It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty princes, who would rule over the whole kingdom. He set over these three principles; of whom Daniel was first. The princes would be accountable to them, and the king's interests would be protected. Then Daniel was preferred above the other principles and princes, because he had an excellent spirit. The king considered setting him over the whole realm
Then the other principles and princes looked for fault with Daniel and his dealings with the kingdom, but they could find none, because he was faithful. No fault or scandal found with him. Then they said, "We will not find any charge against Daniel, unless it concerns the law of his God." Then the principles and princes gathered before the king, and said, "King Darius, may you live forever! All the principles of the kingdom, the governors, the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have agreed to make a royal decree, to make a strong law, that whoever makes a request of any God or man for thirty days, except from you, O king, should be thrown into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the law so that it cannot changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians which never changes." Therefore king Darius signed the law.
Now when Daniel knew that the law was signed, he went into his house, and with his windows in his room open facing Jerusalem, kneeled three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks to his God as he always had done. Then the men gathered and found Daniel praying and making supplication to his God. They came and spoke to the king about the king's law saying, "Haven't you signed a decree, that anyone who asks a petition of any God or man within thirty days, except from you, O king, will be thrown into the den of lions?" The king answered "This is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which never changes." Then they answered and said to the king, "That Daniel, one of the children taken captive from Judah, doesn't pay any attention to you, O king, nor the law that you has signed, but makes his petition three times a day." Then the king, hearing these words, was mad at himself, and determined to save Daniel, and he worked until sundown to deliver him.
But the men gathered before the king, and said, "Know, O king, what the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor law made by the king may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and threw him into the den of lions. However, the king said to Daniel, "Your God whom you always serve will deliver you." A stone was brought and put over the opening to the den; and the king sealed it with his own seal and with the seal of his lords so that nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting. No instruments of music were played for him, and he could not sleep.
The king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. When he came to the den, he cried in a mournful voice to Daniel and said, "Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live for ever! My God has sent his angel who has shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him and also before you, O king, because have I done no harm." Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injuries were found on him, because he believed in his God.
Then the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and threw them into the den of lions, with their children and their wives. The lions overcame them, and broke their bones in pieces before they even reached the bottom of the den.
Then king Darius wrote to all the people, nations, and languages that live in all the earth; "Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and faithful forever, and his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his reign will be even to the end. He delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, even He who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
So Daniel prospered in the reigns of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian.
(Ron Miller's translation of Chapter 6 from the Book of the Prophet Daniel)
(Also see Ron's Notes on Daniel)
Nebuchadnezzar crushed the rebellion of Jerusalem in March, 597 BC, and carried off the young king Jehoiachin and many young nobles to Babylon. Babylon with its hanging gardens was then the greatest city in the world. One of the captive nobles, Daniel, rose to a high position in the Babylonian civil service. During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's son-in-law, Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians. To solidify this great addition to the Medo-Persian empire, Babylonian civil servants (especially Daniel) were retained and given positions of authority. This model of assimilating and governing conquered territories was later adopted by Alexander the Great.
The 'native' Babylonians, although conquered themselves, were jealous of the 'foreigner', the captive slave Daniel , and the position of authority he was given over them.
Babylon is located in modern Iraq, and Persia was in modern Iran. Daniel, of course, was an Israelite. Each of these modern countries lays claims to this ancient history as part of their own culture.