Bible Study Resources - Tips, Online Bible Search, Devotions

10 Things About Daniel in the Bible You Didn't Know

  • Lori Hatcher Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 08, 2024
10 Things About Daniel in the Bible You Didn't Know

Daniel is a well-known prophet in the Bible, celebrated for his unwavering faith and integrity despite facing incredible challenges. According to the Book of Daniel, he was taken captive to Babylon during the Jewish exile but quickly distinguished himself with his wisdom and strong devotion to God. He ended up serving in the courts of several Babylonian and Persian kings, including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. His ability to interpret dreams came to light when he explained King Nebuchadnezzar's mysterious dreams and later deciphered the writing on the wall for King Belshazzar.

Despite the Babylonian culture trying to assimilate him, Daniel remained devoted to God and continued to pray openly, even when King Darius decreed that prayer could only be directed to the king. This defiance landed him in a den of lions, but God protected him, and he emerged unharmed, proving God's faithfulness and protection.

Alongside Daniel, his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also displayed remarkable courage and faith. When King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to worship a golden statue, they refused and chose loyalty to God over obedience to the king. As punishment, they were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God saved them, and they walked out unscathed.

Daniel also received apocalyptic visions about Israel's future and the end times, recorded in the Book of Daniel. These visions revealed the rise and fall of empires, the coming of the Messiah, and the ultimate triumph of God's kingdom, emphasizing that even the mightiest rulers are under God's authority.

Daniel’s story, along with those of his friends, offers timeless lessons about faith, courage, and prayer. Despite immense pressure to conform, Daniel and his friends trusted in God's wisdom and protection, inspiring countless believers to live their faith boldly and with conviction. Daniel's unwavering integrity and trust in God's plans make him a model of faithfulness, offering inspiration to anyone seeking to stay true to their beliefs amid life's challenges.

For my own faith, the story of Daniel in the lion’s den was one of the first stories I learned as a child. Right up there with Jonah and the whale and Noah and his ark, the story of Daniel’s brave refusal to stop praying to the God of Israel is cemented in my brain.

It wasn’t until much later, when I read the entire book of Daniel for the first time, that I encountered many other fascinating tidbits about this inspiring Old-Testament hero. Here are a few I find particularly interesting: 10 Facts About Daniel in the Bible That You Didn't Know

1. Daniel was an expat. 

An expat, short for expatriate, is someone who lives outside their native country, often for work or other personal reasons. Daniel, as an expat in Babylon, had to navigate the challenges of a new culture while holding firmly to his own religious and moral values. He serves as a timeless example of faithfulness and integrity in the face of adversity.

Even though Daniel goes down in Jewish and Christian history books as one of Israel’s finest, he didn’t live in Israel for very long. Deported as a captive when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 605 B.C., Daniel lived most of his life in Babylon. Despite this, he remained faithful to his heritage and God, refusing to compromise his beliefs in a foreign land.

2. Daniel had a bit of an identity crisis. 

His Hebrew name, Daniel, means "God is Judge." Shortly after his arrival in Babylon, however, probably as part of the Babylonians' attempt to brainwash the young exile, his name was changed to Belteshazzar, which means, "Bel’s prince." Bel was the ruling god of the Babylonian pantheon. Despite this effort to strip him of his Jewish identity, Daniel remained steadfast in his faith and continued to honor the God of Israel. He refused to bow to the Babylonian gods or adopt their customs, demonstrating his loyalty through his unwavering commitment to prayer and obedience to God's laws.

3. Daniel was a vegetarian teetotaler (Daniel 1:12). 

Daniel was a vegetarian teetotaler (Daniel 1:12). Yup, long before tofu was trendy and Stevia reigned, Daniel and his friends shunned meat, sweets, and wine. Drafted along with other exiles of noble birth, Daniel was chosen for a three-year training course to prepare him to enter the king’s service. Part of his preparation involved eating the king’s delicacies. Daniel refused, probably because the meat and wine had been offered to idols and/or conflicted with Israel’s dietary laws. Instead, he requested a diet of vegetables and water, demonstrating his commitment to God's commandments. Remarkably, after ten days on this diet, Daniel and his friends appeared healthier and better nourished than those who ate the royal food, showcasing God's favor and blessing. 

4. Daniel was a skilled negotiator. 

Daniel was a skilled negotiator. When ordered to eat foods that offended his conscience, he made a humble appeal to the steward in charge. When the steward rejected his appeal, Daniel made a counter-offer: "'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.'" At the end of the ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead (Dan. 1:12-16). Score one for Daniel.

Daniel's approach demonstrated not only his negotiation skills but also his deep faith and reliance on God. He trusted that by honoring his dietary convictions, God would sustain him and his friends, and the result was a clear testament to God's favor and Daniel's wisdom.

5. Daniel was an overachiever. 

Daniel was an overachiever. Forget the dean’s list and Who’s Who Among Israeli Exiles; Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego far surpassed their fellow students in a test given by King Nebuchadnezzar. “He found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which he questioned them (Dan. 1:20). Not only did Daniel excel academically, but he also stood out spiritually and morally, gaining a reputation for his unwavering integrity and devotion to God.

