Daniel 6

 

 

DANIEL IN THE LIONS’ DEN

 

1 “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes,

which should be over the whole kingdom;  2 And over these three presidents;

of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and

the king should have no damage.  3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the

presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king

thought to set him over the whole realm.”  The variations from the Massoretic

text in the Septuagint are, in regard to the verses before us, very considerable. It

assumes the last verse of the preceding chapter, and begins, “And he set up

a hundred and twenty and seven satraps over all his kingdom. And over

them he set three men as (hJgoume>nouv haegoumenouspresidents), and

Daniel was one of the three men [and had authority over all men in the kingdom.

And Daniel was clothed in purple, and was great and honorable (e]ndoxov

endoxosrenowned; honored) before Darius the king, because he was honorable

(e]ndoxov) and understanding and prudent, and there was an holy spirit in him,

and he prospered in the affairs of the kingdom which he did]. Then the king

(ejbouleu>sato ebouleusato thought) to place Daniel over all his kingdom

[(and the two men who stood with him and the hundred and twenty-seven satraps)

when the king thought to place Daniel over his whole kingdom].” The passages

within brackets, we think, are additions to amplify the description, and to

connect it with the honor given Daniel by Belshazzar. The bracketed parts

are easily separable from the rest, and then what remains forms a

continuous narrative. Theodotion differs, though slightly, from the

Massoretic text, Darius “set (katesth>sen - katestaesen) Daniel over the

kingdom” — did not merely take counsel to do it. The Peshitta agrees also very

closely with the Massoretic, only the word for “princes” is not, as in the

Massoretic text, ahashdarpnayya’, but rabu heel. This is the common

rendering in the Peshitta of this word, and points to the Massoretic term

being an adaptation. the use of the word “satrap” here has led to the idea

that this is derived from the hundred and twenty-seven provinces

(Esther 1:1). This identification is supported certainly by the Septuagint,

which gives a hundred and twenty-seven as the number of the satraps set

up by Darius. Josephus, it may be noted (‘Ant.,’ 10:11.4), mentions the

satrapies as three hundred and sixty — a reading that seems scarcely to be

drawn by any conceivable mistake from the Massoretic text, nor any

tradition of the actual number of satrapies under the Persian rule. The

probability is that there has been some early corruption of the number. On

the supposition that Darius is Gobryas, these satraps would really be

governors of cities and small districts in the populous province of Babylon.

We have in the inscriptions of the Assyrian monarchs who intervened in the

affairs of Babylon and Chaldea, notices of a large number of small

kingships: each of these would require a special governor. In harmony with

this, we are informed by Mr. Pinches that Gobryas appointed subordinate

governors in the territory of Babylon. The phrase which states this occurs

in the Annals of Nabunahid (col. 3. line 20), “And Gobryas his governor

appointed governors in Babylon.” Delitzsch (‘Beitrage zur Assyriologie,’

2. p. 256) points out that the sign of the plural after the second occurrence

of the word “governor” proves that we cannot translate as if “Cyrus” were

the nominative to the sentence, and “Gobryas,” who was governor of

Gutium or Guti, was object. From the fact that the text of Daniel was not

protected by being regularly read in the synagogues, as was the Law, the

Prophets, the Megilloth, the Psalms, and some other books, it was more at

the mercy of scribes. The change of “Gobryas” into “Darius” led easily to

other modifications. Probably medeena, “province,” was the word in the

original text, but it was modified to malcoutha, “kingdom,” and

“governors” of cities became “satraps” over provinces. After having

appointed these subordinate governors, that a board of three should be set

over them was a necessary arrangement. The name given to them,

sarekeen, is asserted by some to be of Persian origin. On the other hand,

the fact that the first syllable is sar, the Assyrian for “king,” one is tempted

to think of a Semitic etymology. The Authorized is wrong in making

Daniel “first” of these presidents; all that is asserted is that Daniel was one

of these presidents. That the king should have no damage applies most

probably to the revenue. The country, in the East, is divided off into small

districts for the purpose of tax-collecting, and in the division of the Persian

Empire into twenty satrapies, this was greatly the object. The repetition of

the word “king” here might imply that Darius was not the king whose loss

of revenue was to be guarded against; but we would not be held as pressing

this. Although Daniel was not, on the creation of this board, made chief of

it, he soon acquired an influence over Darius which gave him, in effect,

such a position. We are to understand that these officials were mainly

Babylonians. We learn now that the capture of Babylonia by Cyrus was not

accomplished by a skilful diverting of the waters of the Euphrates, so that

the Persian troops were enabled to wade in by the bed of the stream, nor to

the fact that in the revelry of a feast the river-gates were left open, and the

sentinels were careless; but to the fact that the whole official class were at

enmity with the court, and so treachery opened the gates to Gobryas, the

governor of Gutium, the name given to Mesopotamia as a Persian

province, and when morning broke one day, the sixteenth of Tammuz, the

inhabitants of Babylon saw the shields of Gutium guarding the citadel and

the temple Esakkil. This being the case. naturally the official class of the

former monarchy would be largely drawn upon to supply the needs of the

new government; naturally the native Babylonians would think that the

preference in all matters of office ought to be given to them; that, above

all, the principal place should not be given to a Jew by Cyrus, or by any

one under him, since Cyrus professed to be moved by reverence for the

national gods of Babylon in his war against Nabunahid. And the king

thought to set him over the whole realm. This really means over the

province of Babylon, malcoutha being written instead of medeena. His

object was not to make Daniel satrap instead of himself, but to make him

his “vizier.” His knowledge of the business of the province would of

necessity be very thorough, dating, as it did, from the days of

Nebuchadnezzar. He, as no other, would be acquainted with the various

religious beliefs of the different captive communities in Babylonia. Himself

belonging to one of these communities, his interest would be excited by all

in similar circumstances. His age, the dignity he had enjoyed in the courts

of Nebuchadnezzar and Nabunahid, along with his zeal and ability,

naturally explain the desire of Darius (Gobryas) to make him his vizier.

 

4 “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion

against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none

occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there

any error or fault found in him.  5  Then said these men, We shall not

find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him

concerning the law of his God.” The rendering of the Septuagint is here

very paraphrastic, “Then the two (neani>skoi neaniskoi - young men)

took counsel, and planned among themselves with each other, saying, Since

they found no error nor neglect (a]gnoian agnoianpure; chaste; holy)

against Daniel, about which they might accuse him to the king, and they said,

Come, let us make a decree (oJrismo>n horismon – declare; decree) among

ourselves, that no man shall make any request, or offer  any prayer, to any god

for thirty days, but only from Darius the king, and if not he shall die; in order

that they might lower (hJtth>swsi haettaesosito lower; be inferior) Daniel

before the king, and that he be thrown into the den of lions; for they knew that

Daniel prayed and made supplication to the Lord his God three times a

day.” There are elements here of interpolation and of the coalescence of

different renderings. It is difficult to understand how “the presidents” could

be called neani>skoi (young men). There seems no Aramaic word with that

meaning, into which sarekeen could be read; certainly it is as difficult to imagine

any one thinking of introducing that as a logical equivalent. Young men would

not be put in such a responsible place, nor would they have thought of

Daniel — a man of about eighty years — as a colleague with youths. There

are evident traces of two readings having coalesced; thus we have

ajllh>louv le>gontev allaelous legontes - followed by ei+pan eipan,

(all I can get from this meaning is gathered together and discussed – I am

no Greek student – I got little help from the commentary or Greek

dictionary - CY – 2014) after the course of the narrative  has been interrupted

by an inserted clause. As to the punishment to befall the transgressor of this

decree, one statement is, “If not, he shall die” The next version of the punishment

is brought into connection with the humiliation to be inflicted on Daniel, that

“he may be cast into the den of lions.” At the same time, the fact that we hear of

the decree in connection with the consultation of these conspirators in the present

text, is in harmony with what we find in the fourth chapter. In the original

document not improbably the statement would be given — as in Genesis 41.

in regard to Pharaoh’s dreams — alike when the conspirators devise the plan, and

when they carry it out. In regard to some of the differences, an explanation

may be hazarded, but we will not delay. Notwithstanding that the

Massoretic here is shorter than the Greek text, we fancy it is not difficult

through it to find a shorter text still. The text of Theodotion is much briefer

than either of the other texts, “And the presidents (taktikoi< taktikoi - arranged)

and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel, and they found neither

occasion, nor fault, nor error against him, because he was faithful. And the

presidents said, We shall not find occasion against Daniel except in regard

to precepts (nomi>mouv nomimouslaw; custom; usage) of his God.”

