Timeline of the prophet Daniel’s life

By Mark Morgan | Daniel

May 26
Briton Riviere (1890) - Daniel's Answer to the King

Daniel was an extremely godly man, presented by Ezekiel the prophet as an example of righteousness along with Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14:14, 20).  Angels also say that he is “greatly loved” (Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19).  In short, Daniel is a wonderful character and reading his life’s story in the Bible is very valuable.


This timeline of the prophet Daniel’s life is a rough overview because most of the events cannot be located exactly in his life.  Some can be located in history, but we are not told Daniel’s age at any time.

Timeline of the prophet Daniel's Life (960x720)

Timeline of the prophet Daniel’s life (kings not mentioned in the Bible are in grey text)

Introducing Daniel

The book of Daniel begins with King Nebuchadnezzar attacking Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah.  We are introduced to Daniel and his three friends as youths who are taken to Babylon to be educated in the learning and language of the Chaldeans.  We don’t know Daniel’s age at this time, but we can guess that he was probably about 15-20 years old.  I have assumed that he was 17 years old at that time, or about 22 years younger than the prophet Jeremiah and the same age as the prophet Ezekiel.

Daniel spent most of his life in Babylon and does not appear to have returned to Judah at all.  Presumably he was too old to travel by the time Cyrus issued a decree that the people of Judah should return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4).

Some timing

We are told the timing of a few events in Daniel’s life, but they are always given in relation to the reigning king:

  • Third year of Jehoiakim (first year of Nebuchadnezzar), Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon (Daniel 1:1)
  • Second year of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a metal image (with God’s help) (Daniel 2:1)
  • Daniel had a dream in the first year of King Belshazzar (Daniel 7:1)
  • Daniel had a dream in the third year of King Belshazzar (Daniel 8:1)
  • Daniel had a dream in the first year of King Darius (Daniel 9:1)
  • Daniel continued in the court until the first year of King Cyrus (Daniel 1:21)
  • Daniel had a dream in the third year of King Cyrus (Daniel 10:1)

Intriguing details

Some fascinating points about the kings referred to in the book of Daniel:

  • Historical records suggest that Belshazzar ruled for his father Nabonidus, which is probably why he offers to make Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom.  Nabonidus was the first and Belshazzar the second (although he was still called king).
  • King Darius is said to have “received the kingship” after the death of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:30-31) and also described as having been “made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 9:1), both of which are unusual expressions.  They give us the impression that perhaps Darius was not made king through his own power or choice.

See also

The book of Daniel in the Bible is the best place to find out about Daniel (read it on Bible Gateway).

A few articles on Wikipedia may be of interest, although they tend to dismiss the history recorded in the Bible while accepting as fact propaganda from kings and their sycophants and hearsay reported by geographically distant historians writing hundreds of years later:

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