of the Medes and Persians would have been terrifying to any man, but the faithful Daniel did not flinch. Was there any question what he should do? He could save his life by abandoning his prayers to the Living God. What was he to do? A man of integrity could not fail. Daniel was the soul of integrity.”
● Daniel 6:12–17 Daniel was cast into the lion’s den. Disappointed, Darius sought a way to deliver Daniel but was not successful.
● Daniel 6:18–25 Darius fasted for David throughout the night, and was the first one at the lions’ den the next morning. Daniel had remained unharmed.
● Daniel 6:26–28 The king killed Daniel’s enemies and declared Daniel’s God to his people as the true and living God.
— v. 6 In accepting “the God of Daniel” as one of the gods acceptable to the Babylonians, Darius was not converting to Jehovah, but merely accepting him as the “supreme” god among many.
1: In Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 28–29; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 20.
2: The Discourses of President Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham , 286.
3: Church News, 15 Aug. 1970, 2.
4: In Conference Report, April 1976, 10.
5: In Conference Report, April 1976, 10; or Ensign, May 1976, 8.
6: In Journal of Discourses, 1:202–203.
7: The Discourses of President Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham , 508–509.
8: Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 416.
9: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 366.
10: History of the Church, 5:401.
11: In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 45; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 35.
12: Integrity, 17.