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16. Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther

My notes for teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Leader’s notes: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther

This timeline of dates (on page 57 opposite) will help some ladies to understand the sequence of events. Some ladies will find it confusing. Encourage as necessary! If you are not used to thinking with figures in reverse order, then Before Christ/BC figures are confusing because they go backwards.

Talk through the list opposite. In the history we have seen so far, we have noted the exile of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria. Habakkuk 1:6 talks of the rise of the Babylonian Empire, therefore before the events of 607BC and 605BC, but followed by the downfall of Jerusalem and three deportations to Babylon in 605BC, 597BC and 586BC.

As a vassal state Judah had to pay tribute money. It therefore paid Nebuchadnezzar to leave some people there who would provide income. Nebuchadnezzar liked to use the best people in his conquered territories to introduce fresh ideas and strengths into his authority structure.

Let the ladies scan as a class for any names they recognise in the timeline - Daniel? Ezekiel? Nebuchadnezzar? Esther? Ezra? Nehemiah?

Now we move on………

Work through Daniel together

Classical Babylonian literature was written in a complicated script, but normal communications in multiracial Babylon were in Aramaic, which was written in an easily learned alphabetic script. Aramaic, albeit in a later version, was the language Jesus would usually have spoken.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 16 Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther

721 B.C. The northern kingdom finally fell to Assyria and most people were taken into

exile there.

607 After 300 years in power Assyria was defeated by Babylon.

605 Egypt was crushed by Babylon at the Battle of Carchemish.

Babylon had become the master of the world. Judah had been a vassal state of Egypt, and then became a vassal state of Babylon. The Temple was looted.

A group of young potential leaders were taken to Babylon, including Daniel.

597 Ten thousand religious leaders and royal family members were deported from

Judah to Babylon, including Ezekiel. See 2 Chronicles 36:6-7; 2 Kings 24:14-16;

Daniel 1:1-3. Ezekiel begins preaching in 593BC.

586 Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed much of Jerusalem and there was the final deportation of people from Judah to Babylon, although a remnant went to

Egypt. See Jeremiah 39:11-12; 40:1-6.

562 Nebuchadnezzar died. There was a struggle over the succession. Belshazzar took

over in 553 B.C.

539 Cyrus of Persia took over Babylonia. Darius the Mede in Daniel 5:31 may have

been Cyrus’ name in Babylon or may have been the name of Cyrus’ governor in

Babylon. He is not the same person as Darius I - see three lines down here.

538 The first return to Jerusalem was authorised by Cyrus. Judah had become a

Persian province.

521 Darius I came to the throne

516 The Temple was completed - great celebration

486 Xerxes I came to the throne

480 Esther became Queen of Persia in the reign of Xerxes.

464 Artaxerxes I reign begins.

458 Ezra sent to Judah by Artaxerxes.

445 Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem with Artaxerxes’ approval. Jerusalem’s walls rebuilt.

424 Xerxes II

423 Darius II

We are going to look at three people who lived in or around Babylon, but neither they nor their family came from there, but from Judah.

Daniel arrived in Babylon in 605BC as a young man of about 16 years, with a group of specially chosen young men - specially chosen for their strength, health, good looks, knowledge, good sense and ability to cope - to be specially trained in Babylonian culture and language - to be specially fed on the finest food and wine from the king’s kitchens - for three years, with the possibility of becoming advisers in the royal court, Daniel 1:1-5. The four we read about are all from the tribe of Judah. So we have four young men, uprooted from their culture and families; given Babylonian names; looking towards Babylonian education, major tests to see if they were good enough for what the king wanted; facing another alternative if not.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther

The book of Daniel is not in chronological order as you can see from the chart. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the first ruler in Daniel 1-4, followed by Belshazzar in Daniel 7, 8 and 5, see verse one in each of these three chapters. The Babylonian Empire ends and the Medo Persians take over in Daniel 6, 9-12. We are not looking at some of the famous stories, but they are mentioned in the chart - see if the ladies can find them - chapter 3, chapter 5, chapter 6.

