This article was first posted 11/04/20.
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 many of the prophecies and symbols actually overlap one another.
Below is a timeline of the book of Daniel, with known dates and events. The actual chronological order of the book 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 key points. See also The Main Message of Daniel.
Timeline of Daniel
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 handwriting on the wall, Daniel’s interpretation & Belshazzar is conquered that night by Cyrus the Great w/ Darius the Mede becoming governor/king.
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 Flowchart and Parallel Themes Chart help us see the chronological order of Daniel. They give a visual of the order of the book along with its themes.
Download Flowchart & Parallel Themes
For more on the flowchart and themes in Daniel, see The Main Message of Daniel.
Are there prophecies in Daniel yet to be fulfilled?
Find out in Daniel’s End Time Prophecies.
For More on Daniel and End Time Events
To consider the identity of Belshazzar: Belshazzar on Bible Hub
To consider the identity of Darius the Mede: Darius in the Bible – Got Questions
To further research the historical complexities of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede:
Historical Evidence of Belshazzar & Darius the Mede – BibleHistory.net
Or reference: Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Ezekiel & Daniel, Volume 9, p. 597-606 & 617-622 – Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, March 2006.
The Main Message of Daniel – By David Sheldon
Daniel’s End Time Prophecies – By David Sheldon
End Time Events: A Brief Overview – By David Sheldon
The Church’s New Agenda – By David Sheldon
The Beast From the Sea – By David Sheldon
Babylon in Revelation – By David Sheldon