The Peshitta agrees in the main with  the Massoretic. It makes Daniel faithful

“towards God.” That these co-presidents and the under-governors should be

indignant that a Jew, who had actually been employed in the court of Nabunahid,

should be put above those Babylonians who had admitted the shields of Guti into

Esakkil, was natural. Of course, they could not seriously plead this before the

Governor Gobryas. They could not accuse Daniel directly of worshipping his

National Deity, for the Persian rule in Babylon, while zealous for the gods of

Babylon, did not imply any assault on the deities of other subject races. It

is to be noted that in the Septuagint the plot is concocted by the two

“youths,” Daniel’s co-presidents. They, most likely men of high rank,

would feel most keenly that they were superseded by a Jew, and their

feelings would naturally spread to those beneath them.

 

6 “Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king,

and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.  7 All the

presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the

counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a

royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a

petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he

shall be cast into the den of lions.   8 Now, O king, establish the decree,

and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of

the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.  9 Wherefore King Darius

signed the writing and the decree.”  The Septuagint, in regard to those

verses, is much briefer, and reveals a better text. “Then those men came

and said before the king, We have made a decree and a statute, that any

man who offereth prayer or presents petition to any god for the space of

thirty days, save only to Darius the king, shall be cast into the den of lions;

and thus Darius decreed, and confirmed it.” The fact that requests to other

men are not forbidden is to be observed. The long catalogue of officials is

omitted; the whole conspiracy is the work of Daniel’s co-presidents.

Theodotion and the Peshitta are in practical agreement with the Massoretic

text. To understand the point of this decree, that seems to us so absurd,

and comprehend how any one with sufficient mental vigor left to be

placed by Cyrus as governor in Babylon could be led to yield to confirm it,

we must recognize the state of matters in Babylon. During the reign of

Nabunahid there had been many religious changes. The seclusion of the

monarch had led to the neglect of many of the regular rites of the gods of

Babil. The policy he pursued of bringing the gods of various provinces to

Babylon tended, as did the similar policy in Rome, to draw off from the

importance of the national religion by forming rival cults. One of the first

acts of Cyrus’s reign was to order the replacing of these deities in their

ancient shrines. This would necessarily be most distasteful to the

worshippers of these imported deities. There would be much murmuring

among the huge heterogeneous population; and there would be thus a well

grounded fear of a religious riot. A bold soldier as Gobryas (Darius) was,

he probably was but a timid ruler, and nothing would he dread more than a

religious riot. Would it not be a plausible way of meeting this difficulty to

order for one month all worship to cease? The British Government in India

regulates the religion of the inhabitants as summarily, forbidding religious

observances that are liable to cause excitement in votaries of rival creeds.

Thus Moses assigned, as a reason for refusing to sacrifice in Egypt, the

wrath of the Egyptians (Exodus 8:26). The offering of a prayer among

heathen peoples generally meant the offering of sacrifices, also

accompanied possibly by processions. That the decree was made by Darius

in the absence of his favorite minister might have two reasons: either from

the fact that the word used (hargishoo) implies that the presidents rushed

in tumultuously into the royal presence; that there was an emergency which

must be met by instant action; or that, being a weak man, he did not wish

his other counselors to think that he was so under the influence of this Jew

that he could do nothing without first consulting him; so, by way of

showing his independence, he signed the decree. As for the practical

deification of himself required from the subject races, that would not

appear to him a matter of importance. It might even seem to him as the

surest way of doing away with the rancor of religious rivalries to give

these conflicting creeds a common object. He, Gobryas, was the

representative of Cyrus, in whom deity was incarnate, therefore let them

worship him in his representative capacity. That Daniel should be affected

by this decree might easily never occur to Gobryas Jewish worship, now

that the temple at Jerusalem was in ruins, must have become very much the

synagogue worship of the present day. A worship that had neither idols nor

sacrifices, neither temple nor altar, would seem to the Babylonians, and for

that matter to the Medians and Persians also, as much the same as atheism.

Christianity seemed so to the Roman Government. Darius, then, would

readily think that Daniel could make no serious objection to this order That

Daniel always spoke of a God in heaven did not matter much, since, to all

appearance, he never worshipped Him. Some have maintained that the

punishment was an impossible one. It is certain that Asshur-bani-pal

inflicted a similar punishment on Saulmugina, a rebel King of Babylon, and

did it in honor of the gods. The main objection has been urged from the

mistaken assumption that the text implies that the lions’ den was a bottle

shaped dungeon. There is nothing in the narrative that necessitates this. In

regard to the decree, there is reference to the “laws of the Medes and

Persians,” “the Medes” being placed first. It has been attributed to court

flattery, as Darius was a Mede; probably, however, there may be another

explanation. The small canton of Ansan, over which Cyrus was king, lay

between Elam and Media, but belonged more to the former than to the

latter of these countries. Both countries had been overrun by a nomadic

race, the Manda, under Astyages, who had overthrown Cyaxarcs the King

of Media. Against Astyages Cyrus rebelled, and gathered to him the

Medes, Elamites, and other cognate races. Dr. Winckler thinks that, on his

victory over Astyages, Cyrus assumed the name Persian, Parsu, from his

race. The name Parsua appears in connection with the Medes in an

inscription of Shalmaneser, where it seems to indicate a small kingdom

occupying much the same geographical position as Ansan. By taking this

old name, not impossibly Cyrus avoided making the Medes feel themselves

subject to the Elamites, or the Elamites to the Medes, or either to the little

kingdom of Ansan. The Median had comparatively recently been an

imperial power, therefore its laws and constitution would be placed before

the more recently prominent Persian. One thing that must be observed is

that, while the writer of Daniel mentions Medes separate from Persians, he

mentions them conjointly. Had the writer been under the delusion

attributed to him by all critical interpreters, that the Median Empire came

between the Babylonian and the Persian, he would not have represented

the Median courtiers as saying anything about the Persians or their laws;

the Medes, and the Medes alone, would be considered. According to the

Greek account, from which it is alleged Daniel drew his information, Persia

was a small, undeveloped country before Cyrus raised it to empire. What

right, then, would it have to have its laws mentioned in the same breath

with those of imperial Media? If, however, Cyrus had been raised to such

power, so as to be able to encounter successfully Astyages and his Scythian

hordes by the adhesion to his cause of the Medes, the laws of the Medes

might well get a preference, as the Medes were, in all probability, more

numerous than the Persians, though the laws of the Persians would be

mentioned. The claim that these laws were immutable must be regarded as

on a par with several other Eastern exaggerations. Signed the writing and

the decree. The reading of the Septuagint seems superior, “And so King

Darius decreed (e]sthse estaesesigned the writing), and confirmed it.”

At the same time, the verb resham, translated “sign,” really means “engrave,”

and therefore might naturally enough be used for affixing a seal to a clay tablet;

only hetham is the word usually used for “sealing” a document. Behrmann

thinks it does not refer to the signature of the sovereign, but to the engraving

the decree on the clay. If we imagine yeqeem to have fallen out before “sara,

we have a reading not unlike the Septuagint.  In the seventh verse there is a list

of  officials omitted from the Septuagint; it is almost identical in members with

that which we find in ch. 3., but in a slightly different order, only the sareqeen

are added and the edargazereen omitted.

 

 

The Murderous Plot of Envy (vs. 1-9)

 

No human government, however wise or good, can check the growth of immoral

principles. Human authority, at the most, can deal with overt crimes; it cannot

check or punish the iniquities in the human heart. (This is the great mistake

of the so-called “Separation of Church and State”.  When the state eliminates

godly influence, it is helpless since government cannot prevent crime BUT

ONE’S RELIGION CAN  – CY – 2014)  There is need for higher authority

for A HEART SEARCHING GOD!  — to control the tempers and passions

of the soul.

