Daniel 1

 

 

        OCCASION OF DANIEL BEING IN BABYLON (vs. 1-7)

 

1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.”

After the defeat and death of Josiah, the people of the land put on the

throne Jehoahaz, or Shallum (Jeremiah 22:11), one of the sons of their

late monarch (II Kings 23:30). We see, by comparing Ibid. v.31 with

v. 36, that in taking Jehoahaz to be their king they had passed over the

law of primogeniture. The reason of this would not unlikely be that he

represented the policy of his father Josiah, which may have meant the

preference of a Babylonian to an Egyptian alliance. Dean Farrar thinks his

warlike prowess might be the reason of the popular preference (Ezekiel

19:3). Whatever was the reason of popular preference, Pharaoh-Necho, on

his return from his victorious campaign against the Hittites and the

Babylonians, deposed him, and carried him down to Egypt. Necho placed

on the throne in his stead, Eliakim, whom he named Jehoiakim. The change

of name is not very significant: in the first case, it is “God raises up;” in the

second, the adopted name, it is “Jehovah raises up.” The assumption was

that he claimed specially to be raised up by the covenant God of Israel. It

might have been expected that he would be very zealous for the Lord of

hosts, instead of which we find that “he did that which was evil in the sight

of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.” As he is presented

to us in the prophecies of Jeremiah, he appears a cruel, regardless man.

Necho did not mean the subjection of Jerusalem to be merely nominal, so

he laid a heavy tribute on the new-made king. With all his defects,

Jehoiakim seems to have been faithful to Egypt, to whose power he owed

his crown. It should be noted, as one of the differences between the

Septuagint Version and the text of the Massoretes, which is followed in

our Authorized Version, that there is no word representing reign in the

Septuagint. Came Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon unto Jerusalem,

and besieged it. Nebuchadnezzar is one of the greatest names in all

history. Only here in Daniel is Nebuchadnezzar spelled in the Hebrew with

a in the penultimate syllable. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel the name is generally

transliterated differently and more accurately Nebuchad-rezzar. This more

accurately represents Nabu-kudurri-utzur of the monuments, but alike in

Kings and Chronicles the r is changed into a n. When it passed into Greek

it became Nabucodono>sor – Nabuchodonosor - even in Jeremiah. This is

the form it assumed in Berosus. Abydenusis more accurate. The name, which

means “Nebe protects the crown,” had been borne by a predecessor, who

reigned some five centuries earlier. The two forms of the name represent two

processes that take place in regard to foreign names. Nebuchadrezzar (Jeremiah

21:2) is a transliteration of the Babylonian name Nebu-kudduri-utzur.

Nebuchadnezzar, as here, is the name modified into elements, each of

which is intelligible. Nebu was the god Nebo, chad meant “a vessel,” and

nezzar, “one who watches.” He succeeded his father Nabopolassar, the

founder of the more recent kingdom of Babylon, in the year B.C. 606. Few

historical inscriptions of any length have come to hand dating from the

reign of either father or son. We have the fragments of Berosus, and

epitomes of portions of his works; and further, fragments of Megasthenes

and Abydenus preserved chiefly in the Fathers. It may be observed that

Herodotus does not so much as mention Nebuchadrezzar. Nabopolassar

ascended the throne of Babylon in the year B.C. 625, so far as can be made

out at present, on the overthrow of the Assyrians of Nineveh. Taking

occasion of this event, Egypt, which had been conquered by Esarhaddon

and Asshurbanipal, reasserted itself. The Assyrians had broken up Egypt

into several principalities, over each of which they had set vassal kings.

Psammetik, one of these vassal kings, rebelled, and united all Egypt under

his rule. About sixteen years after the fall of Nineveh, his sou Pharaoh-

Necho — determined to rival his predecessors, Thothmes and Rameses —

invaded the territory of Babylon. He maintained his conquest only a little

while, for Nebuchadnezzar, the young heroic son of the peaceful

Nabopolassar, marched against the Egyptians. A great battle was fought at

Carchemish, and the Egyptians were totally defeated. After this victory

Nebuchadnezzar pursued his flying enemy toward Egypt, and probably

visited Jerusalem and laid siege to it. He was not yet king, but it is not to

be reckoned an anachronism that the writer here calls him king. We speak

of the Duke of Wellington gaining his first victory at Assaye, although his

ducal title was not attained till long after. If we follow Berosus, as quoted

by Josephus (‘Contra Apionem,’ 119), while Nebuchadnezzar was engaged

on the campaign of Palestine and Syria, he was summoned back to Babylon

by the death of his father Nabopolassar. “Leaving the heavy-armed troops

and baggage, he hurried, accompanied by a few troops, across the desert to

Babylon.” Josephus professes to be quoting the very words of Berosus,

and no doubts have been thrown on his accuracy or good faith in such

cases. Berosus was in a position to be well informed, and had no motive to

speak other than the truth. The evidence of Berosus establishes that before

his accession to the throne, Nebuchadnezzar had made an expedition into

Syria. If we take the statement in the verse before us along with that of

Jeremiah 26:1 (where the text is, however, doubtful, as the clause is

omitted in the Septuagint), that the fourth year of Jehoiakim was the first of

Nebuchadnezzar, and look at them in the light of the account given by

Berosus of the accession of Nebuchadnezzar, we come to the conclusion

that he ascended the throne the year after he visited Jerusalem. Moreover,

we must remember that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar was not the year

of his accession, but was the year following the next new year alter that

event. If a monarch ascended the throne actually in the month Iyyar of one

year, that year would be reckoned as “the beginning of his reign;” not till

the first of the mouth Nisau in the following year did his first year begin. In

Jerusalem the calculation of the years of a monarch began from his

accession, and was independent of the calendar. Hence, if the Babylonian

method of reckoning was applied to Jehoiakim’s reign, what was reckoned

his fourth year in Jerusalem would be only his third. Against both these

texts and II Kings 25:8, and, moreover, against Berosus, is the

statement in Jeremiah 46:2, which asserts the battle of Carchemish to

have been fought in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This contradicts the other

statement, unless the battle were fought in the very beginning of the fourth

year of Jehoiakim, of which we have no evidence. It has been noted by Dr.

Sayce (‘Higher Criticism,’ 419), as a characteristic instance of the

carefulness with which the materials have been treated in Kings, that while

Shalmaneser is said to have besieged Samaria, it is not said that he

(Shalmaneser) took it. It is to be noted that there is an equal carefulness in

the verse before us Nebuchadnezzar, we are told, came unto Jerusalem,

and “besieged it.” The usual and natural conclusion to such a statement

would be “and took it;” the fact that this phrase is not added proves that

the writer does not wish to assert that Nebuchadnezzar required to push

the siege to extremities.

 

2 “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with

part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the

land of Shinar to the house of his God; and he brought the vessels

into the treasure house of his God.”  The Greek versions of this verse agree

with each other and with the Msssoretic text, save that the Septuagint has

Kuri>ou – Kuriou – Lord - instead of Qeou~ – Theou – God - in the end of

the first clause, and omits oi]kou – oikou house.  The Syriac Version omits the

statement that it was “part” of the vessels of the house of God that was taken.

It is to be observed that our translators have not printed the word “Lord” in capitals,

but in ordinary type, to indicate that the word in the original is not the sacred

covenant name usually written in English “Jehovah,” but Adonai. That the Lord

gave Jehoiakim into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar does not prove that Jerusalem

was captured by him. Far from it, the natural deduction is rather that he did

not capture the city, although he captured the king. Thus in II Kings 17:4

we are told that Shalmaneser shut up Hoshea “and bound him in

prison;” in the following verse we are informed that the King of Assyria

“besieged Samaria three years.” That is to say, after Shalmaneser had

captured Hoshea the king, he had still to besiege the city. A similar event

occurred earlier in the history of Judah and Israel. When Joash of Israel

defeated Amaziah and took him prisoner, he proceeded then to Jerusalem.

The city opened its gates to the conqueror, and he carried off all the

treasures of the house of the Lord, and of the king’s house, and all the

vessels of the house of the Lord, and a large number of hostages, and then

returned north. Something like this seems to have occurred now. The king

was taken by the Babylonians, and the city submitted and ransomed the

king by handing over a portion of the vessels of the house of the Lord. The

city, however, was not taken by assault. Miqtzath, “part of,” occurs also in

Nehemiah 7:70 in this sense: we have it three times later in this chapter –

vs. 5, 15, and 18; but in .these cases it means “end.” A word

consonantally the same occurs in the sense before us in Judges 18:2,

translated “coasts.” Gesenius would write the word miqq tzath, and regardv

mi as representing the partitive preposition min. He would therefore

translate, “He took some from the number of the vessels. Kranichfeld

objects to Hitzig’s assertion that taq means “a part,” and is followed by

Keil and Zockler in regarding it, as a short form of the phrase, “from end to

end,” equivalent to the whole, thus making miqtzath mean “a portion from

the whole.” The omission from the Syriac of the words which indicate that

the vessels taken were only a portion of those in the house of the Lord,

shows how natural it was to imagine that the deportation was total, and

therefore we may lay the more emphasis on its presence as proving that the

temple was not plundered, but these vessels were the ransom paid for the

freedom of the king. Several times had the treasures of the house of God

been taken away. In the days of Rehoboam (I Kings 14:26) Shishak,

acting probably as the ally of Jeroboam, took away all the treasures of the

house of the Lord, and of the king’s house, “he even took away all.” It may

be doubted whether Jerusalem was captured (II Chronicles 12:7);

certainly the name of Jerusalem has not been identified in the list of

captured towns on the wall of the temple at Karnak. We have referred to

the case of Joash and Amaziah. The succession of the phrases, “Jehoiakim

King of Judah,” and “part of the vessels of the house of God,” is remarked

by Ewald as being abrupt, and he would insert,” together with the noblest

of the land.” There is, however, no trace of any such omission to be found

in the versions. It is possible that this chapter may be the work of the early

collector and editor, and that he condensed this portion as well as, not

unlikely, translated it from Aramaic into Hebrew. Captives certainly were

taken as well as booty, as is implied by the rest of the narrative. Which he

carried into the land of Shinar to, the house of his god. There is no word

in the Hebrew corresponding to” which.” The literal rendering is, “And he

carried them,” etc. It has been the subject of discussion whether we are to

maintain that it is asserted here that Jehoiakim, along with the vessels and

unmentioned captives, were carried to Babylon. Professor Bevan admits

that it is doubtful. Were we dependent merely on grammar, certainly the

probability, though not the certainty, would be that the plural suffix was

intended to cover Jehoiakim, but the conclusion forced on us by logic is

different. He “carried them (μaeybiy]) to the house of his god.” This seems

to imply that only the vessels are spoken of. So strongly is this felt by

Hitzig (‘Das Buch Daniel,’ 5) that he would regard the phrase, “the house

of his god,” as in apposition to “the land of Shinar,’ and refers to two

passages in Hosea (Hosea 8:1; 9:15) in which “house” is, he alleges,

used for “land.” Irrespective of the fact that these two instances occur in

highly wrought poetical passages, and that to argue from the sense of a

word in poetry to its sense in plain prose is unsafe, there is no great

plausibility in his interpretation of these passages. He regards the last

clause as contrasted with the earlier: while the captives were brought “into

the land of Shinar,” the vessels were brought into “the treasure-house of

his god” — an argument in which there is plausibility were there not the

extreme awkwardness of using tyb, “house,” first in the extended sense of

“country,” and then in the restricted sense of “temple.” The last clause is

rather to be looked upon as rhetorical climax. The land of Shinar is used

for Babylonia four times in the Book of Genesis, twice in the portion set

apart as Jehovist by Canon Driver; the remaining instances are in ch. 14.,

both as the kingdom of Amraphel, which Canon Driver relegates to a

special source. In the first instance (Genesis 10:10) it is the land in

which Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh were. In the next instance (ch. 11.)

it is the place in which the Tower of Babel is built. The name is applied to

Babylonia in Isaiah 11. and Zechariah 5:11. One of the titles which the

kings of Babylon assumed regularly was “King of Sumir and Accad.” From

the connection of Shinar and Accad in Genesis 10:20 we may deduce

that “Shinar” is the Hebrew equivalent for “Sumir.” It is not further

removed from its original than is “Florence” from “Firenze,” or “Leghorn

from “Livorno,” or, to take a French instance, “Londres” from “London.”

The ingenious derivation of “Shiner” from ynç, “two,” and ra, “a river,”

which, however, implies the identification of [ and a, may have

occasioned the modification, the more so as it was descriptive of

Babylonia; hence the name “Aram-Naharaim,” and its translation

“Mesopotamia,” applied to the tract between the Euphrates and the Tigris,

north of Babylonia. In the Greek versions it becomes Senaa>r - Senaar.

It is omitted by Paulus Tellensis. The treasure-house of his god. The word

Rendered “god” here is the plural form, which is usually restricted to the

true God, otherwise it is usually translated as “gods” To quote a few from

many instances, Jephtha uses the word in the plural form of Chemosh (Judges

11:24), Elijah applies it to Baal (I Kings 18:27), it is used of Nisroch

(II Kings 19:37) In Ezra 1:7 we have this same word translated

plural in regard to the place in which Nebuchadnezzar had deposited the

vessels of the house of God. In translating the verse before us, the Peshitta

renders path-coroh, “his idol” This suits the translation of the Septuagint

eijdwlei>w| - eidoleio. Paulus Tellensis renders it in the plural, “idols.” The

god in  whose treasure-house the vessels of the house of God in Jerusalem

were placed would necessarily be Merodach, whom Nebuchadnezzar

worshipped, almost to the exclusion of any other. The treasure-house of

his god. Temples had not many precious gifts bestowed upon them by their

worshippers which were not taken by needy monarchs; nevertheless, the

treasures of kingdoms were often deposited in a temple, to be under the

protection of its god. The temple of Bel-Merodach in Babylon was a

structure of great magnificence. Herodotus (1:181) gives a description,

which is in the main confirmed by Strabe (16:5): “In the midst of the sacred

area is a strong tower built a stadium in length and breadth; upon this

tower is another raised, and another upon it, till there are eight towers.

