The Book of Daniel- Monday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Daniel 1: 1-6, 8-20

The book of Daniel – Monday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Daniel 1: 1-6, 8-20

The book of Daniel purports to have been written in the sixth century B.C. during the Babylonian exile by one, Daniel, himself one of the Jewish exiles.  Most scholars however, are agreed that as it now stands, it 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.) This is the same king whom we studied in the book of Maccabees.

The book of Daniel is usually classified as belonging to the type of Jewish literature which goes by the name of “apocalyptic”, from the Greek word apokalupsis meaning “an unveiling”.  It is important to recognize that the book of Daniel was not written for some far-off age when God’s kingdom would come but for the age of crisis in which the author was then living.

It is essentially a religious tract for the times, written for the encouragement of people who were being faced increasingly with the pressures of a Hellenistic culture which was in so many ways inimical to their Hebrew tradition and “the laws of the fathers’; written too for people who were having to face severe religious restrictions and even persecution and death by reason of their loyalty to God. 

Its message declared unequivocally that the sovereign Lord God was in control not only of history but also of the end of history; that mighty monarchs and great empires were allowed to hold sway only by His permissive will, that His people Israel would in the end be completely vindicated and that that end was about to break in upon them.

The whole book demonstrates a deep piety and a trust and devotion, which must surely reflect a child-like confidence in God on the part of many in Israel at that time.  Indeed, it is as true representatives of Israel that we are to see Daniel and his friends, suffering for their faith but assured of vindication at the hands of God.  It is a vindication which breaks even the boundaries laid down by death and grasps the glorious hope of resurrection in God’s eternal kingdom.

 Chapters 1-6 convey the inevitable triumph of those faithful to Yahweh and his law and the confusion of their enemies. The location of all six stories is the Babylonian court. In them Daniel and his companions are seen as models of steadfast Jewish faith in spite of dangers and allurements of the pagan court. Their God is greater than any human ruler, one who bestows wisdom and rewards those who serve faithfully.  It is God who makes his people instruments of his power among the pagans.

 In presenting this high resolve of Daniel, the author was thinking about conditions existing in his own time.  Therefore, Daniel and his companions are presented as models to Jews under Antiochus IV Epiphanes who were forced to eat swine’s flesh   1 Mac 1:46-47, 63



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