Survival that leads to revival – Thursday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Daniel 6: 11-27

The book of Daniel is a fascinating book which speaks profoundly to our day as it did to the day it was first written. It was written at a time when Hellenization ( Greek Culture and language) was spreading rapidly in the Ancient Near East. Alexander’s dream was to conquer the world and before he died he had founded 70 colonies and organised them as Greek cities. After his death his officers fought to control parts of the empire, but they kept the dream of Hellenization alive. For the hundred odd years that the Ptolemies of Egypt (305-198 BCE) ruled Palestine, Hellenization was kept alive through persuasion and without force. This changed under Seleucid (Syrian) rule. The crisis began with Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Now Hellenization was no longer peacefully promoted but imposed upon the Jews under pain of death.

The Book of Daniel presents an account of the adventures and vision of Daniel, a Jew in Babylon who was exiled in the 6th century. Most scholars, however, are agreed that as it now stands, this book is the product of the second century B.C and was written probably around the year 165 towards the end of the troublesome reign of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.).

It was written as an encouragement to fellow Jews to resist the Greek King, Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s policies of religious persecution and as a source of encouragement to those were experiencing anxiety and despair. The book brings hope and assurance that Yahweh would intervene, deliver them from the present plight and establish a kingdom. But till then they are to remain FAITHFUL to Yahweh and LAW.

While the previous narratives were held during the reign of King Nebuchadnez’zar, today’s text takes place during the reign of King Darius, the Mede. The essential elements of the story are the same. Once again, this is not a historical narrative but didactic ; which means that we are looking at the message not the details of the story. Hence, Darius is just a figure in the story and not ahistorical figure. His edict, which sounds foolish, could never have been made, as it is improbable that a pagan king would break out in praise of the God of Israel. The lion’s den is a just a setting for the story and not to be taken literally.

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