There is a winding ascent made about all the towers. In the middle of the

ascent there is a resting-place, where are seats on which those ascending

may sit and rest. In the last tower is a spacious shrine, and in it a huge

couch beautifully bespread, and by its side is placed a table of gold. No

statue has been set up here, nor does any mortal pass the night here.”

There are still remains of a structure which suits to some extent the

description here given, but investigators are divided whether to regard Birs

Nimroud or Babil as most properly representing this famous temple of Bel-

Merodach. In the “Standard Inscription” Nebuchadnezzar appears to refer

to this temple, which he calls E-temen-ana-ki,” the house of heaven and

earth.” He says, among other matters concerning it, that he “stored up

inside it silver and gold and precious stones, and placed there the treasure-

house of his kingdom.” This amply explains why the vessels of the house of

God were taken to the temple of Bel-Merodach. The fact is mentioned that

the vessels of the house of God were carried to Babylon, and, as a climax,

“and he placed them in the treasure-house of his god.” We know what

befell the statue of Dagon when the ark of God was placed in its presence,

and the Jew, remembering this, relates awestruck the fact that these sacred

vessels were placed in the temple of Bel. If no such disaster befell Bel-

Merodach as befell Dagon, yet still the handwriting on the wall which

appeared when these vessels were used to add to the splendor of the royal

banquet, and which told the doom of the Chaldean monarchy, may be

looked upon as the sequel to this act of what would necessarily appear to a

Jew supreme sacrilege.

 

 

Decadence of Israel (vs. 1-2)

 

  • THE TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY LODGED IN KINGS. We

sometimes speak of Oriental monarchs as holding an irresponsible sceptre,

by which we simply mean that there is no earthly tribunal before which they

can be cited; yet, in reality, they are the appointed guardians of a nation’s

well-being, and are responsible to the supreme Sovereign of heaven. The

morals, the religion, the temper, the habits of a monarch have always been

eminently contagious. Evil results of vice in a private individual are

restricted within a circle comparatively narrow. But the influence of a king

radiates in a thousand directions, as from the apex of a pyramid. Peace or

war, order or anarchy, liberty or thraldom, godliness or impiety, abundance

or famine, in the empire depend largely on the personal character of the

sovereign. Without a copious supply of Divine wisdom, this elevated

position is not to be envied. A true king should aspire to be eminently holy.

 

  • AMPLE OPPORTUNITY FOR AMENDMENT. Jehoiakim had

inherited by nature qualities both bad and good. To him had been entailed

the evil example of his ancestor Manasseh, and the noble pattern of his

father Josiah. Here was a grand opportunity for making a wise choice —

an opportunity for stemming the ebbing tide of prosperity, and averting the

anger of Jehovah. His father’s excellent counselors had advised,

admonished, warned. Special prophets had brought counsel and

remonstrance from the source of heavenly wisdom. Sufficient time was

allotted for reflection, decision, amendment. For three years in succession

the great Husbandman visited his vineyard, and tested the fruitfulness of

this royal tree. The patience of God was richly displayed. But as sunshine

and rain and dew fall in vain upon the sandy deserts of Arabia, so did

God’s alternations of kindness and severity leave Jehoiakim unmoved. He

preferred the patronage of Pharaoh to the favor of the OMNIPOTENT

GOD!

 

  • THE IMPOTENCE OF MATERIAL DEFENCES. Material

fortifications and material weapons have their use. Even David,

notwithstanding his stalwart faith in God, did not confront the Philistine

without his sling. Bars and ramparts, shield arid sword, may be regarded as

instruments by means of which faith exercises an active obedience; they are

not to become objects to detain our faith or to supplant our dependence on

God, else they become fetishes and idols. As fishermen of old bowed down

to their net and burned incense to a drag, so many a warrior nowadays

worships his artillery and his ironclads. “Some trust in chariots, and some

in horses” (Psalm 20:7); but “God is our Refuge and Strength;” (Ibid. ch.

46:1); “In the Name of our God we will set up our banners.”  (Ibid. ch. 20:5).

Hezekiah’s fervent prayer had proved, in former years, a better protection

for the royal city than all its walls and towers. If God is on our side, weakness

itself becomes for us a very “munition of rocks”  (Isaiah 33:16).  But all the

mountains and natural bastions round about Jerusalem are no mightier than a

spider’s web if God be arrayed against it. The crystal flakes of snow did more

deadly work for Napoleon than all the thunders of Russia’s artillery. The

Lord gave Jehoiakim King of Judah into his hand.”

 

  • PARTIAL DISASTER SHOULD BE A PRACTICAL WARNING.

An old Roman legend affirms that “the gods have feet of wool.” They

conjectured that, when their deities bestirred themselves to avenge

injustice, they came silently and suddenly upon their victims. So does not

our God deal with His subjects. When the interests of righteousness

demand that the scourge of judgment shall be inflicted, the God of heaven

gives timely and repeated warning. “The axe is laid at the root of the tree”

(Matthew 3:10),  a visible premonition that doom awaits unfruitfulness.

One defeat in battle was not final overthrow. Honour, virtue, dignity, power,

might still be saved. The favor of Jehovah might yet be repaired. Repentance

and reformation might even then have stayed the setting sun. What though

some of the vessels of Jehovah’s temple have become the spoil of the foe?

Their loss can easily be repaired, if only the Lord of the temple be there in

Person. But if the real presence of the living God has been withdrawn, the

symbols of heavenly things may as well follow His departure. The truths

symbolized in this temple-furniture shall now proclaim, in silent eloquence,

their pregnant message in heathen lands. The God of Israel, who aforetime

gave the ark of the covenant into the hands of the Philistines, now gave the

vessels of the sanctuary into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.

 

 

National Retribution (vs. 1-2)

 

·         HE WHO KNOWS NOTHING OF GOD MAY BE THE

UNCONSCIOUS INSTRUMENT OF THE DIVINE WILL.

Nebuchadnezzar, who has never heard of the Hebrew prophecies, fulfils

their solemn predictions. This throws some light on God’s providential

relations to evil.

 

Ø      The motives which prompt a bad man to an action may be different

from the motives which incline God to permit it. God may permit the

action of selfish cruelty because He sees it will issue in righteous

chastisement.

 

Ø      A man who ignores the Divine guidance can still go no farther than

God permits him. Jerusalem was delivered into the hand of

Nebuchadnezzar, and only because this was the case was the King of

Babylon able to take it.

 

Ø      There is a twofold Divine permission:

 

o       the moral permission, which and sanctions conduct; and

o       the material permission, which does not visibly restrain it.

 

We see here that when the latter is accorded, though it does not

justify the morality of the agent, it indicates the ultimate working

of all things together for God’s will (Psalm 76:10).

 

·         NATIONAL SIN INCURS NATIONAL RETRIBUTION. Though

guilt is personal, and though national actions can only be the outcome of

individual actions, it often happens that men do in their public capacity

what they would shrink from doing in private life. The resultant, too, of the

individual actions of all the members of the community may not be a mere

multiplication of those actions, but, owing to their mutual interaction, it

may be something quite different, and thus characteristic of the nation

rather than of the individual. Now, these national actions, when wrong,

become distinctly national sins, and incur national retribution, one great

characteristic of which is that it happens in this world The retribution for

individuals is largely postponed to the next life, perhaps because earthly life

is too short for conduct to ripen all its fruits. But we have no reason to

believe that the national entity is perpetuated in the next life. On the other

hand, the nation survives its individual members on the earth, and lives on

from age to age, and thus gives time for the harvest of its conduct to come

in. It is one special design of the histories in the Bible to trace this process

out. The fate of the Jews is just an instance of it. The same principles apply

to all nations.

 

·         THE EARTHLY GROUND OF CONFIDENCE WHICH TAKES

THE PLACE OF GOD IN OUR FAITH MAY BECOME THE VERY

SOURCE OF OUR RUIN. Against the advice of their prophets, the Jews

had weakly entered into an alliance with Babylon. Thus they were drawn

into the quarrel of Babylon with Egypt. Pharaoh-Necho had deposed

Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, for his Babylonian alliance, and set up

Jehoiakim in his place. It was natural that Nebuchadnezzar should aim a

blow at Pharaoh through his weak vassal, and at the same time reduce to a

state of harmless helplessness the people who had been transferred from

the protection of Babylon to that of Egypt. If The Jews had been true to

their destiny of isolation and simple trust in God, the political cause of their

overthrow might never have existed. No foe is more dangerous than the

friend who has taken the place of God in our trust.

 

·         WHEN THE SPIRITUAL TREASURE OF TRUE RELIGION IS

LOST, THE LOSS OF ITS MATERIAL TREASURES MAY FOLLOW

AS A WHOLESOME CHASTISEMENT. Nebuchadnezzar carried away

part of the sacred vessels of the temple and offered them as booty to his

god. No miracle rebuked him as when, in an earlier age, the image of

Dagon was found fallen and broken before the ark (I Samuel 5:4).

Now there was little spirituality left among the Jews to render their sacred

vessels of any real use. They had been already desecrated by the

wickedness of the nation. True sacrilege is not pagan pillage, but the

association of an immoral character with the observance of religious rites.

When the soul has gone out of our religion, it may be well if the external

ordinances are disturbed:

 

Ø      to save us from the additional sin of hypocrisy; and

Ø      to open our eyes to our loss of the greater spiritual treasures, and thus

to prepare the way for genuine repentance.

 

3 “And the king spoke unto Ash-penaz the master of his

eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of

the king’s seed, and of the princes;  4 Children in whom was no blemish,

but well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge,

and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand

in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the

tongue of the Chaldeans.”  The version of the Septuagint here

becomes important: “And the king spoke to Abiesdri, his own chief eunuch

(tw~| eJautou~ ajrcieunou>cw| – to heautou archieunoucho), to lead to

him from the sons of the nobles of  Israel, and from the seed royal, and from

the choice ones, four young men, without blemish, of goodly appearance, and

understanding in all wisdom, and educated, and prudent, and wise, and strong,

so that they may be in the house of the king, and may be taught the letters and

tongue of the Chaldees.” The version of Theodotion is in closer accordance with

the Massoretic text, only it inserts “captivity” where the Septuagint had “nobles,”

and reads, “from the sons of the captivity of Israel.” In this version the name of

the chief of the eunuchs is the same as the Massoretic; the word rendered

“princes” in the Authorized Version is transliterated forqommi>n phorthommin

nobles.   The rendering, “the seed of the kingdom,” is more literal than

that of the Authorized, “the king’s seed” The Peshitta is in close agreement with

the Massoretic text, save that, instead of “Ashpenaz,” the name of the chief of

the eunuchs is written “Aspaz,” and the word translated “princes” (partemira)

is transliterated Parthouia, which means literally “Parthians.” Symmachus reads

Parqw~n - Parthon. The king spake unto Ashpenaz. There is assumed here that

there were a large number of Israelitish hostages who would be reckoned captives

whenever the conquered state gave cause of suspicion to the regnant power in

whose hands the hostages were, and they were possibly eunuchized. It is possible

that Nebuchadnezzar wished to use these hostages about the court, in order that,

having tasted the pleasure and dignities of the magnificent court of Babylon,

their influence would be exercised on their relatives to maintain them in fidelity.

The phrase, “spake unto,” has, in later Hebrew, the force of “command,”

especially when followed by an infinitive, as Esther 1:17. As translated in the

Authorized Version. the impression conveyed is that of consultation. The

name “Ash-penaz” has caused much discussion. As it stands, it is not

Assyrian or Babylonian. The form it has suggests a Persian etymology, and

on this fact, along with other similar alleged facts, an argument against the

authenticity of Daniel has been based. One derivation would make it ashpa,

“a horse;” nasa, “a nose,” “horse nose” — by no means an impossible

personal name for a Persian or Median. In one or two cuneiform

inscriptions of the Persian period the name occurs. Nothing can be built on

this, as in the Septuagint the name is given as jAbiesdri< - Abiesdri  - Abiesdri –

in the Peshitta it  becomes “Ash-paz,” as we have mentioned above. It would be

easily possible to derive” Ashpaz” from “Ashpenaz,” or vice versa; but there

seems no relation between Abiesdri and either. By some, as Hitzig, the

name has been identified with “Ashkenaz” (Genesis 10:3), and that

again derived from dv,a,, “the cord of the testicle,” and has, a Sanskrit

root, “to destroy,” and therefore the name would simply be “eunuch.” Over

and above the general improbability that is always present in regard to

etymologies which imply the word in question to be a hybrid word, there is

the improbability that one eunuch would receive a name applicable to the

whole class of which he was a member. The name, as it appears in the

Septuagint, is, as we have said, totally unconnected with that in the

Massoretic text, but both may have sprung from some common source.

Thus the French word eveque has not a single letter in common with

“bishop,” yet both words are derived from ejpi>skopov – epikopos –

bishop. The changes that a  name might undergo in passing from any language,

even a cognate one, into Hebrew were very great; thus Assur-bani-pal became

“Asnapper.  Lenormant has endeavored to recover the name in the present case.

The process he has followed is the somewhat mechanical one of combining the

two names, as if we were to strive to reach Asshur-bani-pal from a

combination of “Asnapper” and “Sar-danapalus.” He arrives at the name

Ash-ben-azur, which is a possible Babylonian name. Professor Fuller has

suggested Aba-(i)-istar, “the astronomer of the goddess Ishtar.” The main

objection to this is that it is drawn solely from the Septuagint Version. If

we look at the tendency exhibited by the Hebrew equivalents of Babylonian

names, we find that shortening was one that was nearly invariably present,

as Asshur-akhi-iddin na became Esarhaddon, and Sin-akhi-irba became

Sanherib. The only exception to this shortening process which occurs to us

is Brodach for Marduk, and even it is scarcely an exception. Next there is a

tendency, which Hebrew shares with other languages, of suiting a foreign

word to the genius of the language. Hence we find “Ashpenaz” has such a

close resemblance to “Ashkenaz” of Genesis 10:3, and that “Abiesdri”

is identical with the form “Abiezer” — the name of the father of Gideon —

assumes in the Septuagint. Judging from “Asnapper,” the name might even

begin with Asshur, only that, as Asshur was the national god of the

Ninevites, names which contained the name of that divinity are rare in

Babylon. The first element in the word might not impossibly be ablu,

“son.” The final element seems certainly to have been ezer or utzur. As to

the office he filled in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, “the master of

eunuchs,” the name of the office in the text is Rab-Sarisim, which occurs in

a slightly different form in II Kings 18:17, along with Rab-Shakeh, as if

it were a proper name. From the fact that persons thus mutilated were

employed in Eastern courts, the word became equivalent to “officer;”

hence we find Potiphar is called saris, or “eunuch;” yet he had a wife. It

therefore may be doubted whether Daniel and his companions are to be

understood as placed in that condition. The title here given — Rab-Sarisim

— becomes Sar-Sarisim in vs. 7 and 10, Sar being the Hebrew equivalent

of the more Babylonian Rab. It is also Aramaic. That he should bring

certain of the children of Israel, and of the kings seed, and of the princes.

