That is a good question! Because I wrote the book, “Daniel, Prophet to the
Nations” I have had to research this question somewhat carefully. The best
I can tell, the Bible gives absolutely no direct information as to the
lineage of Daniel, or where he was born. For this reason, one is left to
speculate based on the limited information available. Speculation should
always be taken with a big grain of salt. However, let me speculate.
We know that Daniel was taken to Babylon from Jerusalem with the
relatively small group of hostages when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem
for the first time in 605 BC (as proven by Daniel 1:1,2). Larger
deportations of hostages did not occur until the second and third attacks
on Jerusalem in 595 and 587 BC. Additional information is that
Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Mechach and
Abednego into service in his palace. We know all this from Daniel chapter
one. This tells me that these four were definitely not “commoners.”
For this reason, I have concluded with pretty good confidence that Daniel
and his friends were children of the nobility of Jerusalem. In other
words, it seems to me that they were taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon as
hostages. Their being taken as hostages was meant to insure the good
behavior of Jehoiachin and the other leaders left behind in Jerusalem. If
they did not pay the annual tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, the threat would
have been that the lives of the valued child hostages would be forfeit. To
some extent, I base this speculation on the fact that this was a common
practice in the ancient world.
So if I am right (and remember that this is speculation), then Daniel was
taken as a young hostage to Bablyon from Jerusalem. He was most likely
from a very influential family of the nobility which lived in Jerusalem or
which was closely associated with Jerusalem.
John Oakes, Ph.D.