Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

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The Bel priests versus Daniel (Dan 14:8-14:9)

“Then the king

Was angry.

He called the priests

Of Bel.

He said to them.

‘If you do not tell me

Who is eating

These provisions,

You shall die.

But if you prove

That Bel is eating them,

Daniel shall die.

Because he has spoken

Blasphemy

Against Bel.

Daniel said to the king.

‘Let it be done

As you have said.’”

Then King Cyrus became angry at Daniel. He called in the priests of the idol god Bel. He told them to tell him who was eating the provisions that were set out for this god Bel. If they did not tell him, they would die. However, if they could prove that Bel was eating these provisions, then Daniel would die. One way or other, someone was going to die. The king accused Daniel of blasphemy with his statements about Bel. Daniel agreed to this proposition, death for him or the Bel priests.

Bel eats and drinks (Dan 14:6-14:7)

“The king said to Daniel.

‘Do you not think

That Bel

Is a living God?

Do you not see

How much he eats,

How much he drinks,

Every day?’

Then Daniel laughed.

He said.

‘Do not be deceived!

O king!

This thing is

Only clay inside,

With bronze,

On the outside.

It never ate

Or drank anything.’”

King Cyrus got into a conversation with Daniel about Bel and his living God. The king maintained that Bel was also a living god, since he was able to eat and drink every day. Then Daniel laughed at him. He told the king not to be deceived. Bel was only made of clay and bronze, so that it was not capable of eating or drinking.

Bel versus the living God (Dan 14:4-14:5)

“The king said to him.

‘Why do you

Not worship Bel?’

Daniel answered.

‘Because I do not revere

Idols,

Made with human hands.

But I revere

The living God,

Who created heaven,

Who created earth.

He has dominion

Over all living creatures.’”

King Cyrus and Daniel got into a conversation about Bel, the Babylonian god. The king wanted to know why Daniel did not worship Bel. Daniel explained that he did not worship or revere man made idols. Instead, he revered and worshipped the living God, who created heaven and earth. Thus, his God had dominion over all living creatures.

The Babylonian god Bel (Dan 14:3-14:4)

“Now the Babylonians

Had an idol

Called Bel.

Every day,

They provided for it

Twelve bushels

Of choice flour,

Forty sheep,

Six measures

Of wine.

The king revered it.

He went every day

To worship it.

But Daniel worshiped

His own God.”

This god Bel was Bel Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, mentioned by Jeremiah and Isaiah. Every day, the people provided this idol 12 bushels of choice flour, 40 sheep, and 6 measures or about 50 gallons of wine. The king Cyrus revered Bel, as he worshipped this god on a daily basis. Bel may have been popular in Persia also. However, Daniel worshipped his own God, but there is no indication where he did this.

King Cyrus (Dan 14:1-14:1)

“When King Astyages

Was laid to rest

With his ancestors,

Cyrus the Persian

Succeeded to his kingdom.”

This last chapter of the Book of Daniel is often referred to as the story of Bel, the god, and the dragon. Daniel will show how each one was useless. Once again, this chapter is only in the Greek Septuagint, so that it is often called apocryphal. This story takes place at the later part of the life of Daniel, since Cyrus the Persian (598-530 BCE) was the King. His rule in Persia began in 559 BCE and lasted about 30 years. Here, he is still only the king of Persia that he received from his father, King Astyages (585-550 BCE). The sister of King Astyages was the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Thus, you can see the connection, as Cyprus would have been the nephew of the Babylonian king. Eventually, Cyrus took over Babylon in 539 BCE.

The four successful court attendants (Dan 1:19-1:21)

“The king spoke

With them.

Among them all,

No one was found

To compare with

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

Therefore,

They were stationed

In the king’s court.

In every matter

Of wisdom,

Of understanding,

Concerning

What the king inquired of them,

He found them

Ten times better

Than all the magicians,

All the enchanters

In his whole kingdom.

Daniel continued there

Until the first year

Of King Cyrus.”

The Babylonian king spoke with all his new young court people. These 4 young Israelite royal students, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were very successful, since no one could compare to them. Thus, they were stationed in the king’s court. In anything about wisdom and understanding, these 4 court attendants were 10 times better than the more traditional Babylonian court magicians and enchanters. These 4 young men became the favorites of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, in fact, stayed the whole time in the royal court until King Cyrus of Persia took over around 538 BCE. Thus, Daniel would have spent pretty much his entire life in the Babylonian royal court, about 70 years.