Here is more of Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on Daniel….
The first part of the book is a collection of tales that originated during the Persian era from 529 to 333. They reflect many Persian court customs and interests, such as astrology and dream interpretation. But they are written from a very Jewish point of view using a legendary hero who was taken captive in the exile as a young boy and brought up in the court of the Babylonian king. This Daniel carefully observes all the jewish dietary laws and yet stays healthier than his comrades (chapter 1); he interprets reams that no one else can understand (chapters 2 and 4); he predicts the fall of Babylon (chapter 5), and is thrown into a lions’ den for refusing to worship idols and yet is saved by God (chapter 6). These are all charming stories that make the point that God guards and blesses those who are faithful to him in following the law and in observing prayer. Because the stories are set in the moment of Israel’s greatest persecution and disaster, they provide an example of how God delivers all who are faithful in their hour of greatest need.
The second part in chapters 7-12 with its four visions is also set during the Babylonian and early Persian years. Daniel is shown all the events of the centuries to come right down to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his persecution of the Jews. Chapter 7 opens with a vision of the four beasts representing Babylon, the Medes, Persia and Greece with ten horns (kings) and one little horn (Antiochus) in its midst. God gives judgment for its total destruction in a “time, two times and a half time” (= three and a half years). Chapter 8 pictures the victory of Alexander the Great over the Persians in the image of a he-goat and ram battling. Chapter 9 describes how the angel Gabriel explains to Daniel the meaning of Jeremiah’s seventy years of exile. And chapters 10-11 contain still another vision of the last times under the images of the four kingdoms. The book ends in the Hebrew at chapter 12 with final instructions from the angel Michael on keeping the message secret until those days shall arrive, and on how to know when that time has arrived.
I recently preached on the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. You can listen to that message here: http://pk.b5z.net/i/u/6046487/m/daniel_6.mp3.