The book of Daniel is a meaty one. Full of awe-inspiring miracles. And God-given favor. And prophecies so specific and historical that it makes your brain hurt. I’m in the middle of reading through the book as I near the end of my Search the Scriptures journey. A journey that has taken over 10 years to complete, and has yielded so many pages of handwritten notes that the three-ring binder they are contained in is about to burst.
I’m not studying it too in-depth. But there were some things that piqued my interest. And begged me to dig a little deeper. And when I did, the rabbit trail waiting for me was a fast-paced maze of interwoven truth that hop-scotched across the entire Bible.
If you would like to really pick apart the book of Daniel piece-by-piece, I highly recommend Beth Moore’s study. It’s 12 video-driven sessions, the notes of which are written in my Bible in blue ink throughout the margins of the book. (Did you know that I have a color-coded notes system in my Bible? Blue stands for pastors, speakers, teachers, and commentaries. I describe the full system in my How to Study Scripture e-guide.)
Before we start digging into the words that grabbed my heart yesterday morning, we need to back up a little bit. Because there are two men in this story with practically identical names. But vastly different characters.
In the beginning of the book, we find ourselves in the very beginning of Israel’s Babylonian captivity. A captivity that would last (as prophesied by Jeremiah) for seven decades. And Daniel’s life and ministry bridge the entire 70-year gap, beginning at the age of 16. When he was taken 900 miles away from his home with the rest of his people. And forced to live in Babylon.
Daniel happened to be hand-picked by the head of the King’s palace personnel, among a handful of other young men, to serve in the palace. And learn the language and literature of their foreign forced-home. (An interesting tidbit that accounts for the fact that the book of Daniel is written in both Hebrew and Aramaic). And after being hand-picked by a representative of the King, they were each given a new name. There seemed to be a precedent for it in Scripture – this idea of being renamed by the King whom you serve. It also happened in 2 Kings – when Mattaniah was renamed to Zedekiah.
Daniel, which means God Is My Judge, became Belteshazzar. And there’s a handful of different translations or explanations for the name. The most literal meaning? Bel’s Prince. Or the prince whom Bel favors, with Bel being the title of the chief Babylonian god. But another, more interesting tidbit caught my eye when I was looking up the definition of Daniel’s new name:
lord of the straitened’s treasure
It refers to the man put in charge of the treasure that belongs to those who are in difficulties. And it seems to imply that Daniel was watching over the Hebrews’ treasure while they were in captivity. The one that Isaiah calls “Treasures of Darkness”. The one that provided the foundation for my Treasures of Darkness study.
I couldn’t find any controvertible proof of that, in fact, being the case. That Daniel really did fill that role. But I took note of it when I got to Chapter 5 of his story. When Belteshazzar comes face to face with Belshazzar. And interprets the handwriting on the wall.