 

Envy is excited by the sight of superior goodness in others, starting out with

the first family, when Cain slew Abel his brother.  “And wherefore slew he

him?  Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”

(I John 3:12).  It is a strange phenomenon that VIRTUE IN ONE should

 be the occasion of vice in others. Yet virtue is not responsible for this result.

Eminent goodness either allures or repels men. Virtue may be the innocent

occasion of wickedness: it is not its originating cause. The warmer the sun

shines on our gardens, the faster grow the weeds on the dunghill. Yet the

sun is not to be blamed. The peerless purity of Jesus Christ exasperated

men to commit THE FOULEST OFFENSE THAT THE WORLD HAS

EVER WITNESSED!   As a rule, it is not the virtue itself that is envied,

but the advantages and rewards which virtue secures. Men, for the most part,

wish to gain the fruits of virtue rather than the virtue itself; and if they cannot,

with facility, rise to the elevation of their rival, they seek to bring him down to

their level or else destroy him altogether. Because Daniel was preferred by the

king on account of his probity and prudence, the evil nature in his competitors

developed in the direction of bitter envy.  (Envy shoots at others but wounds

herself!  - English Proverb)

 

10 “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he

went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber

toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and

prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”  The

Septuagint rendering differs only slightly from the Massoretic. “And when

Daniel knew the decree which was passed (e]sthse - same as in the last verse)

against him, he opened the windows of his upper chamber, and fell on his face

three times a day, according as he did aforctimc, and prayed.” The Septuagint

translator read hl[, “against him,” instead of l[, “went.” It seems to us that the

Massoretic reading, “went to his house,” is an addition due to misreading

hl[. That the variations of the Septuagint arc not due to paraphrase is

proved by the tact that the next clause is literally translated. It would seem

that the text before the Septuagint had been altered, so that we have “fell upon

his face,” instead of “knelt upon his knees.” The former phrase is an echo

from ch.2:46. It is to be observed that “prayed and gave thanks” is

omitted from the Septuagint. As the omission can have no purpose, and we

can understand the reason of the words being added, we prefer the Septuagint

reading here. Theodotion and the Peshitta are at one with the Massoretic.

The action of Daniel is here that of a man of true conscientiousness; he

does not obtrude his religion now that the practice of it implies danger, as

did some Christian fanatics in the persecution of the three first centuries;

nor, on the other hand, does he hide his acts of worship — he simply

continued his previous habits. Had a Jewish fanatic of the time of the

Maccabees written this, the action attributed to Daniel would have been

much more uncompromising, as the story in the Midrash Rabba of Moses

in regard to the crown of Pharaoh. Or Daniel would be represented as

doing, as the Jews are said in Third Maccabees to have done to Ptolemy,

bowing himself down in humble abasement before the king, to get him to

reverse his decree, or, if not, to devise some means of its effect being

averted. Daniel does none of these things. His windows being open toward

Jerusalem. The windows were lattices, and as the room was an upper one

on the roof of the house, the opening of the windows enabled everything

done in the apartment to be seen. The practice of prayer “toward

Jerusalem” is acknowledged to have arisen in Babylon during the Captivity.

Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the temple, refers to the

contingency of captivity (l Kings 8:48), and prays that if the captives “pray

unto thee toward their land, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house

which I have built for thy Name, then hear thou their prayer” (see also

Psalm 5:7). The practice of praying towards a particular point has

been maintained by the Mohammedans, who pray towards Mecca.

Mohammed originally made Jerusalem the qiblah, or point of prayer; but

the Jews would not receive him as their Messiah, and so from Jerusalem it

was changed to Mecca. The objection of Bertholdt hardly needs to be

mentioned, that “the temple was in ruins” — the place was holy ground.

“Three times a day” is referred to Psalm 55:17, “Evening and

morning and at noonday will I pray.”

 

 

Strength of Soul (v. 10)

 

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house;

and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled

upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God,

as he did aforetime.”  (v. 10). Daniel stands here before us a magnificent instance

of strength of soul (Psalm 138:3). We have also the advantage of seeing him

contrasted with a blameworthy and contemptible weakness of the king, as well as

with something worse — those who conspired against him with their weakness

passing into wickedness.  The strength of Daniel is exhibited as a saint, statesman,

and prophet. See it:

 

  • Advancing to the throne in common life. The new organization included

a hundred and twenty satrapies; over these three presidents in close relation

to the king; of these Daniel was “one” (not the “first”). But he stood out in

bold relief against the other ministers of the crown. By intelligence,

experience, industry, and piety, he moved at once to the front (v. 3).

Religion ia king in every realm, fidelity in common things (v. 5).

 

  • In the absence of egotism. Shallow skepticism charges Daniel with

egotism, partly on the ground of v3.  Considering the exalted power and

position of Daniel, the absence of self-allusion and self-praise is wonderful,

 

  • In Daniels continuance in the habit of saintly life.  Note:

 

Ø      The simplicity of action. “He kneeled upon his knees three times a

day, and prayed.”

 

Ø      The absence of show. No opening of the windows in order that

all might see. To have so done would not have been to exhibit religious

courage, but foolhardiness. Such conduct would have been bravado.

Religious courage is a calm, wise, brave thing. Picture the palace-house of

one so great; the parlor on the roof; the lattices closed (as in hot climates)

towards the east and south, but open (at least in the early hours, perhaps

always) on the west, and intentionally “toward Jerusalem.”

 

Ø      The fearlessness of consequences.

 

Ø      The reason of the act. Because [Chaldee] he had done so aforetime.”

The persistence of the strong. “What he was as a dear little child, when his

mother taught him, and prepared him with prayers and tears for the perils

of Babylon — albeit she did not know he was to live the hard life of an

exile that he is now, though his hair be grey and his body bent with

years.” One holy, consistent life.

 

  • In the permanence of his patriotism. “Toward Jerusalem.”

 

  • In the grandeur of his faith. After all these years and vicissitudes, the

home of his soul was still in the Hebrew tradition — in the Hebrew history,

literature, prophecies, liturgies, etc,

 

 

Habitual Prayer (v. 10)

 

This glimpse into the daily habits of Daniel is enough to reveal to us the

secret of his fidelity and integrity among the fearful temptations of the

world in which he was called to serve. Here we see the oil which saved the

fire from being quenched. Daniel was a man of prayer.

 

  • DANIEL WAS NOT FORGETFUL OF HIS GOD IN SPITE OF THE

DISTRACTIONS OF COURT LIFE. It was a heathen court, yet he

remained faithful to the true God. It was a dissolute court, yet he lived in

devotion to the God of holiness. It is more easy to withstand the outbreak

of violent persecution than to remain pure and true amongst the daily and

insidious allurements of a world of sinful pleasures.

 

  • DANIEL FOUND TIME FOR PRAYER AMONG THE MANY

CLAIMS OF A BUSY LIFE. He had the responsibilities attendant on the

highest office in the kingdom, and he fulfilled them so well that his most

jealous enemies could find no fault with him. Yet he did not regard these

public duties as an excuse for the neglect of prayer.

 

Ø      As our duty to God is of primary obligation, no human duties can afford

an excuse for neglecting PRAYER!

 

Ø      Prayer is a help to the performance of duty. Time spent in prayer is not

lost time, even as regards the work of the world. Hours of prayer can no

more be neglected with profit, than the time for meals and sleep. Christ

spent much time in prayer in the most active part of his life, and the more

He worked the more He prayed (Matthew 14:23).

 

  • DANIEL PRACTISED REGULAR HABITS OF PRAYER. The

observance of regular hours of prayer as a thing meritorious in itself is

simply superstitious. Moreover, a spiritually minded man will live in an

atmosphere of prayer, and not confine his devotions to set seasons.

“Pray without ceasing.”  (I Thessalonians 5:17).

 

Ø      But on the other hand, there is great reason for observing regular habits

of prayer. It is well that the mind should be at times entirely withdrawn

from the world for spiritual exercises. The deeper and more far-reaching

acts of prayer are only possible when we have leisure to collect our

thoughts and meditate upon Divine things.

 

Ø      It is desirable, too, that these habits should be regular, because

otherwise they may be neglected and crowded out by other concerns, and

because the laws of habit will then help us to enter into them the more

readily.

 

  • DANIEL CONFESSED HIS PATRIOTISM IN HIS PRAYER.