It may be doubted at first sight whether these may not be separate classes

— a view that seems to have been taken by most of the old translators, or

whether the first class, “the children of Israel,” does not include the two

classes that follow. The rendering partmim, as “Parthians,” adopted by

Symmachus and the Peshitta, would make a contrast between “the children

of Israel” and “the Parthians.” That, however, is utterly unlikely. Were that

translation the true one, a strong argument could be advanced for the late

origin of Daniel. The fact that the text before Symmachus and the Peshitta

translator admitted of that translation shows how far the tendency to

modify the text into suitability with the knowledge of the scribe had gone,

and therefore how little weight ought to be given to lateness of individual

words. According to the Septuagint and Theodotion, there is a word lacking

in the first clause; the Septuagint translator would supply “nobles”

(megista>nwn – megistanon ) “from the nobles of Israel.” Theodotion renders,

“from the  sons of the Captivity of Israel.” If the sentence ran larçy yrç ynb, one

might understand how it could be read larçy ybç ynb; the natural

phrase for this is larçy ytwlg ynb, but that would not explain the Septuagint

rendering. The name Israel is the covenant name of the whole nation,

equally applicable to the southern and to the northern kingdoms. All the

more so that the captivity of Judah contained members of three other tribes

besides that of Judah, namely, those of Benjamin and Simeon and Levi.

Further, Josiah seems to have extended the bounds of the Davidic kingdom

to embrace the remnant of the ten tribes (II Chronicles 34:6, 9),

therefore his sons would claim the same boundaries, and therefore hostages

might be taken by Nebuchadnezzar from them to Babylon. And of the

kings seed and of the princes. The two “ands” might be rendered “both…

and,” or “alike ... and.” The king’s seed means, literally, “the seed of the

kingdom,” as it is translated by Theodotion. The phrase, “children of the

kingdom,” is applied by our Lord (Matthew 8:12) to all the Jews, and

in Ibid. ch. 13:38 to the members of the true Israel — perhaps with a

latent reference to the children of the true King thus in captivity to the

beggarly elements of this world, compelled to stand as servants in the court

of Mammon, of which Nebuchadnezzar may well be the type. The word

partemim is one which has caused difficulty; it only occurs here, and twice

in Esther (Esther 1:3; 6:9). In these passages it is rendered by the

Peshitta as here, Parthouia, “Parthians.” It would seem that the Septuagint

translator had before him, not partemin, but bahureem, connecting it with

yeladeem,” children” (youths), the opening word of the succeeding verses.

In Esther the word partemim is applied to a special class of nobles among

the Persians, and certainly was not applied to the princes of Judah.

Theodotion does not understand what it means, and so transliterates it

forqommi>n (nobles). Symmachus and the Peshitta make it “Parthians;” the

Targum on Esther makes the same blunder. The Sepotuagint Version of Esther

renders it e]ndoxoi – endoxoi – noble; glorious; renowned, as if it were

connected with raep] and μwOt.  It certainly has Zend (frathema) and Pehlevi

(pardun) congeners, so it may have come over from Aryan sources into the

Babylonian. Equally certainly it has disappeared from Aramaic Eastern and

Western. If partemim is to be held as part of the original text, it must belong

to a period before the Greek domination, as the meaning of the word had

disappeared by that time. It might, on the other hand, have been a word in

the Babylonian court, or, again, a copyist might have inserted it as a more known

word than that originally in the text. This latter, we think, is the probable solution.

If the division of the verses had in the Massoretic become deranged, then

bahureem would be unintelligible, standing, as it would, at the end of the

verse. In Egypt this derangement did not take place, and hence bahureem

was retained. Children in whom was no blemish. There is no limit to the

age implied in yeled, the word the plural of which is translated “children;”

thus to young counselors who had been brought up with Rehoboam are

called yeladeem. As they had been brought up with Rehoboam, they were

of the same age with him, yet he was forty-one years old when he ascended

the throne. Joseph is called yeled when he was at least seventeen, and

Ishmael when he was probably sixteen. Benjamin is called yeled when he

was nearly, if not quite, thirty years old; it is said of him immediately before

he went down to Egypt, and then he was the father of ten sons. It is used

also of new-born infants (Exodus 1:17). When we look at the various

qualifications they were to possess skilful in all wisdom, cunning in

knowledge, understanding sciencesixteen to eighteen seems the lowest

limit we can set. Aben Ezra comes to the conclusion that they were

fourteen when they came to Babylon; that, however, even when all

allowance is made for the precocity of warm climates, seems too low. On

the whole, we may say that Daniel, when he was taken to Babylon, was the

same age as Joseph when he went down into Egypt. The Septuagint

rendering (neani>skouv – neaniskous - youths) supports our view. We may

note that this  command to Ashpenaz was in all likelihood given at Jerusalem.

In whom was no blemish, but well-secured. If we may judge of the taste of the

Babylonians and Assyrians from the sculptures that have come down to us,

they had a high standard of personal appearance — especially fine in

appearance are the eunuchs that stand before the king. The word moom,

“blemish,” is used of the priesthood; presence of a “blemish” excluded

from the priesthood (Leviticus 21:17). It is used of Absalom (II Samuel 14:25);

it is equivalent in meaning to mw~mov – momos - blemish, which not impossibly

was derived from some early form of this word; tovay mareh,” goodly in

appearance,” almost identical with our colloquial “good-looking.” Skilful

in all wisdom. The word “wisdom” has, in general, a somewhat technical

meaning in Hebrew, “skill in interpreting riddles and framing proverbs.” It

became widened in meaning in certain cases, as we see in the description of

wisdom in the beginning of Proverbs and Job 28. Yet wider is the sphere

given to it in Ecclesiasticus and the Book of Wisdom. The word translated

“skilful,” maskileem, means, in the first instance, “attending to;” then, the

result of this attention, especially when followed by the preposition b], “in,”

The Septuagint has “skilled in all wisdom.” Theodotion renders,

“understanding (sunie>ntav – sunientas) in all wisdom.” Professor Bevan

would render maskil, “intelligent;” Hitzig adopts Luther’s einsichtig in allerlei

Wissenschaft, “intelligent in every kind of science,” adding, “that is, they

would be were they placed in suitable circumstances.” Cunning in

knowledge; literally, knowing knowledge. The distinction is here between

the faculty of intelligence and the actual acquirements. It might be rendered

“intelligent and well-educated” — a view that is supported by the

Septuagint rendering (grammatikou<v - grammatikous – endowed with

knowledge). Understanding science; “discriminating knowledge,” as it is

rendered in Theodotion. The Septuagint translator had another text before him;

instead of reading mebine madda’, he had before him mebinim yodeem, that is

to say, he divided the letters differently, so that he read it along with mebine, and

had a yod inserted after it, not as connected, but as separate. The word madda

is late, found in Chronicles and Ecclesiastes, and as Aramaic well known;

the change in the Septuagint must have been due to a different reading.

The fact that maddais late, and was not in the Septuagint text, throws a

suspicion on all the late words in Daniel, as all of them may be due to the

same modernizing tendency. The phrase, according to the Septuagint

reading, may be rendered, “having good powers of discrimination and

acquisition.” And such as had ability in them to stand in the kings palace.

The word used for “ability” (koh) usually means “physical strength,” as of

Samson (Judges 16:6), applied to animals as of the unicorn (wild ox)

(Job 39:11). Here, however, it refers rather to mental capacity. The

idea is that those should be chosen who showed signs of future ability, and

therefore afforded a probability that they would be of use in the royal

council-chamber. The translator of the Septuagint Version puts a point

after ijscu>ontav – ischuontas – ability to stand -, and unites the two

following clauses under it. And whom they might teach the learning and the

tongue of the Chaldeans. The Septuagint renders, “to teach them letters and the

Chaldean dialect.” There were three tongues used in Babylon. There was the

Aramaic of ordinary business and diplomacy, called in II Kings 18:26 “the

Syrian language,” and in this book (ch. 2:4) “Syriack.” This was commonly

understood, as is shown by the fact that tablets have been found inscribed

in Assyrian, but having a docquet behind in Aramaic, telling the contents.

Next there was the Assyrian, a Shemitic tongue, cognate with Hebrew,

though further removed from it than Aramaic is. This is the language of

historic and legal documents, much as Norman French was for long the

language of our Acts of Parliament, while the people spoke a tongue not far

removed from our modern English. The system of writing used was cumbrous

in the highest degree, the same sign standing for several different words, and

the same word represented by several different signs. As a spoken language —

if it ever were a spoken tongue — it was cumbrous also. It was eminently a

monumental tongue. Lastly, there was Accadian, the sacred tongue, a

language belonging to a different class from the Aramaic and Assyrian. In it

the great bulk of the magical formulae and ritual directions of Babylon and

Nineveh were written. In the huge library of Asshur-bani-pal, now in the

British Museum, a large portion is composed of translations of those

Accadian texts. A number of syllabaries have also been found, which

enable scholars to investigate this antique tongue. It seems not impossible

that Accadian was meant by the learning (rp,s,, sepher, “book”) and

tongue of the Chaldeans. Their learning involved some astronomy, a great

deal of astrology, and not a little magic, incantations, interpretations of

dreams and omens. We ourselves, though so far removed both

geographically and chronologically from them, feel the effects of their

ideas, and enjoy some of the results of their knowledge. We cannot tell

whether the Babylonians were the earliest to fix the course of the sun,

moon, and planets. At all events, they made observations on the basis of

these discoveries; and our week, with its Sunday and Monday, conveys to

us still the fact that the Babylonians believed the planets to be seven; the

planets strictly so called were associated with deities similar in attributes to

those associated with them by the Latin and Teutonic peoples, and the

same days were sacred to them in Babylonia and Germany. The Chaldeans,

μydic]k", Kasdeem, of the Bible, do not seem to have been originally

inhabitants of Babylon. They formed a cluster of clans to the south-west of

Babylon, who invaded Babylonia, and occasionally secured the supremacy

in the city. The Assyrians had frequent encounters with them, and carried

on against them many prolonged wars. The name in the Assyrian

monuments is most frequently Kaldu, from which the Greek Caldai~oi

Chaldaoi comes. It is doubtful whether there is a form Kassatu to explain the

Hebrew term. In the days of Nabo-polassar, the Chaldeans being supreme

in Babylonia, all the inhabitants of that province may have been called

Chaldeans. Latterly there was a restricted use of the term, due to the great

attention paid in Babylonia to astrology. It is doubtful whether this

restricted use of the word occurred in the genuine Daniel, from which our

canonical Daniel has sprung. Certainly Daniel, and those hostages selected

with him, were to be educated so as to become member’s of this sacred

college of augurs and astrologers.

 

5 “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s

meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three

years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” The

only thing to be noticed in the Septuagint Version of this verse is the fact that

hn;m; is taken to mean “give a portion” — a meaning which seems to be

implied in twOnm; (Nehemiah 8:10), hence the translation di>dosqai...

ejkqe>sin – didosthai…..ekthesin. Further, the translator must have had

tae me Mj" as in II Kings 25:29. The mysterious gb"AtP"(path-bag), translated

“meat,” has caused differences of rendering. The Syriac Peshitta transfers it.

Professor Bevan speaks as if it were common in Syriac, but Castell gives no

Reference beyond Daniel. (Brockeimann adds, Ephrem Syrus, Isaac Antiochenus,

Bar Hebraeus). It is to be observed that the Syriac form of the word has

teth, not tan, for the second radical. This is a change that would not likely

take place had the Hebrew form been the original, whereas from the fact

that path means in Hebrew “a portion,” if the Hebrew were derived from

the Syriac the change would be intelligible. It is confounded in ch.11:26

with ar;Wtp; (pathura), “a table.” It seems not improbable that both

the Septuagint and Theodotion read pathura. The word path-bag does not seem

to have been known in Palestine; it does not occur in Chaldee, but does in

Syriac. This is intelligible if the chapter before us is condensation from a

Syriac original rendered into Hebrew: the word path-bag, being

unintelligible, is transferred. The etymology of the word is alleged to be

Persian, but on this assumption it is a matter of dispute what that

etymology is. One derivation is from pad or fad, “father” or “prince,” or

pat or fat, idol,’ and bag (fagw~ – phago - food); another is from pati-bhagu,

“a portion.” The question is complicated by the fact that in Ezekiel 25:7

we have in the K’tbib gb" (bag), meaning “food.” In that case path-bag

would mean “a portion of food.” The reading of the K’thib is not

supported by the versions. In Daniel the word simply means “food,” such

as was supplied to the king’s table. We see in the slabs from the palace of

Kou-youn-jik the nature of a royal feast. Animal food predominated. We

cannot avoid referring to a singular argumentative axiom implied in all the

discussions on Daniel. Critics seem to think that when they prove that

certain words in Daniel are Persian, they thus prove Daniel was written

nearly a couple of centuries after the Persian domination had disappeared.

