Daniel Chapter 6: Lion’s Den

Nov 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Daniel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Daniel Chapter 6: Lion’s Den

Dan. 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;

This chapter could have started with the last verse of the previous chapter, which states that Darius the Mede became king. It seems reasonably certain that he was superior to Cyrus for two years, and then he deceased at the age of 64 or 65. (Darius reigned at least 30 years earlier, but not over the Babylonian Empire, to which he succeeded at this time.)

Dan. 6:2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.

Dan. 6:3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Darius set 120 princes over the kingdom of the Medes. Now that Babylon had been absorbed into his kingdom, he was reorganizing the empire. In this reconstruction, he followed, to a certain extent, the arrangement of Babylon, in which the three Hebrew children were over the most important province and Daniel was the most important personage. (Daniel had made the suggestion to honor the three Hebrews with positions of high power.)

Darius the Mede, now in control, was thinking of making Daniel the prime minister of the empire, as it were. The 120 princes were not just in Babylon but were scattered throughout the empire. Hence Darius was a significant personage. One purpose of the new arrangement was so that “the king should have no damage.” In other words, the king would be relieved of the burden of his office by giving authority to others underneath him.

“Daniel was preferred above the [three] presidents and [120] princes, because an excellent spirit was in him.” Therefore, Darius “thought to set him over the whole realm.” The first three verses provide the important insight that Darius the Mede recognized “an excellent spirit” in Daniel. Earlier Daniel had risen in influence in the Babylonian universal empire. He was a centenarian at this point in time.

Comment: In Daniel 5:12, the queen used the same words “excellent spirit” to describe Daniel to King Belshazzar.

Q: Was Daniel one of the three presidents or apart from the three presidents?

A: The king was thinking of making Daniel prime minister of the empire. Having no son to be a successor, Darius was impressed with Daniel as a noteworthy person of excellent spirit, behavior, and decorum. The king wanted to set him over the realm instead of his just being the first of the three presidents.

Dan. 6:4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Dan. 6:5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

Immediately the other presidents and the princes were jealous of Daniel. And they considered him, as a Jew, to be a foreigner. Hence they felt that one of them was entitled to fulfill the role the king had in mind for Daniel. Their feelings were anti-Semitic.

Comment: How marvelous that those who were trying to find fault with Daniel could only accuse him in regard to his religion!

Reply: One reason Daniel was called “greatly beloved” is that he did not compromise any principles in his worship of Jehovah (Dan. 10:11,19). Thus the others could find no fault in him except from a religious standpoint.

Dan. 6:6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.

Dan. 6:7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

After plotting and conspiring against Daniel, the other two presidents and the 120 princes assembled together and suddenly broached the suggestion of a royal statute to the king. Of course to the king the suggestion seemed very complimentary, for it ostensibly showed how much they appreciated and liked him as a leader. Darius was already reorganizing, and now the religious decree would further consolidate the empire. For 30 days, no one in the empire was to heed or give credence to “any God or man” but the king and his god. There was to be no diversity of thought. How flattering to the king! Darius did not see that the real purpose was to entrap Daniel.

Comment: Even their words were deceptive. Not “all the presidents of the kingdom” were in agreement, for Daniel was one of those presidents.

Reply: Yes, they were exaggerating.

Comment: The extensiveness of the conspiracy fits the end-of-the-age antitype: presidents, governors, princes, counselors, and captains.

Reply: Yes, the phalanx of support impressed the king.

Dan. 6:8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

Dan. 6:9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

Not only did they have a general consensus, but the decree had already been drawn up. They submitted the statute to the king in writing, saying that all they needed was his signature and his seal of authority that the statute could not be changed “according to the law of the Medes and Persians.” Moreover, the statute seemed to be a good idea in that it was temporary. After all, it seemed reasonable to have those in the empire give assent for the brief period of 30 days.

Dan. 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel must have had an arrangement so that when the window was open, he could kneel on an elevated support and be in full view in front of the window. In other words, Daniel was conspicuous in his own dwelling as he prayed toward Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the hyenas were spying on him.

Q: When Daniel prayed three times a day, were those three times 9 a.m., 3 p.m., and in the evening?

A: That is probably correct based on the Temple arrangement. At 9 a.m., the Temple was officially opened, and 3 p.m. was the usual closing time, winding down the services for the day.

The third time of prayer was bedtime.