Praying towards Jerusalem was a touching proof of his true patriotism.

Prayer brings out our deepest affections. We should remember our country

in our prayers. It is well when high promotion does not lead a man to

forget the associations of humbler days (Psalm 122:6; 137:6).

 

  • DANIEL SHOWED HIS SIMPLICITY AND HIS COURAGE BY

THE PUBLICITY OF HIS PRAYER. He prayed with his windows open.

Of course, prayer should never be for show (Matthew 6:5-6). But if

there are times when we should pray in the closet, and with the door shut,

there are also times when it may be our duty to let devotional habits be

known. If the hiding of them suggests the abandonment of them in face of

danger, it is our duty to let them be open and visible. We should thus avoid

the appearance of evil. It is always wrong to be ashamed of our religion

(Luke 9:26). it is our duty to make a simple unpretentious confession

of religion in face of persecution or of ridicule.

 

11 “Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and

making supplication before his God.”  The Septuagint reading is very

different, “And they watched Daniel, and found him praying three times a

day every day.” It is difficult to decide which is the preferable reading, and

almost as difficult to deduce the one reading from the other. Thcodotion

has a reading akin to that of the Septuagint, “Then those men watched, and

found Daniel praying, and. making entreaty to his God.” This is akin to the

Septuagint at the beginning, but is close to the Massoretic at the end. The

Peshitta is in close agreement with Theodotion. It seems more in

accordance with the plan of these presidents that they should not, as the

Massoretic text asserts, rush tumultuously into the house of Daniel, but

rather, as the three versions represent them doing, setting a watch, and

then, when information reached them of Daniel’s habits, acting

accordingly. Nothing in the narrative makes it probable that there was a

general assembling of the governors against Daniel; it was the action of his

colleagues in the presidency.

 

12 “Then they came near, and spake before the king

concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that

every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty

days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king

answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the

Medes and Persians, which altereth not.  13 Then answered they and said

before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity

of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast

signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king,

when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set

his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going

down of the sun to deliver him.”  The version of the Septuagint, as usual,

differs from the Massoretic text,” Then these men (ejne>tucon   enetuchon

interceded)  with the king, and said, King Darius, didst thou not confirm a decree

that no man should offer prayer or present petition to any god for thirty days,

save only to thee, O king, otherwise he should be cast into the den of lions?

And the king answered and said, The word is clear, and the decree

remaineth. And they said to him, We adjure thee by the laws of the Medes

and the Persians that thou change not the commandment, (mhde< qauma>sh|v

prosw~pon maede thaumasaes prosopon - nor be an accepter of persons), nor

diminish aught of the thing spoken, but punish the man that abideth not by this

decree. And he said, This will I do, according as ye have said, and the thing is

 (e]sthke estaeke - confirmed) by me. And they said, Behold, we found Daniel,

Thy friend, praying, and making entreaty before his God three times a day.

[And the king, being grieved, spake to cast Daniel into the den of lions,

according to the decree which he decreed against him.] Then the king

grieved exceedingly concerning Daniel, and (ejboh>qei eboaetheilabored)

till the going down of the sun to deliver him out of the hands of the satraps.”

One of the verses here seems to have been an addition most probably to the

Aramaic text, as the Semitic spirit and construction shine through. There is,

further, an obvious instance of doublet; the clause within square brackets

has all the appearance of being a marginal note summarizing the contents

of the verse. The words, “out of the hands of the satraps,” have been added

as explanatory. Theodotion is in practical agreement with the

Massoretic text. The Peshitta differs in some minor points, e.g. inserting the

common Eastern mode of addressing royalty, “O king, live for ever.” The

clause, “concerning the decree,” is omitted; the other differences are

unimportant. The fact that his Jewish origin is put in the front of their

accusation of him indicates what Daniel’s great offence was. (Daily

many in the world are condemning the Israelis in the action they have

taken in Gaza because Hamas has shot thousands of rockets into their

land, and for the same reason!  - CY – August 4, 2014)  The

Septuagint places the fact that he was the king’s friend in that position. It

seems little likely that even to a satrap would any courtier venture to bring

forward a taunting reference to his friendships. The king is caught in a trap;

but no courtier would venture to press his advantage, lest he himself be

taken at unawares. Darius’s efforts to save Daniel are to be noted. His

effort would most probably be directed to find some way out of the

constitutional dilemma into which he had been entrapped. His subordinate

position, occupying the place of King of Babylon merely for a season

instead of Cyrus, would make it more difficult for him to override any

constitutional maxim. In the Septuagint the presidents seem to compel the

king by moral arguments — a thing float seems possible, though also a

feature that might very naturally be added to the story. (I also find that

over the last few years a very secular press in the USA are quick to

make moral references and judgments when it suits their purpose! – CY –

2014).  In the Massoretic text there is an endeavor to poison the king

against Daniel. Daniel has despised the king and his commandment. This

is more natural than the conduct imputed to the presidents in the Septuagint.

These efforts were not successful, as probably they scarcely expected they

would be; the king is convinced of his own hastiness, and of their treachery

also, but not of any failure on the part of Daniel, in due respect to him, as the

representative of the great king.

 

All human laws must give place to higher Divine Law.  The law of the Medes

and Persians presupposes that there is no power greater than the state. But

God’s laws are prior to ours. The most solemn decrees of state should only have

force as bye-laws coming under God’s greater laws of right, and losing all

obligation when they contradict these. The king should have broken his law,

which violated the higher Divine law of justice.  The only law which is necessarily

and righteously changeless is THE LAW OF GOD. It is founded on:

 

  • His infallible wisdom (Psalm 19:7-8);
  • His irresistible power (Psalm 66:3); and
  • His changeless character (Psalm 33:11).

 

 

Piety in Perilous Circumstances (vs. 10-13)

 

Daniel was at this time advanced in years. His principles, good at the first,

had grown in strength and mutual support. At his age he was not to be

surprised by alarm nor driven into rashness. His character had been

molded into heavenly shape under the rough handling of oppression and

persecution, and now every fiber of his moral nature had toughness and

tenacity. He was manly because he was eminently devout.

 

  • TRUE PIETY FINDS ITS CHIEF EXPRESSION IN PRAYER. Piety

shows itself in many acts, some of which, though useful, are accidental;

one, however, is essential, viz. prayer. If there be no outgoing of desire

from the soul Godwards, there is no real piety; if there be prayer, vocal or

silent, there is piety. Pious men, when placed in perilous circumstances on

account of their faith, may suspend (sometimes must suspend) overt acts of

public worship; they may never relinquish prayer.  A beggar asking alms, a

child thanking its parent, a subject honoring his monarch, — these are

earthly acts parallel to prayer. When first the gospel found its way into the

hearts of the Malagasy, they did not style themselves Christians — they

simply styled themselves the praying people. Prayer is the distinctive mark

and badge of piety. What color is to the rainbow, what saltness is to the

sea, what roundness is to the circle, — such prayer is to piety. It is its

essential element. It is the breath of spiritual life.

 

  • TRUE PIETY HAS RESPECT TO MINUTE PRECEPTS. For Daniel

to pray was the first principle of his religion. To pray three times a day, to

pray with his window open, to pray with his face toward Jerusalem, —

these things were non-essentials. Nevertheless, there was a fitness and a

propriety in these minuter acts. If not positive commands from God, they

were indications of God’s pleasure. Daniel had found them helpful to his

spirit’s health. Such habits of piety had been sanctioned by the most

eminent saints who had gone before him. David had ascribed his elevation

and his prosperity to the favor of God, and David had been accustomed to

pray three times a day. The temple in Jerusalem had contained the only

visible symbol of the Divine Presence on earth. Thither the longing heart of

every pious Jew turned. On what ground should these pious habits be

abandoned? It would not conciliate the unreasonable hostility of Daniel’s

detractors. The king’s decree was not directed against these minor forms,

but against prayer itself. Amidst so many unfriendly influences, it is wise to

secure every vantage-ground for piety.