Of the wine which he drank. It is to be noted that there is a restriction. The

wine supplied was the wine which the king drank — wine of which an

oblation had been offered to idols. In thus bringing up hostages at his own

table, Nebuchadnezzar was following a practice which has continued down

to our own day. The son of Theodore of Magdala was brought up at the

court of our queen. It was the regular practice, as we know, in Imperial

Rome. Sennacherib speaks of Belibus, whom he made deputy-king in

Babylon, as brought up “as a little dog at his table” (Bellino Cylinder,

Sehrader, vol. 2. p. 32, Engl, trans.). So nourishing them three years. This

was the period during which the education of a Persian youth was

continued. It is probable, as we have seen, that these youths were about

sixteen or seventeen. At the end of three years they would still be very

young. The grammatical connection of the word legaddelam is somewhat

singular. The Septuagint reading probably had the first word in this verse in

the infinitive also. This is more grammatical, as it brings the whole under

the regimen of the opening clause of v. 3. The force of the word before

us is represented in “bringing up.” The verb in its simple form means “to be

strong,” “to be great,” hence in the intensive form before us, “to make

great,” “to bring up.” That at the end thereof they might stand before the

king. “Standing before the king” means usually becoming members of the

council of the monarch, but in the present instance this does not seem to be

the meaning. They were to be presented before the king, and in his

presence they were to be examined. They were, then, possibly to be

admitted into the college of astrologers and soothsayers, but only in lowly

grade. Irrespective of the fact that they would at the latest be twenty or

twenty-one when this season of education was over, and, even making

allowance for Eastern precocity, this is too young an age for being a

member of a royal privy council. But the next chapter relates an event

which appears to be the occasion when they stood before the king, for they

were not summoned with the wise men to the king’s presence to interpret

his dream.

 

6 “Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel,

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.”  The versions present no difficulty here,

only the Septuagint adds a clause to bring this verse into harmomy with v. 3:

the Septuagint rendering is, “And there were of the race of the sons of

Israel that came from Judaea, Daniel, Ananias, Mishael, and Azarias.” That

they were of “the children of Judah” seems to exclude the possibility of

these four belonging to any other tribe, all the more that the whole children

of Israel are spoken of in the third verse. The version which we find in the

Septuagint leaves the matter free. At the same time, the addition is one that

is so naturally suggested by the third verse, that we cannot claim that the

reading of the Septuagint is the more probable. The names of the four

companions all occur elsewhere, and, as is usual with Hebrew names, all

are significant.

 

Daniel means either “Judge of God” or “God my Judge.”

As Hebrew grammar is now, the latter is the meaning; but there was an

older form of the construct state, which appears in proper names like

“Gabriel,” which makes it probable that “Judge of God” or “Divine Judge”

is the meaning intended to be conveyed. This meaning is implied in the

story of Susanna and the eiders. David’s son by Abigail the Carmelitess is

called Daniel in I Chronicles 3:1.  In the case of the son of David, the

name would probably indicate the confidence in God which his father felt,

rather than any description of the son. In Ezra 8:2 a Daniel is

mentioned who seems to be a son of Ithamar. We say “seems to be,”

because it is evident that there is an omission somewhere of a name; if the

omission has taken place before mbne Phinhas, then Daniel becomes the

representative of the sons of David, and Hattush the representative of the

sons of Pabath. In Nehemiah 10:6 in the number of the priests who

sealed the covenant, is a “Daniel” named, who may be the same as the

preceding. In the Septuagint version of the apocryphal additions to Daniel, the

prophet is identified with the priest. The first verse in the story of Bel and

the Dragon is, “There was a certain man, a priest, whose name was Daniel,

the son of Abal, the familiar friend of the King of Babylon.” There is

nothing to make it certain, it we do not take the phrase here in its absolute

sense, that Daniel did not belong to the family of Aaron; if we take the

phrase in its restricted sense, then the balance of probability is that he was a

member of the Davidic family.

 

Hananiah (Hananyah; Greek, jAnani>av   Ananais: the Hebrew form,

as in the case of other names with the same termination, is sometimes

lengthened to Hananyahu). The name means “The Lord Jehovah is gracious.”

This name is one of the most common in the Bible. Sometimes it is reversed, and

becomes Jehohanan or Johanan, and hence “John.” The earliest is the head of the

sixteenth of the twenty-four courses into which David divided the Hemanites

(I Chronicles 25:4). In the reign of Uzziah there appears one as a chief captain

(II Chronicles 26:11).   In Jeremiah there are three; most prominent, however, is the

false prophet who declared that Jeconiah and all his fellow-captives would be

brought back in the space of two years (Jeremiah 28:15). One of the

ancestors of our Lord, called in Luke (Luke 3:27) Joanna, the son of

Rhesa, grandson of Zerubbabel, is called in I Chronicles 3:19

Hananiah, and reckoned a son of Zerubbabel. In the Book of Nehemiah

there are several persons spoken of as bearing this name, not impossibly as

many as six. In New Testament times it was still common: Ananias the

husband of Sapphira (Acts 5:1); the devout Jew of Damascus, sent to

Paul (Acts 9:10); the high priest in the time of Paul (Acts 23:2).

 

Unlike Hananiah, Mishael is one of the rarer names It occurs as the name of

one of the sons of Uzziel, the uncle of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:22;

Leviticus 10:4), and again as one who stood at Ezra’s left hand when

he read the Law (Nehemiah 8:4). There is some question as to the

meaning of the name. Two interpretations have been suggested; the

simplest and most direct is, “Who is what God is;” the other is, “Who is

like God.” The objection to the first is that the contracted relative is

employed, which does not elsewhere appear in this book. This, however, is

not insuperable, as the contracted form of the relative was in common use

in the northern kingdom, and might, therefore, appear in a name; the

objection to the second is that a letter is omitted, but such omissions

continually occur. Hitzig refers to μymy, from μwy, as a case in point.

 

Azariah, “Jehovah is Helper,” is, like Hananiah, a very common name

throughout Jewish history It is the name by which Uzziah is called in

II Kings 14:21: 15:1, 7-8, 17 (called Uzziah in vs. 13, 30, as also in

II Chronicles 27.) It is the name of four high priests:

 

·         one (I Chronicles 6:10) during the reign of Solomon, the grandson

of Zadok;

·         the high priest during the reign of Jehoshaphat (Ibid. v.11);

·         high priest during the reign of his namesake Azariah or Uzziah King of

Judah (II Chronicles 26:17-20);

·         high priest in the reign of Hezekiah (Ibid. ch.31:10-14).

 

There is also a prophet of this name (Ibid. ch.15:1) in the days of Asa

King of Judah. While this name is so common before the Captivity, it is not

so common after it, though there is a captain of the army of Judas

Maccabteus called “Azarias.” While all the names contain the name of

God, either in the covenant form “Jehovah” or the common form “el,” yet

there is nothing in the names to suggest the history before us. Jewish

tradition made them out to be of the royal family; of this there is no

certainty. In the time of Jerome it was held they were eunuchs, and thus the

prophecy in Isaiah (Isaiah 39:7) was fulfilled. Others have held that

Isaiah 56:3, “Let not the eunuch say, I am a dry tree,” had a reference

to those captives. So far, however, as we know, eunuchs might be

attendants of Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs might bear the state

umbrella over their heads, might give the cup to them, might arrange their

couch for them, or announce their approach to the harem, but were not

their councelors or warriors. That was left for the days of the Byzantine

Empire, when the eunuch Narses retained Italy for the empire.

 

7 “Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names; for he

gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of

Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.”

The only thing to be noted in regard to the versions is that, with the

exception of the Peshitta, all of them identify the name of Daniel with that

of the last King of Babylon. Both are called Baltasar or Baltassar in the

Vulgate, the Septuagint, and Theodotion. The difference made in the Peshitta is

not the same as that in the Hebrew; the prophet is called Beletshazzar, and

the king Belit-shazzar.  This would indicate something wrong. The Greek

versions render Abed-nego jAbdenagw> – Abdenago, which also the Vulgate has.

This  habit of changing the names of those who entered their service prevailed

among Eastern potentates. Joseph became Zaph-nath-paaneah

(Genesis 41:45). Not only did those about the court receive new

names, but, not infrequently, subject monarchs, as token of subjection,

were newly named, as Jehoiakim, who had formerly been Eliakim.

Professor Fuller mentions the case of the Egyptian monarch Psammetik II.,

whose name as subject of Asshur-bani-pal was Nabo-sezib-ani. Not only

so, but monarchs of their own will changed their names with changed

circumstances; thus Pul in Babylon is Tiglath-pileser in Nineveh. Still in

modern times this is continued in the head of Roman Catholic

Christendom, who has for the last twelve centuries always assumed another

than his original name on ascending the papal throne. With members of a

monarch’s court this is easily intelligible. The desire was to have names of

good omen; a foreign name might either be meaningless or suggest

anything but thoughts full of good omen. In considering these names, there

are certain preliminary facts we must bear in mind. In the first place, there

is a great probability that all the names had a Divine element in them, that

is, contained as an element the name of a Babylonian god. The great mass

of the names of Babylonian and Assyrian officials had this. Next, it is by

no means improbable that, at the hands of the Jewish scribes, the names

have sustained some considerable change, more especially as regards the

Divine element. The Jewish scribe had few scruples as to altering a name

when there was anything in it to hurt his sensibilities. It is horrible to him

that Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses the great lawgiver,

should be the originator of the false temple at Dan, and so he inserts a nun,

and changes Moshe, “Moses,” into “Manasseh.” The scribe that copied out

II Samuel, coming to the name of Jerubbaal, cannot endure to chronicle the

fact that a judge in Israel ever bore the name of the abomination of the

Zidonians as part of his name, and altered it to Jerubesheth. So we have in

the same book Ishbosheth for Ethbaal, and Mephibosheth for Meribbaal.

With a foreign potentate it is different; but in the case of a Jew there

always was a tendency to blink such an awkward fact as bearing a name

with heathen elements, by a slight change. The name given to Daniel is, in

the Massoretic text, Belteshazzar. From the fact that in the Septuagint,

Theodotion, and the Vulgate, we have the king Belshazzar and Daniel, as

Babylonian magician, called by the same name,” Baltasar,” and when in the

Peshitta, the difference is very slight, and not always maintained, we, for

our part, are strongly inclined to believe both names to have been the same.

Professor Bevan (‘The Book of Daniel,’ 40) is quite sure that the author

did not understand the meaning of the name given to Daniel. He (Professor

Bevan) derives the name from Balat-zu-utzur, “Protect thou his life.”

Professor Fuller, with as great plausibility, makes it Bilat-sarra-utzur,

“Beltis protects the crown.” If that be the true derivation, then

Nebuchadnezzar could quite correctly say that he was called after the name

of his god. Still more accurate would this statement be if the name were

Belshazzar. But an uneasy suspicion crosses our mind.  Does the author of Daniel

ever attribute to Nebuchadnezzar the words on which Professor Bevan grounds his

charge? The words are not in the Septuagint. Thus Professor Bevan — never

admitting the possibility of the name Belteshazzar having been modified from

something else, although the evidence of the versions points most distinctly to that,

and although he candidly admits it to have taken place in regard to Abed-nego —

assumes an etymology for it, as if it were the only possible one, which it is not;

and on the ground of this etymology, and on the assumption that certain words

were in the original text of Daniel, which are yet not in the Septuagint, he

concludes that the author of Daniel did not know the meaning of the name

he had given to his hero. Surely this is special pleading. If there has been

any tampering with the name or modification of it, then Professor Bevan’s

assumption falls to the ground, and his argument with it; but there seems

every probability that there has been such modification, and the effect of

such modification would be to deface the name of the heathen divinity in

the name if there were such. Further, if Professor Fuller’s etymology may

be maintained, again Professor Bevan’s assumption falls to the ground.

These two arguments do not conflict. A Jewish scribe, ignorant of ancient

Assyrian, might easily introduce a modification which, despite his intention,

did not remove all heathen divinity from the name, only changed the

divinity. If the original text of Daniel did not contain the phrase in the

fourth chapter, “according to the name of my god” (ch. 4:8); then again

Professor Bevan’s assumption is proved groundless, and his argument

without value.  The phrase in question is not in the Septuagint, and therefore

it is, to say the least, suspicious. It has no such intimate connection with the

context as to show it part of the text; it is just such a phrase as would be put

on the margin as a gloss, and get into the text by blunder of a copyist. It may

be observed that Professor Bevan merely follows Schrader, alike in his

derivation and deduction; but he, not Schrader, had before him continually

the Septuagint version of Daniel, and he, not Schrader, is commentator on

Daniel. And to Hananiah of Shadrach. This name is explained by Dr.

Delitzsch as being a modified transliteration of Shudur-aku, “the command

of Aku” (the moon-deity). With this Schrader agrees. There is always the

possibility of the name having undergone a change. On the other hand, as

the name of the deity, Aku, does not appear in Scripture, the Puritanic

scribe might be unaware of its presence here. And to Mishael of Meshach.

This name has caused great difficulty; it is consonantally identical with

Ëv,m,, “Hesheeh,” the name of one of the sons of Japhet. Dr. Delitzsch

would render it Me-sa-aku, “Who is as Aku.” Schrader’s objections to this

are, that in the first place the Babylonian form would be Mamm-ki-Aku.

And next, that there would not likely be a simple translation of the Hebrew

name into Assyrian, but rather the giving a new name altogether. This

second objection is valueless, for Pharaoh-Necho did not wholly change

the name of Eliakim when he set him on the throne; since Jehovah may be

regarded as the equivalent of El. The fact that “Meshach” is so like

“Mcshech” points to intentional modification, and, therefore, to the

presence in the name of the designation of a Babylonian god likely to be

known to the Jews, such as Merodach, whose name was known to the

Jews by its occurrence in the names Evil-Merodach and Merodach-

Baladan, and actually as a divinity in Jeremiah 50:2. Such is

Lenormant’s hypothesis (‘La Divination,’ p. 178). which would render it

Misa-Mero-dash, “Who is as Merodach” a suggestion certainly open to

Schrader’s first objection. And to Azariah of Abed-nego. It has long been

recognized that this name is a modification of Abed-Nebo. This

identification is rendered all the more probable, that in New Hebrew and

Aramaic Naga meant the planet “Venus,” that is, “Nebo” The consonants

are correct for this, but the vocalization is purposely wrong, in order to

avoid the heathen name. If the author of Daniel was an obscure Jew, living

in Palestine during the days of Epiphanes, when the influence of Babylon

had disappeared, and its language had ceased to be studied, is it not strange

that he should devise names which so accurately represent those that were

in Babylon? One has only to read the Book of Judith, in all likelihood the

product of the Epiphanes period (Konig, ‘Einlcitung,’ 480), to see the wild

work that Palestinian Jews of that time made of Babylonian names.

