The general structure of the book is twofold, with the book
being written in two languages, Hebrew (chapters 1, 8-12) and
Aramaic (chapters 2-7). Chapters 1-6 set forth events in the
life of Daniel, especially during his role as an interpreter
of dreams under the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar,
Darius and Cyrus. Chapters 7-12 consist of prophetic visions
that Daniel received during the reigns of Belshazzar, Darius
The book is not in chronological order.
Chapters 1-6 are characterized by backward reflections.
Chapters 5-6 form a transition from story narrative to the
apocalyptic section of chapters 7-12.
There are ten
individual stories and visions in the book. The first nine
follow the chapter breaks; the tenth is covered in chapters
10-12. The visions have the common goal of showing God’s rule
in the world.
Daniel has two distinct, although
related messages to deliver. One is a message of judgment and
concerns the defeat and final overthrow of the Gentile world
powers, of which Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus
were the chief representatives. The other is a message of
consolation and hope concerning the future deliverance for
God’s people, the nation of Israel. The first message is
written in Imperial Aramaic, an official dialect known in all
parts of the Near East during the sixth century
The use of Aramaic is appropriate for the prophet’s message as
it concerns the future history of the Gentile kingdoms. The
second message, which is exclusively directed to Hebrew
people, is appropriately written in Hebrew. The major themes
are that God reveals the future and He rules the kingdoms of
men. These themes are summarized by three key verses.
But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has
shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come
The king said to Daniel, “Surely your
God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of
mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery” (Daniel
The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of
men and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 4:32).