 

  • TRUE PIETY IS SELF-CONSISTENT. When the ridiculous decree

of the king was promulgated, Daniel wisely resolved not to alter his course

by a single point. He will steer his bark straight for the port of heaven,

come what may. To a self-willed man, the temptation would be strong to

resist the imperious interference of the king, and to pray more frequently

and more prominently than before. To a timid man the inducement would

be to close his chamber-window, and clandestinely do that which the new

law disallowed. But Daniel leaned neither to temerity nor to timidity. He

maintained an upright and straightforward demeanor. Every habit of his

life had been formed under the guidance of wisdom and discretion, and

terror shall not rob him of advantages which experience has given. His

loyalty to God is an obligation earlier, stronger, deeper, than loyalty to an

earthly king. As God had been a true and trusty Friend for seventy years

and more, it would be base ingratitude to neglect Him now.

 

  • TRUE PIETY ACTS WITHOUT REGARD TO MAN’S

JUDGMENT. In every circumstance of life, God’s honor being first

secured, the pious man will find a delight in serving his fellow-men. But to

attempt to appease malice by abandoning honest principle, would be, in

very deed, to “cast pearls before swine,” Full well Daniel knew that his

enemies were watching his every step, yet would he not submit to the

slightest compromise or concealment. These princes and presidents

degraded themselves into spies and informers. They watched, as with

wolves’ eyes, the open lattice of this man of God. Their organs of bearing

were made sensitively alive by keen suspicion. As the fowler watches for

his prey in the net which he has spread, so these inhuman spies watched for

the successful issue of their plot. In breathless haste they press into the

council-chamber of the king, and divulge what they have heard and seen.

They employ every stratagem that can arouse his anger and enflame his

wrath. They meanly point to Daniel’s foreign origin. They knavely describe

his deed as treason against the king. “This fellow,” urged they”, doth not

regard thee, O king. He tramples on thy authority, and treats as a dead

letter thy royal edict.” Not a stone was left unturned by which they might

injure the innocent man. Nevertheless, Daniel maintained a dignified and

peaceful demeanor.  To be right was with him a higher honor than to be

respected. He was no stoic. He had all the better feelings of a man. He

entertained the good opinion of his fellows at its true value. He would be

delighted to enjoy that good opinion if he could have, at the same time, the

approbation of his God. But the latter was paramount, transcendent,

priceless. And if, as the result of his loyalty to God, men maligned and

hated him, much as he lamented the fact, he was content to face the

consequence. It is, after all, comparatively a little thing to be approved or

reprobated by man’s judgment. “He that judgeth us is the Lord.”

(I Corinthians 4:4)

 

15 “Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto

the king. Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is,

That no decree or statute which the king establisheth maybe changed.”

The corresponding verse in the Septuagint is much shorter, “And he was

not able to deliver him from them.” This verse in the Massoretic text has

very much the appearance of a doublet mollified to fit a new position. The

first clause has occurred already twice before in the sixth verse and the

fifteenth. The last portion of the verse is a modification of what is stated in

vs. 9 and 13. The first clause is omitted by Theodotion, but inserted by

the Peshitta. The probability is that this verse, in its Massoretic form, has

been inserted to explain the opposition the king strove in vain to overcome.

 

16 “Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and

cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto

Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee.”

The Septuagint Version here is not so likely to represent the original text,

as there are symptoms of displacement, “Then Darius the king called out

and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually three times a

day, He will deliver thee out of the power of the lions; till the morning be of

good cheer.” The opening clause of the next verse in the Septuagint really

represents the first clause of the verse before us, “And the king was

grieved, and spake to cast Daniel into the den of lions.” Theodotion and

the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The circumstances cannot fail

to remind the reader of Herod with John the Baptist, and the still greater

crime wrought by weakness — Pilate and our Lord. Darius had failed to

overbear the opposition of the legalists who had determined on Daniel’s

death; he is obliged, therefore, to give the order that the sentence be

executed. In doing so he commends his friend to the God, or the gods, if

we take the K’thib instead of the Q’ri. Darius probably knew nothing of

Daniel’s religious beliefs, and therefore would be prone to imagine that he

worshipped several gods, and to them he commends him. The addition of

the Septuagint is picturesque, “Be of good cheer until the morning.”

Moreover, it fits in to what follows, and at the same time it is not of such a

nature as that it should suggest itself to the ordinary interpolator.

 

17 “And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the

den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of

his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.”

The Septuagint text begins, according to Tischendorf, with a passage

elsewhere considered, “And the king was grieved, and commanded to cast

Daniel into the den of lions, according to the decree which he had made

concerning him.” This is repeated from the fourteenth verse, where it

appears alike in the Chisian Manuscript and in the version of Paul of Tella,

“Then Daniel was cast into the den of lions, and a stone was brought and

placed at the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet

and with the signets of his lords, in order that Daniel might not be raised by

them or delivered by the king out of the den.” The reason assigned for the

double sealing of the stone, while a very probable one, is from its very

probability to be suspected; it is most likely an explanatory marginal

remark, that has slipped into the text. It will be observed that the clause

with which the Septuagint Version of this verse begins is the equivalent of

the opening clause of the preceding verse. Theodotion’s rendering does not

differ from the Massoretic reading. From the similarity of the dialects, the

resemblance of the Peshitta to the Massoretic is even closer. There are few

criticisms of Daniel more unfair than that founded on the assumption that

the writer had a bottle-shaped dungeon in his mind, that might be covered

over as a well by one large stone. Nothing in the words used implies this.

While gob certainly means a “pit” or a “cistern,” it was by no means

necessarily of small size or covered over with one stone, so that within it

would be darkness. There were probably walls rising from the sides of the

pit which formed the den; in that wall there would be naturally an aperture

through which food could be passed to the lions. Through this door was

Daniel cast, and when he had been so cast in, a stone was rolled up to the

aperture and sealed.  Lions’ dens were in use not only among the Assyrians

and Babylonians, but also among the Greek monarchs.  There

is another resemblance that is, at all events, full of interest. In later history

there was another sealing of the stone that was rolled to the mouth of a

grave — it may be noted that gob is used for a “grave” also — and fear

here also was lest the innocently condemned might be taken away.

(Matthew 27:66)

 

18 “Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night

fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and

his sleep went from him.”  In the Massoretic text one of the clauses,

“Neither were instruments of music brought before him,” has caused great

difficulty. The word dahvan, translated “instruments of music,” is rendered

by Furst, “dancing-girl; “Gesenius, “concubine; “Rosenmuller renders,

“odors.” The Mediaeval Greek Version translates, “instruments of

music.” Furst speaks with favor of the Syriac rendering, “food-tables.”

Hanayl, the aphel of ‘eilal, has to be noted as a sign of antiquity. The

version of the Septuagint is very wide from the Massoretic in the latter part

of the verse, “Thus the king returned to his palace, and went to bed fasting,

being grieved about Daniel.” It is evident that the Septuagint translator

had before him deheel instead of dohvan nun in the script of Egyptian

Aramaic is very like lamed in the later mode writing, as also yodh and vav.

It is possible that the name “Daniel” was read haneel or, vies versa, as

two of the letters are identical If we can accept the Septuagint reading, the

difficulty of this mysterious dahoun disappears. Another clause is added

here in the Septuagint from v. 22 (23) Massoretic, though with

variations. “Then the God of Daniel, (pro>noian poiou>menov aujtou~

 pronoian poioumenos autou taking thought for him) closed the mouths of the

lions, that they did not hurt Daniel.” This statement is not inserted in Daniel’s

answer to the king in the Septuagint, as it is in the Massoretic text. It would

almost seem that our present text in both cases is a condensation of a more

extended document.  This view receives support from the rendering of

Theodotion, “And the king departed to his house, and went to bed supperless,

and viands were not brought to him, and his sleep went from him, and God

closed the mouths of the lions, and they did not hurt Daniel.” It will be seen

that the last clause here agrees with the concluding clause of the Septuagint. The

mysterious word dahvan is rendered here (ejde>smata edesmata food) —

a version that is suspicious from the fact that it merely repeats, under another

form, the statement that the king went to bed fasting. It is supported by the

Peshitta and the Vulgate. This difference can scarcely be due to a various

reading. Otherwise the Peshitta and the Vulgate agree with the Massoretic

text. The king’s sorrow and humiliation could not be better pictured than it

is here: even the feast of the palace had no pleasure for him, he was so

grieved about Daniel. But we must also bear in mind that fasting had

among the Jews, and, indeed, in the East generally, a relationship to prayer

(see Esther 4:16, where fasting takes the place of prayer; see also ch.10:3).