 

8  “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile

himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which

he drank, therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he

might not defile himself.” The Septuagint renders the first clause

somewhat paraphrastically, “Daniel desired in his heart,” led possibly to

this by the more limited meaning assigned to “heart” in the psychology of

ordinary Greek speech. Theodotion is, as usual, in close harmony with the

Massoretic text. The Peshitta, instead of “heart,” has r’ina, “mind.” As

before noticed, the Greek versions here render gbAtP by dei~pnon – deipnon –

feast; supper.  Jerome renders it mensa In the Syriac the word is present, as we

before  said. We have above indicated that it is possible that the original word

was not path-bag, but pathura. In regard to the Massoretic text as compared

with the Greek and Latin versions, it seems certain that path-bag, if

belonging to the text, was only understood in the East — a phenomenon

that would be intelligible if this chapter be a condensation and translation

of an original Aramaic text, especially if the Aramaic were Eastern, not

Western. An ancient feast had always the nature of a sacrifice. It was the

case with the Jews: thus in Deuteronomy 12:11-12, directions are

given for sacrificing in the place which the Lord should choose, and they

and all their household rejoicing. But if the place chosen were too far, then

permission was given them to eat flesh, only they were to be careful not to

eat with the blood. It was the characteristic of the classic nations all

through their whole history, that the feast should be consecrated by the

offering of something of it to the Deity. The immense probability was that

this was the case also among the Babylonians. It may be that this

consecration of the feast arose from the same justifiable religious feeling

which leads us to ask a blessing on our meals. The habit of the African

Church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at every supper, was probably

connected with this offering to God of what the guests were about to

partake. This fact, that every feast had the character of a sacrifice, might

easily make these Hebrew youths refuse the royal dainties. So far as animal

food was concerned, the careful directions as to not eating with blood

made partaking of the feasts of the Babylonian monarch peculiarly liable to

bring on them defilement. The fact that Evil-Merodach provided Jeconiah

with a portion from his table, and that Jeconiah did not refuse it, does not

necessarily militate against the early date of Daniel. Jeconiah probably was

not as conscientious as those youths, and, on the other hand, Daniel’s

influence by this time may have arranged some consideration for Jewish

scruples. It is certain that in II Maccabees 5:27 Judas and his brethren are

represented as living in the mountains on herbs, after the manner of beasts,

that they might not be defiled; but as there is nothing parallel to this in

I Maccabees, we may dismiss the statement as probably untrue. So the

whole idea of this action on the part of Judas and his nine companions may

have arisen from the case recorded before us. It has all the look of a

rhetorical addition to the narrative, and the differences of the circumstances

were not such as would strike a rhetorical scribe; but as this abstinence

appeared to add to the sanctity of these four Hebrew youths, would it not

add to the sanctity of Judas also? ‘In the Assyrian feasts the guests do not

seem to have sat at one long table or several long tables, as is usual with

us. The guests were divided into sets of four, and had provisions served to

them, and it is to be observed that the youths before us would have exactly

occupied one of those tables. The word used for “defile” (gaal) occurs in

Isaiah, Lamentations, Zephaniah, Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is an

Exilic and post-Exilic word mainly; the old priestly word lama had not

disappeared — it is used in Haggai. It is to be observed that there is

nothing about defilement in the Peshitta; it is not impossible that the word

is a later addition, only its presence both in Theodotion and the Septuagint

renders the omission improbable. There is nothing in the passage here

which makes it necessary for us to maintain that the principle of action

followed by those youths was one which was generally acknowledged to

be incumbent on all Jews. It may simply have been that, feeling the critical

condition in which they were placed, it was well for them to erect a hedge

about the Law. There may even have been an excess of scrupulosity which

is in perfect dramatic suitability to the age of the youths. Such abstinence

may well have occasioned the regular abstinence of the Essenes, but this

state-merit concerning Daniel and his friends can scarcely have originated

from the Essene dietary. It has been noted, as a proof of Daniel’s courtesy

and docility, that he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might

not defile himself. But to have refused the food provided by the king might

have been construed as an insult to the king, and anything of that sort had

swift and severe punishment meted out to it. Daniel’s request was simply

due to the necessities of the situation.

 

 

 

A Noble Purpose the Root of True Renown (v. 8)

 

All real dignity has its beginning, not in ancestral fortune, but in righteous

purpose. The heart is the seed-plot of all noble deeds. “Keep thy heart with

all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

 

·         THE COMMONEST MEAL FURNISHES AN OCCASION ON

WHICH TO DEFILE OR DIGNIFY THE MAN. Then character is

discovered. Then we see, as in a mirror, whether the higher nature or the

lower is dominant. Some men live only to eat; some eat only that they may

live. Daniel desired to shun this sudden extreme of good fortune. “It is

better to go to the house of mourning than into the house of feasting”

(Ecclesiastes 7:2).  Moreover, this participation in royal dainties would

be a connivance with idolatry. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink…

do all to the glory of God.”  (I Corinthians 10:31)

 

  • SELF-PURIFICATION IS THE SETTLED PURPOSE OF A

RENEWED HEART. What grimy dirt is to the fair countenance, what

rust is on virgin gold, what soot is on crystal snow, such is sin on the

human soul. Wickedness is defilement, disease, curse, rottenness. If

self-preservation be a primary instinct of man as a member of the animal

race, the maintenance of purity was ORIGINALLY AN INSTINCT

OF THE SOUL!  If we cannot wash out old stains, we can, by Divine

help, avoid further contamination. To be pure is to be manly — God-like.

 

  • HUMAN OPPOSITION MAY USUALLY BE DISARMED BY

KINDLY SOLICITATION. Love wields a magic sceptre, and kindness is

practical love. If the highest end we seek cannot be gained at a single

stride, we may gain a step at a time. The Christian pilgrim does not walk in

five-leagued boots. Daniel “requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he

might not defile himself.” A request so reasonable, so innocent, commended

itself to the judgment of the man.

 

9 “Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love

with the prince of the eunuchs.” The word here translated “tender love”

really means “bowels,” and then “mercy” or “compassion.” Hence the

Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:1) combines the two meanings, “If there be

any bowels and mercies.” The Revised Version is here to be preferred,

“favor and compassion,’ as the Authorized exaggerates the affection the

prince of the eunuchs had for Daniel.  The versions in this verse do not

afford any marked variations. The Septuagint has Ku>riov, “Lord,” usually

employed to translate hwhy, Jehovah, instead of Qeo>v - God,  (μyhla).

It is not impossible that the original reading may have been hwhy, though it is

to be admitted not likely. Rahameem is translated ca>rin – charin - favor, in

the  Septuagint, which is a weak rendering; Theodotion renders oijktirmo>n

oiktirmon – mercy; pity - which may be regarded as practically equivalent to

our Revised Version.  While the third verse speaks of the “chief” (br") of the

eunuchs, a Babylonian and Assyrian title, the more usual Hebrew rc" replaces

it in this verse and in that which precedes it. From this root the Assyrian and

Babylonian word for “king,” sat or sarru, was derived, while tab fell on

evil days. Among the later Jews it became equivalent to our doctors of

divinity. Before the word for “God” (Elohim) there is the article. So far as

the form stands, it might be plural, and therefore be capable of being

translated “the gods,” but the verb being singular renders that translation

impossible. The affection with which the chief of the eunuchs regarded

Daniel is notified to us as the result of God’s goodness, who had thus

given him favor in the eyes of him set over him. The Hebrew never failed

to recognize, in his more devout moments, that the hearts of all men are in the

hands of God; that by Him kings reign and princes decree wisdom.

(Proverbs 8:15)

 

10 “And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my

lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why

should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of

your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. In the

Hebrew of this verse there are traces that it has been translated from an

Aramaic original. We shall consider the differences of the versions from the

Massoretic below. The word (sar) for “prince” is continued from the

preceding verse, I fear. In the Massoretic text, the word is not a verb, but

an adjective. If the phrase were rendered “I am afraid,” this would

represent the construction, it is one that is specially frequent with this

adjective; it resembles the construction so common in Aramaic of participle

with pronoun where an ordinary preterite or imperfect would be used in

Hebrew. Your meat and your drink. In this phrase the enigmatic word

path-bag has disappeared; lk"a}m (maachal), the ordinary word for

“food,” has replaced it. For why should he see your face. The construction

here is decidedly Aramaic, and resembles a word-for-word rendering from

an Aramaic original. The Targumic phrase here is am;l]ydi (deelma)

(Onkelos, Genesis 3:3). The Peshitta rendering here is dalton. The

construction occurs in Song of Solomon 1:7, shallama, only with the

northern shortened relative. In worse liking. The word zoapheem means

“sad,” “troubled” (Genesis 40:6); the verb from which it comes means

“to be angry” (II Chronicles 26:19). It is to be noted that the Septuagint

here has two renderings, probably a case of “doublet.” The first

diatetramme>na – diatetrammena - may refer to the mental confusion or

sadness that they might be in if on account of their poor nourishment they

were unable to answer the king’s questions; the second, ajsqenh~ – asthenae

weak; sick -  may refer to the body: skuqrwpa< – skuthropa – gloomy;

mournful; of a sad countenance -  is Theodotion’s rendering, which may be

rendered “scowling” (it is used along with lupou>menon – lupoumenon –

sad; sorrowfule - , Plato, ‘Syrup.’). The Peshitta has mkaran, “ashamed;” that

they would feel shame were they much inferior in looks or acquirements to their

neighbors would be natural. The intimate connection between food and good

looks and good  mental qualities is well known as one much held, especially in

ancient days.  Than the children of your sort. Keqilkem; this word, lgi or lyiG", is

maintained by Professor Bevan to be unused in early Hebrew in the sense

of “generation” or “age” Furst would regard the name Abigail as exhibiting

the word as existing in early times. The only difficulty in this is that the

name may have another derivation. The real meaning of the word in this

connection is “a circle;” hence then a revolution of the heavens. It is

explained by Buxtorf as meaning “constellation, planet;” wlyn; ˆB,, “son of

his star” — born under the same constellation, contemporary. The Syriac

paraphrases the word, and renders “of your year.” Theodotion renders

sunh>lika – sunaelika - of like age. When we turn to the Septuagint, we find

evidence either that the word was not there at all, or that it was

misunderstood; the Septuagint rendering is “than the ajllogenw~n – allogenon –

stranger - youths (suntrefome>nouv  – suntrephomenous – brought up with)

you.” This is an  evident case of doublet. The first that stands in the Greek is

suntrefome>nouv: this represents a various reading, μK,T]ai Wld]G;(gadlu

itkem), by no means an impossible reading. The other, ajllogenw~n,

represents μydyg (geereem): this is still more like the Massoretic reading

μklyg (geelkem). The Massoretic is possibly the reading from which the

other two have sprung; if so, it is clear that the word lyg has not in this

sense been known to either of the two Egyptian translators. It is not

Targumic, for Levy has it not in his Lexicon. Professor Bevan says it is

Aramaic and Arabic. This, then, is a case where the Aramaic original shines

through; the chief of the eunuchs would naturally speak in Aramaic. Then

shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Here again is a word

which Professor Bevan declares is late, the word here translated “make me

endanger μj,b]Y"jiy] (yehigyabetem).” There is no difficulty as to the reading

in the versions, save that the Septuagint reads the first person singular

instead of the second person plural, in other words, vehiyyabti, “and I shall

endanger,” and “my neck,” reading, instead of “my head,” possibly yriaW;x"

(tzavvari) or yTiq]r"p]m" (maphraqti), the latter reading due to the mere, the

sign of the second person plural being transferred to the following word. It

may certainly have been a paraphrase, but the phrase as it stands in the

Massoretic seems awkward. Professor Bevan brings forward this word as

Aramaic, and a proof of the lateness of Daniel. If we are correct, it is a

case where the Aramaic of the original shines through. The word

indubitably occurs in Ezekiel 18:7. As counsel for the prosecution,

Professor Bevan must get rid of this awkward fact. Cornill, one of his

colleagues in the case against Daniel, suggests that another word should be

read in Ezekiel, and Professor Bevan agrees, but differs as to the word.

There is no indication in any of the versions that there is any uncertainty as

to the reading in Ezekiel. It is a most convenient method of getting rid of

an awkward fact; little extension of it might make any word one pleased a

hapax legomenon (of one time use). The critics might have tried the method more

reasonably on Daniel than on Ezekiel; but as their brief was against Daniel,

that did not occur to them. The picture presented to us in this verse is one

that in the circumstances is full of naturalness. We have, on the one hand,

the eager entreaty of the Hebrew youth; the kindly look of the prince,

willing to grant anything he possibly can to his favorite, yet hindered by

fear for himself, and at the same time a desire that Daniel, his favorite,

should stand well with the king. The chief of the eunuchs knew that

personal good looks were an important matter with Nebuchadnezzar. If

they were badly nourished, these Hebrew youths would be handicapped in

their examination before the king. But more, shame at their own

appearance would disturb them mentally, even if they were able to study as

well on this plain food they desired. If the failure were egregious, then

investigation might be demanded, and then the fact that he had

transgressed the orders of the king would be a serious offence — the king

knew no mercy when enraged. It is to be observed that the chief of the

eunuchs first appeals to the self-interest of the youths before him, that they

would endanger their own prospects; but as that does not move them, he

next tells them that his own life would be endangered. In this case we must

remember we have merely a summary, and a very condensed summary, of

what was probably a prolonged argument. We have only the heads, and

probably the succession of the arguments. It may, perhaps, be regarded as

a proof of the authenticity of this speech that two Aramaic words are

preserved in it. The Rabsaris most certainly would speak in Aramaic, and

technical words such as geel and heyyabtem might be retained even in a

translation, if there were no word which was quite an exact equivalent.

Thus in translations from French or German into English, how frequently

are words transferred from the original tongue[ “One-sided” is a case in

point.

