It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Daniel 6:1-2
In 607 B.C., Daniel was among the captives taken during the first Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. He became a chief minister at Nebuchadnezzar’s royal court. Daniel was known as a man who could interpret dreams and visions. Daniel was summoned by Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, King Belshazzar to interpret the handwriting on the wall. Daniel pronounced judgment on Belshazzar telling him that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an empire based in Western Asia. It was founded by Cyrus the Great after he united the Medes and the Persians. The Medo-Persians invaded Babylonia from the east in June of 539 B.C. and captured its capital, Babylon. Cyrus the Great (also Cyrus II or Cyrus the Elder) reigned over Persia between 559 –529 B.C.
The Persian Empire was noted for embracing various civilizations and becoming the largest empire of ancient history, spanning at its maximum extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east.
A satrap was a provincial governor appointed by the king of Persia. Darius the Mede, also known as Darius the Great, ruled Persia from 522–486 B.C. He completed the organization of the empire into satrapies, initiated by his predecessor Cyrus the Great. King Darius fixed the annual tribute due from each province. He also organized a new uniform monetary system, along with making Aramaic the official language of the empire.
Including Daniel, Darius appointed three administrators to oversee the 120 provincial governors that he had appointed.
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” Daniel 6:3-5
Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in 607 B.C. Forty-eight years later in 539 B.C., Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians. For nearly half a century, Daniel had faithfully served his captors. His exceptional and trustworthy character was beyond reproach. King Darius was planning to place Daniel in the position of prime minister over all the empire to root out waste and corruption. The other administrators and the satraps were so concerned about having an honest man in a position of power and authority over them that they sought to discredit Daniel.
Realizing that they could not bring charges of misconduct against Daniel because he was a diligent worker and a man of integrity; the other government officials sought to make it illegal for Daniel to follow his religious practices.
So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel 6:6-7
The political leadership of Darius’ kingdom devised a scheme to entrap Daniel. They knew that Daniel was faithful to the God of Israel. Even as a young captive in Babylon, Daniel refused to defile himself with unclean food from Nebuchadnezzar’s table.
Using flattery, these administrators and satraps sought to persuade Darius into issuing a royal decree forbidding anyone to petition any god or man except the king for the following thirty days. The penalty for disobeying this edict would be a horrible death – being mauled and devoured by lions. The intent of these greedy officials was to ensure that Daniel would not live to oversee their corrupt practices.
Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing. Daniel 6:8-9
There was a law in this monarchy, that no ordinance or edict, made with the necessary formalities, and with the consent of the king’s counselors, could be revoked by the king. While King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a supreme unrestricted ruler, the Medo-Persian Empire which followed was a limited monarchy where the ruling kings were bound by the laws they enacted.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
Daniel, having learned that the decree forbidding prayer to anyone but the king was now officially enacted, went home and prayed to God. He did not pray in secret in a closet, but went upstairs where the windows opened towards Jerusalem and prayed as he had been doing previously.
Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” Daniel 6:11-12
The group of officials went immediately from Daniel’s house to the king’s palace, and into the king’s presence. The conspirators, who convinced King Darius to issue the prohibition against prayer to any god or person except the king, now confront the king by asking him a question that he must affirm.
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” Daniel 6:12
The king had no choice but to uphold the law of the land. Once he had issued the decree, it could not be repealed according to the law of the Medes and Persians.
Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Daniel 6:13-14
Daniel’s accusers, who had plotted against him because they were corrupt and feared that Daniel would expose their incompetence and dishonesty to the king, now bringing charges against Daniel saying that he pays no attention to the king or his decrees.
Daniel had so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his integrity and honesty that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Therefore, the king was greatly distressed that Daniel faced an almost certain death sentence and made every effort to save him.
Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:15-16
After the sun had set, the administrators and the satraps came to Darius to make sure that not another day would pass before Daniel was thrown to the lions. Darius was grieved as he gave the order to cast Daniel into a den of hungry lions. The king did not call upon his gods to rescue Daniel but said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. Daniel 6:17-18
And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den. Not a heap of stones, but a single one, a very large one, sufficient to stop up the mouth of the den. This act ensured that Daniel could not escape unassisted. For a king or governmental ruler, their seal signified all the authority and power of their realm. When King Darius placed his seal on the stone, it meant that anyone tampering with the stone would break the seal and be subject to death for challenging the authority of the king. Therefore, no one or group would dare free Daniel or attempt to throw anything into the pit to kill Daniel.
The tomb of Jesus Christ also had a large single stone which shut up the entrance. When the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pontius Pilate following Jesus’ crucifixion, they enlisted aid in securing the tomb where Jesus was placed. Pilate replied to their request by sending a guard of Roman soldiers to the tomb (Matthew 27:65). In order to make the tomb as secure as possible, an official seal was placed on the stone blocking entrance to the tomb. The tomb’s seal in addition to the fierce Roman guard notified the people that all the power and authority of Rome protected its precious contents.
It is interesting to note that the guards claimed to have fallen asleep and the body of Jesus stolen. If that were truly the case, the guards would have been put to death for dereliction of their duty. While the Roman guards were paid off to claim they fell asleep in front of the tomb that was covered by a large stone and a royal seal; King Darius, thinking of Daniel in a lion’s den unable to escape because it was covered by a large stone and sealed by his own signet ring, was unable to sleep.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:19-20
Darius’ concern for Daniel’s well being is obvious in that at the first light of dawn he hurried to the lion’s den and called to Daniel in an anguished voice. Distressed, and with only a glimmer of hope, the king asked Daniel,”…has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:21-22
God had sent His angel, the angel of the LORD, to shut the mouths of the lions. A Christophany is an appearance of the incarnate Christ in the Old Testament. The visible appearances of God in human or angelic form in the Old Testament, is actually the Son of God manifesting Himself prior to His incarnation. Old Testament accounts of the appearance of the angel of the LORD are the manifestations of God in human form and were appearances of the second person of the Trinity.
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a blazing furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). Just as Daniel’s companions were protected from harm in a blazing furnace by the pre-incarnate Son of God, so was Daniel protected from a den full of lions by God’s Son.
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23
When Daniel’s three companions emerged from out of the furnace, the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them (Daniel 3:27). Likewise, when Daniel was lifted out of the lion’s den he was completely unharmed. Whereas, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had refused to worship the image Nebuchadnezzar had erected and were protected by God because they trusted in Him; Daniel had refused to stop worshipping the God of Israel and was protected by God because Daniel placed his trust in the LORD.
Daniel testified to Darius that he was innocent in the sight of his God and had never done any wrong to the king.
At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Daniel 6:24
It was obvious that the lions did not refrain from attacking Daniel because they were docile or because they had full stomachs. The ferocity, power and appetites of these beasts were demonstrated as Daniel’s accusers and their families were savagely attacked even before they reached the floor of the lion’s den. Psalm 91:14-16 declares:
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Daniel had placed his trust in God. Daniel loved the LORD so much that he continued to worship his God though it may have cost him his life.
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly!
“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27
King Nebuchadnezzar had issued a similar proclamation and declaration of the power of the God of Israel after he had been restored to sanity and to his throne.
It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. Daniel 4:2-3
Darius wished to make known God’s supremacy, not only to the neighboring people, but to promulgate it far and wide. The phrase, the whole earth does not refer to the whole habitable world, but to the large territory of his monarchy. Darius declared that Daniel’s God performs miracles far above all human power. He rescues and saves. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.
So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:28
Daniel was faithful to God all his life. He lived before, during, and beyond the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity. He must have been about one hundred years old when he died. During his long life, Daniel served as an advisor to the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia. While Jeremiah prophesied to the Jews in Judah, and Ezekiel was God’s spokesman to the Jewish captives in Babylon, Daniel prophesied in the courts of the pagan kings who ruled the world.