It means also repentance (Jonah 3:6-8). Darius, then, repented his hasty decree,

and prayed for the deliverance of Daniel.

 

19 “Then the king arose very early in the morning, and

went in haste unto the den of lions.   20 And when he came to the den, he

cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and

said to Darnel O Daniel servant of the living God, is thy God, whom

thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”  “Very

early” is really “the glimmer of day;” (shapharpara’). The word used

occurs in the Targums. It may, however, be doubted whether the word

here is not the Syriac shapbra. The writing here presents so many

peculiarities that suspicion is forced upon the reader. The first p is small,

and the second is large. There is the further difficulty that nogah is nearly

equivalent to shaphra. One might suspect a doublet, as Behrmann

maintains, here, did not the versions indicate something like this as the

meaning of this clause. A lamentable voice (atzeeb) seems to mean “sad”

or “grieved.” The version of the Septuagint shows traces of addition, “And

King Darius rose early in the morning, and took with him the satraps, and

went and stood at the mouth of the den of lions. Then the king called to

Daniel with a loud voice, with weeping, saying, O Daniel, if thou art alive,

and thy God whom thou servest continually, hath he saved thee from the

lions? and have they not harmed thee?” It is possible the addition of “the

satraps” may have been due to shapharpara being read ahashdarpnayya.

Certainly if the purpose of the double scaling was what it is assigned to be

in the first verse, then the satraps would accompany him; only the

suggestion is such a natural one that it might readily slip into the text.

V.20 (21) in the Septuagint has traces of expansion. The omission of yekeel and

the change of sheezab to the finite preterite is possible enough, and may

indicate that in the original text the word rendered “able” was not found.

Theodotion renders v. 19 (20) in accordance with the Massoretic reading,

but, in v. 20 (21) instead of “lamentable voice,” has “strong voice,” a reading

that seems somewhat confirmed by the Septuagint. Further, he

translates the interrogative ha as if it were the Hebrew kee, “if.” The

Peshitta, though agreeing in the nineteenth verse with the Massoretic, has

some minor differences in the following verse — “high voice” instead of

“lamentable voice,” and “faithfully” instead of “continually.” The Vulgate

singularly inserts in v. 20 putasne? “dost thou think?” That Darius should

thus hasten in the semi-darkness of the first glimmer of dawn to the lions’

den to see whether Daniel were yet alive, was but natural. As the sealing of

the lions’ den suggested the sealing of the holy sepulcher, so the hastening

of Darius to the den in the earliest dawn suggests the action of the women

who got up “when it was yet dark.”  (John 20:1)  When Darius calls Daniel the

“servant of the living God,” there is no necessary confession of faith in Him

on the part of the king. It is for him simply an act of politeness to a Deity

who, if this were neglected, might resent. It is to be noted that this attribute

“living” is omitted in the Septuagint.

 

21 “Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

22 My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that

they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found

in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”  The Syriac

construction, malleel im, is to be observed. The rendering of the Septuagint

differs from the Massoretic text in a way that can scarcely be due to

differences merely of reading, “Then Daniel called with a loud voice and

said O king, I am yet living, and God hath saved me from the lions

according to the righteousness found in me before Him, and before thee, O

king, was neither ignorance nor sin to be found in me; but thou didst

hearken to men who deceive kings, and hast cast me into the den of lions

for my destruction.” It is not impossible that the opening clauses of the

Massoretic and the Septuagint respectively, “O king, I am yet living.” and “O

king, live for ever,” have been derived from the same source. The last

clause is to all appearance an expansion. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree

with the Massoretic text. Daniel answers the king, and declares his safety.

The angelology of Daniel is an interesting subject, but here the question is

complicated by the fact that there is no reference to angelic interference in

the Septuagint. Still all through Scripture God does most of His works

through the intervention of angels. To Darius, if he had any such beliefs as

afterwards are found associated with Zoroastrianism, the ascription of

deliverance to an angel would be natural enough. It is doubtful whether

Cyrus and his followers were not idolaters. The rebuke implied in the state-

ment that not only before God was Daniel innocent, but in the sight of the

king, is sufficiently clear without passing beyond the lines of courtly

decorum. The expansion in the Septuagint is unnecessary, and mars the stately

picture; though, on the other hand, the simple answer to the king’s

question is more likely than the courtly “O king live for ever.

 

 

Angel Ministration (v. 22)

 

“My God hath sent His angel.”  “Are they not all ministering spirits?” (Hebrews

1:14). The text in Daniel suggests the whole doctrine of angel-ministration. That

imperiled life guarded by a sentinel from heaven is no SOLITARY SPECTACLE!

 It has many parallels. There had been the ministration of angels before, as there has

been a thousand times since.  We cannot help looking upon the scene with memories

charged with all that has been revealed of the relation of that higher world to the

world of men. It was a remarkable instance of a universal fact in the experience of

the Church of Goda fact not limited to particular ages, but existing

from the beginning to the end of time. The subject, then, is — The ministration

of angels.

 

  • THEIR EXISTENCE. Say there are angels; and some would receive the

statement with skepticism. But the evidence is:

 

Ø      The analogy of the case. The interdependence of material worlds

points to a similar interdependence of moral worlds. The commerce

of earth to a commerce between the varied worlds of God.

(Someday Christ will bring them both together!  - Ephesians

1:10 – CY – 2014)

 

Ø      The craving of the human mind. There is a craving for the

knowledge of creatures higher than ourselves. The craving

is universal. It points to an objective satisfaction.

 

Ø      The testimony of Scripture. Previous argument, only presumptive;

this conclusive. Fullness of Scripture on the subject.

 

  • THEIR NATURE.

 

Ø      They are spiritual. “Are they not all spirits (pneu>mata pneumata

spirits)?”

Ø      But clothed upon with some organization. Of a material kind, for it

may become an object of sense; men may see the angel-form. Note:

 

o       Angels appear in the human form. But:

o       Glorified. (ch.10:6.)

o       Men after the resurrection are to become like the angels.

(Luke 20:36.)

 

We may infer that the organism of angels is well adapted to second the life

abiding in it. Incorruptible, for the angel never dies; fit servant of high

intelligence; offers no obstruction to their mighty power; no impediment to

their swiftness; beautiful with immortal youth. The angels, like ourselves,

are capable of everlasting intellectual and moral progress.

 

  • THEIR PUBLIC LIFE. Its essential characteristic is given in the

question, “Are they not all liturgic (leitourgika<)?” But what is the

 leitourgikaministering; beneficent; publicly so - meaning? We must

go to Athens, the home of the Greek tongue, for the answer. A few

words, then, on:

 

Ø      The Greek liturgy. It was a public service — a ministration of the

citizens to the commonwealth. Certain citizens were bound to

ontribute money, labour, time, towards making Athens splendid at

home, triumphant abroad. Such a contribution was a “liturgy;” it

stood for the public service of the Athenian people.

 

Ø      The Hebrew liturgy. The word was transferred from things Greek to

designate the public ministration of the priests in the temple. As the

liturgy of the Athenians was for the glory of the Athenian common-

wealth, so the liturgy of Hebrew priests was for the glory of the

Hebrew commonwealth — a ministration to its awful King.

 

Ø      The heavenly liturgy. Here thought ascends to a higher state, to a

grander temple, in which angels contribute to the public service.

Their wealth, energy, time, are given for the glory of the Eternal,

and for the majesty of His kingdom. “Are they not all liturgic?

Do they not minister to God in the exalted service of the heavenly

temple? Are they not employed in the administration of the

celestial government? Do not ‘ thousand thousands minister to Him,

 and ten thousand times ten stand before Him?”  (ch. 7:10)

“The chariots of God are twenty thousand!”  (Psalm 68:17)

 

  • THEIR APOSTOLIC CHARACTER. “Are they not all… sent forth?”

Where he appoints, they go. Describe their coming and going as recorded

in Scripture. But all this mysterious appearing and disappearing was not at

all of their own self-moved will; they were “sent forth.” They came on

embassage, and the love that sent them was the Lord of angels and ours.