Daniel faced Jerusalem when he prayed because that city and the God of Israel were his priority. Daniel died in exile, never having an opportunity to return as Ezra, Nehemiah, and others did.

Comment: At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon’s prayer mentioned praying toward Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:30).

Reply: In his long prayer, Solomon said that if a person was in a situation where he could not convene at the Temple, his prayer would be heard if he faced in the direction of the Temple when he prayed. Daniel was following this instruction even though the Temple had been destroyed. The prosperity of Israel was very much on his mind.

Comment: 1 Kings 8:44 continues the thought: “If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name.” Several Psalms also support the thought of praying toward Jerusalem. Those Israelites who knew the Hebrew Scriptures were well versed in the thought of the power of Jerusalem.

Dan. 6:11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

Dan. 6:12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

Daniel knew in advance that there was a death sentence for disobedience—being cast into the den of lions. Nevertheless, he went right ahead and worshipped as he customarily did, thus manifesting integrity and courage. He did not fear exposure, but neither did he flaunt himself.

His courage reminds us of both Jesus, who went to the Garden of Gethsemane “as he was wont” (accustomed), and the three Hebrew children (Luke 22:39).

Notice the hypocrisy. Before mentioning Daniel, the presidents and princes very cleverly got the king to assent that he had signed the unalterable decree with the death penalty.

Dan. 6:13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

Dan. 6:14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Darius’s reaction with Daniel was a little different from Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction with the three Hebrew children. Nebuchadnezzar gave the three a second chance; he gave them an opportunity to recant before throwing them into the fiery furnace. However, Darius went much further in showing sympathy for Daniel. “He laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” He tried to find a way to change the decree and sought advice, but everything was a dead end. He could find no way out. If two of the presidents and all of the princes, etc., were against him, where could he go for unbiased advice?

Comment: Recognizing the motive of the scribes and the Pharisees to be jealousy, Pilate similarly tried to find a way to keep Jesus from being crucified.

Reply: The scribes and the Pharisees threatened to notify Rome that Pilate was showing sympathy to an insurrectionist.

Here the accusers told Darius that Daniel was trying to go against the king’s own law, which could not be changed. Darius could see the motive and the plotting, but it was too late to change the decree.

Comment: The way the accusers said “that Daniel” is a reminder of Luke 15:30, where the older son said to his father about the Prodigal Son, “As soon as this thy son was come….”

Reply: And when Moses went up into the mountain and delayed, the Israelites said, “This Moses, the man….” (Exod. 32:1). There was no sympathy for Moses. Clearly seeing the situation now, Darius found fault with himself for not being more discerning to start with.

Dan. 6:15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

Dan. 6:16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The words of Darius were unusual: “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” Probably, however, they were not uttered with full faith. Nevertheless, he showed his respect for Daniel and for Daniel’s God. If anyone was worthy of deliverance, Darius felt it was Daniel.

Comment: For Darius to say that Daniel served his God “continually” shows the king knew Daniel had faith.

Reply: Darius knew that Daniel was very, very sincere and a wonderful person.

We see in this account a type of the end of the age. Several chapters in the Book of Daniel bring us up to the end time: the smiting of the image (Daniel 2), the three Hebrew children (Daniel 3), Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel 5), Daniel and the lions’ den (Daniel 6), and Daniel’s dream of the four universal empires (Daniel 7). In the antitype, Daniel, like Elijah when he was translated, represents a class of individuals, that is, the feet members who will be raptured. The type of Daniel and the Lions’ Den shows that the feet members will be put to death (supposedly) legally. Darius represents civil authority, which will be inveigled into a religious bondage. Other types also show that the civil element will do the executing, and this has been the case down through history. The arm of state is used to carry out nefarious deeds. With the John the Baptist picture, Herod represents the civil element, who took John’s head at the prodding of Herodias and Salome.

Dan. 6:17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

Pilate similarly sent Jesus off to crucifixion and had the tomb sealed with a stone.

Dan. 6:18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

Comment: Not only was the king so distraught that he could not sleep, but he did not want music or anything else to distract him. Moreover, he fasted all night.

Reply: Yes, he had a lot of empathy for Daniel and was emotionally involved.

Dan. 6:19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

Dan. 6:20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

Without being able to see Daniel, Darius called down into the dark den as if to say, “Daniel, is there any possibility you are still alive? Is your God … able to deliver you from the lions?”

