Daniel: Birth and Early Years


Retha Groenewald takes a look at the early part of Daniel's life.

Daniel was born during the reign of King Josiah, Jehoiakim’s father (II Kings 22-23). King Josiah was 8 years old when he became king. One day the scribe Shaphan came to the king and told him that the high priest had found a scroll; he read the contents of the scroll to the king. When the king heard the words, he realised that these were the words of the Lord God, the Book of the Law. He tore his clothes in remorse, realizing that his predecessors had not obeyed the Law and according to the scroll the Lord was going to punish Israel because of it.

The king commanded that they urgently find out from the Lord what they must do to prevent God’s wrath. Huldah, the prophet, was given this task. She came to him and told King Josiah, in 2 Kings 22:16-20, that God had confirmed that He was going to punish Judah. However, because King Josiah humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord had heard him, and the disaster will not happen in his lifetime.

Daniel was born during these times and experienced how King Josiah, one of the few good kings of Israel, made a covenant with the Lord to obey him, brought reformation to Israel, and reinstituted the Passover. When King Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt, his son Jehoiakim, succeeded him. Jehoiakim did evil in the sight of the Lord, nullifying what his father accomplished.

Authority Used and Abused

In this short period of his life, Daniel experienced authority in different ways:

  • King Josiah, was a king who did not see himself too important to humble himself before the Lord.
  • Jehoiakim, King Josiah’s son, did not learn from his ancestors’ mistakes. He did not follow his father’s example but did the opposite, which resulted in the Lord’s wrath coming upon Israel in the form of captivity of his people. 

Perhaps the actions of these two kings were what inspired Daniel to become a God-fearing man that did not compromise his relationship with the Lord.

Daniel a Young Man

Daniel was approximately 15 to 17 years old when taken into captivity by the Babylonians. In a short period of time, Daniel’s life changed drastically from living in the Promised Land to being a captive in enemy lands. Today, Daniel would be a young man, a teenager still in high school. According to Jewish culture, boys became men at the age of 13 years when bar mitzvah is celebrated. Therefore, one can argue that he was no longer a child, but that is for you to decide keeping in mind your own experiences at that age and your thoughts as a parent. Whether a young adult or a young boy, it was a very traumatic experience to see family and friends killed; then to be forcefully taken away from your homeland, your culture, from everything that is familiar to you, to an unknown culture and hostile people.

Daniel lived in Babylon for the full 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah. He was in his 80’s when King Cyrus released the captives to rebuild the temple and the wall in Jerusalem.  His first encounter with foreign authority was King Nebuchadnezzar who had taken them captive.


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