 

11 “Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the

eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” The

reading of the Septuagint differs from the Massoretic in two particulars —

instead of “Melzar,” the name given is “Abiesdri,” as in the third verse; and

the verb minnah (hN;mi) is read hN;mu (munnoh), “set over.” The Peshitta

reads instead of “Melzar,’ in this verse, “Mashitzar” (but see v. 16). This

confirms the idea that this is a proper name, not an official title. If the

assumption of the Septuagint is correct, then the name in the Massoretic

text ought to be Hammelzar. This might indicate the name to be Amil-

Assur, corresponding to Amil-Merodach. Theodotion renders the name

jAme>lsad - Amelsad.  While a good deal can be said for making “Melzar”

or “Hammelzar”  a proper name, something may also be said for the idea

which has gained ground that “Melzar,” since it has the article before it, is

the name of an official. Lenormant (‘La Divination,’ p. 196) makes the name

Amil- Ussur. Such, at any rate, is the name of an official in the court of a

Ninevite king; it is supposed to mean “steward,” but it may be doubted if

this is the exact equivalent of such an official as the one here referred to.

Hitzig suggests paidagwgo>v – paidagogos – instructor; schoolmaster;

and for this rendering there is much to be  said. It is an indirect proof of the

antiquity of the book, that an official is referred to by a title the exact force

of which had been forgotten when the Septuagint translation was produced,

not later certainly than the first century B.C. Theodotion and Jerome are as

far at sea as is also the Peshitta.  The critical hypothesis is that this Assyrian

name for “steward” remained known among the Palestinian Jews from the

fall of the Babyloniau Empire in B.C. 532 to B.C. 168, and then in less than a

couple of centuries utterly disappeared. The reading of the Septuagint, “Abiesdri,”

may be laid aside; it is a reading that would suggest itself to any one who

appreciated the difficulty of the passage. In the previous verse we were made

auditors to a conversation between Daniel and Ashpenaz, in which he does

not consent to Daniel’s request. In the verse before us Daniel addresses

another request to a new but subordinate official. As the request is one that

might naturally follow the refusal, mild but to all appearance firm, of the

prince of the eunuchs, what could be more natural than to imagine that

Amelzar was a misreading for Abiesdri? The story has been condensed. Had

we the full narrative, we most likely would have seen that Daniel had to go

over the argument with the subordinate that he had already had with the

superior. It is not unlikely that the prince of the eunuchs was not expressly

informed of the experiment being tried, of which the verse which follows

informs us. This would help to save him from the responsibility of the thing;

it is not inconceivable that he intentionally kept himself uninformed. Not only

has Daniel secured a personal influence over the prince of the eunuchs, but also

over this Melzar, or steward. There are people in the world who have this

magnetic power over their fellows which compels their liking. When with this are

united abilities of a man to do exploits and leave his mark on the world, we have a

national hero. Napoleon the Great was eminently a man of this kind.

 

12 “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them

give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.” The Septuagint seems to have

read yutan, “let there be given,” instead of yitnu, “let them give.” Zeroim,

 (sperma>twn – spermaton  - seeds - Theodotion), (ojspri>wn – osprion –

pulse  - Septuagint and Authorized and Revised Versions). This word occurs

only here; it differs, however, only by the second vowel from zeruim in

Isaiah 61:11, and there it is rendered as by Theodotion here, spe>rmata

spermata – seeds; roots.  As the vowels were  not written for centuries after

the latest critical date of Daniel, it is in the highest degree absurd to ground any

argument on the pronunciation affixed to the word by these late scribes, probably

with as great caprice as made them maintain to all time “suspended letters” here

and there in the text, or sometimes begin a word with a final mere. Professor

Bevan regards this word a s possibly a scribe’s mistake for zeronim, a word with

the same meaning, which occurs in v. 16, and is found in the Talmud. He might

more naturally regard zerohim as a scribe’s mistake for zeroim. As,

however, the word is Aramaic, occurring both in the Eastern and Western

dialects, it may be a case where the original word shines through. Prove thy

servants ten days. The word used for “prove’ is that frequently used of

God in relation to men, as in Genesis 22:1, “God did prove Abraham.”

Calvin thinks that Daniel made this request because he had been directed

by the Divine Spirit. We would not for one moment deny that all wisdom

comes down from above, and that it is the Spirit of the Almighty that

giveth understanding, yet the suggestion was a reasonable one, the period

was long enough to have given signs that it affected them injuriously, and

yet not so long but the evil effects might easily be removed. Ten days. It

may be that this is merely a round number — an easily marked period —

but an experiment would have a definite period. It is approximately the

third of a revolution of the moon, and as the Babylonians were attentive

observers of the movements of the heavenly bodies, especially of the moon,

“ten days” is likely enough to be a period with them, as certainly a week

was. Moreover, among all the nations of antiquity numbers were credited

with special powers, as all who have studied Greek philosophy know.

Pythagoras rested the whole universe on number. This theory, in which to

some extent he was followed by Plato, seems to have been derived from

Assyrian, if not Babylonian sources. Thus Lenormant, in ‘La Magic,’ gives

a dialogue between Hea and his son Hilgq-mulu-qi. Everything depends on

knowing “the number.  It may be noted, as bearing on this, that in the

bas-reliefs portraying a feast from the palace of Asshurbanipal, the guests

are seated in messes of four round small tables. If, then, as is probable, all

these young cadets at the Babylonian court sat in the royal presence, they

would have a table to themselves, and thus the peculiarity of their meal

would not be patent to the whole company. Had the number of friends

been more, they would have been conspicuous: had they been fewer, they

would have been observed by those added to make up the number. Their

request to be allotted to eat only pulse and to drink only water, had not, as

we have already said, anything necessarily of the asceticism of the Essenes.

They, the Essenes, rather started from Daniel and his friends. Maimonides

tells us that there were three kinds of zeronim — tbuah, “crops,” wheat,

barley, millet, etc.; gatonith, “small crops,” peas, beans, lentils; geenah,

“garden seeds,” such as mint, anise, and cummin. The English versions and

the Septuagint agree in regarding the second of these classes as here

intended. There is this to be said, that seeds are the most nourishing form

of vegetable diet. Aben Ezra suggests “rice” as the seeds used for this

purpose; but as, just as in all hot climates, vegetables and fruits of all sorts

were largely consumed in Babylon, definition is unnecessary. To the

present day among the inhabitants of the district around ancient Babylon,

indeed, over the Levant generally, dates and raisins, with grain, and in the

season fresh fruit, form the staple food. Daniel really prayed to live as the

common people.

 

13 “Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee,

and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the

king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.” The Septuagint

Version here differs considerably from the Massoretic text; it is as follows:

“And should our countenance appear more downcast than

(diatetramme>nh para<  -  diatetrammenae para) those other youths who

eat of the royal feast, according as thou seest good (qe>lh|v – thelaes – which

are otherwise), so deal with thy servants.” In the  text before the Septuagint

translator Úynip;l] (lphaneka), “before thee,” is omitted, and instead of haer]m"

(mareh),” appearance,” is read μypi["Oz] (zoaphim), and after is inserted ˆmi(min),

“from,” the sign of the comparative, equivalent to “than.” Theodotion, Jerome, and

the Peshitta represent accurately the Massoretic text. Against the Septuagint reading

is the fact that in the Massoretic, marayeeaen is construed a singular, but in

Ezekiel 10:10 it is plural. The vocalization of tirayh, “thou shalt see,” is

Aramaean, and therefore confirms the idea that this chapter is a

translation in which the original shines through. The reading of the

Septuagint implies that a different meaning must be put on the last clause

from that in the English Version. It means that, should the experiment

prove a failure, they were willing to suffer any punishment that the official

in question saw good. Such an interference with the arrangements of.the

king would be a crime to be punished with stripes. Although a perfectly

consistent sense can be brought from the text behind the Septuagint, yet,

from the fact that the phrase, μydil;y]j"Aˆmi μypi["z]O (zoapheem minhayladeem),

occurs in the tenth verse, and therefore may be repeated here

by accident, we would not definitely prefer it. Further, the Massoretic text

follows more naturally from the context. Let the steward see the result of

the experiment after ten days, and, as he sees, so let him judge and act.

Daniel and his companions leave the matter thus really in the hands of

Providence.

 

14 “So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them

ten days.”  The literal rendering is, And he hearkened unto them as to this

matter, proved them ten days. The Septuagint reading is again peculiar,

“And he dealt with them after this manner, and proved them ten days.”

[mçy is not very unlike hç[y, nor dbdl very unlike rbdk, and this is

all the change implied. The Massoretic reading seems the more natural, but

it might be argued that this very naturalness is the result of an effort to

make the Hebrew more flowing. But further, from the fact that hce[}.

(‘asayh), imperative of the same verb, precedes almost immediately, the

word might come in by accident, or another word somewhat like it might

be misread into it. The consent of the subordinate official implies, if not the

consent, at least the connivance, of the superior. As we have already

explained from the arrangements of a Babylonian feast, the plan of the

Hebrew youths could the more easily be carried out.

 

15 “At the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer

and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of

the king’s meat.”  The Septuagint is a little paraphrastic, and renders,

“After ten days their countenance appeared beautiful and their habit of

body better than that of the other young men who ate of the king’s meat.”

Theodotion is painfully faithful to the Massoretic text. The Peshitta

translates bwf (tob), “good,” “fair,” by sha-peera, “beautiful.” We have

here the result of the experiment. At the end of the ten days these youths

who had lived plainly are fairer and fatter than those who partook of the

royal dainties — a result that implies nothing miraculous; it was simply the

natural result of living on food suited to the climate. The grammar of the

passage is peculiar; mareehem, which so far as form goes might be plural,

is construed with a singular verb and adjective, but bereeem, “fatter,” is

plural. The explanation is that while “countenance,” the substantive, is in

the singular, it is not the substantive to the adjective “fat,” but “they”

understood. The sentence is not intended to assert that their faces merely

were fatter than those of the other youths of their rank and circumstances,

but that their whole body was so. This contrast of reference is brought out

in the Septuagint paraphrase. Any one looking on the Assyrian and

Babylonian sculptures, and comparing them with the sculptures and

paintings of Egypt, will observe the relatively greater stoutness of the

Assyrians. In the eunuchs especially, one cannot fail to notice the full

round faces and the double chins of those in immediate attendance on the

king. Among savage nations and semi-civilized ones, corpulence is

regarded as a sign of nobility. The frequent long fasts, due to failure of

their scanty crops or the difficulty of catching game, would keep the

ordinary savage spare; only one who could employ the sinews and

possessions of others would be sure of being always well fed, consequently

the portly man was incontestably the wealthy nobleman. In semi-civilized

countries, as Babylon, this was probably a survival. On the

sculptures the kings are not unwieldy with corpulence, but the eunuchs

have an evident tendency to this. A king, abstemious himself, might feel his

consequence increased by having as his attendants those who bore about in

their persons the evidence of how well those were nourished who fed at his

table. There is no reason to imagine that Nebuchadnezzar was superior to

his contemporaries in regard to this. The melzar, having thus seen the

result of the experiment, must see that, so far as externals were concerned,

the Hebrews who fed on pulse were better than their companions. The

period of ten days was a short one, but not too short for effects such as

those mentioned to be manifested.

 

16 “Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine

that they should drink; and gave them pulse.”  The Massoretic has the article

here before “Melzar” — a fact that the Authorized Version does not indicate; the

Revised Version renders more correctly, “the steward.” The version of the

Septuagint does not differ much from the Massoretic, only the word

translated “that they should drink” is omitted; on the other hand, we have

the verb di>dwmi - didomi – give (ejdi>dou – edidou) put in composition with

ajnti> – anti (ajntedi>dou), - antedidou - gave them instead -  as if, in the text

before the translator, the mem, which begins mishtayhem, had been put to the

end of yayin, “wine,” making it “their wine” — a construction which would be

more symmetrical than the present. Only it is difficult to see how either tahath

asher could be changed into shtayhem, or vice versa. The Septuagint translation

suggests a simpler and more natural text — not a simplified one — therefore it

is, on the whole, to be preferred. The careful word-for-word translation of the

beginning of the verse renders it little likely that the translator would

paraphrase at the end; c g. the word translated in our version “thus” is

really veeayhe, “it was,” and in the Septuagint this is rendered h+n – aen –

it was.    Theodotion is in absolute agreement with the Massoretic text. The

Peshitta calls the steward ma-nitzor, and renders the last clause, “and he gave to

them seeds to eat, and water to drink,” evidently borrowed from the

twelfth verse. The result of the success of the experiment is that the youths

are no more importuned to partake of the king’s dainties. The steward, or

the attendant who looked after their mess, supplied them with pulse. It has

occurred to two commentators, widely separated from each other in point

of time, that the consent of the “Melzar ‘ was all the more easily gained,

that he could utilize the abstemiousness of these Hebrew youths to his own

private advantage. Both Jephet-ibn-Ali in the beginning of the eleventh

century, and Ewald in the middle of the nineteenth, maintain that the

“Melzar’ used to his own purposes, possibly sold, the portion of food and

wine that the Hebrew youths abjured. Certainly the verb nasa means the

lifting and carrying away, and suggests that every day the portions of food

and wine were first carried to the table of these Hebrews, and then, after

having been placed before them, were removed and pulse brought instead.

When we think of it, some such process would have to take place. If it had

been observed that one table was never supplied with a portion from the

king’s table, there might have been remarks made, and the “Melzar” would

have fallen into disgrace with his sovereign, and the Hebrew youths would

possibly have shared his disgrace. As to how the portions thus retained

were disposed of, we need not be curious; there would, no doubt, be plenty

of claimants for the broken victuals from the King of Babylon’s table,

without accusing the “Melzar” of dishonest motives. The fact that the

verbs are in participle implies that henceforth it was the regular habit of the

Melzar” to remove from before the four friends the royal dainties, and

supply them instead with pulse. We have already referred to the word used

for “pulse; ‘ it is here zayroneem, whereas in the twelfth verse it is

zayroeem. Not impossibly in the verse before us we have another case of

the original Aramaic shining through the translation; in the Peshitta the

word is zeroona, <ARAMAIC> Whatever the word was, it seems certain

that originally it was the same in both places, as in none of the versions is

there any variation. It is not so impossible that originally the vocalization

was different, and that the word was the ordinary word zeraim, “seeds.

This certainly is the translation of Theodotion.

