Daniel 1
Pulpit Commentary
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
Verse 1. - In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim King of Judah. After the defeat and death of Josiah, the people of the land put on the throne Jehoahaz, or Shallum (Jeremiah 22:11),
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.
Verse 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 Κυρίου instead of Θεοῦ in the end of the first clause, and omits οἴκου. 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 2 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- vers. 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 regard mi as representing the partitive preposition min. He would therefore translate, "He took some from the numbtr of the vessels." Kranichfeld objects to Hitzig's assertion that קאת 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 (1 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 (2 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 Jeboiakim, 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 Jehoi-skim, but the conclusion forced on us by logic is different. He "carried them (יְבִיאֵם) to the house of his god." This seems to imply that only the vessels are spoken cf. 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; Hosea 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 בית, "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 laud 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 שני, "two," and אר, "a river," which, however, implies the identification of ע and א, 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 Σεναάρ. 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 (1 Kings 18:27), it is used of Nisroch (2 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 LXX. εἰδωλείῳ. 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 splendour 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.
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz 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;
Verses 3, 4. - 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; children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, 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 LXX. here becomes important: "And the king spoke to Abiesdri, his own chief eunuch (τῷ ἑαυτοῦ ἀρχιευνούχῳ), 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 LXX. 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 φορθομμίν. 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" (parte-mira) is transliterated Parthouia, which means literally "Parthians." Symmachus reads Παρθῶν. 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 Ἀβιεσδρὶ: 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 אֶשֶׁד, "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 ἐπίσκοπος. The changes that a name might undergo in passing from any language, even a cognate one, into Hebrew wine very great; thus Assur-bani-pal became "Asnapper." Lenormant has endeavoured 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 item 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 tided 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 2 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 Petiphar 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 vers. 7 and 10, Sat 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 king's 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 part'mim, 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 LXX. and Theodotion, there is a word awanting in the first clause; the Septuagint translator would supply "nobles" (μεγιστάνων) "from the nobles of Israel." Theodotion renders, "from the sons of the Captivity of Israel." If the sentence ran בני שרי ישראל, one might understand how it could be read בני שבי ישראל; the natural phrase for this is בני גלותי ישראל, but that would not explain the LXX. 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 an l Levi. Further, Josiah seems to have extended the bounds of the Davidic kingdom to embrace the remnant of the ten tribes (2 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 king's 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 Matthew 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; Esther 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 vers,., In Esther the word part°mim 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 φορθομμίν. Symmachus and the Peshitta make it "Parthians;" the Targum on Esther makes the same blunder. The LXX. Version of Esther renders it ἔνδοξοι, as if it were connected with פְאֵר and תום. 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 counsellors 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 science - sixteen 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 (νεανίσκους) 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 (2 Samuel 14:25); it is equivalent in meaning to μῶμος, which not impossibly was derived from some early form of this word; tovay mar'eh," 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 בְ, "in," The LXX. suits this, "skilled in all wisdom." Theodotion renders, "understanding (συνιέντας) 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." He objects to De Wette rendering "experienced," as unsuitable to boys. 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 (γραμματικοὺς). 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 yod'eem, 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 madda is 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 the ability in them to stand in the king's 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 ἰσχύοντας, and unites the two following clauses under it. And whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. The LXX. 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 2 Kings 18:26 "the Syrian language," and in this book (ch. Daniel 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 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 Asshurbanipal, 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 (סֶפֶר, 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, כַשְׂדִים, 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 Ξαλδαῖοι 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.
Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, 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.
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.
Verse 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 LXX. Version of this verse is the fact that מָנָה is taken to mean "give a portion" - a meaning which seems to be implied in מָנות (Nehemiah 8:10), hence the translation δίδοσθαι... ἐκθέσιν. Further, the translator must have had חַמּ מֵ אֵת as in 2 Kings 25:29. The mysterious פַּת־בַג (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. (Brockei-mann 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 Daniel 11:26 with פָתוּרָא (pathura), "a table." It seems not improbable that both the LXX. 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 (φαγῶ), 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 בַג (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 ver. 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, an(t, even making all 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.
Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
Verse 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 harm(my with ver. 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 tree. 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 in,plied in the story of Susanna and the eiders. David's son by Abigail the Carmelitess is called Daniel in 1 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 m'bne 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 LXX. 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, Ἀνανίας: 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 (2 Chronicles 25:4). In the reign of Uzziah there appears one as a chief captain (2 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 Rhess, grandson of Zerubbabel, is called in 1 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 ימים, from יום, 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 2 Kings 14:21: 15:1, 7, 8, 17 (called Uzziah in vers. 13, 30, as also in 2 Chronicles 27.) It is the name of four high priests:

(1) one (1 Chronicles 6:10)during the reign of Solomon, the grandson of Zadok;

(2) the high priest during the reign of Jehoshaphat (1 Chronicles 6:11);

(3) high priest during the reign of his namesake Azariah or Uzziah King of Judah (2 Chronicles 26:17-20);

(4) high priest in the reign of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:10-14). There is also a prophet of this name (2 Chronicles 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 councillors or warriors. That was left for the days of the Byzantine Empire, when the eunuch Narses retained Italy for the empire.
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.
Verse 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 Abed-nego. 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 LXX., 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 Ἀβδεναγώ, 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 Pal 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 papalthrone. 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 Baby-Ionian 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 2 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," 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 מֶשֶׁך, "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, whoa 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.
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.
Verse 8. - But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wins 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 G reek versions here render פּת־בג by δεῖπνον. 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 2 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 1 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" (ga'al) 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.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
Verse 9. - Now God had brought Daniel into favour 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, "favour 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 Κύριος, "Lord," usually employed to translate יהוה, Jehovah, instead of Θεός (אלהים). It is not impossible that the original reading may have been יהוה, though it is to be admitted not likely. Rahameem is translated χάριν," favour," in the Septuagint, which is a weak rendering; Theodotion renders οἰκτιρμόν, which may be regarded as practically equivalent to our Revised Version. While the third verse speaks of the "chief" (רַב) of the eunuchs, a Babylonian and Assyrian title, the more usual Hebrew שַׂר 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 mr 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 favour in the eyes of him set over him. The Hebrew never failed to recognize, in his devouter moments, that the hearts of all men are in the hands of God; that by him kings reign and princes decree wisdom.
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.
Verse 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; מאֲכַל (ma'achal), 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 דִילְמָא (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 zo'apheem means "sad," "troubled" (Genesis 40:6); the verb from which it comes means "to be angry" (2 Chronicles 26:19). It is to be noted that the Septuagint here has two renderings, probably a case of "doublet." The first διατετραμμένα 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, ἀσθενῆ, "weak," may refer to the body: σκυθρωπὰ ισ Theodotion's rendering, which may be rendered "scowling" (it is used along with λυπούμενον, Plato, 'Syrup.'). The Peshitta has m'karan, "ashamed;" that they would feel shame were they much inferior in looks or acquirements to their neighbours 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, גִל or גַּיִל, 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;" בֶּן נָילו, "son of his star" - born under the same constellation, contemporary. The Syriac paraphrases the word, and renders "of your year." Theodotion renders συνήλικα, "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 stranger (ἀλλογενῶν) youths brought up with you (συντρεφομένους)." This is an evident case of doublet. The first that stands in the Greek is συντρεφομένους: this represents a various reading, גָּדְלוּ אִתְּכֶּם (gad'lu itkem), by no means an impossible reading. The other, ἀλλογενῶν, represents גידים (geereem): this is still more like the Massoretic reading גילכם (geelkem). The Massoretic is possibly the reading from which the other two have sprung; if so, it is clear that the word גיל 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 יְחִיַּבְחֶם (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 צַוָּארִי (tzavvari) or מַפְרַקְתִּי (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. 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 favourite, yet hindered by fear for himself, and at the same time a desire that Daniel, his favourite, 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.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Verse 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 (מִנָּה) is read מֻנָּה (munnoh), "set over." The Peshitta reads instead of "Melzar,' in this verse, "Mashitzar" (but see ver. 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 Ἀμέλσαδ. While a good deal can be said for making "Melzar" or "Ham-melzar" 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 παιδαγωγός, 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.
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Verse 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." Zero'im, "seeds" (σπερμάτων, Theodotion), "pulse" (ὀσπρίων, 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, σπέρματα. 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 ver. 16, and is found in the Talmud. He might more naturally regard zero'him as a scribe's mistake for zero'im. 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 - tbu'ah, "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.
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.
