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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 6

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Daniel 6:0


The Plot Against DanielDaniel in the Lions' DenDaniel in the Pit of LionsThe Satraps Resent Daniel's Promotion
Daniel 6:1-9Daniel 6:1-5Daniel 6:1-5
Daniel 6:2-10(1-9)
Daniel in the Lions' DenDaniel 6:6-9Daniel 6:6-10
Daniel 6:10-17Daniel 6:10-13 Daniel Continues to Pray
Daniel 6:11-12aDaniel 6:11-16(vv. Daniel 6:10-15)
Daniel 6:12b
Daniel 6:13
Daniel 6:14-15Daniel 6:14-15
Daniel 6:16-18Daniel 6:16-18Daniel is Thrown to the Lions
Daniel Saved from the Lions Daniel 6:17-25(vv. Daniel 6:16-24)
Daniel 6:18-23
Daniel 6:19-24Daniel 6:19-20
Daniel 6:21-22
Darius Honors Daniel Daniel 6:23-24
Daniel 6:24
Daniel 6:25-27Daniel 6:25-28Daniel 6:25a
Daniel 6:25-27The King's Profession of Faith
Daniel 6:26-28(vv. Daniel 6:25-27)
Daniel 6:28 Daniel 6:28
6:29(vv. Daniel 6:28)

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:1-5 1It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, 2and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. 3Then 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. 4Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. 5Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”

Daniel 6:1 “Darius” See note at Daniel 5:31.

“one hundred and twenty satraps over the kingdom” When compared with later Persian documents the number of these satraps is inappropriately large. In Persia there were usually only 20 to 30, but in the book of Esther there is also a large number (compare Daniel 6:1 with 8:9) of governmental officials.

We know so little about the different types or levels of governmental officials at this time that any kind of dogmatism is unwise and inappropriate.

“satraps” This word (BDB 1080) is used often in later Persian documents and many commentaries have used it to support a later date for the writing of Daniel (i.e. the Maccabean period). However, the word is an old Persian term, kshathrapan, which becomes satarpanu in some cuneiform texts (cf. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 18). Therefore, its usage cannot be used as evidence for a late date.

“of the whole kingdom” If Darius (cf. Daniel 5:31) refers to Cyrus, then “the whole kingdom” refers to the entire Medo-Persian Empire and 120 satraps is not unusual. But if it refers to Gubaru (a Median general in Cyrus' army which captured the city of Babylon), then the kingdom would refer to the province of Babylon; also, “satrap” would refer to lesser governmental officials, not the word's later usage in Persian documents.

Daniel 6:2

NASB“three commissioners” NKJV“three governors” NRSV, NJB“three presidents” TEV------

Brown, Driver, and Briggs Lexicon (BDB 1104) says the origin of the term is dubious, but that it refers to “overseer” or “chief” (from a Persian word for “head”).

The term “three” may be related contextually to Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:16, Daniel 5:29. At this point these three chief overseers are unknown to secular history.

“and that the king” This could refer to (1) Cyrus or (2) Gubaru whom Cyrus appointed governor of Babylon. However, the title “king” fits Cyrus much better (cf. Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel IVP, p. 127, note #5). The main problem of this identification is that Cyrus was not son of Astyages, but of Cambyses, king of Anshan. On this issue scholars must await more archaeological evidence.

“might not suffer loss” This is the use of the Aramaic word for “injury,” used metaphorically for political interest (cf. Ezra 4:22; Esther 7:4).

Daniel 6:3 “this Daniel began distinguishing himself” This phrase begins with the DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUN “this” (cf. Daniel 6:5, Daniel 6:28), which is typical of Persian style, but also is a way to accentuate Daniel's giftedness (cf. Daniel 1:17, Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:21, Daniel 2:23). He was probably between eighty and ninety years of age at this point.

“the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom” This parallels what Pharaoh did to Joseph in Genesis 41:40. There are many similarities between Joseph and Daniel.

This imminent promotion of a Hebrew exile over Median and Persian administrators will cause the actions of Daniel 6:4.

Daniel 6:4 “trying to find grounds of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs” The same motives that led the Chaldean officials to accuse the three Hebrew youths in Daniel 3:0 are apparently the same motives that caused these officials to try and find accusations against Daniel (cf. Daniel 6:13).

Daniel 6:5 “unless we find it against him in regard to the law of his God” These administrators were wise enough to realize that the only area in which Daniel could be accused was in his loyalty to the Hebrew faith. See Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation.

Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:6-9 6Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever! 7All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions' den. 8Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” 9Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.

Daniel 6:6 “came by agreement to the king” The VERB (Haphel PERFECT) is rare both in Aramaic and Hebrew. It can mean (1) “in harmony”; (2) “thronged” (NKJV, JPSOA, BDB 1112); or (3) in the Psalms (cf. Psalms 2:1) the Hebrew counterpart (BDB 921, Qal PERFECT) is used for a treacherous conspiracy, which seems to be the implication here.

