74”X46” oil on canvas/wood 2002

In the year 440 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia besieged the land of the Jews and conquered Judea. To strengthen and enrich his court, he looted the holy Temple in Jerusalem and took back with him thousands of distinguished Jews, the leading scholars and the most promising children of the royal family.
One of these young captives was Daniel. With other heroic exiles, he created a vibrant spiritual and intellectual Jewish community in Babylonia. From that foundation came the leaders of the next generations who would eventually return to the land and build the second Temple.

Daniel was the inspiration of the exiles. It was his uncompromising faith that frustrated and defeated the kings of the country who wanted the exiles to follow their heathen ways. Influenced by Daniel’s resolute trust in God, his companions Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego refused to worship the King’s golden idol, and when they were thrown into a flaming kiln, miraculously, they emerged unscathed. Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s cryptic dreams and deciphered God’s message of doom, mysteriously written on the walls of King Belshazzar’s palace. Even the rulers of Babylon acknowledged his divine gifts and glorified him.

The Book of Daniel ends with extraordinary revelations. An angel appears to Daniel with prophetic visions of four future kingdoms that will dominate Israel in its long exiles until the final redemption. And in one of the most mysterious and obscure passages of all the writings, he is given the calculation of the time of the End of Days.

The message of the book of Daniel is a message of hope – of great light that comes after utter darkness. Daniel’s exalted position in the court created envy among the nobles. They accused him of disobedience to the King, and he was thrown into the Lion’s den. The next morning, the giant stone that sealed the den was rolled back and in the penetrating light, Daniel’s survival was revealed as a testament to God’s mercy amid the fury of destruction and exile.

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