Daniel Chapter 6
There is some question as to the identity of this Darius the Mede as mentioned in Daniel 5:30 and Daniel 6:1. If he was 62 years old when he came to rule, that means he was born in 601/600. There is another Darius, known as Darius I, who ruled after Cyrus, not before. The name Darius the Mede is not mentioned in secular history, and some use that to discredit the book of Daniel.
Darius the Mede has also been called by the name “Gubaru” according to the Nabonidus Chronicles and others. He ruled in Babylon for 14 years. John Whitcomb, in his work “Darius the Mede,” refers to many documents from this time period that mention Gubaru ruling in Babylon after the city was conquered by Cyrus.
Whitcomb points out that while secular history may not use the name Darius “this proves nothing as far as Greek sources are concerned, for none of them before the time of Christ, including Herodotus, Xenophen, Megasthenes, Berossus, and Alexander Polyhistor, even mention the name of Belshazzar” (Darius the Mede, by John C. Whitcomb, Jr., p. 23)
The situation concerns Cyrus the Persian ruling over the Persian Empire, and then Darius over the Babylonian segment of the empire. Thus it has been suggested that Darius had been made a subordinate king under Cyrus.
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 9:1)
Darius appointed 120 satraps or princes over the various provinces, and then three men over them, and this included Daniel, who continued to be held in high regard by the rulers of the kingdom. Remember, this is about the year 539, and Daniel is in his 80s. We see evidence of the high esteem of Daniel:
“Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom” (Daniel 6:3).
But in spite of Daniel’s good character, wisdom, and years of service in the kingdom, there are native Babylonians that are still jealous and envious of Daniel, and hatch a plot to remove him from his position of authority.
Daniel’s enemies had to admit that they could find no fault in him, for he was faithful to his God. And that faithfulness was their tool to cause harm to him, as they concocted a scheme to turn his prayer life against him. Another consideration is that may have influenced them, if that is they were corrupt officials to start with, and Daniel would be over them, then they might be in trouble if he exposed their corruption.
The various men of some authority in the kingdom approached the king and flattered him by asking that he sign a decree that all people should honor him, and not ask for a petition from any god or man except the king for the next 30 days. The penalty for disobeying this decree would be being cast into a den of lions.
The “den of lions” is further evidence of the authenticity of the writing. The kingdom is now under Persian rule, and Persians were fire-worshippers, whereas the Babylonian rulers would have had no qualms about the use of fire as punishment, as seen with Daniel’s three friends in chapter 3.
Darius was flattered by the honor they gave him and signed the decree. Daniel 6:8 gives further insight into the plot, as once a law is signed, it cannot be changed. There is historical evidence supporting this fact of a decree being “set in stone.” John Whitcomb refers to a document concerning Diodorus Siculus about Darius III, who “…repented and blamed himself, as having great erred” when he commanded the death of Charidemos, “but it was not possible to undo what was done by royal authority.” (Darius the Mede, by John Whitcomb, Jr. p. 61)
Now Daniel’s enemies have their evidence and come before the king to ask if he hadn’t sighed such-and-such a decree. He agrees that he did, and then they bring their accusation against Daniel, and declared how bad Daniel really was because he “…keeps making his petition three times a day."
Does this attitude seem similar to the environment in which we live today? Prayers in schools, prayers to open city council meetings, the mention of God’s name in a student’s high school graduation speech, a Ten Commandments poster on a school wall — a Bible brought to school by an elementary student for free reading class — all forbidden.
Now Darius realizes he has been duped, and desperately sought ways to rescue Daniel, but the men came to the king and reminded him of the law. So Darius had to comply, and had Daniel cast into a den of lions.
The fact that the king had no appetite and spent a sleepless night indicates the regard, and maybe even affection he had for Daniel. Even though he expressed confidence in the ability of Daniel’s God to deliver him, he had no guarantee that that would happen.
So, at the crack of dawn, Darius goes to the lion’s den and cried out in a troubled or anguished voice. Notice the words between the two:
"Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel spoke to the king, "O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime" (Daniel 6:20-22).
Evidently, the lions had decided they were not hungry that night.
Then those who had conspired against Daniel were thrown into the lion’s den, along with their wives and children, and were immediately destroyed by the lions.
Daniel 6:25-28 – Darius then issues a proclamation throughout his vast kingdom, which reminds us of the proclamation made by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:47 concerning Daniel’s interpretation of his dream, and then in Daniel 3:29 concerning the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace.
"I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion [will be] forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
There is evidence that Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) was a young prince at this time in Nepal, a part of the Babylonian empire, and would have been aware of the king’s proclamation. In some of his writings, there is a prophecy about one who is to come in some 500 years, whose description fits Jesus Christ and the wounds he suffered in his crucifixion. Many Buddhists, even priests, are being converted to Christianity in Cambodia as they come to understand the meaning of these prophecies and their fulfillment. There is no evidence that Gautama intended to establish a religion. We know there were other prophets in the Old Testament times whose writings are not recorded.
Daniel continued to serve under Darius and Cyrus. Adam Clarke had this to say concerning Daniel:
“He had served five kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Few courtiers have had so long a reign, served so many masters without flattering any, been more successful in their management of public affairs, been so useful to the states where they were in office, or have been more owned of God, or have left such an example to posterity.”
Daniel’s service covers the span of some 70 years. Amazing!