Who was Daniel

   Daniel was a Jewish prophet and a book of the Old Testament containing his life and visions. Most scholars believe that the book was written by an unknown person in the 2d century B.C. to inspire the Jews to hold out against the Seleucid kings of Syria, who were persecuting them.
   In the first half of the book the author describes the life of Daniel, a pious young Jew who was taken to the court of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar after the king had conquered Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C. Daniel gained favor because he could interpret the king's dreams. At a feast given by the succeeding king, Belshazzar, Daniel interpreted mysterious handwriting on the wall to mean that the Babylonian kingdom would be conquered by the Persians. That night the Persian king Darius captured Babylon. Later, when jealous rivals had Daniel cast into a lion's den for breaking a new antireligious Persian law, Darius restored Daniel to favor and proclaimed the greatness of God throughout his kingdom.
   Daniel's apocalyptic visions, or prophecies about the end of the world, form the subject of the second half of the book. Using rich symbols, such as four beasts for the four empires, the Son of Man for Israel, and the Ancient of Days for God. Daniel foretells the Last Judment and the establishment of an everlasting kingdom of the Jews. Early Christians believed that he was prophesying the Second Coming of Christ, as described in Revelation.