Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

| Daniel Bible Study | About the Author | Bibliography |
Introduction to Daniel

Why Study the Book of Daniel?

Purpose of Daniel

Great Conflicts Unveiled

Daniel the Prophet

Structure and Themes

Style and Interpretation

Ancient Translations

Daniel In the Critics' Den

Historical Background

The City of Babylon

Structure and Themes

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 and Cyrus.

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

B.C. 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 (Daniel 2:28).

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 2:47).

The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 4:32).

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