“live forever” This is a standard hyperbole addressing the king (cf. Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:6, Daniel 6:21). In Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26; and Daniel 12:7 the phrase is used in a theological sense of YHWH, the “I Am” (cf. Exodus 3:14 from the Hebrew VERB “to be”). He is the ever-living, only-living One (cf. Daniel 6:20)!

Daniel 6:7 These government officials appealed to the egotism and pride of the king. Quite often leaders are susceptible to this trickery.

“that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king” This was highly unusual for a Persian monarch to assume the status of deity because the Persian religion (Zoroastrians) believed in two deities, an eternal dualism existed between good and evil, between the Ahura Mazda and the Angra Mainyu. So how this king could possibly usurp divine attributes is historically uncertain. The plotters may have used the first ascension year of Cyrus as an opportunity to impose a loyalty-type oath (hyperbole).

“the lions' den” See note at Daniel 6:17.

Daniel 6:8 “the law of the Medes and Persians” This same binding legal status of the decrees of the Medo-Persian kings as being unchangeable is found in Daniel 6:12, Daniel 6:15, Daniel 6:17; Esther 1:19; Esther 8:8; and Diodorus Siculus 17:30.

The Medes are mentioned first here as in Daniel 8:20. Persia was the dominant partner and very soon after Cyrus' defeat of Babylon he began to be called King of Persia. The order of these terms shows the historicity of Daniel. The order is reversed in Esther 1:19.

The prophets also combined Media and Persia as one entity as the parallelism of Isaiah 21:2 (Elam and Media) clearly shows. Some scholars refer to Isaiah 13:17 and Jeremiah 51:11, Jeremiah 51:28 as an attempt to show that the prophets falsely saw Media as a separate empire (cf. NAB p. 1096), an error which they assert that Daniel followed.

Also note that Darius the Mede is subject to the laws of the Medes and Persians, which would not be true if Media was a separate, independent empire.

Verses 10-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:10-13 10Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. 11Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. 12Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king's injunction, “Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions' den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” 13Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.”

Daniel 6:10 “Now when Daniel knew the document was signed” Daniel was not taken off guard, but he was more loyal to his lifestyle faith (cf. Daniel 6:15, Daniel 6:20) than to the comings and goings of these jealous political leaders and their schemes.

“(now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem)” These roof chambers were used as summer sleeping quarters (cf. James M. Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible, pp. 171-172). Apparently for Daniel it was a place of where he prayed three times a day facing the ancient, destroyed city of Jerusalem (cf. 1 Kings 8:44, 1 Kings 8:48; 2 Chronicles 6:34, 2 Chronicles 6:38; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 138:2).

“he continued kneeling on his knees” The normal position of Jewish prayer is standing with the hands and head lifted to heaven with the eyes open (in dialog with God). Sometimes kneeling was done for urgency (cf. 1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13; Ezra 9:5; Psalms 95:6: Isaiah 45:23).

“three times a day” This phrase reflects the daily times of prayer in the temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally Jews prayed at the time of the morning (Psalms 5:0) and evening (cf. Daniel 9:21; Psalms 4:0) sacrifice (called the Continual, Exodus 29:39; Numbers 28:1-8, Numbers 28:10, Numbers 28:15, Numbers 28:23-24), as well as at noon (cf. Psalms 55:17). Daniel commemorated the ritual moments of the destroyed temple's schedule in his private prayer.

Daniel 6:11 “came by agreement” This is the same Aramaic word used in Daniel 6:6 and 15 for their coming before the King.

Daniel 6:13 “who is one of the exiles from Judah” Racial and religious prejudices are used to attack Daniel.

Verses 14-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:14-15 14Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him. 15Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”

Daniel 6:14 The King realizes that he has been used in a scheme to destroy Daniel (cf. Daniel 6:24), but is powerless (cf. Daniel 6:16, Daniel 6:18, Daniel 6:19) in the legal circumstances to forestall his own royal edict (cf. Daniel 6:12, Daniel 6:15).

Verses 16-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:16-18 16Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions' den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” 17A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel 1:0; Daniel 1:08Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.

Daniel 6:16

NASB, NKJV“Your God. . .will Himself” NRSV, NASB margin, NAB“May your God. . .deliver you” TEV“May your God. . .rescue you” NJB“Your God. . .will have to save you”

Aramaic grammar determines that this phrase is INDICATIVE, not JUSSIVE (NRSV, NAB), with an emphasis on “your God” (cf. Anchor Bible, vol. 23, p. 195). Again, the impotence of earthly monarchs is contrasted with the power and authority of the God of Judah (cf. Daniel 3:17, Daniel 3:28).

Daniel 6:17 “A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den” Lions were kept for the hunting pleasure of near Eastern royalty. Death by being thrown to wild animals was a common method of execution by the royal courts of the Ancient Near East and East. Apparently the den was an underground pit with two entrances, one from the top (cf. Daniel 6:23) and one from the bottom. Again, the fall should have killed him (cf. Daniel 3:20), much less the hungry lions.

Daniel 6:18 “the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting” This was not necessarily religious fasting, but simply the anxious worrying of a man who knew he had been tricked into doing evil to an innocent (cf. Daniel 6:22) faithful (and a very effective) servant.