 

17 “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and

skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all

visions and dreams.”   Or, as the words might be more accurately rendered,

“these lads, the four of them” (Ezekiel 1:8-10). This indicates that

somehow they were separated off into a quaternion. In Ezekiel, where a

similar phrase occurs, the four cherubim form a quaternion in a very special

way. As we have already seen, the Assyrians in a feast arranged the guests

in messes of four. Those thus seated together would most likely be

associated in some other way. In the case of these youths, who were

permanent guests at the table of the King of Babylon, they would most

likely be associated in their studies from the first. The Septuagint Version

omits the numeral, but is pleonastic in a way that suggests a coalescing of

different readings. The rendering is, “And to the youths the Lord gave

understanding and knowledge and wisdom in the art of learning (the

grammatic art — grammar), and to Daniel he gave understanding of every

kind (in every word), and in visions, and in dreams, and in every kind of

wisdom.” The omission of the word “four,” and the insertion of two

words, “understanding” and “knowledge,” suggest that the one has

somehow taken the place of the other; it may be that the word hm;r][; was

read instead of t[bra. The Massoretic original of the phrase, “skill in all

learning,” may be rendered literally, “skill in every kind of books.” This has

a special meaning in regard to the Babylonian and Assyrian books, which

were clay tablets incised when wet, and burnt into permanence. Rolls of

parchment were, as we see from Jeremiah, the common material for books

among the Jews. Among the Egyptians, papyrus largely took the place of

parchment, so the knowledge “of every kind of books” meant “every

language.” It is certain that three languages were to a certain extent in use

in Babylon — Aramaic, the ordinary language of business and diplomacy;

Assyrian, the court language, the language in which histories and

dedications were written; Accadian, the old sacred tongue, in which all the

formulae of worship and the forms of incantation had been originally

written. From the fact that Rabshakeh could talk Hebrew when conversing

with Eliakim and Shebna, it would seem that the accomplishment required

from a diplomat implied the knowledge of the languages of the various

nations subject to the Babylonian Empire or conterminous with it.

“Knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom” would seem to mean the

complete curriculum fitted to make these youths able diplomatists and wise

councilors. And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. All

the nations of antiquity laid stress on dreams as means by which the future

was revealed to men; but in no nation was there so elaborate a system of

interpretation as among the Babyhmians. Lenormant (‘La Divination’)

gives a long account, with many passages translated from their books, of

their mode of interpreting dreams. “Visions” may be regarded as

appearances of the nature of the alleged second sight among the Scottish

Highlanders. It may, however, refer to appearances which are regarded as

omens of good or evil fortune. We see in all the elaborate distinctions of

omens preserved to us in Lenormant only the folly of superstition; but we

may not assume that Daniel and his friends did not believe in them. It has

been objected that if Daniel and his friends were so scrupulous in regard to

the dainties and the wines of the Babylonian monarch, because these were

connected with idol-worship, they ought logically to have refused to learn

these superstitious formulae. But men are never completely logical; life is

wider than logic, and hence there are always elements that are left out in

our calculations. The possession even of Divine inspiration would not

suffer men to annul the two millennia and a half that separate us from the

days of Daniel. They — Daniel and his friends — did not see in this so-called

science of oneiromancy mere superstition. Still less did they

recognize it as having a necessary connection with the idolatries of

Babylon. In the following chapter we see the theory Daniel himself had of

the matter, namely, that God used dreams as means to make known the

future to men. No one can say he was mistaken in this. When Luther

described heaven to his child, he filled it with what would be most happy

for the little boy; he takes the child at the stage at which he is, and tells him

the truth, but in limitations suited to his knowledge. May we not

reasonably argue that the great Father deals so with His children? When

they are in the state of knowledge that makes them expect to have his will

revealed to them in dreams and omens, then he will make known his will by

dreams. Daniel knew all that Chaldean science could tell him, but he saw

that it was limited, that behind all the canons of interpretation there was the

Eternal Mind, the Great Thinker, whose thoughts are things. In other

words, he did not recognize the so-called science of Babylon, its astrology,

its incantations, its omens, its interpretations of dreams as false so much as

limited. It has been placed by Jerome as a parallel, that Moses was learned

in all the learning of the Egyptians. Jerome assumes “they learned not that

they might follow, but that they might judge and convict (convincant).

We do not see the need of any such supposition. In their own land they in

all likelihood believed in the interpretation of dreams, not unlikely in omens

too in some degree. When they came to Babylon they came among a

people who had reduced all this to a form that had a delusive appearance

of scientific accuracy. They could not fail to believe in all these things.

Long after the latest critical date of Daniel, the Jews believed in omens and

dreams. Josephus tells us of his own skill in these matters, and is still more

explicit in respect to the wisdom of the Essenes in regard to the future.

Students of the Talmud will not require to be told of the bath-qol and

other means by which a knowledge of the future was derived. We must, we

fear, assume that Daniel was not so far ahead of his contemporaries as not

to believe in the science of Babylon, and therefore to expect him to protest

against it and refuge to acquire it is absurd in the last degree. This fact of

these four Hebrew youths not objecting to heathen learning is an indirect

proof of the early date of Daniel.  If this book had been written in the days

of the Maccabees, then the learning of the Chaldeans would be a synonym

for the learning of the Greeks. We know that, so far from the Hasideem —

the party from whom, by hypothesis, “Daniel” emanated — looking

favorably on Greek learning, they hated and abhorred it. We see in the

Second Book of Maccabees (4:14) the feelings with which they regarded

those who favored Greek manners; how even the innocent game of discus

was full of horror for them, because it was Greek (1:14); and in the first

book with what horror the pious looked on the erection of a gymnasium in

Jerusalem. This hatred of everything Greek was very natural, and certainly

was very much in evidence in their history. For business purposes they had

to know the Greek language; but the learning, the philosophy, and

literature of Greece would have been to those engaged in the Maccabean

struggle abomination. Is it, then, to be imagined that a writer of the

Maccabean period, describing an ancient hero from whose example his

contemporaries were to draw encouragement and guidance, would

represent him as zealously addicting himself to the pursuit of Gentile

learning, and making such progress in it that he excelled all competitors?

The attitude ascribed to him would have been more like that of the Rabbi

Akiba, who declared that “Greek learning could be studied in an hour that

was neither day nor night;” or like that other rabbi, who declared that “the

translation of the Scripture into Greek was a disaster to Judaism equal in

horror to the fall of Jerusalem.” We hear a great deal of the historic

imagination and the necessity of applying it to questions of Biblical

criticism. Surely the minds must be strangely deficient in the power of

imaginative reconstruction who cannot feel the thrill of abhorrence of

everything foreign that must have filled the Jews during the Maccabean

struggle. If the critics had only realized this, they would have seen how

utterly impossible it is to conceive that a religious novel, written at that

time, intended to nerve the Jews for fiercer resistance to their oppressors,

should represent the hero complacently acquiring Gentile learning, and

acting the submissive courtier in the tyrant’s palace.

 

18 “Now at the end of the days that the king had said he

should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in

before Nebuchadnezzar.” The Septuagint Version here is shorter and

simpler: “After these days the king commanded to bring them in, and they

were brought in by the prince of the eunuchs.” The only difference is that

hl,aeh" (haayleh) is read instead of rv,a} (‘asher), and the maqqeph

dropped. Theodotion is in close accordance with the Massoretic text. The

Peshitta is also simpler than the Massoretic text, though founded on it:

“And after the completion of the days which the king had arranged, the

chief of the eunuchs brought them before Nebuchadnezzar the king.” Both

the Massoretic and Peshitta texts represent the prince of the eunuchs

bringing the youths before King Nebuchadnezzar when the time had

elapsed, without any orders from the king himself. According to the

Septuagint, it was the king himself that required them to be presented

before him. It seems more like the active-minded king, that he should recall

his purpose of examining these youths, and command them to be brought

in, than that the prince of the eunuchs should bring them trooping in

without warning into the royal presence. Such an examination, whether

conducted by the king personally, or in his presence, or under his

superintendence, would need to be prepared for; something equivalent to

examination papers, test questions, would have to be arranged, or the

presentation before the king would be a farce. All this implies that

Nebuchadnezzar himself arranged the time of the appearance of those

youths before him. We can scarcely imagine the awe with which those

young captives must have looked forward to standing before the terrible

conqueror who had swept the army of Egypt before him, and had

overthrown all who ventured to oppose him, who had sent home hosts of

captives to throng the slave-markets of Babylon. We are not told whether

each separately was brought before Nebuchadnezzar, or whether the whole

number of the cadets were presented at once. It is the earliest instance of

promotion by competitive examination. The clear, sharp eye of the young

conqueror was probably worth more than all the questions prepared. While

certainly the words used seem to imply that the hostages were called

merely to be examined, the occasion may have been the “dream” narrated

in the next chapter.

 

19 “And the king communed with them; and among them all

was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

therefore stood they before the king.” The word translated “communed”

really means “spake,” and is the common word for this. The Septuagint

translates here w[mi>lhsen – homilaesen, which does mean “commune.”

Theodotion  renders ejla>lhse – elalaese - talked. Jerome has loeutus; the

Peshitta has malel; all these may be rendered “talked.” From Nebuchadnezzar’s

great reverence for the national religion and for the national magic, we may be

certain that much of the conversation would turn on those magical formulae

which have been to such a large extent preserved to us. Even if, as we think,

the immediate occasion of Daniel and his companions appearing before the

king was his “dream,” still he would not unnaturally examine them further.

It is not unlikely that this conversational examination would involve naturally

the languages they would have to be proficient in were they to be of the royal

council. They would have to be acquainted with Accadian, the original

tongue of all the most sacred magical formulae; with Assyrian, the

language in which the royal annals were recorded; and with Aramaic,

which was, as we have already said, the language of commerce and

diplomacy. Hebrew, the language of the four in whom we are more

especially interested, was spoken, not merely by the holy people, but also

by the Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, and the Phoenicians. Further,

Egypt was a factor that had to be taken into account, and so, not unlikely,

the tongue of Egypt would be known by some, at any rate, of the court

officials in Babylon. The empire of the Hittites had certainly passed away,

but, probably, their language was still known and spoken by a large number

of the inhabitants of Nebuchadnezzar’s extensive empire. Not only were

the languages of peoples west of Babylon to be considered, but also those

to the east; there were the Aryan tongues too. If the tradition is correct

that Nebuchadnezzar married a Median wife, the Median tongue, which

seems to have been the same with that of Persia, would be, above all,

important, Not unlikely questions of policy and statecraft would be

submitted to these candidates, to see what they would say. Above all, in

personal intercourse the King of Babylon would be able to form some

estimate of the real worth of these youths, There probably would enter in a

large measure of caprice, or even superstition, into his choice, yet not

unlikely his strong practical sense would limit his superstition. The result of

this examination is eminently satisfactory to the young Hebrews. They

were found superior to all their competitors. Therefore stood they before

the king. Professor Bevan would render this “became his personal

attendants” — a very natural translation. We know, from the Ninevite

marbles, that the king is always, alike on the field of battle, the hunting-field,

and the council-chamber, attended by eunuchs. It may, however, be

regarded as referring to the special subjects of their study. As they had

been admitted to the class of magicians and astrologers, it would mean they

were admitted to the number of those who were royal magicians and

astrologers — those whom the king consulted. It is not to be understood

that, even though they were admitted to this number, they were therefore

necessarily admitted before the king in this capacity on ordinary occasions.

They would occupy but a subordinate position in the huge Babylonian

hierarchy. We must note here a variation in the Septuagint, h+san – aesan

they were. We, for our part, agree with Professor Bevan, in regarding this as a

scribal blunder in the Greek, and that the original text was probably

e]sthsan - estaesan. The only difficulty is that the blunder is also in Paulus

Tellensis.

 

20 “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the

king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the

magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”  The Septuagint

rendering here has a considerable addition, which really means, as it seems

to us, the coalescence of two readings. It reads thus: “And in all learning

(lo>gw| - logo – word; thing - a literal rendering of rb;d;, dabhar,  and

(paidei>a| – paideia - education) whatsoever the king asked of them,

he found them ten times wiser than all the wise and learned men in all his

kingdom.” Thus far the verse is a rendering, almost slavishly close, of the

Massoretic text; while the translator has recognized that the sentence is

incomplete as it stands, and has inserted sofwte>rouv – sophoterous –

and translated l["(al) by uJpe<r ,– huper – over; above. But the

translation proceeds, “And the king honoured them and appointed them rulers.”

This seems to have been due to a various reading. The sentence here translated

was probably, in an old recension of the text, all that stood here, and some scribe,

finding it, inserted it here to complete the sentence. The translation, however,

proceeds yet further, “And constituted (ajnedei>xen – anedeixen) them wiser

than all those of his in affairs in all his land and in his kingdom.” This sentence

has all the appearance of an attempt to render into Greek a piece of Hebrew that

the translator imperfectly understood. As we find that ajnadei>knumi

anadeiknumi -  represents occasionally [dwh, and as the Syriac vav and the old

Hebrew [ were almost identical in shape, [dyO (yoda,) might be read as hwOdy

evidently the translator has read μymkj (hacmeem) instead of μymifur]j"

(hartummeem), and has transferred the ‘al col from before hartummeem to

before the next word, which seems to have read, not ‘ashshapheem, but hartzo,

the relative seems to have been omitted, and the second col, “all.” This great

variety of reading suggests suspicions of the verse altogether, which the

content of the verse rather strengthens. Theodotion is in strict agreement

with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta also is at one with it in this, but

these are late compared with the Septuagint. It has been tea,sued that the

Book of Daniel is a story modelled on the history of Joseph, and the

presence of harlummeem here is regarded as a proof of this quasi Egyptian

origin (see Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:11, etc.). One thing is clear, that

the word — whatever it was — was unknown in Alexandria, where this

translation was made; hartummeern, as occurring in the Pentateuch, the

earliest part of the Old Testament translated, was certain to be known: how

did the word here happen not to be known? We can understand the

phenomenon if some word, probably of Babylonian origin, and unknown in

Egypt and Palestine, occupied the place and was modified into a more

intelligible shape by being turned into hartummeem. As the verse stands,

hartummeem is grammatically placed in apposition to the following word,

ashshapheem, as there is no conjunction to unite the two words. It is

acknowledged by Professor Bevan that the latter word has an Assyrian

origin; it is not inconceivable that hartummeem is really the explanatory

word, though the arrangement of the words is decidedly against this view.