His exceptional abilities and character earned him significant influence in the Babylonian court. Because of his success, King Nebuchadnezzar placed Daniel and his friends in high positions within the royal administration.

6. Daniel was an honest politician.

Daniel was an honest politician. After graduating with high honors, Daniel and his three friends were appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to government positions (Dan. 1:19). Daniel’s political career spanned more than 70 years during the reigns of several Babylonian and Persian kings. Despite the challenges and corruption often associated with politics, Daniel maintained his integrity throughout his career. His honesty and dedication to justice made him stand out, even when he served under rulers with vastly different beliefs and agendas.

Daniel's reputation for integrity and competence was so strong that King Darius planned to set him over the entire kingdom (Dan. 6:3). This move sparked jealousy among other officials, who tried to find grounds to discredit him. Unable to uncover any corruption or negligence, they conspired to trap Daniel through his faith. Yet even under these pressures, Daniel remained steadfast in his devotion to God, continuing to pray openly despite the risk. This honesty and unwavering faith earned him divine favor and protected him from those who sought to destroy him.

7. Daniel was an oneirologist. 

Daniel was an oneirologist. Oneirology, the study of dreams, became popular in the 17th century, but Daniel studied and interpreted dreams more than 500 years before Christ. Along with knowledge and skill in literature and wisdom, God had given Daniel the ability to unravel the mystery of dreams (Dan. 1:17). His gift for interpreting dreams first came to light when he explained King Nebuchadnezzar's troubling visions that none of the Babylonian magicians or enchanters could decipher.

Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a statue made of various metals, revealing it as a prophecy of future kingdoms and God's eternal reign (Dan. 2). Later, he explained another of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams, predicting the king's period of madness due to his pride (Dan. 4). His interpretations were not only accurate but also delivered with humility and wisdom.

Daniel's ability wasn't limited to Nebuchadnezzar's dreams. He later interpreted the mysterious writing on the wall for King Belshazzar, foretelling the imminent fall of Babylon (Dan. 5). Beyond interpreting others' dreams, Daniel himself received divine visions of the future, which are recorded in the latter half of the Book of Daniel. His remarkable gift for interpreting dreams and visions made him a trusted advisor to kings and a significant prophetic voice in history.

8. Daniel was prone to fainting spells, breathlessness, and weakness. 

Apparently, receiving visions and revelations can be quite taxing. After receiving a vision describing future world governments, “Daniel fainted and was sick for days” (Dan. 8:27). A visit and a vision from the angel Gabriel had a similar effect on him: “I (Daniel) had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless” (Dan. 10:8).

These episodes of physical exhaustion highlight the intensity and emotional toll of the divine revelations Daniel received. When he encountered the angel Gabriel by the Tigris River, he was overwhelmed to the point of trembling and falling on his face. It took a reassuring touch from Gabriel and comforting words to restore his strength enough to stand and listen to the message (Dan. 10:10-11).

9. Daniel was twice visited by God’s archangel. 

Daniel was twice visited by God's archangel. Most commonly known as the angel who appeared to Mary in the New Testament to announce the coming Messiah, we first read about Gabriel in Daniel 8:16. His first recorded biblical assignment was to help Daniel interpret a puzzling vision. Gabriel explained to Daniel the meaning of the ram, goat, and horns that Daniel had seen in a vision, providing insight into future world governments and conflicts.

Gabriel's second visit to Daniel occurred after the prophet prayed earnestly for understanding about the future of Israel. In Daniel 9:21, the angel appeared "in swift flight" and delivered the prophecy of the "seventy weeks," outlining God's plan for Israel's restoration and the coming of the Messiah.

These angelic visits highlight Daniel's unique relationship with God and the importance of his prophetic role. Gabriel's direct interventions provided Daniel with clarity and understanding of God's divine plan, reinforcing his role as a key interpreter of God's mysteries and a trusted advisor to kings. 

10. Daniel was an octogenarian (in his 80s) when he was thrown into the lion’s den. 

The chronology of Daniel’s life shows that he had been a faithful government servant for more than 70 years. During a regime change, his exemplary resume caught the eye of the incoming King Darius, who appointed him as one of three national governors. His jealous colleagues decided to off the elder statesman, but because he was above reproach, they failed to find any "charge or fault" against him (Dan. 6:4).

Determined to bring about his demise, they crafted a plan for religious persecution, convincing the unwitting king to sign a decree that no one could pray to any god or human except King Darius for 30 days. Knowing Daniel's unwavering faith, they targeted him for execution while he prayed in his room. Despite this blatant setup, Daniel continued to pray three times a day as he always had. Instead of throwing Daniel a well-deserved retirement dinner, King Darius wound up throwing Daniel in as the lions' dinner.

Lions notwithstanding, Daniel’s commitment to integrity, devotion to the Lord, and unwavering faith make him a biblical hero worth studying. The Old Testament counterpart to the apostle John, God calls both men “beloved.” Five centuries apart, they wrote parallel and complementary end times prophecies that give us fascinating and frightening glimpses into the future. Most important, however, a study of the book of Daniel gives us a powerful example for how to live righteously in a society that does not honor God. Only 12 chapters long, the book of Daniel in the Bible is a must-read. 

Lori Hatcher is a blogger, women’s ministry speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

Photo created and editing using Dall-e