“no entertainment was brought before him” There has been much discussion about this Aramaic word (BDB 1087). There are several theories: (1) Eben-Ezra, John Calvin, and NKJV believe it means “play music” from the root “to strike”; (2) the Hebrew counterpart means “to thrust,” therefore, possibly “dancers”' (3) the Peshitta has the word “food” (from dining table); (4) Martin Luther and the RSV have “diversions “or “pleasure”; and (5) the NJB, from a possible Arabic root, has “sexual pleasure” or “concubines.”

“his sleep fled from him” This is an Aramaic idiom (cf. Esther 6:1).

Verses 19-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:19-24 19Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions' Deuteronomy 2:0; Deuteronomy 2:00When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 22My 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.” 23Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Daniel 6:19 This verse shows the King's anxiety!

Daniel 6:20 “'servant of the living God'“ This is a play on the root word “YHWH,” which is the CAUSATIVE form of the Hebrew VERB “to be,” which implies the “ever-living, only-living God” (cf. Exodus 3:14). See note at Daniel 6:6.

“been able to deliver you from the lions” Here is that wonderful play on the title for God “the God who is able” (cf. Daniel 3:17, Daniel 3:29; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:20; Jude 1:24). Nothing is too difficult for YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 32:17). This whole book is about God's sovereignty and willingness to respond to those who trust Him (e.g., Daniel 3:28). Chapters 3 and 6 are lexically and theologically parallel.

Daniel 6:22 “'my God sent His angel'“ The Bible seems to teach the existence of guardian angels (national, cf. Numbers 20:16; Isaiah 63:9; and individual, cf. Genesis 48:16; Daniel 3:28; Daniel 6:22; Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:15; Hebrews 1:14), as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 14:23; Romans 8:9, Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14).

“shut the lions' mouths” This is both literal (cf. Hebrews 11:33 and I Maccabees 2:59-60), but also metaphorical (cf. Psalms 22:21; 2 Timothy 4:17).

“'inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him'“ Daniel acknowledges the OT concept of “merit” (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29). Daniel was faithful; God was faithful. Yet Judah and Israel had long experienced God as faithful even when they were not. However, God's longsuffering came to an end in the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. Yet YHWH would restore them to the Promised Land (Cyrus' edict of 538 B.C.). The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-38) acknowledges humanity's inability to keep the covenant. The New Covenant will be based, not on human innocence or merit, but on YHWH's gracious character and His Messiah's innocence and merit!

Daniel 6:23 “no injury whatever was found on him” This is parallel to Daniel 3:27.

“because he had trusted in his God” It was not Daniel's innocence (cf. Daniel 6:22) that brought about his deliverance, but his faith (“trusted” BDB 1081, Haphel PERFECT) in YHWH (cf. Daniel 3:28). This same truth is recurrent throughout the OT (cf. 1 Chronicles 5:20; 2 Chronicles 20:20; Psalms 9:10; Isaiah 26:3). This great truth becomes the key to Paul's emphasis on justification by faith in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6, which he anchors in Genesis 15:6.


Daniel 6:24 “and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den” This type of family-wide punishment is known in Persia from Herodotus 3.119. This is the Hebrew concept of corporality: (1) Adam and Eve's sin affects all humans (cf. Genesis 3:0); (2) Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16:25-33; (3) Achan's sin in Joshua 7:0 affected the whole Israeli army and the death of his family and cattle. This same idea of corporality can be seen in Esther 9:10-14. The NT counterpart is Romans 5:12-21.

“the lions overpowered them” Daniel's deliverance was not attributable to lions that were not hungry!

Verses 25-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:25-27 25Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound! 26I 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. 27He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Daniel 6:25-27 This is very similar to Nebuchadnezzar's words in Daniel 2:46-48; Daniel 3:28, Daniel 3:29 and Daniel 4:3, Daniel 4:34-35. All of these texts were probably penned by one of the four Jewish exiles. It does not imply personal faith on the part of Darius, but the overwhelming sense of the power of God which these poly-theists experienced!

Daniel 6:25 “all the peoples, nations, and men of every language” This is parallel to Nebuchadnezzar's edicts in Daniel 3:29; Daniel 4:1 and Daniel's comment in Daniel 5:19 and his vision in Daniel 7:14.

It is interesting that the unchangeable edict of the Medo-Persian ruler is obviously modified in honor of YHWH's sovereignty.

Verse 28

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Daniel 6:28 28 So this Daniel emjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel 6:28 “in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” The footnote reading in the NIV Study Bible, “of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” clearly shows that the Aramaic text (as well as the explicative waw usage in an epexegetical way) is capable of seeing these two kings as one in the same person (cf. Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel, IVP, p. 132 and D. Winton Thomas, ed. Documents From Old Testament Times, p. 83).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Was Darius a believer?

2. What lessons do we learn for our lives from Daniel 6:0?

3. Discuss the issue of guardian angels.

4. Discuss the concept of corporality.

5. Explain the theological significance of Daniel 6:26.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Daniel 6". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/daniel-6.html. 2021.
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