It is to be observed here that ‘ashshapheem has been naturalized in Eastern

Aramaic, but has not found a lodgment in Western, save in Daniel. We

cannot help feeling a little suspicion of the authenticity of this verse. This

phrase, “ten times better,” has all the look of that exaggeration which

became the prevailing vice of later Judaism. As we have indicated, the

variations in regard to the precise reading deepen this suspicion. If,

however, the reference here is really to Daniel’s revelation to the king of

his dream, then the statement in the text is less objectionable. This was

such a marvellous feat, and one that so put Daniel above all the wise men of

Babylon, that the language of the verse before us is rather rhetorical than

exaggerated.

 

The experiment terminated favorably on their health. They were both “fairer and

fatter in flesh” than their competitors. Physical beauty, as well as physical strength,

is to be adequately valued. Both are gifts of God; their possession ought to

awaken thankfulness. Both may lead to sin. We must distinguish between

natural appetites and acquired depraved tastes. To satisfy natural appetite

is to do the will of God; to pander to needless cravings is to violate Divine

authority. There is a large amount of pleasure arising from robust health,

although the quality of this pleasure is none of the highest. To make the

development of the body — the attainment of physical perfection — a

study, during the growing years of youth, is a religious duty. The

possession of perfect health, and the enjoyment arising therefrom, are

within the reach of the poorest born. The dainties and effeminacies

prevalent in marble palaces hinder, rather than help, the perfection of

physical beauty. Daniel’s simple pulse had more worth than the king’s

delicacies. Real hunger furnishes the best condiments.

 

·         The prizes of virtue are manifold and cumulative. Daniel’s frugal diet

brought its own inward satisfaction. Ten days’ trial showed a perceptible

advantage over the self-indulgent. That advantage increased during every

succeeding day, until, at the end of three years, the results in health and

strength and comeliness were incalculable. Meanwhile, the power of self-

control over other inclinations and passions had largely increased, and this

brought new delight. The consciousness that their God was right and kind

in requiring this discipline of the appetites, increased their reverence and

love, made them more resolute in their heavenly allegiance. They felt they

were on the ascent to true nobleness and final honor, whatever temporary

obscurity might arise. Their knowledge grew. Their wisdom ripened. Even

foreigners and rivals rendered them real respect. Conquests over the

difficulties of Chaldean learning were daily acquired, and they hailed, with

glad anticipation, the approach of a royal test. They held their heads aloft,

with a sense of manly greatness, when summoned into the presence of their

king. “Better is he that ruleth his own spirit than he who taketh a city.”

(Proverbs 16:32)

 

·         Then over and above this natural success and joy there was a special

reward conferred by the hand of God Himself. He who constructed the

human mind knows well the avenues by which to gain access to all its

chambers, and is able to enrich, illumine, and beautify any part. To doubt

this would be infidelity, To these four young men God gave “skill in all

learning and wisdom;” to Daniel in particular He gave special inspiration, a

royal imagination, power to unravel dreams. We are prone to think that in

the shadowy, weird territory of dreamland the reign of law is not known.

Yet we err. Every wild phantom of the human mind is a link in the chain of

cause and effect. Only a poet can fully appreciate true poetry. Only a man

of imaginative genius can resolve the problems of dreams. This is a God-given

power — a species of inspiration.

 

·         The day of public manifestation at length arrived. As there is many a

starting-point in human affairs, so there is many a goal. The first

presupposes and determines the second. “The king came in to see his

Hebrew guests.” It was only fitting that he should. Every part of human life

is probation — trial, which has respect to honor or to disgrace. Though

the end may seem far distant, yet this is only seeming. The end is really

near. (“…now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” – Romans

13:11).  Righteous judgment is ever proceeding. This Chaldean monarch

was, in this matter, a model prince. In many aspects of this event we have

a striking forecast of the final judgment. With marked condescension, the

king “communed” with these captive Hebrews, and was so far impartial in

his just estimate as to confess publicly their diligent industry and their

superior attainments. “He found them ten times better than all the

magicians in his realm.” Such knowledge as they professed was real. They

made no pretensions to what was beyond their power. They did not boast

of access to arcana of nature or of Divine providence really closed against

them. They admitted the confines of real knowledge; they confessed the

limitations of the human mind. Pretended skill is only contemptible. The

truly great man is as ready to acknowledge his ignorance as his knowledge.

Only a fool is unwilling to give this reply to many inquiries, “I do not

know.”

 

·         The eminence which Daniel justly attained was permanent. Real

greatness, like the granite rock, is enduring. Suns rose and set, years came

and went; kings flourished and fell; changes swept over all the empires of

Asia; but Daniel, throughout the allotted period of his life, maintained his

power and pre-eminence (Ezekiel 28:3). Nor did his regal influence disappear

with his dying breath; ‘twas not interred in his tomb. It lived on: it lives still.

The noble qualities of Daniel have reappeared in others, age after age. The

tyranny of monarchs, in the East and in the West, have been held in check

by him. “Being dead, he yet speaks,” yet rules! His name stands on

Heaven’s beadroll among, the most saintly of his race — with Samuel and

with Job (Ibid. ch.14:14). In his own identical person he has lived a continuous

and a progressive life in a higher sphere than this. There he occupies a throne;

his hand holds a sceptre; his head is surmounted with a diadem. The voice of

the Highest has said to him, “Be thou ruler over ten cities.” In his own glad

consciousness, his prophetic words have been fulfilled, “They that be wise

shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to

righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (ch. 12:3).  Evanescence is a

quality of what is worthless, Faith is the seed of which the full development

is “life everlasting.”

 

21 “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.”

The Septuagint supplies Persw~n – Person - . Theodotion and the Peshitta

agree with the Massoretic. It has been objected by Canon Driver that the

natural classical order of the latter two words should have been hammelek

Koresh, not, as it is in the Massoretic, Koresh hammelek. The Septuagint

text seems to have had parseem, which would make the order perfectly

classical. A greater difficulty is to explain how it is said that Daniel

“continued,” or, if we take the Hebrew literally “was,” until the first year

of “Cyrus the king,” when in the tenth chapter the third year of Cyrus is

referred to. There are several ways of getting over this difficulty. The first

way is to suppose that some words have dropped out of the text. There

are, however, different ideas as to the words so lost. Thus Bleak would

supply “in high respect in Babylon.” Earlier commentators would supply

“in Babylon,” thinking that not impossibly he returned to Palestine. Jerome

— one of these — does not, however, intrude his suggestion into the text,

as does Ewald. His suggestion is that the omitted words are “in the king’s

court,” which is much the same as Delitzsch’s “at the court.” Hitzig is

credited by Kranichfeld with asserting that the author did not intend to

make his hero live beyond the year he refers to — the first year of Cyrus.

In his commentary, however, Hitzig suggests that bshaar hammelek, “in

the gate of the king,” has dropped out. He does certainly hint that the

sentence, to be complete, would need hayah (hy;j;), not hayah (hy;j;).

Zockler would supply the same word. There is certainly this to be said for

the above theory — that the sentence as it stands is incomplete. The verb

hayah is never used instead of hayah. At the same time, there is no trace in

any of the versions of any difficulty in regard to the text. Another method

of meeting the difficulty is that adopted by Hengstenberg, followed by

Havernick, but suggested in the eleventh century by Jephet-ibn-Ali. It is

this — that as the first year of Cyrus was the year when he allowed the

Jews to return to their own laud, that the attainment of this annus mirabilis

was an element in his wonderful prosperity, that he who had mourned for

the sins of his people, who had been one of the earliest to feel the woes of

captivity, should live to see the curse removed, and Judah permitted to

return to their city and temple. The objection to this view, urged by

Professor Bevan, is that the author elsewhere “never alludes to the event

save indirectly (ch.9:25).” To this it may be answered that the

whole ninth chapter goes on the assumption that the seventy years are now

all but over, and therefore that the return cannot be long delayed. We

regard this silence of Daniel in respect to the return from Babylon as one of

the strongest evidences of the authenticity of the book. Everybody knows

how largely it bulks in preceding prophecy, and how important it is in

after-days. No one writing a religious romance could have failed to have

laid great prominence on this event, and introduced Daniel as inducing

Cyrus to issue the decree. On the contrary, he does not even mention it.

This is precisely the conduct that would be followed by a contemporary at

the present time. In religious biographies of the past generation that

involve the year 1832, when the Reform Act was passed — the greatest

political change of this century — we find that most of them never once

refer to it. If any one should take Cowper’s ‘Letters,’ written during the

American War, he will find comparatively few references to the whole

matter, although from, at all events, 1780 to 1783, we have letters for

nearly every week, and they occupy nearly three hundred pages. Now, if a

person were condensing these and selecting passages from them, he might

easily make such a selection as would contain not a single reference to that

war or to any political event whatever. Yet Cowper was interested in the

struggle that was going on. The main objection to Hengstenberg’s view is

the grammatical one that it implies that we should read yjy instead of yhy,

and there is no trace in the versions of this various reading The Septuagint has

h+n – aen - ; Theodotion has ejge>neto – egeneto – continued - the Peshitta

has  <ARAMAIC> (hu); Jerome has fuit. It is somewhat difficult to come to any

conclusion, but there are certain things we must bear in mind. In the first place,

an author does not usually contradict his statements elsewhere directly. He may

implicitly do so, but not when direct dates are given. If he should fail to put the

matter right, some other will be sure to do so, if his work attains sufficient

popularity to be commented upon. We may thus be sure that there is some

solution of the apparent contradiction between the verse before us and ch.

10. In the next place, we must note that this verse is the work of the editor,

probably also the translator and condenser, of this earlier part of Daniel.

Therefore the difference may be found quite explicable could we go back

to the Aramaic original. If ‘ad represented ‘ad di (ch.6:24) in the

Aramaic, and the two latter clauses were transposed, we should translate,

“And Daniel was for Cyrus the king even before his first year.” The

connection is somewhat violent; but if we regard the redactor as thinking

of the success of Daniel, this might be a thought which suggested itself to

his mind — he was with Nebuchadnezzar, and he was with Cyrus. The

difficulty of the date is not of importance. That might be got over in several

ways. Either by adopting in ch. 10:1 the reading of the Septuagint,

which is prw>tw| – proto – first -  instead of tri>tw| – trito - third  — the only

objection to this is that it is a correction that might easily be made by a would-be

harmonist; but, on the other hand, the “third” year of Belshazzar being mentioned

in the eighth chapter may have occasioned the insertion of “third” in the tenth.

Or, since we know that, though in his proclamation Cyrus styles himself

“King of Babil,” yet in some of the contract tables of the first two years of

his reign he is not called “King of Babil,” but only “king of nations,” and

there are contract tables of those years that are even dated by the years of

Nabunahid, is it not, then, possible that the third year of Cyrus as “king of

nations” might coincide with the first year of his reign as “King of Babil”?

Yet further, we must remember that the reign of Cyrus could be reckoned

from several different starting-points. He first appears as King of Ansan,

then he becomes King of the Persians, and as such he conquers Babylon.

His first year as King of Babylon may have been his third year as King of

Persia. Thus it would be equally true to say that the Emperor William I. of

Germany died in the seventeenth and in the twenty-eighth year of his reign

— the one statement reckoning his reign as emperor, the other as king. No

solution seems absolutely satisfactory. The difficulty presses equally on the

critics and those who maintain the traditional opinion.

 

 

Moral Heroism (vs. 5-21)

 

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (v. 8).

 

·         THE VARYING CONDITIONS OF IMMORTALITY. The reference is

to subjective immortality, i.e. in the memories of men. The principal stable

condition seems to be the possession of soul-power (see Luke 1:80; 2:40).

But this may develop itself:

 

Ø      Evilly. The immortality then is one of infamy.

Ø      Continuously; e.g. Daniel, through a long life.

Ø      Specially at a crisis. These thoughts are suggested by the little we

know of the three Hebrew children. One heroic resolve made them

immortal.  But how much in their antecedents did that heroism imply?

Picture the parental culture of the Jerusalem home, etc. The lesson,

Live not for fame; but to do that which God may think worthy of being

held in everlasting remembrance.

 

·         THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL HEROISM Describe the offence in the

king’s portion.

 

Ø      Food forbidden by the Mosaic Law.

Ø      Food consecrated by presentation to idols. In moral heroism there

will be one, or some, or all of these constituent elements.

o       Resistance; i.e. to strong and overwhelming temptation. In this

case:

§         The tempted were away from home.

§         Early religious associations had been broken down. Note

the change of names (v. 7), and the significance of it.

§         There was temptation to regard the matter as a trifle, of no

account; but great principles are often involved in the

trivialities of life.

§         To regard the circumstances as peculiar.

§         To be afraid of undue self-assertion. It might have seemed

to Daniel that he was about to be righteous over-much.

§         The heroic act was against their own interests.

§         And imperilled the lives of others.

o       A certain obscurity of origin. “Purposed in his heart. The

resolution took its rise in the depths of the soul, like a river in the

hills far away.

o       Fortitude. Daniel thoroughly and irrevocably made up his mind.

o       Gentleness. No mock-heroics with him; but, having made up his

mind, combined the suaviter in modo (gently in manner) with the

fortiter in re (firmness in action). “He requested,” etc. (v. 8).

o       Perseverance. Defeated temporarily with Ashpenaz,

Daniel tried Melzar.

o       Wisdom. Proposed only an experiment for ten days.

o       Inspiration. Daniel’s resolve seems to have stirred up the others.

 

·         THE PREVENTIONS OF GOD. (v. 9.) When men resolve on the

right, they soon find that God has gone before them to prepare the way

(Psalm 21:3).

 

  • THE SEQUENCES OF GOD. Very encouraging is it to know that

God is alike our vanguard and our rearguard on our moral way. In this

case (and always is it so more or less) the sequences were:

 

Ø      Physical health and vigor. Not miraculous.

Ø      Intellectual attainment and strength.

Ø      Moral and spiritual power. For proof, see after-history.

Ø      Continued prosperity and influence. (v. 21; Job 17:9)

 

 

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