Daniel was totally convinced that the Lord is sovereign.

On to Ezekiel.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther.

Daniel 1:6-14. In this situation these young men, led by Daniel, decided not to eat the rich food, some of which would have been forbidden by their own religious food laws. Daniel talked carefully and reasonably with the man whom the king had appointed to look after them, winning his approval for a ten-day test.

Daniel 1:15-16 They passed the food test.

Daniel 1:17-20 They passed the three-year test.

Daniel 1:9,17 God gave Daniel respect from the man in charge, all four of them the

ability to learn well, and for Daniel, the ability to understand visions and dreams.

(Does he remind you of Joseph?)

Daniel 1:21 Daniel was still a court adviser aged about 82.

Ezekiel mentions Daniel as righteous, Ezekiel 14:14, and wise in Ezekiel 28:3.

The book of Daniel has history and dreams. It has inspired people and caused many, many books to be written about the interpretations of the visions. It covers the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of Babylonia, and Darius and Cyrus of the Medo/Persian Empire.

Babylon Medo/Persia

Nebuchadnezzar Belshazzar Cyrus/Darius

chapter 1 deportation chapter 7 Daniel’s chapter 6 den of lions

and new lifestyle dream

of four beasts

chapter 2

Nebuchadnezzar’s chapter 8 Daniel.’s chapter 9 Daniel’s

dream - dream of a ram and prayer and

statue of four metals a goat meeting with Gabriel

chapter 3 - gold image

and fiery furnace chapter 5 the writing

on the wall

chapter 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd chapters 10, 11, 12 vision dream

dream and madness Babylonian Empire ends

The key phrase for understanding Daniel is that ‘the Lord is sovereign’.

Meanwhile Ezekiel arrived in Babylonia in 597BC part of a major deportation from Judah.

Daniel was already an adviser at court by this time.

Ezekiel 1:3 Ezekiel was from a priestly family.

Ezekiel 24:15-18 he was happily married.

Ezekiel 3:24; 8:1 he lived in a house of his own, about 50 miles from Babylon.

Ezekiel 1:1-3 God called him to be prophet while he was working with other exiles, digging a shipping canal, the River Kebar, five years after they had arrived in Babylonia.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 16: Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther.

Work through the section together, eliciting the information from the ladies as they find the references, if you have the time.

Key ideas for understanding Ezekiel are ‘God’s holy name’ and the restoration of believing Israel so that the world will know ‘that I am the Lord’.

Ezekiel 36:16-38

On to Esther.

Cush can be “the upper Nile region”, “Ethiopia”, “both sides of the Red Sea”, or “part of the Arabian Peninsula”. It can also be spelled Kush. Translators make their choices.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther.

After his call Ezekiel was unable to speak except with direct words from the Lord,

Ezekiel 3:26.

He was meticulous in recording the dates events happened. Here they are translated into dates we can understand.

Ezekiel 1:3 God called him to be prophet in 593 B.C.

From 593 - 588 B.C. Ezekiel preached about God’s judgement on Jerusalem, chapters

1-23. The only hope he gave the people from God was for the exiles to live at peace

with themselves and with God during their exile.

Ezekiel 24:1-14 In January 588 B.C. God told Ezekiel that the siege of Jerusalem by

Nebuchadnezzar's forces had started, a siege which would end with the fall and

destruction of the exiles’ holy city.

Ezekiel 24:15-19 In 588 B.C God told Ezekiel that his wife, ‘the delight of your eyes’ would

die. He was not to shed any tears, not to do the usual mourning rituals.

He was to act out at the death of his wife the way the exiles were to behave over

the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 24:20-24. They were not to mourn openly.

Ezekiel 24:25-26 The first exiles arriving after the destruction in 586 B.C. would verify what

Ezekiel had said.

Ezekiel 25-32 God, through Ezekiel, pronounced a series of judgements on seven nations

April 587 - April 585 B.C.

