1. Called Belteshazzar by the Chaldeans, a prophet descended from the royal family of David, who was carried captive to Babylon, when very young, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim king of Judah, B. C. 606. He was chosen, with his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, to reside at Nebuchadnezzar’s court, where he received a suitable education, and made great progress in all the sciences of the Chaldeans, but declined to pollute himself by eating provisions from the king’s table, which would often be ceremonially unclean to a Jew, or defiled by some connection with idol-worship. At the end of their three years’ education, Daniel and his companions excelled all others, and received honorable appointments in the royal service. Here Daniel soon displayed his prophetic gifts in interpreting a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, by whom he was made governor of Babylon, and head of the learned and priestly class. He seems to have been absent, perhaps on some foreign embassy, when his three companions were cast into the fiery furnace. At a later period he interpreted another dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and afterwards the celebrated vision of Belshazzar-one of whose last works was to promote Daniel to an office much higher than he had previously held during his reign, Daniel 5:29 8:27.
After the capture of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, under Cyaxares and Cyrus, Daniel was continued in all his high employments, and enjoyed the favor of these princes until his death, except at one short interval, when the envy of the other officers prevailed on the king of the other officers prevailed on the king to cast him into the lion’s den, an act which recoiled on his foes to their own destruction. During this period he earnestly labored, by fasting and prayer as well as by counsel, to secure the return of the Jews to their own land, the promised time having come, Daniel 9:1-27. He lived to see the decree issued, and many of his people restored; but it is not known that he ever revisited Jerusalem. In the third year of Cyrus, he had a series of visions disclosing the state of the Jews till the coming of the promised Redeemer; and at last we see him calmly awaiting the peaceful close of a well-spent life, and the gracious resurrection of the just. Daniel was one of the most spotless characters upon record. His youth and his age were alike devoted to God. He maintained his integrity in the most difficult circumstances, and amid the fascinations of an eastern court he was pure and upright. He confessed the name of God before idolatrous princes; and would have been a martyr, but for the miracle which rescued him from death. His history deserves the careful and prayerful study of the young, and the lessons that it inculcates are weighty and rich in instruction.
2. The second son of David, also called Chileab, 1 Chronicles 3:1 2 Samuel 3:3.
3. A descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron. He was one of the chiefs who accompanied Ezra from Babylon to Judea, and afterwards took a prominent part in the reformation of the people, Ezra 8:2.