Daniel - Lesson 2

By Stafford North


Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can explain why establishing the date for Daniel is important.
  2. The student can give five reasons why one should accept the date of writing to be in the sixth century BC.
  3. The student can show the weakness in accepting a date of writing as the second century BC.
  4. The student can point out the two halves of the book of Daniel and can name and explain the two types of literature (genre) found in the book.


  1. Have a chalkboard, marker board, overhead, or PowerPoint ready. You may download the PowerPoint to make overhead transparencies. When you do, click "Pure Black and White" on the print dialogue box.)
  2. Have copies of the worksheet ready to hand out at the beginning of the class.
  3. Be sure all the students have Bibles.
  4. Have cards ready to distribute with all the passages you want someone to read aloud during the lesson.
  5. Have blank sheets to hand out to students who were not in class last time so they can record their personal applications throughout the course.
  6. Have the Review Quiz available either as students come into the classroom so they can work on it prior to the start of class or to hand out near the beginning of class. To save time, especially if time for the teaching time is limited, it may work best to make the quiz sheet available before class actually starts.


Two different views are sometimes expressed as to when Daniel was written: the sixth century BC or the second century BC. This lesson seeks to establish the sixth century BC date as the correct one.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (10 minutes)

  1. Welcome visitors, make necessary announcements, check the roll, and sing songs and have a prayer. Songs again might center on the wisdom and power of God: "All Creatures that on Earth Do Dwell," "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," "WeBow Down," "We Will Glorify." Have a prayer.
  2. Go through the Review Quiz and let the students give the answers. All should check their papers as you go. Encourage all to be ready for the Review Quiz over today's lesson at the start of the next class period. Reviewing last week's lesson at the first of today's lesson is a very good way to increasing what students learn.
  3. Review the objectives for the lesson today.

Learning Experiences: (About 26 minutes)