 

  • THEIR MINISTRATION. They are “sent forth” to bring us help, to

aid the otherwise helpless. Look at this:

 

Ø      Negatively. Their main object is not any of the following, though

angels have been commissioned for them all.

 

o       To glorify some great event; e.g. the incarnation.

o       To answer prayer. (ch.9:21.)

o       To terrify enemies. (Matthew 26:53.)

o       To destroy the doomed; e.g. the Assyrian army.  (II Kings 19:35)

o       To advance their own knowledge. (I Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:10.)

 

Ø      Positively. To bring help. The lesson for us — not to live in the light

that shines from superiors, not to enjoy the company of equals, but to

minister to those below. (Why not include in this lesson from the

angels, our duty of ministration to races of life below man?)

 

  • THEIR RELATION TO REDEMPTION AND THE REDEEMED.

 

Ø      Their general attitude.

 

o       With reference to redemption generally. The attitude is one of

anxious interest, which was typified in the aspect of the cherubim

 over the ark, “towards the mercy-seat shall the faces,” etc.;

(Exodus 25:20) and declared in the New Testament (I Peter 1:12).

o       With reference to the redeemed particularly. Interested are they in

the beginnings and developments of regenerated life (Luke 15:7, 10;

I Corinthians 4:9).

 

Ø      Their critical services. Angels are prominent through all the great

epochs of Divine revelation — in the patriarchal, legal, and

prophetical dispensations:

 

o       kept watch and ward about the Person of Christ.

o       the annunciation to Zechariah,

o       the annunciation to Mary;

o       the anthem at the birth;

o       one in Gethsemane,

o       twelve legions in waiting;

o       two at the sepulcher.

 

They were active at the founding of the Church; are now agents in

providence and will add to the glory of the last assize.

 

Ø      Their combined action. Militant action, we may call it. Much in the

Bible to imply that the angels are ever exerting, on behalf of the saved,

a moral influence, equal in extent, though opposite in kind and greater

in degree, to that exerted by evil spirits. They are not idle spectators of

the long-drawn-out moral conflict of this earth.

 

Ø      Their individual ministration. (See John 1:51; Matthew 18:10;

Ø      Psalm 34:7; 91:12; II Kings 6:17; here v.22; Acts 27:23.)

(The “Angel-god” passages not referred to, because His

appearances were those of the Lord Jesus. The Pre-manifestations

of the Incarnation of Christ – CY – 2014)

 

  • CONCLUSIONS.

 

Ø      The majesty of their King. Christ the Lord. Such a retinue.

Ø      The greatness of the object of angel solicitude. Salvation for

mankind!

Ø      The brightness of the Christian prospect. “Equal unto the

angels.”

 

23 “Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded

that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was

taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon

him, because he believed in his God.”  The verse that occupies the same

place in the Septuagint is not a translation of the present verse at all, but

looks as if it had been a sentence in the original longer documents which

followed the above Massoretic verse, “Then all the powers gathered

together, and saw Daniel, that the lions had not hurt him.” It is barely

possible that the first clause here represents Aramaic text that might be

misread into the Massoretic text. Although it is supported by the later

versions, the Massoretic text has a suspicions appearance. The last clause

is a moral reflection, unlike anything else in the Book of Daniel, and is

omitted, as we saw, from the Septuagint. The assertion of the king’s

gladness, too, differs in color from the other statements in the book; thus

compare the language concerning Nebuchadnezzar when the three Hebrew

youths were delivered from the fiery furnace. At the same time, it is to be

observed that the use of the hophal form in the verb hoosaq is an evidence

of the antiquity of this portion of the verse. The hypothesis that this

narrative has been condensed from a longer one, has much to support it.

The lesson inculcated, that faith in God would result in deliverance, is very

true, even though it was not in the text. The irregular form of the adjective

tayb points out a possibility that there has been some modification of the

text. Sometimes words not understood have resulted in known words

being written in an irregular way.

 

24 “And the king commanded, and they brought those men

which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions,

them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of

them. and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the

bottom of the den.”  Here the Septuagint text is superior to the Massoretic,

as briefer, “Then those two men who had borne witness against Daniel,

they, their wives, and their children, were cast to the lions, and the lions

slew them, and brake their bones.” In this account of the punishment meted

out to the accusers of Daniel, the victims are only two, with their wives

and children. The phrase “or ever they came at the bottom of the den,” is an

intensification of the narrative. In the Massoretic text it is “all their bones;”

in the Septuagint it is simply “their bones.” Theodotion and the Peshitta agree

with the Massoretic text. The slaughter of the wives and children of offenders,

with the guilty persons themselves, was the common practice. There are two

other accounts of this event — one preserved in the apocryphal story of

Bel and the Dragon, and the other in the pages of Josephus. According to

the story of Bel and the Dragon, the king, who thus condemns Daniel, is no

less a person than Cyrus the great conqueror. The reason of the

condemnation is not a decree forbidding all worship, but because Daniel

had laid bare the deceit of the priests of Bel, and killed the sacred dragon,

the people of Babylon were incensed, and threatened Cyrus that they

would burn his house if he did not deliver Daniel into their hands to be cast

into the lions’ den. The seven lions were starved in order that they might be

sure to devour Daniel. For six days he was there in the den. In order that

Daniel might not starve, whatever befell the lions, Habacuc was brought

from Judaea, carried by the hair of his head, to feed the prophet. The

destruction of Daniel’s accusers is stated in a mere compendious fashion.

The fact that this version is referred to by Irenaeus (‘Adv. Haeres.,’ 4.),

Tertullian (‘De Jejuniis,’ 7.), and Clement of Alexandria (‘Strom.,’ 1. p.

329, Morel), shows that early in the second century this narrative was

incorporated with the canonical Daniel. This makes it almost necessarily

before Christ in the date of its origin. If so, it is difficult to imagine the

canonical version to be only a century and a half older. Josephus shows no

signs that he knew of this apocryphal addition, but adds a feature for

himself, “The enemies of Daniel, when they saw that nothing evil had

befallen him, unwilling to attribute his deliverance to Deity and His

providence, declared that the lions had been filled with food, and therefore

neither attacked Daniel nor approached him, and maintained this to the

king. But he, hating their malice, ordered that much flesh be thrown to the

lions, and when they had gorged themselves, that the enemies of Daniel be

cast into the den, in order that he might learn whether the lions would

spare them on account of their being satisfied. It was then manifest to

Darius, when the satraps had been thrown in, that Daniel had been

preserved by miracle, for the lions spared none of them, but tore them all

to pieces as if they had been famishing.”

 

25 “Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages,

that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.   26 I make

a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble

and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and

steadfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,

and His dominion shall be even unto the end.  27 He delivereth and

rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth,

who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” This decree has

a resemblance to the decrees of Nebuchadnezzar. In the Septuagint there is

less boastfulness, though the divergence is too great to be the result

merely of difference of reading, “Then Darius wrote to all nations and

tongues and countries dwelling in all his land, saying, Let all men who are

in my kingdom stand and worship, and serve the God of Daniel, for He

alone abideth, and liveth to generations of generations for ever. I Darius

will worship and serve Him all my days, for none of the idols that are made

with hands are able to deliver as the God of Daniel did Daniel.” It is to be

observed that it is only to the inhabitants of his own land that Darius

writes, and further, it is “all men in his kingdom” he commands, not “every

dominion in his kingdom.” There is no notice taken of the kingdom of

God; it is God Himself who liveth and abideth for ever. The last verse,

again, in the Septuagint, in which Darius professes his faith in Jehovah, is

evidently spurious. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic

text. Removing the exaggerations from it, the decree of Darius does not

mean any more than we found in the decrees of Nebuchadnezzar; it is

simply a warning against showing any disrespect to a Deity with such

formidable powers as Jehovah. It may be regarded as connected with the

dualistic view of the universe maintained by Zoroastrianism, that

deliverance from lions is spoken of with such awe. The lion was one of the

beasts specially representative of the evil principle, as we see in Persepolis.

There was thus evidence given that the God of the Jews was supreme over

the powers of evil;  (He is El Shaddai – see Genesis 17 – El Shaddai – Names

of God by Nathan Stone – this website – CY – 2014) - therefore, without

forbidding any subject of Babylonia from worshipping his own ancestral

divinity. Darius yet commanded him, in so doing, to watch his conduct,

so that nothing disrespectful to the powerful God of the Hebrews should be

done by him.

