The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
[Note.—"The Book of Daniel is the earliest example of apocalyptic literature, and in a great degree the model according to which all later apocalypses were constructed. In this aspect it stands at the head of a series of writings in which the deepest thoughts of the Jewish people found expression after the close of the prophetic era.... Whatever judgment be formed as to the composition of the book, there can be no doubt that it exercised a greater influence upon the early Christian Church than any other writing of the Old Testament, while in the Gospels it is specially distinguished by the emphatic quotation of the Lord (Matthew 24:15, ῥηθὲν δια Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου... ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω....). In studying the Book of Daniel it is of the utmost importance to recognise its apocalyptic character. It is at once an end and a beginning, the last form of prophecy and the first 'philosophy of history.' The nation is widened into the world: the restored kingdom of Judah into a universal kingdom of God. To the old prophets Daniel stands, in some sense, as a commentator (Daniel 9:2-19): to succeeding generations, as the herald of immediate deliverance. The form, the style, and the point of sight of prophecy are relinquished upon the verge of a new period in the existence of God's people, and fresh instruction is given to them suited to their new fortunes. The change is not abrupt and absolute, but yet it is distinctly felt. The eye and not the ear is the organ of the Seer: visions and not words are revealed to him. His utterance is clothed in a complete and artificial shape, illustrated by symbolic imagery and pointed by a specific purpose. The divine counsels are made known to him by the ministry of angels (Daniel 7:16; Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21), and not by 'the Word of the Lord.' The seer takes his stand in the future rather than in the present, while the prophet seized on the elements of good and evil which he saw working around him and traced them to their final issue. The one looked forward from the present to the great 'age to come'; the other looked backward from 'the last days' to the trials in which he is still placed. In prophecy the form and the essence, the human and divine, were inseparably interwoven; in revelation the two elements can be contemplated apart, each in its greatest vigour,—the most consummate art, and the most striking predictions, The Babylonian exile supplied the outward training and the inward necessity for this last form of divine teaching; and the prophetic visions of Ezekiel form the connecting link between the characteristic types of revelation and prophecy."—Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.]
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.