Dan. 6:21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

Dan. 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Dan. 6:23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

Imagine Darius’s joy when Daniel’s voice came back to him: “O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Just like the three Hebrew children, no “hurt” was found on Daniel, picturing the deliverance of the feet members as new creatures. In other words, the taking up of Daniel from the den of lions pictures the rapture of the feet members and, in another sense, the freedom that Christ experienced when he died on the Cross and was resurrected.

Although some of the details are not clear to us at the present time, all of these end-of-age types can be integrated and harmonized, and in the future, their harmony will be seen perfectly. With God, there is no confusion.

Dan. 6:24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Now the king was boiling mad, and he enacted retribution on those who had conspired to put Daniel to death. They themselves, plus their families, were cast into the lions’ den. In principle, the retribution is much like that which came on Haman in the Book of Esther.

Comment: The retribution is also a reminder of the Jehu account. With the wives and children— those associated with the accusers—also being cast into the lions’ den, comprehensive retribution is suggested.

Reply: Yes, the Jehu type furnishes details of the future retribution. Daniel 6 shows a form of retribution and disgust with those who used religious arguments to try to put Daniel to death.

Of course in the antitype, the feet members will be put to death as humans. The cords of flesh will be destroyed, but they will be preserved as new creatures with not a hair of their heads being harmed, spiritually speaking. They will come forth victorious from death. In the antitype, when the people see the persecutions that take place in this day of enlightenment, they will realize that the beast has not changed but is the same as in the past. Accordingly, they will want to get rid of the system and its leadership.

Meanwhile, the lions, having been deprived of Daniel as a morsel, or meal, were so hungry and desperate for food that they climbed the walls to catch the accusers and their families as they were being cast into the den one by one. It was like throwing crumbs to the birds or seagulls— they grabbed the food as fast as they could. In other words, the lions were not just at the bottom of the den but were on the walls catching the perpetrators as they were falling down. As a result, their bones were crunched before their bodies ever reached the bottom of the den. There is satisfaction that justice was being served.

Comment: With the other two presidents and the 120 princes, plus their families, at least 200 people were thrown into the den.

Reply: Apparently, there were many lions as well as many people thrown to them. The den was a rough-hewn type of cave.

Q: When will this retribution occur—at the end of the Gospel Age or at the end of the Kingdom?

A: Retribution will take place at the time the nominal religious systems fall, that is, before the Kingdom is established. Jehu pictures an interim government that will take over from the previous ten kings of Europe who are sympathetic to the beast and do the beast’s bidding. The first set of ten kings will be replaced by another set of ten kings who will destroy the harlot. The various levels of ecclesiasticism will be destroyed by the antitypical Jehu.

Comment: By extension, we can say that the temporary preservation of law and order by the interim Jehu government will give the Great Company time to wash their robes.

Reply: Yes, because if complete anarchy followed the fall of mystic Babylon, deliverance would have to occur right away. Great will be the fall of mystic Babylon. All of the nations will shake, but civil power will remain temporarily, providing stability. However, the civil power that takes over will have no sympathy or empathy for what has previously existed. When the beast and the false prophet systems are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, they will cease forever in Second Death.

Dan. 6:25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

Proof that Darius was a powerful individual with widespread authority is the fact he made a decree “unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth.” According to the Bible, and despite what cuneiform tablets may say, he was no puppet of Cyrus but was a powerful emperor and king.

Dan. 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Dan. 6:27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

King Darius used Biblical language here and was almost converted.

Dan. 6:28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The reigns of Darius and Cyrus were not contemporaneous but successive, with the reign of Darius beginning in 538 BC. Daniel prospered in both reigns. Daniel 5:31 says, “And Darius the Median took the kingdom.” Darius used Cyrus as his general. Thus Cyrus did not co-reign with Darius but was second to him. The Isaiah chapters about Cyrus harmonize with the thoughts here in Daniel 5 and 6. When Darius died, Cyrus took over the empire.

Q: How long did Cyrus reign?

A: Historically, he is supposed to have reigned nine years before he died, but the more accurate number seems to be seven years. He pushed Darius out of the way because he wanted to have the supremacy.

Q: How long was Darius’s decree in effect for all in the empire to worship Daniel’s God?

A: Since the decree was emotional, it would not have lasted long. Because the people in the empire were brought up under polytheism, they could not grasp the concept of just one God. However, they could understand that there was a superior God.


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