  1. Turn to the book of Daniel. Q: How many chapters in the book? A: Twelve. Q: How would you describe the first six chapters? A: They are the story part of the life of Daniel. This part is largely of the "narrative" type of literature. Q: How would you describe the last six chapters of the book of Daniel: A: They are largely prophecies of the future. One exception to this general division of the book is in Chapter 2 which relates the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. This chapter contains narrative of the event, but the dream and its interpretation are both prophetic and apocalyptic.
  2. Since these prophecies in Chapters 2 and 7-12 are often told with references to animals, figurative use of numbers and other figures of speech, this portion of the book is said to be of the "apocalyptic" style. Q: What book in the New Testament utilizes this style? A: Revelation. In understanding the Bible it is important for us to understand the different styles of the literature because one approaches various types of literature (genre) in a different way. We have mentioned two types of literature in the Bible-historical narrative and apocalyptic. Q: What are other types of literature in the Bible and where would we find them? A: Poetry in the psalms and other places; proverbs in Proverbs and other places; letters in the epistles of the New Testament; law in Exodus; biography in the four gospels; parables in the four gospels. Each of these takes a little different approach for us to understand them properly. A proverb, for example, is not a prediction. So when the proverb says, "Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it" is a generalization that is usually true. It is not intended, however, to be a prediction about how every child will turn out. In biography, to take another example, the author usually has some particular aspect of the person's life he wants to emphasize. So we should not be surprised that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not identical. They are writing for different audiences and with different aspects of Jesus' life in mind. So what they tell is accurate, but will not be identical with the other biographers.
  3. The book of Daniel is also written originally in two different languages: 1:1-2:4a and 8:1-12:13 are in Hebrew while 2:4b-7:28 are in Aramaic. We do not know for sure why this is the case. Daniel, obviously, knew several languages and could easily have written it that way.
  4. Q: So what are the two halves of the book about? Q: In what two languages was it originally written? Q: What two types of literature does it contain?
  5. Now we turn to the question of when the book of Daniel was written. Let me read two statements that show the two positions. "Because of the detailed nature of apocalyptic timetables, the dating of at least the last chapters of Daniel can be established precisely. Scholars consider the predictions in this book, as in other apocalypses, to be prophecies after the fact, purportedly written down centuries earlier." (The Jewish Study Bible, Introduction to Daniel, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.) Another view is expressed in the introduction to Daniel in the NIV Study Bible: "The widely held view that the book of Daniel is largely fictional rests mainly on the modern philosophical assumption that long-range predictive prophecy is impossible.Therefore all fulfilled predictions in Daniel, it is claimed, had to have been composed no earlier than the Maccabean period (second century B.C.), after the fulfillments have taken place. But objective evidence excludes this hypothesis on several counts… . Objective evidence, therefore, appears to exclude the late-date hypothesis and indicates that there is insufficient reason to deny Daniel's authorship." (The NIV Study Bible. Edited by Kenneth Barker. Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 1984.) So, was Daniel written in the sixth century BC or in the second century BC.
  6. Q: What is at stake, then, in the position one takes about when Daniel was written? A: Whether God is able to inspire men to write predictive prophecy. If the book of Daniel was written during the Maccabean age by someone writing as if he were Daniel in order to encourage the Jews during a time of trial, then the book is a fraud. Thus, what it claims are predictions would actually be only reports what has already happened. Anyone could make predictions like that. But if it is a sixth century document, then it contains amazingly accurate predictions of events that were to come true over the six centuries following. No one denies its accurate description of events. So those who do not believe predictive prophecy is possible must make its date after as many of the predictions as possible.
  7. First, the case given for the second century date. There are several objections given against the sixth century date. We will look a three which are good samples of the whole and examine their validity.
    1. Some say Daniel is incorrect in dating certain events by the year of a certain king. Such references are frequent in Daniel as he gives the time when something happened by the year of a specified king. Some say he sometimes uses the wrong year. The fact is that different countries count differently the reigns of their kings. Some count starting with "zero" as the first year and some start with "one" as the first year. This difference accounts for the fact that Daniel may seem off a year by one method of counting but be accurate by another method which he would be using.
    2. A second objection is that Daniel refers to the first attack of the Babylonians being led by "king" Nebuchadnezzar. The fact is that Nebuchadnezzar was not the king when the attack began. During the time of this attack, his father died and he returned to Babylon to become the new king. The answer to this objection lies in the way we typically use language. If I were to say that President Bush was born in Connecticut, would you think I was incorrect? He was born in Connecticut but was he president when he was born? We often, then, use the title a person later acquires when speaking that person's earlier life. So this objection is turned away as very weak.
    3. Some have said that certain Greek words appear in Daniel when those words would not have been used so early by a Babylonian or Persian Court. But the words often cited are the names of musical instruments and it is surely not unusual for such words to be carried from one language to another as people travel from land to land. Our word "zither," for example, has its roots in Latin and before that in Greek. That words for musical instruments could have been incorporated into a different language is not at all unusual. These objections are not very substantial, as one can easily see.
  8. Q: What are some reasons you can think of to accept the earlier sixth century date for Daniel? (Give the class a chance to reflect and discuss this.) A: Here are some facts that help us recognize that Daniel was written by the person of that name who lived in the sixth century before Christ.
    1. Read Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20. Q: What do we learn from this reference Jesus makes to Daniel? A: Jesus speaks of him as a real person. Jesus says he is a prophet. Jesus says his prediction about the fall ofJerusalem (the abomination which makes desolate) has not happened yet. Thus, moving the date of writing to the second century BC does not remove the accurate predictive element from Daniel. Jesus says Daniel predicted the fall of Jerusalem and it came true in 70 AD.
    2. Read Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3. Q: What do we learn about Daniel from these passages in Ezekiel? A: That there was a real person named Daniel.That he was highly respected by Ezekiel as a man of great wisdom. That the word of the Lord places him in the company of Moses and Job-a very high compliment for a person who was still alive at the time Ezekiel wrote. Ezekiel and Daniel lived at the same time in Babylon.
    3. Josephus, in his Antiquities, says that the Old Testament canon was closed in the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, and that more books were not added after that time. He also reports that the Jewish leaders showed the book of Daniel to Alexander the Great when he came to Jerusalem in about 330 BC and was told he was fulfilling one of Daniel's prophecies.
    4. The book of Daniel is included in the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek. This translation was begun about 200BC and finished over several years. It is highly unlikely that a book not written until around 166 BC would have found its way into the Jewish canon so quickly.
    5. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, at least 17 fragments of the book of Daniel have been found. These are dated to about 165 BC but a book only just written would not have been kept by the Essenes among their treasured scriptures.
    6. The book of Daniel contains many references to the times of the sixth century BC that would not have been known by a second century author. Daniel is accurate on details about punishments, dress, banquets, customs and laws. Knowledge of Belshazzar, mentioned by Daniel as the king who ruled in Babylon at the time of the Persian conquest, was not in any available record from around 500 BC until documents were discovered in 
  9. Daniel's references to Belshazzar are entirely in harmony with what has now been learned about him such as his death on the night the Persians conquered Babylon. 
  10. The book of Daniel cannot, then, be the work of an honest, well-meaning forger who lived in the second century BC. Either it contains amazing prophecies or it isa complete fraud. The evidence strongly points to the book's having been written by a man named Daniel who lived in the sixth century BC.

Application: (5 minutes)

  1. Q: What do we learn about God from this study? A: He has such vast knowledge that he can know even future events before they transpire, can reveal what they will be, and will see that they come true as predicted.
  2. We also learn that the Bible is a book to be trusted. If it is accurate about events which took place long after it was written, then there is good reason to believe theBible is a book produced only through Divine guidance. This means we can trust what the Bible says.
  3. Write on your Personal Application Sheet any changes you might make from what you have studied in this lesson.

Assignment: (1 minute)

  1. Review the worksheet from today as preparation for the Review Quiz at the first of the next class period.
  2. Read Daniel 1.

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