January 585 B.C. The first fugitives from Judah arrived, Ezekiel 33:21-22, and Ezekiel was able to speak normally again.

Ezekiel 33-48 are pictures of encouragement for Israel.

Ezekiel acted out many of his messages, and drew bold pictures verbally and in his actions.

Key ideas for understanding Ezekiel are ‘God’s holy name’ and the restoration of believing Israel so that the world will ‘know that I am the Lord’.

Ezekiel 36:16-38.

Esther became Queen to Xerxes in 480 B.C. after the deaths of both Daniel and Ezekiel, and 58 years after the first Jews went back to Jerusalem, sent by Cyrus.

Just a note of interest - Esther 1:1 Xerxes ruled over Cush.

‘Let’s have a celebration’ could be the subtitle for the book of Esther.

Business and politics at the Persian court often involved large, grand feasts.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther.

The validity of the book of Esther has been questioned because God is not mentioned in it. But God’s actions can be seen throughout the book!!

Work through the story together.

Esther 1 Xerxes and his nobles spent six months planning a military campaign against the upcoming Empire of Greece. This was followed by the feast of 1:5. No expense was spared 1:5-7. Xerxes was a considerate host 1:8. His queen, Vashti, was giving a banquet for the ladies. On the seventh day of his feast, Xerxes sent his seven eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti, wearing her crown, for Xerxes to show off her beauty. She refused (which was not done in that culture!). He was furious.

1:13-22 A quarrel between a king and a queen became the talk of the town!

Three examples to follow – Daniel, Ezekiel, Esther - all exiles - all in a land that did not feel comfortable to them. All stood firm for God.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 16 - Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther.

Esther 1 Queen Vashti refuses to show herself off at a feast and causes a gender storm in

the citadel at Susa.

Esther 2 A lonely king, Xerxes, is talked into having a beauty contest to find a new wife.

Esther, a beautiful young woman, a Jewess who had been raised by her uncle Mordecai, wins. Another feast. Mordecai uncovers a plot to kill the king.

Esther 3 An important official threatens the Jews in Persia, but verse 15 the local people

were bewildered that the Jews should be threatened.

Esther 4 Mordecai persuades Esther to get involved. verse 14 “And who knows but that

you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Her reply is “And if I

perish, I perish.”

Esther 5 She goes to the king and is allowed in. She invites the king and the important

official, Haman, to a feast the next day. Offer accepted. They attend and are

invited to another feast given by Esther the next day. Haman is furious with

Mordecai and builds gallows to hang his enemy.

Esther 6 Sleepless night for the king and he sends for the history of his reign to read. He

reads of Mordecai and the plot to kill the king. Xerxes asks how Mordecai was

rewarded. He was not rewarded. Haman is asked how the king should reward

someone he wishes to honour. He thinks that the king is thinking of him! But no!

Esther 7 After the second feast Esther appeals for her life and those of her people.

Haman is hanged on the gallows he built to hang Mordecai.

Esther 8 Mordecai becomes the chief official to Xerxes. Esther pleads for her people and

Mordecai words another edict to go to every corner of the Empire revoking

Haman's edict against the Jews. It is dispatched quickly in every script and

language of the Empire.

Esther 9 Many influential people went out of their way to be helpful to the Jewish


The feast of Purim is established to remember these events in Susa and the

whole Persian Empire.

Three people. All exiles. In a land that did not feel like home.

Being what God wanted them to be.

Stay true to YOUR beliefs wherever YOU find yourself.

Esther 4:16 “If I perish, I perish.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, “Our God is able to save us from it (the fiery furnace). But even if he does not want to, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17.

Don’t set out to antagonise those who disagree with your beliefs – rather be courteous and wise:

Like Daniel with the man in charge of training him, Daniel 1:8-14

Like Esther dressing in her royal robes to go to the court, Esther 5:1-3

Remember that God is sovereign – Daniel; and God is holy - Ezekiel.

Please read Ezra 1:1-4; 2:68-3:13; 4:5, 7:8-10; for next time.

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