The Exile of the Jews

as told in the book of Daniel.


Daniel was amongst those taken captive when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Along with three of his companions, Daniel is trained for service to the king. They grow in wisdom and understanding to such an extent that the king judges them to be ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm.

After three years, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that only Daniel is able to interpret. It is a prophesy of four kingdoms, or empires, then God’s everlasting kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar rewards him with gifts and promotes him to rule over the whole province of Babylon, and to be chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.

For refusing to worship a giant golden image of Nebuchaznezzar, Daniel’s three companions, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, are cast into a furnace, but they miraculously survive and Nebuchadnezzar gives praise to God. The three are then restored to the positions held before they were accused and given more responsibilities.

Nebuchadnezzar has another dream, this one also interpreted by Daniel who tells Nebuchadnezzar he will lose his mind for seven years in order that he will come to know that God is all powerful. He will then be restored to his position as king of Babylon. After a year, the king is struck down just as the dream foretold, and seven years later his mind is healed and he gives praise to God.

Belshazzar has succeeded Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon. During the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel has a vision of four beasts that represent four empires succeeding one another, followed by the annihilation of the dominion of the fourth beast which is then replaced by the kingdom of God.

Two years later Daniel has another vision, this time concerning a ram and a goat. The angel Gabriel is sent to Daniel to give him an understanding of this vision and awakes him from a sleep to interpret it. The vision and its interpretation so affects Daniel that he is ill for a few days. When he recovers and relates the vision to some of his own people, none can understand it.

Many years later Belshazzar holds a great feast for a thousand of his lords, during which a hand is seen writing a message on the wall. Daniel then interprets the writing, which is a short condemnation of Belshazzar and an announcement that he is to lose his kingdom. Daniel is rewarded for the interpretation and is made third ruler in the kingdom. That night the city is invaded and Darius the Mede takes the kingdom.

During the first year of Darius’ reign, Daniel reads Jeremiah and realises the seventy years of Israel’s exile are nearly complete. Whilst praying about it, the angel Gabriel comes and gives Daniel a prophecy involving seventy weeks (which are seventy weeks of 360-day-years) representing Israel’s destiny. The first 69 weeks are the period between Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There follows a period of unknown length between the 69th and 70th weeks during which the Messiah is executed, Jerusalem is destroyed and the Diaspora follows. During the 70th week there will be a covenant enforced, interrupted half way through when an abomination will desolate the Holy Place. Then the great tribulation will begin which precedes the Messiah’s second coming at the end of the 70th week.

In recognition of the excellent spirit that is in Daniel, Darius promotes him to be over all the presidents and princes in his kingdom, to the envy of  Darius’ officials who seek to be rid of him. A plan is contrived that results in Daniel being thrown in the lions’ den. But in the morning Daniel is found safe. Darius then orders Daniel’s accusers and their families to be cast into the den, and makes a decree that all are to fear the God of Daniel.

Daniel continues to prosper throughout the reigns of Darius and Cyrus, and sees some of his people return to Jerusalem by the decree of Cyrus.