Daniel left Belshazzar and fled to Shushtar, where he was kindly received by Cyrus, who promised him to have the Temple vessels taken back to Jerusalem, provided Daniel would pray to God to grant him success in his war with the king of Mosul. God gave Daniel's prayer a favorable hearing, and Cyrus was true to his promise.
Daniel now received the Divine charge to urge Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. To this end he was to introduce Ezra and Zerubbabel to the king. Ezra then went from place to place and called upon the people to return to Palestine. Sad to say, only a tribe and a half obeyed his summons. Indeed, the majority of the people were so wroth against Ezra that they sought to slay him. He escaped the peril to his life only by a Divine miracle. (5)
Daniel, too, was exposed to much suffering at this time. King Cyrus cast him into a den of lions, because he refused to bow down before the idol of the king. For seven days Daniel lay among the wild beasts, and not a hair of his head was touched. When the king at the end of the week found Daniel alive, he could not but acknowledge the sovereign grandeur of God. Cyrus released Daniel, and instead had his calumniators thrown to the lions. In an instant they were rent in pieces. (6)
In general Cyrus fell far short of coming up to the expectations set in him for piety and justice. Though he granted permission to the Jews to rebuild the Temple, they were to use no material but wood, so that it might easily be destroyed if the Jews should take it into their head to rebel against him. Even in point of morals, the Persian king was not above reproach. (7)
Another time Cyrus pressingly urged Daniel to pay homage to the idol Bel. As proof of the divinity of the idol the king advanced the fact that it ate the dishes set before it, a report spread by the priests of Bel, who entered the Temple of the idol at night, through subterranean passages, themselves ate up the dishes, and then attributed their disappearance to the appetite of the god. But Daniel was too shrewd to be misled by a fabricated story. He had the ashes strewn upon the floor of the Temple, and the foot-prints visible the next morning convinced the king of the deceit practiced by the priests. (8)
Pleasant relations did not continue to subsist forever between Cyrus and Darius. A war broke out between them, in which Cyrus lost life and lands. Fearing Darius, Daniel fled to Persia. But an angel of God appeared to him with the message: "Fear not the king, not unto him will I surrender thee." Shortly afterward he received a letter from Darius reading as follows: "Come to me, Daniel! Fear naught, I shall be even kinder to thee than Cyrus was." Accordingly Daniel returned to Shushtar, and was received with great consideration by Darius.
One day the king chanced to remember the sacred garments brought by Nebuchadnezzar out of the Temple at Jerusalem to Babylon. They had vanished, and no trace of them could be discovered. The king suspected Daniel of having had something to do with their disappearance. It booted little that he protested his innocence, he was cast into prison. God sent an angel who was to blind Darius, telling him at the same time that he was deprived of the light of his eyes because he was keeping the pious Daniel in durance, and sight would be restored to him only if Daniel interceded for him. The king at once released Daniel, and the two together journeyed to Jerusalem to pray on the holy place for the restoration of the king. An angel appeared to Daniel, and announced to him that his prayer had been heard. The king had but to wash his eyes, and vision would return to them. So it happened. Darius gave thanks to God, and in his gratitude assigned the tithe of his grain to the priests and the Levites. Besides, he testified his appreciation to Daniel by loading him down with gifts, and both returned to Shushtar. The recovery of the king convinced many of his subjects of the omnipotence of God, and they converted to Judaism. (9)
Following the advice of Daniel, Darius (10) appointed a triumvirate to take charge of the administration of his realm, and Daniel was made the chief of the council of three. His high dignity he was second to none but the king himself exposed him to envy and hostility on all sides. His enemies plotted his ruin. With cunning they induced the king to sign an order attaching the penalty of death to prayers addressed to any god or any man other than Darius. (11) Though the order did not require Daniel to commit a sin, he preferred to give his life for the honor of the one God rather than omit his devotions to Him. When his jealous enemies surprised him during his prayers, he did not interrupt himself. He was dragged before the king, who refused to give credence to the charge against Daniel. Meanwhile the hour for the afternoon prayer arrived, and in the presence of the king and his princes Daniel began to perform his devotions. This naturally rendered unavailing all efforts made by the king to save his friend from death. Daniel was cast into a pit full of lions. The entrance to the pit was closed up with a rock, which had all of its own accord rolled from Palestine to protect him against any harm contemplated by his enemies. (12) The ferocious beasts welcomed the pious Daniel like dogs fawning upon their master on his return home, licking his hands and wagging their tails.
While this was passing in Babylon, an angel appeared to the prophet Habakkuk in Judea. He ordered the prophet to bring Daniel the food he was about to carry to his laborers in the field. Astonished, Habakkuk asked the angel how he could carry it to so great a distance, whereupon he was seized by his hair, and in a moment set down before Daniel. They dined together, and then the angel transported Habakkuk back to his place in Palestine. Early in the morning Darius (13) went to the pit of the lions to discover the fate of Daniel. The king called his name, but he received no answer, because Daniel was reciting the Shema at that moment,
The miraculous escape of Daniel brought him more distinguished consideration and greater honors than before. The king published the wonders done by God in all parts of his land, and called upon the people to betake themselves to Jerusalem and help in the erection of the Temple.
Daniel entreated the king to relieve him of the duties of his position, for the performance of which he no longer felt himself fit, on account of his advanced age. The king consented on condition that Daniel designate a successor worthy of him. His choice fell upon Zerubbabel. Loaded with rich presents and amid public demonstrations designed to honor him, Daniel retired from public life. He settled in the city of Shushan, where he abode until his end. (17) Though he was no prophet, God vouchsafed to him a knowledge of the "end of time" not granted his friends, the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, (18) but even he, in the fulness of his years, lost all memory of the revelation with which he had been favored. (19)