 

28 “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the

reign of Cyrus the Persian.”  The Septuagint follows a different reading,

“And King Darius was gathered to his generation. And Daniel was

established in the reign of Darius, and Cyrus the Persian inherited the

kingdom” — a reading due to the influence of Xenophon’sCyropaedia.’

Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The statement

that Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus, does

not necessarily imply that they were successive. The reign of Gobryas, a

satrap, and perhaps in some way “King of Babylon,” would coincide with

the reign of Cyrus as “king of nations.” Moreover, if Darius (Gobryas) was

King of Babylon for two years, then Cyrus would succeed him in this

position. Certainly in some of the earlier contract tables of his reign, Cyrus

in not called “King of Babil.”

 

 

The Lions’ Den (vs. 1-28)

 

The story of “the lions’ den” may be regarded as an instance of persecution

frustrated.

 

  • HIGH STATION OFTEN OCCASIONS SEVERE TRIALS TO

RELIGIOUS FIDELITY. If it had not been for his rank and office,

Daniel would have been left unmolested. There is safety in obscurity.

 

Ø      The customs of high places are often harmful to religious fidelity.

Daniel must have been tempted by fashion before he was attacked

by persecution.  His religious habits were singular and marked.

 

Ø      High office provokes envy. It was not anti-religious zeal which stirred

the enemies of Daniel. They used a religious question simply as an

instrument for their private jealousy. Blamelessness of conduct is no

security against this kind of enmity.

 

Ø      Prominent positions are exposed to searching criticism. Daniel’s

habits were keenly watched. Happily his integrity was unimpeachable,

even in the eyes of his enemies. How many of us could stand such a

test? His religious habits, however, were made public; and his fidelity

to God, in opposition to the royal decree, was noted against him when

the similar conduct of humbler men would have been disregarded.

 

  • OUR DUTY TO GOD MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ALL

HUMAN OBLIGATIONS. Daniel was a servant of Darius, and the law of

the king was absolute; yet he had no hesitation in setting this at defiance in

obedience to the higher service of God (Acts 4:19; 5:29)

 

Ø      All through life there are similar cases in which lower obligations are

cancelled by higher ones. The duties of subjects to sovereigns, citizens

to laws, children to parents, servants to masters, etc., must all be

considered to have this limitation.

 

Ø      An unrighteous law is no excuse for unrighteous conduct. This should

be remembered by people in commercial or legal situations, in which the

state of the law is sometimes used as a cloak for ambiguous practices.

 

  • RELIGIOUS FIDELITY IS OFTEN ATTENDED WITH

TEMPORAL DANGER. Though jealousy was the first cause of the attack

on Daniel, his religious fidelity afforded the immediate occasion for it. In

the long run right will triumph, but here and now wrong often triumphs.

 

Ø      It is desirable to count the cost,” and not to expect all things to go

smoothly, when we set out on the Christian warfare (Luke 14:25-33).

 

Ø      Strength and courage and independence of character are

indispensable to a faithful Christian life (Joshua 23:9; Ephesians 6:10).

 

  • GOD CAN SAVE THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM WHEN ALL

HUMAN HELP IS USELESS. The weak king labored till sunset to save

Daniel, but in vain. When the worst was done by men, God interfered.

 

Ø      The most savage creatures are under the control of God. When they

rage and destroy they are only obeying instincts planted in them by their

Creator. When He turns these instincts aside they obey. Wild beasts do

not disobey the will of God. Man alone rebels.

 

Ø      To the faithful man the worst dangers are more alarming than

harmful. Daniel’s lions looked terrific, but their mouths were shut.

Bunyan’s lions were chained. Spiritual evils often vanish when they are

boldly faced (James 4:7).

 

  • THEY WHO MAKE UNJUST ATTACKS ON THE INNOCENT

OFTEN BRING ABOUT THEIR OWN RUIN. The enemies of Daniel are

themselves devoured by the lions. Compare this with the cases of Haman

(Esther 7:10) and Judas (Acts 1:18). Thus wicked men sometimes

fall into the vengeance they have prepared for their victim (Psalm 57:6).

It is dangerous to show enmity to the weakest man who stands on

the side of right. All the power of God is behind him.

 

 

The Tables Turned (vs. 19-28)

 

If human law and human authority are impotent to save an innocent man

from death, the unseen but supreme Monarch will appear upon the scene,

and will vindicate the cause of injured innocence. The calculations of

human sagacity often prove false. One factor is omitted, which entirely

vitiates the result. Just as the ruffian is about to seize his prize, a judicial

hand is laid upon him, and completely defeats his project. The victor is

vanquished; the biter bitten.

 

  • THE GUILTY PUNISHED IN THE PLACE OF THE INNOCENT.

Darius perceived that it would be perilous to abrogate, in unseemly haste,

an edict so lately made. It would weaken the force of all imperial laws. It

would loosen the bands of loyalty. It would arouse the sleepless hostility of

his captains and princes. He had heard strange reports of the power of

Daniel’s God to save in times of danger. He believes that the same God

will rescue now. The penalty which Daniel had incurred was that he should

be cast into the den of lions. The edict did not say that he should be, left

there to die. The king’s decree would have been fulfilled if Daniel had

spent an hour or less amid the caged beasts. All through that dismal night

the king had taken counsel of himself. Desiring, on this occasion at least, to

do for Daniel all that justice and good will could devise, we cannot doubt

that his mind came under the influence of the Divine Spirit. The selfsame

God who, through that long night, was giving Daniel courage to control

and subdue the lions’ rage was also conveying wisdom to King Darius. At

earliest dawn the king goes in person to the den, and finds faith in God

honoured, human malice frustrated. The king’s edict had been observed to

the letter. But there was an authority, appertaining to the king, beyond

what was embodied in law. He held in his hand the lives of all his subjects.

It is clear as noonday that these envious statesmen had basely deceived the

king. Under cover of bringing him honor, they thought only of glutting

their own malice, and robbing the state of its best servant. It was nothing

less than a murderous conspiracy. They were as guilty of murder as if

Daniel had died. Justice plainly demanded that summary retribution should

follow; and at once these crafty lords were consigned to the death they had

prepared for Daniel. Every man shall receive the due reward of his deeds.

 

  • GOD MAGNIFIED INSTEAD OF BEING DISCREDITED. Profane

men thought to use God only as a tool in order to gain their nefarious end.

If God was defrauded of His daily tribute of praise, what cared they? If

humble souls were deprived of guidance and pardon and heaven, what

heeded they, so long as they could lay murderous hands on Daniel? But

will men rob God with impunity? Be well assured that God can defend His

own! The opposition of vain men shall only advance His cause. The attempt

to gag the mouth of prayer shall make even kings vocal in God’s praise.

When pompous statesmen league themselves against Him, “He that sitteth in

the heavens shall laugh.”   (Psalm 2:4)  The proposal was that all prayer should

cease for the space of thirty days. The effect was that Jehovah was proclaimed

as the True and Mighty all through the Persian empire; and a wider effect has

been that God has been more honored and trusted all the world over. “His

Name shall endure for ever” (Psalm 72:17);  “To Him all flesh shall come.”

(Ibid. ch. 65:2)

 

  • THE ELEVATION OF THE MAN WHOM MALICE SOUGHT TO

DEPRESS. These worldly wise statesmen felt that Daniel was a superior

man to themselves. They could not expect promotion so long as they had

to compete with him. Hence they resolved that what they could not gain by

fair means they would gain by foul means. But they reckoned without their

host. It came to pass that they were degraded, and that Daniel was

advanced. True merit will, sooner or later, find its fitting level! Now that

these grasping placemen are removed from the empire, there is all the more

room for Daniel — the more need for an able and trusty councilor. Step by

step he rises in favor and in influence. His increasing power brings

advantage to the captive tribes of Israel. The sunshine of his prosperity

lends brightness to their fallen fortunes. They, too, begin to lift up the

head. This event becomes another step in the way of Israel’s restoration.

And Daniel rises to the enjoyment of a reputation which is world-wide and

immortal. “He shines as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars

for ever and ever.”  (ch. 12:3)

 

 

 

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