Verse 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 (διατετραμμένη παρὰ) those other youths who eat of the royal feast, according as thou seest good (θέλῃς), so deal with thy servants." In the text before the Septuagint translator לְפָנִיך (l'phaneka), "before thee," is omitted, and instead of מַרְאֵה (mareh)," appearance," is read זְלֺעַפִים (zo'aphim), and after is inserted מִן (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 15:10 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, לֺזְעַפִים מִן־חַיְלָדִים (zo'apheem min-hay'ladeem), 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.
So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
Verse 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." ישמע is not very unlike יעשה, nor לדבד very unlike כדבר, 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 עֲשֵׂה. ('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.
And 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.
Verse 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 טוב (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 bere'eem, "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 corpulent 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. Jephet-ibn-Ali thinks that special leanness was inflicted on those who were unfaithful or had failed in courage. That, however, is an unnecessary supposition.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
Verse 16. - Thus Melzar took away the portion of their moat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. The Massoretic has the article here before "Melzar" - a fact that the Authorized does not indicate; the Revised 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 δίδωμι (ἐδίδου) put in composition with ἀντί (ἀντεδίδου), "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 veeay'he, "it was," and in the LXX. this is rendered η΅ν, "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 tour 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 zer'oona, 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 zer'aim, "seeds." This certainly is the translation of Theodotion.
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.
Verse 17. - As for these four children, God gave them knewledge 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 cecum, 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 עָרְמָה was read instead of ארבעת. 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 accomplish-merit required from a diplomat implied the knowledge of the languages of the various nations subject to the Babylonian Empire or eonterminous with it. "Knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom" would seem to mean the complete eurriculum fitted to make these youths able diplomatists and wise councillors. 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 halt 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 n indirect proof of the early date of Daniel. It 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 favourably 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 favoured 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.
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.
Verse 18. - Now at the end of the clays 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 הַאֵלֶה (haayleh) is read instead of אֲשֶׁר (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 fur; 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 conqeueror 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.
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.
Verse 19. - And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azarish: therefore stood they before the king. The word translated "communed" really means "spake," and is the common word for this. The Septuagint translates here ὥμίλησεν, which does mean "commune." Theodotion renders ἐλάλησε. 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, η΅σαν, "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 ἔστησαν. The only difficulty is that the blunder is also in Paulus Tellensis.
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.
Verse 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 (λόγῳ, a literal rendering of דָבָר, dabhar, 'a word' or 'thing'), and knowledge and education (παιδείᾳ) 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 σοφωτέρους, and translated עַל (al) by ὑπὲρ. 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 (ἀνεδείξεν) 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 ἀναδείκνυμι, represents occasionally הודע, and as the Syriac vav and the old Hebrew ע were almost identical in shape, יֹדע (yod'a,) might be read as ידוה evidently the translator has read חכמים (hacmeem) instead of חַרְטֻמִים (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 boys all the wise men of Babylon, that the language of the verse before us is rather rhetorical than exaggerated.
And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Verse 21. - And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus. The Septuagint supplies Περσῶν. 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 b"sha'ar hammelek, "in the gate of the king," has dropped out. He does certainly hint that the sentence, to be complete, would need hayah (חָיָה), not hayah (חָיָה). 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 (Daniel 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. Tide 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 יחי instead of יהי, and there is no trace in the versions of this various reading The LXX. has η΅ν; Theodotion has ἐγένετο; the Peshitta has (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 (Daniel 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 Daniel 10:1 the reading of the Septuagint, which is πρώτῳ, instead of τρίτῳ - 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 flint 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.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

Bible Hub
Ezekiel 48
Top of Page
Top of Page