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The Book of Daniel: A Historical-Chronological Look

By David Sheldon

Last Updated: November 04, 2020

The Old Testament book of Daniel is not in chronological order. This can be troublesome when trying to understand the events that take place in the book because the many prophecies and symbols that appear actually overlap one another.

For that reason, we have put together this timeline, with known dates and events. You will see the actual chronological order of the book of Daniel is: chapters 1-4, 7-8, 5-6, 9-12. Notice that chapters 5-6 and chapters 7-8 are flip-flopped with each other.

(A following chart – Parallel Themes in the Book of Daniel – provides a visual of the book’s thematic elements.)

Chronology of Daniel

Download Timeline

605 B.C. — Daniel 1:1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” (ESV)

• Daniel and his three friends taken captive to Babylon.

602 B.C. — Daniel 2:1 “In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.” (ESV)

• King Nebuchadnezzar’s forgotten dream – a great statue – revealed and interpreted by Daniel.

602 B.C. — Daniel 3:1 “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (ESV)

• Daniel’s three friends refuse to worship the Great Image the King had built, are thrown into the fiery furnace and delivered by God.

602 B.C. — Daniel 4:1 “King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you!” (ESV)

• King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of a Great Tree, Daniel gives the interpretation, the King given to judgment and then delivered.

553 B.C. — Daniel 7:1 “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. (KJV)

• Daniel is given a dream about Four Great Beasts and God’s Greater and Final Kingdom.

551 B.C. — Daniel 8:1 “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first.” ESV

• Daniel has a vision of a Ram, a Goat and a Little Horn with the interpretation.

539 B.C. — Daniel 5:1 “Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.” (NASB)

• King Belshazzar’s Great Feast, vision of Man’s Hand writing on the wall, Daniel’s interpretation and King Belshazzar is conquered that very night by Darius the Mede.

539 B.C. (?) — Daniel 6:1 “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;” (ESV)

• King Darius appoints Daniel as one of three commissioners over his kingdom. Daniel is “entrapped” and refuses order for worship of the King. Daniel is thrown into the Lion’s Den but is delivered by God.

538 B.C. (?) — Daniel 9:1 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.” (ESV)

• Daniel reads Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding Israel’s captivity and confesses in prayer and supplication before God. Gabriel reveals to him Seventy Weeks for God’s people.

536 B.C. — Daniel 10:1 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.” (ESV)

• Daniel hears a word and has a” trembling” vision of a Great Man. A Man/Angel comes to him and comforts him, reassuring him of things regarding God’s people for still future days.

536 B.C. — Daniel 11:1 “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.” (ESV) (This is the timing of an angel recalling an event in 539/538 B.C. and not the actual date of the material in chapter 11.)

• The Angel conveys to Daniel the coming reigns and conflicts in regards to the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. Then verse 36 shifts to a final self-exalting king.

Future — Daniel 12:1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” (ESV)

• Daniel is given a message/vision concerning the end of the world and a coming eternal kingdom for God’s people.

Why would Daniel not put the chapters chronologically?

The chart of Parallel Themes helps us see the logic of why Daniel is not in chronological order. This chart gives a visual of the thematic elements in the book of Daniel.
Parallel Themes in Daniel
Parallel Themes in Daniel

Download Parallel Themes Chart

Are there prophecies in Daniel yet to be fulfilled concerning the final world kingdom? Find out in Prophecies Concerning the Final World Kingdom.

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