WHO AM I?
Daniel was always one of my favourites because of the lions. Which means I missed a lot of this story when I learned it.
Daniel was interesting LONG before the lions. This little fact freaked me out a little bit…. ”Islamic literature names the father of Daniel – Hizqil the Second. He is also known as Ezekiel when Latinised.” Daniel is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel, so his DAD might have been writing about him. Some sources name King David as his father, others say that he never actually existed.
The history of Daniel says that he and a number of other noble Jewish youth were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, and while Islam and Christianity consider him a prophet, Judaism does not, but contends that he was the most distinguished member of the diaspora in Babylon. But here is a twist I never knew: Daniel is given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar while his companions are given the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! I like that story too!
Daniel interprets dreams, specifically the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadnezzar does not like what he hears – the four kingdoms will be smashed, and oh, he does not like that at all. And it happens, the Medes and Persians do just that and Daniel is appointed to a high position there too!
Wikipedia gives me two more Daniel stories:
- The tale of Susanna tells how Daniel saves the reputation of a young Jewish married woman when two lecherous Jewish elders condemn her to death, supposedly for unchastity, but actually because she resisted their advances. Daniel’s clever cross-examination unmasks their evil and leads to their deaths. The story is unique in that the villains are Jews instead of heathens; it may have been written as a polemic by the Pharisees against the Saducees, who, according to their opponents, were abusing their control of the courts.
- Bel and the Dragon consists of two episodes. In the first Daniel exposes the deceptions of the heathen priests, who have been pretending that their idols eat and drink (in fact it is the priests who have been consuming the food set out for the false gods). In the second Daniel destroys a giant serpent that Cyrus believes to be a god; the Babylonians revolt, Cyrus imprisons Daniel without food, the prophet Habakkuk miraculously feeds him, and Cyrus repents.
There’s just so much there beyond the lions. There are beasts, fiery furnaces, madness and feasts, dragons and dreams, so many dreams. It’s Darius, not Nebuchadnezzar, who brings in the lions. Nebuchadnezzar stuck with the fiery furnace. He is sent there when his enemies trick Darius into passing a law that says not to worship any other god or man for 30 days. Daniel continues to pray to God three times a day. Darius does not WANT to punish Daniel, but is obliged to follow his own law, so he’s HAPPY when Daniel is just there, hanging out with the lions in the morning, and not eaten. Instead, the lions get a hearty meal of accusers, wives, and children. And Darius acknowledges the True God.
And true or false, fact or fiction, that is really who this man is, someone who brings the One God to us, sheltered no matter how far from home we are, cared for, taught and protected.