|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:8-16 The interest we think we make for ourselves, we must acknowledge to be God's gift. Daniel was still firm to his religion. Whatever they called him, he still held fast the spirit of an Israelite. These youths scrupled concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful. When God's people are in Babylon they need take special care that they partake not of her sins. It is much to the praise of young people, not to covet or seek the delights of sense. Those who would excel in wisdom and piety, must learn betimes to keep the body under. Daniel avoided defiling himself with sin; and we should more fear that than any outward trouble. It is easier to keep temptation at a distance, than to resist it when near. And we cannot better improve our interest in any with whom we have found favour, than to use it to keep us from sin. People will not believe the benefit of avoiding excess, and of a spare diet, nor how much they contribute to the health of the body, unless they try. Conscientious temperance will always do more, even for the comfort of this life, than sinful indulgence.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer, and fatter in flesh,.... At the time fixed for the trial of them, when they came to be examined, they appeared to be of a better complexion, and a more healthful look, and even plumper and fatter, with good solid flesh, and not swelled up as persons in a dropsy:
than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat: who appeared at the same time, and were compared with them, being under the care of the same persons: now this was owing to the blessing of divine Providence, as Jacchiades observes; for, how healthful soever pulse may be, or the several things designed by it, particularly rice, of which Aben Ezra on the place gives great encomiums, as very salutary and nourishing, and a purifier of the blood; yet neither that, nor any of the things before mentioned, tend to make persons fat in flesh, as these were.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
1:15 Fairer and fatter - The blessing of God upon homely fare, affords often more health and strength, than more costly fare to them that eat the fat, and drink the sweet.
Daniel 1:15 Parallel Commentaries
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