Job Promotion

After Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was revealed through Daniel and its interpretation given the final verses in Daniel chapter two tell us what happened to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Daniel 2:46-49 says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.” (NASB)


In the beginning of this passage, critics have immediately jumped on the fact that it appears Daniel accepted homage from Nebuchadnezzar. How do we answer such critics who claim Daniel allowed Nebuchadnezzar to worship him? In order to give clarity to the text, we need to visualize the scene before us while at the same time acknowledging the situation Daniel faced. This DOES NOT mean that I, nor any other theologian, should accept or condone any form of worship from anyone else. We are to worship the Lord only. Daniel certainly knew this fact also.

Surprisingly, the arguments many of these same critics promote indirectly answers the question. I’m, of course, referring to the critics claim that the book of Daniel was not written in the 6th century BC but rather during the 2nd century AD, thereby suggesting that the unknown writer was writing history rather than writing prophecy. This suggestion purports the claim that this writing was done by some Jew during the Maccabean period. If that were true, why would a Jewish writer in the time of the Maccabee’s choose to include such an act by a fellow Jew [Daniel]? Jewish history shows conclusively that it would have been unthinkable for a Jewish writer to encourage such a story, thereby bringing reproach upon his religion. Of note is that Rabbi Louis Ginzberg (1873-1953) whose family traced their ancestry back to the revered Talmudist, Halachist and Kabbalist, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (1720-1797) [known as Vilna Gaon] became a Talmudist himself. Ginzberg was the author of his six-volume set entitled, “The Legends of the Jews”. He makes note in his book that Daniel refused any worship and extravagances from Nebuchadnezzar. Where or how Ginzberg obtained this information is not stated. Some suggest that this implies that the text was embellished which would support the argument of a writer during the Maccabean period modifying the text.

Likewise, let us look at the scene before us. Nebuchadnezzar is overcome with the revelation of what Daniel has told him. What did Nebuchadnezzar worship? Several gods were worshipped by the Babylonians, all of them false effigies [a sculpture; statue; model; dummy; figurine etc.] all made by human hands. Nebuchadnezzar was a visual kind of guy. He didn’t know any better. He had no idea how to bow down to an invisible God. All his gods were physical objects.

The final answer to this puzzle is what Nebuchadnezzar says to Daniel. Note there is NO worship to Daniel. The king says to Daniel, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Nebuchadnezzar makes no verbal adoration to Daniel. Rather, Nebuchadnezzar is recognizing that it is Daniel’s God who has made all these things possible. He doesn’t have a physical object to use in order to bow down to worship the God of heaven so he does the only thing he knows and prostrates himself before God by recognizing Daniel as God’s ambassador and representative. While it would have been highly dangerous for Daniel to correct the king in his actions he evidently saw no reason to because he recognized that the king was giving worship to the true God.

Finally, Daniel would certainly not have been rewarded with gifts and promotion by the king if God was displeased with his actions. A continual argument by critics is that there is no record of such a person as Daniel being promoted to ruler over the whole province of Babylon. I answer such critics with two statements. The first is that each year, on almost a daily basis, archaeological discoveries are uncovered that support the Bible and affirm details about its people, events, and culture. My second statement is simply this. Jesus Himself acknowledged Daniel the prophet as a real person. His Father in heaven by means of His Holy Spirit guided Daniel’s pen to write the things he wrote in the book named after him. That is all the proof we need.

Nor did Daniel forget the roles Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah played in their prayers and support for God. He asked Nebuchadnezzar to appoint his friends over the administration of the province of Babylon while he served in the king’s court himself.